Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Doings in the 'Hood

It's Easter week.  I can't believe how it's been sneaking up on me, so stealthy and quiet.  Perhaps because there are no little ones around to whisper Easter Bunny secrets to or to fill beautiful Easter baskets for.  I do miss all of that.  I have always been the Easter Bunny.  Late nights arranging baskets for sleeping children to wake up to.  Not too much candy, and what there was had to be beautiful.  Pastel M&Ms, Jelly Bellies that were as delicious as they were brightly colored.  Chocolate bunnies were a must, and when palates were more discerning, a See's chocolate egg.  A scattering of spring colored foil-wrapped chocolate eggs.  A special little gift or two.  My kids got Easter baskets until they were grown up and gone.  It was a little shameful, but I loved doing it so much.  And now it's my kids' turn to do the same for their own little ones.  I wish they lived closer so I could still join in the fun, but I made sure to send a little love and fun of my own in the mail.

My table is all set in Easter mode, and this year L gave me a special treat: the white bunnies from Pottery Barn that hold the mercury glass colored eggs, the crocheted lace table runner, and some beautiful beaded glass plates.  Oh, and 3 mercury glass votive holders.  I'd been looking at the catalog for days, trying to figure out how to make my table as sparkly and spring-like as Pottery Barn's.  No matter what I tried, or how I arranged and rearranged, I couldn't capture The Look.  One night L whisked me away to PB and had me pick some things out.  Just between you and me, he loves to have pretty things as much as I do.  He's got that designer's eye.  And there was a bonus: it was all on sale!  Yes, apparently that's what happens if you look at the catalog long enough and the holiday looms near.  It all goes on sale - what luck!  The drawback is that some things were gone, like the little jewel colored dessert plates.  But we moved on, and decided we loved the clear beaded ones just as much.  My table is soft and glowing, with a sparkle or two here and there to catch the eye.  Just exactly what I was hoping for...

Katie took the little girls to see the Easter Bunny.  They were dressed in their springtime finery and looked so sweet.  Hayden was so excited she even allowed her hair to be curled, and a fancy headband placed on her head.  She's growing up so fast.  She is still a Grumpy Old Troll Girl sometimes (her own words, not mine), but more often when we talk, she will giggle and tell me all about life.  Mia is deep into school, and friends, and all things silly, and she is looking forward to my visit in a few weeks.  (Me too!)  We will have tea parties, play Princess, and Barbies.  Mia and I are planning to have lobster.  We don't know where, or how, but we will have lobster.

The plans are taking off for Mom and Dad's anniversary bash.  The guests have been invited, dinner and dessert arranged for, and "the gift" is in the works.  I will pick up Stage 1 on Thursday, and I'm hoping against hope that "Stage 2" will be completed in time.  It will be a really good evening.  I was talking to my sister in law about it yesterday on the phone and I got all teary eyed just thinking about it. I think when you get older, everything makes you cry...  Oh, and Dad just called to see if I was still on for taking him to work tomorrow.  He said my mom got her new hearing aids today.  Hallelujah - she can hear, and, in my dad's words, it was a "marvelous day" all around.

Now just when I thought I had my time all planned and organized, I found out (on Facebook!) last night that Rex, Ronna, and the kids will be in town next week!  Ronna's sweet grandma passed away, and they'll be here for the funeral.  Not a happy occasion, to be sure, but I have to admit I can't wait to see those kids!  Time will be limited (trying to make time for 2 families is always a stretch and a sacrifice) so we'll have to make the most of what we have.  My brother and his family will also be here next week (for mom and dad's party) and I'm really hoping his little girl, Ari, and Lexi can meet up.  Lexi was born just one day before Ari, so it would be fun for them to meet.  Perhaps we can have an early birthday gathering for the 2 of them.  Gah - so many things to think about!  My noggin feels like it's going to explode, sometimes...

First things first.  Tomorrow is girl's day with Mom.  We'll drop Dad off at work for his "boy's business day," and I've tentatively planned to go to the mall, shop for a dress, maybe shoes, hit Sephora for some necessities, and have some lunch.  Sounds exhausting, but it's always better to have someone along, than to do it by myself.  Hopefully Mom will be my willing companion.
Thursday morning is devoted to dealing with The Gift and it's accompanying details.
Friday... who knows?  Probably trying to figure out what we're doing on Easter Sunday.  What to eat, etc.  You'd think I'd have that planned out, wouldn't you?  No... I've just planned the table... and have admired it every time I pass by.
And after Easter?  Gearing up for the party, trying to connect with the Denver clan, and attempting to fit work into all of the above.  Too much, sometimes... just too much.  But I would hate to miss a second of it.

