The Buzz Continues

Thanksgiving weekend is finally over, and I am positively buzzing with energy, which is surprising really, as I may have a bit of a stomach bug. Mentally, I’m in a great space, which also is surprising as I’m once again learning that I need to pay a bit closer attention to actions and less to words. Regardless, I feel like I’m going to come out of all of it just fine.

The weekend started with my daughter and I doing some baking and cooking for the holiday. She’s one of those kids who at the end of the day, really just wants to hang out with the adults she loves. It doesn’t much matter what she is doing, she just wants to help and be involved. She enjoys helping me cook, and I know it will serve her well when she gets older. I didn’t have much desire to learn how to cook when I was her age. Then I moved, my mom passed away, and I really learned how to do most dishes after I got married. My daughter will be ahead of the game. Even my son is learning to cook and happily will make a meal. After we finished, we packed up our goodies and went to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. It was a laid back day full of amazing food and loads of laughter. Occasionally after dinner, a few of us will do a little late night shopping, but this year I had to bail because I had packing to do, as well as some jobs around the house to prep for the weekend.

Friday, the kids and I headed up north to visit my dad, stepmother, and her family. After the married, this became a bi annual tradition. We also get together over the summer as well before the kids go back to school. They have truly become family and it’s always a good time filled with food, wine, and fun. This year the huge group of us went to see Frozen 2, and then topped off the night with a Christmas parade. The little town we were in is really quaint and beautiful, and the crisp air made everything just perfect. We all headed back to the house to allow the kids to run and play (there are 7 in total now) before we had dinner.

It was lovely to see my dad, as I haven’t been able to see him much this year. Even when we met up in the UK for my grandfather’s funeral, it was a busy time for both of us and we didn’t get a ton of time to spend together. This weekend, he seemed much more relaxed than the last time I had seen him and we had some really good conversations. I felt lighter and refreshed after having talked with him. I’m truly lucky to have him. He always has my back and is certainly a calming force.

The weekend trip was filled with great food, delicious wines, and great people. The kids had a great time and got along really well, being silly and joking with each other more than usual. The quiet and peace allowed me to mull over some things.

For starters, I took a little time to pause and mull over some changes that need to be made. My focus is on my little family of four, and my feeling is we need to make choices based on what’s best for us. Not everyone will like it, but I always feel that people who love you want the best for you. I feel the time is coming to start moving and shaking and getting things in a better place than they were. The chips are landing in just such a way that I am excited to finally be able to make some changes to really improve our lives. It’s exciting, and I feel light weights are being lifted. Each small step leads towards an end goal.

After coming home mentally refreshed (although physically not feeling so great), I was able to do a little Christmas shopping. I love Christmas shopping. Well, let me refrain, I love online shopping. The stores kick in my anxiety this time of year. I was able to pick up a few needed items for the husband and kids, which made me feel elated, some of them I am really excited about giving. I’m really trying to budget myself and pace myself out this holiday season. I’ve found that Christmas doesn’t really work well with my procrastinating nature. I’m terrible at pacing myself, and always end up stressed out, trying to tackle a million projects at the last minute. There is always so much to do in December. This year, I’m setting myself a goal to do a few things each day, so that I can spread the work out over a month. I’m already tackling my list, bit by bit, and it’s got me feeling excited for the season rather than stressed out. Again, small changes towards a bigger goal.

Now that I have my mind in a great place, it’s time to start making other changes too. It’s refreshing, and I feel much less stressed with each step I take. I have a good feeling that within the next year, I’m going to feel some big weights lifted off my shoulders. I’m ecstatic. I don’t know what it is about this time of year. It’s cozy and comfy, but it also feels like a hibernation that prepares us for the changing year ahead. I’m hopeful to get a head start on what’s to come. I know I’m mentioning change, and haven’t specified a whole lot of what change will be coming, but I’ll expand upon them as time progresses.

For now, it’s time to circle em up, look after the ones who look after us, and focus on betterment of not only myself, but my little family as well. After all, winter is coming.

