A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The "Skinny" on Our Winter Solstice Party

     I did it!  I successfully baked 3 Desserts and made 2 Appetizers (with the help of my Husband), for our 3rd Annual Winter Solstice Party.  My Desserts and Appetizers were a hit!  This making so many items for one party is new for me!  I feel so Domesticated now! :-)  You wanna know the best part (in my opinion) about the food I prepared?  Everything I served was "Points Friendly"!  If someone wanted to try 1 serving of each of the 5 items served, they would have only needed to use 8 Weight Watchers Points!  We also served Skinny Sticks and Ranch Veggie Straws which are also "Points Friendly", and we served a fruit platter (which I forgot to take a picture of) with watermelon, cantaloupe and red and green grapes.  For beverages, we had a choice of water, soda, diet soda, moscato, and Stella Artois bottles of beer. 
I wanted to share my "Skinny" and WW Points Friendly recipe finds with you all. 
All food pics were taken by me.

Appetizer #1
Skinny, Pizza Flavored Pigs in a Blanket
Recipe taken from SkinnyKitchen.com
WW Points Plus per piece:  1
I doubled this recipe.

Ingredients for Pigs in a Blanket:
1 (8-oz) can Pillsbury Reduced-Fat Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
1 package Hebrew National 97% fat-free hotdogs, cut int 4 pieces each (you’ll have 1 leftover)
¼ cup pizza or pasta sauce, from a jar, see shopping tips
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Garlic powder

Ingredients for dipping: Optional
⅔ cup pizza sauce or pasta sauce


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. Unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle into 3 smaller triangles. Don’t worry if the shape of the triangle looks more like a box. It will still roll up nicely. Spread each triangle with ½ teaspoon pizza sauce and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon Parmesan. Place 1 mini hot dog on the shortest side of each triangle; Roll up to opposite point. Fold in any dough sticking out.  Place, point side down on cookie sheet. Sprinkle each with a little garlic powder over the top. Repeat steps to make 24 total.
3. Bake for 15 to 16 minutes or until deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet onto a serving plate.
4. Serve with pizza sauce on the side, if desired.
Makes 24 total
Appetizer #2
TGI Friday’s Mozzarella Sticks Made Skinny
Recipe taken from SkinnyKitchen.com
WW Points Plus for 2 pieces:  2
I doubled this recipe.

Ingredients for Mozzarella Sticks:
12 light string cheese sticks, I used Weight Watchers Smoked Flavor String cheese or any brand of light low-moisture part skim mozzarella cheese sticks
1 large egg, I like Egg-Land’s Best
2 tablespoons flour
 cup panko crumbs, see shopping tip
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Cooking spray, I like olive oil cooking spray

Ingredients for Dipping:

¾ cup pizza sauce or marinara sauce, I used Classico Pizza Sauce

1. Cut each cheese stick in half to create 24 pieces. Place cheese pieces on a plate and freeze for at least 1 hour until frozen. These can be stored for several days in the freezer until ready to use. Wrap them in plastic wrap, once frozen.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
3. In small bowl, beat the egg. Place flour in another small bowl. In a third small bowl, add panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well.
4. To assemble mozzarella sticks: Dip frozen sticks in flour, shaking off excess, then into egg, then finally coat with panko crumbs. Repeat steps to coat all of them.
5. Place all coated sticks on baking sheet.  Spray the tops with cooking spray.
6. Bake for 5 minutes, turn over and spray with a little more cooking spray. Bake an additional 4-5 minutes until heated but NOT melted. In fact, be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t melt!
7. Remove from oven and place on a plate.  Serve with pizza sauce on the side.  Refrigerate any leftovers. They will keep for several days. To reheat, either zap in microwave for a few seconds or place on a baking sheet and heat in a 400 degree oven until warm but not melted.

Makes 24 pieces (each serving 2 pieces and 1 tablespoon sauce) These 2 pieces are equal to 1 string cheese stick!

Dessert #1
Mini Cherry Pies
Recipe taken from DessertYum.com
WW Points Plus per mini pie:  1
I doubled this recipe.