And if that weren't enough, I realize I need to get some real Easter spirit into my life.  Calm down.  Think about what's important.  Center myself.  I was looking for a little something along those lines to give to a friend (along with a little bundle of chocolate) and I found this poem written by my good friend Sue Anderson.  It says exactly what I want to keep in mind - not just for now, but each and every day.  Not always easy.  We all have our days, after all.  But please calm your mind and enjoy, if only for a minute.  Happy Easter, all!

The Savior's Art

If I accept His sacrifice divine,
Returning love for love as He has done;
If I forget myself and touch the one
Whose sorrows weigh as heavily as mine;
Then will I weave my thread in His design,
That great design the Master's hand has spun;
Wherein salvation through His blood is won,
And all are fed and nurtured on His vine.
If I reach our and calm a troubled heart,
Or let another heal the rift in me;
If, in distress, I take another's part,
As Jesus took mine in Gethsemane;
Then I embrace the Savior's loving art,
And honor Him throughout eternity.

- Susan Noyes Anderson

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Discoveries and Unknowns

This has been a week of discovery.  Some of it good, and some of it random, and some of it just plain annoying.  The routine has remained the same: work, some sort of exercise, bed.  Except for Wednesdays, when I drive Dad to work, and Mom spends the day with me.  And Tuesday and maybe Thursday afternoons I drive over to see my aunt after work, and see how she's doing.  Maybe bring her some cash, or pick up a prescription.  This week I picked up some new towels at Target for her.  They go nicely with the color scheme she has going on in her room - aquas, greens and beiges.  Oh, and a really cute white bathroom rug so she doesn't slip getting out of the shower and bump her noggin.  We're all about safety at the assisted living home.

The next project with her is to get her some new shoes.  Heaven help me.  I feel like I must pick them out so they'll be cute, but I also need to rein it in and not get too bossy about it.  It's a delicate balancing act.  We talked about going to Macy's - hundreds of shoes to choose from.  But then she got off on a tangent about going to JC Penney's to get a catalog.  Do they even have catalogs anymore?  And if we're there, why do we need a catalog? So before my brain exploded, I changed the subject.  Maybe I'll  just grab the bull by the horns, take a huge gamble, and order her a pair from Zappos.  Free shipping, free returns.  Can't beat that.  So what we discovered here is that a trip to the mall with her may be biting off more than I can chew.

We (my siblings and me) are throwing my Mom and Dad a belated 60th anniversary soiree.  It was actually last June 3rd, but we weren't all here in town then.  My brother in Utah and his family will be here the first week in April, and so we'll do it then.  We'll have dinner in a nice room at Big Canyon Country Club (hosted by my middle brother and his wife) and then we'll adjourn to another room to be joined by a few of my parent's friends, where we'll have dessert, a magician (my dad will love that), and a singer who will sing a few love songs in Mom and Dad's honor.  My sister in law, Jill, asked if Mom and Dad had any favorite songs.  Hmmmmm.... well.... Dad is tone deaf, so that's a no there.  Except for he always used to sing "On The Road To Mandalay" to us.  Because he's tone deaf, I don't know the real tune - only the awful one he would sing.  I don't think that's a love song anyway - not to most people.  And Mom?  I was stumped.  I have no idea, but that is one thing I need to discover tomorrow when she's here.  What are her favorite love songs?

I am in charge of the gift.  I have the main idea of what I want to do, but I need to ask some questions before I'll really be able to picture the result.  Which makes me a little nervous, because I feel like I'm winging it.  I can't tell you what it is because my mom sometimes reads this, but in a later post I will include a picture of the finished product.  I think they'll both like it, taking them back to a time when they discovered each other, and their whole life together was just beginning to take shape.

During all of this planning I discovered I need a dress.  For the party.  For Easter.  It's been years since I bought myself a dress for Easter.  This made me kind of excited, as I love to get new clothes.  But then I rediscovered the fact that I am a little thick through the middle, and most dresses just aren't going to look like I want them to on my Pillsbury dough boy body.  I'm in an almost-60 slump, I think.  And then I remembered that I hate to shop.  And when I say that, I mean that I don't mind walking into a familiar boutique and quickly picking something out.  What I hate is a store like Macy's.  Or Nordstrom.  Department stores, where the choices are endless, and the hunt is exhausting.  And where I have very little patience.  I discovered I wanted a personal shopper, but that I wasn't likely to get one.  So you can kind of see that this is going to be quite an adventure for me.  If I score The Dress, we'll all have a little celebration back here, shall we?  And if not... well, we won't think about that.  No point in considering defeat.

