Hello and Happy New Year!  It seems hard to believe another holiday season has come and gone, but I've noticed that time does seem to move more quickly the older I get.  It's just not fair, is it, to be faced with endless days that drag on and on when you're a kid who just wants time to get a move on?  Then when we get older and have learned to appreciate the days and moments it all rushes by in a blur.

    Christmas was wonderful for our family this year.  Tim had just finished up one work project and was able to take some vacation time.  He came home December 21 and didn't have to head back to work until January 3, the same as Megan and I.  It was nice timing because he was able to help me finish the shopping, wrapping and other details.  We really wanted everything to be special this year since Matt and Ashlei were coming home for the first time since May and because it would be Ashlei's only family Christmas due to a falling out with her mother.  We were also hoping to start forming some kind of relationship with Ashlei, but while she doesn't hate us, she continues to keep an emotional distance.
    Things are pretty tight for Matt and Ashlei and we are blessed that Tim receives a healthy bonus every year, so we used Christmas as an opportunity to help the kids out as much as we could.  We gave them gift cards for Wal-Mart so they could buy groceries or things they need for the house, lots and lots of much needed clothes, a few small appliances and of course, a few luxuries.  I think Ashlei was a bit overwhelmed (I don't know for sure, but can guess that her family Christmases are not similar), but I am glad we were able to help them out this way.  Had we offered them money, they most likely would have refused.
    Megan has discovered video games and asked for Guitar Hero 3, Dance Dance Revolution and Singing Star.  We got those for her and she has played them for hours on end ever since.  All her friends come over to play, too.  Normally I'm not a big fan of video games but she actually gets a lot of exercise playing the dance game and the games have pulled her away from all the time she had been spending chatting with friends on MySpace.  We are thrilled about that.
    Tim and I bought gifts for the house rather than spend a bunch on each other this year.  The Saturday before Christmas we bought a Harman pellet stove.  It cost a pretty penny (and a few nickels, dimes and quarters, too), but in the long run we think it will save a bundle.  It sits on it's own cast iron base so there is no big pad taking up floor space and it doesn't get hot so it requires only a few inches of clearance all the way around.  Best of all, it has a thermostat that keeps the temperature constant so there are no periods of it being too hot or not hot enough.  It is incredibly efficient and doesn't burn that many pellets.  The furnace, which runs on incredibly expensive propane, has not run since we fired up the stove!  The other house gift was a lovely area rug for the living room.  I have been looking for one I liked since we redid the room last year.  I found this one the week before Christmas.
    Speaking of redoing rooms....we remodeled the kitchen this fall.  The cabinets were looking pretty shabby, what with being 13 year old, cheap, trailer cabinets made of some pressed material.  They aren't wood, that's for sure.  We tried sanding them and let's just say it didn't go well.  We ended up priming them and then painting them with a special kitchen paint and putting new handles on them.  We went from a dark chestnut finish to white so it's quite a change.  We also put down some inexpensive laminate floor tiles and painted the walls the same yellow as the living room.
    This is a slow time of year so not a lot else is going on.  Tim starts a new project this week and will back to long hours.  He has taken over the kitchen table today and is organizing and studying the project specs.  I have been helping him by writing labels.  Megan is going to the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg on Tuesday.  She is going with the FFA chapter at school.  This is the time of year I enjoy a lot of time for reading and crafts.  I got some good books for Christmas so am looking forward to that and there is a craft catalog full of after Christmas sales that has been calling my name.  The seed catalogs have started coming in, too, so there is that to think and dream of.  Also, I think I am going to join Weight Watchers again.  I'm realizing that I need to get serious about this and do something to change my eating and exercising patterns.  Tim bought me an exercise bike on sale after Christmas because while I love to walk, it seems that I can't.  I tried to walk with a friend from work this summer and experienced a lot of pain in my ankles and shins.  It wasn't shin splints or anything else and my doctor had my veins checked for blockage.  Nothing.  All he could tell me was to do exercises that wouldn't impact my biking or swimming.  I plan to put a lot of miles on that bike.
    Well, Tim needs me to make some more labels so I'll end this for this week.  I hope 2008 is finding all of you well and happy!