9 Days

“What!?! I’m going to Dad’s for 9 days?!  9 WHOLE DAYS?!”

As winter break ensued two weeks ago for the school district, as always, I had to make plans for my daughter’s long three week vacation.  And, as always, I secured one week off for the holidays to spend with her, but the other two remained up for grabs.  Unlike always, this year her dad received a full two weeks off from work.  With visits few and far between for Maycee and him, we agreed that since he had her for Christmas this year, he would keep her through New Year’s Eve, and I would pick her up on New Year’s Day.

Maycee considered this carefully. “Mom, how many days is that?”

“I think it’s about 9 days.” (I knew it was exactly 9 days.)

“MOM, THAT’S NINE DAYS…NINE DAYS!!!!”  The caps do not emphasize excitement and jubilation, just sayin’.

That said, it was not intended as Christmas coal….it was intended to be a time for both Maycee and her dad to be together.  Never during the course of the past 8 years of separation and divorce has her dad spent more than 3 days with her.  In fact, a typical visit every 6 to 8 weeks consists of about 32 hours.  It was time….time for Maycee to grin and bear it, time for her dad to step up, and time for me to get a break.

Even in winter rain and cold, no rest for the weary!

For 9 days.

We celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas two days early.  It was a wonderful time spent with makeshift family (friends), and besides the dates being slightly off, one would never had known it wasn’t actually Christmas.  Santa came and everything (Yes, I still believe.)

Welcome, Finn, our newest furry family member.

On the “real” Christmas Eve I traveled to Southern Cali to drop off my bewildered child at her dad’s house….new bunny in tow, at least.  I kissed and hugged her good-bye, telling her to make the most of it all and to have fun and enjoy some much-needed down time. I ventured to my mom’s for the evening, Day 1, then home on Christmas Day-Day 2.

Over the years being without my daughter on Christmas has not gotten easier.  There is something melancholy that sinks down deep.  It was quiet.  The drive was quiet. My home was quiet.  I decided to keep my shift at the barn and work, which at least took up some of the afternoon and evening.  Settling in later under a warm blanket I felt really alone, although I knew that wasn’t the case.

One quick message from Maycee before bed…Christmas was fine, but long day and boring.  Love you, Mom.

Day 3

Text messages flooded the cell phone waves.

Mom, I am SO BORED.  I’m watching TV in my room and playing on my phone.  I already played with the bunny.  Dad isn’t feeling well.  This is terrible.

I felt a little bit of terrible, too, only because the loneliness was still heavy in my heart.  I reponded with a positive

Well, it’s good to do nothing sometimes.  It’s only been a couple of days, so cheer up.

I proceeded to take my own advice and stay in my jammies for half the day before working at the barn again.  I cannot remember the last time I stayed in bed watching movies until noon.  Many, many, MANY years ago-if EVER.  Then I got to ride a new horse at our barn, Traveler.  He was such a good boy!

What a cutie…Don’t worry, Chief, it’s only temporary.

After work I went on a dinner date with my neighbor, who’s been trying to kindle a relationship with me the past few months.  It was nice.  I began to feel my loneliness subsiding and my freedom reaching the surface.

Day 4

Mom, I wanna come home.  I am so bored. I miss my horse.  I’m WASTING MY VACATION here!

Maycee, you will have to deal with this. I’m sorry.  It’s either stay there or go to winter camp, which I know you don’t want to do.

Fine. It’s okay. I’m just mad.

REALLY? 

I cleaned up Christmas stuff, did laundry, took the dog for a much-deserved long walk, worked at the barn again, and went to dinner with my bff-another “me” thing I wanted to do.  Grown-up girl time.

As a single mom living away from family, it is rare that I am not with my kid.  Now that she is getting older she spends more time with friends, has sleepovers once in awhile, but typically those sleepovers are at our house. She rides her horse on her own when we are at the barn and likes to do her own thing there without my hovering.  In general, with child, I have more freedom now, certainly, than I did when she was younger.

But, true freedom to just be me, seperate from the mom-me, to do a few things I enjoy on my own, to be meditative, watch tv shows I enjoy, splurge on dinners out, or go to grown-up movies is a small gift.  A necessary one, in my opinion, for I believe we are better mothers the more we harness who we are individually.

