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Monday, December 31, 2012

From Our Family to Yours

Several years ago I abandoned scrap booking for blogging. I had spent hours and hours and hours, plus tons of money on scrape booking every second of our lives, only to have it washed away in a flood. I was heartbroken.  When I discovered blogging, I found I could use it as a journal, a therapist and photo album. Ooh-la-la, solving a plethora of needs all in one big swoop!  I didn't like the journaling part of scrape booking because I have such bipolar handwriting.  Now at the end of the year I have my blog printed in a hardback book, saving myself both time and money. PLUS, I can give a copy to my Mother for Christmas, since she  swears  I never tell her anything that's going on, and because I never have a clue what to get her :-)  So I am multi-tasking on so many levels, IT IS mind-boggling. When I did scrape book I used to put all of the graduation pictures and Christmas card photos in my scrape books. This is the first year that I thought to do that with the blog.Next year I'll include the graduation pictures, so I can look back and see how much you've grown over the blog:-) Our family is so blessed by the many friends who have wrapped their arms around us, loved us, played with us, prayed with and just been a HUGE part of our lives and hearts. I can't imagine what life would be like without you in it. So from our family to yours may you have a very blessed New Year and thank each and every one of you for all of the memories.

Mark Russel with his wife Laura, and children Jared, Trevor and Brandon. Mike and Mark grew up together, then traveled together racing Motocross. Oh the stories they tell.

Chuck and Karen Dunlap, with their children Stephanie, Jacob and Chloe'. We've gone to church with them for around 17 years. I used to help Karen in the kitchen on Wednesday nights when she cooked for the youth and Mike and I were on the Praise Team with Chuck for years. I also have the pleasure of working with Chuck, although he is all the way over on the other side of the building.

Crystal Sorrell with her daughter Lauren. We go to church with them as well as other fun things. P.S. I've always thought Crystal looked like Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks wife), only a lot prettier, then I found out that Crystal hates it when people say that. So, if you ever meet her don't mention the "Rita" thing....

A.J. Myers with his wife Dedra and their children Breighlee and Hayes. A.J. started working with me when he Graduated some college in OKC (can't remember the name, some low-level college), He was our baby Engineer and I had just gotten comfortable enough to harass him (not in a lawsuit kinda way). The whole department was living vicariously through him as he got married and started having kids, then he decided he wanted to be closer to his friends and family (like what are we, chopped liver?) and moved back to OKC. Now we're all sad and lonely without him and his little crew and all we have left are not so young, not as fun Engineers :-(

These are our dear friends Alan and Linette Simpson, with their son Jared with his Kelleigh and their daughter Caris. Their son Jody with his wife Sara. Also, their daughter Jenny who is the same age as my son Caleb. Linette and I became close when we were both pregnant with our youngest. We have raised our kids together, gone on vacations together and watched our kids leave the nest one by one. Our life paths have paralleled for 20 years. We have made so many memories with this family and I hope we have many more memories to come.

This beautiful family is Shane and Krista Harper, with their children Adam and Morgan. We went to church together for many years, worked on the praise team together and then we had the pleasure of working with Morgan on the youth praise team. We don't get to see them as much as we used to, but our hearts are never far away and the memories we have made together will last a lifetime. We love this family!
This is Caleb's girlfriend, Sarah Torrez. When I first met her all I could say was... "You are so pretty!" She makes my baby boy happy and trust me, he can be a tough nut to crack. She is holding Morph the Cat. I flew all the way to California to pick up Morph the Cat.  After a few months we both decided he was more Sarah's cat than mine and now they are both happy little campers. We love you both Sarah!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things.....

These are a few of my favorite things....

Playing in the ocean and feeling the waves bubble and swirl around my ankles.

The mountains; it makes me feel like I could just reach up and touch the face of God

The little creases on the hands and wrist of wee ones; their chubby little ankles, elbows and toes.

AND SNOW.... Big white fluffy flakes falling outside my office window. Oh how I wish I could go for a walk right now.

Dog Shaming 101

Occasionally Sailor will peruse the mail just to see if someone has sent her a greeting card or something. Maybe she is worried she has run her credit cards up. The other night as I was turning out the light to tuck in for the evening when my husband said.... "I didn't want to ruin our evening so I didn't tell you earlier, but Sailor ate the CD the photographer gave us of our family photo shoot. Maybe it's not a big deal, maybe you can get her to give you another one." Really?! Sure enough when I went downstairs the next morning the CD the had the minimal amount of damage any CD has when it's been chewed on by a horse. A part of
me wanted to hang a dog shaming sign around her neck and make her stand on the median of Hwy 81 during lunch hour traffic, but something tells me she wouldn't care, much less feel any shame. Lucky for her I had immediately downloaded the CD onto our computer, onto my Facebook and onto my Walgreens account. I'm pretty certain I have back up for my back up.  She's a lucky lucky duck because dog shaming can be brutal, I've seen the pictures, I know.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Grandma's Button and Pins a Memory No One Wanted

