Jan 11, 2013

Sparkles and Sprinkles

Since Christmas was so strung out this year, this post covers a lot of time.  It was not all spent crying over the trashcan and coming late to the realization that your kids have left home...........5 years ago.  hahaha

Our house was visited by the amazing Abigail for a few days recently and I must say she adds a lot of sparkle.  Literally.  She came equipped with silver sequined boots and silver glitter ballet slippers.  To see those sparkly things in the pile of size 12 sneakers did my heart a world of good.  She came along at a time when I really needed her and has gotten me through some dark days.  (Ok-years.....but you see how perfectly it all works out?  And now another baby girl will be following in her footsteps.  I'm simply not the type to turn bedrooms into closets for myself.  I come from different stock, a more welcoming and less self-obsessed kind. ;)  No telling how long I can stave off the realization that the twins are gone before I have to face that, this way!  See?  There is a method to my madness.) can see she is coming along beautifully
Her boots and shoes were only compliments to the rest of her wardrobe, which consisted of lots of tulle ruffles, sequined skirts and glitter leggings.  The dogs were the most thrilled of all.  Not only did she sparkle, but she moves a lot more than any human they have ever seen in the house.  A lot more.  They faithfully followed her everywhere she went and the three of them had a really great time playing a version of "the floor is made of lava".  This is what they did while Mimi tried to figure out how to get the video game player to play a movie......for 30 minutes......while she had one of the twins on the phone telling her exactly what to push on the controller.  He finally just had to come home, as his mother is so unfamiliar with controllers that it never occurred to her there are buttons on the front of the thing.  I couldn't even figure out what the buttons on top were supposed to do.  I'm proud of that, in the big picture.  Video games are one evil I have completely avoided.  It figures that I would pay the price when all I wanted to do was watch a simple video.  You say technology has advanced.  I say it's advanced right into the sewer, that's what I say.

So I let her open a Christmas present early.
Apron by Cheryl Arnold Craig of Cheryl's Sewing, Unionville, MO.  You can find her on FB or at    her blog

I think it is as adorable as she is in it!  We got to work right away.  I had several things already mixed up and ready to dip or bake, and we did both.

You always have make sure it's "fit ta eat"

We also had nice talks about who she was, as she is a big sister now.  She is not a baby anymore, but she is MY baby (her blue eyes looked up for confirmation at this, which I gave with alacrity).  She is a kid, not a big kid, though.  A little big kid, or as she put it "a widdle big kid".  She is just at the age where she still can't say some things and I try to hang onto these days especially hard.  It was interesting to see how she sees herself, not to mention me.  I know full well that the days when she knows everything already are just waiting a little ways ahead, so I intend to remember every one of these sweeter ones while I can.  Guess what else I got her?  I had to smile when I clean Mackenzie's room...remember the angel wings?  Without remembering them I had gotten Abigail some this year.  She loved them. 
She isn't into posing for pictures...yet.  I think that's Jack in the background, asking if she's going to eat that...

4 year old's simply tell you the most amazing things.  All true, nothing censored,  from their point of view.  You would be surprised at some of the things you learn, you should talk to one today.

She achieved Master Sprinkler status in a few hours, as she has so much sprinkling to do she had bottles in both hands, sprinkling for all she was worth.
Putting sprinkles into a cup gives you a nice mixture of red and green because let's face it:  who can ever decide between them?  And why should we have to choose?

My Bonus Daughter, her mom, sweet thing that she is, insisted we go "do something" during the week I had off.  This is one of the things I love most about my bonus daughter--she actually thinks of me and is willing to do whatever it takes to spend time with me.  She spreads sparkles wherever she goes, just like her daughter.  We met at high noon at a bowling alley and bowled a game.  We all had a great time, even though we are by no stretch of the imagination great bowlers.  It had been entirely too long since we had eaten at a bowling alley, too, as real bacon cheeseburgers and tenderloins were to be had for very reasonable prices.  It was a good day!
She is also young enough to grab up the camera and takes lots of pictures without focusing up our noses.  Just one skill I covet.....
My youngest baby is multi-talented: baby holding and keeping score simultaneously.

