Monthly Archives: November 2013

Balance, that’s what it’s all about.

We received our share of stares and glares on our recent trip to Boston for a Thanksgiving family reunion.  Although B was in a good mood and enjoyed the adventure of a trip, that didn’t mean it wasn’t difficult for him. 

His Tourette-like coping mechanisms were in overdrive. There was no regular or predictable schedule, new places and spaces and only a couple of his own things around. I could have ridden him and made him stop, to make me and strangers around us more comfortable, but that would’ve made B feel even more uncomfortable. He’d only be able to hold it in so long before blowing up, anyway. 
But my job is not to make myself comfortable nor to worry about the comfort level of strangers. My job as a parent is to ensure my child’s well-being. Now, I did ensure the personal space of others was not violated and he wasn’t too loud in public; he saved that volume for the hotel room. 
All the time we spend together as a result of homeschooling has allowed me observe B and really get to know him.  I’m able to read the small, subtle signs and know he’s not OK.  Sometimes I’m able to do something once I see those small signs, to prevent more obvious manifestations of his discomfort, sometimes not.  And when I’m not, I make sure he has space, that he knows I’m here to help if he needs it and help him figure out what he needs.

Quite often, what he needs is activity and to make noise.  He’s an extrovert and gets his energy from outside stimulation, noise and being around people.  I’m an introvert and thrive on solitude and quiet.  Finding the balance between the two of us is tricky and I usually end up with the short straw.  ;o)

When we got together with some of our relatives for Thanksgiving, B was in his element.  There was over 60 people there and I was totally overwhelmed.  It was great to see them; most of them I hadn’t seen in quite some time.  B was loving all the people, energy and conversation.  He went up to people and introduced himself with a firm handshake, taking off his hat first when it was a lady.  He loved answering the many questions he was asked and made a friend for life with a younger cousin.  He performed a rap for everyone about his 96 yr old great-grandmother and was a big hit.

After the meal and the performances and the cleanup, I was done.  I needed to go back to the hotel room, take off the heels, get into my PJs and be alone.  B was so disappointed when I said it was time to go; he was engaged in a game of Apples to Apples with aunts and cousins and, even though he’d never played before, he was winning.  My dad wasn’t ready to go, either, so he and B stayed and my brother took mom and me back to the hotel.

Silence.  It was glorious.  I was alone for an hour and a half and recharged my batteries.  B came back to the hotel with his batteries recharged.  That reunion did him so much good, we were able to drive all the way home in one day instead of breaking the trip into two.  Balance, that’s what it’s all about.

"These sidewalk funerals need to stop."

Yesterday afternoon, a 7 yr old girl and her mother were walking home from school in a Boston, Massachusetts suburb.  Another mother, in an SUV, sped down that same street, jumped the curb, took out a fire hydrant, a fence and killed the 7 yr old girl.  Her mother was seriously injured.  The mother driving the SUV was drunk.

At the scene of the accident today were flowers, stuffed animals, reporters, loved ones, strangers, tears, prayers. People visiting the site were interviewed and expressed outrage, sadness, sympathy, empathy. One woman’s expression and words stood out the most to me. She wasn’t crying, although there was pain on her face. Pain that ran deep and raw; pain that time could do nothing to heal.  She spoke with the kind of loving and sorrowful ache in her voice I would imagine God Himself feels when he looks down on what we do to each other.  She said, “These sidewalk funerals need to stop.”

Sidewalk. Alone, with friends, with family.  Going to an appointment, taking a break from work, getting exercise, getting fresh air, enjoying nature, exploring food/sights/adventures. Exposed. In neighborhoods. 

Funerals.  Dying. Killing. With cars, guns, knives, drugs, fists, words, indifference.  Conscious  decisions to kill. Conscious decisions to not care nor think about how choices will effect others.  Not being able to recognize the value in a life if it has no value to me.

But every life has value to someone.  A partner, friend, co-worker, sister, brother, parent, child. We need to get that, believe that, see that, because These sidewalk funerals need to stop.”

B’s YouTube Movies: NERF Bottle Battle, Part I

Empty 2 liter bottles come back from the recycle bin to avenge the liquid that was rightfully theirs. And try to kill B.