Holiday Good vs Evil, My Adventures in Costco

If you’ve followed along on here you likely know I run a program at the school for children in need. I run it off donations and it has really turned into a second full time job (without monetary pay, but happiness pay instead). I provide uniforms, coats, toiletries and supplies to kids or families that need them. Occasionally, I get a parent who needs a coat or something, and if I have it available, I will let them have it. Unfortunately, I don’t work with shoes because it would be overwhelming and I have space constraints. Today I noticed on of my parents I have worked with, who is lovely, was searching on Facebook for a pair of shoes as hers had ripped and she hadn’t started her new job. I had a gift card and knew I could get her a solid pair of new shoes with a portion of the money, so I headed off to one of my favorite stores, Costco.

BIG MISTAKE.

You’d think it wouldn’t be too crowded on a weekday evening, right? Well, I can tell you that normally it’s not. I pop down during the week for items all the time (I just LOVE Costco), but stupid me forgot the proximity to Thanksgiving. Holy cow, it was CRAZY busy in there. I grabbed a cart, because I can never leave with just one item, and braced myself. Once inside, I navigated to where they had shoes. I was looking for the woman’s size when another woman tried to get passed, but couldn’t. I backed my cart up to allow her by. Well, she apparently didn’t navigate the corner well, and bumped the shoe display, causing numerous boxes to fall. She quickly started grabbing them and stacking them back up, her cart parked behind her. She was hustling to get the shoes back up, when an older lady stormed up with her cart. “I NEED TO GET THROUGH NOW!” she bellowed, and grabbed the poor woman’s cart and yanked it backwards. She demanded the woman move, and made some snarky remark.

Y’all, I couldn’t help myself.

“WOAH THERE!” I yelled, and proceeded to explain how we’ve all got stuff to do, but it’s just a dick move to be that entitled and that rude to people. The poor woman trying to put the shoes back looked at first panicked and then inherently grateful. People around us looked a bit surprised. One woman started grinning. The older woman turned and apologized to the woman with the shoes.

I swear, the holidays can pull out the very best of people, or the utter worst.

I grab 2 other items before realizing, horrified, that I had forgotten the gift card to pay for the shoes with out in my car. I mulled over leaving my cart, racing out to the car in the crowded parking lot filled with stressed people not paying proper attention, and decided that convenience overrode funds. I decided the shoes wouldn’t come from the closet project, they would come from me personally, and I would cover the cost myself. I headed up to the front where the registers were.

I have seen cows herded better than the horror show up at the front. I stood and sighed, knowing I’d be there for a while, although knowing Costco has great cashiers and I’d make it out sooner than I would at most other stores. I picked a line that seemed to have people holding their items in hand, figuring it was more of an “express lane” vibe and I’d be out pretty quick.

An older lady moved from her lane behind me, but almost next to me. “None of the lines seem great” she said with a smile, and the two of us chatted over how crazy it was in the store that day. I explained what I was doing, she told me she was getting her son a gift. She laughed and said “well, the line I was in moved faster than I thought, I could have been out by now!” I smiled and joked “but then you’d have missed meeting me!” It was a simple interaction, but I honestly enjoyed chatting with her. I let her go ahead of me. She resisted, but I told her I insisted. She put her items on the belt, and the woman in front of her turned and said something with a stern look on her face. I didn’t catch what was said. My new friend turned and told me the lady ahead had told her off for being “pushy” with her items on the belt. I guess those 4 little items the lady had got too close to stern lady’s brussel sprouts.

Really? This is the stuff people worry about? Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a pretty happy person. Maybe it’s the fact the reason I was at the store was because I know what it’s like to struggle and wanted to do something kind for another person. Look, I’m kind of an impatient person sometimes. I get grumpy too. But OOF people are testy as hell these days. A little kindness to each other would sure go a long way.

I cheered my new friend up and she smiled and waved as she walked out. I maneuvered through the parking lot (almost getting hit by a car as a woman tried to gun it through the busy lot) and was grateful to settle into the quiet of my own car.

Kindness. It’s important, folks. Try not to be a dick, eh?

Momma Fear

Y’all. I am freaking out.

