Posts Tagged With: happy

my mom

Today is the fifth anniversary of the day Mommie died. I’ve been thinking of her so much lately. I miss her in ways that sneak up on me and hit me upside the head like a baseball bat. I’m momentarily stunned and then I feel sad. Or I laugh uncontrollably. Or I get a warm fuzzy feeling. Or I get so angry I grunt and stamp my foot. I firmly believe that all daughters feel these things about their mothers.

I’ve written about my mom before, But I’m not going to talk about our unpacked baggage, or our love of robin birds, or the gift of silly memories. I’m just going to share my mom.

I love this photo!
This is my mom when she was sassy AF. I think she’s so beautiful. This photo was taken in the mid 1960’s. I think my mom stopped being sassy when her mother died. She looks different in any photo taken after 1969, like something’s just a bit off…or something. Now, this is just my theory…but I do know that death of her mother changed her greatly.
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This was taken at our house on Barton Street in Arlington. I suspect my dad took it. It was before I was living in that house, but I don’t know how long after they were married this was taken. Some time in 1970.
I think she’s beautiful in this photo too, but she looks different.
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This photo was taken in April of 1971. The month before I was born. I think she looks tired. But I’ve been that far along in a pregnancy twice in my life and I remember feeling tired.
I’m so glad that the middle part went away for a long time…does it really look good on anyone?
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So, my parents were pretty freaking strange. And quite possibly they shouldn’t have been allowed to bring me home from the hospital. I’m the weird little alien looking baby. My mother is holding me inside my father’s boot (he was a motorcycle cop) as he takes the photograph.
Obviously, I wasn’t a very cute baby…though in my defense, I’m kind of crammed into a big leather boot. That makes for some uncomfortable faces. Summertime 1971.
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I went through years and years of photographs trying to find some of me with my mom. There are tons of photos of me with my dad (before he left) and even more of me with Grandaddy. But few with my mom. She was always behind the camera.
Being behind the lens is something that must run in our blood. I’m a photographer. Thing 2 is a photographer. Thing 1 is kind of a photographer too. Luckily, there are other people with cameras who’ve taken photos of me with my girls, even though I’m almost always behind the lens of my camera.

This is Grandaddy and Mommie and me. I’m not sure why Mommie and I are dressed up and Grandaddy is wearing a sweatshirt. Maybe we girls were going somewhere just the two of us? I don’t know.
I was probably in sixth grade so that would make it 1982…maybe?
(note my awful middle part)
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I did find this one of us working a WETA telethon. (taken before we were actually on the air) I had this mad skill of sticking out my tongue just as the shutter clicked. And our hair is really terrible. This was the next year or so. My mom hated my long hair and cut it all off one afternoon under the guise of giving me a “trim”. Circa 1983?
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This one was taken in November of 2000 by Thing 1. We went to see “Grandmommy” for Thanksgiving. This photo was taken sixteen years ago this same month. I love this photo because we look happy to be together. I recently removed it from the album and put it in a frame.
Positive reinforcement of love.
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Five years ago this day, my mother’s life ended. She died the Monday before Thanksgiving. The girls and I drove down to see her body (before it was cremated) on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
The little bit of my mother’s ashes that belong to me are in a tiny enamel heart shaped container.
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Sometimes I take it out of the blue velvet box and hold it in my hand. Sometimes I hold that heart to my own heart and imagine that we can feel each other’s love.

A small stuffed robin bird sits atop the blue velvet box. The blue velvet is on a small cedar box filled with memories. The small cedar box is on my bookshelf below my collection of journals. This is the side of the shelves that face my work tables and comfy reading chair. So I can see it whenever I want.
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In some ways, five years is the blink of an eye. In others, it’s a long, dark eternity.
I’ll always have a complicated relationship with my mother. It wasn’t sorted before she died, but that’s because of who she was. And I guess that’s OK too.
I know she loved me. I know I loved her.

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Categories: loss, love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

pretending the bed is a raft

I once had this book called Pretending the Bed is a Raft. It’s a collection of short stories written by Nanci Kincaid. I remember the stories were beautifully written but devastatingly sad. I’m not sure what happened to that book. A quick scan of my shelves and I don’t see it. It may have gone to the used bookstore during one of my annual book purges.
What I have to say isn’t really about the book anyway. It’s about the title.

Pretending the bed is a raft.
I love this concept! Let’s pretend the bed is a raft.
I feel like it’s a game of make believe we might have played when Thing 1 and Thing 2 were little. They would have wanted to be pirates on that bed raft. They would have had us all dressed up with scarves and eye patches and Thing 1 would have wanted to be the captain, but Thing 2 probably would have been calling the shots. I would have been the dutiful first mate, responsible for the safety of the crew while the captain(s) lead us into death or glory. I can hear Thing 2 in her ‘little old man’ voice saying, “Storms a-brewin!”

