"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Christmas, Family, Extended Stay, and Rigid Flexibility

It’s Christmas time, and that means reflecting on family, friends, and the true reason for Christmas.

Christmas, unemployement, someecards

In my mind, and without any intent to be blasphemous, I must go back to my Catholic upbringing and make a confession:

“It has been more than one month since my last blog post …”

Often as we approach Christmas, we look back on the year that’s almost over. We find ourselves reflecting on the good times and the bad ones.

What happened in our lives? We occasionally send out a letter updating loved ones about what occurred.

In twelve short months, here’s a quick wrap-up of what’s happened:

1) Sold our house in Northern California.

2) Packed up the household goods ourselves and moved to our dream location – Southern California. Yes, we have TOO much stuff!

3) I looked for work in Southern California while MLB worked in Northern California (making nearly twice-monthly, 500-mile treks each way, to see me and Duke-the-dog).

4) Realized, after seven months and 200-plus resumes, that Southern California’s high unemployment rate and limited number of jobs was not going to provide the necessary livelihood to live there. :(

5) Sent two resumes to the Midwest (Nebraska – my home state), and got hired within a few short weeks!

6) Movers packed up our household goods, and we moved to Nebraska in early December.

7) I started a new job December 10th. MLB left her job December 15th, and went into retirement.

Signs that God has a sense of humor:

– It became obvious that Nebraska is where we should be, in spite of our dream to live near the ocean.

– Part of my responsibility is to determine whether the workforce should come to work during winter snow conditions – I’ve never liked snow.

– Our dog LOVES the snow and cold, and he had never seen it before.

– On the way to the interview, we went through one of the worst blizzards I’ve ever driven in – not fit for man, nor beast.

Snowstorm, Wyoming, blizzard

Beginning of Wyoming storm.

At one point, I said to MLB, “It’s as though the worst was thrown at us, to prepare us for living in the Midwest again.” Hmm, anyone sensing a snow theme, here??

This is the aftermath from last week’s snowstorm:

Snow, December, Nebraska

It’s so interesting how things turn out, especially those things that we least expect.

For example, I was quickly reminded that there’s just as much beauty in the open prairie as there is in a sunset over the ocean.

Sunset, field, Nebraska

Sunset, La Jolla, California

As MLB and I look back at the past year, this Christmas Eve (in our extended stay hotel – didn’t see that one coming!), we’re not at all where we thought we’d be, but we certainly ended up where we were supposed to be. We’ve already enjoyed being close to family during the holidays – something we haven’t been able to do for many years.

I hope your Christmas / holiday season is a time of warmth, family, friends, and the unexpected.


  1. Glad you landed where you need to be. Merry Christmas, MJ!

  2. Well, it looks like your new location will be doable for us to meet someday! That is, whenever I decide to head back to Nebraska to visit sometime next year… maybe the balmy days of summer! I am happy for you and MLB. It all fell into place, as it should. Welcome home!

    • Hey, Lori, someday?? What’s the problem with the dead of winter?? hehehe.

      Okay, spring or summer will be fine. Will have to meet FD as well. Chances are, we should be able to meet your sis earlier since she braves the Nebraska winter anyway. 😉

      Hope you have a happy holiday season, my friend, and thanks for the welcome back.

  3. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and much success and happiness in the New Year. As someone who made a huge transition to a new state (without salt air – gasp, gasp – after living for decades in a state with said air) because her spouse got a new job in a place to which we would never have considered relocating, my words of advice: hang in there, it’s all good, everything happens for a reason, keep a sense of humor, and pat yourselves on your backs for your sense of adventure and spontaneity. And learn from your dog. (I wish we had a dog; we would have adapted so much quicker.) Congratulations on your new job!!!

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement, AA. I really appreciate it. So, we’re not the only ones who’ve made the transition? :)

      We have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly we’ve adjusted to serious winter (it’s zero degrees as I type this!).

      Oh, you should get a dog. Have a Happy New Year!

  4. As a Catholic I always wanted to listen to a confession. Although this didn’t have the sordid actions I dreamed of, I enjoyed every last word. I’m so happy you landed where you were intended to be and that your dog loves the snow, that was a big perk! Merry Christmas MJ!

    • Ha ha, that’s awesome about listening to a confession. I’m always available if you want to share your deepest, darkest secrets – in the spirit of helping you get that closure, of course. hehe

      It’s surprising how quickly we adapt. Happy New Year to you and your family!

