Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Red.

We keep Valentines Day simple in Dawnsworld. Our gift to each other is the Extra Innings cable package so we can see the Sox play all Summer long: money well spent on a gift that gives us six months of something we love & it's something we'll enjoy together. And a little bit of red to make the day special:


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Monday, February 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: February 14, 2011



Monday: Ravioli with sausage, salad and garlic bread. And strawberry shortcake for dessert!
Tuesday: Grilled ham & cheese with tomato soup.
Wednesday: Sloppy Joes, salad and a side dish to be determined.
Thursday: Pizza night!
Friday: Tuna casserole.
Saturday: Clam Chowdah!
Sunday: Leftovers.

Notes from last week's menu: After the fish appeared to be of questionable quality, we opted for some Zaxby's chicken strips on Friday and got some fresh fish to make on Saturday.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Right Now: February 13, 2011

Outside my window... it's sunny & a bit brisk. A perfect February day.

I am thinking... about Girl Scout Cookies. I am very much looking forward to when they go on sale in two weeks. I need to stash away my year's supply. I got 8 boxes last year & I just recently broke into my last box of Tagalongs this past week. I'm really good about rationing them to make them last.

I am thankful for... a guy that treats me well.

From the kitchen... there will be pork chops and Summer squash. I really love steamed squash with a little butter & a dash of salt.

I am wearing... jeans & a big comfy Red Sox tee.

I am creating... a list of things I need to address before my surgery next month.

I am going... to clean off my desk this afternoon. It has been far to cluttered for far too long.

I am reading... here & there but I am saving a small stack of books for while I am taking it easy & recovering.

I am hoping... to make some brownies this evening. Mmmmm... chewy gooey brownies...

I am hearing... the quiet sounds of nature. I love how even though nature has noises, it still feels like silence.

Around the house... I am seeing the effects of slowly tackling my To Do List.

One of my favorite things... are tulips. They make me happy.

I don't understand... all the obsessing over Valentines Day. It never bothered me when I was single. I've always had lots of people who make me feel loved, no matter what my relationship status has been or what day of the year it happens to be.

I wish... replacement ink cartridges for the printer weren't priced like they were made of gold.

A few plans for the rest of the week... a visit to Kohl's for some potential new sneakers for Troy, after-work walks in the beautiful weather, and tackling some more of the To Do List.

A picture to share... of some favorite Winter decorations.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red Sox Retrospect 2010: Bring it!

Time to wrap it up. The 2010 season is officially in the books when the boys roll into Ft Myers. Truth be told, it seems like nearly half the team has found their way to the fort in advance of their mandatory report date. As if I'm not already crawling out of my skin for a baseball fix, just knowing that the boys are as hungry as I am pushes me right around the bend.

I am always excited for a new baseball season. I think the anticipation of the next season is even stronger when the one before it came with excessive challenges that ended in a degree of disappointment. I don't know if it's the new hope brought by a fresh slate or the curiosity to meet the new faces or just the glaring hole left in one's routine when the daily ritual of settling down to a game most evenings comes to a sudden halt. There's no way of knowing how this season will play out, if the positive projections will pan out or if we're heading down a road we all pretend, for the sake of sanity, isn't possible. It's that delicious unknown and all the promise of triumph that comes with the arrival of Spring Training.

What I *do* know is that I'm ready. It's time for 2011, Red Sox style.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Red Sox Retrospect 2010: Wishin' & Hopin'

Wishes on October 3, 2010
**To see this team, as constructed, play 2010 actually healthy.
**For the rotation to remain intact & see what they've *really* got because I have to believe that wasn't it.
**For Beltre & Victor to be back in 2011.
**One more contract for Papi. But not with a lot of years on it.
**Speedy & complete recoveries for Youk, Pedey, Scoot, JD, Ellsbury, Tek...and ummmm, yeah, how about just everyone.
**Jed Lowrie, Super Utility.
**A totally revamped bullpen, save for Bard, Wakey & Atch.
**Tek in a back-up role, with the opportunity to retire while he's still ours.

