And once again, as I say every year about this time "I can't believe a year went by so fast."

More than ever it feels like 2010 seriously zoomed by. Blink once it's January. Blink again it's December.

It was an up and down year that seems to be defined by three themes.

We finally got the living room painted. We rearranged the furniture in the living room. Nate along with wonderful help built his awesome bar. I moved office space at work three times. My position didn't go away, but also changed a bit by the end of the year.

We lost Nate's cat from growing up. We lost my uncle. We lost my grandma. We lost the person my cousin once was to an ugly mental disorder. We lost the opportunity to refinance our house. We lost other people not directly connected to us, but to those close to and important to us. It was a bit of a hard year that way.

We started going to roller derby and became addicted. We got to take the first vacation in four years up to Itasca for an entire week. We had a short weekend getaway to a cabin with the Praise Project gang. We tried many new restaurants. We rocked out at Rock the Garden for a second year. We visited the Science Museum. We attended our ten year high school reunion. We had an outstanding celebration of Oktoberfest with friends in our home on the warmest day of the fall. We had great birthdays and holidays this year.

Those are pretty much the big highlights this year. Overall, I wouldn't say it was a good or a bad year. It kind of just was, you know? I do look forward to 2011 and plans we already have, projects we want to start, things we want to try.

Looking back on the year for just myself, I found myself having moments of self discovery. Not in a bad way, but just truly learning just who I am and also, excepting it. Being ok with where I am in my life journey. Learning not to let anyone else try to define it for me. And I am ending 2010 in a truly peaceful place and am very happy with where my life is currently going. This is me, for better or worse. I thank all of you who have read my story this year and I hope you'll come back to see what happens in my world in 2011!

Happy New Year one and all. (Side note MN Friends - be safe and careful in the potential unsafe driving conditions tonight if you are out partying!)


Short and sweet

I want to enjoy my time off as much as possible - so I don't know that I'll blog much this week, but I did want to get a nice short and sweet wrap up of our Christmas celebrations.

My first major holiday in my home was a huge success - It was wonderful and I hope to do it again sometime.

I got the best present ever from Nate - a stuffed Rowlf the Dog (Muppet) and a toy piano for him to sit at (Rowlf plays piano on the Muppet Show).

We enjoyed time with my mom's family on Christmas as well.

And I have already hit up two major after Christmas sales - LUSH and Old Navy. I think I'm done shopping for the next year now. Ha.

Here are some pictures from the last couple of days. Hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas too.

My Rowlf and his piano

Stockings over the piano - didn't get a good tree shot sadly

Table set for nine - it was snug, but we did it!


The greatest of gifts

This is likely my last post until after Christmas Day.

And right now, I don't have much more to say other than right now I'm reflecting on just how blessed I truly am.

My heart is bursting with joy and love for the amazing gifts I have in my daily life, not just at Christmas.

The gift of friendship - I have some of the best ones around, people who put up with my ranting and raving, celebrate the victories with me, support me in the tough times, have fun with me and aren't afraid to get a little crazy, and most of all just understand me and like me FOR ME.

The gift of family - It's a treasure to know that I have a loving family who loves me unconditionally and I'm continually thankful that I can see them as much as I do. We're not perfect by any means, but I still think we are special.

The gift of music - being able to continue to do something I'm so passionate about, singing and sharing it with others. And also as a listener - having so much awesome music at my fingers through my favorite radio station and via the internet.

The gift of love - I still find myself waking up each day wondering how I was so lucky to find someone like Nate. He is my all, my everything. My Christmas wish was for him to get better from a nasty cold and he is definitely well on the way to that point. I am very thankful for that.

I really do not need anything else as long as these gifts continue to be in my life. All I can do is give back as much as I receive.

I wish all of you a very blessed and Merry Christmas!


Countdown is on

Two days to Christmas Eve and Three to Christmas...

Presents not wrapped yet...I'm a procrastinator on this because it's my least favorite Christmas task. I am going to attempt it tonight though!

Mr. Nate is on the path to health, went back to work today and said while he's still worn out, he feels the best he has in several days. Here's hoping he stays on the mend!

My required Christmas viewing is more or less complete - I have a couple of things I'd like to watch if I get time, but if I do not, I won't be heartbroken.

