“I said, ‘I don’t want to carve a damn pumpkin!'”

I was over carving pumpkins a few years ago, bur B insisted that we must carry on the tradition of 3 jack-o-lanterns: one carved by each of us.  *SIGH*  Last year, the hubs joined in and bullied me into carving something. I barely made an effort and I took my frustrations at them out on the poor gourd.

This year, I was quite clear that I am NOT carving a pumpkin, no matter what anyone says! B is a teenager now, he’s going trick-or-treating with friends and no parent tag-a-longs, for goodness sake! If I can allow him to do that, he can accept my desire to not carve a pumpkin.

So, once the hubs finished hunting yesterday morning, B and I took a break from running errands to meet him for lunch. Afterwards, I went on to do the grocery & costume accessory shopping and B went with the hubs. They were going to pick out pumpkins for themselves. I was so happy that they made no attempt to convince me to come and pick out a pumpkin for myself. I even reminded the hubs before we parted that he is only buying two for them because I Will. Not. Be. Carving. This. Year.

File Oct 31, 11 20 51 AM

Then I came home from my errands to find this on the back porch.

Me: I said, “I don’t want to carve a damn pumpkin!”

The hubs: I know. But I thought you might change your mind and I wanted to save you the hassle of running around tomorrow to find one. You have so much to do tomorrow.


He just smiled, kissed me patronizingly on the head, and walked away.

I’m not doing it people! I am declaring it so here, in public, y’all as my witnesses, that I will NOT be carving that damn pumpkin!


My New Year’s Wish for All of You


I’ve heard and read something disturbing throughout 2014 – people who are so angry they want to “throat punch” another human being. I’m Irish and I have quite the temper. Plus, I’ve had some dark times in my life; had good reason to dislike certain individuals. However, I’ve never felt the urge to hit someone in a way that could collapse their windpipe and possibly kill them.  You know why?  Because hatred is something I save for more important things, like poverty, inequality and genocide.  So, I have a New Year’s wish for all of you.

  • I wish you inner peace and self-acceptance.
  • I wish you control over yourself, your emotions, your reactions.
  • I wish that you don’t give anyone else power over yourself, your emotions, your reactions.
  • I wish you to be so busy loving and being kind to all people, that you don’t have time to notice ugliness and hate in others.
  • I wish you to be so busy loving and being kind to all people, that you notice the hurt and brokenness in others.
  • I wish you the ability to turn the other cheek.
  • I wish that if someone makes you angry enough to start thinking, “throat p….”, that you take a page from B’s book and, instead, yell out, “I’M IN MY AWESOME BUBBLE AND YOUR NEGATIVITY CAN’T GET TO ME TODAY!”  It really does work; B and I know from experience!
  • I wish you to remember that we have been instructed to do unto others as we’d do unto ourselves, regardless of whether or not others are affording you that same courtesy.
  • And last, but certainly not least, I wish you to be kind to yourself.  Quickly forgive yourself, move on and do not dwell when you come up short in your own eyes.  You are perfectly imperfect just as you are and wholly loved, valued and cherished by Our Father.

Happy New Year, my friends!

Bring a Veteran to School Day


On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, we participated in Bring a Veteran to School Day.  B called each of his two grandfathers, invited them over and they were both pleasantly surprised and happy to come.  My dad is 45 minutes away; the hubs’ dad is an hour and a half away.  I had originally chosen an arrival time of 11am, so both could avoid rush hour traffic.  However, 2 days before I remembered the moment of silence at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month and told the hubs I should move it up to 10:30am or 10:45am.  He said to leave it as is, and we’ll have our moment whenever they get here.

Around 10am, B and I visited a neighbor who is retired from the Marine Corps.  B shook his hand, thanked him for his service and gave him some cookies and a homemade poppy. That afternoon, the neighbor gave B a Dinar as a thank you gift for the cookies, poppy and appreciation.  B ran into the house to show me and he was so excited!

