Monday, December 24, 2012

Silent Night, Holy Night

Merry Christmas Eve, Everyone.  The sun has just set and outside is a crisply invigorating 16 degrees.  There's just enough snow on the ground to make it feel Christmas-y and if there was any more, it would be ideal for some candle-light cross-country skiing.  But inside, we are warm and cozy and there is an electric candle glowing in each front window (yes the photo is of an LED candle with a realistic flickering flame).  The tree lights are also reflected in the window, so it's time for a little year-end reflection of my own.

January started off with a farewell-to-the-temps party, given by my co-workers at Minneapolis Public Housing, where I'd worked for almost 3 years.  There was no money in the budget to permanently hire any of the temps, so we were given our notices just before the end of 2011.  I was sad to leave the friends I'd made there, but excited to move on to my next assignment with Accountemps.  

In February, I started with Greentree in downtown St Paul.  Other than a few days more than 10 years ago, I'd never worked in "the other downtown", so it was a bit of an adventure.  I learned a couple different bus routes and got a lot of reading done in my 2.5-hour round trip commute, eventually finishing all the books in Dana Stabenow's "Kate Shugak" series.  Lunch was an opportunity to learn the skyway system or sample the different food truck wares when warm weather started. From my 10th floor cubicle, I could even look down on Rice Park and read the names on the trucks to decide what I might eat on days I didn't bring a lunch.  I also tracked the progress of the newest light rail construction: my skyway walks took me over the most eastern few blocks.  Although it isn't scheduled to open until 2014, the progress they made last summer was impressive.

March in Minnesota was the warmest on record, with leaves budding and grass greening a full month earlier than usual.  Craig and I took a Sunday drive to Stillwater and, walking up and down the streets of the historic downtown, it felt like summer.  In April, I also walked to meet the family at the Edina Grill for Easter brunch.  I started, but didn't finish a "bike every day" challenge.  Craig did much better: 30 rides in 30 days!    

Mother's Day in May was a good excuse for a day trip to New Ulm to treat Mom to dinner at the Kaiserhoff restaurant and take a tour of the Schell Brewery grounds and gift shop (the actual brewery wasn't open for tours that day).  Before the month was over, Mom learned she had breast cancer, but the prognosis was excellent: a lumpectomy in June and 6 weeks of radiation would most likely wipe it out.  I continued to make cards for online challenges, including this encouragement card to Mom.

Summer was really heating up and I was feeling blessed to have central air for the first time.  But we were still able to have a 4th of July picnic on Mom's deck.  And I met my friends from MPHA for dinner at Stella's Fish Cafe and drinks on the rooftop of the Uptown Cafeteria.  Our Robinson Family picnic in August was actually cooler than a few other years.  We took Mom to the Bayside Grille on lake Minnetonka for her 84th birthday, and the weather, the food and the family time were perfect!    

In August, when Mom's radiation treatments were done, a scan showed a "spot" on her liver, which led to another biopsy and another diagnosis, this one not so promising:  stage 4 bile duct cancer.  The doctors gave her "4-12 months to live"!  I don't have to tell anyone who has been through a loved-one's terminal cancer how unreal those words sound.  Mom wasn't sick, she was still walking almost daily at the Mall of America, driving me to get groceries, going to church, and keeping up with all of her other activities.  She quickly made the decision to undergo chemotherapy.  And she didn't discuss her diagnosis with many people outside of the family.  I think she thought she'd beat it and didn't want a lot of sympathy.

Nephew Garrett (Craig's son) came for a visit with his girlfriend at the end of September and announced their engagement!  Garrett's mom decided to throw them a wedding in December so that Mom and the other two grandmothers would have a chance to attend.  I offered to make the invitations and just happened to have a boxed set of everything we would need; all I had to do was format  and print them.  During Mom's 2-week break after her 3rd chemo treatment was over, she started to experience fatigue and shortness of breath.  She decided she'd had enough chemo.  

The first few weeks of October were a blur of activity.  We decided to contact a hospice center because Mom didn't seem to be getting her energy back as we had hoped.  They stressed that they would take care of her medical needs, but she would require family and friends to check in on her on a daily basis if she wanted to remain in her home.  So, we set up a schedule of visits.  I was there on Saturday, the 13th, and she thought she'd be able to go for a walk at Southdale, but once there, she was too out of breath to walk more than a few yards before resting.  When we got back to her house, oxygen was delivered and we were shown how to use it.  Although I had to go home and didn't get a chance to see her use the oxygen, I heard through the family that it really helped her energy and mental state and she seemed like her old self all the next week.

Saturday, October 20th, Aunt Caroline gave me a ride to Mom's for my visit.  I used my own key when she didn't answer the doorbell and we both went in the house.  We found Mom lying on the bed and she had passed away.  The oxygen generator was turned on, but the tube was on the floor beside her bed.  She had had only 2 months since her diagnosis, and to say we were unprepared for that outcome at that time is an understatement.

