Tag Archive | family

Memory Tree

How do you decorte your Christmas tree? Some do designer level decorating, all gorgeous and color coordinated. Others do theme trees, and they make you go WOW!

I know you know that’s not me. I appreciate a gorgeous tree, but the one I do is not perhaps gorgeous to anyone else. It doesnt have the same meaning for them though….

Because I have a memory tree.

First, a side bar. Be careful about your attitude when ecorating with your kiddos. It always made me anxious when the Princeling was younger– 5 ornaments clumped together? This whole section bare? He is 14 now and wants nothing to do with decorating the tree. Was it me, or was it being 14 and a boy and all the other stuff?

So I had Pops, 94, sitting next to the tree and was showing and talking and having fun while the boy child was xboxing. (NOTE: WE DID NOT BREAK QUARANTINE. WE LIVE TOGETHER. )

And we talked about all the decorations. Some are mine from being a teen, bought either by my mom or my sister. Theyve been mine for years. And there are 3 family ones, from before i was born, bought in Trinadad when Dad was stationed there.

A cable car from a trip to San Francisco with Regina. A modern, weird Mickey one from our second trip to Disney- one ear broken off during the flight home. A metal version, with jingle bells, that one of my besties bought me because mine broke. A star fish from Monterey, an abolone from Fort Bragg. And one and on and on. Small little beaded ornaments handmade by (the boychilds daycare/other mother) Miss Dawns Grandma, both of whom have since passed.

I have a memory tree.

And it is gorgeous.

What about your tree?

Holiday Conversation Starter

So I’m working on a special treat for my Christmas cards, wanting to “up my game.” It involves Christmas traditions that I love, memories of the holiday and of course my secret talents. Others have wonderful themes that make my eyes turn green with their creativity (I’m looking at you, Drea!).

So i started asking people two questions. 1. What is your favorite Holiday tradition, both from when you were a kid and now. And 2. What was your favorite present as a child at Christmas? These questions work across generations, too.

And it brings you closer to your family. Because in this time of Corona, there might not be a lot under the tree. We can always give of ourselves, tho. The gift of listening. Maybe a secret talent. Maybe just being a voice on the phone.

During World War II, Dad returned home at Christmas time. He brought his mom and sister a roll of… tinfoil like tape. It was used to jam radar devices while flying. My Auntie Mary told me the story, about how he brought it home and they used it to decprate the tree. They were poor– a poor we can’t imagine now. But that tape…. that tinfoil tape made her holiday.

Do yourself a favor and ask questions. Make up your own, or use mine. But ask. Find out about life in the family before you were born. It is the best gift you can give yourself. I have very few stories of my mom’s childhood, because she died when I was 24. Before I knew I needed those stories.

The holidays will be different. But that doesn’t mean they have to be horrible. Wrap yourself in your family’s stories, write them down and savor them. Who knows, Next year, you can turn those answers into a game of trivial pursuit!

Christmas

Its a little early, but I love me some Christmas, especially when I am a little down. 2020… well, its been a year. I wrote this for a group I’m in.

Way back when…

Santa loves me… he always brings me the bestest Christmas Stocking (that’s a lie.. I know it’s Mom—I believe in the magic of being Santa but not one person.. I have known since I was tiny, when Christmas was on a Sunday and Miss Teacher brought in a birthday cake and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus).

Mom’s stockings rocked. They were…. They were LOVE. She knew me, she got me. It was a mix of silly and sublime, books and toys and hair pretties… even as I grew older. The stockings were designed for each person, thought and care put into each one. And a grand design—what would occupy us until everyone was up on Christmas morning so we could do the family thing.

One year, as a teeney bopper, I thoroughly ruined my own Christmas. I love hints, but I never want to actually know what I’m getting. Why? Because one year all I wanted were some gherkin (????) Boots. Thunk low heeled ankle boot, totally 80’s. She would not tell me, not a clue nothing. Then I told her “I hope you got the x style and not y, because you know I hate y.” she responded with “Of course I bought you x!….. oohhhhhh….. you……!” I got them early. I also got my stocking early—10 or 11pm, she said “Don’t open till Christmas!” I was a good girl—I toed the line. I stayed up watching “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and opened up the stocking at 12:01 am. I loved it. That satisfaction lasted mee until…. I woke up in the morning with no excitement. No expectation. I already had the present I wanted and the stocking. I never did it again.

Too few years passed, I stayed at home while going to college…

And then she died.

I was 24, still at home, going to school. But Dad stepped up, stepped out and made me a stocking so amazeballs that I cried. I didn’t think I would get one. He loved me. He got me. I can still remember the porcelain doll peeking out of the top of the stocking, the Meatloaf CD tucked inside, they Tylenol with the gift card addressed to Daddys little headache. Oh my gosh, the TAGS that man created!

