Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking for Ghosts at the Wayside in Elbridge, NY

Sunday I met up with my Gal Pal Kelly and her son for a few days of fun. Kelly's mother Ann was able to meet me 1/2 and drop them off and we decided to meet in Elbridge, NY at the assumed to be haunted Wayside Irish Pub.

We had always heard the place was haunted, and were better to have lunch then at a HAUNTED building. I had left my camera at home, so some of my pictures were to blurry to view via the phone shots, but actually they were not to bad. Its nice to know I have a back up just in case. (I don't know how the snow flake effect was installed...but what fun.)

When we arrived the cook was not quite there yet, so we were able to do a little exploring.  Do YOU see any GHOST's in these actually ERIEEEEE shots I took of the back room? The bar tender only had one story to share. He reported that at closing all of the candles were blown out for the night and as the place was being locked up for the night he returned to the dining room to find all of the candles re-lit. SCAREY HUN? Actually he didn't have much more to offer us about the place, and told us as well as the boys that it was too scary for us to hear. NOT US....

So we had to get some documented facts.  I found this article after a google search.

Wayside Irish Pub a popular local 'haunt'

Ami Olson 10/29/08More articles






Is this the most haunted barroom in CNY? The folks at Wayside Irish Pub are goign all out on Halloween, with drink specials, a party, and an attempt to communicate with the other side via a Finger Lakes psychic.
For decades, stories, rumors and legends of paranormal activity have surrounded the historic Elbridge hotel now home to the Wayside Irish Pub.
Now, the current owners want to get to the bottom of the unexplained occurrences so many have experienced in the building.
Since opening Wayside Pub in the former Weber's Wayside Inn in Elbridge last year, owner Margo Spain has invited two paranormal investigation teams and a psychic into the building to explain seemingly otherworldly phenomenon that many employees and family members have experienced.
Stacey Jones, founder of Central New York Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Research, visited the Wayside on Sunday Oct. 12, along with 10 team members to conduct a preliminary investigation.
Using a controversial device that constantly scans radio frequencies and is believed by some to allow the living to speak directly to the dead, Jones believes the group was contacted by several ghosts in the building.
Jones reported at least three different people spoke to the group through the device, telling them their names and in some cases were recognized by employees. One is believed to be a former customer, another a family friend.
Jones said some of her team members also reported seeing "shadow people," and that she hopes to return to the Wayside to continue gathering evidence before the end of the year.
Neither she nor Spain feel that whatever, or whomever, haunts the building represent a danger to the living, however.
Check out the Wayside Irish Pub on Halloween for drink specials and a masquerade bash and, for the bravest souls, try to make contact with the other side. The Wayside Pub is located on the corner of West Main Street (Route 5) and South Street in the village of Elbridge.

CATEGORY: Curiosities & Oddities
TAGS: Wayside Irish Pub, Weber's Wayside Inn, Elbridge, haunting, ghosts, Ghost hunters, Ghost seekers, paranormal
EDITION: Eagle Observer



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I was trying to see if I could catch a ghost in this old mirror. See anything strange? No? Me either, but then maybe, doesn't it look like a person standing there with sun glasses on?
Once the cook finally was in we all enjoyed a nice lunch. My burger was delish.  
Once we finalized lunch we explored the front of the pub, we discovered this oddity out front.  Toombstones? What is that all about? Halloween is over. Or maybe they are trying to keep the sprits on site.
 Regardless, it was a nice lunch and now we can all say we ate with the Ghosts, and although the building was FREEZING the burger was AMAZING!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Is the Horror Show in the movies or calling the IRS, NY State and Boost Mobile?

Yesterday was spent doing the daily chores, taking the dogs to the dog park, and in total; about three hours on the phone with the IRS, NY State, and Boost Mobile.

