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Merry Christmas Friends

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas is a special time of year celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also a time that brings families and friends together exchanging gifts, sharing wonderful meals, and just enjoying each othersí company. We often think of all we have to be thankful for on this day, but maybe we should try to appreciate the things we have all year long.

During the course of everyday living, it is easy to dwell on the things that are wrong in our lives. There is always something to worry about and whatever those worries are, they are often hard to put out of our minds and can tend to occupy the majority of our thoughts.

When Tommy was diagnosed with cancer, that was one of the worst days of my life. All seemed hopeless and I felt lost. I looked at all of the family members, and I saw those same feelings of shock and helplessness in everyone elseís eyes also. The pain was unbearable and I was scared for Tommy; I couldnít begin to imagine how he must feel. I wanted to take away his fears, but I couldnít. All I could do was be there for him. Those thoughts still creep into my mind on a regular basis, but I have learned so much from Tommy that it is becoming easier to drive away the negative thoughts. Of course, I still wish I could snap my fingers and Tommy would be cured forever, but since I canít, I can only trust God that there is a reason things are happening as they are.

I was cooking dinner the other night when Tommy made the remark, ďIíve always been lucky in life.Ē I paused for a moment as I tried to understand how he could consider himself lucky when he is battling pancreatic cancer. I didnít say anything to him, but continued working in the kitchen while trying to process this in my mind. It took some time, but then I began to realize that he was right. Despite his diagnosis, he has been lucky in life, and so have I.

What we are dealing with is part of life, just like the countless others we see every time we go to the cancer center. To us they are nameless faces, but to someone else they are the world. They are all someoneís family member, someone who is loved, someone who received the same diagnosis of cancer that left another family also feeling devastated and scared. Yet, they are all there, brave souls who are moving forward and fighting for their lives. Most importantly, they are living their lives. These people truly appreciate every day of life.

I thought about when we were told that Tommy probably had six months to a year to live, and then I smiled - he is now enjoying his fourth Christmas since his diagnosis, without being hooked up to a chemo pump. He has become the poster boy for the cancer center on how to live with pancreatic cancer. God is good and we are truly fortunate.

I started thinking about how lucky we both are to have such supportive family members in our lives. I thought about the last three years and the amazingly wonderful times we have had. Weíve made several trips to the southwest, several trips to Florida and to Myrtle Beach, and numerous trips to the mountains. Weíve gone hiking and bike riding, been out on boats, been to several races that he loves so much, and he has watched his grandchildren continue to grow. We spent his birthday in Andy Griffithís childhood home and we got to meet Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), a highlight for him. I could go on and on because there are so many things we have done, and I plan for us to do a lot more. My goal is to keep him encouraged and looking forward to his next adventure. We still have our bad days, but the good ones far outnumber the bad. And most importantly, we laugh, a lot. Despite his illness, we are continuing to live our lives with new hope for each day.

Last week, we received a Christmas gift from a family member that was almost unbelievable to us. Because of medical bills, we have both been driving older cars hoping that they would keep running. We received a gift of a car, the very kind that Tommy had been wanting to buy but we simply couldnít afford. We are both so excited, but thought and thought about how to repay someone for this. We walked around the stores trying to find the perfect gift for this person. We finally settled on a nice gift, but it still didnít seem like enough. We know she doesnít expect repayment; she doesnít even want others to know what she did for us. Itís just the type of person she is, always doing for others. So how do we repay someone for always being there when we need them? We canít. We can only say thank you so very much to her for all she has done. Yes, Tommy was right. We truly are lucky in life and we need to remember this every day.

Enjoy your day today with all of your loved ones; hug them and tell them you love them. Appreciate all that God has given you. Life is short, so we have to live and enjoy every day.

Merry Christmas my friends!

Our Honda Fit

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

_JODI404 12/27/2012 12:15PM


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us. This blog really moved me. I have lost very dear loved ones... my Mom & my Dad. I *know* that life is short and precious. An attitude of gratitude is what will see us through. Yet, sometimes I still find myself taking things for granted... even though I know so much better. Reading your blog is a wonderful reminder for me of what is truly important in life.

I do think that you & Tommy are so blessed and lucky. So very lucky to have each other and all of these awesome adventures and hopefully many more to enjoy in 2013!! Living life to the fullest is definitely a great achievement!

