Thursday, December 28, 2023

Christmas 2023

We had a very nice Christmas this year. We gathered at Beth and Adam's house with outside weather that felt more like we were at Jim and Michele's place in Florida. It was 57 degrees Fahrenheit and downright balmy. Jillian was out running across the year in bare feet. (She takes after her mother. Ha ha!) 

Each and every one of my local kids and grandkids
made an appearance and I am thoroughly blessed. I brought a bin full of smallish Squishmallow friends and let the kids each pick one. Even the older boys had smiles on their faces while plucking a sleek, soft, stuffed creature from the collection. Hannah and I had picked out 23 just a week prior so that everyone got a chance to choose rather than be stuck with the leftovers of other's choices. I was confused when I counted the remainder and there were eleven instead of ten, but the mystery was solved when before I went home a small child said, "You didn't get me one." Oh, Henry! He was smiling too after picking a small, pillowy friend.

My friend Gail joined us for dinner this year which was very nice. We had way more turkey, macaroni and cheese, and desserts than we could finish in one day. It made me feel just slightly better about not having made any Christmas cookies this year.

I could take all my lovely decorations down and pack them away, but I've been enjoying them so much that I think I'll keep them around for a while longer.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Weekend Crash

Skating by. That was my thought regarding the respiratory illness that ravaged the daycare this past month, but on Thursday morning something inside me felt off. Other being excessively tired though, I couldn't have told you what wasn't right. Friday I felt more tired and by the end of the day frustration was settling in. My head was feeling stuffy and I wanted to sleep. Rather than going to do pottery with my cousins, I went home instead. The children have had RSV. One small child coughed directly in my face last week and passed the dreaded viral infection on to me. (Thank you very much, TJ.) 

I stayed home yesterday and once again put off the myriad of tasks needing to be accomplished. I ate soup, drank tea, and took ibuprofen and vitamins. A shower helped me feel human, and my laundry got washed and dried. In the evening Bethany came with the kids and we went for a dark, evening walk around the block. The baking and wrapping would have to wait. Morning found me feeling better. Not 100%, but much better than yesterday. I missed all the Christmas church services.

By early afternoon I was feeling good enough to make a run to Wegmans to join the holiday rush. Hannah had not planned a Christmas Eve dinner so I picked up some golden potatoes, a spiral cut ham, a package of Hawaiian dinner rolls, and a package of frozen green beans while she was at work. It made an easy, yummy dinner. My gifts, few though they be, are wrapped. I did not make the cookies Bethany ordered, but maybe that will happen tomorrow... 

I am thoroughly grateful for this beautiful Christmas full of unexpected interruptions and unplanned surprises. My little tree is covered with smiling people and animal ornaments, my room adorned with happy snowmen, and the house is filled with love. My heart is full.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 17, 2023

You Can't Make Old Friends

It's been an exceedingly wonderful weekend! A weekend full of friends and family and what could be better?

I went with Bethany to see Nate and his friends sing on Friday evening after work. I left with a full heart. 

Saturday morning was lazy and relaxed. I dragged my feet leaving the house instead I put my laundry in, brought a dresser downstairs, and taped up a box of fleece blankets to send off to Florida. (Austin was disappointed when I arrived without them last week.) When finally getting out and on the road I vacillated between going to the post office first or the gift shop. The post office seemed obvious, but something inside said, "Go to Kittleberger's," and so I did. I took a photo with the plastic Santa inside the door and began my meandering. I rounded a corner and was met with a familiar face. My long loved friend Cindy! She has been my friend for her entire life. What a gift to find her there!

Late afternoon found me headed south of Rochester to meet my sister Priscilla and her family at the Genesee Country Museum for a Yuletide Dinner and Tour. (I almost got lost on the way but my favorite Bethany, my daughter, came to the rescue and gave me directions over speaker phone.) It was a wonderful night and my Tom Tom took me home just fine, even though he didn't appear to know where the museum was.

I was lazy and relaxed again this morning, texting my friend Gail at noon to see if she was up and about or looking for something to do. We met for brunchfast at a local diner. It's been a while since we went out to several craft sales and it was nice to be together again. She is much loved and I appreciate her friendship ever so much!

We were waiting for our food when I recognized a familiar face at another table. It was my fourth grade buddy Pam having a meal with her husband and a few friends. We shared a hug, some conversation, and a few laughs. There is nothing like old friends and it has been a weekend filled with them. My heart is not only full, but overflowing.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

The Week Flew Past


* We spent Sunday afternoon at the other Grammy's house. Relaxing family time with snacks, tree decorating, Christmas movies, and a dip in the pool.

* There was a scheduling conflict on Monday which prevented us from going into Magic Kingdom as planned. Instead we took the time we did have and visited the life sized gingerbread house at Disney's Floridian Resort.

* We also had some late afternoon time for a stop at Disney Springs for something to eat and a few pictures. ("Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!"

* In all honesty, I was very disappointed in not being able to visit the park itself. Previous to the trip I had surprised myself by feeling quite excited about going, so it was hard to change gears. My sweet son and daughter in law felt terrible and I have been promised a trip on my next visit which we are planning for spring. I'm looking at tickets now.

* On my return home I discovered the Orlando Airport is a wild place! The lines are astoundingly long and slow and everyone is late for their flight. (I was grateful to make it through security without any snags this time.) If one is flying out of Orlando it would be a good idea to be there three hours ahead of departure. I was there two hours ahead and felt a bit of anxiety over whether I would make the flight. Several people did not make it to the gate before the doors were closed.

* My flight left Orlando at noon. I had a 3 hour plus layover in Baltimore (and didn't know about the rocking chairs...) which turned into a little more when someone on the aircraft that was our connecting flight, had a medical emergency. Once they were taken care of and the plane disinfected, we made our way to Rochester.

* I was all tucked into my center seat when a familiar face came down the aisle. It was one of our daycare dads! I have five little ones in my "care group" and there was Levi's daddy on my plane! Ha ha! (I talked with his mommy about it just yesterday afternoon.)

Home again...

* I went back to work the morning after arriving home. I haven't been paid for any time off work since giving my 2 week notice at Tot Spot at the end of July, so I needed to get back right away. I jumped in with both feet. Everyone (home included) has been struggling with the respiratory virus that has been ravaging the planet. (I don't really know where it's been. I am being dramatic.) Cough, congestion, sore throats, ear aches and misery. So far I have escaped. Fingers crossed.

* I visited my therapist Thursday evening. More on that later.

* Finally, my eldest daughter and I were blessed to attend a Singer Songwriter Showcase at the Seed and Stone Cidery last night. (She gracefully gifted me with an egg roll ahead of our arrival as I went directly from work to her house and was  starving.) My son Nathan and a few friends were sharing stories and their original music. I am so happy to see him plugged in and doing what he loves. (That's him in the dark shirt on the left.)

And this is the end of my long and rambling post.
Thanks for listening.

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Friday Saturday

 I am enjoying the tradition of visiting Florida each December. It's been cooler this year than the past two, and I forgot to bring my sweatshirt, so I bought  myself a long sleeved cotton T-shirt from Blue Spring State Park. I splurged. For the manatees. 

Late yesterday morning Jim and I took a drive to Daytona where we met my friend Marty for lunch at Jimmy Hula's in Ormond Beach. It was a quick and emotional visit. Mostly I wanted to give him a hug. That desire was fulfilled and I am grateful. His sweet wife Kathy passed into eternity just a little over a week ago. Needless to say, I did not take pictures.

Last night was hot cocoa, Christmas movie and tree decorating night. I enjoyed a cup of peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream and peppermint sprinkles, took lots of pictures, and took in a little bit of The Polar Express. The house is looking festive.

Today we stayed home. The kids played video games and I went outside to chase lizards. Before dinner Jim and I took Charlie and Jonah for a walk, and after dinner we headed to the zoo for the Asian Lantern Festival. So fun!

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Barbara Manatee!

Barbara was the star manatee in a Veggie Tales song...

I have been to Florida's Blue Spring Park twice before today, but both times, although we had a lovely walk, there were no manatees. It was just too warm. The manatees come into the spring when the water temperature in the St John's River drops. Manatee need warm water to thrive and the spring stays a toasty 72 degrees Fahrenheit making it an idea spot for them to congregate. Getting a clear photo was next to impossible. Ha ha! But I did try.

I've been enjoying my grandchildren. The smallest is an adorable friendly little one who had me sitting on the floor singing songs and looking at a book as soon as I came in the door. Her brothers have followed suit in a slower, but similar manner. The house is full of laughter and tears, running, and squeals of both frustration and delight. I feel right at home. LOL!

Yesterday and today were tired days. I woke up at 3:30 am on Wednesday to catch my 5:45 am flight, and sometimes airplanes affect my ears for a day or so after. Throw in  a change in the coffee consumption routine and it's a recipe for a dull headache and tired eyes. I took a good nap this afternoon and am feeling much better this evening.

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Can You Hold This for Minute?

I've come to The Blog multiple times and stared at it, wanting to write but not knowing what to say... I visited my therapist the night before Thanksgiving. There were a few tears and some moments of laughter.

"Years ago you told me," I said to him, "that things like this take 3 to 5 years to work through..." 

"We're pretty close to that," he answered.

And I laughed and said, "It's been 8 years."

There remains the question, "Have I worked through it?" and the answer comes in layers. 

I'm grateful he didn't say, "It takes 3-5 years to get over things like this," because there is no way to "get over it." We can only learn to live with the awful truth and grow, however long it may take and however painful it may be, and we (I'm talking my family) are all working through this as individuals which means a myriad of different angles and understandings. It's the most complicated thing we have ever had to do, and honestly, in all likelihood we will be processing some aspect of it until our lives here end.

A few nights ago I had a conversation with a beloved family member who was trying to help me sort through some feelings. I don't think either of us was prepared for the feelings that welled up inside of me. "Anger" is a simple term that covers a broad spectrum of emotions from irritation to blind rage and everything in between. It's a safe word. A "weasel word," if you will.

For years I've known I should feel intense anger, but mostly felt only numbness. Rather than look my own indignation, outrage, or lividity in the face, I placed a cap on the bottle and screwed it down tight, It was too painful to let the emotions out, and besides I didn't even know how. All of my life I have been taught to put myself last, to think of others first, to keep secrets, cover sins, and think the best. I have taken on the emotions of others to the detriment of self, but this time it wasn't about just me. I dragged my feet, searched both scripture and soul, sought wise counsel, and eventually did the hardest thing I have ever done. I moved away from the home I loved, the church I attended, and the man I had married. It ripped my heart out, but in all honesty, it had already been torn to shreds.

Today I recognize the anger inside. I feel it tighten my back, neck and shoulder muscles, and creep down my arms and legs. It has shown up in blood pressure readings, fatigue and depression, as well as regret and feelings of hopelessness. It has brought isolation, loneliness, and insurmountable loss. 

But for all the negative there are positives to anger as well. I learned to set boundaries and an example as well. In spite of the numbness inside, in spite of the swinging pendulum of emotions, I did what needed to be done in order to lance the abscess and bring much needed relief to not only myself but my children as well. Surgery is painful. Healing is agonizing. Physical therapy is hard and exhausting work. (I speak allegorically.) Today I need not only to loosen the bottle cap, but remove the bottle altogether. The problem is that I don't know how to process anger in a healthy manner. I only know how to shut it down.

Please don't tell me I need to "give it to Jesus" because, although I have heard that all my life, I don't have an inkling what that is supposed to mean. Is it possibly enough to admit to myself and others that I am deeply wounded and profoundly angry not only for my children, but myself as well? I am ready to move on and desperately need to let it all go, I'm just not sure where to set the bag.

With all of that said, I have undergone an incredible transformation the past eight and a half years. Life rarely feels hopeless, I seldom isolate, and my family is healing in ways I once deemed impossible. The mirror reflects more peace and happiness with each passing year and I am incredibly grateful for each and every bit of growth, even if I'm not entirely grateful for how it came about.

(I'm headed to Florida on Wednesday morning. Stay tuned for some great times and photos.)