Monday, November 30, 2009

A letter to my mom on the day I am putting up my Christmas tree...

Dear Mom,

Like most children, Christmas was always my favorite time of year. I have vivid memories of our tree - the way it looked with tinsel icicles flowing and colored lights, the way it smelled, and of decorating it every year with you. I remember specific ornaments, some of which you have already given me, and some that I can't wait to get my hands on and put on my tree every year. There were these wooden ones (which I know you didn't keep) that were decoupaged and shellacked on the front, and every year we had to pull them apart as they would stick together in the box of ornaments. There was a little red bird that had wire on its feet you could wrap around the branch. There were these ornaments made from an eggshell that my grandmother made. And most importantly there was that ugly Santa face we had to put atop the tree because it was your sister's. We would look at it each year and confirm its ugliness and our love for him, and then put him in his spot.

Basically, I remember a lot about Christmas in my home as a child. We did the same things every year, and you and dad always seemed so excited and happy. You never seemed stressed. You always let me help, and you never seemed bothered to have me there.

As my kids get older, I just don't know how you did it, Mom. I don't know how you let me decorate the tree with you and not lose your cool. I don't know how you listened to the hours of questions - How many days? Is that my present? Can I put that ornament on the tree? Can I turn on the lights? - without your head spinning completely around and then popping off. I don't know where you found the patience and energy to put up with me and my two brothers.

So did you really never lose your cool? Or did you just hide it well? Did you think you would die when you had to go behind me and fix all the ornaments I had hung? Did you just wish I wouldn't make up and sing my own Christmas carols over and over and over and over again? Please tell me that you felt all these things and you hid them fairly well. Or at least well enough that I never remembered...

Please tell me that my kids will one day look back and only remember the fact that they got to help with the ornaments and not the fact that I forbid them to touch certain ones or dared to move five ornaments that they hung on the same branch. I only hope I am building fond memories my kids will have forever... and that when they have kids of their own, they'll appreciate the work I've done along the years half as much as I appreciate yours!

Thanks so much, Mom! Thanks for my beautiful childhood!

Love always,

P.S. I am truly sorry if I ever hung five ornaments on the same branch of the tree... I'm pretty sure I did. Probably more than once.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Lunch

Today was the annual Thanksgiving Lunch at David's elementary school. This is his last year at this particular school, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Perhaps it's not the best lunch in town, but you'd be surprised at the number of parents and grandparents that line the hall waiting on their little person to enter the cafeteria.

I always leave that school broken hearted though. Always.

I often times forget how blessed I have been throughout my life. Yes, I've been through some hard times. But all of my hard times have some how stemmed directly from a poor choice I had made. But the children I come across in the walls of that school have no control in the situations they are stuck in, and my heart aches for each child that has to bear the load of a screwed up adult.

I hear a sad story every time I visit for lunch. There was the time that a little girl in David's class has no lunch in her lunch box and wept at the lunch table in front of all her classmates. There was the time that a little boy in his class told me about both his parents having been to jail and that his dad was away somewhere getting help so he could be better. Every time there's a kid who just hugs me and talks to me like they have never seen a smiling face before. And then today, I think I heard the worst I've ever heard...

The little boy seated across from me tells me, "I don't like my mother." Wow. How do you respond to that? So I said, "Oh, I'm so sorry you feel that way..." And he commences to tell me all the reasons why he doesn't like her... she doesn't pay any attention to him when he's at her house because she only wants to hang out with her boyfriend who just so happened to run over his dog on purpose. Did you get all that?

So I tried to change the topic of conversation to something a little more uplifting by asking, "So who's your favorite person in the whole wide world?" And a big smile came across his face and he replied, "My dad."

Well good. He does have someone who loves him and does their very best to take care of him. But then the boy beside him chimes in with his story... he, too, lives with is dad because his mom was never married to his dad. And then she had two more kids and got divorced, and now she's married again to a not-so-good guy. And he has Suddenly, I found myself wanting to run...

I just can't wrap my mind around a world where people just have these kids and have absolutely no regard to the way they treat them. These poor Innocent little souls are thrust in the middle of such selfish and ridiculous behavior. I've seen glimpses of it in my day to day life in people I know, but it wasn't until recently that I realized how common it is for a mother to chose a new boyfriend over her own children or a father to chose a life of drugs and crime over his family. Our whole society is tearing apart, and it's the children who suffer the most.

I can't say what I would do if I found myself a single mother somewhere down the road. But I can say this - I would hope I wouldn't forget that my children are just little people who need love and tenderness and security. They deserve that from me no matter what my circumstance in life, no matter what I have to sacrifice. They deserve that because it's us stupid, pitiful adults that brought them into this crazy mixed-up world. And it's our duty to watch over them.

Just had to get that off my chest. I sure do wish I could bring all those little broken hearts home with me. I really do.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today I am thankful for coffee...

I was the little girl who worked at a coffee shop for four years and didn't like coffee... I was her. Customers would come in and always ask, "What do you suggest?" Of course I'd be forced to reply, "Well... I don't really drink coffee."

Oh, you stupid, stupid girl...

Now I'm on the other side. I adore coffee. I have to stop myself with one and a half cups (and it's a pretty large cup) every morning. There are some afternoons I'd love to brew a pot, but I hate to get myself in the habit.

I remember the moment I first appreciated the taste of coffee. I was on a cruise with - well, we won't talk about who I was with - and every night at dinner I drank a cup of coffee with my desert. It was perhaps the best cup of coffee I had ever had... perfectly balanced and light. Most of the others at my table commented on its brilliance as well. Was it the kind of coffee they used? Was it the purified water? Or was it simply the fact that we were on a cruise and it was served in such a sweet and delicate little cup? Probably a good combination of all the above.

It wasn't until right after the birth of the second baby that I began my love affair with coffee. Madalyn must have been only a few weeks old, and it was a Sunday morning. Scott was preparing breakfast. David was probably running about the house like a gorilla on Red Bull. And I was thinking, "How can I possibly make it through the next twelve hours without a nap???" So I fixed myself a cup of coffee with tons of sugar and cream, and I was immediately in love.

In love with coffee.

There have been only a hand full of mornings without my most beloved companion since that day. If I don't drink my morning coffee, it's usually when I have a nasty little stomach bug. That's really the only reason I can think of that I wouldn't have a cup. Or two.

The fact hits me this morning just how fortunate I am to have that cup of coffee every morning. I mean, sure... it's nothing fancy. It's just a little Maxwell House Original Roast brewed in a $45 coffee machine. But in reality, it's a little luxury that some homes in our country don't have. Coffee isn't a necessity (though I feel it is most mornings); it's a guilty pleasure. And I am surrounded by so many guilty pleasures - too many to count. When I stop to think about how charmed a life I live, it's overwhelming. Sure things aren't easy this year. Sure our income has been drastically reduced. Sure every month here lately I wonder, "How?" But we always make it through. We always carry on. And I still have that cup of coffee every morning.

I think this year has made me especially more thankful for the little things in my life than ever before. I know I can often times appear ungrateful and grumpy about day to day life, but that's just me making light of life to cope. That's how I deal with my days - to make fun of them, to roll my eyes, to see the funniest of funnies in some of the most difficult times I have ever experienced. But I am so incredibly thankful. So incredibly blessed beyond measure. So well taken care of by a God who continues to bless and preserve me no matter how undeserving I remain. But aren't we all just so completely undeserving of what's been given to us? Aren't we all?

So, today I am thankful for coffee. The simplest of pleasures for me. The everyday delight. The warmth of the cup, the smell of it's contents, the flavor on my tongue, and the peace in knowing I'll have it again tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Buddy's Perfect Day

On Wednesday, the kids were out of school, and Scott took off work, and we had TONS of leaves in the yard. And I think that Buddy Love had the most perfect day...

We started on the leaves in the back yard around 9:00 in the morning. They were everywhere from the storm the day before that knocked down every brightly colored leaf along with the dry brown ones. They covered the grass and the bottom of the pool as well. And just as many were still floating atop the water. We stayed in the back yard with Buddy - all of us - for the bulk of the morning. David would play some with Buddy, but mostly the orphan dog just followed us around while we did our chores just happy to have us outside with him. We don't have to entertain him; he will pick up a ball or toy and run around and toss it in the air all by himself. He just likes our presence in the yard. He likes to be around us - we're his people.

We moved into the front yard and worked there for a couple of hours. And after that was done, we took Buddy on a little walk. This must be his favorite thing to do, and bless his heart, not something he gets to do as much as he should. But walk we did, and he smelled everything and marked his way along the path.

When we returned home, I kept him on his leash and let him sit with us a while as we watched the kids ride their bikes and scooters in the driveway. He was perfectly content to lie there at my feet and keep watch with me. Perfectly happy to be surrounded by his people that love and take care of him. And then we grilled in the back yard and ate with him at our feet. And once the kids went to bed, Scott and I sat outside and talked with him dozing at our feet.

Buddy had a great day. I told Scott at the end of the day that this must be just the perfect sort of day for Buddy - spending it with the people who mean the most to him. And maybe is was the perfect sort of day for the humans as well - at home, all day, doing normal household things, and just being all together.

I know the days are flying by faster than ever before, despite the days that sometimes seem to linger on and on and threaten to never end. I know the days of the kids being trapped here with us are fading. There will come a day when they have the freedom to leave in their own car or the car of a friend and escape the yard work a random off day in the middle of the week has to offer. There will come a day when they are too big to ride their bikes down the sidewalk. There will come a day when I can't bribe either one of them to join me for a walk with our sweet Buddy. And so I guess I need to cherish these days all the more knowing that all too soon they will be gone.

Yes, it was a perfect day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Just this morning, I accepted a great challenge on Facebook to list one thing each day that I am thankful for from now until Thanksgiving. I love this idea, and I was just thinking the other day that I hadn't done a thankful post on Blogger in quite some time. So I might even be taking some of those thoughts and expanding them as posts here.

Like today - I posted that I am ever so grateful for my SwivelSkim, the handy-dandiest thing a pool owner could ever own, especially when the pool is surrounded by trees that shed MILLIONS of leaves each Fall. This morning, my beloved tool was on my mind as there was so much debris in the pool from the storms last night.

I typed in my little status this morning, and went out to clean the leaves floating in the pool. It was still raining, and so I put on my black raincoat, hood over head and cinched in tight around my face. I made one swipe through the water into the thick of the leaves and pulled it up to empty its contents so I could continue the cleaning process...

It came apart. The whole blooming thing came apart. The part the net attaches to fell in the water, and the rest was still attached to the pole. And I quickly bent down to pull the net out of the water as I didn't want all those leaves back in the pool. And then the net split, and the contents spilled, and I stood there thinking, "And this is what I get for talking so nice about you on Facebook, SwivelSkim?!?"

And so the only thing making my life any easier right now went kaput. And I am a little ill about it. So the pump on the pool is off. And there are tons of leaves floating and just as many in the bottom. And I am going to lose my mind with all these darn leaves... I used to enjoy Fall. Not so much anymore. Not so much.

This is the last Fall I will be without a cover for the pool. THE LAST FALL. I don't care what I have to do... sew one from scraps of old clothes, tie together fishing nets, whatever I have to do... I will have a covered pool next Fall. I will not spend the bulk of my day fishing leaves out of cold water or emptying skimmer baskets five times a day. I will find a way to win the battle over the leaves before this crazy battle beats me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

At long last...

I am still alive. I just haven't been blogging. I can't really say what I have been doing other than the usual stuff - laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, organizing the mass chaos of life inside our confines...

Seems like the day has gotten shorter here lately. I know that literally it has as the time changed, but this year's change has effected me more than usual. If my memory serves me right, I usually feel better when I gain that hour in the fall. But not this time around. The kids have been up at the crack of dawn every day and have, in turn, been even more grumpy than usual in the afternoons. And on top of that, we've all been battling this little cold that has left me feeling like my energy was washed right down the drain with shampoo in the shower. We are a snotty mess, and all I want to do is lie down and rest. But there will be no such thing...

I have written many posts in my head and deleted them in my mind before even typing the words. I can't even count how many times I have done that lately - written a post and then deleted it. It helps to write some feelings out in bold black letters, but they aren't really the feelings I'd like anyone to see. So I delete it. I think my brain spins too fast sometimes. I have to give the rest of myself time to catch up.

So what's got me spinning here lately? Oh, life. The disappointments of the useless humans here on Earth. Why, oh WHY, did God create us??? We are such flawed individuals with our only truest talent being letting each other down. How depressing is that thought? I've just been the witness of so many truly disappointing things here lately - families torn apart, manipulative behavior, selfishness, despair. And I just have to take a step back and realize that humans are not to be depended upon... not at all. There's really not a human out there who hasn't let me down at some point.

So where do you go from here? From this place of knowing and fully realizing things are never as they seem? That in an instant, it can all change. That with one decision, lives can be torn apart and rearranged. That you can pour your heart out and try to help, and sometimes it just won't work. That the things that get our little human minds to spinning aren't the things that really matter at all. I am trying to take a step back from things and look at the bigger picture.

The bigger picture. What really matters. What will last. What to hold on to. I am trying to cling to my faith. Faith in God, in the goodness that exists only through Him. In the one and only person who ever walked the Earth that actually did EVERYTHING He said he'd do... and that's an amazing thought. Jesus actually did what He said he'd do. If we would all strive to be just a little more like Him every day, wouldn't this place be more tolerable?

I read a blog entry a couple of weeks ago and it closed with a question that has laterally plagued my mind since... "How are you more like Jesus today than you were yesterday?" I stopped and thought about it a minute, and then I read it again. If that question doesn't get you to thinking, then I really don't know what will. It was the fact that I wasn't really sure how to answer it that bothered me...

A conscious effort to be more like Jesus every day. To love like Him - unconditionally, freely, and with grace. To live like Him - with honor, dignity, and purpose. To die like Him - to give up the Earthly ideals and strive to be an example for those around us. What a challenge, especially in a place where your surrounded by people who can't see past their own nose.

So there's my post I've written in my mind and deleted several times. I'm disappointed by life here lately. I'm disappointed by what I've witnessed. But I am trying to hold onto something greater - the only man who did what He said he'd do. The only thing one can really depend on in this crazy mixed up world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day Seven

Here I am in late afternoon of the seventh day, and I am amazed at how much better I feel. Simply amazed. I guess I never really fully understood what the copious amounts of carbs and processed foods I kept shoveling into my mouth were doing to my system. I have no more afternoon crashes of fatigue, virtually no pain in my muscles at all, and I just feel lighter in general. Maybe it's those four pounds of water that I've let go of...

I mean, four pounds of water is a lot of weight if you stop and think about it. Now to get rid of the ten pounds of fat I'd like to see gone...

Tomorrow morning, I am going to begin adding back in some whole grains. To be honest, I don't think I can go another morning eating scrambled eggs. I just can't bare it. So tomorrow morning, I get to indulge in wheat flakes and slivered almonds. It's really all I've been thinking about these last few days... those flakes and ice cold milk... funny how my mouth waters at the thought of CEREAL now.

I'll be adding in just a few different things, but still mainly focusing my diet on lean proteins and healthy carbs. As I said, when I began this process, I never dreamed I would actually feel this much better. But I do, and now I want to maintain it. I also want to get moving again - get some exercise. The eating is only one part of being healthier. I have to do the physical work, too.

So what have I learned through this last seven days? The body does what it's trained to do. It accepts and expects what you give it. I have completely gotten rid of those evil craving in just a few days of my life, and I am so glad. And now I know that I must feed my body the right things to crave the right things. Why am just now getting this??? Seems so simple, but my stubborn mind somehow wanted to believe that I could eat Cheezits and Fruit Loops all day and all would be well.

Not gonna happen.

Now, I am excited about eating Triscuits tomorrow with my cheese for a snack. And that bowl of cereal. I can't wait for that bowl of cereal.