Posted in Family, life

Anticipating Christmas Morning

It’s the dead, dark middle of the night.  I lay here wide awake in eager anticipation of the morning.  The house is slumbering, the only sounds are the ticking of the clocks and the occasional roar of the heater coming on.  Visions of sugar plums, I imagine, are floating.  J-Dub just went to bed a little while ago after staying up doing what dads do on Christmas Eve:  screwing screws and fumbling through instructions entitled “some assembly required” when what that really means is, “assemble these million parts of nonsense with as few cuss words as possible”.  After all, it is Christmas and there’s no cussin’ on Christmas.  That’s probably a written rule somewhere.

Christmas present is different to me from Christmas pasts.  I now anticipate the morning, not to receive, but to see that little face light up with the giving.  The wonder.  The magic.  The joy of it all through the eyes of child.

I snuck out of bed and tiptoed into the dark to see what EK will see when she stumbles in bleary-eyed in the morning.  There is a massive dollhouse; one that I never imagined would be that big.  (I’ve got to get better at reading the fine print).  And somewhere is the Beauty and the Beast movie, her own personal request to Santa Claus himself when she hesitantly sat upon his knee and whispered her desire.

Here’s a little before/after.  The kids these days call this a Transformation Tuesday I believe, but I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going, much less what day it is for all that.

Last year’s Santa pic to this year.  She actually sat on his lap this year, but still wearing the same look of uncertainty on her face.

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Oh it’s fun really, isn’t it?  I need to remind myself of that often.  Having a little family of my own.  Creating and making our own traditions and memories.  I don’t want Christmas to be an elaborate affair.  A few gifts, with the emphasis on the true meaning.  This year, I followed this little mantra of gift giving:  something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

We began a Jesse tree for advent, working through the Bible stories leading to the coming of Jesus on that holy night.  I was sewing the ornaments with a little felt and embroidery thread.  We were gathering around a little tree in EK’s room reading the stores each night, but as in typical fashion, that kind of fizzled out.  I think I made it through the burning bush.  There’s always next year, right?

 I’ve got promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.

We went and enjoyed the second annual cutting of the tree this year.  I walked the forest along with my family trying to find the “perfect” Christmas tree.  During the inspection of each tree, I composed a whole blog post in my mind about how “choosing a Christmas tree is like choosing a spouse” but as in typical fashion, I never got that posted.  But it’s a no-brainer.  You get it.  There is no perfect tree, just as there is no perfect mate.  But the moral of the story is: pick one you can live with.  Learn to love their quirks and eventually they’ll die.

Um, maybe that’s not the best moral, but it’s the truth.

DSC_2148Well I’ll sign off now and try to get some shut-eye before dawn rolls in.

Have a merry Christmas!!

Posted in Dear Diary

Home is where your purple chair is

I’m home!

I almost titled this post Home, Shit, Home.  A name my husband called one of our former residences, but I would be lying.  It is Home, Sweet, Home to the max.  Yes, I just reverted to my high school era.   It happens.

After being gone for 11 days over the holidays, I literally kissed the ground when we arrived home.  We’ve lived here in this new town, new state for one year now and it’s strange, because I haven’t really felt like it’s home.  But I’ve received confirmation now that truly it is, and I am embracing it as my home instead of a temporary stop on life’s journey.

EK was sure glad to get home too.  I’m not sure which of us was most excited.  She was homesick while we were away, and kept saying she wanted to go to Emma’s house.  It’s hard to try to explain to an almost 2 year old that we’d be back soon.  Their sense of time and ours has got to be so different.  Do you remember being little and it seemed like time was ETERNITY.  Waiting took FOREVER.

When we pulled into our town, it was dark and she was sitting in the back playing on my phone.  Suddenly we heard her say with all the enthusiasm in the world, “OH WE AT EMMA’S HOUSE!”  She recognized the path home.  We turned another corner and we heard, “OH, YES WE ARE!”  Then a bit further, “I KNEW IT!”

We walked in the door and she ran around seeing everything for the first time,  “OH THERE’S MY PURPLE CHAIR!  OH THERE’S MY CAR! OH, THERE’S MY BICYCLE.”

Pure joy and happiness.

From both of us.