  5. Merry Christmas

  6. MJ! I’m just so glad you are okay, that you are employed, that you have a roof over your heads — and family and friends nearby. You are, no doubt, where you are supposed to be. As we always are, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • So great to see your swinging gravatar. It was nice to read your blog again after such a long time away. Hope you, your new rug, your Tech Support, and your hubs have a wonderful New Year, Renee!

  7. Best of luck, MJ… Merry Christmas…

  8. So wonderful to see your post, MJ and all the best for this new adventure of yours…always a reason for everything. :)
    Merry Christmas! <3

    • Hey Sunshine, thank you so much for your brightness. Great to be back on my blog again. Wish I had more time. You all are so encouraging.

      Happy New Year to the Sunshine family!

  9. Chris Andrews parra says:

    Hi cousin, I think you and your family are EXACTLY where you are supposed to be. I bet I will see you more than if you were in stil in CA. Merry Christmas!

    • My Cali cousin, hope you are well out in LA. Hope to see you very soon. Will be great to see your mom again after so many years, as well as Mark. I can’t remember where Mary is, but would love to see her again also.

      Happy New Year to you and your family.

  10. Aw, so great to ‘see’ you around here again! God does have a sense of humor and certainly manages to put us where we belong in the long run. Enjoy your new digs, the new family gatherings and all that snow. We are getting dumped on about 15 inches tomorrow and I am actually excited. Time to go sledding with the kids! Hope you had a merry Christmas, MJ!

    • Hmm, it’s been so long since I’ve seen your gravatar that I forgot you copied mine! :)

      Really, great to see you again as well. Things are going pretty smoothly with the new job and weather change. Wow – 15 inches is a lot of snow. We’ve only gotten 3-5″ a couple of times, but the wind blows something fierce.

      Have a very Happy New Year, a super-productive school year, and a fantastic 2013 with your family!

  11. Mike and Cate, do hope we can have an Andrews-Monaghan get-together this summer. The Lord knows best where we belong—amazing how He engineers life! Love it—better than we humans could do. Looking forward to seeing you two.

  12. Michael, welcome back. I’m glad to hear you’ve settled in a spot close to family and friends. That will certainly ease any heartache you have over missing the sun and the sand. (Believe me, that last part is greatly overrated.)
    Glad your Christmas was merry. May your New Year be prosperous and bright.

    • Hi Judy – you’re so right about it being a special place when you’re near family. I’ve missed your smiling gravatar. Good to see you again.

      Happy New Year, my friend! Be safe and all the best to you in 2013.

  13. Finally! I was beginning to worry that they didn’t have internet in Nebraska. :)

    I thought I should let you know that there’s a typo in your post. I’m 99% sure you MEANT to write, ‘I’ve always loved snow,’ rather than ‘I’ve never liked snow.’ Regardless, keep in mind that even big kids enjoy snow days sometimes.

    Glad you’re getting settled in, sorry you’re still in a hotel. Hopefully that will change soon, and you’ll be in a house. Hope you had a great Christmas…especially with your family. I’m sure they’re glad you’re home.

    • Ha, KK, I know it’s cold here, but the internet does actually still work. You know how it is, living in a cold climate, yourself.

      NO TYPO, my friend!! You’re the snow-lover, not me!!

      We’re still looking for a house. There hasn’t been much on the market in winter-time in the two larger towns in the area (25,000 people in each), but we’re hopeful. The hotel is starting to cause some stir-crazy, but not bad.

      Have a Happy New Year, and a most splendid 2013!

  14. Who said you can never go home again? They were wrong…

    • Yes, they were. I always thought it would be difficult to go back and that it would be hard for others to adjust to having us around again, but the opposite is actually true.

      Have a great New Year. All the best to you and your family, Julie.

  15. You are perfect where you are. I love having you here close. It is a difference than California but we get to see you, ore

    • Tinca, it’s great to be back. Awesome to have you visit in California, but even better to see you more frequently. Christmas-time was very special since we got to be around you and the family! Happy New Year, Tinc!

  16. Wherever you are, there are always good things. So glad you are glad to be back in the Mid West. And glad the dog is, too. My dog loves snow as well!

  17. Welcome home.

  18. Tori Nelson says:

    Life can’t stop changing all the time! I think you’ve got just the right attitude to keep up with the adventure. Merry Belated Christmas to you guys!

    • I know it’s been a year of big transition for you as well. The longer I spin on this here ball called earth, the more I’ve learned that change is a constant.

      Happy New Year, T-Nel! Hope you and your family have a fantastic 2013, and put that flu stuff behind you.