Christmas is a time of giving and a time of remembering. I have memories of endless Christmas Eves playing hide the thimble with rowdy cousins, memories of waiting waiting waiting for Santa to appear so the opening of the gifts could begin. Every Christmas my Aunt G.G. (Golden Goddess, Gripy Gut, depending on her mood) would send my Grandpa a box of See's candy. See's candy was my favorite candy of all time, as well as my cousin's favorite. When Grandpa got his box of candy, he would hide it in the house so all the grand kids wouldn't eat it all. My cousin and I knew he had some so we would quietly ask him where it was hidden. Initially he would act like he didn't hear us or couldn't make out what we were asking, but with a little persistence he would finally give up the secret with instructions we could only have one piece. We would run to the hiding place with me secretly praying there was a "hairy" chocolate among the bunch. In case you're wondering, I called the ones with chocolate sprinkles the hairy ones (it wasn't anything gross). We would pick out our one piece of chocolate, put the box back in it's hiding place and walk away with just a tad of a smirk.... We would be back.  When we were at Grandma's and Grandpa's I usually stayed with my cousin. She was older, more level headed, but I had a way of bringing her down to my young level like no one else could. In fact I believe I still hold that unique place in her life.  She lived across the garden from Grandma, and it always tugged at my heart that Grandma really knew her. I wasn't jealous, I just remember wondering what it would be like for Grandma to know the secret places in my heart like she knew my cousin. There were a few times though when I would spend the night with Grandma. Grandma wasn't a well woman. Of course after giving birth to 9 kids, who would be. She had sugarbeitis (my word for diabetes) which my imaginary friend also suffered from. I remember she always looked like she was 9 months pregnant but was tiny everywhere else. I guess her stomach got so used to protruding with child, it didn't see the need in going back to it's original state, and really who could blame it. She had silver hair that she wore in a bun, well it wasn't really a bun but kind of a bun, not sure what you would call it. When I spent the night with her, she would sit at her dressing table and carefully take the silver pins out of her hair. I was always intrigued with how long her hair was. It hung down her back, almost to her waist. When she got it untucked, she would hand me the brush and I would gently brush her long beautiful hair. I was in complete awe. Would I ever have hair like hers? I didn't think so. Other than her being sick, the memory that sticks out the most in my mind, is her sitting at her dressing table with her hair flowing over her shoulders and down her back (yea, I'm typing through the tears as we speak).  When Grandma died, the family, which was many, began to change and it has never the same again. Last weekend I went to visit my Red Aunt and my cousin. My Aunt is now living in an assisted living home. When she was moved her stuff was either sold in an estate sale or given to relatives. She had taken care of Grandma and would have had any of the items that wasn't sold after my grandparents died.  I was sitting on the couch talking to my cousin and she pulled out a bag. She had found just a couple of items of Grandma's in her mother's belongings that she thought I might like to have. She pulled out an old jar filled to the brim with buttons. It was Grandma's button jar. The label was scuffed with time, but I immediately knew what it was and a huge lump formed in my throat. Then she pulled out a cup filled with the silver little hair pins Grandma used to put her hair up with and larger pins that were still wrapped in the newspaper wrapping when she bought them.... The lump only got bigger. These were two things that everyone going through Grandmother's belongs had looked past as if they had no value; but they had a tremendous amount of value to me. The things we believe are valuable here on earth varies from person to person; to me nothing is as valuable as those seemingly insignificant memories of watching Grandma at her dressing table taking down her hair, or a jar where she kept every little button that fell off of a dress because a Sharecropper's wife couldn't just go out and buy a new dress when a button fell off or something needed mending.  These items were a precious gift from my childhood. I came home, moved aside a knick knack that truly had no value and gently placed the jar of buttons on the shelf next old photographs from a time far far away.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Joy a Christmas Carol Brings and What Mr. Smarty Pants Needs to Understand

