Monday, December 31, 2012

18

Yesterday son turned eighteen.  It seems to be a pivotal point in a young person's life.  I started to reflect what that age meant to me.  My birthday was celebrated in a dorm room.  My roommate had borrowed a bunt pan and the recipe from my mom and made my favorite cake.  My aunt sent me a party in a box that included tied dyed balloons and chocolate chip cookies.  It meant I was legally an adult and had the right to vote.  I exercised that privilege via absentee ballot the next month.  And, and....... I could join the military and fight for my country but I couldn't go to a bar and order a drink.  And...that was about it.

For oldest it meant she could go live with bio.  She planned her running away for months with bio's help.  It wasn't very secret or well executed but it taught her many life lessons.  The horrible people she was leaving wished her well and threw her a going away party.  We prayed for her safety and well being and let her go.  I knew what it felt like to be that age.  There are some things one needs to learn on their own and the hard way.  We could not change her mind but send her off with as much love and support as we could muster so she would feel welcome to come home.  It worked.

For son it means he's an adult.  He is already committed to the Marine's.  That paperwork was signed over the summer.  It means he can buy a gun - a riffle.  And that was his plan.  And when asked why he answered, "because I can."  This scared the hell out of me.  I know he is a military buff and loves target practicing but.......  So after my talk with hubby.  Hubby had a chat with son.  The gun cabinet is full and you leave in July for boot camp.  Borrow my (hubby's) shot gun if you like but save your money and buy what you really want when you get out of the Marine's.  He was OK with that. 

{Now, my hubby was in the military himself and is a police officer.  Guns are a part of our life.  Everyone in the house has been taught to shoot and gun safety, gun safety, gun safety.  The gun locker is locked and hubby is the only one with access.  I, being a typical Libra can see both sides of the gun debate.  Each has very valid points.  I don't come down fully on one side or the other.  Not because I'm wishy washy but because each has a valid point.  Do we need to make some reforms?  Probably.  Do we need to take away my right to bear arms?  No.  Will I listen to your argument with an open mind and heart?  Yes.}

Son can now vote.  He can now leave to live with bio.  He has chosen not to.  I don't think he was pressured like oldest.  Bio worked on her for years.  He knows exactly what he wants in life and he is going for it no matter what.  Oldest was too worried about what others and especially bio thought.  Not so much any more.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year

For me the new year began with Winter Solstice and going deep within.  This week has been a quiet week of vacation - chilling at home, visiting, cooking, reading and reflecting.  I have long since given up the practice of New Year's resolutions.  For me change is a constant in life. If I detect something I want to add to my life, let go of or alter I don't wait until New Year's eve or Sunday to start.  That doesn't mean that everything I start sticks the first time but, I get right out there and try again.

It has been a somber time as the Newtown shootings, the Webster fire department shootings, the gang rape and murder of a medical student in India hit the news.  And I find all of these things heartbreaking.  But, these things are happening every day only a few make the news.  We hear what the media deems worthy and that drives me crazy.  And I ponder what I can do.  And not just a knee jerk reaction to make me feel good in the moment but what can I do in the long term. 

I sit with the brokenness and look at ways I can get involved.  I want to be the change I wish to see in the World.  I have taken a few small steps.  I'm looking into other possibilities.

Today we celebrate son's birthday.  Tomorrow he turns 18.  He is working tomorrow.  So, tonight we will have margarita chicken and a German chocolate cake.  Everyone in the house picks their own birthday meal.  He legally becomes an adult. He counts down the days until he reports to boot camp.  High school graduation is just a step in the process and holds little meaning for him.  April will be his last family vacation.  And in a few months youngest will be an/the only child.

Monday, December 24, 2012

My family

Some how related to a three ring circus.  We are a group of strong opinioned doers.  And by my family I mean those I was born to and grew up with.  My dear hubby, children and such have nothing to do with this. 

My mother-in-love cleaned house and brought books, cd's and puzzles Saturday night for me to bring to my mom and aunt.  I called my mom who was going to be leaving the following day and suggested I bring all of the books to my aunt.  She is 86, recovering from hip replacement and suffering from unrelated back pain.  She only reads free  books.  I am much pickier and in the 100 books or more found nothing of interest.  I find romance novels predictable and tedious but that is another story.  Mom agreed and said her and Dad were meeting my brother at my aunt's to do some last minute repairs before they left.

My cousin and her partner are here visiting for the holidays.  I arrived and one was cleaning out kitchen cabinets and tossing all out dated items.  I removed my shoes and my cousin insisted I put on slippers.  It was easier to comply than fight. My aunt was cleaning out drawers.  My brother soon arrived with both kids in tow.  Ladders were pulled out and Dad and brother set about cleaning out the dryer vent and who knows what else.  The kids were up, they were down, they were silly and noisy.  They did laps in the house and played the "miss me, miss me now you got to kiss me" game.  I complied with lots of kisses.  I'll take it while I can because I know too soon they will not want a hug never mind a kiss. And in the midst of this pictures were being taken, presents opened, drinks offered, books sorted and trash emptied.