But then Dad remarried and she had her own grown children and grandkids as a priority. I was still at home until I graduated, but… I left soon after. The last time I went home for Christmas ,, her daughter got diamond earrings in her stocking and I got perfume that was someone elses favorite. That I was allergic to. That shit show ended when her daughter told me, in my mothers kitchen, that I was the redheaded stepchild.

I didn’t celebrate on Christmas morning with my Dad until I moved back in with him. And the stocking and christmas love was back. Because its not about the money, its about someone who gets you. Who turns up and shows their love. A well thought out Dollar store stocking means more than diamond earrings. Because it was never about the earrings— I cant wear them. I don’t wear much jewelry, although I love necklaces and hang them on my wall.

On Mothers day, a few years ago, my son found my dad on the ground unable to use his legs. Massive stroke. He recovered, but his driving and shopping days were over. I bought every damn present under the tree, and in the stockings. It took all the… wow, the anticipation, out of Christmas.

The next year, I signed up for the Santa Exchange in the Chatting group. I finally had something under the tree that I didn’t know what it was. I put that Priority Mail box under the tree and it drove my family nuts. I didn’t shake, didn’t peek, nothing. I kept it until it was the last gift to be opened. My delight in the presents was… it was wonderful.

Since then, I keep the tradition of keeping that gift for last. I broke down in Walmart one year, just sobbing “I want my mommy”. My best friend stayed with me in the candle aisle until the storm passed and she asked me what was going on. So I dumped it all on her—and it amazed me that someone who had a close knit family, whose parents were still alive, felt the same way. For the past 2 years, we take our boys to Walmart and they have whatever we can budget and I take her kid shopping and she takes mine. (I’M SORRY 20202 IS MY FAULT BECAUSE I WANTED AND GOT A SUITCASE FOR OUR TRAVELLING WWAAAHHHHH!!!!!!) However, my kid gets me. And she reigns him in to a certain extent. Just like I do with hers.

Still, that Chatting gift stays under the tree until everything else is opened. Everyone wants to know what’s in that box.

I want to make the anticipation last…..

#becausewecan: 82 Cards

A lot of things are going on in the world right now, and what we need is inspiration. The docotrs and scientists need inspiration to find a way to navigate us out of this mess. And we need inspiration to help us remain human and connected in a world of social distancing.

Some things happened the weekend of March 20th that inspired me. Some people inspired me. The first was Jennifer Pastiloff. If you dont follow her on Facebook or Instagram, you should. In the face of losing her livlihood, she decided to hang on by asking “How may I serve?” She did one of her classes online for a donation… to help feed others. To buy diapers, food. To help. She could have set it up and done her confrences that way– Zoomed her way into a paycheck. I still think she should consider it. But at this time, when we needed help, we needed to remember that you can always find 5 beautiful things right here and now… she gave me that reminder. That hope.

The other person that inspired me was Jon Bon Jovi. He did a video of the start of the song and asked that the people watching help write the rest. I don’t remember the name of the song, but i do remember thinking that he has already made an anthem for these crazy days. Because We Can. And also Army of One.

Those who know me know that Bon Jovi wrote the soundtrack to my life. At one point I toyed with writing a monologe set to their music. Is it any wonder that when I was looking for inspiration and comfort and the “Hell yes we can do this!” I turned to them, to the band that I grew up beside?

So.

How many have seen the meme about writing cards to seniors in rehab care facilities? On Monday night i got a wild hair and called the one Dad had been in here locally.  They have 82 people there. Writing cards is my super power. I dont just sign my name, I write. 

And then God laughed. I wrote Tuesday. I came home from work Wednesday and crashed (essential employee). I wrote Thursday. Ended up on the phoen a lot Friday, still wrote thouh. I wrote on my breaks. I wrote on my lunch. I wrote on Saturday and on Sunday morning. And at some point, your brain goes to sleep and magic happens and you’re just creating.

I delivered 82 cards on Sunday. All the cards opened with “To My Special Friend” and ended with the note that they are special and they are loved. I signed only with my first name. No phone number, no return address. Because while it would be great to know if the right card got to the right person… I am fighting my need for positive reinforcement.

I did it because I am an #Armyofone, and #becausewecan.

And also because Jen Pastiloff asked “How May I Serve?”

Hello, let’s talk mainstreaming

Hello my lovelies! It’s been a while since we’ve talked. Never fear, I’m still writing.

I started taking writing classes and it is definitely keeping me on my toes. It has a secondary affect, which could have been adverse. My 11 yr old son is being mainstreamed in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. I am hopeless with math, but English? Who Ohio! I’ve got a degree in that!