Plans are coming together and I am so excited. I can't wait to exchange gifts with our family. I'm looking forward to spending some time with people I don't often get to see next week while I am off of work.

I'm trying to enjoy every moment of the next few days because we got to this point SO FAST this year and I don't want the entire holiday to fly by too quickly. I'm sure when all is said and done it will still be over too soon, but I'm really focusing on one moment at a time.


All I want for Christmas...

...Is for this guy to feel better!

Nate on a warm day at the Happy Gnome last summer

Yes he is probably not the only one in the world with a bad cold right now, but for him to be home for a second day in a row and heading to the doctor to get checked out, you know he's feeling pretty lousy. So, right now, I don't really care about anything else but getting my favorite person in the entire world healthy. Cause Christmas won't be fun otherwise.

So Santa, if you're reading, that's all we want right now! We've been good little children this year!


Twas five days till Christmas

And I'm nearly ready. I have things left to do - but I am trying to keep faith they will get done. I've been staying on a pretty even keel save for two moments - one minor meltdown last week and one kind of snapping at Nate type incident barely worth mentioning. I think if those are the only "stress" moments I have this year then I'm doing pretty good!

All of my shopping is done save for a few trinkets to add on if I have time to get them. And I really should - there are five days this week in which stores are open (thanks to my mother for reminding me of this fact) and sure they might be busy, but I can always stop for a few minutes if I have time and grab the items I feel I might be missing.

The wrapping - my least favorite part - is going to consume me a bit this week, but you know what, I have a handful of unwatched Christmas movie/specials left, so pop one of those in and go nuts I suppose!

Baking is done, trays are put together and distributed. The cookies are awesome I must say. And tasty.

There will be cleaning and preparations for my big meal on Friday, but I feel if I take a little bit each day, then it will all get done on time.

Of course, I'm neglecting to mention this small thing called "Nate has a bad cold" - but he stayed home today to hopefully rest tons and get healthy. Good thing too with another snowstorm coming here, I need him to be strong to help me shovel!

The other downer is his bar currently isn't working - the second CO2 regulator went bad - which means beer does not come out of the taps. So, he needs to fix that when he has time/or is up to it. If we have beer for his family on Christmas Eve, great, if not, I have wine. Lots and lots of wine!

I realized today too I let my music Mondays fall by the wayside...maybe I'll start up again after the holidays. I will mention, one of my other most favorite Christmas songs ever is the Canon Carol by Trans Siberia Orchestra - I'm sure most of you have heard it, it gets plenty of airplay this time of year. The first time I remember hearing it was the year I was getting married and it just made me think of weddings so much because of it being set to Pachabel's Canon in D and that is what I walked down the aisle to.

So, here we go, twas five days till Christmas and for now, all is well.


The hostess with the mostess

I am a little giddy at the moment. Christmas is 10 days away and even though there is much to do, so much yet to do, I am still giddy.

Extenuating circumstances have led us to be hosting our first ever major holiday in our home. We decided yesterday that we will be hosting Christmas Eve this year for my in-laws. I am sure some would be freaking out or be super stressed out in my shoes right now but I'm not. I am excited. I have never had the chance to do a major holiday for family in the four years we've been married and living in our house. Some years it seems I'm decorating for just Nate and I - which I don't mind and do it because I love it, but I'm thrilled that others will be able to enjoy my happy Christmas environment this year.

It helps that the meal will be a group effort, so I don't have to do too much cooking, and the things I am making are some of my favorites to do. I will have to do some pretty major cleaning, but it is a good thing because it's forcing me to do stuff that would otherwise take a backseat in this crazy time of year. And of course, it doesn't hurt that we have a fully stocked bar at the ready and our favorite Christmas wine already chilling in our wine cooler.

The only downer is we don't have a fireplace like my in-laws do and I will miss that a little - we hang our stockings by it and sit by the fire after we eat dinner and also watch the yule log on channel 45 too, which we always laugh about because it's so silly when we have a real fire. Well, this year, channel 45 will have to be enough. And I might hang the stockings on the entertainment center so they will look like they are hanging by the fire!

So I feel like a big old nerd, or maybe like Donna Reed or something as suggested by my sister-in-law, but I am just so excited. Now I need to get busy getting all that "Stuff" that needs to get done, finished!


Snow My God!

What a weekend. Honestly. I don't even know if I can put it all into words, but I'm going to do my best!