And now the last two months have been a blur: a funeral and Thanksgiving and my birthday and a wedding (Garrett and Rebecca, December 1st) and Christmas, all without Mom.  But I remind myself almost daily of how grateful I am to have had her for almost 59 years (my lifetime) and how blessed she was to live 84 years with very few health problems and family and friends who loved her and will always remember her. 

Only by taking some time off from work was I able to finish even a few things on my Christmas list:  I made and sent cards after three missed years, I decorated the tree with my favorite ornaments, displayed my tin collection on the mantel, bought and wrapped a few gifts and made sure I had some food for my quiet evening at home.  Tomorrow I will be with family.  And wherever you may be, I wish you the warmth and comfort of loved ones, memories to treasure always and the greatest joy this Christmas!   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nancy!

Happy Birthday, Cousin Nancy!  Hope it was "First Class"

Card made with actual postage stamps, rubber-stamped postmarks and a sentiment PC-printed on vellum.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Cards At Last

I finished and mailed my Christmas cards today.  I really wanted to finish them this year because I had missed the last three years.   The design is based on a sketch I found, but I added a personal touch by copying and cutting strips of antique postcards that were sent to our family over 100 years ago.

The sentiment is original.  

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Congratulations Garrett and Rebecca

Garrett (my nephew) and Rebecca were married today.  The ceremony and the dinner were both held at this historic restaurant.  (All photos courtesy of David Robinson)

Guest book and gift table

Invitation (that I made) in frame

Cake from Wuollet

Garrett and his mom, Lynnette

My brothers, David on the left and Craig, father of the groom

Pianist and violinist

The ceremony with minister/DJ

Before dinner - the bar in the Williamsburg room

The new Mr and Mrs

Garrett's best man and friend (left), Sterling.  Rebecca's sister and brother on the right

First dance

Main table decorated by Lynnette's sister, Mary Ellen

Menus provided by restaurant, placecards by me

Aunt Caroline, Cousin Sara and Lynnette (mother of the groom)

Cutting the cake

Me, Craig, Garrett, Rebecca, David and Kim

Bubbles to celebrate the couple leaving the party 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dazzling Neon Birthday

My friend, AJ, turned 60 today, so I made her a Keen On Neon Moxie Fab World Challenge card.  Six sparklers or candle-tops were punched from neon-colored pre-glittered cardstock by DCWV...atop thin strips of black paper.  The Sentiment is printed on vellum and the base of the card is glittered dotted cardstock also by DCWV.

The inside is also PC-printed:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me

I have been gone a long time, but hope to return later this week to get caught up on my missing posts.  Since my last post, there has been a funeral and soon a wedding in our family, I have taken a leave of absence from my temporary job (and probably a leave of my senses), Halloween and Thanksgiving are past and now Christmas is upon us.  Until I return, enjoy the season, slow down and take time to savor the sights and sounds of this wonderful time of year, and remember to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.  They probably know, but say it anyway! 

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Tuesdays Around Town - St Paul In The Fall

Happy October!  I'm still at my Accountemps assignment in downtown St Paul,  but this week I started working in another department.  They skip breaks and take an hour for lunch, so I have been using my extra half hour to walk in the skyways or outside on days like this: warm and sunny.

This is the view of the Mississippi just a block from the office (above)...

and walking west, I passed a Snoopy statue, reminding me of the Snoopy houses that were on display downtown a few years back until they were auctioned off.

Then I noticed a cantilevered point at the Science Museum plaza (above) - I took a photo of it so you can see where I was standing in for the next four shots.

Back toward downtown (above), toward Harriet Island (below),

West along the river (above), and a bird's-eye-view of the Science Museum maze (below).

Heading back to Rice Park, I was struck by the lack of traffic at midday. 

I took advantage of one of the last days of the food trucks and ate fish tacos at Tiki Tim's.

We have some beautiful views from our floor, especially now that the fall colors are in "full bloom".

Monday, September 24, 2012

Moxie Fab Asymmetry

And now the 4th card from the Jillibean Soup Sweet and Sour collection - to be entered into the Moxie Fab World Card Design Handbook Asymmetry Challenge

Using the same colors and motifs as the previous three cards, I balanced the large circle and sentiment on the right with the two smaller circles on the left.  Everything used is from the collection with the exception of the turquoise cardstock base.

I ran out of diecut butterflies on my last card, so I punched a similar butterfly out of the coordinating cardstock...

and added a tiny piece of snipped cardstock for the antennae.  Pssst...if you run out of "y" to spell happy or birthday, sneak in an "x" with one leg colored over.

Moxie Fab Repetition

Here is card #3 in the Jillibean Soup Sweet and Sour collection series.  This one will go in the Moxie Fab World Card Design Handbook Repetition Challenge.

The most obvious repetition is the circle shape, but there is also the repeat of colors, the scallops, and the star motif.  The Sweet and Sour collection itself has a repeating theme of "take note", seen in the light blue top circle and the orange middle circle, as well as the lined notebook patterned cardstock (click on photo to enlarge).

The notebook paper cardstock made it easy to line up the tiny alphabet stickers to spell out the greeting.

As in the previous card, the turquoise base is the only non-Jillibean product.  And again, I scored and folded the diecut butterfly and added a little snip of cardstock for the antennae.