Hopes on February 10, 2011
**Health for the team & happiness for the fans.
**For the off-season wheelin' & dealin' to make Theo look like a rockstar genius.
**A less lukewarm start for Papi because I just can't take the drama another year. It starts my season on such a sour note.
**An auspicious start to the Adrian Gonzalez years in Boston. (And the discovery of a good nickname for him! He is not AGon--we already had one of those.)
**Jed Lowrie, Super Utility.
**Success from a reinvented bullpen.
**A real look at what Tek can do as a backup backstop.
**We've figured out how to slow down the running game of our opponents.
**Dice is less of an enigma.
**We get to see the realization of how awesome the 2011 team looks on paper.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Red Sox Retrospect 2010: Taking No Prisoners

I cannot remember the last time the Hot Stove sizzled like this in Boston. Sure, we've picked up new guys each off-season, but it seemed like every time I checked my sources, a new blockbuster-type deal was being revealed. Every big free agent name that hit the market had word of Theo sniffing around, kicking the tires, sending up question marks. The dust wouldn't even begin to settle around one name when another would hit the headlines.

There were a total of four big signings (some certainly bigger than others). I have feelings on each of them. You're shocked, I know.

Bobby Jenks: This may be my least favorite of the four. Not even so much because he slumped a bit in Chicago last season, but his attitude. He kind of reminds me of another Papelbon in personality and I feel like we've already exceeded our limit of that with the one we've already got in the house. Yes, I know Papelbon has his apologists fans, but he's grated my nerves one too many times, leaving me a bit gun shy--both when he opens his mouth and when he gets called in to close. I had been hoping that another year might bring some maturity, along with the "contract season" encouraging some immediate turnaround on Papelbon's performance, and now the presence of Jenks (and his God awful beard) has me a little worried the attitudes might just feed off one another. I hope I'm wrong.

Dan Wheeler: So, we've established that the Jenks signing leaves me casting a wary eye in its general direction. The Wheeler deal has me dancing a jig. This guy is a horse. He's competed in the AL East. He's a rather unassuming fellow (reminds me a bit of Wakey, in a way, maybe?)(remember I've seen a lot more of him, his old stomping grounds being in my local media coverage area). I feel like we made our bullpen considerably more solid by his addition...and I am even willing to tolerate The Bobble Glove (TM) as long as he remains as reliable as he has been.

Carl Crawford: Our second new former-Ray (funny how they picked up two former-Sox as well, though it appears Tampa is hoping for a time machine headed back to 2004 with their choices) created a huge stir in Red Sox Nation. I am of split mind on this. Yes, he's got some talent (though I don't necessarily subscribe to the local media's turning him into their Sunshine State version of Derek Jeter, complete with slobbering all over him, nor do I think I shall ever refer to him as The Fastest Man Alive). I am not disputing the talent. And I am relieved (borderline giddy) that he won't be stealing two and three bases at a clip off of our battery, because very little was as painful as watching him swipe bases like Danny Ocean stole millions from Terry Kennedy's casino vault. But heaven help my sanity when NESN sticks a microphone in front of him. My skin is already crawling at the recollection of his mumbling, which is a pet peeve of mine that runs deep to my core. Short of hiring a speech coach & learning to properly pronounce his words, he'll never fully grow on me because I cannot get past his (or anyone's) lack of enunciation.

Adrian Gonzalez: Ah, the crown jewel of the Winter! My defense-loving baseball heart is all a-flutter at the acquisition of a Gold Glove first baseman to pair with our Gold Glove former-first-returned-to-third-baseman. In fact, the whole Boston infield is about as defensively glorious as I could possibly dream up. (Scoot or Lowrie at short may not provide Alex Gonzalez-style defense but they are still a far cry better than some of the cardboard cutouts we've had playing there, so yes, I'm still happy about the state of the infield.) Add to that, the coaches all gush about a swing that is built for Fenway Park & the Monstah, and I just can't wait to see all the hype play out to the roar of a home crowd.