Wishing you much more laughter, great adventures, hope, faith, and LOVE!! I hope it's another wonderful year for you, Tommy, and Thor.

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DEBBIEDAY 12/26/2012 10:53AM

    AWESOME reminded that we are indeed lucky ( or blessed) with each new day we have here on this earth!! Beautiful Christmas gift, I'm sure it will take you all on more exciting adventures in the New Year!!!!

Hugs & Prayers !

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WORLDSERIES11 12/26/2012 3:04AM

    This was beautiful Cindy!! We are so lucky to be allowed to share in your story and to learn from your faith and strength!! And congrats on the car...it looks great!

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SHESMITH1 12/25/2012 8:47PM

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful and personal thoughts, Cindy. I'm in awe of the power of faith manifested by your and Tommy's lives. God does not give us more than we can handle. The most special people endure some of life's greatest hardships, because He has created them to bear them. May you be doubly blessed for blessing us with your words.
I pray that 2013 will be as beautiful for you as you have painted 2012 to be for us.

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LYNDALOVES2HIKE 12/25/2012 7:59PM

    What a great blog - thank you so much for sharing your good luck with us! Hope you both enjoy your car for many, many more years to come!!!

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LIVINGFREE19 12/25/2012 7:31PM

    What a beautiful blog, my friend!
We should all definitely count our blessings!

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SKIPPYDOG 12/25/2012 7:12PM

    Merry Christmas, that is awesome about your car, you guys deserve it. emoticon

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GOLFGMA 12/25/2012 6:42PM

    What a beautiful blog! (the car is extremely nice too). You and Tommy are blessed with each other and I would say the love you share couldn't be bought with MasterCard which makes it so precious. Your faith sets an example for all of us to keep in mind and follow. Wishing you a Merry, M emoticon erry Christmas!

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KKLENNERT809 12/25/2012 5:22PM

    Lots of blessings and Merry Chrstmas to you!

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NELLIEC 12/25/2012 4:41PM

    What a blessing. The best gift I can give is the gift of regular prayer!

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SUSANNAH31 12/25/2012 3:15PM

    I remember when you first wrote about your husband being diagnosed.
I am happy for you both that you have been able to spend these past four years together taking trips and engaging in activities that you both enjoy.
I wish you both a very Merry Christmas and many more good times together.


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PS And have fun with that car!!

Comment edited on: 12/25/2012 3:16:53 PM

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LADYVOLSFAN1954 12/25/2012 1:19PM

    Merry Christmas to you all! Yes you have been lucky and truly blessed in life despite Tommy's cancer. I love his attitude. When I worked in the Oncology unit at a local hospital, attitude was one of the defining factors I noticed in people's survival rates (I was a HUC). Those who had the fantastic attitudes towards everything did so much better. Tommy and you are inspirations to us all.
Sending you love & many hugs.
Ramona emoticon

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LIBBYG7 12/25/2012 10:38AM

    Dearest Cindy---
A Very Merry Christmas to you, Tommy, The Boys, and of course, Thor!

You are right on all counts - count your blessings and live each day---never put off what you really want to do -- love and hold close what is dear to you.
I'm one of the lucky ones too....my cancer was treated....and I'm 15 years in remission.

We all have our burdens to bear --- but in reality, there is only the here and now --- and we need to make the best of every moment given to us. You've taught me that in spades! I've had too many trials to count since my cancer - and thought of giving up more than once. Believe it or not = you and Tommy are one of my inspirations for never giving up!!! Believe in Tomorrow!

Big hugs to all...and a special scratch behind the ears for Thor!!!
Luv u.
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(can you hear the bells???)

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EVIE4NOW 12/25/2012 10:21AM

  Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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Tanglewood Festival of Lights

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We've been many times before, but it makes no difference. Every year we have to head to Tanglewood Park to drive through and enjoy the holiday lights display. It's tradition. Sometimes we even go more than once during the season.

Tonight we took Tommy's son Derek, daughter-in-law Sonya, and two grandchildren, Lindsay and Landon, with us. It was so much fun as we listened to Lindsay and Landon squeal with delight at the sight of Rudolph flying across the road above us and at the lighted Santa waving from the side of the road. Halfway through the drive, we stopped at the Big Red Barn where you can go inside and see all the local crafts for sale, and outside is the traditional big bonfire where you can roast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate or cappuccino.

