Saturday, July 9, 2016

Terrible, Horrible, and So Forth

This has been one miserable week. Miserable. It has included the anniversary of the tragic death of my cousin Reuben, unwelcome health news regarding another dear relative, major surgery for another close relative, the passing of Skip, and then to top it all off, the shootings.

I've been listening to this song on repeat and eating Samoas by the box. I could probably twist good music and cookies into hypograt items, right?

So the week's been heavy on distraction-seeking and a continual apology refrain to my children for being in such a rotten mood.

--Brian has decided to watch GoT so I get to start all over with him. Great fun.
--the pool
--my coloring book

--the three Blue Apron meals that we got as hand-me-downs from my MIL
--a twofer: I decided our napkins were too drab and I used up a good chunk of the ribbon stash to fancy them up. An excess of color and pattern through an effective use of supplies on hand is just my thing.

And then I am thankful that the surgery results were nearly as good as could be hoped. And I am oh, so thankful for the life I lead that allows me to drop everything and travel to see my loved ones, whether as a long-planned trip or at a moment's notice. Off to TN.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

TToT116: Talk Therapy. If only there were a therapist in this group!kh

This week flew by. Short weeks often seem to drag, but not this one. I blinked and it was Friday.

This was also a week where several pieces fell into place. Nothing major, nothing to jump up and down about, but a few appointments scheduled, some online stuff taken care of, a few menial tasks checked off the list. And many of these tasks involved interacting with people--speaking in front of a group, making phone calls--situations I usually try to avoid at all costs. But now they are mostly done. And I am thankful.

And that last bit reminds me of a series of thoughts I've been having recently. I was recently elected to a position in my chorus that requires me to be social, speak to strangers, address the chorus as a whole. When asked, my response was, "Don't you want someone who isn't antisocial?"

Antisocial was just a joke, but I am a very strong introvert. I hate crowds, meeting new people makes my hands sweaty, and I can count the people on one hand with whom I can have a conversation without a certain amount of physical and mental tension--the sense that I must concentrate hard on how I should act because any second I might inadvertently break the unspoken rules by following an impulse. All this, of course, leads me to feel exhausted after social encounters and often prefer time alone; hence, introvert.

But when I asked around in the chorus, I realized everyone there thinks I am an extrovert. I've been contradicted and told I don't know what the word introvert means! (Wanna make me furious? Insist you know me better than I know myself.) In a conversation at the bar after rehearsal one Tuesday, I brought up the topic and was asked, "So it's all just an act with us?"

Yes. And no.

It is an act because I put on a face for rehearsal every week. It's not a face I could keep up for a full day or night after night, but I can do one night a week for chorus rehearsal where all that singing is producing endorphins out the wazoo anyway.

But it is not an act because it is me doing it, and I do like the people I am with. I have learned and developed these social skills over the last 40 years, sometimes with very careful study.

And then there's the whole question of whether I ever was really as introverted as I thought or (and?) whether I just suffered from social anxiety. Where is the non-overlap between social anxiety and introversion?

And all of this makes me think of the persona I present via the blogosphere. Do I seem like an introvert? Probably not because I am not face to face with you. And those of you I have actually met (sob, not Christine), I wonder how you would categorize me.

And now that I've turned my TToT post into a talk therapy session, I'm gonna say there are ten thankfuls in there amongst the ability to be introspective, the acquisition and upkeep of worthwhile friendships, the regard of peers, and the expectation of intelligent and thoughtful responses, there's ten thankfuls. Plus all that stuff I took care of.

Oh, and Leo and I went strawberry picking.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

TToT115: Morning in NC

Somehow I am the only adult awake with four children seven and under (Christine scoffs, no doubt). I am thankful they are mostly independent, but I'm gonna make this brief because one or two are starting to call for breakfast.

Our drive was uneventful, and we started early enough to avoid the worst traffic.

My friend's son (who had the brain surgery) is going home today! Early because of his tremendous progress! He's relearned to walk without support, and he is already talking more than he did before surgery. Isn't that extraordinary?

