Christmas Already?

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I am not yet in the holiday spirit. I will get there hopefully, but as of right now – nope. There are several reasons.

1. The overzealous folks that go a little crazy when anyone says Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas. Here’s just a really brief history lesson if you happen to be one of those folks – and I get where you’re coming from, I understand, but really….please take a second and read this: This is erroneously regarded as taking the religion out of Christmas or “secularizing” the holiday. However, the word holiday is a compound of two words; Holy and Day – thus people are literally wishing that you have a Happy Holy Day or a “happy religious festival” of WHATEVER KIND YOU CELEBRATE!!! So stop being such jerks about it, sometimes when we say things like that, we’re really trying to be nice and include everyone, not offend. Geez.

2. I don’t have the kind of money I want to buy the gifts I want to give, therefore I am not in the spirit of giving because I’m concerned about my budget. Now, with that said I have been tooling away crocheting things since the beginning of last month but….it’s still not what I would give if I was able to purchase exactly what I wanted to….well, you know what I mean. Anyway, it’s a different kind of Christmas this year basically. Not bad, just different. I love giving gifts, it’s my favorite part of the holidays. I don’t care about getting a single thing. I would be happy as a peach if I didn’t open a one – but I sure do love giving them. I just want them to be special and perfect and I worry that they won’t be – and I stress a bit.

3. I’m not looking forward to another holiday of just me, the hubs, and the pups. That sounds like I don’t enjoy spending quiet time with my fella, and that’s not what it is at all, I do like that time very much, but when you think holidays you think family and noise and lots of food a wee bit of chaos. The kids visit with their dad and his family, my mama is pretty far away and the hubs’ family is even farther away. We kinda live in another world it feels like. We don’t really, but we are really out-of-the-way, and not in anyone’s line of travel. So…holidays are quiet. Even the 4th of July. Although, don’t get me started on that one….I’m not patriotic at all, I actually…well, that’s for another post. I’m Irish ya know.  Anyway, we do have a few new special traditions. We have a dinner spot on Christmas Eve now that’s really nice and is a special treat for us, kind of our gift because we don’t really give gifts to each other. But otherwise, it will be ten days or so of quietness. I guess I should be looking forward to it really, but it IS the holidays after all….

4. So December 1st rolled around and I realized it was in fact time to put up the tree, Christmas spirit or not. The window is small for when that baby’s gonna be up around here anyway so better get it up on time. I spent the afternoon getting it out, yes artificial is the way we go. We went real tree one year about 3 years back. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats. It didn’t end well. I’ll just leave it at that.

Anyway, I had it ready to go and when kids 2 and 3 got home (1 lives with his fiancée three states away), up it went and decorating was off to the races. It didn’t take all that long, the tree isn’t very big. We got it finished, lights on the patio – all before dinner. I’m still not feeling like Kris Kringle, but I must admit that I enjoy the lights. Even when you don’t feel very Christmasy they are pretty and are a nice little break from the norm. So, off to bed…

I swear, not 10 minutes after we crawl under the covers until I hear a crash and I know….no doubt what it was. I sit up like a rod’s been shoved up my yahoo, hubs jumps up, throws open the door…alas no kerchief nor cap…but I knew….those damn cats. Mhmm – the tree was now lying on its side, flattened, balls scattered across the floor. And then I remembered another reason why I was yet to be in the spirit of the season. I had forgotten that I needed to deadbolt the tree to the walls as if we had tiny dwarven metalworking lumberjacks that would chop it down nightly if we didn’t do this. I had forgotten. Silly me. Damn cats.

5. Really I think what it is more than anything is that I miss the sense of tradition that change brings. Don’t get me wrong, some change is good. New jobs, births, marriages, loads of other things that my brain can’t come up with right now  – but sometimes changes just kinda hurt. The kids are growing up and that’s fantastic – they’re pretty cool people (most of the time), we’re getting older, and that’s good too because the alternative isn’t so good, but it’s kinda not good too. It’s all good and bad wrapped up in one big package. I feel like I smile for one thing and then in the next breath cry for something else. The kids open their gifts 3 days before Christmas, cookies for Santa get eaten out of the oven by Santa and Mrs. Claus, Rudolph gets screwed….no glitter oats for him at all anymore.

I suppose I’m just feeling a bit nostalgic. And I suppose that’s okay, it is Christmastime after all. So, hug your family tight, hang on to those traditions. Those babies grow up so fast and before you know it they’re going to be off making traditions of their own. Enjoy every single moment that you have with them, even those 4am wake ups on Christmas morning, because one day, not all that long from now, Christmas morning just may be a little too quiet for your liking – trust me. Maybe I’m getting in the Christmas spirit after all.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Who Knew?

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Who knew that little green thing in there could cause such drama? Not me…that’s for sure.

I’ve had kind of a crappy few months. Just before Christmas break I got some nasty virus. Of course it’s at Christmas time – because I had already asked off from work for the holidays, the kids didn’t have school…. Anyway, that virus escalated into near pneumonia which took about 2 weeks to get over. Miraculously I was better JUST in time to go back to work without missing a beat. Stellar holiday vacay.

Back to work, all is well – start to feel a bit under the weather. I wasn’t really sure what it was, just didn’t feel “right.” That is said in quotes and rather loosely because most who know me would say that I’m never “right.” Anyway. This one particular night my back seized up. I say seized up because I really don’t know any other way to describe it. I felt like I was being given a super rough bear hug by a sword wielding super ninja bear that was pissed off that his honey had been taken when he awoke from hibernation. Did I mention that he was pissed? I tossed and turned and shed some tears trying to get comfortable; standing, sitting, lying down – on my tummy, my back, my left side, my right side…..absolutely nothing worked. Then like magic, the next morning I was ok. A little sore from the bear wrangling, but not too worse for the wear.

This pattern continued for a week or so and then the pain began to creep around my ribs and settle into the center of my chest. I really just believed it to be strained muscles from all of the aforementioned bear wrangling – I would cry a little, take some Aleve and move on.

Long story short (don’t you love that…I’ve already spent 3 paragraphs on it, it’s apparently not so short – but hey, I’m Irish, we don’t DO short stories), I ended up in the Emergency Room on a lovely Monday night full of narcotics and signing a release to take out my wicked infected and inflamed gallbladder.

The next 36 hours were all pretty much a blur. I was in and out of consciousness, either from anesthesia or pain meds and quite frankly I was just fine with that. I was discharged Wednesday mid-morning  in a haze of drug induced happiness thinking that I would go home, rest for a few days and be good to go. Yeah – not so much.

I’m sore, I’m grouchy, I’m bored, I’m hungry……and supposedly this is all NORMAL?? What the hell? Seriously?

“You have to give your body time to recover from the invasiveness (is that even a word?) of surgery,” “Your incisions will heal in a few weeks time, just be patient,” “It’s completely normal to be sad and moody after general anesthesia, within 6 months you’ll feel better,” “Enjoy the time you have to relax and rest,” “Your digestive system will regulate itself over time,” “Just have everyone wait on you hand and foot.” I DID NOT sign a paper about any of this stuff. I know the pain meds were strong but believe you me I would’ve remembered this shit.

I feel ok as long as I’m sitting on the sofa but for the love of all that’s good don’t expect me to walk to the kitchen and back without being exhausted. I rest peacefully as long as I’ve taken a pain pill and I’m in the recliner on the sofa, but don’t expect to lie in my bed like a normal person and sleep. I’m bored out of my mind and no I don’t want to watch ANOTHER episode of anything at all nor do I want to watch any more Olympics nor do I want to….see where this is going? And while I’m this bored, don’t expect me to get up and actually DO anything because..well…I’m exhausted. I’m so hungry I feel like I could eat an entire pizza or a steak or a lobster dinner, but don’t expect me to eat anything other than scrambled eggs and toast because everything else has my tummy rumbling and me speed shuffling to the ladies room.

I suppose the moral to this story is this: if you have pain, get it checked out, and if you end up on the wrong side of a surgical scalpel try to remember that recovery is a process and it’s gonna suck for awhile. I’m just not yet sure for how long.

Silver lining: I’ve lost 9 pounds already. Now, could someone please make me a cuppa and pass the damn remote!!

I Want To Wear Red

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I know that losing weight slowly is the healthy way. I know that if the weight gradually comes off that we are more likely to keep it off. I am aware that fad diets are typically not very healthy. I am well aware that one needs to exercise as well as make healthy eating choices in order to peel off the extra pounds. I know that nothing comes easy and that the weight didn’t go on overnight and that it certainly won’t come off that way. I realize that hoping you can drop 2 jeans sizes in a month is an unrealistic goal. I know it takes lots of sweat and time and celery to get to your target weight. I mean come on, I watch The Biggest Loser; I see the trainers yell and scream and the contestants cry and breakdown….I didn’t expect weight loss to be an easy thing.

But apparently my body has decided to rebel. It has decided that no matter how many low-calorie days I have nor how many miles I run, that it will stay at exactly the same weight. I think my belly laughs at me every time I put on that sports bra. I’m pretty sure that my metabolism, my fat cells and my endorphins have all gotten together and made a pact; they’ve decided to trick me. I’ve imagined them having this conversation; “Ok, so here’s the plan. She’s gonna take those vitamins and drink those concoctions that are supposed to make me speed up but I’m only going to give a marginal effort in increasing. Endorphin, you kick in when she runs and make her believe she’s really doing a great job so she’ll keep going. And fat, you just hang out. You don’t really need to do anything at all. You’re perfect just the way you are. Got it? Ok….ready…..break!”

I’m convinced it happens just like that. Because you see, after 4 months of exercising – yes, there are times when I only go twice a week instead of the 5 times….but there’s only been once that I took the whole week off. And we were on vacation so it doesn’t count. Anyway, 4 months of exercising along with those same 4 months of much better eating. Yes, I have an occasional doughnut and milkshake. I refuse to totally give up the things I love. If I do I’ll never keep the weight off – but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. 4 months of exercising and cleaner eating and guess how much weight I’ve lost?!?!?!? – NOT ONE FREAKING POUND!!! NOT. ONE.

I’ve moved past the I know it’s a slow process and healthy weight loss takes time right into the severely pissed off and bitter that I’m kicking my ass on a regular basis and not seeing any changes. Not any.

No, I don’t make it to the gym 6 days a week every single week. But I’m going every week. And believe me, coming from being a rather sedentary person who’s most rigorous form of exercise was reaching for the bag of pretzels that had slipped behind the minivan driver’s seat whilst driving to a wrestling match…..hitting the gym every week on a regular basis is a huge change! I completely cut out the fast food from my diet. Yes, I have had 2 slip-ups in the 4 months – I will own up to my mistakes. But hey, I don’t think that’s terrible coming from someone who used to grab a dollar burger and fries at least once a week – ok, usually twice a week. Only 2 slip-ups! That’s pretty darn good in my book.

So what the hell?

Talk about frustrated. And this kind of frustration is different from any other. I’ve been frustrated because I had to sit in traffic and frustrated because I had too many obligations and I’ve been frustrated because I was in the mood and the hubs was too tired……this is a totally different frustration. Working hard, denying yourself things that make you happy like jelly doughnuts and greasy burgers and lots and lots of bread; and doing things that you really don’t enjoy like running for miles and lifting weights and dripping sweat – all to no avail is not easy.

I’m about to begin month 5 and I weigh exactly what I did when I started. Actually according to my scale I weigh 2 pounds more – but hey, who’s counting. I just don’t get it. And I want to give up. I really do. I’m tired of it. But I remember what I felt like when I could fit in the jeans that have been on the top shelf of my closet for the past year and a half. And I want to have that feeling again. I want to be proud of how I look and not feel like I need to try to conceal everything in non-form fitting black clothes. I want to wear red.