I'd be lying if I said I'm anything short of turning inside out to see Red Sox v.2011 take the field and show us what they've got.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: February 8, 2011

Top Ten Must-See TV for Dawn

1. How I Met Your Mother
2. The Good Wife
3. Harry's Law
4. Parenthood
5. Blue Bloods
6. The Big Bang Theory
7. Grey's Anatomy
8. Private Practice
9. Fringe
10. Dexter

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: February 7, 2011



Monday: Steak on the grill, baked potatoes and a salad.
Tuesday: Egg and Sausage Bake and some fruit.
Wednesday: BBQ chicken, corn and a noodle side dish.
Thursday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans.
Friday: Tilapia with Lemon-Butter Wine Sauce, wild rice and steamed cauliflower.
Saturday: Leftovers.
Sunday: Golden Crusted Pork Chops, steamed Summer squash and a salad.

Notes from last week's menu: We stayed right on track. Saturday was lunch at Animal Kingdom & since we had already polished off the leftovers for work lunches, we stopped on the way home for some ham from the deli and just had sandwiches for dinner.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Right Now: February 6, 2011

Outside my window... it is overcast. The kind of day that makes you want to curl up on the couch for a nap.

I am thinking... I wish I didn't know this much about the making of cold cuts. Maybe that nap is something I should consider further to escape this television program...

I am thankful for... the mysterious reappearance of the missing half of my favorite pair of socks in the laundry room.

From the kitchen... there will be some comfort food for dinner: roasted chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy and some steamed zucchini.

I am wearing... yoga pants and a long sleeve red tee.

I am creating... a mess.

I am going... to clean up said mess.

I am reading... my Twitter feed. And shaking my head at the overall angry overtones there today. Yikes.

I am hoping... the Packers win the Super Bowl tonight.

I am hearing... the tap-tap-tap of fingers on the keyboard.

Around the house... I am reminded that it's time to put some of the snowmen to bed to make room for my February decorations.

One of my favorite things... is a cold crunchy green apple.

I don't understand... people who seem to thrive on being bitter & mean.

I wish... I had more storage space in my kitchen.

A few plans for the rest of the week... sapping out some seasonal decor and playing a bit with my camera. This week appears to be of the low-key variety, at least from today's vantage point.

A picture to share... from our trip to Animal Kingdom yesterday.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Red Sox Retrospective 2010: Knee Bomb Confessions

I'm just about to ruin my credibility when it comes to staunch proclamations that I do not like a particular player. Before you point your finger accusingly, I refer you to Julio Lugo, who, to this very day, remains one of my least favorite players of all time to have never donned pinstripes. So there.

I spent a good portion of 2010 insisting that I did not like Adrian Beltre. I would like to state, for the record, that when the announcement came last off-season, this was as a true a statement as could possibly be made. It had nothing to do with the position he was taking over; I just didn't like what I knew of him and I was less than thrilled that I would have to root for him to do well. (Lest there be any question, I *always* root for the laundry, even if the guy filling it is otherwise known as E6.) (For the love of Jobu, please let's never revisit that little experiment though.)

I heartily maintained my position on Beltre in Boston, but... I suppose I should come clean. There came a point--I'm not even sure exactly when--that I had to admit that he'd kinda-sorta-maybe grown on me. Despite an inordinate number of errors, it may have been his defense--my ultimate baseball weakness--that lured me over to the dark side. What he contributed with misplays, he more than made up for with face-in-the-dirt effort and some fairly spectacular fielding, though I was loathe to admit it even to myself. I pointed to the error column in his stats, my Angry Eyes firmly in place.

He chiseled away at my cold shoulder in other ways as well: The infamous head-rubbing escapades. Gritty displays of effort, often playing through various aches & pains that have been known to sideline certain other former members of the Red Sox. And quite possibly one of my very favorite qualities, the Knee Bomb. While many fans are drawn to the hitting aspect of the game, relishing the glorious arc of a ball bound for the moon, that is rarely what catches the eye of this defense-oriented girl. However, with each trip he made to the plate, I found myself hoping he would send one sailing into the Monster with his back knee resting in the dirt. I don't even have solid explanation for why that appealed to me so much, except that perhaps it just seemed another instance of all-or-nothing effort--quite easily my second favorite aspect of the game.