This is important. If you have a child going from Special Ed to Mainstream you need to listen carefully.

His teachers are phenomenal. But most classes in the SDP range are focused on reading, writing and spelling. Parts of speech, well… So we have a child that has fought his way through everything and is ready to cross the threshold hold but doesn’t know half of what’s being asked of him. Not because he’s dumb. Not because of bad teachers. But because the program that got him this far didn’t teach him those particular things.

He also has a problem with short term memory. Don’t feel bad though, his brain goes so super fast, he’s able to convert to long term memory. It might take him a bit, but he’s able to do it. Pre Mommy taking classes it was no problem.

With me taking classes it is a problem. There’s only so much time in the day. Also, my kid will be a turkey with me:crying, pouting, fit throwing, you know the drill. Our kids will push us to our limits of patience, but will be perfect angels for everyone else. This just childhood, nothing to do with dyspraxia.

But a tutor? And a person he already loves to death? Who also happens to be card carrying member of the Grammar Police? Oh yes, that will do. That will do nicely, thank you very much. No crying, no fits, just lots of learning. And that is a wonderful thing.

Now, I’m off to do your own homework. Ack! I promise, tho, no crying… well. I won’t throw a fit…. no. I promise to do my homework. How’s that?

Travelling

Today, the princeling and I are going on a trip, in our favorite rocket ship…. it’s time for us to go out and about. On our own. Well, sort of. We’re going to go visit family, but twill just be he and I in the car.

My son can’t remember the times we used to go travelling on our own. Admittedly, it’s only been twice, but still. My child thinks his mommy can’t travel on her own. Which if you knew my travel history is hilarious.

I love travelling with Linda. She’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Somewhere along the way, I’ve allowed myself to rely a bit too much on her. Yes, there are situations where I am uncomfortable. But something she said to me on the firstish trip (she ended up meeting me and a friend and ray in monterey) has been ringing in my head. “Why did you bring Her? You’re fine, you don’t need help with the princeling. You’re a good mom and you’ve got it handled”. 

And then I promptly let her handle the travel. Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling with her and T. It’s fun, and we get to talk answer laugh and share heart to heart moments. 

But my son sees me as weak. I write about kick ass women who save themselves and my son sees me as weak. It’s time to write a different story, one that includes travelling with Linda, but also some solo adventures with the princeling. 

It’s al,osteoporosis time for us to cut loose. Stay well my lovelies! 

Uncle Mark #wemissyou

You were involved in some many firsts, although not *that* one lol. You were the first grown up friend we made, one outside of family, school or church. 

You called us the Katzenjammer Kids.

We called you Uncle Mark.

Which is utterly ridiculous because you were only 5 years older than us.

But you had a house. We were in our early twenties, and that seemed so far away. That’s the only thing I can think of, because you were wholly and unapologetically there for us. 

We met at Danny’s, of all places. In Milpitas, off Calaveras. It was our non bar hangout, and your dinner stop on your commute home from work. I still order the Super Bird, with a side of ranch. Dipping it makes all the difference,

You weren’t one of my college buddies, but we talked about everything. From motorcycles to midevil knights, books and bars. Your interests were so wide ranging, I think you could talk to anyone about everything. 

You found love, and lost love. Always painfully, and sadly, once, tragically. And yet you still believed, still put yourself out there. And found it again, with Lyn. I could tell when I met her that she was going to be good for you. That twinkle was back in your eye. You, Sir Knight, had found a Lady worthy of your wooing and you enjoyed it.

I didn’t make it to your funeral. Damp, winding roads scared me too much. Instead, I did something I know you’ll approve of. I went and spoiled my great nephew, visiting from afar and sicker than a dog. He napped while I dropped the stuff off, but spoiling doesn’t happen because you need approval. It happens because they need to be spoiled. 

Regina and I will miss you terribly, Uncle Markypoo.But we know that when you see you again, you’ll share all the best spots with us and have some amazing stories for us.

Santa Mom

I felt my mom close to me this weekend, as if she were with me while I shopped. She was there as I found the special soup spoons she used when we were sick, and the babmoo grippers thingees that she used to pull toast out when it got stuck in the toaster. She was there with me in a tractor supply store (don’t ask), as I started bawling.

I started bawling, the first time, because of a day planner. The year my mom died, she kept a day planner, and used the spaces for days of the week as a sort of journal. The comings and goings of us kids, all grown, and her little trips with dad… all in the little journal. Some weeks were full to the brim. Some only had a few filled out.

Then she died.