  19. Gosheee! I guess being jobless in southern Cal is not so appealing. I didn’t realize it was that bad there. A shame! But isn’t it better as a vacation spot anyway? Being near family is priceless. Glad it all worked out for you both. Beautiful sunsets!

    • As a photographer, you know there is beauty everywhere. It’s too bad the job market was so rough there, but the silver lining is definitely being around great people of the midwest, including family.

      Hope you have a fantastic New Year with your family, Angelia!

  20. >I started a new job December 10th.
    – Yaay!

    >MLB left her job December 15th, and went into retirement.
    – Double yaay!

    >As MLB and I look back at the past year, this Christmas Eve (in our extended stay hotel – didn’t see that one coming!), we’re not at all where we thought we’d be, but we certainly ended up where we were supposed to be.
    – Man proposes …..?

    >We’ve already enjoyed being close to family during the holidays – something we haven’t been able to do for many years.
    – Would you think I’m beyond redemption if I say ‘Triple yaay’?


    • I have so missed your repartee, Kate. Hope you are well and thriving in your part of the world, and spreading your sunshine to those around you.

      And thank you so much for all of your encouragement and support. You are a bright light, my friend.

      Thanks for the Triple Yay – so much better than the Double-Dog-Dare-You!

      Happy New Year, my friend!!

  21. Congratulations on getting a new job and wish you best of luck to start this new chapter in your life! Happy Holidays! :-)

  22. Seasons Greetings MJ!

    I agree with your closing sentiment: sometimes we just are where we are supposed to be, even if the plan said something else :)

    Now about that snow, follow Dukes lead and revel in it 😉 clearing the drive / path etc is a great workout. Better still cross-country skiing! Our pup has been working on his kangaroo hops and antelope leaps this weekend – I just need a decent camera to capture it!

    Wishing you many sunny snowy days to come!


  23. Where in Nebraska are you living?

  24. Great post and picture of how adaptable you have had to be. I’ve had several years like this where what was originally anticipated, planned, ended up to be for a different time or season. Happy new year to you! (PS – I traveled to Nebraska for consulting work twice this past year with a warm reception each time!)

  25. So, now that your wife is retired, will she take up blogging? :)

  26. I suspect you’ve heard the saying, When God closes a door, He opens a window. Sounds like the Midwest is going to be your window! Here’s hoping it will be a change you can learn to love — there’s something to be said for living in the nation’s breadbasket and feeding the world! Happy 2013 to you and yours. My Sheltie LOVES the snow, too!

  27. In my annual 2012 report from WordPress, you were noted as one of my top five commenters. Thank you for your support, Michael. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  28. J Timothy Quirk says:

    What an eventful year for Mr. Monaghan! I hope you continue to write not only blogs but more long form thoughts and experiences in Nebraska!

  29. That was one of the best end of year recaps I’ve read – sincere, emotional and optimistic. Thanks for sharing and good luck for 2013.
    I hope that you had quality time with your loved ones during this holiday season.

  30. Wow. What a turn of events for you. I almost want this year to end so I here what happens to you. I’m glad you are settled in now.

  31. Its great when good things turn out well unexpectedly.

  32. That is a big change. But if it right for you, then you will find many blessings where you may least have expected. Good luck with all everything.

  33. I hope everything is going well with you and your family, MJ! I’ve been terribly remiss in the blog world, too, but it’s nice to keep in touch with my virtual friends whenever I get the chance. :)

    Hopefully you have had a chance to settle in and find a (non-hotel) place to live now. Marty and I are enjoying a few months in sunny AZ before we head back up to Canada and face our busy work season again. All the best to you!

  34. Happy Birthday, MJ!

    I know and I understand that working means not having a lot of time for everything else you like. But I want to let you know that I miss the warm, genuine and kosher (a rarity in today’s ‘anything goes’ blogging world) stories about yourself, YLB, your children and Duke. Oh, Duke’s, um, a children, too. :-)

    Continue to keep well, MJ. Well, as well as that that tundra wannabe will let you. 😉

    Have a happy birthday and a year filled with good health, lots of extended family fun times and um, a couple of blog posts. Come on, MJ. You can’t STILL think I’m a selfless ‘un.


  35. Hi MJ,
    I’m glad you are resettled and settling in. I love the two photos of the sunsets. Best wishes for the new year, and the new job, life, home, etc.

  36. Heeeeey…I thought you were back….

  37. Hi MJ!
    I hope the Nebraskan winter wasn’t too long or too cold. Missing your dulcet tones in blog-land :)

Love to hear from you.

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