Hopefully none of you have had to deal with the IRS and never have to. Making this a long story short, (NOT) I will begin with...it is a TERRIFYING thing that the people who run/work/affiliated with the largest governmental entity are paid to do what they do. After an hour wait on hold listening to the same dreadful tune repeat itself over and over and over again, I am shocked by the time a human voice was responding I was not in some kind of hearing induced coma. Upon getting a human, like most calls to highly important places like the IRS, that could at any time destroy your financial well being, there is immediately something wrong. First thing the nice gentleman says to me is, "Oh I am so glad YOU called". Things like that SCARE the poop out of me. In other words, if I had not called.....THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN SOMTHING DRASTIC!!!! Of course it is NEVER their responsibility to call ME, even though this was NOT my mistake, we had done all that was asked of us. Apparently the paperwork we had submitted to address some rears had not arrived, and there was no documentation or notation in the computer regarding why or why not. So he transfers me to another person, who when I report my date of birth joking say's "he he" "Don't worry I wont tell.." Should I be insulted???? I decided to laugh along with her as my objective was not to be offended about my apparently hush hush age, but to rectify my tax debt. I hear computer keys being pushed and yes indeed, there is no verification that the office of the IRS received so said paperwork, is it possible that we had forgot to send it? Really??? No I am pretty sure it was sent the day after we spoke with the representative over a month ago. My concern is NOW WHAT? I am told "he he", that it is possible that it has arrived and just has not been opened yet, they are quite backed up with the Holidays etc. When that became my problem I will never know, but it is NOW. What then do I need to do to rectify YOUR error and prevent MY money, bank account, employment...from being DAMAGED by YOUR employers HOLIDAY? "He He", you can make a payment via credit card; which will cost me an additional fee (These bastards have had enough additional fee from my penalties, and interest), send a check or money order, (MAYBE their office will open it in the Spring), or you can pay online. Online seems like the best option, no fee's and it is immediate right? Well no, it takes about two weeks to acquire a pin number for computer access. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? DO YOU WANT YOUR MONEY OR DON'T YOU??????? Next.....
Next call was to follow up with my potential NY State employment. The YES letter I had sent had indicated that it must be received by 21/27/13, and since I had not heard back I wanted to follow up. A much shorter wait then the IRS, although the first time I called it went immediately to a busy signal then disconnected; THIS IS NOT THE 1980's just when was the last time anyone heard a BUSY signal? Human answers after the second ring on my second attempt. I ask if such letter had been received by the NY State office. Nope can't seem to find me even in their computer system, did I happen to have the ID# from the canvas letter? (I knew I should have made a copy). NO, because the letter clearly stated...return this letter with intent of acceptance to the Office at NY State. There was no, detach here and keep for your records, send this page to, or anything for my personal records involved in this paperwork. "oh" more heard computer keys heard typing...silence. "oh yes, we found you and the information has been sent to the correct people. Now you just have to wait patiently." (When has patient ever been in my vocabulary.)
Feeling on a roll, I decided to address the next phone call I needed to take care of for the day. Boost Mobile. My daughter's boost phone had suddenly died, and by died I meant DEAD DEAD DEAD. Nothing happened, no charge, no nothing. With the Boost plan I had her phone on a month auto plan and every month there was a deduction. No phone..why have the service? No need, it was time to Cancel it. Sounds easy enough right? After trying the only Boost mobile phone number I had and not getting anywhere except with prompts and mechanical voices, I finally gave up and googled get a human on Boost phone number. It ended up being product service, but I did get a human. They transferred me to the proper department and I explained my situation. I got through the steps until he asks what is the four digit pin number. Well I have no idea and no way of finding out. I suggest that I seek out the paperwork; thinking or rather hoping the pin # is written somewhere on the payment contract. I ask for a specific phone number to reach him or at least another human, and I am told a number and what prompts I will need to enter. After some searching in our important papers drawer I did find my payment contract and read the details of canceling the auto pay. I could easily CA by going online and CA the agreement myself. Wonderful. So I go online and guess what.....I NEED MY PIN NUMBER. Great, here we are again. I could easily get my pin number sent to me via a text. GREAT right? Well not when the freaken phone is DEAD. So back to a human. I call the number and begin the prompts indicated by the human voice I had spoken to earlier. No luck, I went around and around and around with prompts never getting a human voice or even hearing a prompt that was in the area of what I needed. Back to using the product service number. After some wait period I did get another human and finally get things settled. This human allowed me to CA without a pin. Why couldn't that first guy? All set. No ID number no code no pin....I have to assume that this is the case and hope that I do not get another charge in Jan. What really got my panties in a wad was..the payment for Jan. was taken out that day. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT. talk about bad luck or scammy companies.
WOW!!!! It all sounds like a big pain, but it really makes me think about those people who don't call or don't follow up with things like this, myself included. Many years ago I agreed to a FREE three month trial of American Online (now I am really dating myself). Sometime during the three month trial my computer died. This was a time when we were all not so dependent on computers so I didn't run out and quickly get another one. It was several months (nine months to be exact) later that I noticed an odd $30- charge on my bank statement. Investigating further, I found that this same change had been applied to the previous five months. The charge was from AOL. I was so heated.  For six months after my FREE trial I had been being charged for this service. I know it was partially my fault for not noticing on my bank statement five months before, but how did FREE become $180- charge. I did sort it all out and they repaid me part of the money. But it just goes to show you that these things can happen. I already blogged about the endless monthly payments I was making to Pro active, and couldn't seem to get out of.

