CLIFTON HILL, MISSOURI—  444 Milam Street has never glowed with as much love and light-hearted companionship as the annual Grotewiel Christmas, which occurred on December 29, 2012 with 35 guests in attendance. 

The venue of this annual party had been changed, as the party in past years occurred in Bynumville, Missouri.  This location was unavailable, but Professional Party Planner (PPP) Debbie Grotewiel had concluded that Family is of paramount importance, and that the party must live on.   

Debbie was unavailable for comment (several sources have speculated she is hung-over and still recovering, but this was never confirmed).  However, her trustworthy assistant and roommate, Jacob Grotewiel sat down with the Coon Dog Lane North Tribune to share his thoughts on the occasion:

Having a party of this magnitude is not something that I undertake lightly.  So much planning and preparation is required to make sure the event is successful.  I will be the first to admit that I was cautious about such a large social function, however Debbie and I sat down and discussed the possibility and details, and I became the party’s most ardent supporter.  The only regret I have is that I wish I would have been granted more leeway with the party’s presentation, but after Debbie has seen the job performed -- I have no doubt that my role will be expanded in future events.   
            On being asked about the recent change in his living arrangements, Jacob responded that he moved home to help Debbie plan parties.  “It was a purely selfless act, I know that Debbie is not as young as she used to be, but she still deserves parties. I just could not provide the support she needed for parties while living twelve miles away.”   
            Several noteworthy events occurred at the Grotewiel Chirstmas, including Lisa Grotewiel announcing her engagement to Dr. David Kiene.  She has requested for all guests of the upcoming Cooper County Ceremony to bring Party (Silly) String in an attempt to compete with the other three sets of upcoming nuptials in the Grotewiel family.
            The Coon Dog Lane North Tribune only assigned one reporter to the Party, and it goes without saying that not everyone present will be mentioned, but some of those observed are as follows:
            Shane Grotewiel was returned his cooler, misplaced during another wild Grotewiel function.  Shane was assisted at the party by his three kids.  It was widely believed Shane and Crew left the party early to hit Bud’s Place/Westside on the way back to Columbia.  Bud’s Place has Old Milwaukee sippee cups for its youngest clientele.      
            Larry Grotewiel brought a wonderful looking pie to the party.  He let the party know that it was made in his “camper with a lot of love…well, a little love.”  Nobody tried the pie, but all  agreed it looked delicious.     
            The party was almost cancelled whenever Jennifer Grotewiel brought several chairs, tables, and food late to the party.  Jennifer was supposed to be an integral part of the Party Planning Committee (PPC) and it was noticed by all that she let the Committee and most importantly herself down through her tardiness.   The Committee had reconvened to determine if it should terminate the party due to a shortage of tables, when she finally appeared.  The party was salvaged through the Party Planning Committee’s perseverance.    
             Priya Grotwiel was not present at the party, at this time Coon Dog Lane North Tribune has not received an explanation of her absence.
             Derek Grotewiel was fresh back from a Great North American Turtle Hunt, and proceeded to enlighten the party of the processing of turtle meat. 
             Frank Wiemer was present and gave a bold weather prediction.  At the time of this article’s release, it appears he was correct.  Move over, Gary Lezack.  
             Ashley Grotewiel attended the party and was voted Worst Dressed.  She received several helpful comments on how to dress in the future from Assistant Party Planner Jacob Grotewiel. 
             Jim Grotewiel took a suspiciously long smoke break in the shop at several intervals throughout the night.  The Party Planning Committee is seeking an investigation to determine if he was avoiding Duties Delegated.  The Coon Dog Lane North Tribune was informed all Committee investigations are secret until the Final Hearing Results are concluded. 
             Phillip Weimer had a captive audience and at one point, relived several interesting sledding memories from his youth.   It was noticed by several that the presence of Sister Luanna (a Nun) did not deter Phillip’s Ten High consumption. The fact that the Ten High was requested by and belonged to Marion Grotewiel, the matriarch of the family, also did not deter Philip…or Ken.
            The true highlight of the night was the Grotewiel Feast, which as tradition would demand was a great spectacle of homemade meats, vegetables, salads, desserts, and rolls.  The Feast was a delight for all the senses. 
            After the meal, the party commenced to the White Elephant Gift Exchange.  This year, White Elephant Gift dispersal priority was by way of a nice game of Bingo.
            All agreed that the Grotewiel Christmas was a Huge Success.  
So, a little more about me and my new life.  Then in future posts, we'll move on to more about...well, probably me.

I finished up my school year in Raytown and was very sad to leave, although I knew making this move was what I needed to do.  I really, really liked my new school.  You have to be kind of quirky to want to, or be able to survive working in an alternative school.  Working with a huge bunch of quirky characters makes every day a ton of fun.  Also, this quirky bunch of peeps turned out to be some of the most generous and caring people I've ever met.  So again, I was sad about leaving.

But, I packed up my things and finally got them to my new place, after three trips to KC with a truck and trailer--two trips which ended with empty trailers and over $100 each in wasted gas, thanks to my ex-husband holding my things, including my women's clothing and shoes, hostage [oops, did that sound bitter?  I promise not to go there anymore]--and tried to quickly get settled in. 

Getting back into the swing of single life, I ended up hanging out with my brother a lot.  My brother hangs out with his friends a lot.  So, I ended up hanging out with my brother's friends, too.  We were having a ton of fun, and before I knew it, I was hanging out with one particular friend more than the others. 