Basically, we just survived the worst blizzard since our famed 1991 "Halloween" blizzard. And let's see in 1991 I was only nine, so yeah, didn't have to really deal with the issues such a storm can cause. So anyway, let's rewind a bit.

Friday night we had a rehearsal with Praise Project and our director was smart enough to call the church we were scheduled to sing at and see if we could set up our equipment on Friday night so we would not have to deal with it in the snow. So after a super short rehearsal, we drove the drums down, set them up and that was that. Stopped to have a beer at Barley Johns and it was just starting to snow when we headed home around 11. It wasn't too bad yet.

Saturday morning I got myself up early enough so I could go and feed my parents cat since they were due in around 3:00. And I looked outside and sure enough, there was already a good seven inches on the ground. Fortunately my CRV gets through just about anything, so I got down to their house with no problem and even made it over to Caribou on my way back also without much problem.

We headed out to start shoveling around noon, even though the plows hadn't been through yet. We wanted to make less work for later. Meanwhile, I was checking the reports and checking in with my parents to find out how delayed they'd be. First they were told an hour and a half, then they were told three hours. My sister-in-law's flight ended up cancelled. When the airport closed here, I figured my parents weren't getting here either, though they kept reporting just a delay.

We finished our shoveling and took showers and got dressed to go to Praise Project. It was just down in Northeast Minneapolis, so I figured a half hour would be plenty of time to get there...except then just as we stepped out the door, the plows decided to come by. And bury us in a three foot plow ridge. There may have been profanities coming out of my mouth at that point.

So, I called our director and told her we'd be late, while Nate attacked the plow ridge enough that we could at least get my car out. We were tempted to just stay home - but since the drums were there, we kind of wanted to go down and get them.

Driving down there I've never been so scared in my entire life. The wind had really picked up at this point and it was true white out. I have never driven with such bad visibility. We went up and over a railroad bridge where it was very open and it was just very scary. Nate was ready to talk me into turning around, but once we got past that point and into an area with a lot of buildings, we were a little more protected.

Fortunately the church parking lot was plowed out really well. We got in just in time for the second prelude. There were two people sitting in the entire church. By the time mass started, there were six people in church, one priest, one acolyte, one reader. And then there were nine of us in the group - so a grand total of 18 people. It was odd.

Going home was much better, the roads were still pretty yucky, but the visibility had improved. I still hadn't heard from my parents again, so figured it was a good idea to go and feed the cat just so she had some food in case they didn't get home until three in the morning or something. We got to their house and I felt so bad - their driveway was a nightmare. And if we had tried to clean it out for them we would've been there until midnight. My mom had previously told me earlier in the day to not worry about it, just make sure the cat had food, so I just trudged up the driveway to get into the house, fed her and we made our trek back home. Now we were seeing all the idiots out on the roads and that made the drive both frustrating, but semi entertaining.

We finally made it home and decided to just make grilled cheese sandwiches and drink beer for dinner. I am not ashamed of our choice! It was a tough day, that beer was well deserved. And definitely helped ease the aches and pains a bit from shoveling. We settled in with some television shows and the phone rang at 6:30. I was shocked when it was my dad on the other end saying they had just landed! I warned him of the roads and what to expect when they got to their house. I was so surprised they made it, it was only about three hours late, not bad all things considered.

My sister in law was not so lucky, she had to spend the night in Atlanta. She made it home late yesterday from what I understand.

Sunday we slept in and then got up and attacked the driveway again. It went much faster and easier without the snow blowing and falling as we worked. We seriously have no more places to put any snow. Backing in and out of the driveway will be a challenge for awhile and I can't believe we didn't bury the lightpost - it's close, but not quite buried. After that I showered and then headed to my mom and dad's to catch up with them and hear all the stories of the trip. Sounds like traveling with 17 other people is an experience to say the least. But they did have a good time.

We finished out our weekend by grocery shopping and grabbing a bite at La Casita and then just crashing.

I had so many other things I wanted to get done this weekend - namely Christmas shopping - and feel like I'm SO behind on Christmas in general right now. I know it will all come together, but I am not as organized as I should be at this point. Hopefully having my mom back now should help and if it just would stop snowing on the weekends, we should be able to get a bunch of stuff done next weekend. Just going to have to be uber efficient!

So that is my story. Hopefully all my other MN friends survived Snowmegeddon just fine as well!


I'm famous again...kind of...

I'm famous again!

Ok, not that famous. But I am proud to announce I have another featured article in the Muppet Mindset that can be found here: http://themuppetmindset.blogspot.com/2010/12/muppet-fan-testimonials-beth-kondrick.html

You may recall earlier this year I had a featured article on Muppet Toys of my youth. This time it is a "fan testimonial" in which I attempt to define my fandom. So if you've ever been curious as to why I love the Muppets - check it out, I try my hardest to explain!

I have to say - the Muppet Mindset has just exploded this last year in popularity and has gained attention from some of the most famous people in the world of Jim Henson, so it's a thrill when I get a chance to contribute. I have known the creator of the Mindset for a number of years now and I couldn't be prouder of what he's doing and let me tell you - this kid is going places, I have no doubt in my mind he'll be part of the Disney/Henson team someday and I'll be going "man, I knew that guy way back when..."

In other news, continuing to pray for the safe return of my parents and sister in law tomorrow. Hoping beyond hope the news folks are just overhyping this entire thing...we'll see!


Stop with the snow already

Ok I am all for a White Christmas. I really am. And I have enjoyed seeing the snow we've had so far. But now they're predicting a potential blizzard on Saturday. Normally this wouldn't bug me that much being on a weekend and all but there's this one little thing...
My parents are due to arrive in the late afternoon via plane from their trip. And I just want them home safe. My sister in law is also flying in late Saturday and I'd like her to be safe too.

And it's silly, but I've missed my parents, especially my mom, more than I really want to admit this week. Of course I'm glad they got to go and I'm glad they've been having a good time, but I seriously miss them.

My mom is my best friend. Even back when I didn't have the opportunity to spend the lunch hour every day with her I used to talk to her every day on the phone - sometimes twice. When I've gone out of town I've called to check in pretty much every day. It hasn't been super easy for her to do that from Florida. So this has been a little bit odd for me.

And now with this impending snowstorm I'm just so nervous about them getting home. So I have to say, sorry to any snow enthusiasts, but I am doing a super big ANTI Snow dance.

Cause you know what, I don't care if I'm 29 years old. I want my mommy back.

Picture done for my dad's birthday once again by my favorite photographer, Jes Lee



Wow, I am so glad I'm not having to post every day right now - I have been lacking ideas and motivation to do so!

Even today is going to mostly just be babbles from me.

My week has been a bit of a fog actually. I blame that on having my whole schedule kind of disrupted in the fact that I have to go to my parents a couple of times a day to feed and take care of Cleo. She's doing fine though - she misses them I think, but she's eating good and that makes me happy. She's warmed up to me quite nicely too, in fact, she actually sat on my lap today!

I have heard from them a couple of times - apparently it is quite cold there for Florida, it hasn't been warmer than 60 since they've been there and they've even warn their winter coats a bit. My dad even cancelled his golf game - why would you want to golf in 29 degree weather in the morning? You could almost do that here. I have been told there are "stories"; due to traveling with 17 other people, I suppose that is expected. But they have had a nice time in spite of those issues.

I'm very happy to have figured out most all of my gifts for people now, since my last post on that subject I did some brainstorming and I am pretty excited about what I have come up with. I'm finding I'm having a much easier time getting into a Christmas spirit than I did last year - I do not know what it was about last year, but I struggled a bit. This year, so far, I'm feeling good.

I have my yearly physical today. They wanted me to do a fasting lab (check cholesterol and stuff, I'm young, but apparently it's never too early) but that was not happening with the appointment being at 3:00 in the afternoon. I'll have to reschedule that portion which is fine with me, I wasn't looking forward to being poked today. I hate blood draws - they do not ever go well for me.

A pleasant surprise - or maybe more of an embarrassment - I have discovered I have more time off banked right now than I know what to do with. I'm sure my HR people think I was hoarding it. The problem is, it was never explained well to me that the hours carry over to next year that are not used, while you are still accruing NEW hours. And it wasn't until this year that I really used my time off to my advantage. And now starting January 1st our maximum amount that you can accrue in a year is being lowered and I'm very, VERY close to the capping point where I'll stop earning new hours - YIKES! So, I'm opting to take the week between Christmas and New Year's off for now and will definitely look at using some time off next summer too. It is unfortunate that Nate does not get more time off in a year - but I'm sure I'll fill that week with some fun things. Anyone else off during that time and want to hang out? Let me know!

