Wednesday, November 30, 2016


An acquaintance only
With but a few handfuls of shared laughs
Even less of those connecting moments that beget friends
Work; mutual employment constructed connected paths

Plants knew you as a beloved friend
Constantly rescuing shriveled green messes like a gnomely saint
Cycling thru sunshine, snow, and rain (truck parked at home)
No one quite understood your eccentric ways

The news broke today...
Only days left...
Cancer, the devil's killer had come
And would be stealing you away

So many other lives gone too soon
So many other souls snatched from this earthly realm
Friends crying, loved ones shattered
Its power cripples the strongest bodies
Its terror inconspicuously clenches in darkness
And steals healthy lives away

As if standing atop the highest peak
Laughing with pride, another mark in its ledger
One more life ending, one more smile smudged away
Cancer has won another battle, goes on to fight another day

But to cancer I say
what power have you really?

A torch he carried, offering warmth, light, a healing smile
Everyone he came in contact with experienced a better day
A pure joy
A rare warmth
A soul emitting radiant beauty in a world that can be so cold and ugly
A real smile that will be forever remember

To cancer I say, you stole nothing
You've won no war; no battle song may you sing
He gave it all away
Sharing his life with the world and living, truly living each day

For each one our time will come
All days are numbered
Every eye will blink its last
Laid to rest but I see him smiling his brightest smile yet

Saturday, November 26, 2016

My Bi-Polar Thanksgiving

After 14 years of marriage I'm too much of a realist to not expect the actual day of Thanksgiving to be ruined by any number of relatives and crazy weird drama. This is why I refuse to host Thanksgiving and also why a few years ago I started to make a Thanksgiving feast to be enjoyed by just my little family.

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. I do love the feast but I also love the overall spirit of Thanksgiving. I love getting together with family not to exchange gifts, and the little traditions I've started with my family revolving around giving thanks all month, and I like to send out thank-you notes each year to tell people how thankful I am for them. In my eyes Thanksgiving is just a beautiful holiday and I refuse to let anyone ruin it for me (any longer).

First Up:
I cooked and cleaned all day Wednesday. My VERY kind sister volunteered to stay that night at my house to watch little Abe the next day. My husband and I both had to work very early on Thanksgiving (as we're in retail and it's one of the biggest sale days of the year). Once the house was clean and the meal was almost ready it was the most wonderfully warm cozy feeling to have a feast in my kitchen and to know I'd be sharing it with my family in our (not generally as tidy) little home.

We don't normally eat at the dining room table but on this occasion the three of us and my sister sat down together for the feast. Little Abe had really been looking forward to Thanksgiving and honestly he was thrilled to be eating in the dining room as a family. He was the one who insisted we all hold hands to say grace and he said the blessing for our food. It was pretty adorable since he forgot to actually say thanks for the food. We dined on a pretty great turkey if I do say so myself, mashed potatoes with gravy from scratch, corn, stuffing, and rolls. I added mashed sweet potato to the potatoes and I would have made green bean casserole but the store was sold out of the cream of mushroom soup without the MSG in it. 

All three of us had smiles, enjoyed the meal and had to wait a bit for dessert as we were thoroughly stuffed. I honestly went to bed (later than I'd hoped) with a smile on my face. I felt so full of warmth, happiness, and gratitude.

First Down:
I was out of bed by 3am for work. I was honestly still in a great mood and not the least bit whiny about having to work on the holiday. I'd be out by noon and we'd have dinner at the in laws that evening. But when I got in the store I saw the line of customers waiting for the 6am sales to roll out and something inside of me just ached. I know that black Friday shopping is really fun for a lot of people. I know that the savings are GREAT and even though, no thank-you not for me, I get it. But Thanksgiving... I don't really have words to explain it but seeing the long line of people waiting for TV's on Thanksgiving day made me really sad. I literally started crying (yeah, I may not have gotten enough sleep the night before).

