It Comes in Threes

The other day, I broke my moratorium on posting to write a few words about a friend I never formerly met. Sometimes it feels like I spend a lot of time writing about death. Death, travel and family probably sum up my posts. One being my least favorite thing, and the other two being my most favorite. This week, we had a lot of interweaving of the three.

Friday went like any other day. Work, racing kids around here and there at night, and me looking forward to crawling into bed to relax. As I bustled around getting the kids ready to head to bed for the night, I began my nightly routine of making sure the animals were all fed. I started downstairs and worked my way upstairs to feed the guinea pigs their nightly veggies. I knew almost immediately something was wrong. They had swapped houses, and one was laying in a strange manner in his little grass house. The other looked unsettled. I gently lifted the house and saw my little piggie laying flat, breathing, but definitely not well. I panicked. I could tell without a doubt he was dying, and not far from it. I mulled over the options. I knew there weren’t many. He didn’t care for being picked up at all, it just wasn’t his thing, and I knew me trying to pick him up would cause him stress. I also knew trying to get him to a vet likely wouldn’t be helpful at this stage, and that the frigid temps would probably shock him into death as well. This wasn’t a case of simply being under the weather. I had to tell my kids the situation, and I explained it all the very best way I could. He was gone not too long after.

Now some people will say “meh, it was just a rodent”. In our home every life matters, no matter how big or small, and a loss is a loss. Our pets are all a part of our family, and we love them all dearly. My daughter and I do the most with the guinea pigs, and we were certainly hit the hardest by the loss. My husband and I cleaned the cage, set up a little coffin for our deceased piggy, and tried to comfort the other piggie the best we could. My daughter had fallen asleep before she knew he had died, camping out on one of her brother’s bunk beds, and was devastated. We held a funeral for our lost pet in our yard, my husband saying a little prayer. Years ago my father in law gifted me a large stone engraved with my mother’s name for my yard so I’d have a place to go and think about her since she’s buried overseas. I asked my daughter if she’d like to move the stone over where her little lost piggie was, and that seemed to really comfort her. It was a somber day.

The same weekend, I got a call my great uncle had passed away. I felt saddened to hear the news, but knew that the past few years had been physically very tough for him, enough so that he was unable to attend his brother’s funeral (my grandfather) which had upset him greatly. I felt relieved he was no longer suffering, but I did get upset when I realized he was the last of that generation for the family. The three siblings and the little boy my great grandparents took in during WW2, all now deceased from cancer or old age. A whole generation of love, stories and memories, all gone. It made me inherently sad.

One of the few truly happy things that came out of my grandfather’s funeral was meeting his cousin, who regaled with me with stories and love for my grandfather. Those two got along famously, and I’d never met her before. I just called her to inform her of the loss of my great uncle. She had heard already, but the two of us had a quick chat. She and I are two peas in a pod really. In the short time I’ve known her I’ve found she’s feisty, silly, and a bit messy, just like me. Our birthdays are a week apart. She’s in her 90’s now and the last one of that group left. I’m hopeful she’s around for a long time, and will go visit her when I get back to England. She’s amazing, and I am sad for not having met her sooner.

One the bright side, this year is shaping up to be pretty awesome so far, and I sure hope it continues. Plans are falling into place. I was able to make some big moves on a personal level which will open up some opportunities for my family. Travel is on the horizon, with at least 5 trips planned this year, possibly more, and I’m hopeful for a big trip next year. Mindsets are being changed. Big plans are coming down the pike. I’m more content than I’ve been in years. I’m freeing myself from anything and anyone that brings me down and it feels AMAZING. I’ll expand more when I can.

In a week, I lost 3. It’s a reminder to focus on the good, and work to fix the bad. While I’m sad for the losses, it’s a reminder, no matter how cliche, to live loud and big. I don’t want to regret not doing things. I want to go places, see things, love people with all my heart, and on my last day, know that I gave it my all.