Last night, my 13 year old came down to shoot the breeze with me in the kitchen. Every so often, we get a bit of time by ourselves and we get into some interesting conversations. Last night he was lamenting that he didn’t get the name I had originally wanted for him, when my phone rang. It was the school district, doing a robo call. The robo call system is a quick and easy way for them to let parents know if there is an issue, and early dismissal, and upcoming school closing, or other important info. This one came in rather late, and I pushed speaker phone to see what it said. The message was from my son’s school, letting us know there was an incident, and that it was being handled along with our local police department. I asked my son what had happened and he replied he wasn’t sure.

Today, while at work, my son texted me from the bathroom at school. Technically he’s not supposed to have his phone on him but as his mom, I allow him to keep it on him provided it is always on silent and that he never uses it at school unless it’s to reach me or his dad for an emergency. He’s been good about it, and frankly, with the amount of school shootings and other issues, I’m glad he has it on him.

He texted me that he had heard what the incident was, and that a student at the school had threatened to “shoot up the school”. Supposedly, the child had a “kill list” in his bag as well. My normally composed kid was uncomfortable and nervous…understandably so. How am I supposed to approach this conversation without any knowledge from the school as to what happened? A quick search on facebook reflected even more concern. Students were crying, anxious, and expressing fears. Parents were posting what their kids were telling them. The head “PTA Mom” in charge of the FB page yanked posts down. This pissed me off even more. Pretending these things don’t happen isn’t the answer. Hiding info only makes me more concerned, not less.

My son said his friend was unnerved enough today that he asked to go home. I think my son mulled it over as well.

These are such scary times. As a parent, nobody teaches you how to handle these types of things. There is no guidebook. There isn’t much help. Seeing police parked outside of the school doesn’t truly take the fear away of what is happening within the walls. Do we have our kids go through metal detectors? Check their bags each day? Do we treat our children like prisoners so we can ensure their safety? At what point do we stop and say “enough”?

Christmas Buzz

The other day we headed up to a mall to wander around for a while. Each of us was looking for something we needed, so it seemed like a good way to have a lazy Sunday. My son looked at me as we wandered around amidst all of the early Christmas decorations and said “I’m really excited for Christmas this year!”. I turned, admittedly thrilled to hear him say it, because let’s be honest, he’s 13 and, well, occasionally unimpressed by things as 13 years old are sometimes. I asked what it was in particular he was excited about. “It’s that feeling you get, you know, that buzz of excitement once you start seeing all the decorations go up. It’s that buzz of things to do.” he responded.

I know it well.

Christmas as a child, for those who celebrate it, always seemed to be a magical day. There is the magic of Santa, presents, food, and festivities. People seem (in theory) to be a little kinder during the holidays. Family comes around.

Christmas for me as a child was my favorite day of the year, especially when we got to celebrate it in England. I always loved it when my parents would take me to “Santa’s Grotto” as it was called. I loved every bit of Christmas. I loved gazing at the ornaments on my grandmother’s little tree. I loved looking out the window hopeful to catch a glimpse of Santa. I loved waking up to presents in a pillowcase ( we did pillowcases in England vs under the tree). While I didn’t get to spend the day with my cousins, we usually saw each other for a little while, and we always spent Boxing Day with each other. That was one of my favorite parts, Christmas with my cousins. When you grow up across the ocean from each other, having that special time together is priceless.

Christmas as an adult can be a bit different. A bit more stressful. Ok, sometimes a lot more stressful. We are the creators of the magic, and each family has their own kind of magic. Every family creates their own traditions. We used to open gifts, get ready, and race out the door. Then one year, all that changed, and we stayed home. I cooked, the kids played with their toys, and my husband got a bit of time to relax. We ate a big homecooked meal, then set out drinks and desserts for family to enjoy in the evening. We always have family over now, and the only recommendation is “come casual! Pajamas encouraged!” The kids really created this tradition, and it’s stuck.

This year, the kids are older and just want a couple of things, which are sort of bigger gifts. My son wanted a gift that is near impossible to find, but I may have found one, so I’m excited. For me, the joy is in the hunt to find the right gift for each person. It’s the care and effort put into the gifts that I enjoy. I love wandering around the mall and seeing the lights and baubles twinkling. I love the buzz of it all, just like my son.

Maybe Christmas can still hold the magic even when we grow up.