B is officially on YouTube

Ever since B took Apple’s Movie Making Camp for Kids this past Summer, he’s been making a lot of videos and begging us to put them on YouTube.  However, most of them have other children in them and not everyone wants their child on the internet.  Well, he made a new one yesterday evening and we finally agreed to put it up after his godfather agreed to put on the internet, too.  I’m sure this is the first of many to come.

So, here is B’s video – Let’s Dance:

Saturday Morning Musings

I said goodbye to my mens at 8:40am.  They are heading West to meet up with other ladies’ mens, to do and talk about mens’ things.  So I have the house to myself.  *exhale*  That doesn’t happen very often.  There’s plenty to do – cleaning, laundry, change the bedding, pack B’s things for his sleepover at Nana & Poppop’s tonight, etc., etc., etc..

But I awoke with my period.  I’m tired.  I’m hurting.  I’m reminded for the 350+ time that I did not get pregnant this month.  This whole making meals several times a day, every day, for other people in addition to myself is bothering me today.  Payday was yesterday, and after the bills were paid I’m faced with the reality of what’s left.

I’m not having a pity party, though.  I’m just assessing all that is and is not and deciding what, if anything, I’m going to do about all this reality and all that needs to be done.

I’ve decided.  I’m going to scale the refrigerator, grab the forbidden bag of all that is peanut butter that was confiscated from B’s Halloween candy, curl up on the sofa, throw the sherpa fleece blanket over me (my favorite blanket that a wonderful friend gave me!), and watch what I want to watch.  Nothing animated and nothing on The Outdoor Channel.  I’ll watch uninterrupted!  No one asking for something to eat.  No one asking where something is.  No one who, for the past 2 hours completely ignored me and refused to be engaged, suddenly wanting to describe in minute detail the Phineas & Ferb episode he just watched for the umpteenth time, one that I already know by heart.

*sigh*  I have to make another decision – what to watch.  A marathon of the 37 episodes of Law & Order (the original Law & Orders, none of this SVU or CI stuff) that are taking up space on the DVR? One of my favorite movies that no one else in this house ever wants to watch – The Wedding Date, Pride & Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightly, of course), Sense & Sensibility?  Maybe all of them.

I was just interrupted by another male!  One of the cats just came up and meowed at me.  Not a “hello, mom” meow, though.  It was a “my-sister-the-queen-has-sent-me-to-do-her-bidding-and-now-you-have-to-figure-out-from-me-what-she-wants-and-get-it-or-neither-one-of-us-is-going-to-be-left-alone” kinda meow.  It’s a battle of wills.  I don’t know why that female cat hasn’t learned you can’t win a battle of wills with me.  B learned a long time ago and life is easier for it.

Well, I need to get to getting’ before my mens return.  I’m going straight to the couch.  I will not pass cat.  I will not collect 200 nuggets of Purina.


I’ve had this problem with my left ear for a few years.  It started when I was working a part-time at an after school care program.  Being around kids everyday, obviously I was exposed to more germs and 2 Winters in a row I got very bad cases of the flu.  Like, knocked on my ass for 7-10 days, no energy to move or do anything but in pain and so stuffy I couldn’t sleep much, bad.  I got my very 1st ear infection during this time and it didn’t seem to go away.  I was in pain for 6 months and bleeding from my left ear.

When the infection finally cleared, I had suffered hearing loss in that ear.  I went to an audiologist for a hearing test and he noticed a pin-size hole in my ear drum.  He said to give that time to heal, come back in a few months, then we’ll reassess the hearing loss and see if anything needs to be done.  Well, a few months later my ear was finally feeling normal, I had gotten used to the hearing loss and I never went back to have my ear checked.  *slapping myself on the wrist*

Then in mid-September of this year, my ear started hurting and my hearing decreased even more.  Over the next 3 weeks, the pain got worse; it felt like I was being stabbed in the ear.  I also felt like there was something stuck in my ear canal (the place where were not supposed to stick a Q-tip but we all do because we can’t stand to feel water in our ears).  So I made an appointment with an ENT.  After a round of oral and ear dropped antibiotics, hearing tests and a CT scan of my head and neck, I finally received a diagnosis on November 7th.  I have a mass in my ear.