A friend of ours had an awesome idea a couple of weeks ago. He thought it would be fun if we all got together and went Christmas caroling. I vaguely remember caroling with the church when I was young. I haven't heard of anyone caroling in years, probably because our society is so busy, it's hard to get enough people together to go caroling and because families are always on the go and aren't home as much. Well, maybe they are, but it doesn't seem like it. I hear people talking about their schedules and I swear it seems they have every second of every day scheduled to the hilt and beyond. As luck has it, we were all free for the evening he chose to carol, except one couple who were battling the flu. Each couple chose a carol, printed the lyrics and chose a friend or family member's house to carol. I immediately knew what carol I wanted to sing.... I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. When I told him (with much excitement) the carol I had chosen, he gave
 me a typical deadpan male look. He thought I was kidding, but I wasn't kidding, that was the song I wanted to sing. Then he informed me in what I felt was kind of a  superior kinda way, that we couldn't sing it because.... "It's not a carol"  Says who?! Is there a criteria of what constitutes a carol and what doesn't? Will the Christmas carol police arrest us if we vary from Away in the Manger and sing something with a little more pep that will bring absolute joy and laughter to both the carolers and the carolee's? The rebel in me just wanted to sing it just that much more and see exactly what would
happen if we went against tradition. So the carolers gathered Sunday night with lyrics in hand and gave the carols a quick run through.... Talented we are not, but what we lacked in talent we made up for with spirit of cheer and goodwill. Each family had checked to make sure the carolee's would be home without telling them why we needed to know. We would arrive at our selected destination, ring the doorbell and when they answered announce that we had come to carol them. We sang two carols per house, the pre-selected carol of choice and silent night.  Each and every carolee seemed surprised and delighted (although they may have just been cutting us some slack because they felt sorry for the talent we lacked). All of the carols were traditional Christmas songs except for mine of course. When we got to my friends house, she came out on the porch and gave me a hug and looked behind me at the menagerie and asked.... "Jaquetta Jane what are y'all doing?" There was a little hysteria in her voice as I'm sure she thought we were just going to invade her house without warning. I told her we were going to carol her and I stepped back with the group to begin our song. She had tons of questions, as I knew she would, but I just assured her we would visit later and I'd explain in detail how this all came together. We began to sing I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and finished with Silent Night. She said..... "Oh Jaquetta Jane, you made me cry!" Bingo! I knew she would. My husband was a little concerned that the singing of I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas could bring someone to tears, but what do you expect, that's just how much joy that songs projects. I do believe we've begun another group tradition which means we have many more memories to make and share.  Maybe you'll be the lucky carolee next year :-)

PS: I Wikipedia'd it and this is how they define a Christmas carol Mr. Smarty Pants...

Christmas carol (also called a noël) is a carol (song or hymn) whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas or the winter season in general and which are traditionally sung in the period before Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas in a Thimble

I traveled to Ada to visit one of my Aunt's today. It was the first time I've been there in a while and just driving through town brought back a lot of memories. As we turned down the dirt road that lead to my Grandparents house,  I got kind of choked up. A lot of my childhood was spent on that dirt road. The first time I ever remember sweat running down my brow and into my eyes was in the garden while  picking green beans with Grandma.  A typical Christmas at Grandma's was noisy. The house was tiny and the wee ones were many. Not all of my cousins were as well-mannered and refined (chuckle chuckle) as my brother and I were required to be.  Running, screaming, giggling was not encouraged (and barely tolerated) especially when all the kids came together. With just the adults, the house was busting at the seams, throwing a bunch of sugar hyped cousins together made it sheer mayhem.  The aunts were constantly telling us to keep it down.... Apparently we were "making Grandma a nervous wreck", but truth be told, it wasn't Grandma doing the complaining. The actual nervous wrecks shall remain unnamed, but we know who they are. When the noise (or nerves) reached a critical point, we all knew what was going to happen. Grandpa had a tiny room off of the kitchen the size of a bathroom stall in a convenience store.  It contained a twin bed, a dresser, and grandma's sewing machine. The room didn't have an actual door, it had a plastic accordion door.  The aunts would round up all the cousins from the wee ones to the teenagers, all of whom were hyped up on sugar and Christmas excitement and tell us to keep it down so Grandma wouldn't get upset.  One of the Aunts would pull the door closed while whispering threats of punishment to come if we didn't keep it down.  Keeping it down was a gross misuse around our group, several of whom thought keeping it down meant grabbing a sibling or some other unfortunate soul and having one cousin hold em while the other beat the dog out of them.  Before the door closed, an Aunt would reach in with a thimble in the palm of her hand and say.... "Here, y'all play hide the thimble very quietly until we tell you to stop." We probably weren't, but it seems like we would be stuck in that room for hours on end. Someone always ended up getting hurt or something would be broken, and of course there was always a crybaby amongst. It was like a special ward for the criminally insane which just happened to be children of nervous adults.  But when I think of my Childhood Christmas', I always go back to playing hide the thimble in the tiniest bedroom ever made with a bunch of rowdy boys and a few girls. That's my childhood memory, not in a nutshell, but in a thimble, and it always cracks me up.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Poinsettia Killer Extraordinaire