Not the New Year I Planned

Well, folks, it’s New Year’s Eve! 2018 is coming to a close. It’s been an interesting year. I see all the “2018 sucked, bring on 2019” posts on Facebook and Twitter. I can’t say that 2018 was a great or terrible year. I’m saying goodbye on a happy note, albeit today hasn’t gone great.

We had simple plans to take the kids and head over to my Brother in law’s house. We love hanging with them and I was excited to see them while still having a low key night. I don’t need the drunken nights at the club or massive hangovers. I did that stuff in my 20’s and some of my 30’s. I don’t recover as well after a night of heavy drinking these days. Anywho, my daughter had begged to go for another horseback riding lesson today, so I set my alarm early and called to see if they could squeeze her in. They said the could, and I was happy to surprise her. When she came downstairs, however, she was in tears that her stomach hurt terribly. Within a few minutes, she vomited and had the runs. Now every year our family seems to get a stomach bug I. January. This year, we beat expectations by squeaking it in December 31st! I cancelled her lesson, put my favorite pj’s on, and settled in for a day at home. We’ve had a lazy day and will stay home tonight. I’m sad about cancelled plans but hopeful a restful night will help little one feel better soon.

It occurred to me that lazy days don’t come often for me, and while I feel a bit antsy as though I SHOULD be doing something, I have enjoyed a quiet day of reading articles online while little one slept or watched some TV. I fooled around on Facebook and am enjoying seeing people post resolutions and goals.

At the end of the day, I doubt many people stick to their resolutions, but I still love reading them and hearing them. Why? Because it’s hope. Hope is a glorious thing. Hope is what keeps us moving forward, even on the hard days. I love seeing people hope to improve upon their life.

There’s something about New Years that makes us take stock in our lives more so than other days. We think about what went right, what went wrong, and how we can be better in the upcoming future.

In 2018, I began the year with a hysterectomy. It was a bit scary, but ended up being very freeing. After the initial few weeks of healing I was back at work (earlier than the Dr preferred but not alarmingly early) and since the surgery I feel a million times better. We had some tough days. I had friends lose parents, there Will bills I struggled to pay, and we got scary news about my daughter’s teeth. We plodded on. We took an amazing family vacation. I learned some hard lessons on that trip but also had a fantastic time. I got some hard news. I learned things I didn’t know about family. I got into the Christmas spirit. This week a close family friend had an aneurism and went in for brain surgery. She so far is doing well, and while I’m not a praying type of gal I am certainly keeping her in my thoughts and sending well wishes her way. I got to watch my daughter find another passion and help her try new things. I got to laugh with my son until my sides hurt. I’m spending some fun time with my husband.

I want to set some goals for the new year. Who knows if I’ll reach them but the very idea of hope and happiness inspires me.

I’d like to spend more time outdoors.

I’d like to lose a little weight.

I’d like to advance at my job and learn new things.

I’d like to ride a horse.

I’d like to swim more.

I’d like to travel.

I’d like to laugh a lot and cry a little.

I’d like to spread a little kindness.

I’d like to ensure toxic people stay away from me.

I’d like to take better care of myself.

So there you have my list of I’d like to’s.

I’ll be mulling over some ways to achieve the above while I’m cozied up at home tonight with the family. What are some of YOUR goals? Inspire me!

Have a wonderful New Years! Stay safe!

Messy xx

Mama Clause

Well, it’s Christmas Eve! I can’t wait to see the kids open their presents tomorrow (and my husband too!). I LOVE Christmas. My mom and dad (mostly my mom) always went above and beyond to make Christmas magical. Christmas was big in our house. As a mom now, I realize how much effort my mom put into things to make Christmas seem as magical as it always did. She had a great attention to detail, and she must have worked her ASS off to make everything seem as perfect and special as I remember.

Speaking of mom, I have been missing her a lot lately. 12 years later, I still miss her presence, her laugh, and our daily phone calls. Today I was feeling a bit down this morning. As I left the house to run to the store, I saw a bright, shiny new penny sitting on my from door step. I bent down to pick it up and briefly though of “pennies from heaven”. It made me grin and I slid the penny into my pocket. I hopped into the car and pushed the start button. The radio came on loudly and Adele was belting out the lyrics “hello from the other side”.

