Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lessons Learned

Time for another change...a new year.  I don't make resolutions because I can never keep them so they seem pretty pointless.  Instead I try to look back and see what I've learned over the past year and try to apply it to the upcoming year.  Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I fail.  I always learn something. This year it was all about embracing my faults. 

Here is my countdown of the top things I learned in 2011...sort of a David Letterman Top 10...except there are only 5 because that's all the learning I can handle for one year.  So I give you:

The Top Five Things I Learned in 2011

#5:  Embrace your limitations: Because I always think I can do more than I can...cut every list in half.

#4:  Embrace who you are:  Anxiety, obsessions, weight issues, all of it.  It took me 53 years to learn this...way too long.

#3:  Embrace others for who they are:  Tattoos, political views, annoying habits, all of it.  Once you look past it...all that's left is real.

#2: Embrace your blog: Stop comparing your blog to other blogs and just write.  Use your own's pretty darn good just the way it is.

And the #1 thing I learned in 2011...

#1:  Embrace change:  The only constant in life is that it constantly changes.  Push outside the comfort zone and embrace the changes.

Favorite Quote from 2011:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
~Victor Frankl~
Coming up in 2012:

My daughter, Sarah, and I are going to blog together.  That is to say, we are going to pick a topic and both of us will write about it on our blogs.  We'll probably do two a month.  We are working up to participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge coming in April.  Both of us needed a way to kick start our blogs.  Hopefully this will help and you will get some fun reading out of it.  So please stay tuned for some fun mother/daughter blogging coming your way!

I would like to wish each and every one of you the happiest, healthiest and most blessed 2012.

Instead of a quote, I leave you with this video.  A perfect message for any time of year.  Don't be afraid to change.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Christmas Vacation

I was off work the whole week before Christmas.  My decorating and shopping were done freakishly early, so I was excited at the prospect of  having oodles of time to bake.  I have not done much Christmas baking in the last few years.  I like to blame it on the fact that I lost the help of my junior bakers to that little "growing up" issue that I so despise.  The truth of the matter is more like....I'm lazy.  Anyway, I was excited and made a list, checked it twice....probably should have checked it three times because in the long appears that in my mind, I believed I had the entire staffs of Charm City and Carlo's at my disposal. 

I started out the two days I had allotted myself for baking with high hopes and much excitement.  I dreamed of the array of wonderful goodies I would set before my Christmas dinner guests.  My reality was much more humble.  After two cookie disasters I gave up on the cookie thing.  The baking extravaganza turned nightmare stretched into a third day of peanut brittle only real success of the whole ordeal.  At the end of the week I was left this:                

 Snowballs (Mexican Wedding Cakes)
 and Peanut Brittle:

Those turned out pretty well and my dinner guests were impressed.

I also managed a few shortbread cookies and some weirdly shaped, but none the less tasty, press cookies...those did not grace my table.  In the end I learned a valuable lesson.  When I make a baking list I'm going to cut it in half and then in half again...and then I'm calling Duff.


Tomorrow, being New Years Eve and all...I will be posting about the most valuable lessons I learned in 2011 and some of the fun things coming to my blog in 2012.  I know you're all excited for this but try not to lose sleep, I want you back here tomorrow fresh and ready to read!  Happy Eve of  New Years Eve!  See you tomorrow!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Redefining Mom

I love Christmas.  It's my favorite time of year.  I love everything about it.  Or I used to.  Now, I'm facing the reality I really should have faced several years ago.  My children are adults.  I know, they've been adults for some time now.  You know that, and even I know that.  But denial is a wonderful thing and if you deny long enough, you can convince yourself it isn't so.

This Christmas my husband finally convinced me that we (and by we I mean "I") really needed to pare down the gift giving.  I think his exact words were "How long do you plan on doing this?".  So, we spoke to the kids and informed them that the piles of presents they are used to getting would not be coming their way this year.  Surprisingly they were fine with this. Apparently, I'm the only one who has the present pile issue in our house.  Shocking, huh?  So, we decided to just do stockings this year.  Boring.  But I realize it is a necessary step in the evolution of our family.  Doesn't mean I have to like it.  And, I've tried to convince myself with all the "right" things like:

This is not what the season is about.
They are adults, they've grown up, time for you to do the same.
Someday you will have grandkids and you can spoil them.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...whatever.  Didn't help.  Just made me realize how much I really HATE the fact that my kids are grown ups.  And to make matters worse, this will be the first year we will not all be together for Christmas.  While I knew this would happen, and I've already gone through it at Thanksgiving, Christmas is different somehow.  It hurts, but I know it's inevitable and something I am forced to deal with. (Side note to my child who may read this: it is NOT your fault, do not feel guilty, it is my issue).

While I try to put on a good face to the world, a little piece of me dies inside every time I have to face this.  You see, for most of my adult life I've defined myself as a mother.  It's all ever wanted to be.  And yes, I realize that I'm still, and always will be, their mother.  But now it's time to redefine the roll.  Here is the most confounding thing about parenting: You try and raise them to be strong, independent, self sufficient citizens of the world, and then, when that's what happens, you hate it.  You protect them with your very life, only to release them to the perils of the world.  That is the part of being a mom that I do not like.  But I will deal with it.  I will redefine my role and I will be thankful for it.

This Christmas I will buy less and be thankful more.  Thankful for three of the most beautiful creations God put on this earth.  Thankful for a husband who puts up with all my nonsense and loves me in spite of it.  Thankful for a full and wonderful life.  Those are gifts money can't buy and I will try to be deserving of them.

Merry Christmas to all and God Bless us Everyone!

Quote for the Week:

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." ~ Charles Dickens

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Realization

I have finally figured out why I don't write this thing on a regular basis. 

I have blog envy.

I'm sure this envy is not as bad as some other kinds of envy...which will remain nameless...but still, it's hampering my ability to have a meaningful relationship with my blog.  I have relationships with other blogs.  The women who write them kind of intimidate me.  They are all witty or wise or both and most of the time I feel I'm neither.  These women: Kelly, Sarah, Erin and Tara...just to name a few... write lovely, insightful, witty and charming blogs and you should go read them and marvel at their mastership of the blog.  I always wonder if my blog will measure up to their blogs.  Maybe I should stop comparing my blog to other blogs...but that's what you do when you have blog envy.

Part of the problem is...I'm kind of out of material.  If you read the ladies blogs I mentioned you'll notice all of them have kids who still reside with them.  Kids are an endless source of material.  All of my material has moved out of my house.  It's hard to write something funny and insightful about your husband whom you love to the ends of the earth, but just spends all his time at the softball field instead of fixing the shower.  And since I refuse to write about religion or politics, that really narrows my margin of usable material.  Oh and work, I can't write about work either.  God forbid someone at work would read it and then I'd get fired for social networking about work.  Then I'd be writing about being out of work...and I really don't want to go there.  Also, I have watched the move Julie and Julia way too many times.  I REALLY envy her blog.  But there is no way on earth I could write a blog about cooking unless you all want to know how to prepare anything that comes in a box or a can...then I'm your girl.  Or, I could write a blog about how I watch the Food Network religiously and still don't cook. (I also have cooking envy, but that's a topic for another post...hmmm...maybe if I just keep writing about nothing I'll come up with things to write about!).  I could write a blog about crocheting or books, both of which I know lots about, but really, that just sounds boring to me.  So I need some material people...and quick. 

When I started this blog I envisioned writing all about a busy mom who is no longer busy because her kids are all grown up and don't need her anymore, and how hard that transition is.  Come to find's not so hard after all.  I actually kind of like having no where to go on a regular basis.  I like having only me to answer to and I REALLY like the fact that I won't have to have anything to do with any kind of school politics ever. again. amen.  Plus, I can't write about my kids now because they are all adults and I really don't think they would appreciate their lives being fodder for my blog.  When they were minors they had no choice and I used them liberally but now they have a reasonable expectation of privacy that I feel I must obey.  So much for the kid material.

Maybe I should get a dog.....