2015-a wonderfully busy year!

Day 5

Back to work I went, and I was glad.  I love my work, love the people there, love my job, love my routine.  That evening I simply stayed home, bundled up, and watched my newly installed Netflix after chatting for a couple of hours with my roommate who returned after the holidays.

“I wondered how you were handling Maycee being gone, ” she said.  “It’s such a long time.”

“Yeah, takes me a couple of days to get used to it…and, this IS the longest she has ever gone for a visit.  I think it’s good, though….good for both of us.”

Maycee and I also talked on the phone,

“I am so tired of screens, Mom!  I am tired of looking at my phone and watching tv A LOT, so I  decided to get busy while dad slept this morning.  I washed and put away the dishes and cleaned the house, and then we went out to return some stuff.”

“Wow, way to go, kiddo!  How nice of you to do that and a great idea to occupy your time being helpful!”

I was beaming inside, proud of my girl for taking the reigns, so-to-speak.

Day 6

Movie night!  Freedom mode was in full swing. I invited my neighbor to join me for a movie after work, which just happened to be playing at the old theater in town, my favorite.

JOY

I related to Joy so much…minus becoming a superstar and financially wealthy.

Day 7

Tonight after work and the barn I will go shopping for a belated Christmas gift for my neighbor.  I asked him during our dinner on Day 3 what he got for Christmas, and he said, “Nothing.”  Oh, this made me so sad.  I decided right then I was getting him something.  Everyone deserves a gift at Christmastime!

Maycee is spending the day with my mom and step-dad, and taking a riding lesson with an instructor I know down south.  I am sure she is having a wonderful day, hallelujah.

Maycee gets to ride Tango for her first jumping lesson!  Woohoo!

Day 8

New Year’s Eve.

I have a date.  With my neighbor….again.  But, I HAVE A DATE.

Let Freedom ring!!!!!!!!

I haven’t gone out or done anything besides watch Time Square on tv for several years, celebrating with Martinelli’s and seeing if Maycee makes it to midnight (longest she has made it is 11:15).

This will be interesting and fun–dinner out and live music in a little seaside town.  Holy cow, I have no idea what to think, except, what should I wear?  Oh, ya, jeans and boots…that’s all I own! E.A.S.Y.

Day 9

New Year’s Day.

I will pick Maycee up, and while I’m already grateful for the time I’ve had alone, I am also grateful to be the mom of one special young lady who I miss tremendously.  Who year after year, traded holidays or not, makes every struggle or stumble worth it.

Once home the world will be right again.  Maycee will forget she had rough patches, I will forget I needed a break.  Life will return to normal as we embark on 2016.

Nine days have certainly been good reminders about the role I love and hold dearly: Single Working Mom.  Nine days have reminded me I wouldn’t trade places with anyone for anything.

Nine days have reminded me of the myriad of blessings I experience ad infinitum.

Maycee has stopped the mad texting about 9 days.  It has been hard to stay steadfast in the plan, hard not to rescue her from being unhappy in the moment, knowing that while she may be unhappy, she is not unsafe or uncared for-she is loved.

As much as I like to believe this break was a good lesson for my kid, it was most definitely a good lesson for me, and that, Readers, is a win-win!

So, plan for breaks, take some needed time for yourselves, and welcome in the New Year with NEW HOPES AND DREAMS.  And, don’t forget to give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

 

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Many Titles….Horse Cookies

Each week I think about writing here many titles go through my mind.  I have lots of stories that also go through my mind that I would like to share, and these stories prompt titles. If only there was more time, of course.

I thought that I would write about my experience in church this past Sunday.  I was going to call the post “When in Church, I Cry”.  It doesn’t seem to matter how long I’ve been a Christian (and compared to many-not long at all), but when I enter a church-any church-I get emotional.  I can be in a good place, a bad place, or an indifferent place, but when I enter the sanctuary it happens.  The preacher may stink, but I still hear a message.  The music may not be “my style” but I still sing a song.  I may feel an outcast, but I know deep down I’m not.  My daughter has taken to watching me to see how long it takes before the tears start flowing…

I also thought I might write about the rain.  It’s falling now, right now, pouring in gushes and cleansing the earth.  We’ve needed it so badly, and I love listening to it.  Last night we had a huge wind storm as the rain came, and it was scary.  I envisioned the trees behind our house crashing down on the little Yellow Submarine, or the water lifting us up off the jacks and carrying us away down a newly formed river to another town.  Once Maycee was asleep I turned off the TV and just listened.  Snuggled up in a Christmas blanket on my tiny couch with the tree lit, I listened. The wind settled down, and the rain fell quietly as the night tick-tocked minute by minute. The title might have been….”Listen to the Rain”.