A smile crossed my face and a tear rolled down my cheek.

I have been working hard to get things ready for Christmas, in the hopes I can make my kids’ Christmas as magical as mine always were for me as a kid. Tonight will be full of baking, prepping, and last minute wrapping. Most of their gifts are wrapped. I learned the hard way last year when I was wrapping until 3 am. I spent Christmas feeling broken and exhausted last year. The magic escaped me. This year, I sacrificed Christmas cards to get more wrapping and prepping done. I didn’t get Christmas cards done this year. With the trip overseas, orthodontics, activities, shopping and every day life, there just wasn’t the time. I have a love hate relationship with Christmas Cards. I love getting them, hate writing them, but I know the older family members overseas like them. That being said, something had to give, and the cards were it. At the end of the day, sometimes, you just can’t do it all. I see posts where women are beating themselves up because they didn’t get it all done. The fact is, most of the things we stress about will go unnoticed. In an age of Pinterest, it’s so easy for folks to see what we think we SHOULD do.

My gift to myself this year is less stress, and ok, a new Joules coat, but I digress. My husband joined in to my less stress mantra and ordered a tray of food as the entree for Christmas dinner. It’s one of his faves, and he wanted to make things easier for me. I no longer need to spend the day locked by the oven. Instead, I can whip up some side dishes and easy desserts. Score! Pair that with some wine and it will be an easy peasy meal.

Merry Christmas, y’all. I hope your day is magical, in whatever way you wish it to be.

Love,

Messy xx

Mommin’ ain’t easy

Some days, mommin’ ain’t easy. We’ve had a few of those this week. Yesterday was a prime example. I awoke to the sound of a wounded animal outside my bedroom door. It was a primal call of fear. I immediately ripped my earplugs out (key to a happy marriage), and quickly searched for the strange yet familiar noise. It was the boy child doing his sound of panic as he realized he had missed the bus. I told him to get ready, and I would drive him. I raced him to school, raced home, and picked up the girl child. As we pulled into her school’s driveway, she announced “mama? My ear hurts.” and headed off to class.

45 minutes later, I get a call from the nurse. Little one is in her office, sobbing with ear pain. I ask if she has Tylenol, which she does (but isn’t really supposed to give her) but I beg her to dole some out to get the pain under control, call the dr, and ask the husband if he can get her and run her to the doctor. Thankfully, he agrees, and I jump on my conference call appointment. Soon after, they arrive home, announcing an ear infection, and let me know I will need to go get her antibiotics. I work, take a quick lunch break, and try to frantically wrap a few gifts in private. The gorgeous gold glittery paper I purchased is stunning….and tape won’t stick to it, rendering it UTTERLY USELESS. I try different tape, I try patience. I consider glue and realize that’s far more effort than I am willing to exert. I punt kick it across the room in frustration.

As soon as work is done, little one and I run to grab her medicine. She also reminds me it’s dress down day at school (they normally wear uniforms) and she needs a holiday themed shirt. I sigh. I COULD run her home and drop her to her brother, making my shopping trip faster, easier, and without hearing “ooh, I want to add this and this to my Christmas list!” just a few days before Christmas arrives. I mull over my options. It’s getting late, I still need to cook, so I bite the bullet and we race to the mall. The store I planned on going to has no holiday stuff left aside from Pj’s, so I hit the holy grail, Target, where my daughter finds a Santa dress. I bump into my sister in law, who joins in the coercive effort of trying to convince my daughter to abandon the Santa dress and go with something she can wear more than once. She leaves, and I fail to do the job. We leave with the damned Santa dress while I question my choices and lack of will power.