What does that mean?  This mass, probably made up of harmless skin cells, has filled the space behind my ear drum, preventing the ear bones from vibrating normally, thus interfering with my hearing.  It continues to grow and pushed over my ear drum into my ear canal.  So, I really do have something in my ear canal and it has nothing to do with improper use of a Q-tip.  Phew!  Wouldn’t want to get caught by the ENT for that offense!  ;o)  This mass is also growing down behind and under my ear.  The mass is grainy, like sand, so as it’s grown, it has been rubbing away at my ear bones – another reason for my hearing loss.

How did this happen?  This can happen to people who have had ear tubes put in as a child (I did not) or who’ve had a whole in their ear drum at some point (I have).  Some skin cells travelled through that hole and have been multiplying.  The pain I feel is the erosion of my ear bones by the mass and it has subsided tremendously over the past weeks – a good and bad thing.  ;o)

What can they do?  My ENT said it will involve 2 surgeries, and I need someone more specialized than him to do them.  The 1st one, to go in and remove all parts of the mass and assess the state of my ear bones.  It is done in a hospital but it is only a few hours and will be outpatient.  The second surgery is to put in prosthetic ear bones/bone pieces to replace what has been eroded away.  Isn’t that totally awesome?!?!?!  Did you even know that prosthetic ear bones existed?!  I sure as hell didn’t!  I have appointments next week with 2 surgeons (because the hubs said if surgery is involved, then a 2nd opinion is to be had) to go over all my tests, listen to what their plan of attack is and, to basically interview them and see which one gives me the better vibe.

My ENT was great explaining all of this to me in detail and answering all of my questions.  I appreciated that he was upfront with me and was honest that this is a time sensitive issue, instead of being vague, referring me to a surgeon and leaving it to that doctor to tell me everything.  He assured me that this is a common issue and the mass is just skin cells.  Even though I never asked him, he said at least 3 times, “It’s not a tumor.”  Each time he did, I tried not to giggle because all I could think of was Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop saying, “IT’S NOT A TOOMAH!!”  LOL!  That line kills me!

After he’d explained everything and answered all my questions, he said, “I gotta say, you’re handling this very well.  You’re so calm.”

“I don’t worry unless there’s something to be worried about.  You’ve explained everything to me so well and I’m just relieved to have a diagnosis that has a solution,” I replied.

He said, “I wish I could be like you.  I’m a worry wart.  I worry about everything!”

“That’s because you’re a dad; It’s your job,” I replied.  “It’s what my dad does and what my husband does.  So I don’t need to.”

Even though he said this is common, that cancer in the ear is extremely rare and this is just skin cells, he assured me that it will still be biopsied.  I asked if it could spread into my sinuses or throat since all of that is connected to the ear and he said no.  However, if left untreated, he can grow straight up into my brain or straight back into major blood vessels, so I should not delay on seeking treatment.  He also said that despite the efforts to remove the mass, a cell or two could be left behind and they would reproduce.  So, I’ll need regular CT scans (I forgot to ask how frequently) for the rest of my life to keep tabs on it.

I am so excited that an end is in sight!  I am at peace and confident because God will be with me and will bear any worries that may come up.  But there’s never such a thing as too many prayers, so I ask that you keep me in yours.  Thank you.

I’ll keep you up to date when I know something new.

My Thoughts on Christmas Cards

In my November 1st post, Halloween’s over; time to tackle Christmas., I told you about my portable Christmas card station (PCCS).  I get a box or a box lid and fill it with everything I need to send Christmas cards – cards, envelopes, stamps, address book, list of recipients, pens, lap desk.  Then each day, usually after dinner but anytime I find a few minutes in my day, I’ll work on the cards.  I thought you might want to see a picture of it.  :o)  I know there are a lot of cards in my PCCS, but I don’t use up all the cards in a box in one year.  So I have lots of leftovers that I’ll use again a few years later.

Anywho, I want to talk about what has happened to the custom of mailing Christmas cards over the last several years.  In my world, I saw a huge shift occur during the holiday seasons of 2007 and 2008 and I believe part of that had to do with the downturn the US economy was taking.  Most of the people I know either didn’t send cards for the 1st time or really cut back on the number of cards they sent.  I get it.  It’s an expense and time consuming!  I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I’m only going to send a Christmas card to someone who sends me a Christmas card first.”  Very few cards were received because everyone was sitting around waiting for everyone else to send the 1st card!  LOL

I used to send out almost 200 cards due to my large family.  Doing cards then was a chore and not enjoyable at all.  I cut that amount down because I wasn’t receiving a card back from most of those people.  Doing my 50-60 cards makes me happy now.  I still don’t receive as many as I send and I am receiving less and less cards as each year passes.