Quote for the Week:

"Envy comes from people's ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts."  ~Jean Vanier~

Friday, July 22, 2011

The End of an Era?

Did you hear that Borders is closing it's doors?  I got a letter from the CEO in my email yesterday thanking me for my business and lamenting the fact that they could not find a buyer to pull them out of bankruptcy.  He also stated that besides the economy, one of the reasons for the failure of the business was the emerging e-book business.  How sad.  I wonder if this is a sign of things to come...the end of an era so to speak. 

I've thought a lot about e-books.  People have encouraged me to get an e-reader, especially when they see me reading my favorite 1000+ page paperbacks.  But for me, it would just ruin the experience.  I love everything about books.  I love the mystery of what's to be found between the pages of something I've yet to read.  I love falling in love with characters so much that I wish I could make them come to life so we could be friends, or lovers.  I love the agonizing feeling of finishing a book so good you wish it could go on forever.  I love the smell of a new book as you crack open the pages for the first time.  I love the feel of the well worn pages of a book that has been loved, and read a lot. The feel of the paper as you turn the page, the smell of the ink, the story and characters within and even the teasing synopsis on the flyleaf, I love everything about books.  

I have had a 46 year love affair with books that no e-reader could ever replace.  So, this new e-book business has me a little concerned.  I'm concerned that the e-books are so affordable that people will stop buying bound books, which leads to less books being printed, which leads to price hikes for printed books.  And I'm concerned it will force the price of old fashioned bound books so high as to make them unaffordable to us common folk. 

I hope I'm wrong.  I hope the e-books and the paper books can co-exist the same as their patrons do.  Each having their own unique experience with the written word.

Quote for the week:

"I cannot live without books."  ~Thomas Jefferson~

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Comfort Zone

I'm all about comfort zones.  I need them.  They help me cope with my anxiety and adjust to the changes in life that I can't control.  In the last several years there has been a lot of change in my life.  Kids growing up, moving away, getting tattoos, yeah, you've read it all here. 

There are some things in life that are so predictable, they actually make life more comforting.  My husband, Dan, is one of those things.  Counting the time we dated before we got married, we have been together almost 35 years.  That is a long time.  And time enough to think you have your significant other figured out.  Especially when they are a predictable comfort zone, like Dan. 

Almost everyday since the day I met him he has worn 501 button front shrink-to-fit Levi's.  He "dresses up" in Dockers for special occasions like weddings, funerals and the like.  He has suffered through a couple of tuxes in his life but only because there was no way out of it.  For a long time his "uniform" was the afore mentioned Levi's and a white t-shirt.  Eventually he graduated to wearing t-shirts with sports logos on them and he has a small assortment of polo's...these are his "church" shirts. 

At any restaurant we go to I can tell you what he'll order...our favorite Mexican place: #3 with rice, any place with burgers: Cheese burger with fries, Italian: Lasagna.  You get the idea.  Anytime he changes from the norm is a day to mark your calendar.  It's like Haley's only happens once every 50 years or so.

He will always be involved in softball or baseball in some capacity.  Always.

He is technology illiterate.  Oh wait, here's where the earth kind of tilts on it's axis a little.  In the last year or so this is what has happened with my predictable husband:
  • got a Blackberry for his work phone and now sends work emails from his phone
  • got a Droid for his personal phone and now sends softball emails from his phone 
  • he also uses his Droid to recieve weather alerts and is constantly telling me about the weather in DC...we don't live in DC, but our daughter does, and I suppose this makes him feel closer to her, but I had no idea weather would do it.  Sometimes I feel like I'm married to Al Roker.
  • has said on several occasions "there is an app for that".  Who is this man?
  • between work and softball he recieves more phone calls, emails and texts than Beth and I put together.
  • most days he spends at least an hour or so sitting at the computer paying bills, sending emails, making softball schedules, etc.  This from a man who a couple of years ago would only use the computer to play solitaire.  He's pretty good with the computer now, although he still doesn't know the difference between Word or Excel and couldn't use either if his life depended on it.  That is somehow comforting to me.
So, in my ever changing world of children growing up and moving away and getting tattoos, I have always had Dan as my constant, never changing, predictable comfort zone.  While these few changes could have the potential to disrupt my comfort zone, I take solace in the fact that there are still 501 Levi's and t-shirts in the closet.