My day did get better when I took a ride with my son out to Auburn, NY to visit my Girlfriend Kelly visiting from Florida and her family.

It was great to catch up and hang out doing a whole lot of nothing. We did end the evening with a real Horror Show...

After the movie, Gavin and I took the long trip back home with plans to meet up again on Sunday.  Despite the crazy phone calls earlier in the day it turned out to be a fun evening. Both Kelly and Katie (her younger sister) got a BIG laugh about the Horror in my phone calls earlier that day. By then I could laugh about it. Sometimes you just got to roll with it and look at what is really important. Somehow it all works itself out.

Friday, December 27, 2013

To work or not work, that is the question.

Don't read this if your not interested in what goes on in my crazy head about work.
Most of you (since I do not appear to have any followers, this does seem odd to say)..know I quit my job in May of this year. Why I did this has so many reason's and there is possibly so many more underlying issues intertwined with me leaving that to begin analyzing this would take Freud himself to achieve an ultimate answer.
 It was after all,  the ideal position for my life. I worked four days a week T-F from 9am-1pm. I was paid significantly considering, although the pay and the crazy amount of work was perhaps one of the factors in me leaving. Truth is I began to HATE what I was doing. I hated feeling rushed, I hated spending my days looking at a computer and not at my clients, I hated supervision, I hated team meetings, I hated this, hated that, hated that I was always just under the wired with deadlines, hated that I NO LONGER LIKED WHO I WAS and the job seemed to be the one thing that made me like that. So I quit.
This was not with some serious consideration, and yet knowing that the place I so hated and was killing the person I am, I stayed on per diem, which I have been doing since May. It has been for the most part accommodating. It has taken care of some of the extras, helped with the bills a little and kept me in the loop. I have often complained about going after I have said I would. (like today I am scheduled to work and don't want to), and I have even complained once I was done.
The thing is I complained about my job before this last one, and I complained about the few I had before. I even complained about the private practice job I had that in retrospect I loved the most and it paid the best.
When I do my groups I often have my group members do what I call a relationship autopsy. Now I know were not talking about relationships here, but it is something similar. In the relationship autopsy you look at your relationship history and see if there is any common themes, any red flags. Things that you did or have done, things that attracted you etc. Once your done, the premise is that you will start to see your patterns and perhaps start to  take responsibility for your roles in the relationship. If every guy I dated was a jerk then I need to take a look at myself and see exactly why I attract jerks and if I do attract them why do I stay with them?
I have been doing the per diem thing now for nearly seven months, so why now am I getting so concerned. Well, the thing is, is I was suppose to spend these last seven months figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life. What does Wendy want to do when she grows up? I know what positions I have enjoyed in the past. So I thought that I might like doing some case management type job, or even working in a day hab or something similar. The thing is, and I know it shouldn't be about this, but the pay is so low and I am so over qualified that it seems like a waste of my time to seek such a position out. On the other spectrum, I know I love counseling, but I am just a bit (its almost funny since I have been doing it most of my adult life) underqualified per the state of NY and most insurance agency to deem me appropriate for such a position.( I need that stupid L in my letters, yep I need a License) Strange isn't it. So I am left with what I have been doing which has primarily been addiction counseling. I am more then qualified for these positions, and most pay above what the case-management positions would pay. I just know it is not what I want to do any more. For 15+ years I have been teaching, mentoring, coaching, supporting, managing and assisting addicts with recovery. Ideally it sounds great. I have had some wonderful rewards with this profession. On the other hand, I am bitter and resentful about the profession. What was once about helping people became about the rules, and the notes, the numbers and overheads, the bottom line, the BIG OLD BUCK!!! Increased demands, more units (yes people are called units in the world of billing) more expectations, less focus on the individual (although no one would ever admit that). I felt like just another cog in that conveyor belt of addiction treatment. Next...please were in a hurry here, I only have time to meet with you for 45 minutes and what is important to you has absolutely nothing to do with your OASAS appropriate treatment plan, so stick to what we tell you to talk about while I have my face buried in this here computer. Just keeping you clean and sober, for now, and making sure you have the insurance to pay for it, yep that is what is important here.....I began to feel like I was no good to myself, my family and surly the people I was suppose to be serving.