I enjoy my time to write as if I were a thief stealing a precious jewel and hoping no one notices.

Today I went to run an errand on my lunch break and found the grocery store to be closed due to a downed power line from the storm.  This changed my plan, so I ended up buying grain for the horses instead of Christmas cards for the family. In the store my favorite clerk, Liz,  was working.  Liz has known me since we rescued our horse Fancy.

She asked me how I was doing and if was surviving the holidays so far. I looked at her with a cringed face and muttered, “Kind of…”  I told her how when the holidays come my shoulders raise and I get so worried about how I’m going to keep up financially and still provide something nice for my kiddo under the tree.  I put on a happy face and hum along with the Christmas Carols, but inside my tummy churns until December 26th.  She said, “I know, I know.  My husband and I keep things real simple since it’s just the two of us.  We see what all of this (referring to the sale racks) does to people.”

I said that I try to do the same since it’s just me and Maycee, but it’s hard when I enter a store and find my eyes wandering, my hands touching, and my mind thinking “She’d like this” or “She’d like that” or “I wish I could just buy it!”  I have to stay focused and shop like a speed demon-in and out-to avoid collapsing under pressure.

I reminisced about how when I was married to her dad, and we had two incomes, buying gifts was never an issue.  Liz asked me, “And, how long ago was that?”  I answered, “Almost seven years ago, and it’s never been easy since.”

Liz looked at me, smiling.  She always has a twinkle about her.  Then she said, “You hold on here a minute.”  She walked away and grabbed a bag of horse cookies, my favorite brand, and said, “Here….give these to your daughter for her horse from me.  You’re such a nice person; you deserve it.”

And, here goes the title for this write.

I may not have time to blog about every thought that crosses my mind, but whenever I can share the kindness of another, human nature so rarely experienced amidst a world of chaos and commerce, I must.  It may be small to some, but it’s huge to me.

Horse Cookies.

Readers, I hope you enjoy the weekend ahead, and remember: life is short, so be happy, and give a chuckle.  Ho, ho, hooooooooo!

XOXO,

SWM

All I want for Christmas…

I’m going to admit something here….something I don’t really want to admit….something I wish I didn’t feel….and, sometimes don’t when I’m too busy to think about it…which is most of the time.  But, with Maycee going to her dad’s for Christmas this year (his turn), and me spending it alone visiting family, unfortunately the “feelings” have been lingering more often.  So, here it is. The Great SWM Confessional.  Sister Mary plug your ears and cross your heart.

I said Sister Mary, not you, Louisy!

I said Sister Mary, not you, Louisy!

I wish a really nice guy would fall in love with me, and STAY in love with me. This is the important part: STAY.  Not fall in love and gush and be over-the-top with it, telling me I’m the best thing since TV remotes and Fritos and then disappear into the football-laden television screen background only to remain friends on Facebook.  Stick.  Around. For good.  A wonderful human being who would give anything to adopt a single mom and her daughter. To make a family and build something.

Because, who couldn't love this?

Because, who couldn’t love this?

Like the one we saw at the Christmas tree farm a couple of weeks ago laughing together, the hubby saying, “You want me to get that, babe?”  And, the woman replying, “Oh, sure, sweetie. That’d be great if you could take the girls to the teeter-totter”.  I smiled on the outside, but part of me wanted to barf on the inside, the other part of me wanted to cry, and the last little bit of me said, “Huh, you don’t need that.  You’re fine on your own.  Hmph! ”   Total denial.

Kasey, SWM, loves roasting marshmallows...alone.

Kasey, SWM, loves roasting marshmallows…alone.