So here's a little taste of the Festival of Lights that we look forward to every year!

The entrance to the park.

The Big Red Barn

Tommy clowning around and Lindsay eating her marshmallows at the bonfire.

The Nativity

I hope you all have the opportunity to enjoy some nice light displays, and seeing them through the eyes of a child makes them even more special.

Good Night my Spark Friends!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SKIPPYDOG 12/24/2012 1:17PM

    thanks for sharing. Have a merry christmas. We are having a white christmas here in the West. YEA!!!

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CHANGE4THEBEST 12/16/2012 5:23PM

    Thanks for sharing your photos - a lovely evening had by all

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REMEMBER2BME 12/15/2012 6:39PM

    Too cool Thanks so much for sharing!

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HICKOK-HALEY 12/15/2012 3:33PM

    Loved all the Christmas lights. I can't believe it has been a year already. The Big Red Barn sounds like a lot of fun as well. I have never been to a public place where you can roast your own marshmallows. What a great day you had. Thanks for sharing with us! emoticon

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_JODI404 12/14/2012 9:46PM

    Your pictures turned out beautifully, and make a nice, festive page background!

Glad you got to enjoy yourselves, especially with the kids along.

Roasting marshmallows sounds wonderful!

Hope you have a good weekend ahead!

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KAYOTIC 12/14/2012 9:29PM

    That really looks lovely! Thanks for sharing it!

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SHESMITH1 12/12/2012 8:27PM

    Thank you, Cindy, for posting such beautiful pictures. I have not been to the Festival in several years (not since there's been a bonfire or crafts for sale at the barn!). Maybe I'll sneak over there with my little Sophie next week!

(Was that GolfGMa in that golfcart?!?!?!?!)

emoticon ...the reason for the season....

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MARGARITTM 12/12/2012 2:31PM

    What fun - brings back some memories of my own - when my son was small!

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LJCANNON 12/12/2012 12:04PM

    emoticon One of my FAVORITE Memories is taking my Grandmother from the Nursing Home to drive through the Christmas Light Display at the City Park. On the spur of the moment we stopped and got out of the car so that she could get her Picture made sitting nest to Santa! I am not sure that she understood that he was just a man dressed up?! She kept talking all evening about how Young his eyes looked! She carried that picture around with her for WEEKS!!
emoticon Taking the Grandchildren through the Display has to be about the only thing Better than that! Thanks for sharing your Lights!!

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SWAZY33 12/12/2012 11:38AM

    Love the pics! We used to have similar display near us but they stopped doing it a couple years ago emoticon

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LIVINGFREE19 12/12/2012 11:37AM

    Thanks for a beautiful blog!
I hope you have a great day!

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LIBBYG7 12/12/2012 10:47AM

    You're a lucky lady!!!

The photos are gorgeous----can't imagine how gorgeous it is in person!!!

Hugs. Libby

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CRYSTALLULLABY 12/12/2012 8:38AM

  Thanks for sharing the pictures - I do love looking for the Christmas Tree that peeks out over the trees when I'm on I-40. We went a few years ago and I remember being blown away by all of it. I also love the tumbling penguins at the entrance (again I also stare down the entrance road at dusk when I'm on 158 to watch it.)

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GOLFGMA 12/12/2012 7:10AM

    Oh Cindy, how beautifully you captured the lights. Took me back a few years of seeing them through the eyes of our children, then the grandchildren. My faves, of course , was the Nativity and then Santa in his golf cart. Every time I see the Nativity I am reminded of how much the birth of Christ means to us who believe, eternal life and love for us beyond compare or even comprehension. Thank you, thank you again for all your blogs this year. Keep'em coming and share this wonderful talent. emoticon Mel

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KAROLINELIEN 12/11/2012 11:30PM

    Wow! Beautiful!

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ILOVEMALI 12/11/2012 11:23PM

    Very cool! I've never seen anything like this!

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WORLDSERIES11 12/11/2012 10:56PM

    Looks like a fun night!! Thanks for the pictures!!

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NELLIEC 12/11/2012 10:48PM


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TIMOTHYNOHE 12/11/2012 10:23PM

    We always like to go to Symphony of Lights in Columbia MD. We love that stuff.

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JACKIE542 12/11/2012 10:16PM

    Very pretty, thank you so much for sharing.

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Shopping and Baking

Monday, December 10, 2012

Days off work should be days to rest, but for most of us that's not how it works out. Being off work today I should be rested up, but I'm more tired tonight than I was when I got home last night. It's not really bad though because overall it was a good day.

Tommy and I got up early because he had to go to the cancer center and get his port flushed. Because he's not on chemo right now, he has to have it flushed out about every six weeks. It only takes about five minutes and then he's finished.

After we left the cancer center we headed to Hanes Mall to do a little Christmas shopping. It was wonderful because there were very few people there and we were able to stroll leisurely around and look.

Even Santa Clause was kind of lonely, but I'm sure when school got out that changed.

Of course we always like to look at the decorations in the stores.

You can see how few people there were in the mall!

The food court with all of its tempting aromas! I'm happy to say that we kept walking.

After a few more quick stops and a couple gift purchases we headed home. When we got home Tommy took a nap and my son Cliff was there. He wanted to make gingerbread cookies so we made a quick run to the store for a few ingredients we needed. When we came home we turned on all the decorations inside and started baking.

Our Christmas tree.

Tommy's favorite decoration is the little Christmas village that we set up in our living room each year.

Oh my gosh! Is that leg lamps? I'm afraid so :-) One of my favorite movies is Christmas Story and several years ago my boys bought me the DVD. Unfortunately for them, it came with this string of leg lamps. They couldn't believe it when I put them up. Now it's become a tradition for me to find someplace in the house to string these up each year, mainly as a joke because my sons say this is the tackiest decoration ever. I just remind them that they bought them for me - haha. This year they're in my kitchen.

Finally, we finished baking and decorating our gingerbread men.

A few of our gingerbread men.

Now I think I'm going to go to bed early and get some much needed rest. We're hoping it doesn't rain tomorrow night so we can go to the Festival of Lights.

I hope all my Spark Friends are having a great week!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOLFGMA 12/23/2012 4:48PM

    Love, the gingerbread men. Good job! emoticon

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ILOVEMALI 12/11/2012 3:57PM

    Sending you best wishes for a sweet holiday season, along with my prayers for your family. xoxo, Deb

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LIVINGFREE19 12/11/2012 3:35PM

    The pics are awesome!
The mall really did have very few people in it.
I am surprised at how busy our Walmart is on Saturday nights. People don't have money to go out to bars so they spend their money wisely-on groceries.
Have a great evening!

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LIBBYG7 12/11/2012 9:30AM

    What a lovely day.....Glad that Tommy's 'treatment' was so short.
I love to shop early in the morning - when the stores are usually empty.....Your mall looks so festive.

You guys sure know how to take a 'normal' day ---- and make it special. And,,,,,,I love your gingerbread men....Yum!!!

Big hugs..

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CRYSTALLULLABY 12/11/2012 8:25AM

  Wow - I can't believe how quiet the mall looked either! It seems like for a day off you got quite a lot accomplished - isn't that the way though? Hope you are well rested today.

I think you will have great weather for Tanglewood tonight. And hopefully it will not be as crowded as it normally is on the weekends. (The only thing I think of this time of year is "Remember you can't take 158 home from Winston." Yet inevitably I will get off the highway at Harper Road on a Saturday night to stop at HT or the gas station and then mumble at myself for forgetting.)

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GOLFGMA 12/11/2012 7:26AM

    Wow, you are busy. My grandsons and I have had a tradition of baking gingerbread men each Christmas. Most times they did the decorating with M & M's for eyes and buttons. They are 14 and 16 now and this year they decided to skip the cookie making. lol My kitchen is decorated with gingerbread items and I will bake some this week. The GS's still like to eat them! emoticon

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HICKOK-HALEY 12/11/2012 3:45AM

    The mall looks so festive. I love all the colors of Christmas. Our mall is packed. Even driving past the mall is crazy lol. I haven't been inside the mall yet, but you have inspired me. I should go. The cookies are adorable. Yum! emoticon

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_JODI404 12/10/2012 11:37PM

    I totally relate to often being more worn out from my days off!! Especially in the month of December ~ the to-do list just never ends!!

Sounds like you had a nice day, and it's always nice to avoid the hectic shopping crowds like you did today.

