Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Be Not Small


As 2014 points its fireworks at us, I can't help but shield myself from any New Year's Resolutions.  How about you?  I just don't like them because I will never remember that I've made them.  I can barely remember I have tea steeping to the point of asphalt most of the time. 

In lieu of New Year's Resolutions, I made a list of self truths to pass on to my kids in case I perish in a freak kennel accident.  How's that for fresh-faced optimism?

Dear My Kids:
  • Know your worth.  You mean more than any self-doubt, craving, ego, depression, or apathy.  You're no accident, sweetheart.  Many things conspired to see you got here safely.  Honor your life by appreciating your worth.
  • Be not small.  Feel pride, not shame, of your skills, desires, and passions.  Move forward with them enthusiastically.  You may be humble but not small.  Only you can give the world your piece of its puzzle.  Walk tall knowing you have nothing to quiet along the way.  Your friends will support you and your doubters will be your guidepost that you've almost arrived. 

  • Believe in the power of restorative sleep.
  • Trust your instinct, I believe it's God talking.
  • Look for miracles.  They are playful and divine.

  • Study the things you don't understand.

  • Try hard not to get hooked on caffeine, it does weird things to your body that will cause undue concern.  Chocolate's ok in moderation.  Peppermint patties are medicinal.
  • Fight fairly, not passive aggressively, and clear the air quickly.  You are not a doormat for explosions, nor are you an explosion for a doormat.   
  • Listen, really listen, to your friends.  This will mean the world to you both for years to come.

  • Hike whenever you can with friends or family.  Bring your dog. 
  • Nap in the sun

  • Screw around often throughout the day, no matter what your dad says.  He's a Marine, they revolt against silly but need it even more than you.  It's those moments that will mold you, not your well-made bed.  But don't make the man crazy, please still make your bed.   
  • Be kind and patient with your parents as they age.  They still love you more than they love themselves.  Way more. 

  • You both already have a lot of friends and that's good.  Remember to say no to more things than you say yes to. 
  • Know you do not need to give a reason as to why you can't make an event.  Even if the reason is that you'd rather stay in your pjs all day and watch Rodeo Girls.  It was an invitation, not a test of friendship.
  • Skip empty carbs when you grow up.  Believe me when I say it bogs down your brain. 
  • Feed your body the things earth gives you, not science.
  • Try healing yourselves with the things earth gives you first, then science.  However, Grayson you will probably still need to travel with ibuprofen for your migraines and Abby when she's about...oh...twelve on up.

Sensory Bliss - Know how to heal yourself when the world overwhelms you.
Hormones are no joke in this family.

  • Drink more water than you think is necessary. Throw lemon in there when you feel a cold coming on.
  • Risk and opportunity are vastly different.  Learn the difference early on.
  • Treasure homemade gifts.  Someone was thinking of you from start to finish.


  • Never take anyone's affection for granted.  Even if it's coming from unexpected places.  Yes, even that funny boy sending you personalized comic strips during Philosophy to keep you awake.  Especially him.
  • Try not to confuse attention with affection.  People show their affection in many ways other than the one way you want it.
  • Help your fellowman and fellow animals.  We have no reason to feel more important than other creatures that feel.  If you do feel more important, that's your ego talking, not your heart.

  • When you're not sure about something, make a quick decision.  If it feels wrong right away, you have your answer.
  • Floss.  Please honor thy mother and floss.
  • Recycle, repurpose, and restore whenever possible. 
  • Be the first to help anything or anyone suffering.  Both of your souls need it.
  • Practice teamwork.

  • Charge up, not with time at work but time with your family, friends, and hobbies.  Work doesn't miss you when you're gone.  Projects and deadlines aren't going to your funeral some day.
  • Vacation without guilt. 
  • Sing loudly, dance wildly, play as often as possible.  Invite others to do the same with just your energy.
  • Please hold on to each other. 

  • Try your hardest not to mistake firmness with harshness.  Your mother is still working on this.
  • Snuggle

  • Hang with your parents, no matter how weird they get.

  • Publish your stories, frame your pictures, record your concerts, hang your artwork.  Surround yourself with inspiration and celebrate your life and the lives of those you adore. 
  • Own your quirk.

  • Throw impromptu campfires, dinner parties and fancy social gatherings and only clean the kitchen and bathroom.  
  • Try not to save your passions for "later."  They are cumulative, not exhaustive.  Go ahead and delve into them daily, they only get better!
  • Always open your mind and your heart when talking with children.  They have so very much to teach you. 


Monday, December 23, 2013

Our Magicians

I love living down in the south because everyone calls you Baby.  Honey.  Sweetheart.  The list is long and sugar-coated.  The person doesn't even have to be older than you.  First time a teenager called me Baby I blushed up enough peach for both of us to take a bite and ask for seconds. 

"Thank you, Dahlin'.  Is there anything else I can do for you, Bay-bee?"  Oh, I suck it up like a thirsty stray stumbling on a bowl of milk.

This loving up from strangers never strikes me as strange.  Maybe I should be offended.  Perhaps it's just a way for the cat-caller to retain a good tip.  Maybe so but I don't care because it feels good.  Their greeting is organic and wondrous because I never see it coming.  We look each other in the eye and notice smiles, not impatience.  We see beyond crooked teeth and badly bunned-up hair.  An olive branch is extended, accepted, and reciprocated with one "Sweetiepie."

Where's the harm in that?

I still have a bad habit of looking for love in all the wrong places.  Do you do that, too?  I tend to look in the same places I give it.  And you know what?  It is rarely there.  I think it's because the universe functions on the exchange of energy.  You give love, that person takes it and pays it forward to someone else.  Forces flow with such give and take and when both gives happen at once, there's a commotion; a quick stalling of sorts.  It's probably a sparkly vortex of happy for sure, magical even, but not always the most productive. 

That's why love is often given from surprising places.  Usually people you don't give yours to. 

Ever notice your favorite people are rarely the ones who give back to you?  You don't mind because they're your favorite and you keep on loving them out of sheer drunken dedication.  You barely notice it's a one-way street because doing for them brings you pleasure based on your feelings about them alone.

And where's the harm in that?

There isn't much, as energy is exchanged - given and taken - but someone eventually needs to stall and experience a sparkly vortex of rest.  Here, at rest, you begin to notice the olive branches.  There are some newbies on the scene!  And wouldn't you know, they are not-your-favorites, giving their love away to you.  You take it because well, it's rude to deny a gift, and in return you are happier because of their gift.  You are higher because they love you.  Their energy has impacted your life in a positive way and now you find yourself thinking of them often and softly.  Their surprise empathy mobs have attacked your inner core to the point of growth.  You see things differently now.  Those whom you once believed were your crew were just illusions all along.  They are lovely people but not your crew. 

Your cupids, the ones shooting love in your direction are your people.  You can see them now because you've grown.  You cease giving your good vibes away to the ones who keep it and stop there.  You understand this doesn't always have to be a one-way street.

With age comes a wisdom that tickles me.  And humbles me so.  My favorites have long been unreachable by design.  They have had me intoxicated, tipsy, and ultimately..strung along.

Like we all do, I've had magicians working their magic behind me for years.  Maybe even decades.  They've been here calling me Baby since the beginning.  I've felt good when I walked away.  Our encounters might have been brief but their kindness sustained me through my own self-doubts. 

I hope I recognized them then;  made them first in my heart.  I want to say I added them to the top of my list to spoil with affections but I'm not sure that's true.  I fooled myself in believing others came first - as we do in our youth. 

So, before we enter a new year, let us recognize our magicians working their magic inside us.  Let us appreciate them and love the hell out of them right back.  Let us not always throw our love forward without any kickbacks. 

I'm at an interesting place now in life where my magicians are making themselves known.  And I am fascinated by their beautiful faces. 

My magicians...I see who you are.  Thank you for making this world worth every bit of sorrow it can sling, happy it can hold, and love it can conjure up on the fly.

Without you, I'd be an empty vessel.