Again, thankful for MD Anderson Cancer Center.

I am comfortable and happy and I figured out how to get the coffee started, and it's only the beginning of the long weekend.

But now there are tears and screams so off I go.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

TToT114: Cold and Rain, Glimpse of Sun, Rain and Cold

You know those maps that show how we'll lose our coastlines due to global warning? I think we're on our way. I think Washington DC is slowly sinking under the weight of all this rain into the Chesapeake Bay. We will all slip under the Atlantic brine while wearing our parkas. My corduroys are thinning from over-wear, and my shorts languish on a closet shelf. This is untenable.

OK, OK, OK, we did see the sun a couple of times last week and for that I am thankful. But I need more than a few hours here and there.

And during one of those times, my son and I conducted physics experiments in the creek near our house. In other words, we raced boats. (And I'll grant a grudging thank you to the rain for making the creek a good place for boat racing this spring.) You won't be surprised to find rock boats were not so effective. Even short sticks tended to get stuck, and small leaves got drowned. But sturdy leaves and tulip poplar flowers? Those make great boats for racing.

When I was a kid, we did not have a creek near our house, but we lived in a rainy enough location (from whence I think I draw my rain hatred) that we raced our boats along the curbs to the finish line of the storm drain. I remember distinctly that the stiff, curved bark of a crepe myrtle tree made an excellent boat.

There is terribly sad news in this world. Horrible, unfair news. I say it's the rain that's got me down, but it's only partly that. I have a cousin who is very, very ill. He has a rare and aggressive cancer. He is also the older brother of the cousin who was tragically killed in a biking accident ten months ago. He has a wife and twin sixth grade boys, and he is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. We are hoping he will qualify for a study at MD Anderson. I know some of you pray; I know others send positive thoughts and energies under different terminology. I ask that you do so on his behalf. His name is Dan.

I have my coloring books. Those have come in handy this week.

And my friend's son is doing so well! Learning to walk and talk again and transferred just this morning from the hospital to inpatient rehab for the intensive therapy he needs to retrain his brain. Two weeks there at most and then home again!

How about you? Thankfuls?

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Friday, May 13, 2016

TToT113: Will You Take Me Back?

...sneaks in hoping people won't comment on her excessive absence...

I'm here, partly out of duty, partly out of loyalty, and partly because once again the world has seemed to be a sad and scary place the last coupla weeks and I was needing it. I'm ready to count my blessings, one by one, after oh, so long. (And not because of a rather pointed (though kind, I know it was kind) comment made by one Dizzy Lahling (ha, I said it!). I made up my mind before; ask Lisa.) And in that vein, many, many sincere thanks to those who checked in on me and motivated me and made me know they missed me. There's ten alone. But also...

The sun is shining at this moment. As of yesterday, our nation's capitol was under a nearly-record-setting 15 straight days of rain. That's measured at National airport (we don't say Reagan at our house). Technically, we (north of DC) didn't get any rain on Mother's Day (thankful!), and we did get a bit of a sprinkle yesterday, which National did not (thereby ending the streak). Either way, we've hardly seen the sun for two weeks, and I am officially declaring myself a victim of SAD. Hence, the gratitude for the current, descending yet shiny, sun.

We've lived here in our house for three years now. And in those years, I've reached my maximum personal output regarding garden improvement. Lest you cluck disapprovingly at my gross motor output, I must note that I did dig up my own grass and build my own raised garden beds all by meself back in the day. I did have energy and gumption once upon a time. Now I am tired and my back hurts. Enter Alex of A&A Landscaping LLC, whom I now love more than my husband (jk). Alex and his team extended our garden beds out into our yard and and adjusted all of the crowded plants I had put in. Yesterday (while it wasn't raining but was exceedingly gray and dreary), Leo and I (mostly I) slogged about our swampy yard and planted and planted and planted. It's not just tomatoes and peppers this year, folks!!! Beans! Cucumbers! And more!