My dad arrived a little before 11am and my FIL arrived a little after.  My FIL brought B a picture of the trainer airplane that he flew in flight school in Pensacola, a T-28!  To start our little “program”, I announced that we were going to step out onto the front stoop, face the flag over the front door and say The Pledge of Allegiance.  My FIL said, “I’m Quaker.  Quakers don’t pledge to anyone or anything.”  What an amazing life lesson he presented to us!  The I’m offended/political correctness issue is so hotly debated in this country, and with the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa season just around the corner, it’s going to get hotter.  The hubs replied, “That’s alright.  You can still come outside with us and stand in silence while we pledge.”  After they left, I had a discussion with B that how daddy replied is what is great about this country.  We wanted to pledge, so we did.  Grandad didn’t want to pledge so he didn’t.  We all did what we wanted to do.  We did not tell him he had to pledge; we did not skip the pledge all together because he didn’t want to do it.  :o)  After the pledge, the hubs called for a moment of silence to honor those who had given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their countries.

We came back inside and settled the grandads in chairs next to each other.  The hubs, as our school principal, officially welcomed our vets to our school and read this poem about Veterans Day.  Then I got up and read John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields while B handed out a homemade poppy to each of his grandads.  The poppy means a lot to my dad and he was so happy to receive one.  He said he will treasure it.  We all sat down and I told our vets the reason we wanted to bring them here was so that we can honor them, thank them and, most importantly, hear their stories.  B wanted to know what it was like and hear their individual experiences.  He had a list of questions:

When & why did you join the Navy/Army?

What is the primary role of that branch of the military?

What was boot camp like?

Where did you go after boot camp and what were your responsibilities?

How did actually being in the Navy/Army compare to your expectations before you joined?

How did you stay in touch with your family?

What was the food like?

Did you have a best friend?  Did you stay in touch after you got out?

What is your most memorable experience?

Do you remember any funny or unusual experiences?

How did your service in the Navy/Army affect your life – positively and negatively?

Would you do it again?  Anything you wish you had done or handled differently?

Some questions B asked, some questions his grandads answered as they were talking.  B starting by asking my FIL the first question – When and why did you join the Navy? – and after he answered that question, B was going to ask my dad the same question and go back and forth down the list.  However, the conversation that followed was much more organic.  After answering that 1st question with a huge shock to us, he just kept talking.  My FIL is very sweet and has a sense of humor.  But he is a quiet man; doesn’t speak too much when I’m around him.  I think he said more in the 2+ hours he was here than I heard him speak in the last 19 years.  ;o)  He shocked us by answering B’s 1st question with, “I didn’t join the Navy; I was drafted.”  None of us, not even the hubs, knew that!

We talked in the living room for over an hour and continued to talk over lunch in the kitchen (B asked me to make Chicken Tortilla Soup and My Southwestern Cornbread and the 3 of us made Spicy Molasses Cookies for dessert).  We all learned a lot about our dads/grandads that we never knew and my FIL’s experience as an officer and pilot in the Navy was completely different from my dad’s as a soldier in the Army.  Somethings were the same, though, and when one of them was talking, occasionally the other nodded along and chimed in with a, “you’re right”, a laugh or a shake of the head.

When my FIL graduated from high school, the draft was still in place due to the Korean War.  His draft was deferred because he was accepted to college, but they called him up as soon as he graduated.  The Army had been scooping up all the college graduates so the Navy stepped in and took my FIL and some other college graduates who were there that day.  Boot camp was no big deal to my FIL.  He was 23 when he entered the Navy, older than most, and he never took the yelling and attitudes of drill sergeants and superiors personally.  He mentioned one particular drill sergeant who was a second year.  My FIL told him, “Just remember – when boot camp is over, I’m going to be an officer and outrank you.  I’ll expect you to treat me as such.”  After boot camp he was stationed in a few places in Maryland and his stories of his lucky jobs were so fun to hear!  Then he was asked if he wanted to go to flight school in Pensacola.  Um…YEAH!  He said he was lucky; they were treated like royalty, compared to what those who were shipped out.  They had servants who cleaned, did the laundry and cooked.  Once he’d completed flight school, he still owned the Navy 2 years of service.  However, the Korean War was over.  He and the other guys in his training were pulled into a room and told that their contracts were being changed from 2 years to 6 years.  If they were not going to accept the new 6 year contract, they had to pack their bags and leave the Navy that day.  He said they all pulled out quarters and started flipping coins – should I stay or go?  LOL  Most of them left.