A fellow Sox fan or two *may* have approached me with their suspicions that my heart had warmed a bit in regard to the third baseman. I brushed off any inquiry with a disdainful sniff. Not out of shame, but because as he grew on me, I started to worry that Theo would send him the way of other players I had liked. (It is entirely possible that Theo caught on as well, come to think of it.) So I kept my mouth clamped shut and continued holding my ground: I liked what Beltre brought to the table, but it would go no further.

Now that the Fates have dealt their hand & we know he will be swinging his bat in Arlington in 2011 (and beyond), I feel it's finally safe to give him a long overdue nod of respect. And maybe a little apology for keeping it under wraps while he was still one of ours. I'll be among those fans who will applaud his return to Fenway as the opponent now, because he put on a heck of a show during his brief pass through Boston, the proof being my 180-degree change of heart.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Random Thoughts: February 4, 2011

My Dad always tried to find a greeting card for me that was touched with hints of glitter. I can't recall exactly when we started this little "tradition" but to this day, it's one of the first things I notice when I open a card I've received from him in the mail, and it makes me smile.
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It's nearly impossible to get snow off the brain these days, even here in Florida. Every evening and every morning, the news shows fresh images of snow drifts and weather people bundled up in lined parkas with furry hoods. As I was waiting to doze off last night, my memory flitted back a couple of decades to Gram & Gramp lying in their own bed across the hall from mine late at night or in the pale pre-dawn hours, listening for the snow plows to come up over the hill clearing the fallen snow off the roads. The house would be silent, save for the muffled sounds of plow scraping against frozen surface and a barely audible whisper of one grandparent to the other: "There's the plow, Ma." "Yes. Second one this hour." There is something uniquely comforting about this memory. It isn't profound or deeply meaningful. Just a recollection of a cozy everyday life, reliable and familiar right down to the dialogue.
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I have a love/hate relationship with the color yellow. It was my Gram's favorite color & so on that hand, it makes me think of her & smile. But on the other hand, I really just do not like the color yellow (and it was the color of *both* my childhood bedrooms--the one at home and the one at Gram's house--though I swear my dislike of the color has nothing to do with that fact). It doesn't look good on me. I'm not drawn to it in decorating or accessories. I'm not a huge fan of flowers that are yellow. And yet, inexplicably, the other day, while looking at the (dark, dreary, half-wood-paneled-ew!) entry way of a house online Troy was showing me, I nonchalantly commented that it really wouldn't be so bad if the wood paneling (ew) was gone and the walls were painted a cheery yellow. Um, say what? No idea where *that* came from. Because I still don't like the color yellow.
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This lady right here was one of the finest I've ever known.

I wish I could hug her tight. She would have been 94 today, if she weren't singing with a Heavenly choir & watching over me.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red Sox Retrospect 2010: Pain & Agony

No matter how much sunshine I try to flood over the 2010 season, it doesn't light some of the deepest shadows that clung relentlessly to the Red Sox. Like cat hair on black pants--you try to brush it away, but no matter what you do, you always find another cat hair...and another.

It started with the injuries, right out of the gate, and went from frustrating to worrisome to downright ludicrous. It got to the point that even on off-days, we would find new names on the DL. And not even with mundane reports of sore hamstrings & tweaked obliques. Really bizarre stuff like not one but *two* players out with broken feet, not one but *two* guys out with torn tendons in their thumbs, multiple sets of broken ribs. It just would not let up. It made 2006's Curse of the Gimpy Crow seem like child's play, as 2010's crew not only dropped but didn't get back up again.

On top of the injuries, we dealt with drama (are Ellsbury's ribs *really* THAT broken?), curious inability to pitch effectively (namely Mr Beckett and Mr Lackey--and I'm looking at you both and your big fat contracts, and let's not be having this same discussion a year from now, hmmm?), nothing even remotely close to consistency in the world of Tim Wakefield (both out of his hand and in what the team asked of him on seemingly a daily basis: he's a starter, no wait a reliever, oops we need a starter, can you pitch some mop-up today actually?), another controversial start to the season for Papi, and the smoking crater of a bullpen that made my stomach ache just seeing the phone hanging on the dugout wall in the background, doubly so on nights I knew it wouldn't be Atch or Bard who got up from the bench to warm).