Maycee and I both watched this family….and I know she was feeling exactly the same as I was (not the barfing part)…how could she not?  But, then, in true SWM fashion, I quickly said, “Let’s go see if they’ll help you teeter-totter, also!” Since I couldn’t do it with her, myself, lest she be flung off the end as soon as she hit the air.   And, instead of BEING part of a family….I used a family.  It worked, they were all fabulous, adorned in their Abercrombie and Fitchness, and Maycee had a great time going up and down–their daughters on one side, and mine on the other.

Don't you want to help us teeter totter?

Don’t you want to help us teeter totter?

There, I said it. It’s done.  Ugh…it was tough, darnit! I’m SWM!  I’m fine doing everything alone! Fine, fine, fine!!!!!!! Right?

Fine. Fine. Fine. Peace out.

Fine. Fine. Fine. Peace out.

Maycee asked me what I was going to ask Santa Claus for for Christmas.  She said, “You should ask him for a dishwasher.  You really need a dishwasher!”  Such a true statement, and very practical.

The best way to start the weekend!

It’d be nice to put the morning pancake plates in a dishwasher. Yes, it would.

And, I said, “I think I’m going to ask him for a super rich man.”  Although, honestly, I don’t care a pebble’s throw about riches or large sums of money…but if I’m going to ask Santa, I can stipulate, right? Then, I changed my mind thinking about what a truly rich man might be like, or expect, or what he might miss that I need (like humility), and I decided to ask Santa for $20,000 AND a warm, loving man to show up under the tree.  That would cover the dishwasher and every other “fix-it” problem I have at home, and leave room for a terrificly super duper guy, regardless of the dollar signs.  Of course, we laughed at the sentiment, and Maycee said she pictured a guy with a cape under our tree that said, “Super Rich”.  Like, wow, Rich is so super; he’s a terrific dude!

No, this isn't Super Rich, it's my bro, Michael. But, he is awesome.

No, this isn’t Super Rich, it’s my bro, Michael. But, he is awesome.

Hmmmm, I’d be happy with that.

We haven’t see Santa Claus yet, so I still have time to modify my gift requests. Maybe I will just go for the dishwasher.  I do need one.  Mine is rusted and falling apart….not to mention it doesn’t work, but then again, my hands do.   I’m so behind on everything that we’ll probably do a drive by, jump on Santa’s lap, ask for our hearts’ desires, grab our free candy canes, and say, “Ho, ho, ho….have to go!  Thanks a million, Saint Nick!”

I love Santa!

I love Santa!

So, there you have it, Readers.  My dirty little secret revealed to the blogosphere.  I will say that I have stuck to my New Year’s Resolution of 2013, and I haven’t settled for second string.  This is good news…the rest…well, only more will be revealed when it’s time, and all I can say is, “Come on…hurry up!” (Wink, wink, chuckle, chuckle.)

There's a reason this is on my wall.

There’s a reason this is on my wall.

‘Tis the season, so put on your elf shoes, do a jig, and purge your soul a little–like me.  Christmas is coming, ready or not!

We're totally jolly!  After all, it's almost Christmas!

We’re totally jolly! After all, it’s almost Christmas!

XOXO,

SWM

Christmas Lights (in May)

Yep, I know it’s strange to be writing about Christmas lights in May, but I am. I can. It’s my blog! And, here’s the reason: for the past two and a half months since Maycee’s diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder it’s like we’ve been fiddling with a strand of faulty Christmas lights. We were, at first, searching for the missing bulb.

“Where is it?!”

Then we realized a bulb wasn’t missing, and we had to get the string of lights to sit just right. Twist a little bit here, twist a little bit there…and then…the lights began to flicker. We could see what the whole strand would look like once it was completely lit!

“Wow, did you see that?!”

This week, after 6 therapy sessions and lots and lots of practice every hour of every day fighting “Buttface”, Maycee’s Anxiety Monster, we began implementing a potential 504 plan for her school day. The biggest obstacle in front of her? Starting the day in class and not at the office, and then staying in class all day including transitions.

“Mommy, look! The lights! They are all on now! What did you do? How did you make it work?”

And, “just like that” the string of Christmas lights were glowing. Each and every bulb: yellow, orange, green, blue, red, and purple lighting up every branch of the tree. Smiles began to peek through. The green pine needles began to shine under the brightly lit glass. Giggling, goofing around, looking forward to more positive and exciting discoveries surfaced. Maycee’s exact words: I know I’m getting better because I’m being silly again. I’m being more like my “old” self.

