Daily Affirmation

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Drezden Debuts - Our Halloween Treat

Happy Halloween!  October has been a real whirlwind around here.  I haven't had half a chance to relax and enjoy it - and now it's over.  I'm sitting in a half-dark room waiting for L to get home with the candy.  Yes, we really do wait until the last minute, and yes, I could have gotten it myself, but he said HE would so... I let him.  It's a crap shoot as to whether we'll even have any trick or treaters, but it's best to be prepared, and if none show up, then it's also delicious to be prepared.

I've been enjoying checking out everyone's posts on Facebook - pictures of all of the little ones in their costumes.  One of these years (and it had better be soon) I'm going to get myself together enough to be with grandkids in one place or the other on Halloween.  L and I did try that a couple of years ago, and karma responded with the snowstorm of the century, knocking out all of the power in Worcester, MA for the duration of our visit.  Halloween was cancelled and it was a little sad.  You can see my reluctance to repeat testing fate...

Speaking of Worcester, we have a new baby boy: Drezden John.  He's a love.  Mellow, sleeps well, loves to snuggle.  I leave on Saturday for a week long trip to Massachusetts to meet the little sweetie, as well as my other two darlings, Mia and Hayden.  Hopefully I will be a help, and we'll have some fun too.  I've not seen the house they're living in now, so it will be a whole new adventure.  I'll come back armed with lots of pictures and new stories to tell.  Now I'm sure many of you are wondering about his name, and so I'll explain.  His daddy is a World War II buff, and so he thought of the name Dresden, which is a city in Germany.  Katie and Zach were afraid people might pronounce it "Dress-den" (I would never) and so they opted to spell it with a "Z" instead - and thought it was nice that, coincidentally, Zach's name starts with a "Z" as well.  Whew!  And that's the story.  I can't wait to meet him and take in copious amounts of that new baby smell.  Their little heads smell delicious, and their cheeks are tempting to bite.  But I won't.  Well, maybe just a little nibble...

Work has been nuts!  I've been given a lot more to do, and that's a good thing.  More hours = more pay.  So bring it on...  I'll be back from Massachusetts a week, and I have to turn around and fly to Minneapolis for 3 days.  We're having some kind of training and my manager wanted all of us remote players to come in and reconnect with the Mothership.  Not a bad idea, but not so nice at this time of year.  November in Minneapolis is, well... COLD, but I'll suck it up for a couple of days.  I just know I'll be burned out from the first trip, and won't be in the mood for another long flight.

We've had our first taste of fall here in California.  Crisp cool nights (I've had to wear a head wrap during our bike rides!) and cool sunny days.  Sweater weather.  It's been great.  My mom and I went to lunch yesterday, and sat outside.  It was shady where we were and it was actually chilly!  (Well, to ME it was cold.  If you're from, say, Ohio, you're laughing at me right now!)  I've really enjoyed it though, and thinking about a whole week in Massachusetts with sweaters and boots and coats is getting me kind of excited.

L is down in the kitchen making his famous Halloween Soup.  We all love it, and our kids all ask for it when they're here at this time of year.  He's also BBQing chicken for some chicken quesadillas.  He brought home one of the biggest avocados I've ever seen for guacamole.  I should go down and help.  We've got candy ready to hand out, and when the little ones stop coming (if they come at all) we'll hunker down with some sweet treats and watch some recorded shows and our favorite show, Parenthood.  I do love spending these evenings with L, just being cozy and quiet.  Halloween ushers in the holiday season, and from here on out, I'm going to have to hold onto my hat.  November is going to be quite busy, as it turns out.  So many birthdays, and Thanksgiving too!  And then it really ramps up in December trying to get everything done.  I still have lots of shopping to do - I'm not quite as on it as I was last year.  Plenty of time, I tell myself.  Just breathe...

I hope you're all having a wonderful, happy, and slightly spooky Halloween.  It's one of my favorite times of the year.  I will be gone from here all next week, but will catch everyone up when I get back.  For those on Facebook, I'll be posting things there as I go along.  Have a wonderful week ahead, and think of me having the time of my life with my girls, and now our new little man.  And perhaps sneaking in a nap here and there.  Just to keep myself, you know, energized after more activity than I'm used to in a month, let alone one crazy week.