How was that for a run-on sentence? It's like I'm Joe Morgan, only slightly less hung up on talking about myself.

And through it all, the albatross hanging over all the entire season was the terror of waking up some morning to learn Mike Lowell had been traded to the Royals for a six-piece Chicken McNuggets and a program from the 1987 season. Or even worse, to the Yankees, and I wish I were kidding. The thing is, I knew we would be saying goodbye to my favorite player. He was very clear on the fact that this would be his final season. I just wanted, more than anything, to see him go out still "ours." And it seemed Theo was hell-bent on preventing this from happening, if it was his last act on Earth. (I'm still fairly convinced that Theo has a personal mission to torment me by finding out who my favorite player is & then batting him around like a cat with a half-mangled bug, my sanity being the bug in question.) The constant turmoil kept me from fully relishing the last days of Mikey as a Red Sock, which had been high on my wishlist for 2010.

For every high, there was a low. For every triumph, a cleat in the gut. You couldn't turn your face to the sun without catching sight of clouds gathering on the horizon. Or, you know, imminent doom. My hope? Following each of the most painful seasons we've been handed in recent history (2003, 2006) came a season filled with the kind of joy you can't fully capture in words. They say no pain, no gain. So it stands to reason, 2011 is going to bring a brand of awesome that leaves me reeling with delight, right?

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Red Sox Retrospect 2010: Riding High

It would be easy to look back on the 2010 season & see only the low points. They come to mind in a steady stream, a demented parade, one after the other. Tending toward optimism most of the time, I would rather recall the fun, the joy, the pure awesome, if given the chance. Because really? There was so much to love about 2010.

I remember this time last year, wishing mightily that Mike Lowell would enter retirement in Boston whites with the roar of the Fenway crowd echoing in his ears. I couldn't have foretold it any more accurately.

I got to see my favorite starting pitcher in the All Star game and he had his name mentioned in association with the Cy Young Award. I have taken immense pleasure in watching the maturation of Jon Lester. I love his straight-faced concentration, his head-down trips from dugout to mound and back again, his silent execution of pitch after pitch. Even when he struggles, you can sense the fierce drive to win boiling beneath that stone-faced surface, willing himself to snap out of it. And the sunshine of his beaming smile, rare in its occurrence but no less filled with sheer joy.

I was pleasantly surprised by the switch that clicked on in Clay Buchholz. I don't know what happened between last season and the one that preceded it, but he went from one of the most frustrating pitchers to endure to one that I looked forward to with great anticipation. There is something to be said for watching these green young boys come up from Pawtucket and Portland, wet behind the ears and wide-eyed, and become competitors filled with confidence and swagger. (Not too much swagger though.)

I remember hearing the names of players being invited to Ft Myers, names that were has-beens, and some, names I'd never heard at all. Scott Atchison was one of those names. He struck me immediately as a little bit awkward--the running joke at home, over the course of the season, was that he looked like he belonged more in an orange Home Depot apron than getting the ball handed to him in the late innings of a game--but less than a third of the season had passed before he was affectionately known as Atch (a "word" my cell phone recognizes & suggests while I type out texts to this day--it's amusing the "words" my phone "knows" now: YOOOOUK, Pedey, Tek) and outside of Daniel Bard, he became the safest face I would see peering out of the pen, waiting for the phone to ring.

There was my introduction to Ryan Kalish. He who appears to have Dirt Dog coursing naturally through his veins. I love his intensity. I love that he seems to be born of the same stuff as Youk & Pedey, a deep-seeded need to finish the game covered in dirt and grass stains and pine tar. I love that he throws himself headlong at the ball in play. I love that he looks like a puppy about to wag its tail clear off his backside just to be sitting on the bench as a Red Sock. His enthusiasm is contagious and I look forward to the day that he is permanently and officially a member of the big-league roster.