After work I headed home (exhausted) to as quickly as I could make baked mac'n'chesse and a pie for dinner at my in laws. Little Abe was happy to see me. My sister said he'd been really good and it looked as thought they'd had fun. I was happy to be home, ready for the three day weekend, and honestly I love to cook. The baked mac'n'cheese is a beloved family recipe passed down by my grandma who is no longer here. In a way I feel close to her every time I make it. As soon as my contribution to the meal was ready we left for my in laws house.

It's always the same and I'm not going to get into it but I left the evening of Thanksgiving festivities very upset, very, very tired and very upset. I went to sleep angry, hurt, annoyed... it's honestly always the same. I woke up the next day mad at the world and also angry that "sleeping it off" didn't work quite as I'd hoped.

Friday morning while in my mad woman, angry face, not speaking to my husband, horrible mood I decided I should take a time out and read. Needing a time out before the day has even started and before having even talked to anyone in my household is pretty extreme, right? I picked out one of my very favorite books from the bookcase in the living room and sat down in a violent grump.

Reading from Erich Fromm's, "To have or to be," there were bits about happiness not being the main goal in life and I had a tiny epiphany. I suddenly had to ask myself why I get so incredibly upset around these certain people and at these holiday gatherings. Granted I think my frustration in these situations is natural but I came to the conclusion that it all boils down to my not agreeing with them (about virtually every thing ever about anything) and vice versa.

The long and short of it is that my not agreeing with anyone and their not agreeing with me (I'm REALLY boiling it down right now) should not control my happiness. I know, huge epiphany right? Okay, so maybe this should be common knowledge but apparently it's a lesson that I need to learn. What can I say? I'm really stubborn. Just because I have the desire for us to agree and get along does not mean we have to agree and get along. I don't need to be so uncomfortable because of them when I can truly be comfortable with me, and others, and not let them have so much power over me. Granted this is something I'm going to have to figure out and work on but it's something I honestly hadn't seen before this past Thursday.

I will add a footnote to say that the disagreements have nothing to do with politics, and it's not that we're arguing back and forth each time we get together we just live very different lifestyles and... tension, drama between other family members (I try to avoid drama)... I just don't have fun. But I think it could be less uncomfortable if I stop letting all the crap bother me as much. What is it they say in that one song from that one super popular movie... "let it go, let it go..."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Holiday Stuff

Working in retail for the past thirteen years has not made me go all bah humbug about the holidays like many a seasoned retail worker. I absolutely love the holidays and see no end in sight for my holiday spirit.

Now, It's peculiar to me how during the holidays shoppers can't seem to find anything. I'm not complaining because I really enjoy helping customers but it's like a phenomenon. The holidays are here = no one knows where anything in the store is. Walking customers all over the store to find this and that combined with the fact that my job does not have me confined to a singular department means I'm seeing sale after sale item, deal after deal, holiday display after holiday display hundreds of times during each eight hour shift. During a time of year when everyone is buying gifts for each other, and you're focusing on buying gifts for everyone I struggle with the onslaught of sale, sale, sale signs. I think we all do in a way but each of us processes it differently. I process it with increased anxiety and frustration.

To add to the visual over stimulation dilemma at the store, my mother in law and sometimes my dad give cash for Christmas. This means that me, someone who does not enjoy shopping or even buying things for that matter, someone who takes a bit of pride in using worn out items, getting by without, and reminding myself daily that, "no, that's a luxury and I don't need it," has metaphorically a window opened before my eyes displaying all these millions of "neat" things I could buy. Honestly I completely prefer putting Christmas money towards debt, or bills, or savings, or spending it on little Abe. As far as my dad is concerned, "go to town, it's your money do whatever you want with it." But my mother in law wants me to buy something I really want. I get it but holy wow it stresses me out.

I write all this (for probably the fifth or sixth year in a row) because at Thanksgiving time I am celebrating a season of gratitude, of being thankful for every little joy and every little blessing. Thanksgiving time isn't about excess as the fabulous traditional Thanksgiving feast would imply but about being thankful for all the simplest daily blessings. At Christmastime I celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christ child was born in a stable and placed on a bed of hay. Materialistically, his birth couldn't have been any less. The holiday season is not about stuff. But as I walk through the store everything, and I mean everything stimulating all of my senses tells me that the holiday season is about stuff. A battle wages within me that wears me down.

