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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sad day on Fourth Avenue

Today we said goodbye to our wonderful, kind neighbor, Elaine B., who passed away suddenly on Christmas day after suffering a devastating stroke on Christmas Eve. We are in shock. Her family, friends and the neighbors on our street are reeling from the sudden loss of Elaine. There is much talk of "if I knew that would be the the last time I saw her/spoke with her...," and much remembering of her sparkly personality and kindness to all. Sometimes it seems like we are so focused on those who are chronically ill or whose health is in decline due to advanced age or a lingering medical condition that we forget others can be "snatched" from us without notice.

We are all so sad...the street will not be the same without her. RIP, Elaine. You will be missed.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

Calm, quiet Christmas
morning
Of course, you are probably expecting a Christmas update from the Bakers...? Here it is!

First of all, it was wonderful to be off for 10 days starting last Tuesday. On Tuesday evening we hosted NAGAP friends Dave and Leo who were up from Florida visiting friends who live in Rochester, and that was delightful with delicious desserts from Pittsford Dairy (another indication that is going to be tough eating week (month) for my calories). A visit from them kicked the holiday off right. Also that night we played host to the sweet kitten my coworker Tonya was giving her family on Christmas day. What fun that was! He was so sweet, and we think Jasper really liked having him around...he was very curious and gentle. He's now happily settled into his new home with the new name of "Nicky" - I'm thinking that might be short for St. Nicolas?

On Christmas morning, I got up early to make Grammie Versprille's apple kuchen for breakfast at Lena and Ken's house, where we were joined by Nara and Jim. But, before that was the ever-exciting opening of presents at the Bakerhaus. I just love the serenity and special feeling about Christmas morning, with the gentle lighting from the tree and the fire going. We had a nice morning of opening presents, with a couple of surprises, before getting ready to head out for breakfast.

For Christmas, I was showered with my beloved Yankee Candles (I like the ones that smell like baking), and a FitBit to track my steps, etc, along with a spa gift certificate to the DelMonte, among other great things. I super excited to surprise Mark with a Fairport Brewing Company Mug Club membership for 2014-2014, and Orvis stuff. Cam, of course, got his new iPhone around Thanksgiving, but also received some nice dress up clothes and cologne under the tree. Annalisse got new boots, and a new iHome, along with some spending $$ for her trip to Florida the day after Christmas (with the Meritts).

After breakfast it was home to get snacks and dinner ready for Grandma Pat, Nicole and Patrick's celebration at our house. Everyone came around 2pm and we had a very nice time chatting, eating snacks and opening presents until we sat down to an early dinner. By 6pm we were all wiped out, but it was a "good tired!"

Another Christmas has come and gone. While it was a tough year in many ways, there have been many blessings. I have found that during the tough times you really have to focus on the fact that good times are just around the corner, we just have to be patient. I continue to be so thankful for my wonderful family and friends, they are certainly "gift" enough this, and every, Christmas!!

Silly boy
Lap dog 
Three kids
The Bakers

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Vacation Mish-Mash

Hurray! Vacation time is here. The year is wrapping up, and while I may need to do a little work over the break, I'm (mostly) free from the commitments of the working world, at least for a little while!

It's been sort of a disappointing week for Cam. He had a couple of unexpectedly lower grades this term, but still maintains an overall GPA of 2.9 in his program. My thinking about his grades has truly shifted from "he's not studying enough" to "wow, he's in a really hard program." Still, he was visibly upset about his first C-; apparently he thought he had in the "low Bs" in that class. I think he's feeling under a lot of pressure lately, and it didn't help that he got his first speeding ticket today on his way home from seeing Shaina in Oswego. I have warmed him many times about speeding, but nothing drives "mother's point" home better than the terror and panic of seeing the flashing lights behind you, doing 75 in a 55. Lesson learned. Very upset...us, and him. He's been a little down so I'm hoping the coming holiday will cheer him up!

Annalisse is spending her break watching crime dramas and waiting for her grades to come in. Only one grade is outstanding and she currently has a...wait for it...3.7 GPA for the fall term!! She really knocked it out of the ballpark. If her next grade is a "B" she'll probably end up with around a 3.6. Amazing for her first term at SU!!

We have a friend's kitten for a couple of days. He's a super cute little tabby/tiger (7 weeks old) who will be her daughter's present on Christmas morning. I really miss having a kitten/cat around. He looks just like Bailey when she was a kitten all those years ago.

Tomorrow will be Christmas Eve, and the day will find me shopping for Christmas dinner (spiral ham, I'm thinking) and picking up last minute stocking stuffers. In the early evening we'll go to church, then over to Aunt Mary and Uncle Pete's for the annual Christmas Eve party. As always, the holiday excitement is building...and of course I'm given over to being excited in spite of myself!

Merry (almost) Christmas, Friends, far and near!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Final Stretch

The new year is just around the corner, and sometimes I wonder how I will get everything done in time to wrap up the "old year." Things are super crazy at work and I have some major things to accomplish by Christmas break (since I will also be out for the first three weeks [or so] of January for my surgery), there is still a little shopping to be done, and, of course, I need to fit in a nap or two on the weekends! I also need to finish my bookclub book by January 5 (My Antonia - slow going).

Adding to the anxiety is waiting for the kid's grades to come in from the fall term, and hoping they did well (we ask for "B"s or better). It is nice, though, that Annalisse is finished with her first term at Syracuse and can really enjoy her break, which will include a trip to Florida with Alex's family between Christmas and New Year's. LUCKY! Cam has two more finals and will be home on Tuesday. His break will include having to check in (and serve) for jury duty. Once home, he doesn't return to school until January 25, although I expect he may hang at his apartment once in a while during the break, especially if he's having a party!

So, deep breath, it will all get done!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Advent - Waiting

Baker Tree '14
Although I complain about Christmas, it's probably more about how quickly the years are passing (and all the work that comes with decorating and un-decorating the house), and the expense of it all. Ironically, that's also what I love about Christmas. Go figure. WOMEN!

We broke with tradition a little and bought a tree from the Boy Scouts this year. Yesterday, was so cold, dark and rainy that I was not in the mood to tromp through icy mud to find a tree, and be chilled to the bone for the rest of the day. So, since my window of "getting all this done" is so short we decided to go a couple of blocks to the Village and get a pre-cut. It's pretty nice, but I expect we'll have more need dropping since it was probably cut a while ago.

It remains a little weird to do all this without the kids home. It reminds so much of the years when it was just Mark, the cats, and I except now it's Mark, me and Jasper decorating (but mostly me!). Every year it seems I gain more decorations (and stuff), and I really only put out a a small portion of it. It reminds me of all the stuff we went through at my Mother's and how it all adds up from year to year. I'm a bit of a minimalist, but I can certainly appreciate those whose homes are really "decked" in every corner and every surface space. For me, though, less is more.

I think I'm in a different place with these weeks leading up to Christmas than I was a year ago. I think having faced one of life's greatest threats this year has made me feel Advent in a deeper, more meaningful, more grateful way. I hate to be cliche but this year has really been a wake up call in so many ways. With the bad, though, came so many blessings that make this year's preparations even more special.

On Friday, Annalisse will be home from her first semester at SU, and her brother will be home the week after that. Then the house will be bustling again!