Everybody got plenty of practical and appreciated gifts, me included.  I got the warmest, softest new robe and slippers from the kids, which kept me all warm and snuggly, and this necklace I got for myself.  I LOVE it!

By ReBlinged.  You can find them on FB also.  They take vintage items and give them new life.  This is my version of a mother's ring.

I don't know if you remember or not but I vowed that my presents would be hand made this year at some point.  I did not say they would be hand-made by me, so the apron and the necklace still count.   But I did pretty good with what skills I have to work with and little time.  

We made LOTS of candy.  By far the most popular were the peanut butter balls.  Take 24 Nutter Butter cookies and crush 'em.  Mix with 8 oz. cream cheese, roll into balls, throw the balls in the freezer and then dip them in chocolate or almond bark.  Very good.  Tip: try to keep the balls small.  I have no patience and as a result my truffles ended up taking four bites to finish.  Two bites is about right.
It looks great, doesn't it?  None of it was hard.  Check out and you too will feel like a wizard in the kitchen.  (Even if you didn't get a Snuggie-but if you did--watch the sleeves!)
I smashed the cookies by myself!

And in the interest of trying to survive without being able to get into a Dr., I came up with this:

Everybody went crazy for this stuff. * Some of them were actually  sick.
I found this on the blog, which I will have on my blog list soon.  They are redoing their website presently.  Check them out.  I  really like them.   For this I just cut up 2 lemons and about 2 finger-lengths of ginger root and then fill the jar with honey.  You are supposed to let it set, stirring each day until the honey and citrus makes a jelly.  Take a spoon or two of the jelly, add boiling water, and you have a tea that will help you when you are sick with a cold or flu. It's wonderful!  You can also add some whiskey for an actual  Hot Toddy.  I finally figure that one out!  One of the recipients was so sick that he did not bother with making the tea, or even the Hot Toddy, and just ate it by the spoonful.  He reported that it helped a lot and wanted more in just a few days.  I found some pint jars on sale and it was a hit.

My list for hand made (by me) presents is growing for next year.  Next year I will be ready!!  I know I've said it before but this time I think it's really going to happen.  Between the candy, cookies, remedy's and easy little projects that even I can do, it's going to happen.  After this, our memories will be about time spent together, good food and drinks, and the time we spent, instead of who got what.  It's not a competition and whatever you get someone, the worth should rest in the fact that it's from you instead of what it is.  This checking boxes off of lists stuff has got to stop.  I have grown up, so much so that there is no longer any question.  What a relief.  I think the days of questioning myself are finally over, happily, and it feels really good to know where I stand.  So much of our youth is spent thinking we know what we think and then being slapped right upside the face with a complete and total opposite truth that we just hadn't lived long enough to learn yet.  Young people, this is how people can stand to get old.  It's like a soap opera, we have simply seen it all before.  It's pretty hard to scare us, if you want to know the truth.

I'm done with Christmas being more about presents than it is about Christ.  I'm done with people who say Happy Holidays.  You could say that on Veterans Day!  I'm done spending money I don't have for things people don't want, need, or like.  How much stuff do you need to have before you have "enough" anyway?  That is a question we should all ask ourselves, and if you still feel greedy after that, just think about how much you will have to "maintain" or "dust" this "stuff".   Is it so precious to you that little kids can't be in your house?  Isn't it going to get broken or be obsolete with a few years?  What is the point of that crap anyway? The days when your children are small pass quickly, however hard that may be for you to believe now.  They will remember the times together, messes, blow ups, and all, and they will remember it as the best times of their lives, regardless of the "stuff" they get.  Treasure the days when they like the box better than anything that could be inside, and make sure they hang onto that bit of wisdom that they are here to teach you.

Jan 8, 2013

Another Doorway

The Beautiful Redhead's room looks so nice I keep opening up the door just to look at it.  I also laid on her bed in the sun for a couple of hours Sunday talking to her grandmother on the phone.  Tonight I opened it up, looked, and shivered.  The thought in my mind at that exact moment was "You just passed through another doorway", and so I had.