Three white Poinsettias 
Sitting side by each
To bring within the office walls
The Christmas cheer to all and each
Each white Poinsettia 
Had a tale to tell
About the tender care twas given
To keep their beauty well
The first sad Poinsettia
Had no leaves to show
No bright and cheery petals
Above the big red bow
Obvious neglect
Had taken quiet a toll
Upon the sad Poinsettia
With only stalks to show
The second white Poinsettia 
Was perkier by far
Than the first sad Poinsettia
That was very battle scared 
Although it's petals drooped a little 
Like a sad puppy's ear
And the edges were quiet faded
And offered little cheer
It still retained some life
Though not a happy soul
The owner could stand proud
She didn't kill it cold
The third White Poinsettia
Still quite robust
Sat upon the window sill
  Stout and vigorous
The one who gently cared for it
 Could finally rest with ease
Although she'd broken lots of things
It still had all it's leaves
 She wouldn't hold the title
Of killer extraordinaire
That title now belonged
To the one who was so fair
The one who sat on Santa's lap
In a Christmas pose
Although she looked quite happy
I guarantee you Santa knows
The carnage left behind
Upon that window sill
The very sad Poinsettia
Her hand had ruthlessly killed

2012 Poinsettia Killer

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dreams Come True

31 years ago today I took the first step down the aisle to an amazing journey. December 1981 was a cold one. On the 19th the temperature was 3 degrees with the windchill dipping well below 0. While most people scurried around preparing for Christmas, I scurried around preparing for a wedding. After 6 months of long distance dating, my fiance' and I tired of driving back and forth between Tulsa and Duncan, paying enormous long distance phone charges and just not being able to spend time together. We had spent hours talking about our dreams and our future. Every second that ticked by, was a second we could have spent making those dreams come true. Shortly after parting at Thanksgiving, we decided not to wait until the new year to get married. The wedding was quickly moved to December 19th, which gave me 2 weeks to plan and put it all into action. Christmas is
a bad time to plan a wedding, and looking back I wish I would have taken Daddy's offer to elope. Like most girls, I dreamed of standing at an altar, veiled in white with the train of my gown flowing down the aisle behind me. Short of that vision, I just wanted the ceremony over, the photos taken, and the rice thrown, so we could begin our happily ever after. The journey has been amazing. Not every step has been easy. Not every twist and turn of the path was planned, but every step has been taken together, for better or worse, through thick and thin. Thanks to amazing grace, we are  31 years and Three kids into our happily ever after. we have seen many of our dreams realized and are in the process of dreaming new dreams for chapter 2 of our story.  I can't imagine the 2nd half being more amazing, but life has taught me not to put limits on dreams, because they really can come true.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This is Not My Plant.... Week 2

This is not my plant
Today is week two the Poinsettia wars in the office. Monday morning I arrived to find my Poinsettia sitting pretty in fine fashion. Whew! That's two weekends in a row. Midweek a co-worker brought her sad Poinsettia to lounge in my window as it
This is not my plant
was looking mighty peaked. It's weird because last year her Poinsettia lived a reasonable length of time before giving up the ghost. Later in the afternoon, another co-worker (AKA Poinsettia killer of last year) brought her plant to sun in the window. Her plant wasn't remarkably decrepit, but had lost a considerable amount of it's blush. I hate to make any rush to judgement, but it looks like we may have a new title holder this year. Time will tell.

This is my plant

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to a Big Ole Broad

Happy 5th Birthday to my big Sailor Girl. I hate to give her body issues, but she is turning into a big ole broad and I mean that in the literal sense.  Regardless of how big she continues to get, she is still the best lap dog around.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Week 1 of Poinsettia Wars

S: Week 1
Last year one of our bosses gave each of us a beautiful Poinsettia for our desk. They were lively and gorgeous and within a week mine was completely dead as well as another co-worker's. Meanwhile, another co-worker's plant lived well into the summer and actually thrived as if on some sort of weird poinsettia steroid. The only reason it's not still on her desk is because we were so humiliated by the flagrant flaunting of it, that I think she got to feeling a little guilty. Well, maybe not, but she should have. Anyway, not only do I have a reputation for being the cause of every mechanical failure within our office walls, but now the two of us who couldn't maintain our plants, are known as the poinsettia killers. Not exactly the reputation we strive to achieve (at least I have one thing I can over-achieve). Yes, you would have thought he would have learned from the carnage of last year and just given the two of us
J: Week 1
(The Poinsettia Killers) a candy bar, or a cup of Starbucks coffee, something that required no attention or skills. No, he arrived Monday with Poinsettias in hand (and I'm almost sure I heard snarky mutterings about people who kill things). This go around, both of us want to be the last poinsettia standing and will go to great lengths to maintain the health of our plants. It's going is an all out Poinsettia war!

The Pickling of Ones Own Self

I have a penchant for getting myself into a pickle... Without even trying. It's probably due to the mischievous streak in me that's a mile wide. It has always caused me trouble even when I try my darnedest to
keep it tamped down. I'll go for a while, keeping everything closely in check, then it just seems to bubble out of me like a carbonated water bottle that's been shaken at the most inopportune time. It's common for me to worry myself sick about something I've done or something I've said in jest. I have the pleasure of working for one of my best friends husband. When I applied for the job, I had some reservations about working with a close friend. His wife and I are a lot alike in the fact that she also has a mischievous streak and unfortunately (for him) he has been on the receiving end of a lot of our... Well, our shaken water bottle mishaps, if you will. That being said, I really wanted to maintain a professional demeanor at work. A couple of weeks after I started, I made a tiny joke (at his expense)in front of a co-
worker. Afterwards he pulled me aside and informed me that was a boundary that should not be breached. I took my rebuke and rebuked myself for the rest of the day, went home and cried all evening then showed up in his office first thing the next morning to sincerely apologize for my unprofessional manner. He looked up from his desk with complete bumfuzzlement. I expected him to accept my apology, but instead he just chuckled.
What the heck? I'm trying to apologize and he's laughing at me. That's when he tells me he was just joking when he reprimanded me and that afterwards he had forgotten the incident and assumed I had too. Little did he know I had spent the entire evening crying my eyes out. Needless to say, he hasn't gotten many apologies from me since. Onward..... Last weekend was the annual banquet at work. The theme was Bedlam. The drum line for a local school entertained us and ultimately there was a dance off between 5 OSU fans and 5 OU fans, which included not only my boss, but his boss. Nothing is as entertaining as seeing your bosses step outside their usual no muss, no fuss selves. Before
running things through my wisdom checker, I uploaded a video of the dance-off to my Youtube account and posted it on Facebook. I've sat on pins and needles ever since. This afternoon I got a call from a co-worker who wanted to know if I could email the video to the owner of the company. Okay, wisdom checker activated and serious pause given to this request. I might be able to squeak past a minor infraction with my boss, but I wasn't sure I could squeak by with posting a video of "The Boss". My co-worker assured me he had requested she have me email him the video link. I emailed him the link with MUCH hesitation, now I'm just waiting to see if I'm in a pickle or just mildly puckered.... Yeah, that probably did come out right, which just reiterates my ability to find myself in a self-induced pinch. I'm sure you get the drift......

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting Back in Touch and All Caught Up

When I was pregnant with my third child, I had a friend who was also pregnant with her third child. She was an RN and had recently moved away and we weren't able to see each other as often as we would have liked. A few weeks before my due date, we planned a shopping trip with another friend who had just had her baby. I had an ultrasound during my pregnancy but being a modest one he refused pose for the camera in a way that would reveal his gender. When I told my friend that we still didn't know what we were having, she got excited and said she had just finished ultrasound training at the clinic where she worked. We made a detour from the shopping, for a quick hands on practice of her newest skill. We went into an exam room and she grabbed the ultrasound machine and rolled it over to the table. She plopped down on the table, exposed her bulging belly, squirted the ice-cold gel on her and began to roll the wand thingie (my term not hers) on her belly. The familiar black and gray collage appeared on-screen looking like an abstract painting. Finally she found what she was looking for and pointed to the screen and said.... "See that little hump there that looks kind of like a turtle with his head barely sticking out?" I nodded and she exclaimed... "I'm having a boy!" Well, that was just so cool. So she cleaned the gel off her belly and instructed me to lie down on the table. She repeated the process with me. My heart was at a stand still because for 8 months I just believed I was having a girl. Her name was Chloe' Victoria and I had been busy sewing pink blankets and decorating the nursery in peach and aqua. The same abstract colors appeared on-screen. After a little searching she pointed to the screen and said... "See that? You have a turtle too." I was having a boy! That experience was such a sweet memory. How many people get to have a dual ultrasound with a great friend? Probably not many. Our boys were born shortly after and we kept in touch for several years until life does what it does best; it took us in separate directions and tied us up. Before we knew it years had passed and we had lost touch. That was 9 years ago. Every now and then I would have a dream about her. Every time I dreamed of her I woke with a heavy sadness and several times I attempted to locate her, just to make sure she was okay. Several weeks ago it happened again. I didn't have her address and a phone number I wasn't sure was current, but I thought I would send a text and see if I got a reply. It was late at night and I had already taken my sleep medications and well.... Let's just say I don't always remember what happens after I take my sleep medicine. But to my surprise, the text went through and she responded. Gosh it was so good to hear from her. The next day we texted some more, caught up a little on the basics and promised to get together soon. The second night of the play I was in, she showed up. It was like being reunited with my long-lost sister. My daughter and I stood outside the country club with her long after everyone else had left. It finally became obvious that with 9 years of catching up to do we needed to move the conversation some place more comfortable, so we went to a restaurant that stayed open late on the weekends. My daughter sat there listening to our stories, laughing at our description of the ups and downs of life, and even tolerated our mid-life advice until 2 in the morning. We parted ways with a promise to stay in touch. All I can say is.... I have missed her so much. It was such a joy get all caught up and back in touch. I am going to make it a priority to keep it that way. Tonya, please know how very much I have missed you and that I love you with all my heart.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Permission to be Less than Perfect