So I’ll keep on keeping on. But I sure could use some help. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I’m out….gotta go to the gym.

An Empty Basket

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Easter was different this year.

This was the first Easter in 17 years that I didn’t color Easter eggs, make baskets for my kids and set them out the night before, have an egg hunt……. I had an empty nest….er, basket this year. The kids are visiting their dad and that’s a good thing – but it sure did make me think about what it will be like when they’re grown and all doing their own things.

My oldest is a high school Senior and will be graduating in 2 months. He’s promptly hitting the road, ready to be on his own doing his own thing…..worrying his mother. The other two have a few years still, but I can see it coming now. I’ve been doing a fine job of pretending that my babies are going to live with me forever and that they will always be doing things like egg hunts with me. I’m just not ready to move on to the next phase quite yet.

More or less this is just a gentle reminder to all of you parents out there – and certainly to myself……cherish those little moments, every single one of them. Cherish the Valentine boxes you make for school, the leprechaun footprints you leave out for St. Patrick’s Day, the egg coloring and baskets and bunnies and egg hunts, the red white and blue banners you make for 4th of July parades, the back to school shopping, the Halloween costumes, those fantastic glitter Popsicle stick ornaments for the Christmas tree……cherish every one. I can’t believe how quickly time goes by, much too quickly for my liking. Just don’t take those moments for granted. Our world is so fast paced and frantic anymore, we all rush around from one thing to the next. It’s not that we don’t want to notice the little things, it just seems like we don’t have time. And so often, the things that seem like minor annoyances now, the holiday things that take extra time and extra money……well those things are the things I missed this year. No baskets, no bunnies, no egg hunts…..

Enjoy all of those little moments with your kids folks, time passes quickly and those moments are precious. Trust me.

Scared Salt-Free

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I am a mother of three children between the ages of 11 and 17. I am supposed to be a much shorter version of Wonder Woman. I typically don’t get sick, even when the kids do. I can function on very little sleep, although I will admit that as I get olde…..er….more mature, sleep becomes more of a priority for me. At any rate, I’m not the one that usually has to have medical attention. As a matter of fact, I purposely do not seek medical attention – unless I feel like I’m on my deathbed or if I go simply to silence those around me from complaining. Such was the case today. Yes, I’ve had a stiff neck for two weeks. Yes, my vision has suddenly gone blurry. Yes, I’ve had a constant headache for days. But I have rational reasons for all of these issues. My neck has been stiff because I twisted oddly at work and tweaked the muscles. Those take time to get back to normal. I’ve been having blurry vision because I’ve been reading A LOT and I haven’t been wearing my reading glasses as much as I should, and let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger. And the headache….well, I think I mentioned that I have three kids. One who is a high school Senior and I tend to worry about his future a wee bit. And headaches are normal really. They happen.

So anyway, today I gave in and went to the doctor, mainly to silence the critics of my poor medical attention seeking habits. It turns out that my blood pressure is kind of crazy high. And apparently the headaches are coming from that. And then, when she listened to my little ticker it was making a “clicking” noise – one that apparently isn’t really supposed to be there. Long story short – I have an echocardiogram appointment in a few days and a return visit to my doctor a few days after that. And I’m supposed to be relaxing, taking it easy….stress-free. Oh yes, and the salt thing. No salt. None. What???? Who eats that way? I promptly came home and began researching low sodium foods. Fruits and vegetables. Fresh ones. That’s it. *sigh

But I will admit that this has scared me. Hearing the numbers when she kept checking my blood pressure was frightening. So I guess I’m going to suck it up and try to go salt-free the rest of this week and see how it goes. Or at least salt-minimal. I’ll try it. If you have any suggestions or amazing recipes that don’t involve sodium….or peas because I really don’t like them….clue me in!

Oh, but I was right about the pulled muscles in my neck….see….I didn’t need to go to the doctor. Pfft.

Decoration Deadline

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I am not a Scrooge. I love Christmas time – I super love Christmas lights. One of my favorite things to do in the final weeks of the year is to drive around and see what clever decorations people have erected. You can kinda get a feel for the personality of the family living inside just by looking at their Christmas decorations. Some are reserved, some elegant, some a bit flashy…you can also tell if the family has young children (evidenced by Snoopy and/or Mickey Mouse in the yard). Granted, these assumptions aren’t always correct but often they are spot on.

Here’s the trouble though……Christmas decorations have a deadline. Seriously. Every town should have a mandatory time when Christmas decorations must be taken down. We’re now almost two full weeks into the new year and it drives me just a wee bit crazy to see full-on displays still up. And being turned on. I can understand if you haven’t had time to take all the lights down and get them stored away in the garage……but do they need to be turned on every night? I just don’t understand the desire to have them up until spring. My tree usually comes down Christmas day – I realize this may be a bit extreme, but when Christmas is over, for me it’s over. Time to clean up the mess and move into the new year unencumbered by blinking lights and stray tinsel.

Let’s keep Christmas lights and decorations confined to Christmas time – it makes them more special – and it keeps your electric bill down.

Back to School Education

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This time of year is always exciting. New shoes, new haircuts, new backpacks…..anticipation about seeing friends, who will be sitting next to you in class, if the teacher really has a 3rd eye and horns like you were told….. But this is for the kiddos. Parents see back to school time slightly different. Now that the first week of school is under our belt, I’m taking a moment to reflect upon what I’ve learned this week.

1. Getting up at 5:45am sucks. Totally. I am not a morning person – never have been. I have really enjoyed my summer of being able to sleep in, even on a weekday. I like not getting up until 8 or 9am. I don’t need to sleep until noon…..but I am not a fan of rising with the chickens. If it’s still dark outside – and I mean pitch black dark with no hint of a sunrise anywhere to be seen – then it’s too early to be waking up.

2. One should not wait until the day before the first day of school to purchase notebooks, binders, pencils, etc. The pickins are slim and then a rather cantankerous, moody, diva-ish 5th grader becomes quite foul and dramatic – letting one know how everyone else will have everything they need and she will be the only one who doesn’t have every item on the list of 25 things now needed to successfully complete 5th grade. What I believed to be a financially savvy move, waiting until the last minute thereby snagging some really great deals was in fact the catalyst for foot-stomping, hands on hips, tilted head with eyes rolling so far back I think they may have done a full loop and voiced exasperation of my lack of concern to her embarrassment and imminent failure of 5th grade. Procrastination does not pay.

3. Freshmen boys primp a lot. Stereotypical beliefs lead us to think that it’s the teenage girls that take forever in the bathroom and are the ones who obsess over hair and clothes. But I tell you that this is not so. This is not a female issue alone. 14 year old boys take a very long time to create the exact look of aloofness coupled with proper hygiene that is apparently necessary. I don’t know why I’m so surprised by this – I mean really, everyone knows you don’t wear stripes 2 days in a row.

4. Seniors now have to do a lot more than I did as a Senior. I just had to pick a few colleges that interested me, fill out applications and scholarship forms, mail them out and hope for the best. Now we have to register on 327 different websites, have not only Plan A but contingency plans through T, and know who your date is going to be to the spring formal before Halloween.

5. Filling out the same forms 3 different times is terribly frustrating. We have the technology that allows us to visit Mars, transplant hearts, create fertilized eggs in petrie dishes, build cars using robots…….but somehow we have yet to master a way to connect the emergency contact information that is the same for all kids in a family.

6. Happy homework time is really a pipe dream.

7. When given cash to purchase lunch, kids will oftentimes choose the least nutricious options available.

8. Bedtime can’t come early enough.

9. Wine is good.

I’m sure I’ll learn more things as the school year progresses but I’m feeling pretty good about the knowledge I’ve acquired this week. I hope all of you out there are enjoying and learning new things. Share some of them with me…..