Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas Story

This week, my son and I finally got around to putting up the Christmas tree. Actually, he did most of the work while I supervised. After all, he is sixteen and one day he will have his own house to decorate, so it's good practice for him. Oh, alright! I was being lazy and really not feeling very Christmas-y.

While he was digging around in a box of decorations, he found our copy of an old Christmas story, "The Year Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas". It was given to us by my mother-in-law when Jimmy was a baby. It had been years since we had read it together and he did not remember it. I asked him if he would like me to read it to him.

With an eagerness that recalled a much younger version of himself, he climbed into my lap and waited for me to begin reading. Yes, in my lap. All 6'3" and 170 pounds of him! And so the two of us sat together in my chair, our faces lit by the glow of Christmas lights, and I began to read. As I read the familiar story, I was reminded of past Christmases when he was small.

Nearing the end of the story, I felt tears well up in my eyes, and I had to stop and clear my throat several times before I could finish. It wasn't the story that caused my emotion. It was the closeness that we shared, like when he was little. It was knowing that moments like this one are getting fewer and fewer every year as my little boy grows into a man. It was knowing that, one day, he might read this same story to his own child. But most of all, it was remembering that this is what Christmas is all about.

I think that now I'm starting to feel Christmas-y after all. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Most Amazing Weekend

This post is for those of you who wanted the details…

I am a member of the Order of the Arrow. No, it’s not some wizarding group, or super-secret club. The OA is a service-oriented group of Boy Scouts – basically it’s their honor society.

Last weekend was OA Fall Pow-wow – one of our annual get-togethers. We had major fun, as always. But this time, was really special. On Saturday, my son and I were called during the Vigil Call-out Ceremony. This is a huge honor and we were both surprised to have been chosen. In a few weeks, we will experience Vigil Weekend. We are not sure what to expect, so we are both excited and a little apprehensive, but I’m told that it will be a wonderful experience.

But there’s more…

After much hugging and congratulations, we left the ceremony ring and headed to the Pow-wow arena. When we arrived, Jared, one of our youth singers, asked me if I would be the Head Woman for the pow-wow. Me? Head Woman? Really? Stunned. Not knowing what Head Woman entailed… of course I agreed. I’ve only danced at a couple of pow-wows, so I had no idea what I was supposed to do, but the other dancers graciously instructed me and kept me from making a total fool of myself. I danced at every opportunity, but I don’t think my feet touched the ground once. I truly think I could have danced all night.

Vigil. Head Woman. To be so honored, twice in one day – it is impossible to describe how that feels. It truly was a most amazing weekend.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Morning Talks

For the last few years, my son’s school bus picked him up around the same time I leave for work. We would wait for the bus together in my cool/dry/warm (depending on the weather) SUV, and we would talk. Our conversations covered many topics, varying from the mundane (school work) to the serious (politics). We have learned a lot about each other through those 10 minute talks.

A few weeks ago, my son got his drivers license. He has been practicing for a year and now he is ready to drive solo. When school starts this year, he won’t be riding the bus. He will be driving his new (used) pick-up truck.

I have all the normal concerns of the parent of a teen driver (accidents, tickets, insurance premiums). But more than that, I will miss our morning talks. I’m sure we’ll still have great conversations at home or on the road, but there’s just something special about morning – when the sun hasn’t quite risen and everything seems fresh and new. Things always seem a little brighter in the morning.

I will always treasure the memories of our morning talks, and I’m going to miss them.

Maybe I can convince him to get up a little earlier so we can talk over breakfast.

Note: This post was written in the morning, which explains the optimism expressed in that last sentence.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How do you like your eggs?

In the movie Runaway Bride, the reporter (Richard Gere) notices that the reluctant bride (Julia Roberts) eats her morning eggs cooked in the way her latest fiancĂ© prefers. His ultimate question to her is, “How do you like your eggs?”

Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of women who have no idea how they like their eggs. What is it about being in a relationship that causes us to forget who we are and what we want? If marriage is supposed to be a partnership, then why do we defer to our man when it comes to making choices?