It makes me sad, however, that Christmas cards appear less personal these days.  And in some instances, aren’t even cards.  I say “appear” because there is a lot of effort and time spent on the creation of a Christmas mailing, but then it may arrive with no personalization – the address on the envelope is typed out and nothing has been handwritten on the mailing/picture/collage.

When B was younger, I even created those beautiful Christmas mailings online with a picture or a collage of pictures on it.  I loved that they came with envelopes but the stress of finding the perfect picture/pictures on my unorganized computer was too much for me.  But I always wrote a personal message on the back before sending them.

I noticed something, though, when I was sending my prefab mailings – I was receiving mostly prefab mailings.  I like to receive cards!  I get a thrill when I open the flap of an envelope and see that it contains a card.  Before pulling it out, I get a glimpse of the front and try to guess what the rest is going to be.  “I see snow!”  “I bet that’s the robe a wise man.” “Is that the side of a snowman?”  Then I slide out the card and drink in the front picture.  Religious?  Season’s greetings?  I love them all!  After I’ve had my fill of the picture and wording on the front, there comes the anticipation of the inside.  “What will it say?”  “What’s the rest of the saying that was started on the front?”  “Will it be signed by a person, with a real pen?”  “Will we be able to read the handwriting?”  I’ve never met someone who liked their own handwriting.  We always think our writing looks terrible and people tell me they don’t write in cards because of that.  But it’s never as bad as you think it is and we love to sit around in the evening and decipher handwriting.  It’s a family activity!

I hang every card and mailing we receive on the back of our front door so that we, and everyone who enters this house, can enjoy them.  The hubs likes to come home form work and see what new ones arrived that day.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not judging anyone who creates a mailing with pictures and pre-prints one holiday message and the family name for every card.  I am not judging anyone for using a mail merge to print out the envelopes.  I know the amount of time and energy it takes to create those things and I myself can’t handle all that.  If we’re going to spend time and money creating something, it needs to be something we like and in a way we like to do it.  I just grieve that the technology allowing us to do new things faster, neater, prettier means that some old ways will be discontinued.  

Remember Frank Navasky from You’ve Got Mail?  His unwillingness to trade in typewriters for a computer and his love for not only the sound of a typewriter’s key but also the uneven, “personalized” typeface created by different typewriters is how I feel about Christmas cards that can open and have a handwritten message inside just for me.

I love the better quality of movies on my DVD player and am glad it was invented.  However, I’m still sad that the family Betamax had to go recently because no electronics shop could repair it.  I had movies in Beta form that were either so old or unpopular, they weren’t remade in DVD format so I will never enjoy them again.

I know that if I get a thrill out of opening a Christmas card with a handwritten message inside, others must too, so I like to provide that.  I do enjoy receiving your collages that show me the highlights in your family’s lives over the past year.  I read everyone of y’all’s Christmas letters and laugh, applaud and cry with you.  And I don’t need to get anything at all to know you care, so don’t stress if Christmas cards/mailing are one more thing you don’t need on your plate this time of year.  

If you’ve missed the Christmas cards of yore, let me know, and I’d be happy to add you to my Christmas card list!

Halloween’s over; time to tackle Christmas.

I can see the eye rolling and hear the sighs and groans already.  “But what about Thanksgiving?!” y’all cry. I don’t ignore Thanksgiving.  In fact, it’s my favorite holiday of the year!  Food, family, giving thanks, counting blessings – that’s what I’m all about!