With you, we are a sparkling vortex of happy.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

These Do Not Go to Eleven

Ok so maybe promising part two of Liebster the next morning was too ambitious for me. 

Here it is, a few days later, but not any less enthusiastic. 

As the rules state, I am to nominate my own 11 Liebster Award Recipients but there is fine print saying they must have fewer than 100 readers.  Let's pretend I'm not wearing my glasses and didn't see that fine print.  Let's also pretend I actually own glasses and read more than three blogs. 

Because I honestly only read three blogs, I am going to list all the blogs I thought enough of to save to my desktop over a year ago.  Unfortunately, their status as "people I am afraid of because of no rational excuse I can come up with" precludes me from actually contacting them to tell them about this award.  I know, such a loser,  I'm sorry.  Yet still, hoping two out of the eleven will play along and at the very least, you will have an arsenal of kickass bloggers to visit. 

1.) SpeckT from A Speckled Trout.  She has way more than 100 followers and a real name which is lovely but I can't bring myself to call her anything but SpeckT.  I love me some SpeckT.  Out of all my blog friends I don't really know in real life, this is the one I'm sure I will meet some day soon.  Obviously, I am not afraid of SpeckT although she could slice me and dice me in a write-off.  We are buddies and I will tell her you guys are coming over.

1b) Anna from An Inch of Gray.  You guys already know her.  She's got followers coming out of her ears but I adore her too much not to add her in here.  Go visit Anna and send her some love.  Christmas is hard for anyone who has lost a loved one.  It is especially hard when that someone is your little boy named Jack.

2.) Cristie from The Right Hand Mom.  She also has far more than 100 readers but hey, I'm breaking the rules right out of the gate.  Cris and I were roommates in college and even shared bunk beds.  I kept her awake most nights asking if she liked Butterfinger or Snickers more mixed in with why people pray.  There was this one time I almost killed her by giving her grapefruit juice when she had walking pneumonia.  Her tongue swelled and she had to go to the ER because I was sure acidic juices were the answer to a problem I didn't understand.  She didn't leave our dorm for a week.  Oh, we also shared a boyfriend!  (Not at the same time, it wasn't that kind of college.  Actually, it kind of was.)

3.)  Linda from All & Sundry (She's as famous as Dooce so not a chance I will contact her to let her know I'm nominating her for this.  Linda has an unmatched wit and a journey that never quits.  She lives where I want to live someday.  Her kids are precious and her husband's adorable too. Go see.)

4.) John from Black Hockey Jesus (Same as Linda, he has a million billion willion followers.  Sorry, I'm afraid of him, too.  This guy's veins explode words and sometimes you are left wondering where the damn bleach and sutures are to clean up after reading him.  Part folklore, part tragedy, he's always an interesting read.)

5.) Ashley from The Sullengers (Lovely Ashley.  She too has like 2k followers but don't let that stop you from becoming one.  Her story is achingly beautiful and so is her soul.  And yes, I'm afraid to bother her also.)

6.) Fluffy Bunnies.  I have no idea who this lady is but man can she take some pictures.  Her style is very artistic and you feel like you are soaring inside a cloud with a magnifying glass when you finish reading her posts.  That is a weird way to say she brings you right into her world with such intriguing detail you feel like you're getting away with something.

7.) Momastery.  Dear Lord go read Glennon if you have not done so already.  She is a feeler, thinker, lover, do-er, healer of all things hurting.  I don't know her but I can claim to have met her in the bathroom at one of her talks in Virginia, before she was famous.  She had stage fright and we hugged it out right next to the mouthwash.  I've never felt so importantly invisible in all my days.  Next to motherhood, that is.

8.) Are we done yet?  I'm running out of apps.  How about AccuWeather?  You guys like her? 

9) The Big Piece of Cake.  Kate is awesome.  She is a busy lady who is now making her FB statuses her blog posts.  It's oddly hilarious.  Kate is well known also and I can see why.  She's a great writer with a dash of humble pie.  Also, she's gorgeous in real life with a firm handshake and a real person's connection.  Go see and bookmark her page. 

10.) Kelle from Enjoying the Small Things.  I haven't read her blog in ages but her pictures inspire me to blow the dust off my Nikon.  Her voice is down-to-earth and upbeat.  She puts a positive spin on things that might otherwise fall crooked.  I appreciate her sunbeam on a cloudy day.

11.)  YAY, I did it with only cheating once!  Kate Ingliss from Sweet & Salty.  She is a dreamy artist who oozes talent, sadness, and hope all in one.  She suffers in private but then lets us all in to pull her back up from the cellar.  She's the goods, man.  Also, she lives in Nova Scotia which is a close second for me to Oregon. 

Oh crap.  I almost forgot to ask them my own 11 questions.  Let me give that a shot before succumbing to the walk my dogs are beaming into my forehead as I type.

1.)  What's your favorite thing about yourself and why. 

2.)  Do you believe in afterlife?  If not, why not how come what for?  Also, do you feel life has a purpose or is it just randomized units of energy bumping into each other?

3.)  If you found a stray animal that was hurt, what would you do? 

4.)  Do your days bore you, enlighten you, weigh you down, or other?

5.)  If you could do anything at all without any concern about money, what would it be and why?

6.)  What is your favorite memory as a child?  Teenager?  Adult?

7.)  What is your internal dialogue saying?  Do you speak kindness to yourself throughout the day?  How does doing this or not doing this impact your actions?

8.) Where would you rather be right now and why?

9.) Describe your perfect afternoon.

10.) Are you doing what your 15 yo self wanted you to do?  If not, what is stopping you?

11.) What kind of people make you happy/inspire you/intrigue you?

Thank you for not giving up on us here at OSMA.  The last couple of weeks have kicked our butts.  Our entire household has gone through every known illness known in Louisiana with two migraines (one Grayson's, the other mine) thrown in for good measure.  We are starting to feel human again just in time for the stress of Christmas.  Although this year, hopefully we can keep that to a minimum since we aren't going anywhere.

What are your plans for the holidays?  I will be hoping for stress free minds for you all, too. 

Here are a few pictures Abby took to decompress.  I love a five year old's perspective and how everything is so relaxed in her presence: 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

You Say Liebster, I Say Lobster

While I was down and excessively out with some vindictive ex-boyfriend-like stomach bug that refused to leave without a restraining order and a trip to the ER, something awesome happened.  No, not snow.  Oh how I wish it were snow.  We are in the land of the snowflake-less.  Although Louisiana is quite chilly here (in the 30s this morning), we don't get our hopes up that we will spend any time making snow forts and/or have ice ball wars.  We also left all of our cold weather things in boxes up in the attic.  I refuse to go up and rummage through by myself.  Attics freak me out.  There could be cohabitants up there I don't want to know about.  Mice, lizards, squatters.  I see the light on up there sometimes and just leave it on.  Even squatters should be able to see their way to the (our - eek!) bathroom at night.   

What happened to me while I was in the throes of tea brewing and broth sipping is an award!  Not just me but lots of us bloggers won an award...it's called The Liebster!  Which is only one vowel away from another really cool thing I imagine happens in Maine involving toasted rolls and too much mayo.  Mmmm, I bet Maine has snow.  

SO The Liebster is an award given to you to by your fellow blogging soul mates because they like you.  And because they want to recognize their fellow writers for posting anything at all between hurling and helping with homework.  Bloggers are compassionate lovies that way. 

I am honored.  Mostly because my blog friend Andrea, a gifted writer at About 100%, gave it to me.  This woman has me giggling in one post about Labor Day and aching in my heart about her grandfather in another.  I actually went to text her about something funny the other day because I get confused and think we are friends in real life.  Maybe one day we will be but then I'd have to let her know I sound like a thirteen year old over the phone.  It's true.  In person I never get carded.  Over the phone everyone asks to speak to my mom.  I hope she won't break up with me over that.  I still love her and her half thumb.  Go click on her site, she'll explain.


The Liebster requires me to list some things, answer some things, and ask some things.  Then, I will pay it forward to my own favorites. 

Let us begin the madness: 

11 Facts About Me

1.) I don't use hair conditioner anymore.  This might not be a big deal for normal people but it is HUGE for me.  I've used conditioner for 35 years and have been on a quest (a QUEST people) for healthy hair for most of those 35.  Finally I find Lousiana's answer to Jose Eber and he tells me I need to stop using conditioner, by God I stop using hair conditioner.  So now I use this leave-in detangling mousse product made of milk called "Milkshake" which smells like McDonald's vanilla single scoop and I'm pretty sure that's what gave me ecoli for the last 2.5 weeks.  I'm a slow learner. 

2.) I love dogs more than people.  I can empathize with animals more than I can empathize with people.  I am probably a descendent of stringy-haired Airedales and beat canine blood through quasi-human veins.  I am totally fine with all of this although it probably won't get me into heaven.  I'm sad about that but can't immediately vibe with love for fellow humans the way I can with fellow dogs.  They're just easier to be around.  Overall pure hearted.  Amazing snuggle bunnies.  Nobody talks much.  Forever warm.  Everyone of them likes to play.  (Andrea, keep reading, don't give up me just yet.)

3.) Every day I wake up and am shocked not to be 18 anymore.  For some reason I always think I'm 18 when I wake up.  Imagine my surprise when my children come running in with their complicated breakfast requests and am forced to heave my very much not 18 year old bodice out of bed for other people.  Shocking, every time.

4.) I can never see how I truly feel about something until I'm alone.  A friend I run into at the carpool line asks, "Hey, grab a coffee?" and I just don't know while she's standing there.  I have to make up a reason to go back to my car, sit there a minute, and find out if I really DO want to have coffee or if I'm just afraid to say no.  Chances are, I want to have coffee. 

5.) I volunteer a few hours a week at a local dog adoption center and have not taken one dog home with me yet.  Maybe e-coli hitched a ride on my jeans but I'm kind of still going with milk mousse.  So. Dumb.

6.) The longer my marriage goes on, the more I feel like it's a "We vs.Them" happening here.  We being me and my husband.  Them being the children folk.  This is new for me.  I once was a big loner in our marriage.  It was years before people even knew I wasn't an only parent.  It was all, "When I put them to bed at night.  When I take them out to breakfast."  Now, it's both of us - I bring him into the equation out loud.  Probably just nature's way of making sure I don't disintegrate into crazy dog lady as the kids move on without me.  

7.)  I held my grandma's hand as she passed away.  And sang to her.  I couldn't leave her.  My step-dad was with us.  He couldn't leave me.

8.) I don't have one best friend.  They're all so uniquely precious to me, I can't pick only one.  I also don't keep very many close friends.  Small talk makes me nauseous. 

9.) I find it difficult trusting people who keep themselves busy every single second.  What are they running from?  What happens when they stay still?  Is it that awful to be you?

10.) I never wanted to be a mom.  One time in 10th grade History, a clairvoyant friend went around telling everyone her prediction of what the rest of us would be when they grew up.  My friend Karen, she said would be a lawyer.  (She is.)  My friend Doug would be a mechanic.  (He is.)  My friend Matt would work with kids.  (He's a teacher now.)  She kept skipping over me and finally, sensing my worry, she looked right in my eyes and says, "I'm so sorry, Erin.  I can only envision you as a mom."  I was crushed.  Look at me now.  Wonder where this girl is these days.  And if she's using her powers for good.

11.)  I once dated my college professor.  After graduation.  It was a fairy tale romance until I realized we were 30 years apart and lookit there, I wanted kids!

Ok, now for Andrea's questions.  She asks some toughies (and perhaps even one I needed to Google the meaning of, oy vei.)

1.) What embarrasses you?  

Singing in front of people.  Which was a problem when I tried to do that for a living for a while.

2.) How much do you swear around your kids, if you have kids?  If you don't have kids, how much do you swear in general?  