I know a woman who, very much like a chameleon, has remade herself to match each of her three husbands. Okay, I’m assuming this with the first husband, because I really didn’t know her back then, but…

Husband number two liked car racing and cruises. Therefore, these became the focus of their leisure activities. When he became ill and required a transplant, she spent all of her available time in his hospital room. After his recovery, they became involved in activities promoting organ donation – spending time with the families they had met through the hospital.

About a year after his death, she met future husband number three. Forgetting all about organ donation, she began riding motorcycles, fishing, and working out at the gym – activities previously regarded as dangerous or boring. His family and friends became her new family and friends, superseding the relationship with her own family.

I wonder what she would choose to do with her life if she was responsible for making all of her own choices? Would she know how to make a choice, or would she be paralyzed by the options? Has she lost the very essence of who she is in the pursuit of making her man happy?

Do you find yourself making every choice based on someone else? Are you settling for less than your heart’s desire? Have you given up your dreams?

How do you like your eggs?

Photo credit: Ian Bretton, via

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Justice is Served

My uncle was a Baptist preacher and respected businessman. He has been married to my aunt for almost 40 years. They have three children and 5 grandchildren. On December 11, he was charged with molesting two of his grandsons. When questioned, he admitted to touching the boys "in a sexual way". He claimed that he did not know why he had done it, but it might have something to do with his numerous blood pressure medications.

He is a liar.

My uncle was touching children "in a sexual way" long before he could use blood pressure medication as an excuse. I learned about his "you touch mine and let me touch yours" game when I was 11. My sister was 7. Our mother, single and raising her two daughters with the help of her family, chose to refrain from making any public accusations. The following year, we moved out of state and the mess was quietly contained.

I have often wondered if my cousins were abused by their father. Were they also keeping "our little secret"? Thankfully, my cousins did not keep it a secret when their sons reported the abuse to them. They called the child advocacy center and the Sheriff's Department. They stopped the cycle of abuse.

Today, my uncle was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Justice is served.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My Cable Company Turned Me Off TV

Last month, we gave up TV. We watch the occasional movie on DVD, but other than that, our brand new HD TV stays turned off. No news, no sports, no reality shows… nothing. This change has been brought to our family by our local cable company – Almega Cable.

I actually prefer satellite to cable. As soon as satellite was available in our rural area, we signed up. Unfortunately, the trees got so tall that we could no longer get a signal, so we switched back to cable. We put up with fewer channels for the same amount of money because, unless we cut down some trees, that was our only option.

Fast forward to December 2008. Our cable company (the only provider in the area) was bought out by a company called Almega Cable. We had no warning… just got a bill with a different name on it. We verified the company’s credentials and started sending our payments to them. The problems with reception started in mid-February, and we responded by calling their service number. The response was a little slow, but at least they did respond by sending a technician out to correct the problem.

By March, half of our channels were gone (blue screen – no signal) and the rest were fuzzy, and the response to our service calls changed. The standard response became, “The service tech will be in your area next week.” This was always repeated in a heavily accented voice, making me wonder if the calls were being routed to India. We mailed our regular payment in March, hoping that they would eventually fix the problem and credit us for the outages as they had promised. Wishful thinking.

On April 1, we were down to two channels (audio and snow). Still the same song from the service department, and efforts to talk to a manager were met with total failure. Calls to various regulatory agencies didn’t get us any closer to a solution, either. But the cable bill came – regular as clockwork! Instead of sending them any more money, we sent a letter detailing our complaints along with a log of all the service calls we had made. I guess we were hoping to finally get through to someone. No such luck!

We have learned that Almega is capable of being very responsive… when it comes to customers that don’t pay their bill. On May 1, they shut off our service. Pretty quick response, don’t you think?

I think I’ll send them one more letter, asking for a refund of my last payment, since I never got any service for it. I think I know what the response will be.

Now that I’ve gotten kind of used to not having TV, I have a decision to make. Do I cut down a couple of trees, or just leave things the way they are?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Yesterday, while reading Alisa Bowman's latest blog, How to Face Your Biggest Fear, the phrase "find and chase your dream" started me thinking. Dreams. Life goals. Career goals. Oops, I think I may be missing something really important here.