And after The Dress, I will need shoes.  Of course.  I do like shoe shopping so that part will be fun.  Even if I can't wear heels anymore.  It's less fun, yes - but still fun.

I also need some new jeans, but not for the anniversary party.  I just need them.  Those will be less fun to find because of the aforementioned thick body.  Did I mention that I've lost 7 pounds?  It comes off very slowly these days - every pound a struggle wrapped in sacrifice and denial.  I find myself inventing reasons to get up out of my work chair every few minutes, just so I'm moving more.  Why take only 1 trip downstairs when you can take 2?  Or 3?  Sometimes I'll hop on the stationary bike for 5 minutes to take a break from the computer.  Take an hour ride after dinner.  I've given up breads and crackers and cereals.  Goodbye rice and pasta.  My pasta of choice now is spaghetti squash.  It feels good, and I feel good in general, but still the pounds are so reluctant to leave their cushy existence on my butt.  But I have discovered that nothing happens quickly at my age.  The days of losing 10 pounds in a week are gone forever, but at least I'm forging some good habits, and discovering some new tasty ways to eat.  There is indeed life after Fettuccine Alfredo.

The days are going so quickly, with a lot to fill them.  I've spent so much time without much going on, that now all of these plans and duties are feeling a little bit overwhelming.  Parties, and gifts, and driving parents around, doing errands for my aunt, getting ready for a trip to Boston (pure fun there) all have their daily to do lists to prepare.  I'm also due to get some training at work for some new tasks, and I'm not sure when all of that will happen so it's unsettling waiting for the shoe to drop.  On the one hand, it will mean more work (which equals more hours, which means more money for me!) - but learning curves are always challenging.  While the work load is lighter, I will have more time to fit in all of these other tasks, and, of course, the shopping!  I've discovered that not knowing quite how things will fit together puts me on edge.  I am a planner and a list maker.  However, a little shakeup once in a while never hurts anybody.  And I'm discovering just how flexible I can be when working with a few unknowns.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Mixed Bag of Newsiness

The problem with letting so many days go by between posts is that you forget some of the very things you could have posted about.  And yet, it's because you're so busy doing them that you don't post.  A conundrum, to be sure.
As usual, I've been busy with family affairs.  We got my aunt all moved into her new room - did I already tell you that?  Well, it was quite a day, so it bears repeating.  Her new room feels as much like sunshine as her old room felt dark and dreary.  There is extra space she didn't have before - so much more freedom to walk around in.  She can watch her TV from bed, from her desk, and from her couch. Her room has a lovely, sunny patio where she can hear the fountain and birds singing.  I notice that she's leaving her blinds and sliding door open more.  Her potted pansies are thriving.  We had a good talk last night about the importance of eating at least something from her meals 3 times a day.  She often forgets to eat, and doesn't feel hungry, so she'll skip almost an entire day's worth of nourishment.  And then she wonders why she feels confused, lethargic and depressed.  So we talked about just going to the table and eating at least one thing.  I figure one thing will lead to another as sometimes you don't know you're hungry until you eat.  (Well, actually I have never had that particular problem... no one ever had to remind me to eat.)  I'm also trying to talk her into a little experiment of having the staff administer her meds for 60 days.  I don't think she's remembering to take them like she should, and sometimes I think she takes them more than once, forgetting she already took them.  After 60 days of regular dosages I'm hoping she'll feel a lot better, her moods will be evened out, her mind a lot more clear.  So wish us luck with that.  Thankfully, I think she's finally reached the point where she's realizing that stubbornness is getting in the way of feeling good.

Dad's little heart arrhythmia seems to have been resolved - at least so far, so good.  He had to go in last Friday for a cardioversion for his A-fib.  He's now able to go up and down the stairs without feeling winded.  Good news, that.  If he can stay in rhythm over the next few weeks, nothing further will need to be done there.  The chemo is kicking his butt, though.  His fingernails are either in the process of dying and falling off, or they're already gone.  Eyebrows, eyelashes and most of his hair are long gone. I guess the good news is that he doesn't have to shave, although I'm sure he'd rather do that than go through this.  We spent Sunday evening at his house having a little dinner we'd brought in with Mom and Dad, and my brother and sister in law.  He was in pretty good spirits most of the time, except for when his water was either too cold or too warm.  Feeling bad takes it's toll on your patience, that's for sure.  The good news is that his numbers are going down, so at least it's not all for naught.  I'll take him to work tomorrow, giving he and Mom a nice little day vacation from each other.  Being a caretaker, as well as the one needing care is not for the fainthearted, and everyone needs a day off.