I know some of you reading this completely understand what I'm saying. Some of you reading this think I'm at least slightly insane and way too intense. But in all honesty I live in a country, exist within a society, was raised in a culture that's accustomed to excess, luxury items, and having way, way more than any person truly needs. I don't want the holidays to be about stuff. I want the holiday season to be about love, peace, family, blessing, gratitude, tradition, everything wonderful in life that money cannot buy. But boy is it a struggle!

Abe's holiday craft last year

Don't worry, I'm not sad as this felt reindeer might imply, it just seemed fitting for this post and really it was too cute for me to not share again.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I am Organized!!!

The first snowflakes of this winter have just, moments ago begun to fall. We're less than a week out from Thanksgiving now and Christmas is rapidly approaching. The Christmas sections started to go up in the stores shortly BEFORE Halloween but the Christmas music just started playing in the store where I work this week. I love Christmas but merchandise before Halloween is a bit absurd. Christmas music the week before Thanksgiving however seems like great timing to me.

The first day I heard Christmas tunes playing in the store was this past Thursday. That evening after signing out of my e-mail I saw a Reader's Digest article titled:

7 Things organized people do every holiday season that you don't

I was cheerfully curious to read what these smart tips might be. Anything to make the chaotic holidays more organized, right. I can't tell you how disappointed I was at the list that follows.
  1. They schedule a visit with Santa
  2. They send holiday cards
  3. They make handmade holiday gifts
  4. They buy gifts early
  5. They bake holiday goodies
  6. They use a holiday calendar
  7. They say no
Apart from the first thing, scheduling a visit with Santa BECAUSE we don't celebrate Santa at Christmas time, I absolutely do everything on this list. What a let down. What a waste of three minutes clicking on a link and reading about what these "organized people do that I don't." 

Wait! Does this mean I'm organized?!?! I mean, I used the backside of a spoon to butter the bread for grilled cheese sandwiches the other night because almost all of the silverware was dirty and I didn't want to stop and wash a butter knife. At the same time there wasn't a clear spot of counter-top anywhere in the kitchen big enough to place a cup (as all the other dishes were dirty as well). There are weeks when I grocery shop every single day because, "shoot I forgot the toilet paper... darn it, we're out of milk already... for real did you guys use all the ketchup?" and two very important people in my life who I purposed in January to send birthday cards to this year had birthdays in October and their cards are still sitting on my dining room table unsent. Talk about belated birthday! 

I certainly don't consider myself organized and I've even been accused of "barely celebrating Christmas," but according to Readers Digest I'm on top things! Woohoo! Maybe that three minutes wasn't such a waste of time after all. I mean, the chances that I stumbled across a really lame article that was poorly thought out and that I shouldn't have wasted my time on are high but rather I'm going to use this poorly thought out article to tell myself all Christmas season that I am very organized. Me and my little pep talks... never ending I tell ya! 

Let the holidays begin!

Friday, November 18, 2016

One Hundred and Fifty Six Books

Over the past year and a half little Abe and I kept track of all the books we read together in a book log from our local library. The log was supplied through a program called "1000 Books Before Kindergarten." I love reading to him (even though it takes carving out time to do). He loves books, discovering new books, and re-reading over, and over, and over all of his favorites. The book log was a fun exercise for many reasons but I really believe that keeping track of the books we read encouraged us to read more often.

I picked up a little journal from the dollar store after the "1000 books" log was filled. So I'm still recording all the books we read together. Some days we read upwards of ten. Some days we only read one story, a book before bed. I record each chapter we read from any chapter book as a single book since reading a single chapter takes considerably longer than reading a child's picture book.

On days that we've read only one or two books I always feel like such a slacker. Somewhere in the back of my mind I feel like we should be reading books all day long. I'm not sure how my mind sees that as a possibility since I do work, have to take care of our home, make meals, schedule play times for little Abe with friends, make sure he gets outside to play, let him watch television while he plays with toys, ect; Yeah, unrealistic mind of mine reading books all day long makes perfect sense!