Your tree looks beautiful. Gingerbread cookies are definitely a favorite of mine ~ yours look wonderful! LOL at the leg lights!! I love it!

Hope you make it to the Festival of Lights tomorrow!

Have a great week!

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WORLDSERIES11 12/10/2012 11:20PM

    What a festive and fun day!!!
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NELLIEC 12/10/2012 10:26PM

    Since I have dry eye and dry mouth problems, it has pretty much killed my sense of smell, though I can smell very intense odors. Some people would say that is terrible, but since I like to look on the bright side, I can say I am less likely to be tempted by cooking odors! emoticon

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LACIEKAY 12/10/2012 9:46PM

    love the leg lamps emoticon

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JO88BAKO 12/10/2012 9:43PM

    Pretty tree. Cookies are adorable-look to good to eat. Merry Christmas

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My Own Private Summer

Sunday, December 09, 2012

I remember a few years ago when the seasons would change, I would put away my summer clothes and get out the winter ones. Yep, thatís what I used to do. Somewhere tucked away in a few boxes are some nice winter sweaters, shirts and pants (hopefully too big now), but I havenít bothered to get them out the last couple of years. Instead, I am wearing my summer clothes year round.

Why? Because I would have a meltdown during a hot flash if I was wearing heavy winter clothing. Oh my gosh, how long do hot flashes last? Itís going on three years now, so surely this will end soon. Each day I put on my summer clothes and then put on a light sweater. Then all day long itís sweater on, sweater off, sweater on . . . (You get the picture). They even make fun of me at work with my own little personal fan blowing on me. And I wonít even go into the constant cover on, cover off thing all night long while Iím attempting to get some sleep! I also fear a palace revolt at home as I listen to constant complaints about how cold it is in our house. Really? It feels pretty good to me! emoticon

I also have a ChapStick addiction and carry it with me all the time. I used to carry it in my pants pocket, but I canít do that anymore either. Did you know that hot flashes can actually cause it to begin to melt in your pocket? Never had that problem before the hot flashes. Now I have to leave it on my desk at work, and at home I have tubes strategically placed around my house for quick access! LOL. emoticon

Iím even beginning to feel guilty because we hear so much about global warming and Iím thinking I may be personally contributing to it. My apologies to you all.

Iím really hoping that someday soon I will be able to once again dress like everyone else. For now though, Iíll continue to pull my hair up off my neck, keep my fan handy and wear my summer clothes.

I hope you all have a great week!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOLFGMA 12/10/2012 9:27AM

    Cindy, I laughed so hard reading this. Having gone through this I can certainly relate. Mine were not this bad, however. I relied on soy tablets to help and a friend went to a health foods store and had a reccomendation from a sales rep there for help and it was a form of soy that helped her. Hope you can find some relief and I look forward to the next blog. emoticon

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ILOVEMALI 12/10/2012 2:16AM

    Keep your chin up, keep hydrated, and keep your sense of humor! That having been said, it still really stinks, doesn't it!! Lol! Xoxo, Deb

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DOODIE59 12/9/2012 10:47PM

    First off, let me say: You are FUNNY, Cindy! Thanks for the laugh:) You're gonna hate me when I say I flew through menopause, but I have watched two of my friends take the long suffering route. One has a fresh nightie beside her bed each night -- for years now. The other wears four layers to work, and rotates them throughout the day, most times, each hour, so I do know what you're talking about! Menopause ain't for sissies!
Good for you for keeping your sense of humour -- it's the only way:)
Deirdre emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MJ7DM33 12/9/2012 9:33PM

  I hope it all goes away really soon!

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LIVINGFREE19 12/9/2012 5:27PM

    Sad to hear about this! I know my time is coming...I am 46 so it is soon on its way!

I have heard that there is something natural that can really help with hot flashes although I don't remember what it is.


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NELLIEC 12/9/2012 5:24PM

    Are you using Hormone Replacement Therapy? That can prolong your menopause.

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WORLDSERIES11 12/9/2012 4:40PM

    Cindy, love your sense of humor!! I've found that if you can find the laughter it makes the situation so much easier to deal with!! Hang in there, this too shall pass, as they say. In the meantime, imagine yourself in a tropical location when things start heating up emoticon emoticon
PS....Thor looks adorable emoticon

Comment edited on: 12/9/2012 4:41:12 PM

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ODAT1117 12/9/2012 4:36PM

    That is hilarious!!! :-)

I'm 48 and I've only had a few REAL hot flashes. I used to have a problem with night sweats but since I've gone gluten free.........no more!!! When I was having trouble with the sweats and some other symptoms, my gynecologist recommended taking an herb called "Holy Basil" - not basil - "holy" basil. OMG does it work!!!!!!! Those crazy mood swings disappeared almost completed and so did the sweats. I don't need to take it anymore since I went gluten free (after I learned I was gluten intolerant) but I know it's there if I need it. I'm glad it was something my doc had recommended and not something I had just heard about or tried on my own. The capsules taste kind of peppery and it tends to try out my mouth but that's okay because it just makes me drink more water. Anyway, that's what worked for me. I really hope you find some relief and that you fly through the rest of this phase of "growing up" very very quickly. :-)

Thanks for sharing and writing this blog! It's great to find tidbits to keep a smile on my face. :-D


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LINDAKAY228 12/9/2012 2:02PM

    Glad you can have a sense of humor about it. I had a hysterectomy about 17 years ago, including ovaries, so I went through an instant change then. But I tend to get too hot easily in the summer and in winter like to be a little cool too. At home I wear shorts and a tank top much of the time inside. And I keep my house cooler too. I hardly ever wear pullover sweaters although I have a few, because I get too hot in them in a room that's at "normal" temperature such as 70 degrees or so. Hope this passes for you soon.

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LIBBYG7 12/9/2012 1:10PM

    Oh Cindy....
It's so great to go through this stage of your life with grace and humor.......gotta' have humor!!
I had years of intense hot flashes.....I mean 3-6 times an hour, day in and day out. Hardly had night sweats, tho' ===mmmmmm, strange.

Then they were over! Joy.....

Now they're back. Not so much joy..... I get these 'flushes' regularly - and at random - due to the Lupus and the steroids. So I hear 'ya! I go out into 20 degree weather without socks!! I keep my windows open - almost all the time.....and I can't wear fleece anymore --- sob, sob.... I sweat so much.

So.....count your blessings, lady!! One day your flashes will be gone ---- emoticon and you'll have your life back.
In the meantime --- hang in there --- as I know you are!

emoticon Libby

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_JODI404 12/9/2012 12:06PM

    I love that you have a wonderful sense of humor about it! I know that must be pretty miserable. I'm not there yet, and I hope I get as many years of reprieve from it as possible!! emoticon (sending cool thoughts your way).

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1TINNYSKINNY 12/9/2012 12:00PM

  I feel ya hunny! Some days/weeks are good. Then BAM! There was a point a couple of months ago that I thought I was gonna DIE! Those pesky hormones have a mind of their own for sure! emoticon

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Another Fun Weekend

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I could complain about having to work all weekend every other week at my job, but I'm actually thankful for it. The great thing is that I also get a long weekend off every other week to make up for it. It's wonderful because it gives us time to plan mini weekend trips when we want to, and that's what we did this past weekend.

I'm so fortunate to have a wonderful aunt and uncle who are very good to us. They live in Florida, but they have a mountain home just north of Jefferson, North Carolina which is less than a two hour drive from our home. When they built it they gave me a key and told me we were welcome to go up and stay anytime we want to get away. So we got up Friday morning and headed for the mountains. Even the drive up there is beautiful.

The drive up takes us along some scenic back roads.

And past many of the Christmas tree farms (always busy this time of year).

Our destination up on top of the mountain!

After we arrived Tommy went to Shatley Springs (a popular country restaurant very close to their house) and picked us up a vegetable plate for dinner. I wish I could say it was a healthy meal, but at least it was vegetables.

Tommy then built a nice fire in the fireplace and his son Derek and wife Sonya joined us later that night.

Tommy in the living room talking to Derek and Sonya.

The next morning we all went to breakfast and then drove up to Damascus, Virginia. We went to Backbone Rock where we hiked up on top of the natural bridge that crosses the road. I was so proud of Tommy because there are a lot of stone steps leading to the top but he handled it like a trooper.

Sonya, Tommy and Derek on top of Backbone Rock.