Now for the really good news.  We found out last week that Rex and Ronna are having a BOY!  We're all very excited.  Of course, they could have had a panda, and I would have been excited, but this will even out the count making their lineup girl, boy, girl, boy.  If they have a name picked out, they're not talking, so that news will have to wait.  But it was a happy conversation I had with Ronna.  She is feeling better, and is able to go back to the gym which makes her feel happy and strong.  The kids have discovered that they love doing chores - who knew!?  So they are learning to do dishes, and dust things. Matthew told Ronna that he wished he could do chores every day.  That can be arranged, grasshopper, but you'll likely change that tune before long.  July seems so far off, but before you know it, I'll be hopping a plane to Denver to meet our newest little family member.

Katie and the girls have been busy as usual.   They have started dance lessons, and they love it.  Both have dance bags filled with their shoes and other dance necessities, like a water bottle.  Hayden proudly showed her dad her bag: "Look Daddy - it has shoes in it!"  I would give anything to watch their classes, but as it turns out, I won't have to give anything but $308.80 to Jet Blue.  YES - I'm going to Boston April 16-23!  I had randomly picked those dates, and I totally got lucky as Mia will be on Spring Break AND the Boston Marathon will be on (my niece is running in it!)  I think one of Mia's wishes is to go to Cape Cod and have lobster.  Mema will not argue with that.  In fact, I'll be the first one in the car.  So some good times are a comin'.
And did I tell you that Katie is also pregnant?  Expecting in late October/early November.  I think she is also hoping for a boy (so Zach won't feel so drowned in estrogen) but Miss Hayden is hoping for two babies - one for Mia, and a "little gell" for her.  A tall order, that.  I think she'll have to settle for one.  I'm looking forward to fun that makes sense with Mia - she is almost 7 you know -  but I'm also looking forward to spending time with my little "opposite girl."  No telling what will happen with that one, but the sky's the limit.  When Katie took her to McDonalds for a snack and to play in their PlaySpace yesterday, she asked Katie where all the "little ones" were.  When Katie questioned that, she said "You know - the little ones.  The childrens."  She is my small milk drinking buddy and I can't wait to see what she'll do next.  And Mia - well, she is special too.  Such sweet and silly adventures waiting to happen, and of course she'll have to read Mema many stories.  She likes to read in bed,  just like me!

The only other hot debate raging is whether or not to cut my hair.  The winning side changes daily.  I've been collecting pictures, but you know how that goes - it's hard to picture your own face there instead of the model's.  So here, for your enjoyment and opinions are my favorites:

This one is probaby my favorite because it has bangs.  But I also like the one of Selma Blair, below, for a sort of wavy change up.  Or maybe I just like Selma Blair.

And this one I like, but I don't know if it's the hair or the sultry expression.  Hmmmmm....
Then there's this last one, but I have the feeling that it will be work to have it this pouffy on an everyday basis.  Hence my preference for the first style, above.

So there you have it.  Some days I want to hang onto my longer hair like Rapunzel, and other days I feel like shorter hair would be so sassy and perky.  What it will boil down to, in all honesty, is how I feel on the occasion of my next hair appointment.  Sadly, that is what rules these types of decisions -  pure serendipity.  Keeps life hopping though.  And hair always grows.  What are some of the daily debates you have with yourself?  Are they as silly as hair?  Or are they deeper?  I also have conversations with myself on deeper levels, (really, I do!) but I have a feeling that the answers are so obvious to most people that I'm embarrassed to be struggling with such simple issues.  Somehow, simple things are not that simple to me.  I live a lot of my life in the gray  as well as every color in between.  (Not THOSE shades of gray - although perhaps I should have let you think me spicy and smoldering, which I am.  Really.),  Alas, black and white answers don't always satisfy me.  There are so many levels of a problem to consider, aren't there?  I have often envied those who see the world in simple black and white, although I still think they miss a lot of lovely hues in between.  The trick (for me, anyway) is to strike a good balance between the good, solid life choices, that are oftentimes dressed in practical dresses and white shirts and ties, and the floaty, colorful bare shouldered choices that are sometimes best left at "Look, Don't Touch." The older I get, the more I'm able to find the beauty in the more solidly woven fabrics of wisdom, while adding my own brand of color and special frills to them.  Which is not to say I'm always wise, but I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