So, I would now like to introduce you to Cliff, who will make frequent appearances in these posts and hopefully even guest post at times.  Cliff is the most intelligent, funniest, wittiest, most creative, best looking, biggest hearted guy I know.  He graduated Cum Laude from law school and runs a private practice with three office locations, but can be found playing Doodlejump on my phone, asking where he put his wallet, or begging to be tucked into bed.  His passions are coon dogs, coon hunting, really anything that is done outdoors, hatching chickens, raising chickens, showing chickens, old country music, creative writing, foreign films, any films, fish or any aqautic life, well, any animals, really, reading, Madden football on the Wii, any app on my iPhone, trying to be as redneck as possible, and drinking...oh, and law.  And I love every bit of it.

So, we are officially together in sin, actually.  Bunked up in this old one level house that we have completely remodeled together.  (More on that later.)  And every day is filled with fun and laughter.  And we're happy.  And it's nice.

I didn't get a job when I moved here.  I got here and went straight into working on this house, and helping with the dogs, and the chickens, and completely re-organizing and streamlining the offices.  It was pretty hellacious at first.  Working from home, but working 15 or 16 hours a day to get things in order.  You see, I'm kind of over the top with organization and Cliff is, well, not.  Remember he has to ask me where he put his wallet.  And no matter how many special places I create and designate for his things or other household items, we have frequent conversations similar to this:
Cliff-"Jenn, do you know where my gloves are?"
Jenn-"Are they where they're supposed to be?"
Cliff-"Where are they supposed to be?"
Jenn-"In the cubby hole in the mud room marked 'gloves'.  Remember?"
Cliff-"Oh yeah.  They're not there."
Jenn-"Here they are, on the back of the toilet."

But oddly enough, it doesn't bother me.  Truthfully, it's pretty fun.  So anyway, I worked long and hard and finally feel like I have things working in a smart and efficient way.  I still get to work from home most of the time, which is extremely nice.  And the days that I do get dressed and go to the office, I enjoy that, too.  Some days I get really sick of everyone needing something and everyone needing something RIGHT NOW, especially when everyone we're dealing with created their own messy situation, but there's a downside to every job, I'm sure.  I never had any interest in law.  I remember my friends wanting to play "court" when we were young and they could rattle off an entire lawsuit no problem.  All I knew was "Order in the Court!"  That was about the extent of my legal knowledge.  But, I'm learning quickly.  And I'm truly enjoying it.  Cliff and I work really well together, and so far haven't gotten tired of each other, even though we spend basically ALL of our time together.

My new life here seems so peaceful (even with the crabby legal clients), so simple, so free, so fun, and so right.
Although I always think of myself as a go-getter, on-top-of-things, proactive kind of gal, it turns out I really may just be a procrastinating slacker.  Just ask my family--the people to whom I promised a sentimental, charming, keepsake DVD of my grandmother...six years ago...still unfinished...still sitting in my office closet collecting dust and getting outdated.  So, I started this blog back in 2009 only to drop the ball in 2011.  Then, two months ago, a couple of friends requested I grease up the 'ole typing fingers again and have a go at this blogging thing again.  It sounded like a good idea.  I missed writing.  And I feel like my days are now even more adventurous than they were two or three years ago.  So, bear with me--I'm a little rusty, my posts will probably be shorter this time around, and I can absolutely promise they won't be daily.  But, I hope you will find some entertainment, stick with me, and enjoy reading what I do end up posting here.  And if you all got together and decided to host "Back Where I Come From" flash mob reading parties or something, that would be okay with me, too.

Also, bear with my typos and grammatical errors.  I'm a stickler for that kind of stuff, but when I was blogging before, I would get in a hurry to post something or just be plain tired of staring at my computer screen and end up missing a lot of errors.  I would spend half my time with a post just deciding how to say something or how to punctuation or how to spell or how to whatever.  I just spent about ten minutes deciding how to write that sentence in the first paragraph containing "to whom"... and now I keep re-reading this paragraph and adding commas, deleting commas, changing words, adding words ... but I am going to try not to be so critical this time around.  Although, I guess I'm not off to a great start, am I? With that said, I'm forecasting lots of english teacher slaps on the hand.  Don't judge.

A lot has changed in my life since I left "Sunny Side Up" (my old blog).  Married life ended up not agreeing with me as I had expected.  Or more like my husband just didn't agree with me as I expected.  Either way, it didn't work out.  Difficult decision, difficult times, difficult to comprehend, difficult, difficult, difficult, but I survived, and feel very, very happy to be where I am now.  On top of making the decision to get divorced, I then had to decide what the hell I was going to do with my life from there.  I had been in Kansas City for ten years and built a life around my place in that world.  I had held the same job all that time, made good friends,  found my favorite spots around the city... but everything began holding unwanted memories for me.  And I needed some serious support.  Where better to get that than "back where I come from"?  So, after a lot of soul-searching I decided to give up my job (I had just taken a new job in the school district, actually using my degree as a Rec Therapist, and absolutely LOVED it) and move back to rural-Missouri to be closer to family.

So far, it's the best decision I've ever made.  I'm happy here, I feel peaceful, I'm happy, I love my life, I'm happy, and did I mention, I'm happy?  So anyway, I've taken down my old posts so we can start fresh, just like my real life has gotten a fresh start.  I also changed the name of the blog to accommodate this fresh start.  And most exciting, it's no longer locked down like Fort Knox because I NO LONGER WORK IN A SCHOOL and therefore can be as uncensored as I want.  (Hopefully I won't run all of you off by post #3!)

More on my new life later.  For now, it feels so good to get back in the swing of things and I can't wait to read your comments and keep the posts coming!