I also have seen a switch in the population of addicts. That makes sense; things have changed over the years, new drugs have plagued the world, new laws have been established, budgets have been cut, programs eliminated, insurances have dictated lengths of service, I too, am older and farther removed from what "addictive" lifestyle I once knew. The thing is we as professional's have NOT changed in our approach. I can only speak for myself, but what we are teaching is the same education that was presented to the alcoholics many many years ago. The people I see in treatment are not the run of the mill alcoholics. The people I see in treatment today are far more complex. They are addicted to opiates, using club drugs that most counselors in the field have never heard of and few have the awareness of the long term effects. Most of the people I have been treating are young practically kids who are now slaves to other medications then their Heroin and pills, but now are subject to the "legal" and monitored use of Suboxone or Methadone. These "kids" need a new approach to treatment....the way we have been treating addiction is no longer appropriate. Even the alcoholics, and other addicts should have a new approach to treatment. I personally don't believe all the rules stand true. As much as we preach individualism in treatment, we sure do not act in that fashion.
 I miss the days when I could keep my focus on the person sitting right there in front of me getting 100% of my attention. That is where the "magic" happened, that was where people got good treatment and more then likely long term recovery. It didn't matter what they were addicted to, I was working with the person and where they were at. That person could have been addicted to moon dust and the probability of obtaining and using was near impossible or they could be addicted to water with an abundant supply free at any tap...in those moments it didn't matter. I knew that treatment and insight was happening. There was moment positive movement in those moments. Those days are gone. 
Now that I had my own little insightful bitch session. It appears that unless I can re-create an entirely new program for addictions, which if I had my L, and the money for a start up fee, the staff, the State approval, the time and persistence it would take, the building space to make it happen and the actual motivation to start my own business, I might be able to do that. Interestingly enough since my husband is himself a Dr. and if he was willing to do this with me, I wouldn't need my L and we could start up our own private practice just fine. He's not interested and honestly I'm not either. I've seen to many good programs and private practices fail. I also know that at this point in my life I don't want the responsibility. I honestly plan to be off in my own little RV or traveling the world in some other format within the next ten years. That being said, now what?

For awhile after I quit I thought, as I have in the past, I'll stay home for the summer, spend time with my kids, travel, take care of myself, my home and all those things that don't get the attention when someone is working. Some of those things happened, but I have never been one of those SAHM's like you see in the picture above. Absolutely any time I was home, I never felt like June Cleaver and she'll never reside in this house. I played a lot this summer. I spent lots of time doing what I wanted to do. It WAS GREAT!!! It has been so great in fact, I have become accustom to this lifestyle. I even have come to a point within myself, where I have secretly thought, maybe I will just stay home from now on, and forget about ever going back to work.
 I suppose I could continue to do this for the rest of my life. Thing is I can't do that to my Husband, he works to hard and we have BIG bills. We played too much in the past and have continued to pay for it.  I personally don't have BIG material demands, but I, as my family, enjoy taking trips, having the basic luxuries at home, eating a good meal and do not always make the best choices with our money. Additionally, I have become LAZY!!! There is something about having NO DEMANDS on  your life that if you do not set your own rules and stick with them, those things that you originally set out to accomplish, you know that stuff that isn't all that fun, are over looked. For example, I have found myself spending days viewing blogs, playing games, being a facebook stalker, and wasting my time doing a whole lot of nothing. It is days like that when suddenly, realizing that it is almost 5pm  "quitting time" for the rest of the world, that I am still in my pajama, no bra, hair a mess, no make-up, and NO DINNER even started, rushing to do  load of laundry and wiping down the kitchen cabinets and placing a frozen pizza in the oven, just so it looks like I did something.....anything productive.

