Category Archives: Holidays

sunday salon/currently … need a little christmas now

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christmas-tree-2016

Our tree went up this afternoon, and you can see it there, above, tucked between the sofa and the old half-broken chair where I write this (and every other blog post) in our mismatched and oddly-configured living quarters.  I’m hoping the presence of the tree raises my spirits a bit and gets me more into a proper Christmas mindset, whatever and wherever that might be.  I’m just not feeling it this season.

It’s everything and not just one thing — there’s the election aftermath, of course, with its accompanying stew of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and anger I feel on a daily, constant basis. I know — and I don’t really care — that I’m one of Those People whom others are frustrated with for what appears to be an inability to move on and accept this new reality. Believe me, I wish I could find some peace with this. I wish I could be all optimistic and hopeful but I can’t. I wish I didn’t give a damn.

I’m finding it hard to focus, which makes reading a bit of a challenge. I didn’t finish anything this week. However, November was a pretty decent reading month with six books read.

shut-up-and-runthe-rain-in-portugalmothering-sunday

springtime-a-ghost-storyborn-to-runhouse-of-silence

I’m at 40 books read for the year, which is my lowest total since 2008 (when I read a measly 28 books!) and the year I started blogging.  I’ll be happy if I reach 45 books. We’ll see.

Not much else to say today.  Hope all is well in your world and that you have a good week.

 

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Sunday Salon/Currently … Thankfully Reading, Christmas Music, and #turnonthelight

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We’re back from a quick (less than 48 hours!) trip to Philadelphia, where we spent Thanksgiving with both sides of our family. If you read yesterday’s post recapping that visit, you know this holiday had special meaning this year.

It’s also been an extended break from work for me; I’m off from work through Tuesday, thanks to an abundance of vacation days needing to be used before year’s end with still more time off at the end of the year. Nothing is planned for today except church and grocery shopping. Tomorrow’s fun includes a follow up visit to the vet — our cat had dental surgery two weeks ago and all of her teeth needed to be removed, except for two.  She’s made a remarkable recovery and is doing well so hopefully this will be an uneventful check up.

Thankfully Reading
ThankfullyReading2014Because of the Philly trip, I didn’t have a chance to participate as much in Jenn’s Bookshelves annual Thankfully Reading Weekend event as I would have liked. This is one of my favorite bookish happenings because it’s a no-rules, whatever works for you kind of thing. Since I’m jumping in late (officially signing up with this post as Thankfully Reading concludes) I’m extending my participation into Monday.

Here’s what I read this week:

born-to-runspringtime-a-ghost-storyhouse-of-silence

As a Springsteen fan, I was pretty sure I would like Born to Run — and oh my, did I ever. At its conclusion, Bruce (I feel I can call him Bruce) writes that he hasn’t revealed everything about himself in this memoir, but you definitely come away from this feeling like you know him and his music in a whole new way. A must-read for Bruce fans and one that will be on my Best of 2016 list (in just a few short weeks!).

Springtime: A Ghost Story is a bit of an odd novella by Michelle de Kretser, an Australian novelist who was born in Sri Lanka. Frances is a 28 year old woman living in Sydney with her partner Charlie. She sees a ghost while walking her dog and … that’s about it. I liked the concept of a ghost story in springtime, but this felt more like an unfinished short story.

Last night I finished House of Silence, a debut historical fiction/mystery/romance novel by Sarah Barthels. This is a review book, so I can’t say much more until after its December 27 publication date.

I’m not sure what I’ll read next. I have several books in progress and another review book on the docket so probably one of those.

One thing I’ve been reading more of is The New York Times. I decided that something I can do in this post-election world is to support quality journalism by subscribing to the NYT. (We also subscribe to our local paper.)  They had a deal last week where a subscription was $10 per month. For that price, I can forego a few breakfast bowls or afternoon coffees at work.