1. Nasoya Won Ton Wraps - 12 ounce package.
2. Light Pie Filling & Topping - 20 ounce can.
3. Light Cool Whip (optional)

Sit Won Ton Wraps in Muffin Tins

Evenly distribute Pie Filling into the 12 tins

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes (I baked mine for more like 17 minutes)

Top with light cool whip

Makes 12 Mini Cherry Pies

Dessert #2
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
Recipe taken from Iowafarmgrown.com
WW Points Plus per bar:  2

1 box angel food cake mix (1 step kind)
1 15 oz can pumpkin
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 8 oz package reduced fat or fat-free cream cheese

Add in a few tablespoons of water with the cream cheese to thin it out a little bit. (tip: leave the cream cheese on the counter to soften. I mixed the cream cheese and water with my hand mixer.)
In a separate bowl, mix the cake mix, pumpkin, water and cinnamon together until it is smooth and well mixed.

Spray a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish with Pam, and add HALF of the cake/pumpkin mix. Smooth it out with a rubber spatula. Drizzle half of the cream cheese over the top and take a small spatula to smooth it over the top. Add remaining cake/pumpkin mix and the remaining cream cheese making layers.
Finally, take a butter knife and stick it into the mix swirling it back and forth in the cake by making figure “8’s” to blend it.

Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees OR until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 24 bars.

Dessert #3
Skinny Funfetti Cupcakes
Recipe taken from sixsistersstuff.com
WW Points Plus per Cupcake:  2

1 pkg. Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix (just the powder, not the recipe on the box)
1 (12 ounce) can Sprite Zero
1 (8 ounce) container Fat Free Cool Whip
1 (1.5 ounce) pkg. Fat Free Vanilla Jello Instant Pudding (just the powder, not the recipe on the box)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix and Sprite together.  Continue to mix until the batter is smooth without any lumps.  Pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter into every cupcake wrapper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Let cool before frosting.
In a mixing bowl, add Cool Whip and pudding.  Mix with a whisk by hand or an electric hand mixer until smooth.  Spread over cooled cupcakes.  Makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes.


The Winter Solstice Party Peeps

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Precious Peace

It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. ~Unknown
One of the Most Peaceful Places I Know - Mackinac Island
I have never in my life known and experienced such internal peace as the peace I know now!  It's taken 40 plus years, but looking back, I see how God has used every loss and every struggle I have experienced in life, to bring me to this point of Joy and Peace.  Yes, I knew all along that God was in control (in my head that is), and I knew that I "should" feel peace, but I didn't "really" feel peace (which I felt guilty about).  I didn't have that confident hope deep in my heart, deep in my being.  I wasn't completely filled with joy and peace.  I had heard (and memorized) many of the Bible verses about peace before, but you know what?  They hadn't sunk deep into my heart.  It was just head knowledge. 

As I've been reflecting on why that was, I've realized that for most of my life, I saw God as more of a Controlling Judge who pointed out my wrong doings, than a Loving Father.  I didn't know in my heart that the Character of God is (and always has been) Loving.  I didn't believe in my heart that He Loved me REGARDLESS, and IN SPITE OF, what I have done or haven't done.  I didn't believe that he ALWAYS has my best interest at heart.  In my mind, His Love was based on my performance.  Fear of punishment is no way to live.  It makes me sad that I, in essence, was so self-righteous, that I believed my "trying to be perfect" would earn His Love.  It is SO FREEING to FINALLY GET that He Loves me.  He Loves ME.  He Loves ME because HE IS LOVE!  He Loved me when I was a Lutheran, and He Loves me Now and He would Love me if I was an agnostic and He would Love me if I was an atheist.  He Loves ME!  He is NOT out to get me! 

Guess What?  He LOVES YOU TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You can't DO anything to make Him Love you More and NOTHING you could DO could ever make Him Love you any less!

I LOVE the New Living Translation of the Bible!  What I knew before was head knowledge.  This Version helps me read all of the verses I grew up knowing, in a different light.  That's why it FEEDS my HEART the way I need it to be fed.

So, whatever comes my way, good or bad, whether I have 2 Months, 3 Years, or 40 Years left on this earth, I KNOW without a doubt, that HE IS GOOD and HE IS LOVING! That's a GREAT Place to be in Life! :-)

My Definition of Peace:

Praise Him Knowing with Absolute Certainty that
Everything is ALWAYS in His Capable Hands
And that He will Lovingly
Care for Me and Guide Me thru this Life and into
Eternity with Him Forevermore.

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13 NLT

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever." 
Psalms 136:1 NLT

"For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow."
James 1:3 NLT

"They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them."
Psalm 112:7 NLT

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Have You Met My Dad?