While that little voice in the back of my mind is telling me that I've dropped the ball and we aren't reading nearly as much as we should our book log tells me that we've read 156 books in the past month. That averages out to almost 2000 books (or chapters read) in a year. Okay, so here's what I have to say to the unrealistic voice in my head saying "we need to be reading all the time," little voice, "We are rocking it. 156 books read in a month is better than 100, or 50, or 10, and I'll take it! I'll take it and I'm proud of it."

This past year, while I've dropped the ball in recording the daily spending, and I haven't been reading books to my kid every minute of every day, and I don't take the dog's for a walk every day as I'd like to... yeah, I could go on and on... I've also grown a lot in that I've started talking back to that voice of failure. My best, even if my best is far from perfection, my best is enough. I think I've been trying to tell myself  this for a very long time but the failure voice has always been louder. This year I've really started to believe that I'm doing good enough. I am not perfect. I can't do it all. There will always be huge short comings but I keep striving, I keep trying harder, I keep setting goals I can't actually reach AND my best is enough. 156 books was last month's best and I think we rocked it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Anxiety knocks; No one is home

I've sat down at my blog several times over the past few months and my fingers remained motionless.

I find great joy in documenting my life, my little accomplishments, my goals and dreams, little adventures with my son, and sharing with the blogoshere my financial journey. I really like you guys. I've missed being here and still each time I've sat before this screen my fingers have sat as well.

Things here have been pretty great. Money is super tight but what's new. My husband and I both love our job changes. The new position for him and new job for me have afforded us a much better work schedule. We're both infinitely happier, nicer to each other, and more productive at home. All in all things have been pretty wonderful at the $12 a day home. (I've already gotten a raise and am making more then I was at my last job)

But the anxieties, the anxieties running rampant within the world wide web, on the news, in all of our hearts here in the great US of A; I think these anxieties are mostly what have kept me away, what have kept my lips sealed and my fingers still. The anxieties have kept my blog quiet. I've been seeking out calm, a silence of sort, a silence that comes from inward reflection, pushing away outside distractions. I very rarely post anything political here. I don't want to. I care. I care a lot but there's enough being said. I want my voice to be used for something else. None the less I've been upset about this election. I severely disliked both of the front runners. I didn't vote for either of them. I voted but not for them. I spent weeks not listening to the news, not listening to the radio, deactivated my facebook account, all in order to calm my mind, calm my heart, and seek peace.

I've found it. The election is over. The people have spoken. What is, is. And now we move on. None of us agree. Heck, no one in my family agrees. But we must have respect. We must follow laws. We must be a people of hope, of diligence, of conviction and love. I have peace. I will focus on living my life by my convictions, raising my son the way my heart and my God leads. I will live my life my way no matter who is "in charge." And I will have peace. Maybe that means continuing to avoid facebook, leaving the news broadcasters to talk at themselves, and listening to the birds or falling snowflakes instead of all the talking heads. Whatever it means I refuse to let anxiety knock any longer at my door, no one is home. I've gone to the woods...

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms" 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Feeling Thankful

I love this time of year; the beautiful fall colors, hot drinks, apple and pumpkin everywhere, the chill in the air, and thoughts of thankfulness. It's not so cold that we feel like hibernating yet, it's just cozy and kind of wonderful.

Our third annual Thanksgiving tree went up today (a few days late). It's now hanging on the dining room wall. We'll add one leaf to it each day this month displaying something we're thankful for.

I'm loving this tradition! I love that we walk through the neighborhood collecting beautiful and different leaves together. My husband was with us for the collecting this year. I love that each year so far our tree has looked very different. I love the way it looks on the wall. It's fun looking back at what went on our tree in years past. This year I made a potato stamp so that little Abe could stamp bark on our tree. I think it turned out great and he loved the potato stamp craft.

Granted, it looks better once it's filled with leaves but I'm extremely happy with this year's masterpiece. We are thankful!