 Let's just have Abby's often and regular use of swearing speak to this question.  Things got really bad when Andy was deployed.  I was four word slinging with the best of 'em.  When Andy returned and I found Abby in his football hold at REI, I knew I let things go too far.  She had cursed him out asking for her "effing mommy."  Or the time Grayson told Pop to watch out for "those damnbees" on our deck.  I am really trying hard to clean up my act in general.  If I slip up, Abby tells me it hurts God's feelings to talk like that and I shrink down to the shrew size that I am to ask forgiveness.  It's effing hard.

3.) Do you speak a foreign language?  Why or why not?

Je parles Francais.  Un peu.  Mais...not really at all anymore even though I was almost fluent in college after six ans.  J'oublie tout le Francais parce que Je ne practice pas!

4.) If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?  It's okay if you say "right where I am now."  I won't judge you for being boring.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be somewhere mountainous.  Maybe Switzerland.  Maybe the Rockies.  Maybe Nepal.  Mountains thrill me and let me know there was so much going on before we humans arrived and will always be happening long after I am lilies on a gravestone.  With mountains you get gorgeous wildflowers and crazy unpredictable weather.  I love the excitement that comes from that environment and the feeling that you're on holiday because exciting things abound.

5.) Outside of your family and yourself, what is your biggest love?

Dogs.  Sorry, Andrea, I just really love them critters.  If not dogs then my biggest love is artistry whether that means writing, woodworking, painting, listening to music, making music, watching dancing (I do no dance well anymore myself), or hanging out on a rickity wooden pier during sunset, J'adore L'Art!

6.) What is one thing you are terrible at?

Only one?  Ok.  I am terrible at cooking.  I don't enjoy food related things.  Growing up, food was always just that happened while we did other things.   We ate a bowl of Cheerios while playing a board game.  We grabbed apples and peanut butter before a hike.  It was never the focal point of anything.  Other than Thanksgiving.  And that's my favorite holiday, weird.  Well, regardless, I am terrible at cooking and putting together meals that entice my family to enjoy them.  I make healthy things, just not very delicious things.

7.) Your dream job.

Oh, this is one I think about all the time.  I think my dream job would be writing from home while welding jewelry or other art out of copper and other metals while also making my own frames for my own pictures to be sold on my own blog.  You know, nothing narcissistically grandiose or anything.

8.) What is your biggest sociopolitical concern?

I'm really quite underwhelming in this department.  As a military wife, I should have so many sociopolitical concerns that keep me up at night.  Truth is, I am mostly concerned our children and our children's children won't know how to feed themselves non toxic food or won't know how to keep themselves competitive with a capitalistic market that is always so near collapse in America.  I do worry about disease and war and GMO famine but an issue that is near to my heart these days is the holocaust quietly sweeping the nation. 

The euthanization of our homeless pets who have been dumped at "Animal Care & Control Centers."  Over 30,000 healthy adoptable pets are put to sleep (which is the nicest misnomer as many places still use the grotesquely painful and inhumane heartstick or gas chamber method to killing animals - I've seen the videos and pictures and THOSE keep me up at night.  If you haven't looked, don't.  It is by far THE most disturbing image to witness.  It gives you dark sick feeling in your gut that people like you and me do this EVERY day and think it's ok.)  The state keeps quiet about how many die daily (most have numbers well over 44 animals PTS per day) along with the fact that untrained "Technicians" choose which ones and how they die.  That's right, we should all be horrified to learn some dude off the streets selects a few dogs or cats based on either their mood or the pet's (often criminally embellished) assessment/rating. 

These babies don't stand a chance once crossing into the concentration camps that call themselves shelters.  Your every day passerby has NO idea such heinous crimes take place, much less that they take place EVERY day because nobody is firing them.  It's a hard job to fill.  It's an even harder job to get fired from once you're on payroll.  I agonize over all the dogs and cats (rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.) that find themselves "saved" by Animal Control just to be housed in crowded, smelly, jail cells to be marched to their death less than a week later.  These places don't network or hold adoption events.  Some don't have the means to.  Some honestly do not have the room because people illegally breed their pets in their backyard or refuse to spend money on spaying/neutering.  These people don't pay, the animals do.  With their lives.  These domestic animals rely on humans for care.  When they are abandoned, they are stripped of the right to live a cared for life.