If you have known me less than 15 years, you for sure have not met my Dad.   His name was Herbert William Latzke.  He was born on November 3rd, 1940 and passed away on December 8th, 1999.   Heaven has been his home since December 8th, 1999.  I can't believe it's already been 15 years of memories that we have made without him!  I was at a joint Memorial Service today for my Friend's Dad and Stepmom who passed away 9 days apart from each other.  Her Stepmom's Niece told us about her Stepmom, and a Friend of her Dad's told us about her Dad.  This gave me the idea, that rather than focusing on my loss tomorrow, I would write a blog post telling you all about my Dad.  I want to focus on his 59 years of life, rather than on my loss.  So, I will tell you things about my Dad to give you a glimpse into his life.

  • He was his parent's 2nd born child.  He had an older brother, 2 younger brothers, and a younger Sister (all of whom are still living).

  • He was born in Eagle River, WI.

  • He grew up in Elkhart/Edwardsburg.  His Dad worked for Studebaker and owned an Avanti.

  • He was 31 years old when he Married my Mom.

  • He had 3 Daughters (I am the oldest).

  • My Mom had a half hour labor with me and Dad had to deliver me at home.  I was almost born on the toilet.  They called him Dr. Latzke for like 3 years!

  • He worked as a Realtor for many years in the 80's while I was growing up, but left that Industry due to the economy and needing a steady paycheck to provide for his family.

  • He was working for Reese Products in Elkhart, IN when he passed away.  He had worked there for 9-10 years.

  • He had an incredibly strong work ethic.  He worked very hard to provide for us.

  • He loved God and had the best of intentions.

  • He did not like change (hmm...wonder where I got that from?).  Every Sunday we had to sit in the 3rd pew on the Left side of the Church.  He was pretty territorial about this.

  • He was a deep and analytical thinker, much like myself.  No one else in my Family thinks like I do, but he did!

  • He was a strict German Lutheran.  The Old Red Hymnal was like God's Inspired Word to him, and if it changed it was the end of the World. Let's not even talk about the NIV version of the Bible!  He was King James all the way and the NIV was the worst thing ever!  Can you see a theme here about not liking change? :-)

  • He called me Jen Jen.  I don't allow anyone else to call me this, not even Jonathan.  It hurts too much.  I once had someone call me this over and over, even after I asked him to stop.  Yeah, I don't talk to this person anymore. :-)

  • He worried a lot.

  • He frequently recited "This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it!".  Oh did I hate it when he would say that, but now it's one of my best memories of him.

  • He was mechanical and fixed all of our cars.  Taking them to a garage to be fixed was not an option, even when I lived 200 miles away.

  • He and Mom sacrificed a lot to send us to private Christian Grade School/High School.

  • Deep down, he was a softie.  He got teary eyed quite often while watching TV.

  • He owned a 1951 Kaiser when I was a little kid.

  • He had a silly sense of humor.  He thought it was funny to say "Hey Jen, Where's Ben?".  Had I known a Ben, I would have told him where Ben was! LOL :-)

  • He pulled me and one of my Sister's on a sled down State Road 23 to go to Martins for groceries during the blizzard of 1978.  Mom was pregnant with girl number 3 at the time.

  • He didn't have the best singing voice, but he sure belted it out while singing at Church, singing praises to our God.   He didn't care what others thought. 

  • He loved being a Grandpa to Trey.  Trey was 5 when Dad passed away.

  • He got to walk 1 of his 3 daughters down the aisle at her Wedding (the middle Sister, Pam).

  • He looked the most like his Brother Bill.  I always say if people want to know what Dad would look like now if he were still alive, just look at his Brother Bill!

  • He had Lupus and learned to take life one day at a time while in the hospital, before he passed away.

  • He frequently said "Jennifer, Pam, & Debbie" when trying to address just one of us girls. 

  • His Favorite Bible Verses were Proverbs 3:5-6:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,  and he will direct your paths.

So there you have it, a glimpse into the Man that I call my Dad!  He is never forgotten and always loved.  Happy 15th Anniversary of your entrance into Heaven, Dad!  I've grown up lots since you left, but I'm Happy and I'm so Blessed to have an Amazing Husband!  I love you!  See you soon!