“How was your day, Bugga Boo?” “GREAT! I was in class all day by myself [without the principal checking in], and I barely worried because I was so busy. I EVEN participated in P.E. and got to choose what line I sit in!  I sat with Leslie [her bff].”

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! You are so very lovely!

When the lights finally come on it feels so good; makes me want to find more strands to fiddle with…especially some of my own.  How ’bout you?

Honestly, it doesn’t hurt to be in the Christmas spirit all year long, and with 90 degree temps on tap for today I think I’ll look for a palm tree to decorate. 

Life is short, so keep fiddling with the strands of faulty lights-don’t throw them away or give up. They are just waiting to shine and  light up the world, and while you’re working on them be happy, and give a chuckle.  Ha, ha, ha…ho, ho, hooooooo…

XOXO-SWM

Where I’ve Been

It’s almost Christmas. Two days and three hours to go before Santa makes his way into our home (not down the chimney because we don’t have one-we leave him a key instead). For the past several weeks now I’ve been ill. Christmas fixings, decorations, cutting down the tree, putting up lights, and present buying having been sandwiched in between small bouts of minor wellness and lots and lots of crying and doctors’ visits. Because of sheer determination (and also a diagnosis that I was perfectly fine after an initial run of antibiotics-sorry Doc, big mistake!) I managed to get stuff done. However, my worst fear of not being able to take care of my daughter came closely to fruition almost two weeks ago when I landed in the ER with a bacterial infection that would not go away and had me in pain, dizziness, chills, and misery to the point of barely being able to walk.

What do you do when you are a single parent in the house alone with your child (who also happens to be home sick from school), you are too sick to walk or move, and you know deep down inside there is something very, very wrong?

CALL FOR HELP.

That’s it. Another big fear of mine. Having to reach out for some major help. This went beyond just the typical, “Hey, Buddy, can you help me fix my busted water pipe? Sorry it’s New Year’s Eve.” This was big-time, HELP ME help. Luckily, I have some pretty awesome people in my life and was able to call on my amazing boss to get me to the hospital, stay with Maycee while they checked me out, and then get us home and settled with the proper meds. My dad drove three hours north the same night to make sure I was going to be okay, and then my neighbors called to let me know if I needed anything they’d be there. Even Maycee’s dad came up here for his visit instead of expecting me to drive south a week later as the medicines wreaked their own havoc on my insides and the infection lingered.

Yes, it was an ordeal, and yes, I have been unable to read, write, or think much about anything else except getting well. But, here I am, finally. Almost to the end of my third dose of antibiotics and feeling sort of back to normal on the heels of Christmas. My vacation plans for Disneyland and meeting Deb (TMIYC) were cancelled, and I spent many nights sobbing as I lay in bed wondering “why” and feeling sorry for myself. But, the truth of the matter is, it all worked out, and I learned many lessons, once again, about what is truly important. Maycee, well, she was scared to death about mama being sick. Sure, I’ve had colds and flus before, but nothing that knocked me so far down as this to the point of helplessness. She was also completely understanding about missing Disneyland. “It’s okay, Mama. I don’t mind. It’s okay.” Like I said, lessons in life on what is truly important.

It’s been a pretty rough road, and yet in the big scheme of the world, it’s been a short one. And, now, with the bitter taste in my mouth from the meds, I’ll be baking more Christmas cookies for Santa and preparing to spend this spiritual celebration with my little one. We’ll pray and give thanks for our blessings together, and all that’s transpired over the past few weeks will disappear with the unwrapping of boxes and bags Christmas morning. I know that I will be contemplating the whole situation over and over, planning to take better care of myself as I conjure up New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 and thinking of how many more people have way worse situations they’re dealing with than a crappy old infection. I’ll be praying for them, too. I will. People near and dear to me, and people far, far away.

I’m just glad to be back here. I’m glad to be up late at my computer with enough energy to write a post. (No cup of tea yet…but soon.) I’m glad I’m feeling better, and that what happened to me was curable. I’m glad that I can remember Jesus’ birth is the reason for the season, and that even if no presents were sitting under the tree we’d still be celebrating. I’m glad that I have you, Readers, to share these ups and downs with…to write what presses on my heart as well as what brings me joy.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and I’ll save my New Year’s wishes for my next post! I’m not quite up to chuckling about it all yet, but I do believe that life is short, and we need to be happy no matter what. Maybe if we can’t chuckle, we can turn up one side of our mouths to smirk…Hmmmmm…let me give it try. (Wink!)