I got to see Tito show what he was made of. Sure, he came in here & gave us what we had been lacking for most of a century. He did it with the rag tag Idiots in 2004 and again with a somewhat more reserved team in 2007. But those seasons seemed to just unfold before our eyes like a dream. We clicked, and not only that, but we clicked on all cylinders, and the baseball gods smiled upon those seasons. 2010 did not play out to the same end nor with the same harmonious tune of those Championship years. Even though he was not awarded a plaque with the title, to me, he was Manager of the Year, navigating a sea of misfortune and orchestrating a lineup that seemed to be a new variation on a theme every night. And despite the speed bumps and the pot holes, this team never took a downward spiral into the abyss, even when it was clinging to the edge with its fingernails. They were close enough to taste contention.

Which brings me to the most amazing fact: somehow the 2010 Red Sox were not eliminated from the playoffs until the final week of the season. I am still not sure how that was possible, because it sure felt like the fates had been decided a long long time earlier. And yet there we were, in the fading weeks of 2010, praying for a miracle of numbers to nudge the Sox just a wee bit higher on the standings board.

Ultimately, the highest point of 2010 for me was the heart this team brought to the field. It didn't matter which names were penciled into the lineup, only to be scratched through and replaced with other names. It didn't matter what news fell on our apprehensive ears. It didn't matter how many teams they stared up at in the standings. None of it mattered. They came to play, as if every game was an elimination game. They played hard. They played hurt. They played until the schedule ran out. And I will never forget that about Red Sox 2010.

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Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: January 2011

A photo of me:
Ummm...oops?

1) Candle scents this month:
Fall Festival. Mountain Pine (I did not like this one. At all. I tossed it after about half an hour.). Gingerbread. Red Berry & Cedar. French Vanilla. Frosted Pumpkin. Gingersnaps. Christmas Wreath. Hot Apple Pie. Hazelnut Coffee. Welcome Christmas. Oatmeal Cookie. Sparkling Snow. Mulling Spices. Christmas Cookie. Moonlight Harvest. Christmas Cupcake. Vanilla Caramel. North Pole. Mistletoe. Boo-nilla (yep, I raided my Autumn stash).

2) What I am reading this month:
Blogs. Articles. Magazines.

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
"Remember When," Alan Jackson. "At the Foot of the Cross," Kathryn Scott. "Bless the Broken Road," Rascal Flatts.

4) Movies I saw:
Finding Nemo. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The Town. First Knight. The Bourne Ultimatum.

5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
Grey's Anatomy: Disarm: There were actually three scenes in this episode that really got me. The first one was when Derek is giving Meredith a difficult time for continually leaving the OR to update the wife of their patient. I loved her reaction when she told him what it was like for her to be the wife left waiting, how personally she takes this part of her job now, and how while he & Cristina have been helping each other cope, everyone seems to have forgotten what she went through too, and how she's done nothing but take care of everyone since the shooting. The second was the scene when Mer asks the family members who are waiting on the shooting victims to come up to the bridge & see the assembled members of the college holding a candlelight vigil & singing their support outside the enormous glass windows of the hospital. And the third moment was when Jackson swallows his hatred of the shooter whose surgery he could not bring himself to assist in & remembers that the scared broken mother sitting alone in the corner needs to be treated like the mother of any other patient. The kindness he shows as he crouches before her & provides the comfort of knowing her son has not died was just incredible.

6) Something yummy I made:
Devils food cupcakes with vanilla frosting.

7) Restaurants where I ate:
No restaurant dining at all this month. We did attend the local pig fest though. Yum!

8) Something that made me cry:
The story of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the amazing voice, who has been given another chance at life. And all the stories that came out of the terrible mass shooting in Tuscon.

9) A goal I had for this month:
To get my planner set up & functional for the new year. I am very pleased with the tweaks I made & we are off to a promising start.

10) This month I looked forward to:
The return of new television episodes.

11) Something I want to remember about this month:
Sometimes you accomplish more when you set just a few small obtainable goals, slow down your pace & take time to breathe, than when your To Do List is a mile & a half long, moving at breakneck speed in 38 directions at once.

12) A photo I took this month:
My camera & I have not been on the same page this month. I didn't keep a single image I took. Blah. I hope February proves better. I have a list of ideas I want to work on, so maybe that will help? And of course, the one time I was really feeling inspired, I didn't have my camera with me. So, all I have to show for January, I already shared:

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