Need a Little Christmas Now … 
Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, The Husband puts on Christmas music and listens to nothing else until January 2. (The two exceptions are November 29 and December 8 when he plays George Harrison and John Lennon nonstop, respectively, in honor of those two greats.) The Christmas music, though, usually drives me crazy. I can handle it in small doses.  Not this year. I’ve downloaded a bunch of new tunes from Spotify and am cranking up the holly right along with him.

#turnonthelight …
Our friends Jason and Rachel have launched The Holiday Lights Project  #turnonthelight to bring more kindness and joy into the lives of those around us.  They’re doing this in a big but quiet way, as is their style. They’re the folks who, while having breakfast at IHOP, pick up the tab for everyone in THE WHOLE RESTAURANT, not just the table next to them.  They load up gift cards with hundreds of dollars and hand it to a cashier, instructing them to pay for everyone’s coffee until it runs out. And they do this year-round.  (I know, because we’ve been the recipients of Jason and Rachel’s generosity many times.)

Obviously, we all don’t have the financial means to do this.  We certainly don’t. But we can all do what we can, even in a small way. (For example: since we weren’t going to be home for Thanksgiving, I donated some pumpkin pie filling and canned vegetables I’d purchased to the food pantry at church.) Jason’s post gives some inspiration for how we can all fight darkness with a little light, regardless of our status and station in life.

I hope your Sunday and the week ahead is filled with more light and less darkness. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to take this opportunity to say how grateful I am for all my blog readers. Whether you’re a newcomer to the blog or someone who has been reading for the past eight years, I’m very appreciative for you and your friendship. Thanks for being here! 

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Second Helpings

Before this tumultuous year, Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to Christmas were already emotionally-charged holidays for me and The Husband.  A lifetime ago, we got engaged during Thanksgiving week. After years of infertility, our twins were born on Thanksgiving Day in a scenario straight out of a Hallmark movie:  twins, Thanksgiving Day, the most incredible gift you could ever imagine.

And then, exactly one year ago today on Thanksgiving Day 2015, The Husband collapsed in the middle of dinner. We hadn’t even brought out the pie. I found him barely conscious in the bathroom and performed CPR right there on the floor. Dessert was replaced by a rush of paramedics, police, tears and two hospitals before 10 p.m.

Thankfully, he survived this unexpected (and somewhat still unexplained) event; it goes without saying that this year — not to mention the rest of our lives — would have been extremely different if he hadn’t.  Grateful is an understatement. In the face of some significant losses and challenges, we still have each other. That counts for something (a lot, actually).

Nonetheless, there was a push-pull effect to this particular Thanksgiving.  Stay home or spend the holiday with family in Philly?  Part of me felt like sheltering in place after the past 17 days since the election. The appeal and comfort of home far outweighed the prospect of politically-charged dinnertime conversations awaiting us on the opposite side of the state.

At the same time, I didn’t want to be home with the ghosts of last Thanksgiving sitting at the table.

We decided to do a quick trip to Philly — less than 48 hours in duration, with 12 of those spent driving. Some close relatives have had medical scares in the past month, and this would be an opportunity to spend some time with them. As if we needed any reminding, life doesn’t come with guarantees. Take nothing and no one for granted.

At a rest stop in the middle of Tr*mpland, we instructed the children that there were only two acceptable topics of conversation for this visit (and probably every other visit thereafter):  The Weather and How Is School Going?.

“What if [insert name of relative who likely voted differently than us] asks us about the election?” The Girl asked, a bit worriedly.

“You say, ‘on the advice of counsel, I decline to answer the question,'” The Husband replied, prompting a discussion of the Fifth Amendment, because that’s how we roll.

As it turned out, everyone behaved themselves as best as possible. No politics were discussed. Instead, we celebrated the kids’ birthdays (and a nephew’s) with both sets of grandparents. My sister-in-law made a delicious dinner. The cousins had a chance to hang out and laugh and reconnect with each other, reminiscent of the kind of holidays The Husband and I remember as children with our own cousins. It was the first Thanksgiving our extended family spent together in six years.

And best of all?

Everyone had more than enough pie.

thanksgiving-dessert-table-2016

 

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rockets’ red glare (36/99)

Labor Day Weekend - Blue Rocks Game

It’s been a very low key Fourth of July here, despite the fucking fireworks rocking our neighborhood around the clock. I heard some at 12:10 a.m. the other night and as if on cue, just as I typed these words we quite literally were startled out of our seats by someone setting off what sounded like a grenade. No big deal that it’s currently raining; that won’t stop the jagoffs. If history is any indicator, this will continue for at least another couple of days.  I’m as patriotic as the next gal, but I’ll admit this isn’t my favorite holiday.

When the hell did this shit start of needing to have one’s personal fireworks extravaganza in your own backyard?  As a friend and I were saying on Friday night, this nonsense didn’t happen when we were growing up. People didn’t set off fireworks every night for an entire week preceding the Fourth of July and then for another week afterwards.  Independence Day was about having the family over for a barbeque, giving the kids some sparklers, and piling in the car to go watch a fireworks display put on by the local fire department — people who knew what the fuck they were actually doing around explosives.

I sound like a curmudgeon, I know. Truth be told, it’s been a tough weekend. Our lives changed dramatically a year ago on July 2 — and that ending was the beginning of a very difficult year. We don’t feel much like celebrating anything this year and it’s hard to foresee a time when this holiday won’t be tainted with sad reminders, regrets, and what-ifs. I’m trying to remain hopeful that things will improve (hopefully sooner rather than later) which will help mitigate the lasting effects of the past 368 days.

I wanted to do something to get our minds off of things, but we’re not outdoorsy or athletic or into big crowds or crazy about noisy things like parades or fireworks. Plus, money.

Ironically, that’s a picture from a fireworks display we were actually at, although not on the Fourth of July.  It’s from almost six years ago now, a Labor Day Fireworks Night at the Wilmington Blue Rocks game in Delaware.

A lifetime ago.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #36 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

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Weekend Cooking: New Cookbooks, A Festive Fourth of July Salad, and Blueberries (34/99)

Cookbooks - 7-2016

I’m craving some new recipes (my eternal, elusive quest for meals the whole family can and will eat) and have been checking out a bunch of cookbooks and foodie magazines from the library. We’re lucky; our library has an abundant cookbook section and it’s not unusual for me to bring home a pile of them.  I may not always get around to preparing anything from them, but there’s something so indulgent about browsing through a stack of cookbooks for inspiration.

(Plus, magazines count as a book for our library’s Summer Reading Program, so that’s another reason to consume them.)

We don’t have anything going on this weekend for the 4th of July.  The Boy and I went to ALDI today and got a bunch of fruit, including a gigantic seedless watermelon. I chopped it into cubes — it filled a huge container that would have easily cost $20 if I’d purchased it pre-made — and made this very festive Watermelon, Blueberry, and Feta Salad for dinner (along with hot dogs).

(Literally, that’s all it is: watermelon, blueberries, and feta cheese.)

Watermelon-Blueberry-Feta Salad

The berries are from our own backyard. One of the more pleasant things we acquired with this house were four blueberry bushes.  Of those, one has stopped producing and one never started, but the other two usually give us a decent amount.

This was tonight’s harvest. I’d estimate this to be about slightly less than half a pint. Hopefully we’ll get a few more this season before the birds make them disappear.

Blueberry harvest 7-2-2016

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts.

 

 

 

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #34 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

 

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This Is the Father’s Day We Almost Didn’t Have

at the beach, 2011. the husband with the kids in the ocean. an intentionally blurry photo, taken by me.

This is the Father’s Day that we almost didn’t have.

Had things gone dramatically different on Thanksgiving — as they very nearly did —  this Father’s Day would have been the latest hurdle in a sad series of firsts.

It would have been the beginning of a lifetime of fatherless Father’s Days — which are the only kind I’ve known for the past 32 years.

Perhaps that’s the reason I’m having trouble writing the obligatory Facebook sentiment wishing The Husband a Happy Father’s Day. The emotions are too familiar, too close to the surface. It’s impossible to articulate in the face of the losses that did happen this year and challenges we continue to struggle with this new normal and our ever-present pasts.  They don’t make Hallmark cards for this kind of Father’s Day, which can be my lazy excuse (this year) for not buying one.

Instead, I look for the perfect photo, the best quote and I come up empty-handed until I find these words that I wrote for Father’s Day 2011. Words that still ring true five years later. More than ever, actually, if that’s possible. And it is, because while this was written in the midst of much uncertainly and change, it was also written before.

Before losing everything we’d worked two decades for.

Before The Cancer.

Before Thanksgiving.

Before going places on this parenting journey one never imagines when you first hold that newborn.

Before everything changed.

Before we knew now what we didn’t know then.

Here, then, an abbreviated version of “Father’s Day 2011: The Here and The Now”:

“I didn’t think I needed to write a Father’s Day post to The Husband. I really didn’t plan on it, to be honest. But then, you know, post after glowing post started showing up in my Google Reader – tributes to all the wonderful dads out there, guys who are the type of dads that The Husband is. Friends and family members are writing Hallmark card worthy status updates on Facebook whereas I’m … sitting here thinking, I’m really such a shit for not doing one of my own.

Because it’s not like The Husband doesn’t know how I feel, for God’s sakes. Obviously, he knows that I think he is a great Dad and a wonderful husband, yada yada yada, so it doesn’t really matter.

But see, here’s the thing: it kinda sorta does.

For reasons I don’t really want to go into on the blog and Facebook, it matters especially so this year. After being together for literally half your life, you fall into these sorts of silent, oh,he/she-knows-how-I-feel patterns, despite the irony of the minister at your wedding deliberately changing up your vows and scrapping the to have’s and to holds with phrases like “you’ll remember the big things like your anniversary, but it’s the little day to day things like saying, you matter to me that is the hard stuff.”

You take for granted that things like the laundry will always be done every Sunday of your life, like it has been in mine for 23 years. (Yes. Twenty-three YEARS my husband has been doing my laundry. Top that, girlfriends.)

You take for granted things like being able to count on your husband to run out to Walgreens for a gallon of milk, or take the boy for a haircut, or to pick up the kids when you’re running late, or to remember the sunscreen and apply it better than you, or to take them to the park when you’ve got a migraine kicking your ass for the third day in a row.

And these are just the little things. We’re not even going to get into the big deal, lifelong, no-cure-or-end-in-sight things.

Like parenting a child with autism, for example.

Like being a hands-on, 24/7 dad when you’re living with chronic pain for more than a decade.

You take these big and little things for granted until they’re not there anymore – or, in our case, not there as much. 

One of my faults is that I tend to focus on anything but the here and the now.

I procrastinate. (Hence, the no Father’s Day card or gift.)

I fixate a bit too much on the past.  I don’t always live in the moment.

(I’m working on that.)

And when you live with one foot in the future and one foot in the past, you’re not grounded in the present and you miss saying what needs to be said.

Which, for this Father’s Day for The Husband, goes something like this:

You’re an even better father than I ever imagined you would be, in circumstances that we never imagined would be.

Even though it doesn’t always seem like it, you’re needed more than you know. 

And you’re loved more than you can possibly imagine.

Happy Father’s Day.

  99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #21 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 
 
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kicking off 99 days of summer blogging (1/99)

99 Days of Summer Blogging

Time to get this party started!

Today’s the official start to 99 Days of Summer Blogging, a little impromptu project of mine where I plan to blog every day this summer. Yes, every single day. I’ve started an editorial calendar which is already helping.  I’m using Evernote to capture post ideas for those days when I got nothin’.

Best of all, a few of you are joining me in this crazy endeavor and a few are considering it.

More importantly, today is about much more than the beginning of summer. It’s about remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and never taking that for granted.

As if on cue, the live version of Frank Sinatra’s “The House I Live In” just came on The Husband’s Spotify.

Always a powerful song, but especially worth the listen today.

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