As a 17 yr old high school senior from a humble family, my dad knew the only way he was getting a college education was to join the Army and take advantage of the G.I. Bill when he got out.  He told his 2 best friends his plan and they said they should all enlist together, but go into the Navy, not the Army.  My dad was a pale redhead, barely 100 lbs soaking wet, the class clown and he didn’t know how to swim.  Plus, you only had to give the Army 3 years but the Navy got 4 years.  He just couldn’t join the Navy!  But his friends talked him into it.  The Navy had a buddy program and they guaranteed you’d stay together after boot camp.  They all made an appointment with the Navy recruitment office and were going to meet there to enlist.  He was the first to arrive and the recruiter got him started on paperwork.  Before signing, my dad said he wanted to wait for his friends but the recruiter said, “They’re coming. Let’s get you all signed up and then we’ll do them when they get here.”  His friends never showed and my dad had signed on the bottom line.  One buddy’s parents said he was not enlisting, he was going to college and the other buddy decided to be a police officer.  But neither had the guts to tell my dad before he enlisted in a branch of the service that terrified him.  >:o(  (That last sentence is all my words and feelings, not my dad’s.)

The closer he got to high school graduation, the more worried he was, so he went to the local Army recruiting station, told the recruiter what happened and that he really wanted to join the Army, was there anything he can do?  The recruiter took his name and number and said he’d be in touch.  Two and a half weeks before graduation, the recruiter told him he’d taken care of it, my dad was out of his Navy contract and he needed to come down and sign his Army one.  My dad was so relieved!  He has no idea how the recruiter did it because he didn’t ask.  When he signed up, he told the recruiter he was really interested in accounting and would like a job in that field with the Army if possible.  My dad turned 18 on graduation day and was on a bus to boot camp the next day.

As my dad described his experience at boot camp, it reminded me so much of my own experience in culinary arts school!  He said he never knew how sheltered he was until he went into the Army.  There were some really good people there and there were some really terrible people there.  He, like me, was sensitive, and it was hard to be on the receiving end of the drill sergeants.  When boot camp was over, 90% of the men were shipped off to Vietnam and my dad expected to be one of them.  He was surprised when he was sent to Indianapolis, instead, to attend finance school.  He assumed it was the doing of the Army recruiter who had gotten him out of the Navy contract.  Many, many years later, he found out it was the 1st of 2 times that his older brother saved his life.

My dad was eventually shipped out on a troop boat from California to Korea.  My dad served his tour in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).  He shared very vivid memories of good times and bad times over there, and the hubs had to bring tissues to the kitchen table for us.  In fact, just thinking about it now, I need to go get some tissues.  Excuse me.

After his tour in Korea, my dad came home and his service was over.  His oldest brother, C (who is also my godfather), was an Army man and stayed in until retirement.  Sometime after Uncle C retired, he and my dad were talking about their service and my dad found out why he’d never been sent to Vietnam.  My Uncle C did 3 tours in Vietnam.  He was, in fact, there when my dad exited with boot camp.  Therefore, because of the Sole Survivor Policy (a lot of civilians call it the Saving Private Ryan rule) my dad was sent to finance school, instead.  When he finished with school, Uncle C was still in Vietnam so my dad was sent to Korea.  My Uncle C never told his parents that he was in Vietnam until after all of his tours were over.  He didn’t want them to worry, so he told them he was in The Philippines and Korea.  Any mail sent or received involved an APO or FPO address, so my Nana & Papa never knew and neither did my dad.

Both my dad and my FIL are glad they served.  They both met their wives through a service buddy.  My FIL never would have learned to fly if not for the Navy, and he became a member of the Civil Air Patrol after getting out.  Flying was his happy place.  My dad knows he never would have gotten a college degree if not for the Army.  And, with the exception of a couple of odd jobs in college, the Department of Defense has been my dad’s sole employer as an adult – first as a soldier and then as a civilian employee after graduating from college (thanks to the G.I. Bill).  They were both so happy they had come, more so (if that’s possible) than the hubs, B and I were to have them and listen to them!  They enjoyed reminiscing individually and together and I think they are closer now.

