Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell to 2008

As 2008 draws to a close, I had thought to somehow chronicle the events of the year, or at least some of the highs and lows. But as I sit down to write today, I find myself inclined to reflect on the lessons I've learned this year....and so here, publicly, are at least some of them.

As I dragged myself kicking and screaming back into the working world, I learned that although I still preferred my life as a stay at home mom, I do enjoy the feeling of competency I have in the role of working woman, and I really like feeling at least somewhat in control of my financial future, instead of just being along for the ride.

I've learned, truly now, that I can choose and change my own actions and reactions, but I can't change anyone else's. And that the choices of others aren't a reflection on me. I still get caught up on this one at times, but more and more I'm able to step back before taking on anything I don't need to.

I've learned that there's not a lot of good for me in trying to please everyone, and that, selfish though it may feel and sound, I'm a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc....when I first consider my own well being. This is a lesson in progress....the desire to please and keep peace is deeply ingrained in me, and it's work to change that in me.

I've learned that order and organization are utterly important to the flow of my days....I'm still working to implement this, but already, where I have, things work so much better.

I've been reminded that I don't have an infinite amount of time in this life, nor can I expect that others will be here forever for me either. I'm learning to have a balanced attitude about try and say and do what I want now, while still remembering that I can't change others, only myself.

I'm sure there are other things, but these stand out mostly poignantly today.

Happy last day of 2008.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chaos Reigns.......

....throughout my life this past week or so.

My life is not very organized yet, though I'm really working on it. I'm still adjusting to being a working mom. I started Christmas shopping about a week ago. I've determined that I really hate last minute shopping. Yesterday I was tired, burned out, not sleeping very well this last week or so.

But today, the shopping is complete, the work week is over, the wrapping is, well, halfway done. And my heart is full of gratitude.

This has been an especially challenging year for me. In the beginning of the year we moved from the home we tried for 4 years to share with my family, I got very sick twice with the flu, became a working mother by necessity, lost my mother-in-law suddenly this fall, and an uncle just two weeks later. Have begun, for the first time in my life, really, to forge my own path, to live by my own light so to speak. I'm not sure I knew what I truly wanted or liked until recently, and I'm still learning.

There were long stretches this year where I bitterly regreted the choice I made to leave San Diego and my life there and start over here. And sometimes I still d, though with less bitterness now. I have to admit that I am still profoundly lonely for the friends and family I left behind. And just lonely in general.

But today I'm also, and somewhat suddenly, despite my efforts at gratitude, aware of how blessed my life is. How much abundance I have, despite the areas where I see lack. How many friends I really do have here, despite how I long for those back home (I still think of San Diego as home). How amazing my daughter is....I'm aware of that most of the time, even through my periodic frustration. How rich are the possibilities that exist.

This is a quiet Christmas Eve for us. I think it's the first we've ever spent just at home, just us. In the past we've gathered with family, and occasionally friends. Christmas Eve was a traditional feast night for my maternal family, and it feels a little strange not to honor that tradition. But for this year, at least, it also feels right. I'm still grieving the loss of Toni, and Patrick very much so too. And it's been a lovely family evening, and my tiny family is finally bonding and feels very much a together unit. As I sit and write this, Patrick & Helena are wrapping gifts for me-Helena and I just finished wrapping Patrick's. Then we'll put together our Nativity Tray, a new tradition for our little family. Then to bed for Helena, and Patrick and I will clean up after our little feast (more about THAT later) and wrap the remaining gifts and enjoy the quiet.

Happy Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night! ~ Clement C Moore

Friday, December 19, 2008

Creative hunger, or was it starvation.....

I have professed to be a creative person, but lately that creativity takes it's form in such less than exciting tasks as creating systems at work that work, creating storage solutions both at home and at work, and the like.

Last weekend I indulged in bit of the more traditional sort of creating, in fact binging on it a bit, as I've felt starved for that type of activity of late. After last weekend I decided I need to find more time to nibble at those types of projects, because indulging to the extent that I did left me feeling that mixture of sickness and satisfaction that comes with overindulgence.

Here are some of the fruits of my indulgence:
Pajama Pants for Helena

Helena & I made 3 pairs of these, the first pair the weekend before. Then we had to make more in order to get her out of those, so these are the second two. We bought the fabric on clearance over the summer with the intention of getting to them much sooner then we did. I was beginning to have visions of the end of winter arriving, and the pajamas still not made, so I'm thrilled to have them done early in the flannel PJ season.

And these are the vision board holders I made, one for our office which holds the work in progress board for our dream home, and one for Helena's room.

Vision Board Holders

This innovation is a variation on the french memo board. For maybe the first time, I conceived of an idea, and, with the help of Patrick, who cut the plywood and installed the hanging hardware for me, I was able execute my idea in just a few weeks.

We used scrap plywood and recycled material for these boards-the office board material came from some poorly fitting curtains that were hanging there when we moved in. Helena's board fabric had a past life as a Cornell Catering table cloth, which had some small stains and holes but was for the most part, useable fabric. We bought several at a local yard sale 2 summers ago and they've been sitting around waiting for new life.

I'm now, slowly, making curtains for the living room. And then, who knows. I may need to turn my attention back to creative organizing. Our house is coming along, but more is needed.