Not all days are like that, but now that Gavin's back to school, there seem to be more and more of them. This picture looks more like me during the week then the women in the picture above that.
Lets use this week as an example of where my NO DEMAND lifestyle has lead me. Monday, Gavin had his appointment, we went to The Erie Canal Museum and had a late lunch at Wendy's. Tuesday, I took Gavin to school, we got Burger King for Breakfast. I dropped him off and went straight home, let the dogs out and sat in front of this computer where I spent the rest of the day until around 3:30 when I decided to start dinner. I cleaned and pealed some potatoes, washed up the sink, did a load of laundry and plopped myself right back in front of this computer.  Wednesday, after dropping Gavin off at school. I did do some shopping and sent off my YES letter about a potential employment opportunity (I will get to that later). I shopped so hard (yeah right)....by the time I was done I was starving. I had a Burger King coupon and got myself some lunch. Once home I wrapped gifts while watching some stupid day time TV show because my on demand show American Horror Story is still not caught up. Did some blogging (that was when I actually started this entry). I worked from 4:30-8pm came home and ate cold take out Chinese that hubby had ordered as I was not home to make dinner. (I could have easily put something in the crock pot or had something ready for the oven.) Thursday was a little bit more productive; after spending most of the morning finding more travel blogs to add to my followings, I finally decided to get up off my butt and do something. I cleaned around the house and attacked my back craft room to begin organizing for a move to a now empty bed room on the second floor. Now my back room has shit everywhere. In between I looked up fab. floors and how to install them, because clearly I can spend my FREE time putting in a new floor. Dinner was frozen French fries cooked of course, and pre-made pulled pork (just heat and eat) sandwiches. I slaved over that stove for all of  about 30 seconds. We did have some productive activities in the evening. We went to the YMCA after I went on a tie raid about the membership cost going up next year. Every few months I complain that no one is using it, so what do we have it. Did I mention that I have had NO time during the last seven months to get my monthly membership fee's worth of YMCA activities? Could have gone at least one other time this week...maybe. I felt great about going to the Y, Gavin did several of the machines, we worked hard and even hit the pool after. I always feel good about going once I get there. Today has been better then most. I got the boy off to school, went on my very last Christmas shopping run. (I am glad to say that I am officially DONE). Had McDonalds for lunch. Took the dogs for a walk and to the Good Dog Park, watched a new series while wrapping every last gift...(I'm done with that too). I got two new release movies from Family Video for after the gym tonight, we have committed to going. I guess we will see about that, and I am now working on this blog.
See the patterns that are developing here. I'm not even liking myself after reading that. What a DISGUSTING SLOB!!!! I sound like some 20 year old unemployed kid living in her parents basement. I'm surprised my husband hasn't left me. This has been me for the last 7 months. It sure is an easy life, but its a pretty pathetic life too.
Now to the question of to work or not to work. I have had other times in my life when not working was much more productive then it has been this last run. Past SAHM time was spent working on taking care of my health, doing projects around the house, working my CTMH business, taking care of my kids and my friends kids. I did kid trips and activities. I was active in my son's school. I made home cooked meals and never ate out of a drive through bag unless it was for a treat. I looked for employment, and sought out ways to better myself. I even worked part time when I could. So what has happened this time around. WHY has staying home become such a lifeless boring meaningless nothing?
I don't have an answer.
I do know that although I have not made any recent attempts to find employment. I did take a civil service exam for an entry level position with the State after some coaxing from my friend Kelly who was planning on taking the exam with me and move from Florida to re-start her life. We both signed up and I was the only one who showed up to take the exam.