I am so glad we did this!  My dad thanked us several times before he left and my mom called me later that day to thank me, as well.  She said my dad had such a great time and was so proud to show off his poppy.  The hubs thanked B and me for putting this together and he feels so blessed to have been present.  I encourage everyone to do this, at least once.  It was amazing to get to know who these men were before they were husbands and fathers, and hear about a way of life that neither one of us chose.  If you don’t have living family members who served, you can go to for resources to assist you with finding local veterans and how to host your own Bring a Veteran to School Day.

B’s Homemade Transformer Costume for Halloween 2014

The hubs and I are so proud of B!  He wanted to make his own Transformer costume and he did.  He took boxes from our and my parents’ basements, he rooted through our recycle bin regularly and our first floor was full of cardboard, scissors, yards of duct tape and determination for 2 months.  First he made it the way he imagined.  It was awesome, but not practical for walking up and down stairs while trick-or-treating nor transforming on small front stoops.  So he redesigned it for trick-or-tricking – removed parts from his legs and attached it all to the body of the tank so he could walk freely and transform while standing.  So proud of this kid!


Original design with B inside

Original design, transforming from Tank to robot from the ground. B is inside.

Original design as robot

Original design, transformed into robot. Sections attached to his legs were not practical for trick-or-treating.


I love the rivets he added when attaching the costume together for trick-or-treating. They look like they belong on a tank.

I love the rivets he added when attaching the costume together for trick-or-treating. They look like they belong on a tank. And I think he did a great job painting the boxes with several colors to create the camo and autobot symbol.

Finally, here is a video of how he went trick-or-treating:


I Made Peace with Our Poltergeist

Yes, we have a poltergeist.  I’ve been aware of him since 2005 however, looking back, the hubs realized that he’s probably been with us since the beginning (1995).  Yes, I said “he”;  It is a man and we know who he is.  I have always believed in ghosts and been deathly afraid of them.  I hoped that they would leave me be, because I scare very easily.  I’ve believed my whole life that the manner in which I die would be scared to death.  Truly!  Always been a scaredy cat.  I don’t watch horror movies; i get nightmares from the commercials.   As a child, I thought the Gremlins lived under my bed, Darth Vader lived in my basement and the Boogie Man roamed the halls of my house after everyone turned in.  If the hubs is away, I bring B into our bed at night, lock the bedroom door and leave the TV on all night.  So when I realized we had a poltergeist in our house, I thought I would go mad with fear.  I mean it literally.  I felt the panic that I had once felt during those two years of hell after I was raped.  But this morning, I realized I am finally at peace with him.  I actually love him and am glad he’s around, although I wish he’d stop messing with me!

So, let’s start at the beginning.  Actually, this is not the real beginning – not when he showed up.  But this is when I became aware of a poltergeist in our home.  The hubs had suspected who he was for some time but didn’t share the identity with me until a few years ago.  So, let’s head back to 2005…

It was a lovely, warm day and I was folding laundry in our bedroom.  B was playing, going back and forth from our bedroom and his.  We were renting a 3 story town home and the bedrooms were on the top.  There was no basement to the house; all 3 stories were above ground.  First floor had the front door, sliding glass doors in the back,a one car garage, family room and full bath; second floor had a kitchen, dining room and living room; third floor had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.  For some reason, I did not have the TV nor radio on, so it was fairly quiet.  All of a sudden I heard the sound of a dining room chair being knocked over on the floor below.  I froze.  My heart stopped.  (As I type this, I’m reliving the fear from that day!  *shudder*)  Within 10 seconds, I heard the sound of a glass being knocked over on the kitchen counter.  Someone was in the house!

Before having B, this scaredy cat would have curled into a ball and either, a) been killed by the ax murderer who broke into the house or, b) died of fright before he made it to the top of the stairs!  But I was a mom and the instinct to protect my child got me moving.  I grabbed the phone on the nightstand, called the hubs at work and went to the top of the stairs.  When the hubs answered, I said loudly, “Someone’s broken into the house.  You need to come home now.  NOW!”  Luckily, my hubs is an action man, not a “Wait, what?  Calm down and give me all the details” kinda man.  He said, “Is B with you?”  “Yes.”  “Barricade yourself in your bedroom.  Call 911.  I’m on my way.”  He hung up.  I had not heard any more noise since the glass fell and no one had proceeded up the stairs yet, so I didn’t call 911.  I had hoped that the person thought the house empty since it was so quiet and now, realizing it was not they were thinking of leaving.

I spoke loudly and angrily from the top of the stairs, “Whoever you are, you better get the Hell out of my house RIGHT NOW.  My husband is on his way.  He carries a gun for work and his office is less than 5 minutes away.  I promise you, you will regret being here when he arrives, because the police will NOT be called and no one will find your body.”  I don’t know where that speech came from!  The hubs was at least 20 minutes away and had no gun.  But I was so mad that this person dared to come into my house with my child that I clung to the anger.  The alternative was panic.

I slammed the bedroom door, locked it and pushed my hope chest, nightstand and one bureau in front of it.  I grabbed the golf club under the hubs’ side of the bed and took B into the bathroom.  I locked the bathroom door and we both got into the tub.  I held the club in my left hand and the portable phone in my right.  I punched in the numbers 911 and hovered my thumb over the send button. I didn’t realize how tightly I was gripping both items until I heard our secret, family knock on the bedroom door, and had to put them down  to open the bathroom door.  I stood in the open bathroom door, silently, and waiting for the knock again.  It came, followed by, “Jessie?  It’s me.  It’s OK.  I’ve searched the whole house and no one’s here.  Open the door.”  He’d driven home like a bat out of Hell and spent 10 minutes searching the house.

After I moved the furniture and opened the bedroom door, he scooped B up in one arm and me in the other.  After I stopped shaking he told me what he’d found when he came home: the entire house was locked – all doors and windows – no one had broken in.  The only things out of place were a knocked over chair in the dining room and a glass in the kitchen.  “Well, someone was here!  Neither one of those were knocked over when we came upstairs and I heard them fall!”  “Then someone used a key,” he replied.  “But I doubt they’ll be back.”  We were renting the house at the time.  The owner got the house in her divorce settlement and she was currently living with the boyfriend that broke up the marriage.  I’d not heard good things from the neighbors about him and we thought it must have been him.  The hubs promised to call the owner and have a talk with her.  Despite my begging, he had to go back to work.

But I soon realized that no one had used a key to get into the house; it was a poltergeist.  A week later he started messing with me daily, but never in front of B or the hubs, so the hubs thought I was imagining things.  The owner’s bedroom was in the back of the house and in the front were 2 bedrooms side-by-side.  One was B’s room and the other the office.  B liked his door left open while he napped, so when I was on the computer at nap time, I shut the office door.  We had a loud, clacky keyboard and I didn’t want to wake B up.  Every time I was in the office, I heard footsteps walk down the hall from the stairwell to the office door and then the ghost knocked on the door!  I’d open it up but there’d be no one there.  On the nights that the hubs went to the basement to watch a game while I watched one of my shows in the bedroom, I’d hear the ghost’s footsteps start outside B’s door and walk down the hall to the threshold of our bedroom.  I kept the door open so I could hear B.  He would pause in the doorway for a few minutes,  Staring at me?  Watching TV with me?  And then I’d hear his footsteps head downstairs.

Then one time, several months later, I was out running errands on the weekend, B was taking a nap and the hubs was in the office with the door closed.  There was a knock at the office door.  He opened the door, but there was no one there.  Because of what I’d been telling him about my encounters, the hubs just stood in the doorway and waited.  After a minute or 2, he heard the footsteps walking away from him down the hall and down the stairs.  I was so relieved it’d finally happened to him!  A year after the ghost (I know, I switched from calling him a poltergeist to a ghost a little bit ago; it’s just because ghost is shorter to type) first appeared, our lease was up and we moved.  I was so happy because I believed that most ghosts haunt in one place – where they died, where they were buried, etc. – and that the ghost would stay at that house and bother the new occupants.

We moved over the Summer of 2006 and enjoyed a ghost-free new home for 2 months.  Or so I thought.  The hubs goes to bed earlier than me because he goes into work early.  I would watch TV, after he and B were in bed, downstairs in the family room.  Every night before going to bed I would change the channel on the set top box to Noggin (OH, how I miss Noggin!).  Every morning, B would wake up, come wake me up and then head downstairs while I peed and brushed my teeth.  The TV was on the floor in the family room and he would push the on button on the TV and watch Noggin until I came down to make breakfast.

When September began, despite the fact that I had put Noggin on before going to bed, ESPN was on the TV.  Not on the weekends, when the hubs got up with B, but on the weekdays, when the hubs was at work.  Not that ESPN was bad, but we didn’t want B watching anything other than Noggin without us present.  After a couple of weeks of coming downstairs and finding ESPN on, I told the hubs that if he’s going to watch ESPN in the morning before heading to work, could he please put it back on Noggin before leaving.  He didn’t know what I was talking about.  He never turned the TV on before work, he said, because he didn’t want to wake us.  I asked him if he recorded anything on ESPN during the night; that would account for the channel change.  He said no and I checked the DVR – no recordings on ESPN at all.  We didn’t have any pets to walk on the remote and I put it up high before bed.  B could not change the channel, volume, anything.  He could only reach the buttons on the TV, not the remote, not the set-top box.

DAMN IT!  It was the ghost; I was sure of it!  The fear only lasted a few seconds before being replaced with anger.  If I’d been calm at the time, I might have wondered why he came with us.  That meant he was attached to some possession or some person in our house and was sticking with us.  But I didn’t.  The hubs evidently did, but kept his theories to himself.  He knew my fear of ghosties.

I dropped B off at preschool one morning, came back home and stood in the middle of the family room.  I yelled, “I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU WANT BUT I’M TELLING YOU TO GET. THE. FUCK. OUT. OF. MY. HOUSE!  LEAVE MY FAMILY ALONE!  GO BOTHER SOMEONE ELSE!  I HAVE A CHILD AND I WILL NOT HAVE YOU SCARING HIM!”  The next morning, and every morning after that, the TV was on Noggin.  No footsteps, no bumps in the night, just peace.  He, kindly, did what I asked of him, but not forever.  In 2007, the hubs went to Iraq.  My nerves were frayed enough as it was.  If that ghost had made itself known I probably would have gone into the funny farm!  But as soon as the hubs returned, the ghost made himself known again – crashing and banging on the upper floors.  I think he was as happy as the rest of us to have the hubs home safe and sound.

In the Summer of 2008, the house we were renting was sold and we moved to our current home.  (BTW, we’ve been together for 19 years and have moved 11 times.  We owned a house for 5 years and have lived in this house for 6 years, so the rest of those moves happened in the remaining 8 years.  I’m moving ONE. MORE. TIME. PERIOD.)  Once in this house, our ghost started walking up and down the hall at night again and stopping in our bedroom doorway to have a look.  In 2011 I received two kittens for Mother’s Day and it was quite apparent that our ghost enjoyed playing with the cats.  The ghost was also starting to make himself known to B.  B came to me, upset, about things he’d seen and heard.  I did not want him to know, but I was done talking to this guy.  He didn’t listen to me for long so I sat down with the hubs and asked him what we should do.

He finally told me he believed he knew who it was and, upon lots of reflection, he realized this person been with us since 1996.  It was the hubs’ brother, who had passed away 4 months before the hubs and I met.  Although it made me feel better to know it wasn’t some random serial killer, I didn’t know my BIL (brother-in-law).  I knew I didn’t like his behavior in my house, but the hubs said that was his personality.  The hubs told me to take B out of the house and he had a talk with his brother to please tiptoe around B.  And he does.

The hubs and his brother weren’t very close growing up but, before he died, they spent a road trip together and really got to talk and connect for the first time.  The hubs is glad to have his brother in our house.  The month of November, when my BIL died, used to be very dark  and hard for the hubs.  But not now.  He talks to his brother all the time, is happy to have him with us, watching his nephew grow up into such a wonderful young man, and he’s glad his brother no longer suffers.  I’m happy for the hubs and that my BIL doesn’t mess with B, but I wished that he didn’t constantly remind me he was here.  He’s always moving my stuff!  Taking it and having a good ‘ole laugh watching me tear up the place looking for it, and then putting it right back where it was.  However, recently, I’ve had a change of heart.

I thought I didn’t know my BIL, but I realized this month that’s not true at all.  He’s lived with me for 19 years.  He even talks to me.  He calls our names.  Isn’t that amazing?!  I thought it was creepy before but it’s actually endearing.  He calls my name when I’m in the house alone.  He knows I’m a scaredy cat and I think he’s letting me know that I’m not really alone; he’s here.  He calls my name before I fall asleep sometimes.  I don’t know if he’s saying good night or messing with me by not letting me sleep.  He was a big prankster!  But it makes me feel like he sees me as his sister and I am “blessed” with all the sibling pranks that the others got when he was alive.

This month, though, he’s stepped up his game.  Halloween time is, apparently, his favorite time of year.  He crashed something in the bedroom last week just as I was dozing off.  The hubs had fallen asleep on the couch downstairs watching a game.  My BIL would have never pulled that stunt if the hubs was in the room!  LOL  And I’ve actually seen him in the house twice this month.  I’ve come downstairs with my eyes down because I have a habit of falling down stairs and I have to pay attention.  Out of the corner of my, I’ve seen a man in the kitchen and I look up just in time to see his back retreat out the kitchen door into the front room.  And you know what?  I wasn’t scared.  I wasn’t pissed.  I’m honored, in fact.

I’m finally at peace with my BIL, the poltergeist.  The whole time I’ve been typing this, I’ve wondered if he was standing behind me, reading over my shoulder.  I wonder what he thinks of this post.  Is he saying to himself, “Hold on, that is NOT what happened.” or “Lighten up!”  Maybe he’ll tell me at bedtime tonight.  ;o)


Fairfax Symphony Orchestra’s Christmas in Black & White

I entered a contest at Beltway Bargain Mom earlier this week and won tickets to see Christmas in Black & White, presented by The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra.  Four silent Christmas movies, all in black & white and over 100 years old, were shown in the Angelika Film Center in Fairfax’s Mosaic District.  The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra played during the movies and, in between each movie, members of The National Broadway Chorus sang Christmas carols.  Three of the films were created by Thomas Edison!

There were couples, groups of adults and families in the audience.  However, the conductor, Luke S. Frazier, mainly spoke to the children throughout the performance.  He really engaged B and the other children during his introduction as well as while describing each movie and its individual musical arrangement.

Mr. Frazier told the children that during one movie, A Winter Straw Ride, they were to have a snowball fight in the theater when they saw one start on the screen.  It was cute to see the children form imaginary snowballs and throw them at their siblings, parents or a complete stranger a few rows back!  B would bend over to the floor, “gather” snow into a ball, peek over the back of his seat and spy his target.  Then at the right moment, he popped up, threw his imaginary ball while whispering, “Wah-BAP!” and then duck back down quickly to avoid being hit with one himself.  LOL

B’s favorite movie was The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus; he laughed and laughed during that one and the loved that the hero saved the day.  Even though these films had simple plots, were short and contained no dialog, the children knew what was going on.  They cringed, laughed and cheered, all at the appropriate moments.

Not only was B exposed to a movie genre he’d never seen before, we had a clear view of every member of the orchestra.  B and I were both impressed with one woman who made up the entire percussion section by herself!  The instruments she played that B and I could actually identify were multiple drums, triangle, xylophone, tambourine, chimes, sleigh bells and either a woodblock or a guiro.  However all the musicians were close and B could see their instruments, how they worked and pick each one out as they played.

I was surprised how easy it was to get in and out of the Mosaic District during rush hour traffic.  Parking was easy and plentiful and we grabbed dinner and browsed through Target before the performance started.  We kept saying that we can’t wait to go back and show the hubs what a great center it is.

B and I had a great dinner-and-a-show date last night and I’m so glad we won the tickets!

B Made a Christmas Memory Journal Ornament This Morning from The Library Adventure

The Library Adventure has this great free printable ornament for kids, a Christmas Memory Journal.  B completed the ornament this morning and we really like it.  It was simple to put together, thanks to the instructions.

I just wanted to share these two pages with y’all.  B is thankful for NERF, Apple, Family, Food and Friends.  And I just love what he wrote and drew on the What I Want to be When I Grow Up page – a movie maker.  His drawing of a director is so adorable!  But I am kind of prejudice…  ;o)

Everything Works Out For The Best In The End

I haven’t said anything online to y’all about something that happened last week.  I’ve said it to a couple of friends in person and one in an email, but that’s it.  I wanted to blog about it, to explain how at peace the three of us are with it and how we are honoring it, but no matter how many times I sat down to blog to y’all, nothing came out.  Then I got some good news this morning I really want to share.  However, in order for you to understand just how good this news is, I need to share the bad news with you, too.

I told y’all that we went to the Boston area for Thanksgiving this year.  My dad’s mom (my Nana and B’s GG – short for great gramma) is 96 yrs old and one of my aunts planned for us to get together and share Thanksgiving with Nana because who knows how much longer she’ll be around.  Because I’m currently dealing with a health issue, I went back and forth on whether to go or not.  But I decided B and I should go and have a wonderful time with family.  Due to the government shutdown in October, the hubs is negative in his PTO (paid time off) and he was unable to go with us.

It was so wonderful to see aunts, uncles and cousins that I hadn’t seen in years, but seeing my Nana was the best!  She’ so small, yet full of energy.  And although her face has been wrinkled and her hands spotted for as long as I can remember, she has always had the softest skin I’ve ever touched.  Not even B’s skin as a baby was as soft as Nana’s.  Her sight, hearing and short-term memory are going, so it was quite overwhelming for her to be in a room of 60+ people (just a fraction of her family. BTW) all talking and coming at her for hugs.  We all wore name tags to help her out.  :o)  One of my uncles read a poem he’d written for Nana.  A cousin read a short story she’d written about Nana and Papa years ago.  A cousin’s wife and daughter sang a song and that daughter also sang a solo while “dancing” a cup on a table (it was amazing).  B and my dad performed a rap about Nana’s life that my dad, my brother and B had written.  It was a beautiful day!

I hugged her, told her I missed her and loved her very much.  I didn’t want to let her go because I loved the softness of her cheek against mine, the smell of her shampoo.  She remembered who I was and who B was.  I will always treasure the memory of that day, that gift we all gave and received.

Five days later, on what would have been my Papa’s 103rd birthday, Nana had stomach pains and was taken to the hospital in the evening.  At her age, if by some miracle she survived surgery, the doctors said recovery would kill her.  So she was made comfortable with pain meds and she passed away early the next morning.

She went quickly, she was living independently in her own apartment at the time and she had just been honored and loved on by her family.  I think it was a perfect time to go and I’m glad she did not slowly deteriorate over time.  I wonder if Papa finally called her home as a birthday present to himself.  :o)

Since returning from Thanksgiving, symptoms of other medical issues have arisen in me, possibly complicating the surgery I need.  I need another specialist and further testing to get a diagnosis and make sure my surgeon has the whole state of me before he starts drilling into my head.  And time is of the essence.  Therefore, the three of us decided not to go back up to Boston for Nana’s funeral.  I have no regrets.

Tonight is the hubs’ company Christmas party.  We have not been to an office Christmas party since before I got pregnant with B and were looking forward to going.  However, since my parents and my brother have gone up to the funeral, we no longer have a babysitter for tonight.  And that’s OK!  The hubs is still going and he’s driving a couple of his co-workers whose significant others cannot attend, as well.  B and I were going to have a holiday movie/popcorn/snugglefest tonight.

So we’re all done with the sad stuff and now we’re moving onto the good news!  Before going to bed last night, I entered a contest.  I saw a Facebook post announcing only 2 hours left to enter and I took a chance.  This morning, I received an email that I won the contest – 2 tickets to a family-friendly holiday event tonight.  So, now B and I will be going out on a date tonight!  We are both very excited!  We are all very blessed.

B’s Letter to Santa

Two nights ago, B couldn’t get to sleep.  He said right before he falls asleep, all kinds of ideas and thoughts come into his head but he never remembers them in the morning.  He wouldn’t go to sleep that night because he didn’t want to forget something.  He felt compelled to write Santa a letter and asked the hubs to bring him paper and pencil so he could do so.

He finally read the letter to me this afternoon before mailing it off.  I asked him to let me scan it first.

In case the picture is not clear, here is what he wrote:

“Dear Santa,

Thank you.  Just plain old thank you.  I thank you for all you’ve done & not just for me but for what you’ve done for others & being a true symbol of Christmas spirit & joy.  Kids depend on you & believe in you with all their hearts.  Do you know what some people would give to have that?  But Christmas isn’t about giving or getting.  It’s love, joy & peace & the hope we give & the love we share. So have a Marry Christmas!!


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!

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