Hugs and Love to you. XOXO-SWM

Sparkling Streets

You might have an inkling that I’m going to write about the beauty of the Christmas lights lining the streets around our city…or perhaps you think I’m going to write about the street cleaner doing one heck-of-a-job lately…or maybe the ice glistening on the roads early in the morning.  But, no…these are streets of a different variety…the kind that map the inside of a person’s soul…the kind that only the person herself or himself can clean or decorate.

Last week, on Monday night, my dear ol’ dad was visiting us for a little early Christmas exchange.  We had gone out to dinner at a great local steakhouse, only about five miles into town from the Yellow Submarine.  We enjoyed a hearty meal of tri-tip, shrimp, and the ohsocan’tdowithout chicken fingers, and with bellies full, it was time to head home for some presents to be unwrapped and perhaps a cup of warm tea.

There are only two ways to easily get back up the hill to where we live.  Both are a bit scary and require diligent driving and a keen sense of awareness.  This night, this trip, my dear ol’ dad driving his black Ford Freestyle, we slowly curved in and out and around only to be confronted head-on by a semi-truck-passing the blindest curve of all, driving into our lane.  My dad stayed steady, swerved to the right near the guard rail, but stated, “Where do I go?” As he honked the horn alerting the other driver to what seemed to be a no-way-out situation, the road opened up, and the semi-truck veered left, back into his lane, and continued winding down the hill as we realized we were still alive.  Maycee shouted, “He almost hit our license plate!  We almost died!” She was right, and my dad and I were speechless.

Once safe at home, only a few more comments were made, but not by my father, and just some “uh-huh’s” by me, as I tried to keep Maycee focused on the fun about to occur with opening Grandpa’s gifts.  Easily swayed, into the living room we ventured and had a terrific time watching our little girl unwrap the prized American Girl doll bed she’d wanted for over a year.  Whew…I’m so grateful we had that distraction.

However, as the sun came up next morning, and Dad departed on his way, the event of the night before seated heavily on my heart.  How did we avoid that truck?  How did the road seem to widen like that and we survived?  How many lives do we really have?  The answers differ for every situation, for every person…How does this relate with sparkling streets you ask?

There is a motto in twelve-step recovery, at least back where I got sober, and the motto is this: Keep your own side of the street clean.  I have this listed on my Facebook profile, and I try to live by it, sometimes to the point of obsession.  But here’s the deal, street cleaning is constant.  Streets never stay clean for very long.  They require upkeep, sweeping, cleaning the gutters, and re-paving when they get really bad.  I can’t clean another person’s street for them-at least not without wearing myself out-before the brush and muck build up again and again…I must focus on my side, with or without twinkling lights shining bright.

I have sent out most of my Christmas cards.  One remains in the box, and it awaits a little letter, a simple apology, that on my account is necessary from me to another person.  The other night my family almost left Mother Earth.  I wasn’t ready to go, and what I know is that when my time comes, I want to have sparkling streets surrounding Kasey Lane.  Street cleaning isn’t about who’s right, who’s wrong, who did what to whom, or getting anything back.  It’s about simply doing it because I should, because there is no healthy benefit to letting the dirt sit.  I can safely say that by living this way, re-paving is a rarity.  So, tomorrow, I’m going to send my Christmas apology letter to the deserving person.  That’s it.  No more waiting. 

There are signs all around us shouting: YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOUR TIME IS UP!  YOU NEVER KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Not every sign is as blatant or frightening as the one I received last Monday, but they are there.  I’ve never done well holding grudges or harboring anger, so maybe street cleaning hasn’t been so difficult to come by.  And, every once in while I swish around in some justifiable resentment that ultimately stares me in the face and says, “Really? Do you want to keep me around?”  The answer: NO…I want clean streets for all to enjoy, and most certainly during Santa’s season, I want the bling bling to stand out.

So, Readers, it’s going to be a new day soon (for some of us sooner than others).  Today, if there’s some debris piling up in your street gutter, well, just get out that push broom and get rid of it!  Life is short.  Be happy, and take time to give a chuckle.