Ironically, it was basically the same exam and position I had as my very first job somewhere back in 1989. Had I stayed with the position, I would be entering my 25 year. I would have some nice time invested, a big fat paycheck and on the edge of ending a career with a good retirement package including all the state benefits. Funny thing is, I left that job to go back to school to find a better job. Interesting how the world works, as here I am again. I have run that SHOULD OF through my head way to many times to count. But then like most of those would of, could of, should of's. I recognize had I stayed on just how different my life would be. I most certainly would not have met my husband, obtained my Masters degree, had my son, gotten my CASAC, had all those experiences and life as I know it to be now would not be. There are a few other positions that I ponder over with regards to staying as well. I once had an opportunity to sign on with a company that provided travel to adults with disabilities. My job would be to accompany them on these trips all over the world, get paid to TRAVEL!!!!! This was right up my ally. I am friends with the girl who did take the job and I get to see her Face Book pictures of her many trips all the time. Yes envy does rear its head, when I see them, but I had two little kids and me as the only parent when that job was a possibility, there was no way I could travel for days on end at that time. This position too would have changed my life as I know it today. There were other choices I could have made, stayed with places, left other, fought for, stuck it out with, but I know that had I things, would be very different today. So NOW we are her.
 Quite honestly I initially didn't take any of  the State exam seriously when Kelly suggested we take it together. I signed up with Kelly more as a supportive friend and just to get my name in the door should I need it then really looking at it as a job possibility. There are other jobs within the state system that are more appropriate for my experience and degree. In fact there is a very nice CASAC position with the state that pays double my current pay for the exact same job with state benefits, but all of the state agencies are located within an hour's drive if not more from my home. Would I want to drive an hour plus every day just to get more money in my paycheck? add the area winters to that and HELL NO!!! There is not enough money to get me to do that and no there are no plans to move at this time. I take the exam, I even studied for it, got nervous, waited for three plus months for the results, bugged out about the whole thing I even got excited about the opportunity for this position planning out what shift (being the low man would put me at taking whatever shift I was given) I would take and how I would juggle my life around this. I mentally was invested in this job. Then I started thinking I failed the exam, I would never get hired etc, it could be awhile for things to happen anyways, maybe this isn't a good idea, so I sort of decided that perhaps I should simply just keep doing what I am doing.
Finally,  I got my test scores back and scored 100%. . (According to the letter I was ranked 6th in the State. (the rank has to do with credits and numbers, if I'm a veteran etc.) and within a week I was getting letters for open positions located at sites across the state. I should be thrilled. Of course none of them were local, so I began to mentally return to the thoughts of staying home and looking for new lines of employment. Things like working weekends, dealing with the night shift, earing vacation time, and starting over at a position I basically had when I was 18 years old sounded like a REALLY REALLY BAD IDEA. Two days later, I received the letter I had been waiting for. YEP, a position is here for me locally and just where I had hoped, wanted and intended to work.  MY, IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO GET TO THIS POINT!!!!!   Again I should be thrilled, but NOW I'm just not so sure.
I've been totally spoiled for the last seven month sleeping in, taking trips, doing what ever I want. I have been pampered with my way to many demanding (note the sarcasm)  day time 20 hour a week job for the two years prior to that.  Even the BS I took from my Supervisory position, the demanding bitch of a boss, the on call duties, the headaches, the tittle without the pull, and demeaning discussions about of all things my perfume; seemed like a luxury. Unemployment and the feelings of worthlessness during that stage of my life even began to sound okay. DO I REALLY WANT TO UNDERTAKE WHAT THIS POSITION MEANS? I asked my husband....he says he's all for it and I hate to say it, but he's usually right. I try a new approach with him....will it embarrass you if your wife is this lowly, direct care, entry level staff member? NO, and I am sure it wouldn't he does not embarrass. Will you be willing to take on things at home if I am working crazy shifts and weird holidays, weekend etc? OF COURSE.  So here I am.....not even had my interview and the position formally presented to me and I have already decided what will not be or what it will be. Bottom line..I am terrified about all of this, and still have no answers for myself. I think I need to just let it all go, and roll with it. Despite all those would of, should of's I noted above. God has always given me a good direction. Somehow it has always worked its self out. I guess I need to just let go and let God.