And the day I went to the plant nursery (it was raining, of course, and frickin' freezing), they were running a one-day sale on shrubs and climbing vines! Have you ever heard of a climbing hydrangea? I had not, but now I own one.

And as of today, my teeth are dentist-level clean, and it turns out I didn't remove an old filling through my excessive Starburst eating a month or so ago (that's what set off the weight gain, Graviteers). I did shift the filling (or maybe it was always a little too high?) so that it caused me to bruise a ligament (presumably through the excessive Starburst consumption--and btw, did you know teeth have ligaments? news to me) but Dr. Katie filed it down for me, and it should be as good as new. A woman hopes.

As a household, we are now knee-deep in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). It's challenging mainly from the paying attention and taking notes perspective, which has never been a strength of mine. But I like to think of this sort of experience as instructive. I am learning a new field! I am expanding my understanding! This can only be good, right? And, I think its been effective.

I have a good friend whose three-year-old had brain surgery this week (part of what has made my world sad and scary lately). They removed part of his brain that was having seizures. (Again, things I am glad to know that I didn't previously know: this is highly recommended surgery for young children with localized seizures--you take out a portion of the brain (the seizing part) and the rest of the brain takes over. Isn't the body amazing?!?) It was a long and painful process, and not to say recovery won't be long and painful too, but it's good to have the surgery phase done and over. I am not a parent in this case, so my grief and worry are not a consideration, but I do hope they allow me to feel for the parents. Brain surgery is a big deal even if the outcome is good.

There are other small thankfuls: that my son currently thinks it is fun to travel up and down our driveway on various wheeled (non-motorized) means of locomotion while I cook dinner (if it's not raining), that my daughter is settling in to sleep easier on weeknights, that my husband works as hard as he does for a job he doesn't love, that MD Anderson Cancer Center exists. That last one; that's a biggie.

I have much and more to be thankful for. This was a worthwhile way to spend my time. Thanks for reading.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

TToT112: I Took A Nap Today

Done. Amiright?

No, actually, the Dude is writing my list this week (at his request). My comments in italics.

1. My husband still thinks I am hot and likes to pat me on my rear end when he sees me. (I'm worried about where this is going.)

2. My husband has the patience of Job (someone hasn't read all of Job, huh?) when he is with my screaming kids.

3. My husband gets us good discounts on flights.

4. My husband picked up medicine for my daughter on the way home from work this week even though he was not driving that day. (She's got the flu on her birthday week; isn't that miserable?)

5. Because of my husband, I can now sing along with Sympathy For the Devil.

6. My husband allows me to put my cold feet on him.

7. My husband will take a child by himself to Busch Gardens. (Hallelujah!)

8. My husband works hard at our relationship (this is true).

9. My husband praises my cooking even when it is for something as simple as salt and pepper on green beans (oil and vinegar too, but he's forgotten).

10. My husband speaks the love language of gifts, and I benefit from that (wow, that makes me sound horrible).

Well, that was easy for me. Let's see if other spouses want to join! I nominate Bryan Woodruff.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

Heart and Mind TToT: Two Birds, One Stone

A few weeks ago, I set each of my children in my lap, in turn, and helped them search Pinterest for their birthday dessert. I've written before on this blog, that for me, one aspect of motherly love is to make the dessert of choice for each of my children, even if the two birthdays fall four days apart.

Well, my daughter, cooperative as usual, chose chocolate cupcakes with mint chocolate frosting. Boom. Easy. No problem.

And, not being born yesterday (so I thought), I had an idea ready for my son, the tractor lover. This one:
I can make cupcakes. Cupcakes are no problem.

Instead, he scrolled down (it seems I was born yesterday) and picked these:

Now, a few weeks ago I knew nothing about decorating sugar cookies with royal icing. Except that the task sounded overwhelming.

BUT, motherly love is motherly love so I set out to learn. (Thank God for Pinterest and Ivy.)

This week was Practice Round #3 and in the spirit of the TToT and the long line of TToT readers eager to learn about decorating sugar cookies with royal icing, I'll list ten things I've learned about decorating cookies:

1. Use all your resources--friends, the Internet--read, read, read and watch the videos. Really. Even if you're one of those impulsive people who thinks, "I can figure this out on my own." You'll do better after you watch someone else do it.

2. Invest in supplies. Piping bags are a pain in the hm-hm. Buy the plastic bottles.

3. Don't think, "Oh, yeah, I have some food coloring in the cabinet. That stuff'll do." No. Order the gel from Amazon.

4. Speaking of liquid, don't measure. Add a little water, add the color, and then if it's still too stiff,
s-p-r-i-n-k-l-e water in. Royal icing can get too runny very suddenly.

5. I have no idea how to add royal icing to those plastic bottles without making a mess. Embrace discolored countertops.

6. Go back and watch more videos.

7. Keep toothpicks handy for smoothing. In fact, keep a pile handy so you have one to grab when you can't find the last damn toothpick you were holding.

8. Don't fret: once that icing dries, it's super easy to scrape away your mistakes (on the base level, that is).

9. Just take the Ibuprofen before starting. Otherwise, you'll start feeling the strain in your back mid-way through the process. Better to be proactive.

10. Summon all your energy to ignore all those perfectionist tendencies that come creeping, unbidden, out from the closets where you've hidden them. This is a learning process. Perfection is not a reasonable goal. Recognize your son's gleeful reaction to Practice Round #3 is the goal. Recognize you met your goal.

Novice work, but I've made progress. And my son's reaction was worth all two hours of concentration. (Yes, it took me two hours to decorate four cookies.)

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

TToT110: Firsts

As the stomach bug wends its way through our community, and we hear via Facebook or text that yet another family has been struck with the nasty virus, I am thankful, once again, that I am not currently vomiting.

That is a rare thing to be able to hold onto that thankful. It's too easy to forget the horrors of the full-family stomach bug.

My chorus sang at two nursing homes one night this week, and the second was the most fun performance I've ever been a part of. The audience was closing their eyes, mouthing the words, and even singing along. For the first time, I realized how a truly involved audience can help the performers have more fun.

And then I made this face.
But I was really having fun and enjoying the quartet's performance.

I survived a terribly embarrassing encounter with a service provider for my daughter who probably put down in her notes that I'm a mama to watch. Oh well, I'll prove I'm a good one after all.

The Good Old Dude planned a last minute date for us that was mucho fun and involved us meeting a singer/songwriter we greatly admire and lava cake.

I got my hair died for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE! Pink streaks. But they're disappointingly subtle. "Subtle" is generous. More next time. When I have money again.

And I have a book recommendation: Fates and Furies. President Obama likes it too. But unless you also had Mrs. Postula for middle school English and a way better memory than mine, keep your Greek Mythology reference handy. Or Google.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

TToT109: Life

Quick and dirty list this weekend. That's all I've got.

1. Busy weeks go fast.

2. This week is over.

3. It wasn't bad; just busy.

4. Instead of having no options for a particular service, we now have two choices.

5. Whereas choices are often difficult, I might be close to a decision.

6. Strengthening bonds with new friends.

7. A night out.

8. Something called OysterFest tomorrow night.

9. A relatively easy meeting.

10. Dancing for the SGV. Haven't used that in awhile. They will be gracious, I'm sure.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

TToT108: Strong Odors and a BIG PARTY (Birthday Weekend #2)

Remember how I got that fabulous new stove last fall? I love it. Among its other attributes, you can program its start for a later time. This comes in handy on Thursdays when we have gymnastics. I set it to start about thirty minutes before we return. Once we get home, it's preheated and ready for its task of defrosting and heating the kids' Thursday night meal of chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries (aka, the high point of my daughter's week).

Well, this week Brian also brought home an enormous box of baked breads and pastries. The very devil in my house. I complained about it to Clark as I sent him my ever-inflating number each morning. It was a large box, wrapped in cellophane, and we stored it in the oven to keep the treats fresh.

I bet you know where I'm going.

And sure enough, when we arrived home Thursday night, I puzzled over the smoke and smell for a fraction of a second before rushing to the oven and tossing the plastic-plastered bagels, muffins, and cinnamon rolls in their deeply singed cardboard box out the kitchen door. 

Have you ever smelled the smell of oven-burned cellophane? It was merely a puddle on the oven floor by the time we got home. Still not entirely sure where the twistie disappeared to.

I spent that evening scraping plastic drips and puddles off the racks and floor of my pristine new oven with a razor blade (hence the cuts on my fingers) and giving my house as long an airing as I could stand considering the temperatures. Nevertheless, the smell remained.

That is, until I had a bright idea to put a small bottle of peppermint oil in each bathroom of our house (it's only taken me a year to follow through on that idea, Dyanne). While portioning it out into smaller bottle, I managed to spill a good tablespoon of it all over the counter. While my eyes still sting and water and I get a good sinus clearning every time I wipe that part of the counter still, two days later, I will say the smell of burnt plastic is gone from my house. Now it smells like a candy cane.

But an even bigger thankful of this week is for friends. I got two cards in the mail from two of my dear cohosts, a sweet email and offer from another, and two others' (plus a TToT regular and relative's) attendance at my party on Friday! You know who you are, and I thank you from deep, deep in my heart for making my birthday special.

The party was much fun with attendees from all different parts of my life and serenading from some of my favorite chorus members. Then Lizzi and Kristi stayed over at my house, and let's just say their presence made it...a night to remember. Plus, they gave me two perfectly perfect gifts that just illustrate how well blogger friends can know each other.

But, finally, BIGGEST THANKFUL OF ALL goes to the hubs who has expended all kinds of energy, time (that he does not have), and money to make me feel loved and honored on this momentous birthday!


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Sunday, January 31, 2016

TToT107: Birthday Weekend #1

I am 40.

I am thankful I have lived this long in relative health, that my parents and siblings are all living, that my niece and nephews are fun people,n and that we all enjoy spending time together.

I am thankful for the fancy dinner my parents treated us all to and how my family made me laugh until I cried.

I am thankful for the "hilarious travesty" of a cake my sister made for me because that meant I didn't have to.

I am thankful that all my family came from so far and for such a short period of time to help me celebrate my birthday.

And to back up just a bit...

I am thankful that is there is no snow in the forecast for some time, and that I have some hope of seeing the ground once again. I am thankful that breaking my shovel in the hard crust of snow in our driveway gives me an excellent excuse to not shovel again until we get a new one.

And this week is the week I get to see Lizzi again! And Kristi! And maybe Denise? Whoop!

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Friday, January 22, 2016

TTOT106: Paint

My hands are so dry they are bleeding in places. It's enough to overcome my hatred for lotion. I've even dug into the salve.

It's because I decided to paint my entire basement, and I've had to pumice the paint off my hands at least once a day. Plus, winter.

I do my best thinking while my hands are busy. So I'm...I don't know...four or five times thankful (depending on what gap I need to fill on this list) for the multiple rooms of my basement. Also for Devon at the Sherwin-Williams store and Touch of Sand, Indigo Batik, Deep Sea Dive, Tranquil Aqua, and Modest White.

I had a great chorus retreat last weekend (which was my excuse for not posting last week). Major milestone: I was able to make mistakes and not bash myself over the head with them, and then actually practice some new skills.

In just a few hours I may very well witness my first blizzard.


Vidchat, especially for Lisa and the remote control saga

Don't forget to wish me a Happy Major Birthday on Wednesday!

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

TToT105: Relief

Five hours until this week is over.

There's my ten.

In five hours I will bid adieu to a week of late bedtimes, frantic mornings, tardy arrivals, forgotten appointments, and missed emails.

Turning over a fresh new leaf of steady routines, preparation, and more cheerful attitude all 'round (ohpleaseohplease).

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