Happy Snow Day!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thank You Thursday! December 18, 2008

Happy Thursday!

- Today I'm thankful that my brother-in-law Kris and our good friend Jay were born on this day XX years ago:-)

-I'm thankful for the sweet weight of my sleepy daughter as she cuddles up to me in the morning.

- I'm thankful strong black tea.

- I'm thankful for the lovely support of the people in my life.

-I'm thankful for the perks of living in a small town, like leaving my car doors unlocked, and having a long post office line be 3 people ahead of me (and that's rare, even in December).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Soup season!

As the winter weather deepens, soups soothe my chilly soul! I love to search out and try new recipes, often by googling the ingredients I have on hand and then praying I have everything else needed. Here are a few recent favorites.

I made the Fish Chowder Saturday, and it was also a hit at Patrick's 40th birthday party.

This Turkey & Squash Soup was my answer to leftover Thanksgiving Turkey and the blue hubbard squash that I picked up on a whim and then didn't know what to do with.

Bon Appetite!

Monday, December 15, 2008

An evening in Winter Wonderland

Since becoming a working mom, I have to admit I do live for the weekends, those glorious days of being home with my family, spending my time as I'd really rather be doing all the time. One of the pitfalls to this approach to life is that I tend to cram in too much and finish the weekend more tired than I began. This makes an excellent case for finding a way to make your life's passion pay...and therefore reserving weekends for rest and communion with family, friends, and, dare I dream, self! However, since I'm this is where I stand today, here's a peak at a typical, crazy, Griffin weekend!

Got done with work at 1pm, whoohoo, the weekend has begun! Friday afternoon is my favorite day of the week these days, with the weekend still ahead and ripe with promise.

Helena and I dashed down the street after work where the squeezed us in for a last minute appointment at Donna's styling Salon in downtown Spencer, me for a much needed haircut, Helena for a much loved styling and nail painting in preparation for the evening ahead.

Next it was home and quickly to bed for a nap before our long evening out. Helena crashed deeply and sweetly, I dozed fitfully and then jumped up to work on some neglected projects before it was time to prepare to go.

Once Helena awoke, we got ready for an exciting eveing out with my parents, David, & Heather to see the Ithaca Ballet's production of the Nutcracker.

Then, off to dinner at Helena's & Papa's (grandpa) favorite Restaurant, King Buffet, for Chinese food before the show.

Then it was off to the show, the Nutcracker, performed by the Ithaca Ballet at Ithaca's historic State Street Theater. For a relatively small town, Ithaca get's some world class performers and speakers at our local venues, including the Dalai Lama, who makes his US home here in our neck of the woods, a fact I learned only recently.
The show was great, the dancing excellent, and the only fault Helena found in it was that it was "too short".
And that was our evening out. There's much more to the weekend, but I find this post getting long, so more later!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thank you Thursday!

Around Thanksgiving (which seems ages ago already), I read something that resonated strongly with me, and it was a suggestion that every Thursday be a day to count our blessings. I've been working avidly at grattitude of late (and some days it does feel like "work"), and the idea of a weekly grattitude list appeals to me. So thank you Suzanne Devereux for the suggestion and other inspirations, and without further ado, here are my Thank You's for this Thursday, December 11, 2008.

  • Today I'm thankful to have a job that I can walk to-therefore no need venture out in today's snow storm.

  • I'm thankful to be working in a casual office environment where my little girl is welcome to come along, and on a snow day like today, has two great playmates to enjoy! I picked Helena up from school and brought her along to play with Matthew (5) and Kathleen (7), who were released from school early due to the snowstorm.

  • I'm thankful that I'm warm and safe and dry tonight, and that Patrick is safely home.
  • I'm thankful for some forward progess on some of the craft projects I've been obsessive about lately, which I'll post some more about when I have the chance to take some photos.
  • I'm utterly grateful for for the wonderful friends and family who grace my life.
  • I'm grateful for my new camera (which is pink and will someday soon be absorbed into Helena's collection of everything pink, I doubt not!) which takes lovely photos.

I could go on, but I'm ready to get back to those projects I've been obsessing over!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Front of our House
Hickory Trees in Front of our House

Backyard with our honeysuckle covered in snow

Wider view of the Backyard

Here are some photos of our house, frontyard, and backyard after the first snow fall. Winter came early to the Finger Lakes this year, and it's been mostly in the 30s for the last couple of weeks. This was wet, sticky snow, which is usually the prettiest as it coats everything. Patrick mentioned to me that he never knew until moving here (nor did I) that there were so many kinds of snow.

It's up to 40 today, so I'm excited to get outside and play in the yard and maybe rake some of our colossal leaf pile onto the garden for mulch.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Here's a practice photo post, and one of my favorites, from Helena's recital in June. I can't believe that was just 6 months ago, this has been a very full year.

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Entry

I can't believe I'm blogging...adding one more thing to my list is perhaps proof of my insanity! But honestly I love this stuff and want to keep my net knowledge somewhat fresh and current, and I thought this would be a fun way to keep friends and family posted as to what's up with our lives as well as sharing the rambings of my sometimes cluttered brain.

So, bear with my learning process and enjoy the ride!