I couldn’t look at that blank planner, so I started filling it in for her. Comings and goings, a little glimpse into life right after she died. It was 20 or so years ago, but I still remember that journal. I think I still have it somewhere. But I know it. I know the cover, i know the feel of it, and I know what it looked like on the inside.

And in the tractor supply store, right with all the calendars… was a copy of that same damn planner, only for 2017. Same. Damn. One.

I bought it. I will put it into my stocking, and I will write in it. Buying it means that I now have 2 but one will be for my writing and one will be for my adventures in mommyhood.with my boy.

And then Walmart happened.

In talking with a friend, I told her I don’t know why I’m so emotional today. I don’t know why this is happening, but…

But I’m tired of being the one to do for everyone. I do stockings for everyone in the house, because Mom did. Because to me, that stocking shows time and attention and love. Dad used to do mine, and help with his current wife’s stocking… but since the stroke (and maybe a little before), it hasn’t happened.

I know every single present that is currently under the tree.

Even mine.

And it sucks. Because my son would love to do it for me. And wanted to. But I didn’t think to think outside the little house. But next year, next year… I have 2 different people who have said that they will take him out shopping for me, and help him do my stocking too.

Friends and family are a blessing. But sometimes, you have to stop being so strong and powering through… at least enough to ask for help.

I fell Mom close to me right now. Not just because of the stuff, but because of people willing to come together and help out.

Love you guys.

If you know someone who is a single parent, if the child is old enough, offer to take them shopping for their parent. Both the child and the single parent will appreciate it. Being strong and keeping it together, especially under the pressure of making the perfect holiday is tough.

 

 

Christmas Card Explosion

I think I’ve sent out well over 50 Christmas cards so far. At first, it was 14 ( or 15) for a great group I belong to plus those family and friends that I had their addresses for. That was a total of… 40 something.

Big family.

But then I did something different. I went on Facebook and tagged a whole ton of people, telling them to PM me their addresses so I could send more. I’m still getting responses, one today from a very dear friend I’d lost contact with.

She’s getting a letter. SSSHHH. Don’t tell her.

One friend PM’d me and said “You didn’t tag me, but I’d love to have a little good mail.” I may have also mentioned random cards that I send out. I always try to write my auntie, and then a few other cards to other people. My little rays’ of sunshine going out to the world.

Apparently, people need more sunshine. I’m willing in my own little way to give it to them not just at Christmas time, but all through out the year.That’s my challenge for myself and for you for 2017.

Go forth and spread your sunshine. The way you make people feel special may be different than mine. That’s ok. The sunshine in Hawaii is great, as it is in Santa Cruz, Ohio, Florida and every place on earth.

Spread those rays, let the sunshine out.

Sadly, Saturday Night

And I’m at home, sitting on my computer, talking to you.

But that’s ok. I like talking.

Saturday nights are almost always a little melancholy for me. My son is off with his father, catching up on bonding time, which is needed. He deserves to know his dad, to spend time with him. I’m not a big dater, tho… and so often the Princeling is my sidekick.

So. And so. Nothing new with single parents out there, right?

Earlier today, the Princeling and I had a blast. We went up to Sac to attend a Kids Day event at Madison Avenue Baptist Church. Lots of giggles, and fun to be had there. I had a nice conversation with the pastor, talking about what I feel is my calling versus what people think I should be doing. (That’s another post— maybe tomorrow)

Then it was the long ride back, and to the mall. We went to the book store, where I buy cards. Yes. I buy my cards that I send letters in at Barnes and Noble. So far, they have the best selection that I’ve found. I may have also found a book or two to keep me company this weekend 🙂  Then we went to Best Buy to exchange his tablet– great customer service there, especially when you consider I had lost the receipt (shopping tip: use your card at this store– they can find your purchase by scanning it again).

But then, after hours of fun time, it was time to drop him off with his dad. It’s a holiday weekend, so I won’t see him until late Monday night. On the way home, I went to my brother’s house and went out to dinner with his wife.

When I got home I took a nap. Sadly, Saturday Night does not call on me to go out to bars, out on dates, or such like it does others. I need a place to go…. you know that Facebook meme, about an all night bookstore? I could go for that. Or maybe a mom’s Saturday Night writing group— sadly not one near me. I could try and start one… but then when I would write to you? And I do tell myself that I will write on Saturday nights… but it’s a lie I tell myself.

Sunday morning. When the world is bright and happy again. I’ll probably go to my library, which is open on Sundays. Maybe down to the river… who knows?

I do know that the Sadly Saturday blues are only temporary. They will fade when the sun breaks over the horizon and I’ll be back to my normal, cheerful self.

For now… I’m going to watch some Disney Movies (Wreck it Ralph currently, then maybe Frozen) and see….

 

Are you a single parent? What parts of it make you melancholy?