So there you go. That's pretty much where I am at today. Guess I haven't done one of these in awhile, so I was probably due!


Music Monday - Silent Night

Yes Silent Night is a classic Christmas carol/hymn. Yes I know you've all heard it before. But, have you ever heard this version?

Priscilla Ahn's treatment of this beautiful tune is haunting, goes just a little deeper and almost stirs a bit of melancholy. But it is lovely. It can be found on a CD called "The Hotel Cafe Presents: Winter Songs" which just might be my favorite Christmas CD ever.

As it's a very cold, slightly snowy morning, this song just suits my mood today, so I bring it here for Music Monday.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvjdfFYXYPU


The spirit of giving

It is no secret that I absolutely love the holidays. I love decorating and baking and carols and holiday movies and specials.

I love shopping too...except when I have a hard time coming up with gift ideas. And that is where I'm at right now. So I am kind of NOT loving shopping at the moment. I kind of feel like this year might be one of those years where I have to drop myself down in the middle of the mall and just wander around and see what strikes my fancy.

It doesn't help that my favorite partner in crime for shopping (me madre) will be gone for a week either! Usually she can help me figure things out a bit. We'll just have to hit it hard when she gets back (along with a TON of baking...).

Thanks to the generosity of some friends, I think I have Nate figured out - I had an epic idea earlier this week - but then the necessary items sold out extremely fast so I had given up on it. But I have friends that were able to purchase said items and they have offered to sell them to me, which is just kind beyond words. Yes this is all rather vague, I just don't want to give anything away if Nate stumbles onto the blog. I don't think he reads much but just in case...

But I buy gifts for more than just my husband so I am stumped on pretty much everyone else on my list. And this week I read a blog post of a friend of mine that has definitely had me thinking as well. The post is here and includes a short video that is quite thought provoking.

It should not be this difficult - so I'm really trying to just kind of look inside my heart a bit more this year and I think that will hopefully lead me to ideas that are nice and meaningful. And I know that my recipients will know that what they are given is given with love and that is the only thing that truly matters. That is the spirit of giving.


Once in a lifetime

The people in the above picture (not the greatest picture, but I actually do not really have any of the two of them on my computer) are of course two of the most important people in the world to me seeing as they kind of gave me life and raised me. And in a few days, they are going on the trip of a lifetime and I am so happy (and jealous) but mostly happy for them.

The story begins a few months ago - about two weeks after my grandma died, my mom got a phone call from my aunt and uncle - they said they wanted to take my mom and all her siblings plus their spouses to Disney World. For a week. All inclusive. All expenses (minus spending money) PAID. Airfare covered. Hotel fares covered. Dinners as a family covered.

I should briefly explain - my uncle was an only child and handled not just his mother's finances but his aunt's and he came into quite a bit of money when they both passed on. He and my aunt have been able to do this type of trip a couple of times with my aunt's children and their children in fact. Anyway, my uncle loved my grandma as much as his own mother, so he said he wanted to do this for my mom's family in her honor - especially since she loved Disney World so much.

When it was put to them that way - my parents were like, how can you turn that down? It is extremely generous of my aunt and uncle. Now, my parents and I were blessed to be able to go to Disney World four times when I was growing up - but we never experienced it the way that they are about to. They will be able to do anything they want more or less - if my dad wants to golf he can golf. My mom and aunts are getting massages. They will get to eat at some of the nicest restaurants at the parks and stay in probably THE nicest hotel there.

In all seriousness, my mom's family as a whole has been through a lot in the last few years, not just the loss of my grandma, but also of two of my mom's brothers passed away and two of her other siblings have been battling cancer as well. It's a large family - these things happen. So, I cannot imagine any people who are more deserving than the some 17 of them that will be going. Plus, it'll be a chance for my mom and her siblings to really reconnect since some haven't really had that chance since they were children.

I am so excited for them, I know they will have an amazing time. I'm hopeful that Nate and I will be able to go there with them someday, but for now, I'm going to live vicariously and wish them the best trip ever!

Side note - today is also my dad's birthday - so happy birthday Dad!