Pretending the bed is a raft.
I feel like I’ve done this my entire life, only I never used that phrase until I’d seen this book. It stated simply the concept I’ve always understood.
With absolute certainty, my most fundamental belief is: When the going gets tough, get in your bed.

I’m a big fan of getting in my bed when I’m feeling…well, anything actually. I mean, obviously when I’m tired. But, I’m thinking about all the other things I feel. Emotional exhaustion, frustration, or illness. These could all be considered fancy words for depression. Some people use ice cream. I use my pillows. Because nothing comforts me like my bed.
Loneliness and heartache send me straight to my bed.
When I’m craving peace and quiet. If I’m overwhelmed or overjoyed, I take to the comfort of my bed.
That bed is my raft in the seas of all feeling.

My perfect bed is a dark wood farmhouse canopy, made with the most crisp white cotton known to man. This bed is my cocoon. I bought it to keep me safe the first time I ever lived alone. Newly separated, children part time at my home, part time at their father’s, I knew I would need a haven that made me feel safe and sound.
This bed carried me safely through the feeling seas for many years.
Sweet Izzie kitty, so grouchy with everyone but me. She would curl up next to me in that bed and her soft purring would match my breathing and we’d sleep happily together.
My girls snuggling in that cocoon with me. Thing 2 coming in every night for months with her pillow and sleeping with me. Thing 1 didn’t sleep with me that often, she’s an active sleeper, making full use of her bed. But when she came for a snuggle it would be an event.

YBW was invited into my cocoon.
He invited me into his bed, he named it serenity.
The first time I came here, we went to bed and he told me to close my eyes…when I opened them there were stars all over the ceiling. He told me on the phone that when I came to his home, I would sleep in serenity in a sea of stars. He made that happen for me. We could be together in the cocoon or in serenity and it was lovely.

When I moved here, the cocoon moved to the guest room.
We bought new mattress and foundation and I began to sleep full time in his bed. I’d lived here for almost a year when we had a little mishap and broke the bed. I fell in love with a bed and took him to see it. He agreed and the new bed came home to our room. The bed we share is a beautiful dark wood, with a very high headboard and drawers in the footboard. It is made with crisp white bedding.

When I’m in need of pretending the bed is a raft, I don’t often take to the bed I share with YBW. I’ll go to the cocoon. It’s not that that I don’t feel comfortable or safe in serenity. It’s just different. I think it’s tricky when you share a bed with someone. That bed is our shared space. Where we have conversations. Where we make love. Where we occasionally keep the other awake. The bed is lovely, especially when properly made, but it’s not a bed I’m inclined to pretend is a raft. I think it’s because it doesn’t fully belong to me.

In the old days, my bed was a place where everyone just kind of piled in and we hung out. Small children all in it together with story books or soft toys. Grown up girls doing each other’s make up. Sometimes, if they were very lucky, little girls having their make up done. It was a place for snuggles and giggles and opening birthday gifts first thing in the morning. It was a place to simply be. And to feel loved.

My sister in law’s bed is like that too. We all just go in there and pile up on the bed. Sometimes the TV is on. Sometimes there are books or computers or tablets or smartphones. Sometimes we just all get in and talk and talk. Kids, grown ups, boys, girls. It doesn’t matter. We get in her bed and without even knowing it, pretend it’s a raft. It is one of those rare places I feel nurtured without having to do the nurturing.

When my heart was freshly broken, I came to be with Sundance. Her sweet husband went to sleep elsewhere in the house so I could sleep in bed with Sundance. She helped me heal as we talked quietly in her bed. We poured each other into that bed after we’d had way too much to drink. Her bed was a raft that I didn’t have to be in alone at the lowest point in my life.

I have a friend who has the unbreakable rule that no one is allowed in his home. He never shares his bed. I sometimes wonder if he feels like his bed is a raft in a safe way, of if it’s a raft in which he drifts, lost at sea. I respect the desire for privacy. For boundaries. No one in your sacred space ensures safety, but it seems to me a lonely life.

Pretending the bed is a raft means something different to each of us. Our bed means something different to each of us.
Your bed can be a haven. Or your bed can be the place where you live your life. Your bed can be a playground for children. Or a sexual playground for adults. Your bed is a place to rest your weary head.
You can share your bed or choose not to share it.
The bed I share with YBW is the place for us to be together.
But, my bed is a sacred place. The place I feel safe and sound. It is the raft on the feeling sea.
And even though it’s now the beautiful and comfortable place for our guests to lay their heads, it will always be my cocoon. My space.
If you’ve been invited into that bed, know how much you are loved.