And on an added note, I want to say the weather here is paradise compared to the Texas panhandle.  A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it myself.  What?  The mountains?  Isn’t it cold there?  But I have become a believer.  It’s funny, many of the locals around here THINK it’s cold and I want to tell them to go visit Pampa, Texas for a few days and then come back.  I think they’ll be singing a different tune.

Me?  I’m staying home.

Posted in Family

Chopping Down the Tree

I’ve talked about it before, about this imaginary world inside my head.  Fantopia, it’s called.  It’s a fantasy utopia where my life is perfect.  It’s a nice place, until I try to merge Fantopia with Reality, then it’s just depressing.

Case in point:  Since we moved to the mountains, we thought it would be a fun, new family tradition to go to the forest and cut down a Christmas tree.  Can’t you picture it?  The fun, the family, the forest.  Just us and an axe and a small pine tree.

I have looked forward to this for a few months.  In Fantopia, where everything is perfect, we adorn ourselves in flannel grays and reds and caps with earflaps and we load up in the truck.  We sing Christmas carols on the way to the woods where we trek through the snow to find the perfect Christmas tree waiting just for our family.  We hold hands and encircle it, singing Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, with wide smiles on our faces.  

Then we chop it down, while posing for a family picture that would later be sent out in Christmas cards to friends and family near and far.  After we get home, we drink hot chocolate while listening to Christmas carols on the radio, the house warmed with fire and love.  

In Reality, this is what happened instead:  We had no matching flannel grays and reds or hats with flaps, we barely found everyone’s jackets.  We loaded up in the truck, along with a pink ladybug potty seat, since EK hasn’t learned to squat in the woods just yet.  We drove way too far and way too long to find the perfect Christmas tree.  EK sat in her seat and complained the whole time, arguing with Ashlynn and fussing when she touched her carseat.   We trekked around in a little bit of snow, not finding a tree even close to perfect.

So we loaded back up in the truck and drove some more all the while analyzing trees.  Too short, too tall, too thin, too scraggly.  Let’s get out and check that one out.  Nope.  How about that one?  Nope.  Finally we agreed, more from exhaustion than satisfaction on a small little tree with a split trunk.  Thankfully EK had fallen asleep by this time and we were all breathing a sigh of relief,  but unfortunately the family photo op didn’t happen with her in it.

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Once home, we couldn’t find the tree stand because obviously I’d thrown it out in one of my decluttering stages.  After one run to Walmart for a tree stand, we discovered we didn’t have any working lights, so back to Walmart again.  JDub went to work on the tree.  He trimmed it up, cut it off, and dug out an old bird’s nest.  And then it took a good long while to put the tree in it’s stand without tipping over.

It is a monstrosity!  Here’s a tidbit:  A small tree in the forest is a big tree in your living room.  It may look small out in the big old wilderness next to behemoth pines, but indoors next to the Lazy Boy, it’s quite impressive.  It’s got one side that’s bare and one side that looks pregnant.  It’s crooked and crazy.  Some limbs grow up, some grow down.

Instead of the family joining together and decorating, I did it begrudgingly, realizing much too late that we should have said to heck with family traditions and put up the dadgum prelit Christmas tree sitting in the garage with its tree stand tucked safely in its green vinyl bag.

So while everyone in the world displays and enjoys their perfectly shaped trees with color coordinated ornaments, I give you our tree with no lights on the top because there’s no way I could have reached it even if I had enough lights to put on it, with its hodgepodge mixmatched ornaments from way back.  It’s not pretty, it’s not decorated well, the bottom strand of lights flicker on and off sporadically, and it sticks out nearly to the front door.

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But after all the hoopla, today I have to say it’s kind of growing on me with all its imperfections.  It’s like so many of us.  Messed up in all sorts of ways.  But that’s the way it was created, just like us.  So instead of looking upon it with contempt,  I embrace this messed up tree and rid myself of the perfectionistic attitude that society forces upon me as to what our Christmas tree should look like.

It is what it is.

And so am I.

‘Tis the season.

Posted in Family

Christmas Morning

 

 

 

I don’t know how your family does it, but my family tears it up, literally.

There is no designated “Santa” to pass out gifts.  We don’t sit patiently taking turns watching others open gifts.  It’s pretty much a free for all!