Burned out

Some days, I amaze myself with all I get done. Granted, it’s not always pretty….some days things get done by the skin of my teeth, me sliding into the parking lot at the last minute, and there may or may not be some blood, sweat and tears involved. Still, I get it done, or at least, I get an awful lot done. Other days, it’s harder. Sometimes, I just go and go until there is no more “go to give”, and I just sort of ground to a halt.

I’m at a halt. I’m torn between calm focus, vs the choice to turn everything upside down and shake things up. Sometimes you just need to go inward and regroup, and other times, you need to go “whirling dervish” and see where the chips land.

Getting burned out is a very real thing. I know when that feeling hits because suddenly, I just want to stop everything. I am no longer my (somewhat) patient self, and I get real tired of nonsense real quick. My inner dialogue gets more cynical, more sarcastic, and I get a very real urge to shake things up. The urge for a change of scenery is growing, and for the first time in a long time, I’m looking at what our lives could be like if we moved. I wonder what fresh places, fresh starts, and new surroundings would feel like. Then again, I like my familiar. See? ANTSY.

An introvert by nature, I know when the burnout is headed my way. Too much people-ing is a surefire way to make me want to hibernate. The past few weeks, even Facebook is becoming a bit of a chore. This weekend I cut back on it significantly and realized I was a bit happier for doing so. I’ve started hiding people who are exhausting. I’m starting to pay closer attention to the finer details about people. Behavior will always outweigh words. If someone is a garbage human being, I need to step away from that permanently. If someone aligns themselves with garbage human beings, I have to question who they really are as well. I’ve spent my life being far too tolerant of people’s nonsense because somewhere along the line I convinced myself that everyone is inherently good. Sadly, I’ve now learned that’s false, and that some people are just inherently twats, and it’s better to get away from them. When I’m feeling burned out is when I most want to circle my wagons and just keep the tried and true folks around me. Honestly, I should keep ’em circled.

I look around at all the jobs I need to do, and frankly, I think it’s time to step back, do some self care, and focus on things that either REALLY need doing, or things that would just bring in joy. Life is too short not to find the joy in the every day. I have a couple of projects lined up for this month. Neither are quite a NEED to do, but both are a WANT to do, so I’m choosing to focus on the wants for a couple of weeks. A bit of elbow grease and some focus, and I think it will help rejuvenate my mood. Of course, there are the “need to do” jobs, and they will get done I suppose, because at the end of the day we all feel better when we can cross some of those off our list as well.

In Denmark they practice a Hygge lifestyle which is the art of finding coziness and contentment in the every day. Candles, books, a fire in the fireplace, comfortable clothes, blankets, and good company. Sounds heavenly, no? After reading up about Hygge (I’ve seen this pronounced “HOO-ga” and “HUE-guh” it sounds like just what the doctor ordered, especially on the cold, bitter days of winter. It also explaines why Danes are noted as being some of the happiest people in the world.

So for me, during this little burnout stage, it’s Hygge, my close trusted friends, my family, and some quiet while I get myself feeling recharged. Whether I’ll go calm, or whether I’ll shake things up remains to be seen, but at the very least, I’m eager to reset myself and start preparing for the magic of the holidays.

Halloween on Halloween, dammit!

Some of my blog posts are sparked by things I see on social media. Let’s be honest, spend some time on social media and you’ll see all the crazies come out to play. Now I have spent significant time clearing crazy out of my personal life, but I must admit I enjoy a certain amount of “people watching” when it comes to the crazy, from a distance, of course, which social media allows you to do.

Now on this week’s episode of crazy watching, we had not one, not two, but TONS of sanctimommies up in arms and ready for action. Why, you ask? Because the weather forecast called for rain on Halloween, and this was simply not acceptable. Their solution? Move the holiday to another day so that their child won’t get dampened by Trick or Treating. Now, this wasn’t a case of “oh boo, it’s raining so I have to find an alternative plan to take my kids trick or treating because I don’t want to walk in the rain. This was a whole MOVEMENT where women called town hall and their representatives to MOVE a holiday for everyone else so their snookums didn’t get damp. Some comments I actually saw: “wet leaves are SLIPPERY!” and “I spent over $60 on my child’s costume!”