PS: We had one trick or treater.  A girl about 12 or 15.  Hard to tell.  No little ones at all.  So L has a lot of candy to plow through this next week.  He'll be missing me, you know, *a lot* so maybe the candy will take the edge off.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Autumn and Cider Doughnuts

Two more weeks until my sojourn to Massachusetts.  Baby boy will be born in 1 week, but Katie will be in the hospital for half of it, so the MIL is going to keep the household running and orderly.  Her cooking is to die for - I sort of wish my visit could overlap hers...

Katie says that the cider doughnuts are in the doughnut shops, and the air is crisp and cool.  (I can hardly wait to get there for those doughnuts!)  I see from pictures that leaves are turning, and it's really Fall.  Here in California, conversely, it's still 88 degrees, and hot and dry.  Fall here largely means fire season and high winds.  But we dream our dreams of colored leaves, and pumpkin pies anyway.  L and I went to Trader Joe's this past week, and stocked up on pumpkin EVERYTHING.  We now have pumpkin pancake and waffle mix, pumpkin bread mix, and some really tasty pumpkin cereal bars called "A Pumpkin Walks Into A Bar."  Love it.  I even bought a can or two of pumpkin, in case the urge to make a pie hits me.  Not likely, if it stays this hot, but who knows?  Baking is a serendipitous thing.

I'm getting anxious for those cooler days.  Sweater weather.  At least I'll have it when I go to Massachusetts.  Seven glorious days wrapped in sweaters, boots, and jackets!  Bright blue skies, brightly colored leaves, and likely some rain.  It rains a lot there, which is why its so beautiful. 

Possibly best of all, there will be a few hours when the girls are in school, hopefully baby will be napping, when I can spend time with just my own little girl.  That hasn't happened for quite a while, and it's one of the things I miss most about her growing up.

Until then, I'll content myself with my pumpkin everything - I forgot that I also got Pecan Pumpkin Oatmeal.  I'll deck the house out in Halloween finery.  We've got jack o'lanterns, black ravens, and skulls all over the place.  And this weekend, the pirate skeleton comes out to play!  L has to hang him up - it's too high for me.  I usually have everything up and decorated by this time, but this year I've been a little slow.  There are still 2 more weeks to enjoy in October - such a good month.  I hope we get some trick or treaters on Halloween - sometimes we do, sometimes we don't - but I always miss having masses of kids roaming the neighborhood, like when my kids were little, or especially when I was young. 

It's kind of a different holiday now.  Thank you, crazy perverts...  I remember when I was about 13, I was living in New Jersey, and my friend and I really wanted to dress up and trick or treat, but we knew we were a little too old.  Joan could sew, and so she whipped up a couple of bustle skirts, and we went out as ladies from the 1800s.  We came to an old house in the area, knocked on the door, and an old man answered.  He invited us in, and in we went.  Without a second thought.  (Now THAT would never happen now!)  He had owned and operated one of those river steamboats for years, and he was showing us a lot of pictures of his happier days.  In his living room he had a real pipe organ - the kind that has a million stops (one was a jingle bell sound!) and the massive pipes.  He let us play on it, while he talked and reminisced.  I know that all sounds slightly creepy-ish, but looking back (and it was a much more innocent time) he was a lonely old man, whose wife was an invalid.  But to all you kids out there: DON'T TRY THIS TODAY.  Today, he'd turn out to be a lonely old child molester.  But that's my one good Halloween trick or treat story.  That, and the time I was about 5 and I walked up to the door of a house where there was a large form covered by a sheet... which turned out to be a vacuum cleaner that was turned on as we rang the doorbell, making a huge noise and causing the sheet to billow out.  HOLY CRAP!!!  I was back out to the curb in 2 seconds and booking it home , with the man running after me saying "I'm sorry sweetheart - come back!"  I just ran right past my dad and didn't look back.  Ah... nostalgia...good times...

Work has been extremely busy, which is good for my paycheck.  It's been good to get back and up to speed, and it was nice to realize I was missed.  When you're 2000 miles away from the Mothership (Minneapolis), it feels very lonely sometimes, but I've forged some nice relationships despite the distance.

It's hard for me to keep up with children and grandchildren with just these few sporadic visits, but it's the best I can do.  I was in Denver just 2 months ago, and already my memories of the little ones are outdated.  It'll be the same thing here.  One short week of snuggling a tiny new one, silly times with 2 giggly girls, celebrating Hayden's 4th birthday, and some quiet time with Katie and it will be over for another several months.  Next time I'm there will be in June, and L will go with me for Mia's 8th birthday, just like we'll both go to Denver for Lexi's 8th birthday in April.  Almost 8 years already... If you think your kids grew up fast, try grandchildren.  It just flies by.  But who can resist the tug on your heart, when you have something like this waiting for you:

In my mind, I'm already there.  Two more weeks, and my body will catch up.  Hugs and whispered little girl secrets will be plentiful.  And so, I hope, will the cider doughnuts. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Weekend Reflections

We spent the weekend watching our twice yearly church conference on TV.  Two sessions on Saturday, and two on Sunday.  We Mormons take in a lot of church!  I know many of my friends who religiously (no pun intended... or maybe it was...) take notes on each talk, but I never do.  I can rarely remember who gave what talk - I just take mental note of the ideas that are new or just especially relevant to me.

One talk I took special note of dealt with the subject that we each have our own unique talents and abilities that we are able to use to tackle the problems - big and small - that inevitably come our way in life.  If we're tempted to ask why we are afflicted with this or that problem or heartache, the answer is that, based on our unique makeup,  we have it because we're able to deal with it, overcome it, and grow from it.  I hadn't thought about it in that way before.  We're not thrown anything that we're not able to triumph over.  Similarly, we are placed in situations that challenge us, that help us grow into stronger, better people.  Of course, we all have our freedom of choice.  We can choose to take the easy way out of a problem, we can choose to not deal with it at all.  But knowing that we are here on earth to learn, progress, and spiritually grow, it makes it easier to look at difficult times from that angle.  With knowledge that we are never alone, and that we have a loving Father who is just waiting for us to study a problem, give it our best effort, and to also prayerfully ask for His help to supplement our own efforts.  I know it's helped me feel less alone in times of need.  It's been instrumental in helping me avoid a freakout.

I don't know of anyone who sails through life unscathed by worry, real problems or tragedies, or some kind of loss.  I do believe that we are here to not only become better and stronger from these hardships, but that we are also here to help each other.  I don't know of too many people who haven't felt alone and out of step with the world from time to time.  Or even most of the time.  I come from a family who is practical and organized.  My brothers have all graduated from college, and have various successful careers.  But not me.  I could never figure out what I was supposed to do.  I am a practiced procrastinator.  I am not brave or outspoken, although my brothers are.  But I'm nice.  I play well with others.  And I'm smart - although it took me a long time to realize that.  But I've always felt out of step with my family.  Not one of the gang, you might say.  I was always the flighty one, the "artsy" one.    It's almost like whoever was supposed to be in my place was somehow doing something amazing elsewhere for a minute, and there I was, lounging around, saying "Why not?" as I jumped in.  People would say "Really...?  You're one of them??"  Sometimes I would take it as a compliment, but mostly I felt a bit lost.

I had my children, and love them completely, although even they are stronger, more substantive, than I am.  More like their dad.  I love them like nothing else, and yet they are hard for me sometimes, because they are so strong.  And I'm a little wimpy, shying away from any conflict.  But - the older I've gotten, I can see that they are exactly the children I needed to have.  When I am around them I feel quite brave.  They give me role models to emulate.  They've shown me how to be strong, I've tried to teach them to be kind, and together we all try to be strong and kind.  And as I get stronger, I'm better equipped to help them when they have problems - you see how that works?  They have helped me and stood by me their entire lives.  And now, when they've had problems - especially now they're grown and are subject to those horrible adult problems, I hope I have evolved enough that I'll be the strong one that they can lean on while they catch their breath.

There's been a divine plan all along, I can see that now.  Trust me to get the life that's put together like a crazy quilt instead of an elegant tapestry, but I'm guessing it's exactly what I needed to improve.  It's what I needed to force me to step up, to be brave, to quit doubting myself.  I have my own, unique set of neuroses, and thank goodness, I've had the family who would stand by me (sometimes bemused, I'm sure) and not look away in disgust while I struggled.  They've all had their own struggles, and with some of them, (because of my vast experience with Trouble) I've been able to offer my own help, support, and understanding.  And that's what it's all about, isn't it?  Serving our families and friends, even in the midst of our own suffering.  Because in doing the service, we can forget ourselves for a short while.  It's almost a relief to not think about yourself for a time.

So that's what this weekend was about: self reflection, listening to good counsel, and figuring out where I can improve.  It's good to do that at least twice a year.  A little light housecleaning.  I have my worries, as we all do, but I know that they are concerns that I can handle.  I have the ability to resolve them in some way if I just stick to it, stay tough and prayerful, and endure to the end.  I'm on my way to becoming quite the warrior.

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