It is loud.  Paper is tearing, boxes are tossed across the living room, people are hollering screams of excitement and sometimes groans of disappointment are heard.

It’s a complete disaster when it’s over, and there’s really no telling how many gifts get thrown out with the wrappings and bows.

 

I didn’t get many pictures, but I managed a few.

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Hope everyone had a blessed Christmas!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Stress? Why yes, I’ll have another.

My blog has been rather quiet lately and I hate that, but that’s because right now I am literally up to my eyeballs in moving boxes.

I had this great idea to start the process of packing early, uncluttering, and only taking the essentials.  And it seems that has dragged this whole shindig out way too long. Image

Needless to say, I’m a wee bit stressed right now.

I have a motto that I try to live by.  “Live Simply”.  And so far, I’m pretty much stinking it up.  I  have no idea how on this blessed earth I have managed to accumulate so many things.  Anybody relate?  I mean really, do I need two Bundt pans?  And it’s not as if I’ve lived in the same place for 40 years.  We’ve only lived here for about 2 years.  You would think I would have cleaned out the last time we moved. But my lazy bones got the best of me and I just moved all the stuff and decided to deal with it later.  And later has become now.

In the process of cleaning out, I’ve had to make some really tough decisions.  It seems my hoarding/sentimental side can come up with a myriad of excuses as to why I should keep the things I own.

But your grandma/dad/brother/third cousin twice removed gave that to you.

What if you host Christmas or Thanksgiving some year?  You might need 24 drinking glasses.

You actually plan on making something crafty with that broken rake head, remember?

It’s nice to have a spare coffee pot, iron, Bundt pan. What if the other breaks?

This needless, worthless, piece of junk might be worth money some day.

You paid a lot for that {insert item here} 24 years ago.

To my hoarding/sentimental self, I’ve had to say, “Enough!  Just because something was a gift, doesn’t mean I have to keep it forever.  If I ever need 24 drinking glasses, I’ll borrow some from a neighbor.  If my iron breaks, well then yippee! And just because it cost a lot 24 years ago, doesn’t mean it’s worth a thing now.  I mean, Look at it!”

Then there’s the packing.  I’ve only ever moved a short distance in the past.  So you know how that goes, you just pull the drawers out from the dresser and stack them in the horse trailer, right? Why bother actually pulling the clothes out and putting them in boxes? You make about 50 trips with small things like lamps and bread makers.  If it’s just a few miles, you don’t even have to really seal up the boxes.  Drive slowly with breakable items clinking lightly, watch the bumps, and everything will be just fine.

But we’re not going a few miles, we’re going 300 or something.

That means bubble wrap has become my new best friend.  Things I never thought actually belonged in a box are being put in a box, which makes for a lot of boxes.

Adding to the frustration of this move is attempting a day to day routine in the house while I’m packing.  Realizing I already packed the spatulas in the midst of frying eggs is never a good thing.

Plus, there’s the emotional trauma of moving from the town that I was born and raised in to a place where I won’t know anyone in the grocery store or who I can borrow 24 drinking glasses from on Thanksgiving.

And just for fun, why don’t we throw in the biggest holiday of the year right smack dab in the middle of packing and moving away from home?  Which in and of itself is a major stressor right there.   The shopping, the wrapping, the presents, the relatives.  Please pass the eggnog.

Oh, and least I forget.  Mix in a ten month old, whose really in a clingy stage or if she’s not clinging, she’s unpacking what has just been packed.

Or using the boxes to her advantage.

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But I will persevere.  And we will get moved in just a few more days.

One of which is a major holiday filled with gifts and presents.

Which translated means more stuff to pack.

But I gotta look on the bright side.  Maybe I can score some really great boxes.

And have eggnog.

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #37—the bear and the bob

Merry Christmas Eve, friends.  I hope this evening finds you all blessed with love and family.  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, due to several reasons that I won’t bore you with, but hopefully you aren’t holding it against me. 

I’ve had my supper consisting of grilled cheese, sweet pickles, and Classic Lays potato chips, which coincidentally is not  pregnancy related.  It’s just the way I roll.  I’ve got a steaming cup of hot cocoa excluding marshmallows beside my computer, the Christmas tree is aglow, the presents are wrapped, the pie remains unbaked and I have a Saturday story to share with you written by my dad in September of 1996. 