~Jen Jen

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Balance - J-La-Sta Style

Balance Is.......... 
  • Eating 1 or 2 Servings of Edy's No Sugar Added Half the Fat Ice Cream instead of eating no ice cream at all or eating half the container.  
  • Walking 10,000 Steps 5 days a week instead of not walking at all or walking 10,000 steps 7 days a week.
  • Using 1 lb hand weights over my 45 minute lunch walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday instead of not using weights at all or using them all 5 Weekdays.
  • Being on Facebook a little bit each day instead of being on it all the time or giving myself a week or 2 off of FB altogether.
I have a long ways to go, but for being such an all or nothing person, I think I've made great strides in finding balance in my life! :-)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Life Isn't Perfect !

I went to a Wine & Canvas Event by myself over a year and a half ago.  I was trying to do the "Life Is Good" Painting.  They even had an example for us.  I started feeling immobilized because I was expecting myself to be perfect. I am not that artistic!  So then I decided I would be unique and do a different take on "Life Is Good"! :-)  I like my version of the painting better anyways! :-)

     Perfectionism.  All or nothing thinking/way of living.  It's an exhausting way to live!  I know this because I struggle with expecting myself to be perfect combined with my often all or nothing way of thinking.  If I don't think I can do it perfectly, I avoid doing it.  It keeps me stuck.  It leads to procrastination, which leads to lower self worth, since I sometimes base my worth on my successes or failures.  Not to mention the fact that perfectionism is totally unattainable this side of heaven!

     One of the things Pastor talked about at Church today was that Perfection is a barrier to serving others.  If we think we can't do it perfectly, we often choose not to serve.  That idea clicked for me because I SO get it!  I haven't cooked all that often for my Husband.  Although, kudos to me for having a home cooked meal ready for him when he got home from work on my day off! :-)  Not once have any of my meals turned out burnt, dry, hard, etc.  I CAN cook!  It's just I let my desire to be perfect get in my way.  It immobilizes me.  I allow it to immobilize me. Really any task (which is often most tasks) that seem overwhelming to me.....I often let pile up, like my laundry.  It's really not all that hard!  Just do it, Jen!  But for us perfectionists, it's not that simple.  Although I have learned that DONE is better than perfect! :-)  It's a good feeling to have accomplished something that once seemed so overwhelming! :-)

Being Pre-diabetic was overwhelming!  Having 77 lbs to lose was overwhelming!  But I did it! :-)  That's one of the reasons I have such pride in my accomplishment!  It was incredibly difficult, but I persevered!  I reached the goal I had set for my self 2-2.5 years ago.  Am I more worthy of love now that I am a person of normal weight?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  Do I feel better about myself?  Yes!  I am healthier and therefore happier being in a normal weight range.  Will it be easy to maintain this weight?  NO!! 

I will write a blog post another day about balance (which I'm striving for as I try to simplify (and reduce stress levels in) my life.  For tonight, I'm going to focus on my "imperfect progress", and continually remind myself that Christ lived and died perfectly, for me and for you, so that we don't have to be perfect! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I'm Too Young For This!!!!!!

  • My short term memory has been awful
  • Insomnia
  • Waking up drenched by my own sweat
  • Inability to focus
  • It's like CONSTANT PMS with no relief
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability
  • It's like PMS on Steroids
  • It's like Puberty in reverse
  • Etc
  • Etc
  • I'll spare you from reading all of the wonderful symptoms, you get the idea! :-)
Hello!  My Name is J-La-Sta and I am in Perimenopause!  Can I have PMS back please?  JUST PMS?  You know, where the irritability goes away once Aunt Flo comes to visit? :-) 

My Perimenopause Journey began last Fall.  Before Last October, I thought Menopause was something that happened to women in their 50's and 60's.  Then they had a few hot flashes, missed a few periods, and then they were done!  Oh if only life were that simple!  In my defense, most of my girlfriends who are my age and younger and even some who are older then me, thought the same thing.  So, that's why I'm here to raise awareness for Perimenopause!  Menopause does not actually happen until a woman has missed a period for a full year!!  Who knew?  I didn't until a year ago!  Up until that point, she is considered to be in Perimenopause.  I had never heard of the term before I entered this phase of life.  I thought I was dying, but I wasn't.  So Ladies, if you experience these symptoms, and most importantly if your periods become irregular, i.e. closer together, longer (like my 21 day period which came 2 weeks after my last period ended), heavier, further apart, you may be entering Perimenopause.  Am I on the early end of it?  Yes, I am!  But Perimenopause can start anywhere from age 35 to age 55.  Every woman is different.  I have now been in it for a year.  I was 39 years old when Perimenopause started for me.

This has been quite the roller coaster ride, but I'm thankful to have a caring, loving, and understanding Husband by my side! :-)

I have a Dr's Appt in 2 weeks, and hope to get some type of relief for my insomnia, night sweats, etc.

So, Obviously, I am NOT too young for this, even though I thought I was!   Every woman experiences it differently, but I would like to raise awareness, pave the way for friends who have yet to go thru it, or who are going thru it, and bring it out in the open.  It's real.  Let's be open and honest about it with the generations to come!  It's nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about!

Yes, It's real, and NO I'm not going crazy...well some days I do! :-)

Off to warn my Husband to wear a flotation device to bed, and to TRY and sleep! :-)



Friday, February 28, 2014

Our Story Is Just Too Perfect To Be A Series of Coincidences!

“There are No real coincidences in life for those with faith strong enough to recognize coincidences for what they really are: intricate pieces of the providential design God created for each of our lives”
Delia Parr, Love's First Bloom

     Six years ago my Small Groupies were helping me process my fears about a big upcoming change in my life.  I accepted a position at LM in Mishawaka and would be working 11:00 AM - 7:15 PM Monday thru Friday.  This was an answer to prayer!  I had been waitressing for 6 months and would seriously cry if I got a bad or non-existant tip because I was only making $2.13 an hour and needed to pay my bills!  Oh, and I would soon have health insurance again, which was something I didn't have for a year!  This was a GOOD change! :-)  Those who know me, know that change is hard for me.  The smaller the change the better! LOL :-)  I'm still having mini freak outs because the new coat I bought this week isn't as warm as my old one was!  See, I told you I have a hard time with change!  I often allow my fears, whether rational or not, to rule my mind and sabotage any excitement I have about an upcoming change in my life. 
     In regards to this particular life change, I was convinced that I would no longer have a social life since I worked till 7:15pm.  Most of my friends started work at 8:00 AM.  No one would want to meet me for dinner at 7:30pm, and I couldn't be involved at Church because most things started at 6:30pm!  This was a big deal and a real fear!  My small group jokingly and lovingly asked, "So do you think your friends will turn into pumpkins at 7:15pm?"  Well, when they said it that way, it was funny!  Of course not! LOL  Most people do not go to bed at 7:30 PM.  We still joke about it to this day!  Eventually I got into my new routine and yes, friends did still meet me for Dinner, and a Sunday night small group began, which was a HUGE Blessing for me! 

    Those who know me, also know that I am a huge numbers and dates gal!  I started my new job on March 17th, 2008.  It was because of working in the same building, that I eventually met and started dating Jonathan (who had started working at LM just 5 months before I did).  Our first date was October 9th, 2009 (Thanks to Sara and Doug!!!).  We got engaged December 10th, 2010 and we were Married on July 8th, 2011.  I was 37.5 years old and Jonathan turned 36 just two days after the wedding.  About a year after we got married, Jonathan was asked by his Dad to be his power of attorney.  His Dad had lung cancer and needed our help.  He was hospitalized many times and was in a nursing home the last 5 months of his life.  Jonathan stepped up to the plate to help get his Dad the care he needed.  Those were 5 difficult months, but we treasure the memories and time spent with K-Man.  He knew he was loved!  His Dad passed away on February 26th, 2013.  We planned the Memorial Service on the 27th and the 28th I was admitted to the hospital and 2 days later had my dead and gangrenous gallbladder removed.  I was released the next day and went straight to his Dad's memorial service.  Wow!  Last year at this time was rough, REALLY, REALLY rough, but we were so blessed to have each other for support and encouragement.  Jonathan took great care of me! 
     Fast forward to December of 2013.  Jonathan applied for a different position at LM.  It was a long process and he had to give a presentation.  He was notified on the 1 Year Anniversary of his Dad's death (February 26th, 2014, that he GOT the new Position!  He is being promoted!  I am so PROUD of him and excited for him!  I know he will do a great job and this job will better utilize his many talents!  He starts his new position as Trainer on Monday, March 3rd, 2014! :-)
     Here is the best part of this whole story for this "numbers gal"!  The first new hire class that Jonathan will train, starts on March 17th, 2014.  My 6 year Anniversary at LM is on March 17th, 2014!  If anyone would have told me on March 17th, 2008 (my first day at LM in the training class), that 6 years from today I would be Married to the new Trainer at LM, I NEVER would have believed it!!!!!  First of all, I never thought I'd get married, even though I really wanted to, and secondly, I was completely against being friends with anyone from work! LOL  Thanks to Holly for not listening to me when I told her I didn't make friends at work! LOL  If it weren't for her, I probably wouldn't have even considered dating someone who worked in the same building as I did! 
Wow!  Just Wow!  This numbers girl is very happy!  So many things happened that I believe were orchestrated by God to get us to the point we are at now!  I don't believe it was just a bunch of coincidences.   I'm so thankful God brought us together and continues to shower our lives with His Blessings!  I love you Jonathan!  I'm your biggest Cheerleader and I am so very proud to be called your Wife!  We have a lot to celebrate this weekend in Chicago and a lot to celebrate on Monday, March 17th! :-)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dear December, I'm Starting To Like You! :)