So there are volunteers that create websites like Urgent Part 2 - Urgent Death Row Dogs to get the word out about these adoptable souls in hopes to save their lives.  Many of these scared to death pets are saved at the 11th hour but due to red tape or just time, so many are needlessly and recklessly killed.  To think, after all this, some people still shop or pay breeders for their pets.  Please direct those family members and friends to their local kill shelter first.  They will find the greatest love of their life starting back at them from behind bars.  Rescue dogs never forget who saved them from hell.  And they rescue you right back. 

Whew, that was a long one.  Thanks for letting me rant.  I obviously feel strongly about this one.  Please spread the word to anyone you suspect might not understand.  Shelter animals are in imminent danger of losing their lives daily.  To make room for the next onslaught of animals dumped because people think they don't have a choice.  There are choices.  A silent hidden holocaust shouldn't be one of them.

9.) Where and when would you go if you could travel through time?

Easy.  I'd go back to the early 1900s when my grandfather and grandmother were babies.  Clip clopping of horse drawn buggies, long skirted women, and men with pipes dangling from their mouths.  Love to be a fly on the wall during those years.  I'd sit back and watch my grandparents grow up, move away, and fall in love.  It will be the party of a century.

10.) Are you adventuresome?

Yes.  I'm adventuresome but cautious if there's such a combination.  I love impromptu hikes but wouldn't bungee jump.  Take me on a plane to South Africa but stop off at the clinic to get our vaccines first.  Grab a bottle of water and drive somewhere we've never been for the day?  YES!  But pack some granola bars for low blood-sugar, please.  Let's go.  What are we waiting for?

11.) Creatively, what are you best at?  What are you worst at?

Ooh, hard one.  Best at.  Best at picking my way through writing.  Best at having a title before writing the book. Best at considering all sides to an argument but still having the fight.  Best at envisioning how the song could sound better before it's even finished.  Best at the making better part.  Worst at the making to the finish part.  Not the best follow-through-er.  When there's a project and I have time to devote myself to the task, it's on.  When I'm my own boss and there are zero repercussions to not finishing the project?  Maybe it'll be done by Christmas.  But probably not because there are far too many cups of tea to be had.

Ok, I'm exhausted and most likely all alone by now since you all clicked out after my tirade about homeless dogs.  I don't even know what my deal is.  We'll move on.

Thank you for reading.  I need to come up with my own questions for my own Liebster people but I'm spent.  Let's reconvene in the morning.  When the kids are at school and I'm skipping the gym for the fifth week in a row, shall we?

I've missed you so.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Close is Good, Right?

Sheesh, it's been a minute, hasn't it? 

(Ninja Pop on left, Ninja Nammy on right)

My Ninjas (in-laws) are in town and we have been biz-eee.  Visiting, eating, shopping, giggling, preparing to eat, getting coffee, wondering what's for dinner, and touring the local attractions. *By local attractions, I totally mean my favorite diner shack that makes every meal feel like someone in the kitchen loves you.  Tour Guide Extraordinaire up in here.  Who has gained five pounds in eleven days.  Boo-yah.

Also, I've forced Nammy to join me in seasonal browsing at every possible thrift store this side of the Mississippi.  Where's Pop been, you ask?  At a nearby train shop.  Every day since he got here.  Passionately reconfiguring Andy's inherited miniature train set in our garage, Pop has been the busiest of us all.  He's almost finished with the layout in order to build his village.  I'll show you pictures soon.

Until I can get my brain around them leaving way too early in the morning tomorrow, I'll leave you with a few pictures of the last two weeks.  I'm a little irrationally pissed sad that they're leaving tomorrow but Oh Man have we made memories to last us until they return.  Hopefully soon.  The village is going to need renovations and we all know Pop will want to see this project through to the end.  Nor would we want it any other way.

How was your Thanksgiving.  Quiet or chaotic?  Silly or serious?  Where did you spend yours?  Did you make something traditional from your past?  Where do you stand on cranberry slaw? 