The weather was seasonably cool as I started my morning run.  The Doctor had told me to exercise a little bit, so I had started to do a small bit of roadwork.

I had been immobile for the last three weeks due to a summer cold.  A medico that I saw on morning television had said there was no such thing as a summer cold, only allergies.  Well, I know the difference between allergies and a summer cold, and Doc, I had a summer cold.

I used to run out on the Bertha Parker bypass but that was before I met Crazy Jack.  We’ve all had dealings with old C.J.  He’s the one that thinks the four-lane is the Indianapolis Speedway and the speed limits don’t apply.

Mama used to tell me, “Son, you’re going to get run over on that four-lane.”  So after  hitting the bar ditch a half-dozen times or so, I thought maybe Mama knows best and found me another route to get my morning exercise. 

Crazy Jack—he could be anyone.  Maybe he’s the teenager that Daddy let borrow the keys and he’s out to impress his friend.   He might be the harried young mom trying to drive while corralling three small children.  He could be the man who had a fight with his wife and is late for work,  he could be the young wife talking on her cellular phone, or he could simply be “blue hair driving in my lane.”  Truckers ain’t no day at the beach either.

Anyway, I was ready to resume my exercise regime after the hiatus.  The morning was gray and cool.  The night birds had stopped their calling and had given way to their daytime cousins when I struck out. 

The first quarter-mile or so would be the toughest, it’s uphill before making a mad dash across the four-lane, then a leisurely down hill jaunt before turning and heading back uphill and taking it to the barn. 

My breathing comes hard as I set out.  I must find a rhythm, I tell myself, and stick to it.  The traffic is fairly light at that hour so I don’t break a stride crossing and by now the beta-endorphins are pumping in my brain and my breathing evens out as I head toward the creek.  I feel strong.  I feel free.  I wish the route was three, four miles instead of just a shade over two.  I feel as if I could run forever.

“Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,” go my ragged Reeboks against the pavement.  The perfect measured stride of a long distance runner.  “Pfft, Pfft, Pfft,”  I want to shout with great exuberance because I feel so good.

I reached the cul-de-sac that marked my turning point of my measured run, when a light stitch started in my side.  I tried to ignore it and concentrated on the pain that started in my trick knee.  Is that the shuffling of the bear I hear?  Am I bear-caught so soon.  I wavered a bit in my stride. 

The bear was hungry and gaining on me.  I hit the steepest part of my route, and thought “only one-half more mile and it will all be over.”  My breath rasping deep in my lungs, I sounded like a wind-broke horse and I struggled up and onward.  I leaned into the run and tried to ignore the aches and pains that returned many-fold.  My ancient legs quivered as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

The bear has now become full-grown and  his growls give me a little strength as I continue my task.  My nose starts to run and I’m back on my heels at this point.  The bear catches me and jumps on my back as I hit the corner turn.  I’m ready to quit.

That’s when I saw her.  She was a winsome young thing, unaware of anyone being around.  She was dressed in nothing but a pale blue negligee with midnight blue panties.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to still my rasping breath and quiet my plodding feet as she ran through the dappled grass to retrieve the morning paper. 

She appeared to be reading the headlines as she stood there in the early morning sunlit yard.  Then she must have heard me—-she looked up and gave a startled yelp as she saw me approaching in my tattered running shorts and shoes.  She reminded me of a deer caught in the headlights of a poacher.  Then she made a dash back indoors.  I think an old man’s thoughts as I approach the four-lane.

My run, for all practical purposes, is over.  Then I think of nothing at all because I’m back in Crazy Jack’s territory and he could be out there, loaded for bear.

Bob Briggs 1943-2011

Posted in Uncategorized

Hoppy Easter!

The Easter Bunny Gets A Rude Awakening - Easter pictures Easter humor Easter jokes Easter cartoons

Easter

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This is a truly touching story–perfect for Easter–about two brothers who were separated at birth.

It’s the story of one brother’s search for the other.

It’s a story of life and death.

And it has a cruel twist of fate.

Still, it is certain to stir your heart and touch your soul.
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I hope you had a wonderful, blessed Easter.