When the topic of career goals comes up during my annual reviews, I am at a loss. Where do I see myself in five years? Well, since I've been doing essentially the same thing for the last 15 years, I might assume that trend will continue. I don't hate my job (most of the time), but I can't help but wonder if I wouldn't be happier doing something else. Honestly, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. This is the real reason why I've never gone to college. I have absolutely no idea where to start or what courses to take, and my practical side won't allow me to waste money on courses that I don't "need".

When I was younger, I had a couple of big goals. I wanted to have a house and a family before I turned 30. I was married at 25, bought the house a year later, and the child came a few months after my 29th birthday. Goals met. Since then, I haven't really set any new goals. Now it seems that just keeping my head above water is enough. Sure, I have short-term goals, like sewing a costume for Ren Fest or getting all the laundry done, but that's just "to do" list stuff. It's not even in the same league.

Dreams. Everybody has a dream. Right? I'm pretty sure that I had some as a little girl, but I don't remember what they were. I'm not sure what happened to them. But I think it's about time that I figured out what they are now. I need to start chasing them while I'm still able to run!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Masquerade

My favorite holiday is Halloween. Always has been. I love the idea of dressing up and becoming someone else. For the same reason, I'm a Ren Fest junkie. Any excuse to put on a costume or a mask, and I'm in! Interacting with other people (who don't know me) as a Renaissance lady, a gypsy fortune teller, a witch, or whatever, holds a special charm for me.

I have always dreamed of attending a masquerade ball... wearing a beautiful dress and dancing with mysterious partners. Hmmm, maybe one day.

Even when I'm not playing dress-up, I find myself wearing a mask of sorts. I very rarely share my true feelings with anyone - preferring to act as if life is normal, hunky-dory even, when all hell might be breaking loose around me. Okay, maybe that's a little extreme. But I do tend to tell people that I'm fine, when I have a multitude of worries nagging at me. Over time, I guess I have learned that people really don't want to hear about your troubles when they ask "how it's going". They're just making polite conversation. (If you've ever had anyone respond to that question with a laundry list of all their problems, you know exactly what I'm talking about.) So I just smile, and say all is well.

So, what about you? As you are dancing with each new partner at the masquerade ball of life, do you "tell all" or do you just adjust your mask and smile?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stray Cats

In years past, hobos left marks on fenceposts to communicate with each other. A drawing of a cat would indicate a good woman who was willing to share food with a hungry traveller. I often wonder if animals do the same. You see, my house is a magnet for strays. It could have something to do with the rural location, but it also happened when we lived in a suburban apartment. No, I am convinced that we have been "marked".

Over the last 20 years, we have adopted a total of 11 cats and 6 dogs. About half of our pets came from the local shelter and the rest were strays. Sometimes you get strays with benefits, i.e. pregnant cats. Our very first stray cat presented us with four kittens. We kept two and gave two to my mother-in-law. One of those came back to us later. Today, the animal count is 5 cats and 2 dogs.

We had been feeding a stray cat for several months. A few weeks ago, she decided that she trusted us enough to come inside and meet the rest of the family. On Saturday, we took her to the vet for a check-up and vaccinations. The vet said she's healthy and should deliver in about 4 weeks. Yes, another stray with benefits.

Our son is ecstatic. The little furballs haven't even made an appearance yet and he's already asking if we can keep one. He must have shared the news with some of his classmates, because he told us that several of them wanted a kitten. I might make a deal with him... he can keep one if he will help find homes for the rest.

It's a good thing that I like cats.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Arrivals & Departures

Arrivals: Me. As in, I have finally decided to take the plunge and create my first blog. I've been meaning to do this for some time now, but things keep getting in the way... work, child, laundry, you know... things. How many times have the experts told me that I need to make time for myself and do the things that I want to do? Well, now is the time. I cannot promise that I will be regular in posting my musings, but I will post them. The first step has been taken, so the rest should be easy. I have arrived.

Departures: Me, again. Posting my thoughts for public review is a huge departure for me. I am usually quite shy - or I used to be. As I grow older, I've started to notice that I'm coming out of my shell more. Perhaps I'm no longer trying to impress or seek approval as I did when I was young. Either way, it's a change... a departure.

And so... the voyage begins.