But seriously, does Thanksgiving preparation take up the entire month of November?  No.  And if it does for you, I’d suggest reevaluating your Thanksgiving plans!  We host my parents and brother for the Thanksgiving meal.  We all know what we’re having every year – turkey, stuffing, rolls, potatoes, veggies, gravy, desserts; we all know on what day it occurs; there are no presents to buy or wrap.  Not a whole lot to do.
This year we are actually going to New England to spend Thanksgiving with my dad’s side of the family.  My Nana is 96 years old and as much of the family that can is getting together to celebrate since we haven’t done that since before B was born.  But still, a little clothes packing and hotel reservation making is all that has been added to my Thanksgiving planning this year.
But Christmas?!  That’s a whole different ballgame!  Decorating, buying presents, wrapping presents, baking goodies to share with friends and neighbors, sending Christmas cards.  Then there’s the fun stuff to do – make sure all the traditional Christmas specials on TV are watched, go caroling, drive around and look at Christmas lights, visit Santa, attend our 1st office Christmas party in well over a decade!  And only 24 days in which to do it?  Not for me!
I want to make sure I can not only do all that fun stuff but also enjoy it without watching the clock, my mind racing over a long list of things to do.  That is why I start tackling Christmas on November 1st.  Actually, the hubs has been buying Christmas presents since the beginning of the Summer, not only spreading out the cost of Christmas, but also eliminating things off our “to do” list already.
I got the idea years ago from The Fly Lady.  She “Cruises Through The Holidays” every year.  She said to pretend that you are departing on December 1st for a 3-week cruise and you need to make sure everything is done for Christmas before you leave.  That year that I followed her cruising to a “T” we started around October 15th.  Each day there was a “mission” to do – planning, making lists, shopping, wrapping, writing cards, etc. – all spread out over 6.5 weeks.
By the time December 1st rolled around, I was finished!  Everything that needed to be done was and I got to relax during December!  Invitation to a holiday party?  I was there because I didn’t have to go shopping in the evenings after the hubs came home to watch B.  You want me to sit and watch the Grinch show with you, again, or you want to help me with my holiday baking?  Sure!  I had time to watch that show and plenty of time to have a baking helper, no need to stay up all night frantically baking and getting a half-assed result.
Now, I haven’t gotten everything done by December 1st since then, but it opened up my eyes that enjoying the month of December is a heck of a lot better than working through it for everyone else’s enjoyment.  Therefore, I start November 1st, I make a plan and I get as much done as I can.
First of all, the hubs and I sit down to make the gift list – who’s getting a gift and what ideas do we have for those gifts.  The more ideas the better because things tend to run out this time of year.
Secondly, I decide what I’m going to bake and/or make, who’s going to get something homemade and what supplies I need.  Each year that B gets older, he can help more and more with these items.
Thirdly, I set up my portable Christmas card station.  I get a box or a box lid and fill it with everything I need to send Christmas cards – cards, envelopes, stamps, address book, list of recipients, pens, lap desk.  Then each day, usually after dinner but anytime I find a few minutes in my day, I’ll work on the cards.
Some years I’ve done a few cards a day, from start to finish; some years I’ll do them in stages.  For example, I may go through the cards, pick out the appropriate card for each recipient (some are happy to receive a religious card, others prefer to receive a seasonal one), put it in an envelope and just write their name on the front of the envelope.  I may do some of them or I may do all of them in one sitting, depends on how much time I have or if I get interrupted.
Next time I sit down to work on the cards, I’ll decide what personal message I’m going to write inside.  I’ll come up with 1 – 3 appropriate messages and write them down so I don’t forget.
Each day I’ll do a little more.  Write my message and sign the inside of some cards or address some envelopes or do some cards all the way to sealing the envelope or some days all I have the energy to do is stick on return address labels.  I used to handwrite our return address on each envelope, but last year and this year, we’re receiving those free self-adhesive labels from a magazine to which the hubs subscribes.
By doing this, I usually have all of my Christmas cards signed, sealed and stamped by Thanksgiving and I mail them between December 10 – 15.
After getting the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving morning, the hubs gets the tree out of the basement and sets it up in the living room.  While I open up all the branches, he brings up the Christmas decorations.  After our meal, my parents, brother, the hubs, B and I go for a walk.  The fresh air and smells of all the meals are wonderful!  When we get back to our house we decorate the tree and house for Christmas.  Many hands make light work!  Once we’ve decorated, then we have dessert.
The weather gets colder and the days get shorter, so November is a perfect month for B and I to get our craft on and create our homemade presents.  Then our house stays festive in December with the aroma of baking.  This year, I intend to sign up for the 1 month free trial of Amazon Prime from Thanksgiving to Christmas and do as much shopping on there as possible.  The full, 1 year membership is on my Christmas list.  :o)
OK, I’ve gone on long enough!  I hope you give it a try this year and get whatever you can done early so you can enjoy December as much as possible.  Let me know how it goes!
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