It's Holiday time; twinkly lights (not on my tree), packages, ribbons and bows. Christmas music fills the air and the wonder of Christmas is all around... Or is it?  Keeping the wonder of Christmas alive in a world of materialism is a difficult task. I love the movie Miracle on 34th Street, especially the remake. I love the way they fuzzed the characters and gave the new movie a timeless quality. The little girl who played Susan (Mara Wilson), truly captured the wonderment of Christmas though a child's eyes. Sadly, society has turned Christmas into something that is almost unrecognizable. Increasingly, I see more panic than wonder in the eyes of others and after discussing the holidays with friends, I'm not the only one disillusioned by the illusion of the secular Christmas. I was talking with a good friend last week who was having difficulties processing the holidays and beating herself up because she wasn't doing a better job of everything that comes with "The Holidays". I know I am the cause for most of my holiday stress. I have an idyllic view of the Christmas I want to produce for my family; but unfortunately instead of the warm fuzzy feeling of Miracle on 34th Street, it more closely resembles National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (at least in my mind). I am great at handing out advice (imagine that). So I sent my friend a card, wrote my words of ubber wisdom that said....

 "In your world, everyone else is allowed to go about their happy little way without a care in the world, while you worry and fret over the details of every birthday, holiday and anything in between. As if that isn’t challenge enough, you then berate yourself for days or weeks afterward for not doing a better job, or for not doing it all with a stress free smile and a happy-go-lucky attitude. I’m not sure what memo you got that said Super Woman was a real life hero, but I am happy to announce and debunk the theory that as women we have to be able to do it all, have it all, arrange it all, cook it all, clean it all, and magically make everyone else around us, enjoy it all with a smile plastered on our wary faces, every hair perfectly in place and nails brightly done."

In short I was giving her permission to be less than perfect. In all honesty, I wasn't just talking to her, I was talking to myself. I have got to lighten up and let my little tics quit stressing me out. I know in my heart of hearts that the kids do not care if the presents under the tree are color coordinated and decorated with handmade bows and artfully arranged like Martha Stewart's house. I know in my heart that they do not count the number of gifts each person receives to make sure each one got the same number of gifts, or that they mentally keep a running tally of how much each gift cost and the sum of each person's gift. I know that they are too old to really believe in Santa Clause and wouldn't care if there were no unwrapped "Santa" gifts laid out with each child's stocking on Christmas morning. I am the one making myself miserable by standards I can't possibly obtain in the way I imagine. So why do I stress about it? In part, I believe I still see the kids as three little faces excited about Christmas morning, instead of adults with adult stresses like jobs, bills and other adult worries. Instead of the pitter patter of little feet running down the stairs on Christmas morning (which was ALWAYS my favorite part), there is just the sound of large feet lumbering down the stairs with "I wanna sleep till noon" enthusiasm.  I'm a mom, with adult children who is trying to create the magic of Christmas that only a small child can bring. Am I hinting for grand babies? No, I certainly am not. I'm simply trying to wrap my mind around the new normal at our house on Christmas morning or whenever we can get everyone in the same place at the same time to have Christmas at all. It's all part of the mid-life crisis crap (can I say that on a blog without being judged?), and probably just another thing I should silently endure like every other woman who is at the same point in her life journey. But no, if I think it, feel it, or do it, I'm going to blog it because maybe, just maybe I'm not alone in my hysterical delusions of grandeur. During our conversation the other day, my friend said "This makes me a horrible person." I scoffed and assured her it certainly did not; it made her normal, and those too proud to admit their struggles were the weird ones, or giving them the benefit of doubt maybe they just don't have a blog from which they can share the craziness of a woman's mind.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Opening Night Wrap Around

Opening day of the dinner theater I once again I found myself on the precipice of one of my cockamamie ideas thinking what the heck I was doing?!The closer it got to the end of the work day, the closer I got to losing my lunch. Just like on the edge of the cable walk, I was thinking what a terrible idea this had been, and why couldn't I just muddle through my mid-life quietly like everyone else! But, I know deep inside, I can't do that because although I'm many things, just like everyone else I'm not! While waiting for curtain call I noticed I felt
unusually close to these people who waited with me. Just a few short weeks ago, I didn't know any of them and even though we didn't really seem to interact much during practice, a bond had slowly formed that now knitted us together in a very unique way.
My mid-life crisis isn't just about my kids being gone, It's  about looking around and seeing how narrow my circle of influence has become. I've surrounded myself with the relationships that I'm most comfy-cozy in and neglected (even refused) to develop any new relationships. I wrap
my close-knit friends around me like a child does a favorite blanket; they make me feel safe, secure and loved. I haven't been interested in knitting new edges to that well-worn blanket because of the time, energy, and the risk of rejection that is ever present. So When I walked into the
audition, I walked in for the purpose of not only expanding myself, but also of knitting some
new scratchy, not so comfy edges to my well-worn blanket. When we walked onto the stage last night, I was pretty proud. Not of myself, but of the newest yarn that had been added to the edges of my blanket. It was definitely different in color and texture as the existing blanket, but the contrast adds an interesting dimension to what has been such a predictable life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Soft- Spoken