Candy canes…I just can’t get enough

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays!

I find myself whisteling this through the hallway at work.  I believe I’ve subconsciously fixated on this song because I am indeed going home for Christmas this year.  And, with Christmas fully invading the Yellow Submarine now, despite myself, I’m one hundred percent in the red and green spirit.  Santas are on the piano. Snowmen are in the bathroom. Twinkling star lights are running across our front porch.  And…candy canes fence in the carport.

 Ho, ho, hoooooooo!  Meeeeerrrrry Christmas!

One of the first sweet items I buy for the this time of year are candy canes.  Peppermint candy canes (although I bought some cherry rainbow ones, too, just for the kids, you know, honestly, pinky-swear). When I wrap my first Christmas presents, I can’t wait to open up a candy cane and let it sit in my mouth as I cut, tape, bow-tie, and gift bag the items.  The peppermint juices barely stay in as I adjust the cane back and forth in a delicate balancing act while my hands are in action.  Along with candy canes I now have peppermint Milky Way squares and peppermint candy cane white chocolate Hershey’s Kisses.  I make myself a wonderful, warm cup of peppermint coffee each morning by breaking a piece of candy cane and putting it squarely in my coffee filter amidst the dry roast to melt perfectly into my cup.  Right now, as I write, I’m drinking a cup of tea I made with….you guessed it…candy canes, sugar, and creamer, to blend the most spectacular homemade Candy Cane Tea Latte, probably only costing me a mere few cents, rather than $4.00. SWM tasty-tight-budget-tidbit of the week! Not that I’d deny a peppermint mocha from any one number of fine establishments either when offered by my fabulous boyfriend, or while I’m out and about picking up additional loot.

This week I plan to make what assumes to be the most delectible of delights: the peppermint candy cheesecake.  Maycee has even posed the suggestion of adding candy canes to brownies.  It’s a catching disease…the candy cane…it truly is.

Candy canes, of course, mean more to me now than just a sweet pepperminty treat.  I’ve been taught the story of the red and white symbol, and tonight, Maycee told me the story once again, as she learned it in Bible class after school.  Her version went like this: 

Mom, did you know there was a candy maker, I think from Germany, or something, and he decided he was going to make a plain, white stick of candy?  Later, another guy decided he was going to add red stripes to represent the blood Jesus shed for us, and he also made the stick into a “J” to represent the “J” in Jesus.  But, it also is called a candy cane because it is shaped like an actual cane.  Isn’t that cool?” 

Yes, it is very cool, and hearing her tell the story to me in her own words is just another way to stay close to the reason for the season. And, when it comes to either meaning, I just can’t get enough.

A side note…I’m posting this many days after it’s writing.  My computer is so slow, I think I might just throw it over the back fence into the barranca later.   Perhaps, even though I’ve taken Maycee to visit Santa already I should go hit up the Jolly Ol’ Elf myself.  Number one on my blogging wish list?  Yoooooou guessed it! 

Have a terrific week, Readers.  I have more in store, more stored up, and as my ancient device allows, it’ll make its way to your email boxes-more than likely-just as it is needed.  Life is too short to get upset for very long, though; whether this time of year or any.  With that in mind: be happy and give a chuckle!  Eh-hem, rather, give a Ho, Ho, Hooooooooooo, Merrrrrry Christmas!

This Thanksgiving I Wanna…

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated to give thanks to God for guiding them safely to the New World.*

The Pilgrims landed and tried to make a go of this place.  They had no idea what they were doing, but after a successful harvest, they were able to celebrate and express their gratitude.  Well, a lot of the time, I don’t know what I’m doing either.  And, as soon as Thanksgiving draws near, I often feel myself turning into a famous landmark known in many parts as the Biggest Ball of Twine.  Instead of dreaming about warm roasted turkeys, scrumptious homemade stuffing, or thick and creamy pumpkin pie, all my eyes can see are calendars.  Calendars, calendars everywhere.  Calendars, calendars in my hair.  They all read the same way: NO SCHOOL FROM NOVEMBER 21 THROUGH NOVEMBER 25.  Highlighted, meaning, Maycee needs childcare.  

Along with panicking about my daughter’s next school vacation (because I do not have vacation to spare), I find the Christmas songs, Christmas decor, and Christmas gifts made just perfectly for the person who needs to buy something for someone they do not know, set out on the shelves in August, waiting patiently for the season to arrive, totally begin to annoy me.  It’s true.  And, I’m not a Bah-Humbug, really, not deep down in my heart. But, I think this, CAN WE NOT JUST PLEASE GET THROUGH ONE HOLIDAY AT A TIME? CAN WE NOT REMEMBER WHAT THESE HOLIDAYS ARE TRULY FOR?

I told my boss today, as I was expressing some of this very well-meaning concern for the lightspeed flow of life that next year I think I will pass out candycanes to the trick-or-treaters and say, “Ho, ho, ho…Happy Halloween!”

A little reminder

Anxiety.  It’s crept up on me, which is why I consulted Buddha as mentioned in my last post.  This morning I dropped Maycee off at the Boys and Girls Club-not her favorite place to spend her vacation.  But, safe and affordable nonetheless, and no choice on my part for this particular amount of time off.  As I drove to work, I figured, no problem, she can make it through one more day of this, and then tomorrow, I lined up a super-duper fun playdate.  Except, ummm, uh-oh, text message reads this: S–is sick vomiting and with fever. In a matter of minutes, said playdate where Maycee could liesurely hang out for the day at least at SOMEONE’S house-cancelled.  The ensuing mad-dash to find a replacement playdate began.  As I continued on to work, I frantically called my friends, I left pitiful, pleading messages.  By 10:00 this morning a new playdate was secured. Score another one for Mom. 

This stuff wears on me.  It just does.  And, so I have to continue to find gratitude…wherever I can.  I have to persist in reminding myself this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of life.  I have to remember that Thanksgiving comes first, and no matter how many silver sparkle Christmas trees line the aisles at Walmart, this is THANKSGIVING WEEK.  A time to be even more cognizant of my blessings. A time to contemplate our settlers’ initial fears and struggles.  I have to eat my chocolate pudding at lunchtime and slowly taste each bite to get in my few minutes of mindfulness and allow the details to come into perspective.

I didn’t do real well as the day pressed on.  In fact, I ran out to get some much needed T.P. and paper towels for work this afternoon, and as I pulled into the parking place I couldn’t open the door.  I sat, in my seat, and I cried some tears.  No, not big gigantic sobby kinds, just little quiet kinds.  The ones that say: I know it doesn’t help to dwell on, “I wish”.  This isn’t what I want for my daughter, and yet, it’s the very best I can do.  Allowing a few more tears to refresh my cheeks I settled in to finish the errand.  I found the supplies, and as I walked through the market the soft plush fur of their holiday bears caught my eye. Christmas music was blaring obnoxiously through the speakers. I chuckled.  I walked over looking at all of these bears.  Each one saying, “Buy me.” And, I chose one despite myself…not for Maycee…for me. I named him “Nilly”, and his fur is the color of cookie dough. He rode shotgun as I headed back to work and took a nice, long deep breath.  When I picked Maycee up from the B & G Club, she was smiling, and she said to me, “I hope when I have to go here during Christmas break I see some of my new friends again-I mean the new friends I made JUST at the Boys and Girls Club.” Wow. Such a spirit she has.

You got me!

We were supposed to go visit my sister a few hours away for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.  I was supposed to get up very early tomorrow, rush Maycee to her new playdate, and zoom the dogs and cat over to the kennel before heading to work.  I was supposed to…but, this Thanksgiving I wanna stay home.  It took a stern talking to from my mom to pursuade me it was okay-she even made me call her back to confirm the cancellation (smile).  I wanna rest.  I wanna have my own jammy time with my deserving girl.  I wanna have a couple of days off without an agenda.  I wanna cook turkey legs and eat in front of the TV, bow my head, and thank God for leading us safely to this New World, equipped with all of its challenges.

This Thanksgiving I wanna….

Now Readers, it’s your turn. Go on…feel free…it’s okay to admit it, fill in the blank even if to yourselves.  And, as you prepare to join family and friends for this day devoted to gratitude be happy, and give a chuckle.  Hmmmmm, do I hear Jingle Bells playing? Ho, Ho, Hoooooooooooo!

*Wikipedia