Christmas Holiday

This holiday was pretty close to perfect. Traditionally we have had a Christmas brunch with the family. The kids open their gifts, we exchange with my parents and then catch a viewing of the most popular movie at  the theater. This year we had our gifts, we had our brunch, but missed the movie, and there was no Ben. We all felt his absence. He was with his mother in Florida this year and not with us this Holiday. Sharing a child anytime of the year is difficult, but we all felt it this Christmas. Gavin especially.
We gave him a phone call and wished him an enjoyable day. Gavin gave him details of his received gifts, and what amazing plans he has for when they do see each other again. Although it has not always been smooth every time and they have had their disagreements, the two are incredibly close. I am very grateful for that part of the blending of the families. I would be lying if I said it was always a pleasure. Trying to get two families to morph into one has not been an easy adventure, but somehow we have managed to make it what we would define as FAMILY.
Despite not having Ben with us this Holiday we did manage to have a pretty AWSOME day. Alexis and Gavin opened what gifts "Santa" had brought while we waited for my parents and Nick to arrive.

I think they we both pleased with their gifts. 

They sure got a lot.

Gavin had requested two things for this Holiday season. I am sad to say he did not get either this year. He wanted one of those new X-box One's game systems ,at $500- and not anywhere to be found he missed out on it this Christmas. He also requested a Panda Bear webkin. I looked everywhere and could not find a Panda Bear. Mark ordered one online through Amazon, but somehow they shipped it to our old address. I believe he enjoyed what presents he got just the same.

Alexis had a complete list of what she wanted. For the exception of a car (yeah right) and an iPhone, she got everything on the list.

Gavin's gifts kept on coming. He would disagree that clothing is a REAL gift, but he sure got a lot of cloths including three new sweatshirts and two pair of fuzzy purple socks. Thank you sissy Lex for the sweatshirts. He has changed from his purple sweatshirt to the green one, but that purple one was back on before the night was over.

Mark got some Santa goodies too. Slippers, Pajama's a robe and underwear. Hey, if you don't tell Santa what you want, you get what Santa thinks you need.

The dogs even got some goodies. These bones were pretty messy.

I scored well too.

After "Santa" gifts I made brunch and my parents arrived just as the French Toast was finished. I had found a crock pot breakfast casserole recipe, and tried to do bacon in the oven. The casserole was a winner, but bacon in the oven failed miserably. The ends were burnt and the middle wasn't cooked. I must have done something wrong. Needless to say there was plenty to eat.

More presents came after brunch.

And MORE.....

My older kids got my mom some wonderful pictures. Alexis's was full of the grandkids, and Nick's was one he took in photography class mounted and framed.

I think we all had a pretty great Holiday.  The last present I opened........

will be the first thing I open next Holiday season. I guess this new traditional Elf on a Shelf will have to be incorporated into our not so traditional Holiday season. Although Gavin is not so easily fooled by Elves that report back to Santa, I am sure he will have fun posing this little guy into some fun hiding spots for next year.

What a Wonderful Holiday! I am feeling so abundantly blessed. Until next time.

PS. I wanted to share about my Time Warner Cable Holiday gift. We had received the new 2014 bill and it went up to $215.30. CRAZY expensive right? So my intention was to call and cut several of the additional services to see if we could at least save some money on the bill. Last year I had threatened to change cable companies but stayed on after finding that in the long run it would cost about the same. I did loose two of our paid channels to save a few bucks but overall felt satisfied. Over the year ,however the company automatically added the DVR service and Mark insisted on the Turbo internet service, so we really didn't end up saving in the long run and with the new bill it was even MORE of a punishment. If we were not all so dependent on these services I would buy myself an antenna and be done with it. Long story...long...Intending on ridding of all my pay channels, and DVR (a savings of about $30-)and ready to rid any additional expenses I was pleasantly informed that there was a current promo going on. FREE DVR, FREE Turbo internet boost and 1 FREE pay channel. Oh yeah I want the PROMO. This new promo kept nearly everything I was planning on cutting and saved me a whopping $73.88 per month, which is just about the cost of my Family YMCA membership!!!! SCORE!!!! For now we are keeping both the cable and the YMCA, but I so have to get my fat arse to the gym.