I guess my powers of denial are strong, because The Rock Star left home in 2008 and The Beautiful Redhead in 2010, but until this year on Christmas morning, it had not hit me.  Oh, sure, I "knew" they were gone, but they came back a lot and were always here for holidays.  My rhythm as a mother had not shifted much until this year.

This year we had our Christmas on the Sunday before.  This year my two oldest went back to their homes and worked on Christmas eve.  I was proud that The Beautiful Redhead thought it was sad to see so many people in the mall on Christmas Eve.   This year I got up early as usual on Christmas morning and as I started making coffee it hit me that this year Taylor and Mackenzie were not going to be here.   They would not be at their dad's either.  They were both alone as were we on Christmas day, and the tears just started flowing.   I think I had been holding it off for a while and there was no stopping it now.   It occurred to me that, even worse than this, would be if the twins got up only to discover their mother sobbing (quietly) over the trash can, using a paper towel for a kleenex.  I opened the fridge, grabbed an onion, cleaved it in half, just in case, and then just let it out.  

Some times, when a woman needs to cry, it's better to just do it.  Otherwise, it builds up exactly like pressure cooker and is bound to end badly, at the least convenient time.

As I bawled the voice inside my head kept saying "This is what it is to be a mother" and I realized that she is right.  Of course.  She always is.  We work to make our children self-sufficient and able to build their own lives.  Check that off the list.  Twice.  I swore that I would treasure these last years with the twins at home, even it did mean coming home to discover dirty socks tossed (perhaps shot like rubber bands?) all around the house.  I focused on how proud I am of my older two.  It didn't help much.

The voice said "Would you rather have them unemployed and laying around the house all the time?"  Of course not!  I would want to kill them, all the time.  Much like the twins these days.  I vowed to get those kids moving somehow.

The voice said "You have to be strong.  You don't want to be a burden to them."  No, I would not.  Ever.  This was the real killer.  Children swallow you whole.  At first you resent it and then you just go with it and by the time they leave you are the one stuck in the routine, having forgotten you were ever anything else.  Who cares now?  Not even me!  I tried to look ahead far enough that I could see my grandchildren, but it was too foggy.  I do know it's coming, I've just never been good at patience.

And I realized, as the waterworks slowed down, that when you become a mother, your journey does not stop when the child leaves the house.  I know, I know, this seems obvious if you ever stop to think about it.  I guess I just never did.  Perhaps that was an unconscious decision, or perhaps it was just self preservation.  I doubt I could have been the mother I was if I had realized that it was all going to end and I would end up crying over the trash can, having provided a valid excuse for such behavior, in case, on Christmas morning in 2012!  Some things are better not known.  Probably most things.

Apparently, I have my work cut out for me, now that I understand it clearly.  So I let myself cry, and then I was profusely upbeat the rest of the day.  We made more truffles.  We watched The Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th St. and It's a Wonderful Life.  When I cried, it was always at an appropriate time and always assumed by the twins that I was crying because of the movie, or just because I'm a girl.  They were at least 1/2 right and never guessed the truth, bless them both.  

And I did one more thing.  I planned next year, and it's going to be better.  Next year we are going to plan ahead better, and have extra time, whether it is on the actual day or not.  That way I will be able to feel like they have "been home" and they will be able to sleep late without their mom calling them, not quite crying, and saying how much she misses them and is not liking this not having her babies home on Christmas morning.  Next year we are all making candy and cookies together and pigging out and giving some of all of them away.  Next year we are taking lots of pictures, even if we all look like hell-fire.  Next year we will have time to eat and be lazy and laugh.  Next year I won't be sad. 

Ha.  Gotcha! Of course I will be sad.  Probably forever, from now on.  But that's part of being a mom and raising successful kids.  I freely admit I'm pretty good at denial but this was a doorway that was big enough to be considered a tunnel, and it's very windy here on the other side.  Every single person I have talked about this with said "I think back to how many times I did that to my mother...." and was sorry.  It was the same with me.  I repented of sins I hadn't even remembered over the trash can that morning.   So that's something, anyway.  I guess we just keep living and learning and sheltering ourselves from hard truths as long as possible and then dealing with them.