I just have to wonder about first impressions. A few weeks ago, being in full throttle mid-life crisis mode, I went to our local theater and auditioned for a play. Much like the mud running, it just sounded like a good way to distract myself from this awkward stage I've found myself in. Luckily for me, I was the only person to show up for auditions that night and was given a part in the upcoming dinner theater which begins this week. I tried taping myself saying my lines, but I couldn't stand the sound of my voice so  I lock myself in my room during lunch and after work, and say my lines out loud. Even with no one around, I still get embarrassed. This week we started rehearsals in the banquet room the play will be held at. The director keeps telling me I have to project my voice, he said.... and I quote.... "You are just so soft-spoken." Those were his EXACT words. The very first thought I was.... "What planet is he from?" The second thought I was.... "What planet is he from?" I mean really!? I have never (NEVER) had anyone describe me as "soft spoken" and I just knew he had misspoken, but he reiterated it several times, and it was just such a sweet thing to say, but something that I feel is terribly inaccurate. I was actually shocked speechless (I know, imagine right?) and honestly felt a little bad that he would feel silly once he gets to know me better. Until then though, I will unleash the drama beast inside of me and try to come at this acting thing with guns blazing. When all is said and done (very loudly), I'll tuck my soft-spoken self back into my shell and continue on my quiet way, because maybe I am... Maybe I am a little.... soft- spoken. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

High Drama Slumber Party

Saturday night The Girlfriends got together for a Girlfriend sleepover. We were celebrating birthdays. We will use any excuse possible to escape into girl world and catch up with each other. We were lying around in our jammies, asking each one to answer thought-provoking questions like.... "Would you rather have a nose on your butt, or a butt for your face." (yes, adult women actually discuss this stuff), It was not one of our most spiritually inspiring get togethers; but rather a chance to relax and just be silly. It was around midnight, and we were all entranced in our deep theology, when someone tried to open the front door. The door knob rattled, we all glanced over to it and a distorted face appeared through the frosted window pane. That is the precise moment the screaming, jumping and yelling inside the house began, sending the dogs (part pit bull) to hide beneath the bed. Let's just say some people are more jumpy at unexpected midnight visitors than others. I ran to the window to see if I
could see anything, someone else ran to the kitchen and came out welding, not one, but two butcher knives (this may have been the scariest part). Trying to keep everyone calm, I rationalized that it was probably one of our guys, (or kids) trying to spook us. With her back against the wall, eyes wide with fear, hands grasping her face, Girlfriend, who remains nameless, swore it was no one any of us had ever seen before in our lives.... "He was really creepy looking." Now, Nameless and I were sitting on the same couch facing the door when this happened. I saw the same face she saw, and although I didn't recognize it, (because it was distorted by frosted glass), the only thing I could figure by what I had seen was that whoever was looking through the window was in bad need of a tan! The face wasn't just white, it was deathly white, as in we scared him worse than he scared us. That's the cool thing about life, two people can see the very same thing and each one come away with vastly different perspectives. We checked the locks, then I wanted to open the front door to see if I could see anything or anyone. After all, I had just come from the Ultimate Mud Warrior Race and was pretty cocky in the fact that I could kick some minor butt (the face looked kind of delicate through the window and I was pretty sure I could take him out). My knife welding friend had my back and was ready to go to battle, but the others refused to allow us to open the door as they called 911. Knife Girlfriend and I, perched ourselves on the back of the couch and peered through the picture window, waiting for the police, while the others discussed the possibilities of perverts, robbers and drunks, being responsible for the attempted break in (actually the only offense was door knob rattling). I hung over the back of the couch, muttering that it was a dang good thing the intruder gave up so quickly as it was taking the police a heck of a long time to arrive to the scene, when The Hostess with the Mostess, fessed up that it was a set up. I mean after all, what is a girl sleepover without a creep showing up at the front door at midnight with pantyhose over his face to provoke some high drama and lots of squeals? Great memory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Precipice

"All the concepts about stepping out of your comfort zone mean nothing, until you DECIDE that your purpose, vision and goals are more important than your self-imposed limitations."      *Robert White*

My husband and I participated in The Ultimate Mud Warrior Race this weekend. Personally I choose to scratch the word Race out and replace it with Finish because for me that's what it's all about. You might say I'm trying to get over myself... literally. My greatest obstacle in life has been my limited belief in myself and the fear of everything outside my bubble world. As I've watched my kids set out on their life adventures, I've seen them accomplish things that would (and have) scared me stiff. I've come to realize that believing in yourself is the toughest challenge you can face. That being said, the day was slated to be a beautiful fall day and apparently Murphy didn't get the memo about my race entry, therefore he failed to show up. The morning was beautiful as planned, but a tad nippy at 9 a.m., but not the cold, drizzly 47 degrees as the run/race we did last
month. I had watched the construction of the course online and was excited about the level of obstacles and the intriguing route the race would take. Of course it wouldn't be a mud race without water (and lots of it), and mud there was. Part of the race included sand, which is exactly like swimming in glue when you are really tired. All obstacles had an alternate path if you didn't feel up to the challenge, but hey, that's what this is all about. Not far into the course we came to the under/over cable lake crossing. This challenge consisted of a 
lake bordered by cliffs. Cables ran from one side of the lake to the other, one cable to walk on, one cable to hold, and a very muddy cold lake lay way beneath the cables (did I mention cold). Racers stood in line to cross, but those who wanted to opt out could simply do 10 push-ups and take the alternate path. My husband suffered a bad shoulder injury a couple of years ago and opted out, I made the decision to   stay. I stood in line with the other racers for probably 40 minutes. That's a long time to stand in the shade (did I mention cold) and watch people creep their way across the cables, many falling to their wet reward below. I wouldn't say I was nervous, I would say I was pensive. 35 minutes into the wait, there were only 2 others 
in front of me. I looked out across the lake. On the other side was a clearing where the ones who had crossed, as well as many spectators stood watching the daring ones. Teammates stood shouting instructions to friends and everyone cheered for 
those who had fallen to the icy waters below.  Each racer had their own method to the madness of crossing. Some walked the cable like a tight rope,  some scooted sideways, all struggled. As each racer reached midpoint in the crossing,  the next racer stepped onto the cable and usually there was a racer just finishing. The first step wasn't too bad for the one entering, but this is where the one in the middle began to struggle for 
control. I watched those in the middle fight the line. The cable would begin to sway sending part of their body one way, part of their body the other way. the trick was to get your body back in line so you could continue to inch your way across.  I gritted my teeth as I watched the racers bobble and bop, swing and sway. I started to ask myself.... "Is this really worth it? In the great scheme of things, what does it matter if I do this or not? Just drop and give em 10 and go around and be done with it." Then I thought of all the times I didn't push myself to do the difficult. I thought about all of the risks my daughter has taken while in the Navy, and the things my son has face on his mission trips and in starting a business.  I knew this wasn't important to anyone, but me. This wasn't a challenge of fear, failure, or danger, it was a 
challenge of inner courage, and inner belief in myself. I needed to do this. I stepped out on the line and focused (and focus is a big deal for me) all of my energy on doing this. I had decided the side step slip/slide/scoot route would probably work best. Carefully I slide my leg and arm to the side, balanced, then brought the other side together. When the cable began to swing, I spread my legs out to maintain balance and then brought them back in when the line steadied. 3/4 way across, the cable began to jump and swing as the other racer stepped onto the line. I did not come this far to fail! I fought the line with everything I had. I tried trapping the line behind my 
shoulders and holding with my neck, which actually worked really well, until it didn't anymore. After what seemed like forever, something that happened at the beginning of the cable jerked the cable from under my feet and my hand could no longer hold on. I plummeted to the murky water beneath, and came up gasping for air. When I made it to shore, my husband's feet appeared, and he reached down to help me up. I was so dizzy from the swaying, I couldn't get my balance and it took a few seconds for me to be able to stand.  I was so disappointed and exhausted! It wouldn't have taken much to send me in tears. The woman who was on the cable at the same time (and who fell at the same time), apologized as she walked past, but I 
was too exhausted to respond. As my husband and I walked through the woods, I honestly doubted I could finish the race. I had used so much mental and physical energy on the cable, I wasn't sure I had anything left for the rest of the course. My husband walked with me and showered me with accolades.  When we came out of the woods, we faced a mountain, or actually mountains of sand. I still didn't know if I could finish, but I was willing to try. Little by little, obstacle by obstacle, I marched on and the haze of disappointment faded, the 
chill disappeared and the end was clearly in sight.  Crossing the finish line was made sweeter by the decision I made at the precipice of the lake.  Much like every other thing in life, most of the battle was in my mind. I may have fallen from the cable, but I didn't fall out of the race. More importantly, I conquered a hurdle of self-imposed limitations, stepped out of my comfort zone and lived to blog about it. That is a very big deal to me! Warrior on Mudders.