For Tom

My friend's brother passed away last week.  We knew it was coming - it was a brain tumor, very aggressive, and hospice had been called.  My friend is the youngest of three siblings.  Her two older brothers seemed so much older when we were growing up.  Not like my family, where I am the oldest.  When we were in 6th grade, her brothers were in junior high, and high school.  I would catch glimpses of them when I would be at her house, and they were older, mysterious, up and out doing things beyond our thoughts and abilities.  Her oldest brother is alive and well in the Sacramento area.  It's the younger brother who has moved on.  He has a wife and two grown daughters, and lived in the San Francisco area.    It's hard for me to imagine the tall, gawky bespectacled brother I remember from my childhood, being the man, husband, father now gone from their lives.  It's as odd as imagining my own brothers' demise.   The boy in my memory would keep my friend busy all summer playing the same Monopoly game.  Somehow, they would keep it going, and I found that incredibly fascinating, although I couldn't picture actually doing it.  Every once in awhile when I would be there at her house, the older boys would be there, and I would blush and duck my head with shyness.  Sometimes I would eat dinner at her house, and at the end of dinner her father would pass around a box of See's chocolates so everyone could have a piece - Marion and me at one end of the table, her brothers at the other.  Two separate worlds.

Years have passed since those days - like over 40 years.  Her parents sold the house and moved to Morro Bay.  Her brothers grew up and started lives of their own.  Marion and I led our separate lives in different parts of the country, but always always kept in touch with at least 1 yearly call on our birthdays.  We've never missed a birthday.  Oh, maybe we have, but not many, so I choose to remember that we've never missed a one.  We are forever friends.

A few years ago, one of her brother's daughters got married, and Marion shared some of the pictures with me.  Such pretty girls, her nieces, and Marion enjoyed being the favorite aunt.  I remember really studying the pictures of Tom.  So much the same face that I'd remembered from childhood, and yet...not...  That is what life does - it keeps our face but changes it just enough, so that we know we have lived through something big.  Tom looked like he'd had a pretty good life, complete with a good family.  And then, the first of the year came the news about the tumor.  It was fast, relentless, and ruthless.  Surgery didn't do much.  But in the end, Marion said that he was peaceful, and I was thankful for that.  She had been to see him, to say her goodbyes and have some closure.  But even so, we humans leave a hole when we depart from this life, don't we?  And in our families, when it's too soon, it can be a big jagged hole.

I've been thankful for my faith.  Faith that there is more to this life than just this life.  There is more - so much more.  I haven't always had the knowledge that I'm so sure of now.  I regret that I've not done a better job sharing it with others.  I was a little late to the party in even acquiring the faith I do have.  It's kind of a sensitive subject - when to speak up, and when to wait for a better moment.  Part of it is that building faithful knowledge is kind of like being on stepping stones on a garden path.  We are sometimes on different stones.  Sometimes we're even on a completely different garden path.  But we do the best we can to find the truth of one stone before we step on to the next.  I've been lucky enough to meet others on my various stones on my journey through the garden.  Others who have bolstered my faith, helped me along, loved me forward.  I've tried to do the same with my children, and more often of late, with my friends.
The funny thing about faith is that there's no real proof.  It's definitely something you feel in your heart. Something you just know is right, and that makes perfect sense.  Sometimes it can make you cry with emotion, sometimes you just feel a warm glow.  However you experience it, you know that what you are feeling could only come from good.  The kind of good that only a loving Heavenly Father would want for His children.  Would you plan a world where the inhabitants - your children -  would cease to exist after their life was lived?  Doubtful.  You would devise a plan where your children could be together with you again, and with the others they have come to love.  That's what makes sense.  That's what rings true in my heart.

It also makes sense that He wouldn't make you cross from this world to the next alone.  That might be scary.  Or at the very least, odd and confusing.   No - He makes sure that you are met by those you love best who went before you.  Familiar faces to welcome, to rejoice.  That makes sense.  It rings true.  And although the loss is great on this side of the curtain, the thought of the love and joy felt on the other side at someone's homecoming gives me comfort.  Makes my loss more bearable.  Because we will meet again.  It may be years, it may be less, but we will meet again.

So I picture my grandmother dancing again, as she loved to do.  Her feet are light and her body agile.  She is able to serve others again, as she loved to do.  And she is with my grandfather - her sweetheart - once again.  And every one of her eight sisters and two brothers.  Oh, the joy that they feel!

And I picture Tom feeling no pain, no confusion, his eyes towards eternity waiting to greet his own sweet wife and family again one day.  His father was there to meet him as he arrived, I have no doubt.  Marion said that they were best friends.  And so I imagine the hugs, the elation, the pure joy of seeing each other once again.  And it makes the temporary separation bearable.  Marion says the thought is comforting, but she has not developed her own faith yet.  Yet.  And maybe that is why we've remained friends for almost 50 years.  Why we are like sisters.  We will help each other along this earthly garden path, until we each make our own journey home.  And I know one of the first faces I will want to see will be hers.

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed