Hanukkah sameach! Wishing all who celebrate a happy and peaceful Hanukkah along with best wishes for the coming year.
In spite of breakdowns, storms, squalls, delayed flights with late departures, and middle-of-the-night arrivals, the girls (and one boyfriend) all eventually made it to Portland this past week. Meiling left yesterday morning for a couple of days down in Eugene with K and his family, but she’ll be back tomorrow. Currently, the girls are awaiting a few more of their packages to arrive, but otherwise, we all are ready for Wednesday’s festivities. And my goodness, these girls still eat a LOT! I’m frankly shocked by how much they can still put away. Meiling received some big news the day after she arrived: although she has been at her job less than two months, apparently she has made a very good impression because this past Thursday she learned her manager would be leaving the company to take a position elsewhere . . . and she was asked to take over the manager’s position! She was initially very stressed by the offer, torn between wanting the increase in salary/benefits versus the added stress she’d be taking on, at least for the first few months. However, with encouragement from her manager and several others in the company, and from her boyfriend and Brett and me, she has decided to accept the position and is getting prepped. Her manager, who Meiling adores, is already helping her with the transition and will continue to serve as her mentor even after she leaves. To say Brett and I are impressed and proud of this girl would be an understatement.
Brett had a follow-up appointment this past week with the doctor regarding the endocrinology issue that was discovered this past summer. The doctor wants him to have surgery to remove a misfiring parathyroid gland in the coming year, but how and when he will get this done is going to be a challenge as we will be out of the U.S. for the first half of the year, and not be back in Portland for at least a year. Thankfully the issue is not as troublesome as it was last summer, nor is the surgery urgent. We’ve already checked on whether this was something he could have done in Japan while we’re there, at the naval hospital, but we found out that endocrinology is not handled there; patients requiring the same surgery as Brett would either be sent back to the U.S. or out to a Japanese hospital. Anyway, fitting this in is going to affect future plans one way or another as it’s a very delicate procedure and the doctor did not recommend getting it done just anywhere.
I will be taking the next week off from the blog but will be back next Sunday. I am so ready for the big day on Wednesday – the girls are here, almost all the gifts have arrived and have been wrapped, and all the food has been bought and is ready to prepare. Beyond the holiday hoopla, I’m planning to bask in the simple joy of our family being together. I know our time together will fly by, but I’m going to enjoy every moment we get.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I finished The Jewel That Was Ours, #9 in the Inspector Morse series (which had a different ending from the TV program – I was surprised) and immediately downloaded book #10, The Way Through the Woods, from the library. I won’t get all the Morse books finished by the end of the year, but I’m making good progress.
- Listening to: The heater is running strong this morning – it’s cold outside! Brett is making coffee and putting away yesterday’s dishes, and WenYu and YaYu are still asleep. In other words, another quiet morning (so far)!
- Watching: Brett and I binge-watched the British detective series, Broadchurch, at the beginning of the week. We’d seen the series before but found it just as compelling the second time around. David Tennant and Olivia Colman have to be two of the best British actors working these days – both their performances were amazing. Meiling and WenYu went together on a subscription to Disney+ and have set that up here, so the girls have been busy watching stuff on that channel as well as all sorts of videos about their favorite K-Pop group, BTS (they are all slightly obsessed), and YaYu is catching up with everything.
- Cooking: There will be lots of activity going on in the kitchen this week! We will be having big bowls of vegetarian dumpling soup this evening and tomorrow night, when we’re all back together, I’m putting together a big salad bar for our dinner (along with some sourdough bread). Then, on Christmas Eve, we’re having a pizza night. I going to make four different pizzas: classic pepperoni; roasted vegetable; lamb sausage with feta and artichoke hearts on pesto; and Thai chicken. On Christmas Day we’ll be having ham, macaroni & cheese, roasted Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and apple and cherry pies for dessert. After Christmas, I’ll be making turkey divan casserole; pasta with ham, peppers, and spinach; and super nachos one night to break up the ham and turkey monotony. I actually baked a couple of times this past week – a pan of brownies for the girls and a pumpkin coffee cake.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: Our big accomplishment this past week was getting all the girls and one boyfriend picked up at the airport no matter how delayed their flights were or what time in the middle of the night they finally arrived. Keeping them fed has been a bit of an accomplishment as well!
- Looking forward to next week: Christmas, of course! But most of all just being together with Brett and the girls – the only thing that could make the week better would be having our son and his family here too. We put a different twist on the girls’ Christmas stockings this year and I’m excited to see how they react to that.
- Thinking of good things that happened: Our hosts brought up some extra Christmas ornaments they had after decorating their tree, and now our little tree is all decked out for the big day! Little by little my stomach issues are getting better. It’s been a learning experience though about what and when to eat and what I need to avoid (for example, chocolate has sadly turned out to be an irritant), and when to take medication, etc. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m getting there. Brett took all the girls and Meiling’s boyfriend out to a doughnut shop just up the street for breakfast yesterday. I haven’t had a doughnut in ages, but the jelly-filled (my favorite) they brought me was very good and much appreciated.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than one last shop for a few things at Winco on Wednesday, parking fees at the airport ($9 total), and the trip to the doughnut shop yesterday morning we had a no-spend week. There’s also been no effort or worry this week about leftovers getting eaten!
- Grateful for: I’m so thankful that the girls all arrived safely in Portland and that we’re together again. I love hearing their chatter and their laughter.
- Bonus question: Have you ever regifted or returned something you got for Christmas? Yes, but only a very, very few times. I’ve only made one return that I can remember. For our first Christmas together Brett gave me a sweater. I liked it except for the color (pale tangerine orange and I don’t look good in pastels). I asked him if it was OK if I exchanged it for a different color, and he said OK so we went back to the store. However, none of the other colors were available in my size and I ended up exchanging the sweater for something else. I knew he felt disappointed, especially that he had missed on the color, but I wore the new top I got in exchange a lot so it all worked out. I can only remember regifting a couple of items, a massive three-level cake stand I received from someone one year and a set of cut-glass wine glasses I got from one of my students. Neither was something I liked nor would use and I regifted both to people who were happy to have them. There have probably been a very few other items I’ve passed along but I don’t remember them.
No matter what you celebrate this coming week, or with whom, or whether you celebrate at all, I hope everyone has the holiday they hope for and makes wonderful memories in some way. I know it can be a difficult time for some (it was for me for many years), so take care of yourself and your heart, and ask for help if you need it. For all, I wish a time of comfort, peace, calm, and love.
Happy holidays to all!