After our short hike, we drove the five miles back into Damascus and then went for dinner at Quincey's where we had pizza and drinks while we waited for the Christmas parade that was supposed to start at 6:00. We finally headed out and found a spot along the road to watch the parade. I tried to take pictures, but had forgotten my good camera at the house and had to use my phone camera.

One of the floats in the parade.

This was a new twist! Santa showed up on a John Deere.

The next morning Derek and Sonya had to head home, but it was a beautiful day so Tommy and I drove up to Grayson Highlands. Afterward we drove back to West Jefferson for dinner and then back to the house.

Grayson Highlands in Virginia

Later that night we drove around and looked at some of the Christmas lights in the area. Back at the house, I went out on the deck to take some night pictures.

One of the decorated houses we really liked.

Looking down the driveway from the house.

Looking down toward the river at the houses below.

Then we had a surprise visitor show up at the house. A sweet little beagle came up onto the deck and we were playing with him. Tommy noticed he was not wearing a collar and thought he might be a stray. He actually asked me if I thought Thor would get along with him. But it didn't take long to realize this was no stray. When we brought him some treats out, he shook hands (or should I say hand and paw) with us each time for a treat. Nope, this was somebody's pet. We did enjoy his company for a while at least. Then when I told him it was time for him to go home, he promptly turned and headed down the dirt road toward the other houses. He was so sweet.

We don't know what his name is, but we enjoyed his company Sunday night and hope we see him the next time we go back.

What a fun weekend!

I hope everyone is having a great week.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LYNDALOVES2HIKE 12/8/2012 12:12AM

    What a great place to be able to visit! We are lucky to have a couple of family 'places' we can visit, too - saves on the vacation fund but still gives a fantastic break from the rest of life.

As for the Beagle, they are a breed that likes to wander - I've known of some who seem to roam a gigantic territory - literally up to 20 miles with 'home' somewhere in the center! It doesn't surprise me that you had one visit you - looks like a really nice dog, tho ;-)

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GOLFGMA 12/7/2012 8:42AM

    Another wonderful blog with art in pictures. You make me wish that I could go on all the trips again, but at least, we who read your blogs get to go there for a while and I love that. The little beagle was precious. Always look for your blogs and no wonder! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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EMPTYNESTER60 12/6/2012 9:52PM

    What a great "cabin" to get away to & such gorgeous pictures. I always enjoy your travel blogs so I can enjoy all of the beautiful scenery & your adventures, too. NC & VA sure have some awesome places to go! I love this area of the country emoticon

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LIBBYG7 12/6/2012 2:27PM

    Another adventure to add to the list - another beautiful notch on the old gunbelt!
Love your photos - and love Tommy's energy level.
May you have many more such adventures.....
Libby emoticon

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ILOVEMALI 12/6/2012 2:11PM

    I have never been to your part of the country -- gorgeous!

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  Oh Shatley Springs! We took a drive up there years ago (in the summer on motorcycles) and I remember sitting down and going "My God, I really shouldn't eat any of this" but ate what I could and tried not to think about it.

I'm so glad you had a nice weekend and the weather to enjoy it!

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DOODIE59 12/5/2012 11:56PM

    What a wonderful weekend -- the kind of memories that last a LONG time:)

I belong to the hiking across the States sparks team, and I'm still walking through Virginia -- so it was nice to see the views I'm traveling through in your pictures. Thank you!

May you both have many more such vacations:)

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LUVS2BIKE101 12/5/2012 9:40PM

    What a lovely weekend! I enjoyed reading your blog. And what scenic pictures! Thanks for sharing. Where are we going next?

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_JODI404 12/5/2012 8:08PM

    What a wonderful gift to you from your Aunt & Uncle to have access to that beautiful mountain home! You two have such nice outdoor adventures and travels!!

Glad to hear Tommy is doing well, and able to tackle that Backbone Rock!

Sounds like a decent trade off with the weekends you work / long weekend you get off for getaways!

Take care ~ hope you are having a great week!

emoticon emoticon

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LIVINGFREE19 12/5/2012 7:55PM

    The pics are awesome!
The story you tell makes me feel like I was right there with you!
I'm glad you had such fun!

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WORLDSERIES11 12/5/2012 7:44PM

    Thank you for the pictures!! I love traveling vicariously with you...lol
Sounds like a wonderful time!!

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