Let me preface what I am about to say by saying I am all for a kinder, more inclusive society. I am all for everyone being equal, for accepting differences, and I teach my children as such. Now, that being said, I am concerned that our quests to raise a kinder, gentler group of children mean that we are hovering too much over our kids. In our quest to give our children an easier life than perhaps we had, we are helicopter parenting, trying to remove obstacles, while believing we are being better parents than prior generations, and frankly, I’m not sure that’s the case.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll remember I ventured out to try to be more of a free range parent on certain levels. I had realized at one point, that things I did with great confidence and ease as a child, my kids didn’t/couldn’t do, simply because I’d never given them space too. In my quest to protect them, keep them safe, and be helpful, I was instead keeping them a bit stunted in some areas, where they didn’t have certain skills because they’d never had to learn them. I am a child of the 80’s, and parents back then were very live and let live with their kids. We rode bikes without helmets, car seats were lacking, and we were outside playing all the time until the street lights came on. I’m quite confident there were times my parents weren’t entirely sure where I was all the time, but they rested easy knowing I knew the rules and would be home on time. Ever watch an 80’s movie with your kids and hear their commentary on it? They think some of what we did as kids was completely implausible because they could never do those things now. Of course, when you know better, you do better, and certain things are leaps and bounds safety wise nowadays. But some things, like kids being outside playing all afternoon, and being street smart in the suburbs aren’t quite as common as they used to be. And I think it’s sad.

As a child, my mom and dad taught me to navigate airports, neighborhoods, and spaces. I was encouraged to explore, read the signs, and I learned to get around where I was. I knew who to look for if I got lost or ran into trouble. There was always a loose plan in place. I am so grateful for that push to be independent and responsible for myself. I have grown up feeling confident I can navigate where I need to go, can handle travelling (despite my dislike of flying I am good at getting myself wherever I need to go). They taught me a love of exploring, and the confidence to feel secure while doing so. It was one of the best gifts they ever gave me.

Now we have parents who are afraid their child will step on a wet leaf.

I have to ask myself, what will these children do when they grow up and enter adulthood? Will they call out of work because leaves are slippery?

If you’ve been a reader of this blog a while, you’ll remember that my first foray into letting the kids roam the neighborhood with other kids resulted in my daughter going momentarily missing. She had simply gone down to her friend’s house and gone to play in their back yard. I didn’t know that, however, and panicked when I couldn’t see her. I called the police. You know, I got some snide and nasty comments by some people locally for “losing my daughter”. Folks love to judge, right? But you know who I DIDN’T get a harsh word from? The police officer who came to help me find her. She was found moments after they arrived, and the cop pulled me aside to tell me I had done the right thing. He told me to not let the one bad experience change my mind, and to continue to let my kids play out in the neighborhood with their friends. He told me the police are seeing a trend with all the overbearing parenting that is causing kids to not function as well if their parents aren’t there. “If a parent is late picking up their kid, the kids are melting down and panic stricken.” he said, because they aren’t used to not having the parent right there all the time. He advised that kids don’t have the same street smarts, and aren’t as independent and responsible, which causes them to get into deeper issues as they “follow the group” because that’s all they know. I’m still learning to navigate some of this free range parenting, and I’m finding that there are ways to meet in the middle.

I look around me and see that there are two sides that are vastly opposite. One side, sadly, has parents who simply shouldn’t be parents. They aren’t involved, don’t care to be involved, and frankly, are really just shit parents. Then you have the opposite side, parents who will fill out their teen’s job applications and do follow up calls on their child’s behalf on a job interview. What we are left with from both extremes are non functioning adults.

Now, you may think I’m taking it a bit far, but honestly, some of our youth are going to struggle. The world is often a pretty harsh place. While in many ways it’s getting better, by the same token, people soon grow tired of dealing with entitled, babyish, non functioning adults. When your coworker has their mom call them out sick, or can’t come in because it’s raining…how long is that person going to be employed?

When we have to discuss moving a holiday because it might drizzle, we have a big problem. When kids can’t go outside in the rain for fear of a wet leaf, we have a problem. When people are so determined that their child not get their costume (THAT THEY WILL WEAR ONE DAY, MAYBE 2, OUT OF AN ENTIRE YEAR) wet that they call town hall and demand the day get postponed, I have to question our sanity as a nation. The level of tunnel vision and self entitlement is strong, and kind of frightening.