Quote for the week:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
~Victor Frankl~

Friday, March 11, 2011

Random Thoughts from a Blogger Slacker

Dear Blogging World,

Please forgive me, it's been 3 months since my last post.  I have no good excuses so I won't try to make any.  Here are a few random thoughts and things that have happened since my last post:

1. Christmas was wonderful.  Sarah was home from DC and that made it perfect.  Had 30 people for Christmas dinner and the beautiful Arizona weather let us all eat outside on the patio where we had enough room for everyone.  It was really great and I enjoyed every minute of it....even the mini melt down I had when the turkey refused to be done on time...eventually, I loved that too.  It's all about embracing who you are...more about that later.

2.  Sickness...I've had my share plus the share of a few others.  I've been sick 4 times since the new year....not fun.  This last lovely little bug, which I am not fully over yet, really kicked my butt.  I am ready to be well again for a good long time. 

3. I've been re-reading a favorite series of books over the last several months.  I'm finally finishing up the last book that I actually read (over 15 years ago!) and ready to start on the last books in the series which I never got to read.  I'm loving this because I got Sarah involved in these books and we've been reading them at almost the same pace.  It's fun to share these with her, and it always makes me so happy that she shares my love of reading.

4.  I've been crocheting up a storm.  I made several afghans for Christmas presents and have been working on some baby afghans for the newest little members of my family.  I've been toying with the idea of starting a business with this craft of mine.  I still have some research to do but I really think I want to do this.  I'll let you know how it progresses.

5.  In April I will be going, for the first time in my life, on a trip by myself.  I'm going to DC to visit with Sarah.  We are planning a wonderful Mother/Daughter trip and I can't wait.  I just hope I don't get lost in the airport....I think I may need that Valium prescription after all...more on that later.

6.  After a couple of years of fighting it, I have decided to fight no more and embrace my daughter's tattoo's.  This is not an easy decision for me but I figure, there is nothing I can do to change it so I must embrace it.  She is currently in the process of having a major back piece done.  Flowers and vines.  She's been working on it for about 7 weeks and she has at least 2 or 3 more weeks to go.  I have to is beautiful.  And of course, like every tattoo Beth has, every detail has meaning for her.

7.  Spring makes me sad.  I think I am the only person on the face of the earth that wishes it would stay darker longer.  I hear people all over rejoicing at the coming spring, daylight savings time, more sunlight.  Yuck.  I think because I have lived my entire life on the surface of the sun...I don't value sunlight like most people.  I, for one, relish winter and all it's dark, cold days.  I do realize that I live where there is no snow and that my winters are mild compared to most of the country, but to me, spring just means 115 degrees is right around the corner...and who wants that?  I would give anything for three more months of winter...please? 

8. OK, last but not least, I've come to the part where I explain the "more about that later" part.  Last Friday I ended up in the ER with chest pain.  Thank goodness, there is nothing wrong with my heart.  The doctor thinks it was caused by anxiety and sent me home with a prescription for Valium.  Really, me anxious, who knew?  Everyone who knows me, that's who.  I do know I have an anxiety problem, but like everything else I don't want to face, I just chose not to do anything about it.  I will be the first person to tell you that I worry too much, obsess too much, and basically drive myself and everyone around me crazy.  So, this week, as I was confined to my sickbed with nothing else to do but think, I decided to pull my head out of the sand and tackle this anxiety thing.  I think it's all about embracing who you are.  I think when you are truthful with yourself about who you really are, that's the first step to managing it.  Can I say I will ever be anxiety free...I highly doubt that, and I think that's unrealistic.  But, I can say, that I will do my research and find a way to cope with this that works for me.  I'm not sure Valium is it, I haven't filled the prescription yet, but I will find a way to tackle this.  So, wish me luck, and some prayers wouldn't hurt either.  I'll keep you posted....

Quote for the Week:

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.

Aesop (620 BC - 560 BC), The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse