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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Where is the time going?

You know, I thought with vacation planned that time would creep.  Slowly ticking by, agonizingly slow, the days would pass.  In fact, that hasn’t been the case at all.  I looked at our flight reservations today and the trip is just over 2 weeks away.  Where did the time go? Why is it flying by?

I suppose family life is keeping me on my toes.

Halloween was last week.  It’s a HUGE holiday for our family, as we get about 500 Trick or Treaters and their families a year.  For my husband, it’s SHOWTIME! We dress up, the animatronics are out, and the house is specially lit.  We have music and food, and a good time is typically (hopefully) had by all.  We get a LOT of positive feedback from people who come trick or treating, and even get asked to pose for photo ops.  It slays me that tons of random people around town have pictures taken with little old me in costume each year.  This year I dressed as Pennywise, and my son went as Georgie.  Of course, my son invited a friend over, so I got totally dusted.  That’s fine though. The kids had lots of friends stop by and I think they’d tell you it was their favorite Halloween yet. The house got tidied up (somewhat, but the nice part of halloween is that dust is considered ambiance), and I feel a bit more relaxed.  There is still tons of stuff I need to go through as I continue on my “purge of the things” but I felt more relaxed.  I had BAGS of clothes I had washed from when my washing machine broke.  Since nobody had worn anything in them since, I purged every one and donated all of them.  It made me feel lighter.

What hasn’t made me feel lighter at all was stepping on the scale this morning.  Stress, candy, and bloating, not to mention eating all the fatty foods has ballooned me up a bit the past few months.  I have about 2 weeks to shed some of the bloat and a lb or two. It’s going to be brutal.  I hate that I am the “chubbier one” of the family.  It’s not even like I am that big, because I’m not, but British people seem to be smaller than Americans, especially where I’m from.  I think it’s because they are more active, and tend to spend more time outside…at least my family does.  Here in the States I work full time at a desk job and don’t get out and about as much as I would like.  I said months ago I needed to lose weight, yet here I am.  I didn’t do what I set out to do, and I’m honestly a little down about it.  I have two weeks.  Let’s see what I can do with that.

I’m beyond excited to see my family.  It’s going to be different this time because my husband and kids are going with me.  I feel a bit nervous about keeping them all entertained.  I tend to have my habits when I go home.  This year I want to visit my mom’s grave the day I get there.  It’s a bit of a habit.  Having her buried 3000 miles away is tough in some ways.  I have no “place” to go to memorialize her.  When I go back to England, I feel like visiting her grave signifies a lot.  I’m also arriving on the anniversary of my grandfather’s death, which also lands on my cousin’s birthday.  I usually go to the cemetary and visit both my mom’s grave as well as all the other family members that have passed as well.

The weekend we are there will be my cousin’s birthday party.  This is awesome, not only because I get to go and take my favorite 3, but also because a lot of the family will be in one place.  It allows me to see almost everyone in one shot.  Trying to make it out to see the whole family is no easy task.  Having everyone in one place is awesome and hopefully feel like old times.  It’s tough because there have been some family estrangements and arguments over the years, which means likely everyone won’t all be together.  I kind of hate that, yet on the other hand, I understand it.  Assholes are going to asshole, if you get my drift.  It does make me sad though.

My daughter’s teeth have been another major concern.  I was heavily impressed last week when the orthodontist and coordinator called me for a conference call to address all my questions and concerns.  I feel like we’re on the right track, and am cautiously optimistic.  The process will be a bit more drawn out than I initially imagined.  She had teeth pulled, a 3d scan done, and next week we begin the process.  Her canine teeth are impacted, meaning they are bearing down on her 4 front permanent teeth.  I’m a raging mess about it but am hopeful we can save her teeth and give her a beautiful smile in the process.

This week and next week are a whirlwind at work and home.  Appointments, school conferences, and getting the family ready.  I’m excited but nervous as my usual procrastinating self needs to kick it up many notches so I’m not a raging lunatic the 2 days before we leave for vacation.

Who am I kidding?

I’ll be a raging lunatic the 2 days before we leave.

 

 

 

Drowning Puddle and Rising Tide

I’ve always been honest in this blog, even when it reflects how awkward, emotional, and chaotic I am or my life can be. I own my crazy, I own my messy house, my chaos, and my choices.  Sometimes feel like I’m doing pretty darned well at this thing called life, and sometimes, meh, not so much.  The past few weeks have been a combination of the two.

Let’s start with where I feel things are tanking a bit, and end with a positive bang, shall we?  (Not that type of bang, you perverts. ha!).

So, the house.  Oh my god, the house.  I’ve never been great at housekeeping, probably because I am always so damned busy.  I’m always working, running kids from place to place, and on the move somewhere.  When I am not doing those things, I am resting because I am exhausted,  trying to tackle some sort of project, or I am laid up with a bad back or pinched nerves in my hip.  I’m kind of a mess, and my house reflects that.  It’s not hoarder status, but my mother is probably rolling in her grave like a rotisserie chicken about my current mess.  The washing machine broke the other week, meaning I had to tackle a lot of the clothes stored in the laundry room.  Some had to be tossed, and I ended up washing every piece of clothing in there and the laundromat, sorting into bags by person vs donate.  Massive job that took me all day and a handful of cash.  My husband, through rage and youtube alone, was able to repair the washer (we were both aggravated the washer went right after we replaced the fridge that broke and didn’t want to spend the money buying a new one.)  Bags of laundry are in my living room, y’all.  Like, bags and bags.  And I need to put the clothes away, except there isn’t enough room because we have minimal storage space.  Which means I have to go through those damned bags again and pick out only essentials, and also donate clothes in closets that can go, so that I can make room.  See, it’s never just one job, it’s two massive ones. Add to that 3 other bags of hand-me-downs that someone passed on, and it’s a big project.  That’s part of where my problem lies.  It’s never just a simple job….it’s a job that needs 4 other jobs done before it.  Effectively, we have too much stuff, and it needs to be purged.  Once I do it, I know I will feel divine.  It’s just a matter of getting it all done with no block of time to give it.

Not to mention, I clean it, and five minutes later someone comes by and messes it up.  It’s an endless cycle.  I hate it.

Financially, I need to dig myself out of some debt.  I want to get all the weight of money and housemess off myself.  This will include cutting the cable cord, although I have been too chickenshit to do it.  Ridiculous really, because I literally watch maybe 3 shows on TV.  That being said, I’m not the only one who lives here, and I can probably get the shows I need for everyone else a different way.  The cord cutting is in progress.  Researching and trial running things is currently going on.  I picked up a second job.  Honestly, the company told me up front the pay is shit, and really, it kind of is.  That being said, it’s money, and I’ll take it.  I had said “the only way I could do a second job is if it was remote, could be done outside of my regular job, and had flexibility.  The odds of getting something that met all those criteria was pretty slim, until the universe handed me exactly that.  It’s something I can do remotely, nights, weekends, and has a load of flexibility.  Score.  Even if it’s just a couple of hundred bucks a month, it’s a good side gig. I’m also going to be in the process of selling some stuff we have.  I have gorgeous, brand new with tags on Disney kids’ princess dresses that have never been worn.  Time to sell them.  Collectibles that I no longer collect.  All of it…it can go.  Kids clothes I can sell.  Now, I say I’m going to do this quite a bit, but this time I need to ACTUALLY do it, so I figure if I write it here it will spur me on.

Drowning in stuff.  It starts with a dribble and ends with a pond.

Yet all is not lost!

I’m realizing that we are raising really kind, loving, and giving kids.  My son has volunteered to tutor younger kids at an elementary school.  My daughter is a warrior of a girl who volunteered to get her teeth pulled, yet cried over her friend struggling with a family issue. She hates to see anyone struggle, and tries very hard to be a good friend.  I am seeing more and more as they grow that lessons of trying to be kind and helping others have taken root with them, and it brings me a lot of happiness.  I also see they have a quick and sarcastic wit which I enjoy quite a lot.

In other bright news, one of my favorite neighborhood kids told me yesterday she was surprised to see me “stylin'”.  When I questioned her, she looked at my ripped jeans and said “it’s not often you see old people with style, wearing jeans like that”.  I joked about her calling me old and while I realized I’m officially old, it sure did make me laugh.  If I’m a stylin’ old lady, I can deal with that.

One month before we head out on vacation.  I had thought that time would drag, but it has ZOOMED by.  I can hardly believe it’s happening so quickly, but I am beyond excited.  I can’t wait to see the intense green fields, smell the country air, and see the star filled night sky with nothing to block the view.  I want to taste the foods that bring me comfort, like fish and chips, custard, bakewell tart, and more.  I want to hug the people who will tell me stories about my mom.  I want to sit at my mom’s grave and tell her all the stories and gossip since my last trip.  Giggling with my cousins, having a beer and cracking jokes…I am excited for every moment.  I can’t wait for my children to see where I grew up.  My only sadness is I can’t show them the land and houses (unless I want a trespassing charge that is) where I ran in the fields and climbed the trees.  I also want to know if there really are leeches in the brook by the old house of if the adults just told us that to make us stay out of it. I’m glad we’d already booked the vacation and paid for it before some of life’s burdens fell on us.  I know otherwise we’d have had to postpone, and mentally, I think all four of us NEED this break.

Life is a balance.  When we feel like we are drowning, we need to grab tight to the life preserver and hold on.

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for things to do in England

With all of the stresses going on these days, my trip to England can’t come fast enough.  I desperately need a vacation, and if I’m honest, I need to see my family over there.  It’s a funny dynamic.  Living so far away, and with my mom being gone, I often feel isolated from my family.  I go on Facebook and I see some of my cousins experiencing life with their moms, and I feel a bit envious.  It’s hard not to, especially since my mom and her sister were so alike, and I know I would have a lot of the same experiences as them if she were still alive.  In some ways, I feel isolated, but on the other hand, being around that also makes me feel comforted.  They know a part of me that almost nobody else does. I’m excited to introduce my kids to my family again (they were very young last time) and to show them a country half way across the world.

We have about 7 days to experience as much as possible, while getting as much fun and relaxation as we can too.  I have always been of the mindset that travel is exciting and exhilarating, but it should also have time to relax and enjoy it as well.  For me, it’s about the people, and I know the kids are super excited about seeing my cousins’s kids as well. That being said, England is rich with history, and how often do you get to go visit a real castle in the US?  Not too often.  My husband has always been a lover of old places, old architecture, and interesting spaces.  He loves roaming old graveyards, looking at the stones of people who lived and died about 200 years ago or more. He loves the gothic stone churches, the little villages and the pieces of history.

Unfortunately, with us going near winter, some of the houses/castles I was hoping to take them to are closed.  I had REALLY wanted to make the trek to Highclere castle, where they filmed Downton Abbey but it’s closed to the public while they film the movie.  For now we are looking into Chatsworth, which they decorate for Christmas about the time we are traveling.  I’m still looking into other interesting places in the East Midlands. If you know of any, please let me know.  With the long travel time and the need to get around to visit people, I need to stay somewhat local (can you believe I have never really been to London aside from a flight layover where we got stuck?)  London is on my bucket list, but I don’t think we’ll make it this time.

Some day, I hope to take the kids over for Christmas.

For now, I just want to make their trip as magical as possible.

Some random facts about me, in case you (never) wondered:

myself

Some random facts about me, in case you (never) wondered:

Some are silly musings, some are a bit deeper in nature.  Maybe if one is interesting I’ll blog about it later.

I talk to myself in the car, Every. Single. Day.  It’s where I work out my problems, get out my frustrations, and narrate my life to myself.  If you’re driving along side me, you’ll probably see me having a full on convo with myself.  Ain’t no shame in my game.

When I was little, I trained with olympic coaches for figure skating.  I was ambidextrous, which was desirable.  I quit after my skin split from the cold and started bleeding one night, and my babysitter at the time freaked out.  Her fear scared me, and I decided I didn’t want to skate again after that.  My parents were sad, but never pushed me into anything I wasn’t comfortable with.

Little dogs make me anxious, probably because they seem more delicate.

I lost my English accent when I was a kid, but it comes back when I am in England or talking to my family from there.  I wish I had it all the time. My brain just switches and I don’t have any thought into it.

When I was a toddler, I had imaginary friends that I would talk to every night.  I always wanted my door shut and the lights off, and if my mom came in the room I would cry she had frightened them away.  One day, I saw a picture of a couple in a book and asked my mom how she had gotten a picture of them….it was a couple who had lived nearby who died long before I was born.

I have had several experiences that lead me to believe in spirits, however I’m not religious and struggle with the concept of God. The two seem to go hand in hand but for me, I can’t reconcile it all.

I believe that the more someone tells you how real they are, the more full of shit and deceptive they probably are.  Real people don’t need to advertise it.  They just live their lives.

One of my favorite quotes is “you are never to old to be what you might have been”-George Eliot.

Self esteem is the root of many of our problems, in my opinion.  If we all believed in ourselves more, loved ourselves more, we’d make MUCH better decisions and put up with a lot less nonsense.

Ice cream is one of my favorite things.  The texture, the temperature, the multitude of flavors….just everything about it makes me happy. I rarely say no to it, and I’ll sometimes allow my kids to have it as a treat before dinner.

Someone told me today my dad was one of his heroes.  My eyes teared up and I welled up with pride.  My dad is such a quiet guy who doesn’t really share all the amazing things he does.  I wish I knew more, but he’s humble and doesn’t think to really share such things.  I’m so proud to be his daughter.

I like silence.

I have about 16 tattoos.  Most people think I have 4, (small ones).  A former coworker once sat and told me how they hated tattooed women and how they thought it was horrible.  They became very uncomfortable when I explained my husband tattoos and I have quite a lot of them.  They responded “well, at least you can’t see them”, as if that made their comments any better.  I just laughed and walked away, knowing they felt really uncomfortable.

I have a stalker. She checks my blog on the regular and created fake accounts to get notifications of when I post, to harass me with on other platforms, and to stalk others. I almost moved the blog and changed the name, but I decided for now to keep it as is.  I know her IRL.  Awkward.  On the bright side, things seemed to have calmed down, so I’m hopeful it will end.

An ex of mine was black.  I’m about as fair as it gets.  When people tell you that racism doesn’t exist, when they tell you that black people and minorities are “exaggerating” how bad racism is, they are lying or they are ignorant of what really goes on.  I never really experienced racism growing up, but I learned quickly during that relationship just how deep it goes.  Racism isn’t always in your face.  Sometimes it flows like a silent, underlying current, or it’s whispers.  Going to an event with my ex and someone white sidled up to me and whispered asked who invited the “N*****” to the party with a laugh.  I was horrified, first at the racist comment, and then at the fact the person felt just so comfortable in saying it to me, clearly because I was white.  I guess they thought that they were talking to someone in the “white club” who would share their views. Their laugh quieted very quickly when I called over to my ex and asked him to come over to introduce himself.  We then politely turned to mingle elsewhere, while that person sat looking inherently uncomfortable.  Yes, it was the classier thing to do, but looking back now I wish I had told the person off.  Then again, I think they learned at least a small lesson.  Sadly, they are probably the same ignorant racist but perhaps they will be less likely to spread their thoughts to others.  While that relationship with my ex eventually ended (on good terms as well) it opened my eyes and ears to an issue. Which leads me to:

When we know others are suffering, but we say “well, it doesn’t impact me so it’s probably not my business”, we are ignoring a basic truth that we are all people, and that kindness matters.  One day, that hurt may come our way, and we would hope someone would stand for us.  It’s not easy to stand for others sometimes, but it is necessary if we wish to raise empathetic children.

I am sometimes really awkward. I’m also generally self aware enough to know when I am being awkward, which makes me feel even more awkward.  Ah well.

When I was a little girl, a neighborhood kid tricked me into sitting in dog shit so the other kids would laugh.  That humiliation was DEEP and it stayed with me.  I’d probably punch her in the neck now if I had my chance.  Her name was Cindy.  That’s all I remember.

My best friend growing up has a dad who is a hoarder.  I’m to this day one of the few people he is comfortable letting in the house, because he knows I don’t judge.  I have a bit of a fascination with hoarding.  I believe it’s way more common than people think it is, and I’ve had several friends who have relatives who hoard. My house is messy. (I’m sure you figured that out by the blog title) but not at hoarder standards. I think the combination of working full time, limited free time, 2 kids, and a lack of organizational skills in the home is the root.  It bothers me a lot because my mom was a neat freak and I wish I had inherited at least a little bit of that.

I love comedies.  Laughing is one of my favorite things.

I often try to see both sides of a situation.  Sometimes this drives people nuts.

Being born British has its perks. For example, nobody expects me to be a very good cook.  Usually they ask me to bring plates or soda to events.  Luckily nobody expects any highly complicated dishes from me.   I’ll admit I’m not a fancy cook.  I have a few things I make pretty well, or at least well that people will go for seconds for.  That being said, I love British food, but then again, most British people probably do. 🙂

Speaking of British food, fish and chips is my comfort food.  It is hard, though, in the US to find a place who can make it JUST like it is in England.  It’s often close, but never quite right.  A Salt and Battery in NYC has it to a science. If you’re in the area, GO.  Then go next door to Tea and Sympathy for hot rhubarb crumble with custard.  You’ll thank me later, even though you’ll have to roll yourself to your final destination because you’ll feel like a fatty after.  It’s utterly delish!

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