Categories: around the house, love, me, on being a mom, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

champagne and a grand slam

Took Thing C and Thing G to lunch then got Thing G’s hair cut. (Barber shops are fascinating places.)
Champagne cocktails with my neighbor this afternoon. Now I’m watching my Washington Nationals winning on TV.
What a great Robynbird day!

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an unexpected gift

Sundance and I spent the afternoon together yesterday. We went to lunch, (Mexican, YUM!) went to get our hair done, (two cute new dos) and ran errands (to purchase ribbon at AC Moore).
We came back home and hung out while I made her some bows. YBW came home excited to see Sundance. (They were very close friends in elementary school.) There were hugs and kisses then he went into the other room. But the noises were not those of him emptying his pockets like he normally does. They were of metal banging and rustling plastic. Sundance and I looked at each other waiting for him to find the pressie I left on his chair.
He comes into the room with his hands behind his back. Then he presents us with the precious dollies we fell in love with when we went to say goodbye, Why Not?.

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Redhaired “Adele” for me and brunette “Jeanne” for Sundance.
(Yes, there was squealing!)

After Sundance left I took my dollie upstairs to our bedroom.
I thanked YBW again and told him it was kind of him to get both dollies. He told he almost gave me mine for Valentine’s day, but he’s glad he waited because the look on Sundance’s face made it all worth it.
What a sneaky bugger my husband is.
What a precious, kind man my husband is.

I was all smiles this morning when little Adele greeted me from my comfy chair.
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I picked her up and hugged her and started my day. Her face makes my heart so happy I can hardly stand it!
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Categories: love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

the snowy weekend

I saw the first snowflakes begin to fall at 12:30 Friday and finally stop at 10:00 last night.
We shoveled a solid 5″ Friday after dinner. It was already dark out and there was almost an inch of snow on the driveway and sidewalks when we finished. The wind was bitter but that didn’t stop me from grabbing the camera!
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I measured 16″ on the back porch at 8:30 Saturday morning.
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We have the most wonderful neighbor with a snowblower who came and did the driveway and sidewalk to the porch. Made our lives so much easier! We dug out Thing C’s car and shoveled again late in the afternoon.
When we went out this morning we had to dig out the end of our driveway from where the plow came. The snow was almost up to my waist! As soon as we opened a space our neighbor was back to get the last of the snow. Last time it snowed, I made him a giant chicken pot pie. We haven’t yet decided how we’re going to thank him for this huge snow.

Even after all this time, I’m always surprised at how useless Thing G is at anything that requires effort. I was so frustrated at the snow shoveling situation. I got one half of the driveway clear while Thing G wandered aimlessly with a snow shovel in his hands complaining about how cold it was. Thing C, God love that kid. He works hard and never ever complains. He shoveled and shoveled and never once gave up. He did the sidewalk and porch and sidewalk in front of our house all by himself.

I’m fortunate enough to have been brought up by people who made sure I knew how to do practical things. From cars to home repair, to planning and executing most anything “handy”. I can do simple electrical and plumbing work. I know how to hang drywall. I paint like a boss! I can change the oil and tires on a car. I even know how to hotwire a car. (Why my police officer father thought I’d need to know that is curious to me.)
I’m a capable kind of girl.
The former husband used to say that I was “more of a ‘man’ than most men we know”. He meant it as a complement, and he was right.
Being a capable kind of girl is handy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m not afraid of breaking a sweat or getting dirty. I jump in and get the job done. And I’m an excellent planner. So, when I’m working with less capable people, I get frustrated. I try so hard not to, but I just do.
I don’t understand how someone as smart and capable as YBW chooses not to be handy. I think it was the way he was brought up, apparently his dad kind of jerry-rigged most things and was a bit of a shouter. So he didn’t actually learn how to do these practical things properly. I believe that soured him. He’s not incapable, it’s more like he has no real interest in knowing how to do some of those “handy” things.
I know he likes the creature comforts. He’s not unwilling to try to do these handy things.

I’m sad that none of these boys really has any “sense of adventure”. Nobody wanted to walk in the snow to see what was going on in our neighborhood. Nobody wants to go out and “play”. They’re content to sit in front of computers and televisions. It makes me sad. I want to go out and take some photos. I want to do some back flops off the railing into the snow on the back porch. Nobody wants to play in the snow with me.
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Yesterday after a delicious midday meal of chili and cornbread, (Yummy!) we all went our separate ways in the house. Some of us had worked really hard and deserved a break.

I got Rick Bragg’s new book of essays for Christmas.
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I ran a bath and went with Mr Bragg on a lovely southern journey. Honestly, that bath was the most delicious hot soak I’ve had in ages! I was warm through and through for the first time in two days. It was quiet and peaceful and I read a book I’ve been excited about since it was published in September.
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When the snow stopped at 10:00 last night, I took my last measurement.
Exactly 24″.
Two feet of snow fell in thirty four hours.
How cool is that!?!
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I guess I can be as excited as a little girl about the snow but accept that I’ll be disappointed at the way the snow day goes. I guess I’m remembering snow days from when I was little and when my girls were little. When we worked and played together outside, then came in for hot chocolate and played more together inside. The world isn’t like that anymore. This new family I find myself in isn’t like that. That’s not how they roll.
That’s OK, because I just got a text from my neighbor up the street inviting me to come play with her, her five year old daughter and two year old son!
I’m going to play in the snow. Y’all have a great day!

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nine of twelve hundred

I’m finally getting around to sorting through the twelve hundred wedding photos.
What needs to be printed and what sizes.
I’m working to create a book.
I have to say, it’s daunting as hell!

I’ve chosen a few to share here:

I think the series from the train tracks are my favorite.
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Thing 1 made a bouquet of the spikes we found.
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Boy feet.
I love the Chucks! I wish YBW had worn them for the wedding too, but he did change for the reception.
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Here comes the bride. (and her Things)
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Girlie feet!
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Thing 2 comforting her big sister during the Song of Songs. (You can’t see it, but I’m holding her hand.)
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YBW reading his vows.
He borrowed heavily from Joss Whedon but spoke from his “Wash” heart to my “Zoe” heart.
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Wedding bell is ringing.
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Signing my name to make it official for the church.
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and there was much rejoicing…yaaaaaaaaay

All the Whos down in Whoville, the tall and the small, are really irritated the rain falling from the sky isn’t snow!

The forecast for Washington DC today: 72° with scattered showers and thunderstorms. A few storms may be severe. Winds SW 10 to 20 MPH. (Thanks, weather.com,  for your bleak Christmas Eve forecast.)
The rain has plagued us for days on end and will continue straight on through the weekend. Damn this warm weather! If it was cold outside, we could have a white Christmas!

I’ve already checked my camera battery (new SD card fully functioning) and will head out in a couple of hours to Cathedral Crèche Exhibition!
It’ll be a lovely day to be inside the Cathedral to see all the baby Jesuses! It’ll be a shit day to drive around the Metro area.

Thing 1 and fiance N arrived safe and sound yesterday evening! YBW picked them up at the airport on his way home from work.
Thing 2 and I danced around the kitchen to the Nutcracker while we waited for them to get home.
Finally they got here!
and there was much rejoicing

Boyfriend D was scheduled to get on the train at 4:00 this morning, only the train is running five hours behind and is stuck in Savannah. Thing 2 wonders if he’ll get here by Christmas. I’m with her, but I worry about the poor sod who has to go get him as the train arrival time pushes back later and later.
Our plan was to grab him from the King Street train station at his 2:00 pm arrival time on our way out of DC. New plans are in the works.

Thing C and Thing G come home from their mom’s this evening!
Our own Whos, the tall and the small, will be under one roof tonight snuggled in their beds with dreams of sugar plums and Santa in their heads!

My beloved sister-in-law celebrates her birthday today! In the old days when we lived near each other, the anniversary of her birth would be celebrated with a delicious white cake with white icing and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Now that we live far apart, I post on fb, I text and call. We say: I lovey you! and promise to see each other soon. I miss her so. I long to wrap my arms around her, especially today, on her birthday.

My heart grew three sizes writing this post! I am filled to overflowing with love!
I wish you all the happiest Christmas!

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busy and lazy Christmas fun

Thing 2 and I met Sundance and Girlie Thing yesterday morning for a bit of last minute Christmas shopping. We didn’t know Girlie Thing was going to be with her mom. I saw her before Thing 2 did and when I said it out loud, Thing 2 took off running down the store’s main aisle into the outstretched arms of her cousin. My heart grew three sizes that moment.
Sundance announced her progress since her surgery and Girlie Thing announced she has a boyfriend! There was a great deal of squealing and giggling.

Thing 2’s boyfriend D decided at the last moment to come here for Christmas. Which is wonderful! But…there are not gifts for him under the tree. I sent his Christmas Eve jammies and book and a couple of other things down to him earlier in the month.
But now that he’s going to be here Christmas morning, we had some quick shopping to do. The mom in me and the dad in YBW couldn’t abide him being the only person with nothing under the tree. YBW tasked Thing 2 straight away with the job of going with me to choose things for him. It was cute, he was all: This is your job! You can’t do anything else until it’s finished!
We not only managed to finish in one day, but get everything wrapped too!

Then the lazy fun started! Holiday movie time!
We started with Love Actually while I wrapped his gifts. The whole time making fun of the articles I sent her before I wrote about the haters in I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes….
We took a break when YBW came home to eat a quick dinner and then organized ALL the pressies, moved the bulk downstairs.
We snuggled up on the sofa and went straight back to it. Thing 2 wishes the haters some ‘Love Actually’ peace.
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We had a mini-debate on whether to watch The Holiday or Miracle on 34th Street (the original). Thing 1 wants to see Miracle on 34th Street, but we figured we could watch it twice…
We did the age old “behind the back choosing” and realized we wanted The Holiday most.
I popped corn and we got sorted on the sofa ready to go. Thing 2 gives two thumbs up.
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Today’s movies: Miracle on 34th Street (to be watched again at some point after Thing 1 arrives tomorrow afternoon) and White Christmas. (I’ve watched it two and a half times already this season, but Thing 2 has never seen it and I think she’ll like it.)

What will we do this evening you ask?
Why, The Nutcracker, of course! So much squealing and clapping!

Categories: love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dude, I got made skills.

Thing 1 sent me a message yesterday in the late afternoon: So, I totally didn’t inherit your wrapping ability.

This made me giggle.
It’s true that I have exceptional gift wrapping abilities.
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I suggested it was because she didn’t have as many years of practice as I have.
She has fine motor dyspraxia. A condition that has plagued her all her life. I reminded her of this, and assured her that it’s not an excuse, but it can certainly contribute to having trouble.

She told me that she would wrap a gift beautifully and feel like she’s getting the hang of it, but then the next one would look as though a two year old wrapped it.

I think she needs practice. I offered to help her.
To which she replied the most Thing 1 thing: You must verse me in the ways of the present wrapping, oh mighty queen of the world.

Then she sent me a photo.
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I think they look pretty decent. No, they’re not up to my wrapping standards…but that doesn’t make a bit of difference. I absolutely love that Tiffany blue paper with the white swirls!

I feel the same way about wrapping gifts that I feel about folding laundry. I love it! Everything about it. The orderly-ness of folding and stacking. Getting the seams folded just right and taped up. Then bows and ribbons to make it froufy.
I’m thrilled to help her learn to make fancy pressies! Moms should always attempt to pass their skills along.
I don’t know that I’m especially good at it for any reason other than my love of the process.

Here’s a sample from under our tree.
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Does practice make perfect? Not always, there are times when I see a gift I wrapped and cringe. Then there are times when I’d like to start a museum for beautifully wrapped gifts.
I’m not sure it matters who wraps the prettiest gifts.
I don’t think N cares that Thing 1 may have wrapped his gifts a little wonkily.
I don’t think anybody I gift cares how much work I put into making their packages pretty.
I encourage the ripping of paper as gifts are being opened.
It all ends up going out with the recycling in the end.

And here’s a truth, that girl can out bake me eight times out of ten. Perhaps we’re just skilled at what we’re skilled at? Or are we simply better at doing the things we love?
Doesn’t matter.
I’ll wrap.
She can bake.
And that way, everybody ends up happy.

Categories: me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

gettin’ in the mood (for Christmas)

Now that Thanksgiving is in my rear view mirror, I can head towards my most favorite holiday of all! (I may have squealed a little when I typed that.)

I potted a tiny spruce tree in the giant pot on my front porch yesterday, going to light and top it today.
All three trees are up. Two are lighted. None are decorated.

Made new bows, one for the tree on the porch, one for the brand new tree downstairs.
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Three of the (I won’t tell you exactly how) many nativities are up.
This is the brand newest one! I found it in this teeny shop, it was hand carved in Ecuador.
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On today’s agenda: Light the big tree and the porch tree. Decorate all three trees. Set up the rest of the nativities. Finish other decorating. Find ornaments for these three boys and Thing 2’s D.
I give each kid an ornament every year for Christmas so that eventually when they have their own tree they’ll have ornaments to put on it.

I just downloaded new Christmas tunes including James Brown’s Funky Christmas! Thing C might be the only other one to appreciate that as much as I do.

It’s “small business Saturday” and we’re going to zip over Old Town to see what we might need…after a bit of breakfast.

Like Brian Setzer I’m Gettin in the Mood (for Christmas) (Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!)

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