We need to teach our children that life has challenges, and that they need to problem solve to ride up and overcome those challenges. You know, like….carry an umbrella.

Happily, Halloween was celebrated on Halloween this year. Common sense prevailed, and the weather actually broke to give us a few hours of dry time. We had a house full of people as usual, family and friends coming together to haunt the neighborhood, give out candy, and make the night a little extra special. I always say Halloween is my husband’s holiday in the family, because it might just be his favorite. Yet I too have a deep love for the traditions we’ve started, and the plans we’ve made to go even bigger next year!

Even a little rain won’t dampen our fun!

My Prince Charming

Not long ago I read a couple of articles about romance and love. Both articles, set up almost as a letter to younger women stressed that as we get older, romance isn’t always about flowers, candy, or sweet words. Romance is in the little things. It’s the small gestures in our daily life that our partners do to show that we matter and that they want us to be happy. The articles got me thinking, and I thought I’d write a little something myself.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I married an amazing man. Nobody is more surprised than I am that I got so lucky to have found him, because I dated some real jerks before I met him. My husband is one of the most caring, generous and thoughtful people you could ever meet. He’s quick witted, and gleefully pokes fun of me daily in a good natured way. He is a man who stands by his word, even when he’d be perfectly justified in changing his mind. He always goes the extra mile to make sure his wife and kids are looked after. I’m proud to be his wife.

When we first met, my husband used to write me cards all the time. He often brought flowers. We kind of stopped with a lot of that stuff once we got married and had my son. Life got BUSY. His romantic gestures changed over time. Some of them are a little throwback to when we first met, but now romance is me finding my favorite candy bar purchased for me and tucked away in the fridge as a surprise. A hidden card tucked in my suitcase when I had to travel across the Atlantic for a funeral, telling me that he knows I do a ton here and he will do his best to cover for me while I’m gone. Romance is knowing the little things that bring me happiness and doing them without me asking. After my mother died, my artist husband did a beautiful drawing of my mom and framed it for me. It was his way of bringing her closer to me, and that picture now holds a proud place in our living room. Romance is him cooking dinner on his day off because he knows I’ve cooked all week. Romance is him showing up at my job with a coffee just the way I like it on a tough day, or a surprise lunch brought home while I’m working on a project. Romance is coming up behind me to give me a big bear hug and a kiss on the neck. Romance is making sure the car has gas before I leave for a trip. Romance is a surprise text with a meme that only the two of us would find funny that leaves me rolling with laughter.

Sometimes, I am in awe of the little ways my husband finds to spark joy with our kids, too.

His work schedule makes it tough for him to be around a lot. He works from mid day until midnight. It’s a sacrifice, and at times it’s frustrating for all of us. There are some things he simply can’t attend. Yet often, he finds a way to show up, often unexpected, which makes it even more awesome. One day, we knew he would have to miss my daughter’s gymnastic show. She was really upset but kept a brave face. I almost cried when while sitting in the stands, I saw my husband walk in with a bouquet of flowers for her, arriving just in time to see his little girl perform and hand her some beautiful roses. He found time to show up to soccer practices and football practices. One day he knew I was at the school unloading some heavy boxes and he raced over to help me.

I’m shocked on a daily basis that such a nice guy puts up with a pain in the ass like me, and also why I get so enraged when people try to take advantage of his kind and generous nature. It’s one thing to mess with me, but if anyone messes with my 3 it’s a whole other ballgame. This car has no brakes so to speak. Then again, I know he feels the same about me as well.

Marriage is the day to day. It’s the big picture while managing all the little fine details as a pair. It’s not just the happy, floaty times, but the down and dirty times too. Marriage is getting through the times that make you angry or sad. Marriage is joining hands and knowing it’s the two of you against whatever life wants to throw at you, and knowing you’ll come out of it on the other side gripping the other one’s hand, stronger together.

Romance looks different than it did 15 years ago, but I’ve gotta say it looks far better than I could have imagined.

I’m a lucky girl, who finally got her prince charming.