Hello December,

I honestly don't remember a time when I didn't dread your coming, and did anything other than merely survive your visit!  I've never been a fan of cold weather, but the darkness your weather brings, does not help my situation.  It exacerbates my depression and it makes me want to hibernate, sleep, and eat cookie dough, LOTS and LOTS of cookie dough!  Oh, and I did spend many a December eating lots and lots of cookie dough!   It helped me feel better in the moment, but made me feel worse long term as my pant size kept moving up and up. 

Fourteen years ago something happened during your annual visit, that hurt me so very deeply and changed me forever.  My life would never be the same. Nor would I.  December 8th, 1999 my earthly Dad passed away.  He was 59 years old.  My Mom was now a 47 year old widow.  While the majority of my friends were  (and some still are) losing their Grandparents to death, I was experiencing the loss of my Dad.  I was 25 years old. My two Sisters were 24 and 21 years old.  

December of 1999 I was single and still trying to find my place in life.  I was still figuring out who I was.  Looking back, the new and improved 39 year old version of me sees that I was "just a baby" back then!  Since 1999, I have quite honestly hated you December! I'm just being real!  We were all still numb and in shock when Christmas Day came, just 2 weeks after Dad's funeral.  We, of course celebrated Christmas, but we were all just going thru the motions.  I was living in Wisconsin at the time.  I spent many a night alone and crying in my Apartment in Cudahy, WI.  

So now you know why I hated December, if you didn't already know!  It's the darkest month (I get Seasonal Affective Disorder), my Dad passed away in December right before Christmas, and being single for as long as I was, my singleness was only accentuated around the Holidays.  December used to only mean darkness, sadness, and loneliness for me.

Eleven years would pass before I would experience one of the happiest moments of my life, which happened to be in December.  December 10th, 2010 my now Husband Jonathan, asked me to marry him!!! :)  I of course said YES! :)  Here's a pic taken by my friends Chris and Holly the night of our engagement! :)

For the first time in eleven years, I had a happy event happen in my life in the darkest month of the year!  Thanks for that, Jonathan! :) We were Married on July 8th, 2011 and Christmas 2011 and 2012 we started making our own traditions.   I finally felt like I belonged and I finally had my Family! :)  He is my earthly rock! :)

Today is February 1st, 2014, and I just realized I never finished/posted this blog! Oops!  Better late than never, right?! :)  Anyways, last year (Dec of 2012), we had our 1st Annual Winter Solstice Party on December 21st.  I decorated with cheery, bright yellow decorations, and we celebrated the darkest day of the year with friends, knowing that from that day forward, we would be gaining daylight minutes!  YAY!! Now that's a reason to celebrate!  We had our 2nd Annual Winter Solstice Party on December 21st, 2013 and it was again, a huge success.  Everyone had a wonderful time, especially me! :)

The Winter Solstice Party Peeps, minus Matt, the Picture Taker (He didn't want to be in the pic anyways)!

Jonathan and I had a wonderful Christmas!  We spent Christmas Eve at my Sister's in St. Joseph, MI with immediate family.  It was great to be with Mom, Don, Grandma, and my Sister's and their Families (and of course my Hubs too!)! :)

Me and My Mom!

Me and My Hubby!

Christmas Day it is our tradition for it to be just us, hanging out at home together, with nowhere to be!  It was wonderful, as always! 

I also had lots of countdowns going on in December for my 40th Birthday, 40th Birthday Party, and our trip to Aruba (all in January). 

So, December, even though you still aren't my favorite month, I have to admit that I'm starting to like you, and making the most of your visit! :) 

See you in 10 months! :)