Oh Christmas Tree…Part II

ImageAs promised, I’m posting photo’s of our 2012 Christmas Tree…

The outing was a disaster, a big reason it was so much fun. Given the participants; two teenagers, two dogs and me, we knew it wouldn’t go smoothly. Never does…

The dogs;  Rocky wore a scarf (We didn’t want him to get cold.) Grace did not wear a scarf, because she refused to have one tied around her neck. We no sooner got out of the car when Rocky got loose (on accident), mostly because he was excited and bouncing. (He bounces like a super ball) When I called him, he galloped through a big patch of mud–but right back to me–and I put his collar back on. As I did so, Grace got loose (on purpose) because I walked away from her. Luckily, she only did a few loops around the cars that were trying to back out, before sliding to a muddy stop at my feet. Total outing for the dogs? Three minutes out of the car. At most.

They didn’t mind going back in the car, because they had empty McDonald’s bags to shred up. (We made a stop for food on the way to the tree farm.)

The teenagers; mostly made fun of me, because that’s what they do. Son kept swinging the saw, though Daughter and I asked him to stop. Daughter was cold. My feet got soaked because I kept stepping in the gaping holes that held trees in years passed. (No, I don’t watch where I’m walking.)

The tree; proves that anything is pretty with sparkly lights!! This tree is just over 6′ tall and very spare. It has gaping holes, few branches and you can see right through to its trunk.

Tree decor: I loaded the tree with lights (two stands) and vintage Shiny Brite bulbs. I scored a large lot of vintage bulbs at auction last fall for a few dollars. Last year, we went with red, silver and pink.

Daughter wanted a blue theme this year. The bulbs are antique, so they’re lovely shades of pale blue, pale green, slate blue and other unique colors not seen today. There are a mix of ornaments styles on the tree; stenciled with white, shaped like bells, glittered, striped, disco ball style, crackled, etc.

Aunt Kate: I went to bed thinking that only you could get that tree and decorate it with blue ornaments, which I’ve never liked–and it actually looks pretty!!

Turns out, it’s one of  my favorite trees. Very out of the box, unusual. Not at all Perfect. Which fits, because at this point there isn’t anything Perfect about our household. Yet, that’s okay. We’re (mostly) happy.

Hopefully my kids look back fondly on this years outing to the tree farm. And remember the dogs getting loose, people laughing at the dogs antics, other tree shoppers faces (mouths hanging open) when they saw our tree, almost running out of gas, shredded McDonald’s bags, muddy dogs and all the little things we laughed at…

Because those are the moments that give life meaning. It isn’t about perfection. It’s more about embracing the imperfection, finding joy in the experience…

I see our quirky tree with its mismatched (but color-coordinated) bulbs, as having character and charm. I smile every time I look at it. Can’t help it…

Probably because I associate it with a Perfect couple of hours spent with my children.

Make the Christmas Music Stop !!!

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I’m not a Scrooge. Really, I love the holiday season… But I do NOT want to hear Christmas music before we’ve carved the Thanksgiving turkey! And what’s with the pre Black Friday sales? I don’t mind Black Friday. I was one … Continue reading

It’s Memorial Day….

Today is ‘Parade Day’ in towns across America.

Darling Daughter was up early and decked out in red, white and blue. She is leading horses in the parade. Or at least I think that is what she said she was doing…

Not altogether sure. Just crossing my fingers the one of the horses doesn’t drop a ‘pile’ that she has to walk around. Darling Daughter is NOT good with ‘smells.’

As a child she spent an entire morning at the Farmpark using her fingers to plug her nose. Same when we took her to the Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney (Orlando) and even walking the streets of New York City.

Pray god she isn’t one of the ‘scoopers’ and they told her she was ‘leading’ to rope her into the job??

I digress…

We celebrate Memorial Day with parades.

But it isn’t about the parades and picnics. It is about remembering those who have fallen in service to our country. Remembering how lucky we are to have our freedom. And its price for some…

My mother impressed this upon me at a young age. Her brother served, though he returned home.

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.  ~ Joseph Campbell

And so I will take a moment to thank all those men, women and families who have dedicated their lives so that my family and I have our freedom. And all of those who continue to enlist…

Getting a little bit personal: Jim, Tammy, Brett, Bailey, Kenny, Uncle Bob, Joe, Dave K, Tom S, Donald Hickok (my Grandfather). Thank you.

In the meantime, I am off to the parade. And I’ll be sure to take my camera.

Just in case Darling Daughter is actually walking BEHIND the horses with a scoop and shovel…

Tis The Season…

Forgive me for being absent to the blog scene lately, but my computer was on the fritz.

Thank goodness I have a working computer again. Not having one was making me crazy. (Or at least crazier than I already am!)

Hurrah! I am back to blogging during this ‘wonderful’ time of the year.

I know it is a ‘wonderful’ time of the year, because everybody SAYS it is.

The (unavoidable) Christmas music says so, too. The Christmas music that blares through the parking lot when I am getting gas, that plays in EVERY retail establishment and is the ONLY option on many radio stations.

I might seem a bit of a Scrooge. Really, I am quite the opposite.

It has just been an eventful couple of weeks. And by eventful, I mean financially challenging.

Last week, our puppy ate something that severely upset her stomach. What? We have no idea. But we do know she barfed several times, before finally hurling up a puddle of blood. Which sent me scurrying to the Emergency Vet, where The Little Black Dog had a doggie sleepover.  Luckily, Gracie Dog is just fine. She is romping about in the normal fashion, except it cost $800 to fix her up.

Like…Merry Christmas children. Your dog ISN’T dead.

Picking Gracie Dog up from her doggie sleepover went something like this:

Me: Do you have any idea WHAT she ate that made her so sick?

Nice Man at the Vet: Nope. When you have dogs, it’s always an adventure…

Me: An expensive adventure.

We shared a chuckle, but I wasn’t laughing on the inside.

Nice Man at the Vet: Might want to take her out on a leash, to make sure she doesn’t eat any more of ‘it’ outside.

Me: I will, because I am a wreck that she will eat more of whatever ‘it’ was.

Also, it would be rough to drop $800 and STILL have a dead dog.

Later in the day:

Son: We’re getting a dog for Christmas…

Me: Huh?

I was just stunned for a moment. I mean…didn’t I just pay good money to SAVE one of our dogs?

Son: Yeah. A little Lab-German Shepherd-Pit Bull Mix…You know, Gracie Dog.

Took a minute for his joke to sink in.

We are referring to the incident as Gracie’s $800 ‘snack.’ Worse? It was (and remains) a ‘mystery snack.’

And if that didn’t blow the Christmas budget, my Trusty Honda (since early this week) is driving like a Race Car. Loud as sh#%. It needs a new exhaust system. Because it is an old Honda, the exhaust is original and rusted out. Another $800…possibly $1000.

I have stopped driving it, because it actually vibrates at higher rates of speed. Though that might be a case for NOT fixing it? Could give new meaning to the term Joy Ride…

And yet, it is worth fixing our old Trusty Honda because I paid cash for it. Meaning there is no car payment. And it is a solid vehicle…just old and needing some of its parts replaced. I can identify…

Merry Christmas children. When I fix the car, we can hit the stores to listen to Christmas music and look at all the ‘wonderful’ things that $1600 to $1800 COULD have bought.

iPads, iPods, Laptops, a heap of new clothing…

Instead, I’ll be fixing the heap of a car in our driveway.

The crazy thing?

My children are taking it in stride. They don’t even seem to care. They have never given me a long lists of ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’ Though they appreciate nice things, they aren’t at all materialistic. They have always been content with whatever lands under the Christmas tree. (And some years are better than others!)

A lucky thing. Because this year, there may be little under the tree, unless I win the lottery. A long shot, since I almost never buy lottery tickets.

Yet, we’ll have a ‘wonderful’ Christmas Day.

We’ll have brunch, visit with family and friends, share some laughs and maybe go sled riding with the dogs if there is snow. The most important thing is that we will be together. That is what makes the season ‘wonderful’ anyway.

For a little EXTRA Christmas fun, try this….

The 13 Second Test: The only RULE is that you must say the first things that come to mind within the allotted seconds. Just “think fast!”

PART I:  You have TEN SECONDS. Name 3 GIFTS you received last year for Christmas.

PART II:  You have THREE SECONDS. WHO did you spend the holiday with? Your best memory?

Years ago, we played a similar game for ‘sport’ during a holiday with the family. It started with a simple conversation. Turned out the kids didn’t remember the expensive gifts, or the items that their parents stood in line at all hours of the day and night to get. Give it a go with yourself, your family and friends and let me know how it goes…

Mother’s Day…Is it OVER yet???

I admit it. I really, really dislike Mother’s Day.

For starters, it is tough to celebrate this day without my mother, who passed away after a prolonged struggle with cancer when I was just 20 years old. Which seems so very young to me, now that I am 40 and the mother of two teenagers.

My brother goes to the cemetery to ‘visit’ our mother—especially on Mother’s Day. No disrespect, but what’s to visit? I have been to the cemetery once in nearly 20 years. To me, it is simply a stone in the grass. My mother isn’t ‘there.’ I do understand that cemetery visits provide great comfort to some. I’m just not one of them. My mother lives on in my memories each and every day.

It is often said that time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t. Not really. It just makes losses bearable—gives us a chance to accept them and go on living our lives.

As Mother’s Day approaches, feelings of loss inevitably surface. Every year. Mixed in with those sad feelings? A deep joy and gratitude that I am a mother.

The Standard NORMAL Unicorn with Rainbow...

It seems that Mother’s Day is all rainbows, unicorns and sunshine—for everybody else. Yet I cannot be the only one with conflicted feelings towards the day. Making it worse, expectations for the day pile up by way of cards, gifts, flowers, brunches and rounds of visits…

Last Sunday, I was happily lounging in my pj’s with a novel. Until the children banged through the front door, dumping all their shit in the doorway–after being with their father. Time to celebrate!

Hungry, we decided to go to breakfast at the local ‘family restaurant.’ By the time we were served, it was about lunchtime. It wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been due to our low blood sugar.  To borrow one of my Dad’s favorite sayings regarding crowds, it was “elbow to asshole” in that restaurant.

Next stop? A tag sale I was dying to check out—always interesting for me, because I have an eBay store. We were barely on the way to the sale, when my daughter was besieged with stomach cramps.

Our Family Unicorn. (Picture compliments of my daughter) Notice the absence of a rainbow? Our unicorn is exhausted, but plodding along...

“Should I turn around and go home?” I said.

“No. I’ll be okay. But you might not be able to stay long…”

In my head, I was thinking…what’s the point of this excursion? At the sale, I hardly had a chance to shop, before hearing “Mom….” In that small little voice—the one that tells a parent their child is in distress. What could I do? I tossed a few dollars on the table to cover my two purchases and bolted.

I drove NASCAR style home, which is downright scary. This can be confirmed by asking those who regularly ride with me. I got my girl home ASAP so that she could visit the bathroom, before falling asleep, curled up on the couch.

Yet, we pressed on. My daughter insisted on taking me to the store to choose flowers for our planters and beds. Her treat. Which was lovely, though they didn’t quite have what we were looking for.

Undeterred, we went to the beach. A calm, relaxing place. We searched for sea glass—but barely found any. We left the special tool at home that was needed to bring home a rock that I had spotted on a previous visit to the beach.

“This day has been a disaster,” said my daughter.

My son couldn’t concur.  He was way out of earshot, busy scaling the side of a cliff with our puppy in tow—making my blood pressure skyrocket. His sea glass search lasted about 10 seconds, before he found better things to do. Things that make me crazy! Thankfully, he didn’t start back flipping off of the dirt ledges—but only because I gave him my best ‘look’ while he was inspecting a hunk of dirt jutting from the nearby cliffside…

Our visit to the beach was short. My daughter took the wheel for the drive home, which was a nice break for me. Until with she reached back to scratch her neck and brushed a tick—yes…a TICK—out of the car window.

This is the very same child who as a two-year-old proclaimed that she “was never, ever going outside again!” Why? There was a bumblebee sighting. She is and has always been terrified of bugs, flies and insects. To the point where she shrieks—almost involuntarily—at the sight of creepy crawlers. Her screams could rival any actress in a horror movie and could just about make a person’s ears bleed. Not overstating this.

She should NOT be driving a motor vehicle AND dealing with a tick!! I quickly instructed her to pull off the road into the nearest farmers market, so that her meltdown didn’t have us careening into oncoming traffic.  We happened to be traveling on a 4-lane, 50mph road—with no barrier separating traffic directions.

Long ago, I accepted that mostly things DO NOT go according to plan. At least not for me. Which has helped develop my sense of humor. The kids and I shared laughs throughout the day, as things went awry at every turn.

We remembered the Mother’s Day that my ex (back when we were married) took the kids to pick out flowers for me to plant. Then nixed their suggestions, in favor of his choices. (The kids would have been right on the money) He then insisted I plant his gift of ‘full sun’ plants in a shady spot, even when I told him that they would die there. Seeing the futility in doing otherwise, I planted them as instructed. They wilted and died. The kids and I ended up planting a new set of flowers.

Who buys a gift because they like it and demands it be put where they want it? Is that really even a gift? Classic.  It is one of those ‘remember when…’ stories that a handful of people remember and still get a giggle over…

To his defense, my ex was known to be spot on when it came to gift giving and thoughtfulness, while we were married. Flowers for no reason. Surprise ski trip out west for my 21st birthday. Sending me 3 adorable matching teddy bears that arrived ON Mother’s Day—One dressed as the mother bear and two smaller bears for her children. They boy in denim overalls and the girl in a pink dress—my children’s names embroidered on their little outfits. Maybe that’s why the plant fiasco still seems so funny to us. Because it wasn’t the norm.

Despite the many wonderful times sprinkled in between the disasters and resident sadness–Mother’s Day just isn’t that much fun for me. I have never liked being the center of attention. And it seems rather silly to make such a big deal out of one day, when for me every day spent with my children is special. That is the upside of cancer—those left behind cannot help but appreciate every day.

The little things mean everything to me. My children treat each other (and me) with kindness. They sometimes close my bedroom door in the morning so that I catch a few extra minutes of sleep. I can’t remember them ever yelling at each other. They work together and help each other automatically—without my interference—and always have. I remember that as a preschooler, my daughter never got herself a cookie or Popsicle, without bringing her brother one. Whether he asked or not. To this day, she counts on her brother to get rid of the spiders and ‘creepy crawlers’ in the house—and he does so without complaint or torturing her. In some ways, every day feels like Mother’s Day to me.

No mother could ask for more wonderful children, than the two that I have been so blessed to have in my life. Nor could I have had a more wonderful mother—I had for a short time, a mother-daughter relationship that many never experience.

I understand the concept of Mother’s Day. But I can’t help but think the sentiment behind it is often ruined by our expectations and the need to have the Perfect day—instead of savoring time with loved ones–even when those times are mostly disastrous.

As for me, I’m just glad its over.