It was a lot of activity in a small space.  And as quickly as we swooped in we departed.  Plans were made for a more quiet visit with my cousin and aunt.  I enlisted my brother in taking two trees down in my yard before spring arrives with bud and leaves.  I said one last good bye to my parents who will not return until May.  I hugged and kissed my niece and nephew again because I could.  And reveled in the peace and quiet.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Last Week

I started last week in a council of Women.  We sat together, prayed together, held what was in each others hearts.  This deep meaningful time together sustains me, encourages me and opens me to new views, new options, new things to explore and nourish. 

In the deep sorrow of the tragedy at Sandy Hook I think of ALL our children.  All those that we don't talk about.  All those kids who are hungry, abused, isolated, falling through the cracks in our system.  The system needs to be fixed.  I have no answers.  I know I must find a way to help fix this brokenness.  And I pray that we sit with the brokenness, ponder it and grow from it.  I hope we don't just react quickly and with no help for the brokenness.

Monday morning I went to work.  This is unusual for me but I had work that needed to be done before vacation.  A huge project looming that my boss had me take over so that it would be completed. It has sat fallow for almost two years.  My boss was on vacation.  It was a jamming week for everyone with her gone, the payroll year coming to an end and the holiday just around the corner. Our newest AP clerk comes in and quits.  And as much as this is a blessing - her middle school drama, poor quality of work, etc.  this left everyone in a bind.  I ended up putting in over 40 hours as did my co-workers.  Lunches were brief.  Heads were down and keyboards humming. 

Thursday night I attended a Solstice celebration.  My hubby and youngest came.  It made my heart sing that hubby came.  This is so out of his comfort zone.  More than thirty of us gathered to pray, sing, delve into the darkness and welcome the returning of the light.  And as we sat in the darkest day of the year it was clear to me how much we need to sit with this darkness.  It is in the depths that we nourish the seeds we wish to grow.

I left work after lunch on Friday not to return until January 2.
Friday night we went to the fire department Christmas party.  It was good to sit with old friends and catch up.  It was good to be on a date with my handsome hubby.  It was good.

Saturday was our family holiday celebration.  My parents came for breakfast.  Sausage gravy, cheddar biscuits and streusel topped french toast.  We had time to visit and solve the problems of the world.  Monday they migrate south for the winter.  I am so blessed that they are healthy and able to enjoy life on their terms. 

They left and I prepped dinner and took a nap.  My in-laws came for dinner.  I made many of my father-in-love's favorites. I mentioned that he is very vocal about his likes but that I didn't know what my mother-in-love's favorites would be.  She said that is because she likes everything.  We started with crab cakes followed by a bacon wrapped beef roast, roasted potatoes, glazed carrots, corn a rhubarb pie and cookies. We had a really nice relaxing visit.

And now, all I have to do is relax. 

This week I will spend time with the kids.  We plan to hit a museum with a huge Lego display.  I will book our summer vacation.  I will putter and recharge.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cookies

Yesterday I baked cookies.  My taste testers were at the ready.  They would run for ingredients in the pantry or at the store (thanks hubby) but no one wanted to help create.  A tray went to the Torrington Fire House.  A tray went with hubby to the Winsted Fire House - he was standing by with others so that Winsted could enjoy their holiday party. A box is filled and ready to be mailed to our nephew.  A tray is hidden away for our holiday celebration with my in-laws.  And the rest are for us to enjoy.  I make favorites and ones that ship well.  They are not uber fancy - I'm the only one who appreciates that - but they are pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself.  At least that is what my testers said.  Tough job they have.

Snickerdoodles (nephew's favorite)
Cowboy cookies
Molasses crinkles
Reese's pieces peanut butter (for Phil at TFD)
Mint Chocolate Chip
Spritz (my favorite - and they must be in the shape of a tree)

While waiting for trays to come out of the oven so I could fill new ones I made a batch of fudge.  This has been my bosses Christmas present for more than 8 years now.  She still loves it.  The batch makes enough to feed a small village so their is plenty to go around.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tragedy

I woke up yesterday feeling good.  I keep fighting off all the illnesses going around work.  I went from errand to errand and had tea with a friend.  Mid afternoon I received a phone call from another friend.  I had not heard or seen the news all day.  That 27 people were killed, that 20 were school children and mostly in kindergarten.  What do you say to that?

What can one do besides cry?  My heart aches.  I can not imagine the grief the families must endure from their loss.  I can not imagine the horror the survivors must live with.  The horror that all the emergency workers found upon arrival burnt into their memories.  The surviving members of the shooter's family. 

My prayers to all.  I light a candle.  I cherish my children a little more (if that is possible).  I hold space and love in my heart for all children, for parents and yes, even for the shooter. 


My daughter, trying to wrap her mind around it asked what do the parents do with the presents.  All I could think of is maybe they could give them to a child who may not have any presents.  But, the pain is so raw....

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Prep

The holidays are fast approaching.  My hubby wondered out loud last night why people were acting so crazy.  I said it was the December dis-ease.  I saw it a lot when I worked retail.  People wait until the last minute to do everything they think needs to be done, they believe they need to have warm cozy family time, and a whole host of other things.  When none of this happens they panic and take it out on those around them, the retail clerk and the police. 

I have mixed emotions on celebrating Christmas to begin with.  I have fond memories of it when I was a kid.  I remember the family, playing cards, visiting friends and leaving Santa cookies and a hi-ball.  I remember very few gifts that I received and I don't remember what we ate (which means it really wasn't out of the ordinary as I am all about the food).  I do remember my aunt's peanut butter fudge.  It was so good I would buy more at the holiday fair.  And my other aunt made these tiny little butter cookies that just thinking about them makes my mouth water.

Now I'm more about celebrating Yule and the turn of the wheel.  The sun has reached the depths of it waning and starts waxing.  I appreciate those I love.  I indulge in present giving for the kids and baking for those I love.  Although any occasion really is cause for me to bake or cook for those I love.  What shopping I do I complete early.  I spend December wrapping presents and wrapping up in a blanket.  I go within.  I plan menus.  I make lists of every one's favorite foods and I incorporate those into the coming days and weeks. 

Last year I took another step off the crazy train.  When hubby was telling me we had to visit this one and that I turned the conversation around.  I called the kids in and asked them what they would do for the holiday if they could and how would they celebrate with their grandparents.  I then asked hubby what he would really like.  It involved food and a lot of making love.  Any way......  All three wanted to stay home, enjoy the day and my cooking. I just like to putter in the kitchen.  So last year we had MIL and FIL for dinner on a different night and played dominoes.  We were able to visit and enjoy each others company.  And that is what we are doing again this year.

Years before that we had started a breakfast tradition with my parents.  Until this year it was Christmas Eve morning breakfast as they  migrate south on Christmas day.  This year they are leaving a day early so breakfast has moved to the Saturday before.  The great thing about my parents is that they just want to get together - the calender date is not a big deal.

So, the menus are made and the grocery shopping will start.  This week end I will bake cookies and mail out care packages.

Breakfast:
Cheddar biscuits and sausage gravy
Struesel topped french toast
fruit

Dinner:
crab cakes
bacon wrapped beef tenderloin
roasted potatoes
glazed carrots
corn
rhubarb pie and assorted cookies

Christmas Day:
Pancakes & ????

Ham
Creamy Brussels sprouts
baked potatoes
German chocolate cake and assorted cookies

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Little Things

It's the little things in life that I celebrate and cherish.  I had a manager tell me once that if you can't get the little things right you could never manage the big things.  It relates to everything I think.

So, this week I am grateful for.....

A new beginning with oldest.  When she left almost two years ago she unfriended and blocked me on facebook.  This week she sent a friend request.  And when I looked at her info she had already listed me under family. I know how BIG this is for a teen age girl. 

I am thankful for friends.  For asking how my visit with oldest went.  For challenging my thinking and preconceived notions.  For the many hugs and lots of laughter.  For pretty handmade crafts - jewelry, oils, note books.  For love and support.  For time spent together.

I started the week in NYC with a few Goddesses from my herbal classes.  We convened from different corners of the land and enjoyed each others company.

I went to a friends house for a jewelry party.  The items hand crafted by another friend.  I indulged in  earrings for me and one for oldest.  I have my eye on a few more pieces when funds allow. 

I spent the evening discussing secrets with my foolish wisdom group.  Oh how I love them all.  I'm not a secret keeper. I keep some things private; I select what I divulge to certain people but there is nothing lurking in the recesses of my being that I haven't shared with at least one other.  And there are some things in my past that I have let go of.  They are not a secret but so far removed from who I am now that the details have become irrelevant to me. 

I am grateful for my healthy (in my humble opinion) self esteem.  For always dressing how I wanted and not worrying about what others thought.  And yes, sometimes it was/is a hot mess.  For owning who I am and rejecting what I choose of others opinions.  I don't have to be who others think I am unless I want to.  I know who I am and if others see me differently that is their issue not mine.

And I am grateful for my hubby who loves and supports me and gives me room to grow.

What are you grateful for this week?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Darkness approaches

      We are now in December.  The winter solstice and the darkest day of the year is approaching quickly.  I feel myself entering that space of deep contemplation, going within, seeing what seeds need nourishing and what seeds need to lay fallow for a time or forever. 
     I love the change of seasons.  I feel them deeply in my being.  I love that I visibly see them unfold before me in this New England landscape.  It is a time to be quiet.  I read more weighty books.  Not the summer beach read but things that nourish some part hidden within my soul; something that makes me think.  I pick up the needle point.  I change what and how I'm cooking.  I snuggle under the blankets and hibernate figuratively and literally. 
     For me the year is just beginning.  It doesn't start with the traditional New Year and a flip of the calender.  It is this time that sets the tone for the coming months.  I am in a good place this year.  I feel blessed and nourished.  I feel ready to start on this year's journey - fed and whole.  Yet, there is change lurking. 
     There is always change lurking.  It is good. 
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