We race home, I cook, and we do the orthodontic key turning. There are tears. I clean the guinea pig cage. I give kisses and hugs. I plan to do more gifts. Instead, I collapse on the couch to watch A Million Things (A Million Little Things?). I head up to bed, puffy faced and red from sniffling at a sad story line that come a bit too close to home. Sleep is welcome.

Today involved shuttling kids (we had flash flooding so I ended up driving all the neighborhood kids home from school, which required some deep coordination). I had to call to sort out a gift for the kids from my dad. One involved getting a GC, but the woman told me I had to use it within 4 weeks. It seemed really strange, and it wasn’t until I chatted with someone who told me the place was sold and closing that I realized why. Luckily it’s a cash only place so I was supposed to drive there tomorrow to pay for it and pick up the certificate. Instead I found another place (that plans on staying in business!) and can get one from there instead. Why would you not tell someone you are going out of business? Incredibly shady to say the least. I worked, almost got mowed down by a gymnastics mom who wasn’t paying attention in the parking lot, and got the boy a haircut on my break. My treat to myself for Christmas arrived from England, and it’s too big, meaning a return is in order, which will likely be a complicated nightmare. Soon, I will be racing to get the little one and dropping both kids off for a sleepover with the Aunt and Uncle. Then I need to do wrapping of presents and cleaning for Christmas.

You know what though? It’s crazy. It’s chaotic, and it’s not easy, but it’s my life, which is a hell of a good one.

Parents, at least a good chunk of them…they bust their asses on the regular. They do what they can to raise the best kids they can. It’s REALLY hard some days. Some days, it’s the best feeling in the world to see things fall into place and see your kids succeeding at being happy people. At the end of the day, we all want our kids to be HAPPY. Happy kids, in my mind, are successful kids. I don’t much care where they work, who they love, as long as they are happy. When you have kids, the older folks will tell you “cherish every moment, it goes by so fast!” They aren’t lying. As the kids grow up, it goes by even faster. You start to find yourself wishing you could slow things down, keep them littler longer, and keep all the memories locked in a safe place. The days whiz by, with the mom or dad taxi running place to place. Activities, school, work, cooking, cleaning, hugging, loving, managing, planning, keeping all the balls in the air while you juggle life at full speed.

It ain’t easy.

I wouldn’t change a thing though.

Domestic Defeat

This, folks, is when the feeling of defeat fell over me:

After a whirlwind vacation, things at Chez Messy are, well, messy.  They’re also chaotic.  Not chaotic enough to not bother putting toilet paper on a roll, mind you, but chaotic. I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one who sees no paper on the roll before the moment someone needs to use it. I think I need to give the kids a toilet paper replacement class. I’ve had some wins this week, and I’ve had some losses.  The above image, mind you, made me realize how deep the nitty gritty goes that needs to be tackled.

We arrived home and I immediately began loads of laundry.  The suitcases are (semi) unpacked.  I need to delve into that and get them sorted and stored away.  Jet lag this trip has been more brutal than ever before for me, and the whole family is struggling.  Even my husband, who normally goes to bed in the early hours of the morning, crashed at 9 PM the other day.  The kids are up at 5:30, unheard of in this household except on Christmas, and they are sinking into misery starting at 8 PM.  We’re still operating as if we are 5 hours ahead.  With work, school, etc, this makes the days short and weird.

Some highlights this week include scoring two gifts at a great price, one of which was exceptionally difficult to find.  I called and went to over 8 stores in the area trying to find it (I found one under a display table of toys, still in the shipping box…total score!).  We added a pet to our family, details on that later, we’re dogsitting (and everyone is getting along swimmingly, even the cat). We’ve started the orthodontist work for my daughter. I scored some good deals using price matching on some needed items.  I managed to get some essential oils that smell like Christmas personified which at least makes the house smell nice, even in it’s chaos.  It’s been BUSY.  

Because of all of the busyness, the suitcases are still out, Christmas decorations haven’t even been started aside from the elf, which I forgot to move last night and upset the little one.  My reliance on Amazon failed me when a necessary item didn’t arrive and I had to hustle to replace it locally (again, more busyness).  In all my stress, I realized my husband was struggling with his own stresses this week, so I dropped my own at the door and helped him through his.  This sounds weird, but I’ve always tried to take on other’s stresses while carrying my own.  This time, I tried to just tell myself my worries would have to be put down for a while so that I could help him.  Somehow it worked, and I was able to help him tackle his tasks and cover my own while allowing myself to not worry about what had been stressing me prior.  I ended the day exhausted, but content. The next day he was helping me.  Teamwork is key.

The orthodontic situation is brutal.  This week, little one had spacers put in, and the next day, a palate expander.  This means that every night, I have to insert this little metal “key” into a whole in a metal contraption at the top of her mouth and turn it.  And every night she cries, and cries, and says “it hurts, Mama” until I want to cry, and sometimes do.  Nobody wants to feel like they are causing their child hurt or discomfort, but I have to do this thing every night to save her teeth.  She’s sore, struggling to eat (everything gets caught up above the expander) and I’m not sure who hates the thing more, her or me.  On the outside, I stress the importance and reasoning for it, while giving hugs, advil, and reassurance.  On the inside, I cry, and wish my husband were there to help me. Parents have told me their kids struggled too, that it gets better.  I sure hope so.  18 more turns of the key to go.  

Tomorrow begins the weekend, and I expect a busy one getting things organized and sorted for the holidays.  Last year I fell too far behind with trips and parties and ended up with a TON of work Christmas eve.  This year I’d like to plan better.  At the end of the day, Christmas is about togetherness and love, so I don’t need it to be perfect.  I’d just like to do it with toilet paper on the roll and not looking at suitcases.  

Standards.  They may be rather low to the ground, but I have some. 

For now, I have to replace some toilet paper.

Our UK Vaca!

Picture from the “Princess and the Pea” room at Chatsworth. Also how it felt crawling into bed upon our return. What a sleep!

Well, we made it back from England, safe and sound. Actually, we made it back sleepy, cranky, sweaty and breathless from running to catch a plane, but all in all, full of good memories. I am learning more and more about how our family likes to vacation, which will help me plan trips better in the future.  What I’ve learned is that we like a trip with some downtime, peppered with interesting things to do, and moments of making our own fun. It’s the people and places that make it special.

We arrived in England on Thanksgiving.  It was weird to leave a country so invested in the food and holiday of Thanksgiving and arrive to a place that didn’t acknowledge it at all.  Because we flew overnight, I found the rest of the week I stumbled through a sort of time warp, not knowing what day it was.  Our flights were uneventful.  The rental car situation, however, was not. I had purposefully rented the same type of car I drive in the US.  I knew it was big enough for us and our luggage, without being too big to park or tackle UK roads.  The area we were staying in was full of small, tight British roads, with a mix of one lane country roads and tiny villages.  I had figured tackling the above in a car I was familiar in was a good plan, especially as I was driving on the right side of the car, left side of the road.   When I arrived at Hertz, however, I was promptly told they didn’t have the car I’d reserved, nor anything similar. “You do,” I ignorantly replied “I’ve reserved one.”  Not so much.  My only options were a tiny car too small for our basic needs of people and bags, or a Mercedes. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Except the Mercedes was a 9 passenger van,  It was HUUUUUGE.  I was left with no choice.  I needed a car we could fit in.  The passenger van was the only option.

Y’all, when I tell you this thing was big by American standards, you can only imagine how big it was by English standards.  It was a bit of a gas hog, so a half a tank of diesel cost me over 50 pounds.  It was difficult to park in the tiny lots designed for tiny cars.  The struggle was real.  Honestly, I was glad we had it fully insured, because I was nervous through most of the trip.  We got lost a couple of times, and the GPS took us down one lane country roads through sheep fields, with a stone wall on each side and no space to pull over.  I’m not a religious person, but even I caught myself saying little prayers that no car would come from the other direction, because one of us would have to reverse, and I couldn’t see out the back window well of this monster. My husband grew tired of me giving myself props for navigating that beast as well as I did.  I was proud of myself.  50mph hairpin turns down tiny country roads?  Nailed it. Returning the car was a hot mess, however.  I pulled in and the attendant from Hertz pointed to a tiny parking spot.  No way could I have gotten the beast in there without risking the cars on either side.  I told him that wouldn’t work.  He pointed to another equally tiny spot with cars parked crookedly either side.  He got angry and said he’d park it.  He literally missed the car next to him by an inch, but gave himself almost no room to exit the car.  He squeezed out, and told me to get in.  I did, figuring he was processing the return.  He then shouted at me “will you please leave?!”  Needless to say, Hertz won’t be a company I’ll be using in the future.  I messaged them, got no response.  

During the trip, we stayed with my aunt and uncle, two of my favorite people.  They have a house in the countryside, and are antique dealers.  We spent our first day hanging at the house with them, having an easy day.  The following day, we hit the pub with them and my cousin for her birthday and had lunch.  It was delightful and laid back.  Saturday was spent preparing for my cousin’s birthday bash.  My daughter had begged for us to wear matching dresses, and I didn’t disappoint.  We had similar dresses, matching cardigans, and matching shoes.  The smile on her face made all the hard work and money spent getting her the right dress all worthwhile.  One of the best parts of the night was having such a large group of family all in one place. Normally there are folks I don’t get to see due to distance or time constraints, but we had a large group of us.  Many beers later, we were all singing Queen to finish out the night.  Perfection.

I got to visit my grandfather while I was there. He looked good.  Thinner, older, since my last visit.  Since that time, my grandmother had passed, he had been ill, taken a few falls, so all in all I thought he looked well.  An added bonus was that my dad flew over to meet up with us (he goes to look after my grandfather every other month) so 4 generations all sat in the living room catching up.  As members of my family have slowly died off, it doesn’t escape me how special that moment was to have all of us together.  My grandfather handed me a beautiful pearl necklace belonging to my grandmother, and asked my dad to take me to her grave, which he did.  

Another amazing aspect of the trip was our visit to Chatsworth.  If you’ve never heard of it, please take a peek here: https://www.chatsworth.org
because it’s simply an amazing place with a lot of history.  Each Christmas, they decorate the house in a theme.  This year’s theme was Once Upon a Time, focusing on fairy tales or children’s stories.  Everything was stunning.  After walking through the house in awe, we stepped outside where there was a beautiful Christmas market.  All the vendors had little wooden huts to sell their wares from.  You felt almost back in time.  I fell in love with a few things but knew I couldn’t tote them back in my suitcase, so I had to step away.  It kept raining while we strolled the market, until finally we got so wet we decided to call it a day.  In true “our luck” fashion, as soon as we pulled out to leave, the sky turned blue again.  Regardless, we had such a great time, and it was a perfect start to our day. 

We also walked the Tissington Trail and meandered around Tissington Village.  This is a tiny place that will take you back in time and make you wonder what year it is.  The church has big arches and beautiful stained glass windows that bring the light in.  Some info on Tissington (click on take a photo tour) is here: http://www.picturesofengland.com/England/Derbyshire/Tissington

One of my favorite moments of the trip was our visit to Bakewell. The village of Bakewell is pretty and was quite busy.  As we parked at the Agricultural center (perfect place to mark the monster van) we strolled over the bridge crossing the little river to head into town.  The bridge was covered with “love locks”, which is where people take padlocks, write their initials or loved ones names on, and attach them to the bridge.  I’ve seen this done in Pittsburgh on my travels, and have always wanted to do one.  Silly, I suppose, but I love sentimental things like that.  As we strolled the village, I saw a sign in a shope window advertising they have and engrave love locks, so we went in and purchased one.  The thing was HUGE.  We had our family name, and hometown with USA engraved on it, and set off to find the perfect spot.  If you’re ever in Bakewell, as you cross to head into the town, on the right side, 3 sections from the end of the bridge, you’ll see a huge lock…that’s ours. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend as much time with my cousins as I would have liked.  Their work schedules didn’t allow them much free time or they had stuff going on.  It’s hard, because I miss them so much, but I get the life gets busy. One cousin, thought she was working long hours and had a ton of stuff going on, was a rockstar in her efforts to make our trip special.  She got us the tickets to Chatsworth and also made my daughter’s vacation bucket list complete.   She has two horses, and my daughter has been asking about those horses for well over a year.  My cousin took us up to the stable one night and let my little one pet, brush and feed the horses, as well as give them carrots and apples.  Whereas I was a bit nervous around such giant, majestic animals so much bigger than I, my daughter had no fear, introducing herself to all the horses in the stables, giving them a carrot, and gentle stroking their noses. She was a natural, clearly something that runs in my family but skipped me. The last full day of our trip, after we’d walked around Tissington, we planned to go to a pub at the end of the trail where we had parked.  The stables were within walking distance, so my cousin had us meet her there. Her big horse was saddled and ready to ride.  She put my daughter up on the horse and walked her to the pub where my dad met us for dinner.  My daughter beamed from ear to ear, absolutely thrilled to pieces.  My cousin walked, leading the horse, while my daughter sat on the horse, so proud and happy I almost cried a little with joy myself.  I knew a little girl’s vacation dreams had come true when she responded “I really think we should move to England….or at least, can we come back for my birthday?” Sorry kiddo, it’s a little out of my budget to just jet back and forth, but yes, we’ll be back. 

I stopped at my mother’s grave to say hello and goodbye.  I always do.  I also popped by my grandparents grave to do the same.  I mentioned I would love a sign.  On the way to the airport to come home, I noticed the car in front of us had a bee sticker on it that resembled my tattoo. Bees are a symbol I relate to my grandmother.  In fact, one of the things I learned during my trip was that my younger cousin also had a bee tattoo for her.  I felt like I got my sign.  

I didn’t realize how tired I was until I got on the plane.  I was so incredibly tired I went into the plane lavatory and had a quick cry, like a toddler does when they are overtired and cry about nothing.  I composed myself, went back to my seat, and watched a movie to stay awake so I could make sure my daughter ate.  If she doesn’t eat, and she’s tired, she gets beastly.  Afterwards, I was so tired I couldn’t even recall the movie I watched when my husband asked me.  I was in a fog. I got home, fell asleep at 7 PM and slept for 15 hours straight.  I hadn’t slept well much in England due to the sinus infection, so my sleep bank needed refilling in a big way.  I woke up feeling like a new person.

All in all, a fantastic trip.  I can’t wait to go back.  

I



Quiet, Kindness and Chaos.

First snow of the season is here.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite ready for it. Today was supposed to be my crazy chaos day…a crazy day at work followed by the first orthodontic session for the little one, topped of by parent teacher conferences at the big kid’s school.  I was prepped, caffeinated, and ready to attack this day and all it would entail.  I hammered out my work stuff today, ending feeling really good.  While the day was progressing, however, the calls and emails starting coming in.  Conferences…rescheduled due to the pending snow.  Orthodontist called…”can we reschedule until tomorrow due to the snow today?”.  Before I knew it, quiet and calm had fallen, along with big fat snow flakes.  I did manage to drop a return for Amazon to the UPS store on my lunch break.  Aside from that? It’s going to be a quiet night.  I can’t complain, it’s been hectic.

With our trip looming, there has been an outpouring of money, so it’s been a little tough. We needed more luggage, I needed (ok, fine, wanted) some new clothes, and we needed outfits for a party we are attending while there.  My daughter asked me if we could have matching outfits for the party.  I managed to find a dress for her that is very reminiscent of mine, a similar cardigan to go over, and similar shoes.  She’s thrilled.  I’m thrilled she wants to dress like me.  I know in a year or two, she’ll start that stage where she is mortified by my very existence, although I, like all mom’s deeply hope she won’t go through it.  She will anyway, which is why when she asks to match me, I will always say yes.  She has her own style, her own look, and is her own person.  We celebrate that.  I’ve never wanted her to be a kid who has to be like everyone else, does what everyone does, etc.  I’ve seen kids who’s parents spend a lot of time and effort to always have them keep up with whatever their friends have.  Sure, kids like to have what their friends have,  but sometimes you can see it’s a constant comparison.  I never want her to place her worth on what other kids are doing, but rather on who SHE is.  That being said, sometimes she likes the novelty of matching me, or her cousin, so I go with the flow, as long as she stays true to who she is.

I’ve commented before about the issues our school has been facing.  Redistricting brought in a lot of low income families, and the school is struggling to fundraise.  I hate to see the kids lost out, and have offered to help when possible, especially the 6th grade committee.  The PTSA and I sort of had a rough go of it, and while I love many of the women on there, I’m sure it’s best if I help in other ways.  I was blessed to have a friend of mine reach out with “hey charitable lady, need raffle prizes?” on facebook.  I emphatically said yes, and was rewarded with bags of awesome items and gift cards to donate into the school.  She also handed me a $50 gift card to a grocery store and told me to use my judgement to help someone.  How amazing is that???  I have find that many people love to help, donate, or offer something for a good cause.  They just don’t always want to do the heavy lifting of coordination, or other commitments prevent them from jumping in as they would like.  I’m a boots on the ground person, who doesn’t mind doing the work, but needs the resources.  This works well.  The fact people know I’m a doer has served me well, as you can see, because now I don’t have to beg…amazing folks just offer, knowing I’ll have a need.  It’s amazing, and I am so very lucky.  After picking up the items yesterday, my car was filled, as well as my heart.  While it sounds cheesy, it feels good to be able to put together something that helps. The gift card for the groceries…that needed a home sooner rather than later.  Next week is Thanksgiving and I wanted to be able to make someone smile.  I thought of a single mom I know.  She lost her job over the summer, and is now playing catch up.  She has always had it rough financially, but she does the very best she can for her kids.  She is always the one to be the team mom, the mom at girl scout camping, etc.  What she doesn’t have in cash she makes up for in time.  When I placed a call about needing a helper over the summer, she was the first to volunteer as my sidekick for whatever I might need.  I knew that card may make her Thanksgiving easier.  I knocked on her door and said “Happy Thanksgiving!” I explained I had been gifted the card to find a happy home for someone who deserved a break and could use a little help around the holidays.  The beaming smile I got in return made my whole day.  I’m lucky to have a friend who would donate some money to help those that need it.  I’m also lucky to have a friend who will give her time and energy to help those around her.  I’m luckiest of all that I got to be the one to help hand out some kindness and see the joy it brought.  I messaged my friend who donated the card and thanked her. She was pleased with my choice of whom to give it to.  Everyone felt a little happier last night.  Kindness will do that to a person.  Choose it whenever you can.

Then again, take no shit.  That’s a good motto too. Which leads me to:

North

So, many of you found me via twitter.  Many of you also know from both twitter and here that my family member has been stalking me online for years using fake accounts that she creates whole fake lives for.  I’ve listened to the lies, the projection of what she does on to everyone else, etc. A few weeks ago, I got a follow request (had to lock and block on all my social media) from someone that didn’t sit right with me.  I did a search, and low and behold it’s a coworker of the stalker.  I’m not mad at the coworker. She listened to what she heard and I’m sure they thought this would be a “stealth” thing to do. I think mostly, she was shocked I figured out who she was.  In fact, as soon as it clicked, I had all her info.  The internet works like that.  I messaged her, spilled all the tea, and wished her a happy Thanksgiving.  Now that being said, I’m all set.  I’m done with this.  Let me be clear.  If you come for me, my husband, or my kids, I will come back for you like it is my 2nd job.  I’m a nice person, until you make it not so.  So understand, very clearly…..I’m tired.  I’ve had enough.  The North Remembers, and Winter is Coming.