Ours was peaceful and calm.

 Kids and I hit up the Pinterest Kids Craft section pretty hard. 
There were more name cards than people attending. 

 Found this idea on Pinterest too.  Add pictures of far away beloveds to your centerpiece.
 So I added all of the pictures of every beloved.
There were more pictures than there were guests attending...every dinner across America.
 There's Grampy far left, my dad and siblings middle, Grammy who just passed recently front and center...
And gold spray painted leaves for a fancy yet homey feel. 
(Pinterest is helping me work through some things.)

 And then there was this odd zero-rain-induced rainbow over our house right before dinner.  The boys saw this perplexing polka dot of light pouring out rays toward our house and thought I might be interested.  Interested.  I left a voicemail with Theresa from Long Island Medium two minutes later.  That stuff is miracle grown.

Miracle or not, folks still gotta eat.

 Ninja Nammy getting things ready for the big meal.

 The Big Peanut Fried Meal
 Ninja Pop serving us up.
 Kid Table
Sweet weekend houseguest
 This was when I tried to get a picture of Grayson and instead inspired him to whack his head on the corner of that countertop to avoid the camera lens.  Mom of the Year.  It's ok to hate.

Post Dinnerness

Peaceful and calm is a drastic turn from the familiar raucous frenzy that has been the wonderful norm for us in the past.  My family and I are not a reserved bunch once we all get together.  Before my favorite awesome people went to heaven things changed, Thanksgiving was the time I'd look forward to going home to visit my family or hosted them over at our house. 

Rightfully so, this year has a big vacuous hole in it.  A crappy undeniable hole that felt more cavernous leading up to the actual Thursday.  It was a big first without Jimmy.  Once Thursday finally hit, I let myself privately choke on tears in the shower.  Release from an all too prickly buildup.  Suddenly it was an hour later where I couldn't pick myself off the shower floor and guests were arriving.  Hard water scalding my shoulders as I just gave the hell in.  It wasn't a pity sob or a desperate wail.  It was a release from keeping it all in.  Typically, I'm a sharer.  Fine, over-sharer.  So bottling up angst quietly isn't easy for this chatterbox.   Oh okay, now's good...  Here I am alone and nobody will feel awkward if I bring up his name.  Nobody will be irritated that I haven't moved on.  Nobody will look the other way.  To give myself permission to feel Jimmy's absence on a day that means him, Boomps, Boompa, Mom, & Eric at my most historical core.  We were Thanksgiving years ago with Boomps' camcorder taping every bite we took during dinner.  Nobody talking at first, then Jimmy cracking the first joke about how one of us will be discovered once these VHS tapes hit Hollywood, and probably it would be Mom.  She'd always check her teeth in a dinner knife without missing a beat.  These two could've gone on the road.

The Redskins game would be turned on before chocolate pudding pie was fed to Rhett, our ancient, balding sweetheart of a dog.  Dishes piling next to the sink, awaiting our return from a post-gluttonous eating walk.  Every year, always the same.  It's probably why my heart still welcomes fall with full expectation of empirical greatness.   


 Top & Bottom Pic - Jimmy with his parents (my Boomps & Boompa)

Top Pic - Eric and Me (wearing Jimmy's shirt he gave me, still have it...score!) 
Bottom Pic - Me and Jimmy playing a heated (yawn) round of Simon Says. 

Both pics are of Jimmy and my mom.  They are one year apart and share the same quirk.

Top Pic- 4yo me, Jimmy, "Uncle Dee-Dee" (his GF then), 6yo Eric 
Bottom Pic - Jimmy with Boompa (his mom, my grandma) in our living room.  Don't you love that Bookwork lamp?  I think Eric has it now. 
Jimmy with a not quite geriatric yet Rhett

So yes.  I give into my sadness occasionally because that time has passed forever.  But it's a beautiful sadness because I understand now, more than ever, what it means to have them, him, all of those dirty dishes, imprinted on my soul. 

It's not exactly acceptance, but it's close.