Friday, December 26, 2008

Wrapping things up

As Boxing Day comes to a close, so does Christmas. The month of preparation - putting up the Christmas tree, putting up lights, sending out cards, shopping for gifts and wrapping them (though that didn't take long this year, as it was a slim year in that regard), drinking cocoa out of snowman mugs - is coming to an end until next year.

I am always so excited to begin Christmas each year. Ryan laughs at me, because I'm childish and I admit it, but the minute the Thanksgiving leftovers are tucked away, I just want my tree! But it is also true that after a month of having a tree, I am always ready to take it down.

Tonight, after our friends left, I took down the card holder, and lovingly reviewed each card again before I tucked them away. The first bin came down from the attic, and has been loaded with the first of the Christmas dishes. The Nutcrackers are back in their box; the snow globe is put away. There is still much work to do - stockings, tree, outdoor lights - but I like to begin on Boxing Day. Tomorrow I think I'll work on bringing down the tree, and our house will return to normal.

I like to begin the new year with a fresh start - I don't like Christmas stuff to be up, because I like things to be fresh and ready like a blank slate. I like to start the new year with clean laundry tucked away, fresh sheets on the beds, the dishwasher emptied. I'm also on a de-clutter fest, trying to get rid of the excess that we have accumulated. (Why? Why do we fight clutter so much?!)

I'm also thinking about getting rid of the excess around my middle. I have fallen off the wagon, and my pants are proving it. It's ridiculous, really, and after three days of feasting I feel excited about living on vegetables and soups for the next few months. I have had enough, and I'm looking forward to returning to better health.

I only have 13 days until my surgery. The new year brings what I hope will be my last surgery; I pray that the results will be good enough to deal with for 15 years (when I'll have to have the implants replaced). I am so very, very tired of the journey of breast cancer, and I want my body back. Or at least I don't want to hurt all the time.

And so I'm packing up the old year along with the ornaments, not forgetting it, not throwing it out in the trash, but setting it aside in boxes and looking forward to new things.

Boxing Day

I am attempting to not think about Janet obsessively. She wasn't my friend, she was a person on the internet. That is what I am telling myself. It is true that I didn't know her closely. But she had been there since I arrived at YSC, and I just thought she was a permanent fixture, no matter what the odds. It hurts to be wrong in this way.

But I am moving on.

We have a few friends coming over this afternoon for companionship and prime rib sandwiches. I am looking forward to their company, to the relaxed atmosphere of it, to enjoying each other's company.

Happy Boxing Day, all.

Our holiday giving was before the holiday, but I do love the tradition of helping the less fortunate.

Another loss

Janet, one of the YSC girls, is gone. She died peacefully - after a very unpeaceful journey with metastatic cancer - on Christmas Eve.

Logging in this morning to read the news left me stunned. She had such a large presence, wit, humor - how is it possible? The world suffers at her loss. I suffer.

Prayers to those who knew her in real life, to her husband Brian, to all those who love her.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

One word answers

The trick here is to answer each question with only one word - not as easy as it seems. Here are the questions, with my answers, copied from the YSC boards. It is amazing to me how revealing the answers are when I read others' responses. I hope that you'll play, too, and post your answers here.

Have fun!
1. What time did you get up today? 8:00
2. Your significant other? mine
3. Your hair? long
4. Your Skin? ugh
5. Your Mother? loving
6. Your favorite thing? motherhood
7. Your dream last night? unknown
8. Your favorite drink? coffee
9. Your dream/goal? living
10. The room you're in? dining
11. Your ex? Who?!
12. Your fear? Leaving
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? celebrating
14. Where were you last night? friends'
15. What you are not? cruel
16. Muffins? nahhhh
17. One of your wish list items? Peace
18. Where you grew up? Victoria
19. The last thing you did? converse
20. What are you wearing? sweater
21. Your TV? OFF.
22. Your pets? Wonderful!
23. Your computer? connected
24. Your life? grateful.
25. Your mood? Peaceful
26. Missing someone? Grandpa
27. Your car? Functional
28. Something you're not wearing? bra
29. Favorite Store? thrift
30. Your summer? Orcas
31. Your favorite color? Blue
32. When is the last time your belly laughed? recently
33. Last time you cried? morning
34. Favorite Food? raspberries
35. Hobby? read
36. Favorite actor? none
37. Favorite actress? none
38. What’s for dinner? salmon
39. Where did I lose my remote control? Table.
40. What is the meaning of life? Joy
41. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop? Uninterested
42. Make a wish? Peace
43. What is your favorite sport? hiking
44. Fun game? Cranium
45. Least liked food? liver
46. What do you believe? Compassion
47. What are you looking forward to? grandchild
48. Reading anything good? YES!

PS Last time I cried - this morning it was happy tears. Ryan made me a beautiful montage of Tessa pictures, set to music, and it was just so lovely...

Wake up! Wake up! Santa came!

And so began our morning, as it should be.

Santa delivered Tessa the right gifts, and she is currently lolling about on the living room carpet, in her Christmas nightgown, (red and white, of course!), reading new books, playing with small new horses...content.

Ryan's taking a little nap.