So that was the low for Christmas this year.  The high will follow on the next post.  We really did have a good time, even if it was spread out a little and none of it fell on the actual days.

So my journey continues.  The harder I try to see the doorways the more wrinkles I get, but I always know when I have passed beneath one.   If you suddenly shiver when you are not cold, you probably just did that yourself.  Sometimes it seems like time is a film that you can't turn off.  You open a door expecting to see dirty clothes and glitter strung all around and all that is really there is an empty room, waiting for someone to come in and live again.   Dealing with Mackenzie's room was just another phase in life that I had to face.  So check that off the list too.  The list doesn't seem to get any shorter, and for that I am thankful.  I really don't know what else to do anymore, anyway.

Jan 5, 2013

She's Still Gone.....Update

I got a new canister type vacuum cleaner and took a week of vacation and seem to have been possessed by a cleaning demon.  Of all the demon possessions I have ever contemplated, the cleaning demon would probably have to be the one I would ask for.

I have a Christmas post coming, but the demon, having taken over possession of my soul recently, has produced this instead.

At first, the canister type vacuum freaked me out and made me itch for several hours after I used it.  I can report that I am way past that now.  In fact, with every canister of dust that I collect now, I am only inspired to collect more.  I have used every attachment on it, love them all, and have instructed the boys in it's uses as well.  I am foolish enough to keep thinking that one of these times I will not suck up much, what with all the cleaning I've been doing.  That has yet to happen, but I live in hope.  Small, manageable, can afford to be disappointed hope, but hope all the same.  One of these days it could happen.  If it does, you will be the first to know.  I'm not holding my breath and I would not suggest you hold yours either, you understand, but we will make a note.  It could happen.

Remember when I was unable to bring myself to deal with The Beautiful Redhead's room?  Well, I have arrived at a compromise.  I told her at Christmas that I didn't think I was going to be able to bring myself to pack up her stuff.  She laughed.  I told her that it would be different when she got her own house and came in and told me she was taking it.  She rolled her eyes.  She left me here without touching a thing.  Again.

Ok, the wedding dress was still hanging there and I just stuffed it in the closet.  I don't count the closet when I am working on the room.  My mind can't encompass the whole process at once, ok?

Then the cleaning demon took possession and I just started doing stuff.

I did one side of the room at a time.  If I have to explain that, I would say you have never had a child who left home and then you used the room as the "throw it in and shut the door, quick-like(!)" room.

I packed up all her personal stuff.  I did not look through it.  I am 98% sure I packed up 3 boxes of trash for her to go through herself one day, but that's the way I roll.  I told God when I had kids that when I erred, I would always try to err on the side of caution, and I have kept my end of the bargain.

I got up today and drank a pot of coffee.  I did not shower, dress, or brush my teeth.  I warmed up taco soup for the boys and then directed them to remove an old television, a bicycle (yes, really), and a shelf from that room into the basement.

My hallway looked like this:

That's Shadow's tail because she is my constant companion when doing anything.

And just to show my appreciation, here is a picture of Shadow, who is always sure I am taking her picture.

Wew, yes I wuv her.....she's my sweet baby bupkes.......

I found a pair of angel wings that I bought for her when she was 5 and cried over how fast the years went and how I can still remember how the crevice of her neck smelled when she was that age.   I smiled at how I bought a pair of fairy wings for Abigail this Christmas and she loved them as much as Mackenzie once loved these.  Then I carefully arranged them in the crib she and her brother used when they were infants along with a big teddy bear that she acquired when she was just a few years older.  I did not touch her little redheaded dolls or tea sets or rock collections.  They are just as they have been for 12 years, although I do plan to give them a good wash and I still have to get all the books and stuffed animals cleaned up too.  Perhaps the cleaning demon will make more appearances.  We will see.

Not gonna touch.  Well, maybe clean.  But not put up.  EVAH!  And that little truck actually says Mackenzie's Ice Cream through no design of our own and was the only little car that child EVER wanted and I always found it after her twin brothers had stolen it and you can see who was victorious here.  Me.  I did it for you, Kenz, only and always for you.

The angel wings are laying in the cradle, in front of the foot pillow I got for a Christmas present when I was about 12.  It was all the rage, man, I speak the truth.  And yes, that's Shadow again, supervising operations as always.  And yes, my problem with throwing things away is not new.  Not by a long, long shot.

I cleaned the cool electric lamp she had to have when she was 12 or 13.  I dusted the picture of her she was a naked infant and smiled and cried a little more.

I cannot believe she didn't take this.  I still have fun playing with it.  Maybe she is the more mature of us.  Oh well.

I dug out the mosquito netting that I got for her when she was 10 and put it back up.  In it I found the pearl ring I got her for her 16th birthday and she thought she had lost for the last 4 1/2 years.  She never stopped talking about that ring and I never found another one like it so I could replace it.  It has been found and replaced in the one jewelry box (out of dozens she had) I didn't pack up.

Ok, so she never liked the netting.  I liked the netting, OK?  As it turned out, that was all that mattered.

The boys fled the house and soon the room looked like this:

I couldn't bear to put up Raggedy Ann.  She has been a faithful companion not only to the Beautiful Redhead, but to me after she ran off and left us to live her life.  We've been through  a lot, Raggedy Ann and I.....Besides, this is the redhead wall, with the naked redhead baby picture and I am not breaking up the set.  I cannot.  I will not.  This discussion is over.

and this
I'm never  giving up this photo.  She can have it when I'm dead.  Or the Mardi Gras feather boa or the only surviving float trip hat that I got for $5.  Not at the Dollar Shop, obviously. And that dangling sparkly stuff is attached to a crown of stars.  Never know when the need to wear one of those will take a girl over.....Just come on over, I saved that too!

I put the both the quilt her grandmother made back on the bed and set the fearless white lion she coveted (and got) when she was 11 on top.  I propped her favorite teddy bear when she was a child against her pillows.   

Ready for a traveling princess to stay.  And her little sister, too, with the cradle and all....

I was touched and thrilled to discover that the note her grandmother Paula had written in lipstick, along with lipstick kisses, had been there so long that it didn't easily clean off.  I left it there.

Clean this off?  NOW?!???!!?  Are you nuts?  Obviously, I am not good at that.  Accept it and move on.  I cherish my memories, right down to making them part of the permanent decorations!

I found the keyboard she learned on before we had a piano.  This same keyboard was later co-opted by her brother and the boys in his band (s) of her favorite boys of all time put the cheat sheet tape on the keys.  I smiled through tears as I remembered the years of not being able to talk on the phone inside my own house for the bass beat that kept our house hopping.  Years of calls at 11 pm to bring a guitar or an extra amp to a gig.   Years of 6 boys showing up without much time but needing to eat and throwing frozen lasagna in the microwave and watching them eat it while it was still cold.....but they didn't care.  Years in which I watched her get to hang out with the older kids and have a really good time in safety because she had an older brother who was 10 feet tall.   I didn't touch a thing, but now have to find a place to keep it.  Perhaps the closet.......
If this keyboard could talk........All we have is youtube videos of Our Last Run.  Go look one up now.  You may or may not need Kleexes.  No shame.

So her room has been tackled, mostly, and that leaves my list of things to do a little shorter.  Ok, no shorter, since I can cross off Mackenzie's room but now have to add Mackenzie's closet.  Still.  It's progress and I count it all.

And that is my progress, if you can call it that. I choose to call it that. The closet is still to be dealt with on another day, but this is her room now.  Undoubtedly hers, but not recently.  Proof that she lived here and will always be able to come back.  Her childhood still displayed, but not able to be picked up easily.  Just still there.  Always.

I feel very badly about the Christmas post, but will work on it soon.  Perhaps by Valentines day?  I kid.  Kind of.  I think.  I really don't know anymore.  I just get myself out of bed and go in whatever direction I am pulled.  It doesn't usually make sense to me, but still I go, and am even getting some things accomplished.  I had to ask what came next, right?  Well, this is it.  Proof that God listens, not to mention a reminder to always think about whether you really want to know the answer before you ask.

It's going to be a long winter.  It always is, in Missouri.  I wish for you a canister vacuum and the raw courage to face what it will dang shore collect.  Buck up and suck up, folks, spring is coming but not for awhile yet.

Jan 3, 2013

The Empty Dollar Shop...

I recently went to one of my favorite places on earth only to find that it had closed.

I am in mourning and so came up with this as a memorial to that most wonderful of all places:

Ode To The Dollar Shop

Oh, Dollar Shop, I will miss you so.
We have been through so much, through the years.  There is no way I could have ever done it without you.  When I felt alone and overwhelmed, you scooped me up and set me down in a wonderful, quiet, warm place full of wonders the likes of which I never even knew existed, and I knew I was not alone.
All the stocking stuffers, you never let me down.  Every Christmas was full of wonderful stocking stuffers one simply could not find just "anywhere".  The incense burner inscribed with AC/DC that my oldest son actually liked, the little manicure sets and the Christmas cups.  My kids all got one every year.  You might think those would add up but don't worry.  They all chipped real easy and usually needed replaced every year.  Who cared?  Not me.  They were all $1.
All the pairs of sunglasses.  I wish I would have stocked up better.  I just never thought there would come a day when you weren't there.  The last time I spent over $1 on a pair of sunglasses was around 1997.  Same year the twins were born.  Your timing really was impeccable.
You were the first stop I always made when the kids got money for a gift.  You never disappointed them, either.  The shot glass that said One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, FLOOR with the little red light that lit up on the bottom?  The knives?  The jewelry?  
Decades of gift bags of every size and for every occasion, all $1.  I want to weep, even though I still have a lot of them.
The music.......a blend of 70's soft rock and one hit wonders that made me laugh out loud and sing along on many occasions.  ..........Sometimes we made it a group event.  If you have never had an unplanned flash mob around the song Don't Pull Your Love Out On Me Baby by Hamilton, Joe, Frank & Reynolds, I mourn for you.  At least I will always have the memories, oh Dollar Shop.
The books.  THE BOOKS!!!!!  SOB!  Hard back good books!!  OK, some bad ones too, but that's how it goes, and you only wasted a dollar!!
The Christmas ornaments!!  The $1 teachers gifts!!!
The commercials!  "Can't decide whether to buy that item or not?  Don't forget it's a dollar.  Every item in this store is a dollar.  All the time."  They made my heart sing out and I laughed out loud as I threw whatever was in my hand into the cart! 
I never worried there!  
I also rarely spent even $20!
I don't know what I will do without you, Dollar Shop.  I don't even know if I know who I am now.
The bathrooms!  There was never a line!!
The underwear for teenage girls who only wanted thongs!  I simply cannot abide paying good money for bad underwear.  Not even underwear as I understand their true purpose......but that's another post.
The flowers for graves!  Twice a year at least and sometimes more often, depending on what you offered and one time.....those sparkly iridescent pom pom ball things on sticks?  Well, I don't really know what those were supposed to be for but my mother's grave has never been so blinged out before or since and now, I guess never will be again.  Oh!  The agony!  I'm pretty sure those things were the talk of the town for a while there.......
The dog collars!  Shadow kept me running over there on a regular basis until I got smart and took the collars off.  It would have never went on for so long without you, Dollar Shop.  Life just will not be the same without you.
The shampoos and conditioners and lotions that teenagers always "have" to have but are mainly made up water anyway?  So what's the diff?  Especially if it comes in the actual packaging?  For a DOLLAR, people......
It's going to take a while.  I don't know if I can do it.......say goodbye to you, Dollar Shop.  I know I will find another, but it won't be the same.  You were near me.  And now, you are not.  
You are empty.  Abandoned.  Utterly desolate and dark.  
I feel the same way.  
Oh, I will rally.  I will make the trip to find another one.  But not for a while.  Not for a good while.
I must go on, but I don't know if I will ever get over this.
RIP, Dollar Shop.  I only wish you had a grave I could visit.  If I did I would only with I could afford to buy you a little statue for your grave.  But that won't be happening now.  
You were a great store, and I loved you.