I'm here, checking in online with friends, and ever so grateful for my favorite gifts from Ryan. Ryan made me a montage of pictures of Tessa, set to the music "She's got a way about her" by Billy Joel, and as I watched it I cried. Every mother knows how beautiful their child is, and I am no exception. Looking at her face - from bald, to wispy curls, to lush and long - brings me a joy I had never imagined. Ryan also gave me a gorgeous book of poems with a note that he would read them to me in bed at night.

It is obvious that I am RICH. Among the wealthiest of kings, actually. Money is not wealth. It's nice, of course, and we could always use more, but poetry, photos, ponies, family....this is all I desire. (Oh, and chocolate. And I got that, too! And coffee. Yes, coffee.)

Last night we dined with Michele & Dave at their home, and it was beautiful; today we'll brunch with our neighbor friends Sarah & Steven (I made a bacon & egg strata that I'll pop in the oven in just a few minutes, so that we can bring it hot); we are not yet sure what we will do about dinner (travel to Woodinville to be with family as planned; walk a block to join Kathleen, Jim, and Elena; or pop our own roast in the oven) because the weather is so very.....icy. Whatever we do, it will be wonderful, and we're so glad to have the chance to have this beautiful life.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Altered plans

Church was canceled, and we had really looked forward to it. Drat! This weather, while often beautiful, is starting to get a little old. It is supposed to snow another 1-6 inches can that be possible? Much of the snow melted today, but it is still a crazy mess out there, and though we only drove a mile or so today it was rough going.

Instead of church, we were able to attend dinner with our dear, dear friends Michele & Dave and their sweet boys, Elliott and Everett. Michele cooked an amazing dinner (I may never be able to button my pants again, but that is what resolutions are for....!), and the companionship was just...well, perfect.

We used the service that Rev. Peg sent out, singing carols, sharing readings, and telling The Night Before Christmas. We also included a story of Jesus' birth.

If anyone is looking for a UU Christmas Eve service, I recommend the lovely thoughts that our dear minister Peg put together.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

PS Wrapping. Hmmm. Much wrapping to do for Tessa!

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Our day has been altered by the weather....but what else is new?!

It snowed again last night, and now we have a "wintery mix" of snow, ice, slush, rain - ugh. This is not the beautiful winter wonderland we had been enjoying so much.

Church was canceled this evening for safety reasons. Oh no! I had been looking forward to it so very much, and friends were joining us....

But we are recovering from that information, and we will be dining in style with Michele & Dave and family at their home this afternoon, because their family plans got canceled as well. We can walk there - hurrah - and so we will enjoy good cheer in their company, and were grateful for the invitation.

We are not counting on being able to drive to Woodinville tomorrow, but you never know. We bought a roast for the three of us, and we will celebrate Christmas here or there...but we will celebrate.

I hope that you are safe and warm, whereever you are!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reality Check

Sometimes, I can be so petty. I try so hard to remember what is true, just, and beautiful in the world, but I get distracted from what's important so easily.

Last night, I got to experience a tiny little piece of how life is for some people. Tessa and I spent the night at Family Promise as evening hosts, with three homeless families.

I am humbled.

We stayed in a cold room, with only one twin sized air mattress to share. We had brought our own sleeping bags, so we were warm, but it was no fun to get out of bed into the cool air in the morning. Besides Tessa, there were three young children and a teen at the shelter. I don't pretend that I know what it's like to be homeless, but this tiny taste was enough to remind me of how incredibly lucky we are.

I heard some hard luck stories. I tried to be a good listener, to give and not to take.

And I was so, so, so grateful to come home today, into my warm home with comfortable beds, privacy, showers, a dog and a cat.

Thank you, Family Promise, for giving me this opportunity. I am humbled.

Monday, December 22, 2008

No new ice

It figures that this is the first time we need to drive!

Today it was warmer - mid 30s - and so some of the snow started to melt. (Not that you can tell now; every bit of the world is white around here still.) Now, of course, there is snow AND ice on the's gonna be slick.

I wouldn't go out, except that our church is having trouble staffing the Family Promise homeless shelter. So, in just a few minutes, Tessa and I will spend our first night in a homeless shelter, with other families. We will be hosting, but I am humbled with gratitude at the opportunity to do this. I pray that Tessa learns compassion through the experience, and that I can use my compassion and say and do the right things.

(And in case any of you have concerns: Family Promise has excellent screening. No alcohol or drug abuse, no domestic violence, no criminal records. We will be safe....and in the company of moms, dads, and children.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pictures of Snow

Here are some pictures from today and tonight (plus the one of kids on the swingset from Friday - love how kids gravitate towards it, no matter what the weather! Sorry it's fuzzy, it was taken through our screened window). Still snowing, 28 degrees right now.

Still snowing

It is STILL snowing. It's unbelievable to me that it continues to snow, day after day, almost without letting up. I hear that tonight we might get up to six inches, on top of what we already have. At this rate, I believe it. Not including the snow that melted earlier in the week, we have about a foot of snow here at this point.

We spent some time walking to the Junction and then sledding down a little hill near our house....and it was fabulous. Now we're at home watching movies - very relaxing.

Stay warm, people!

Safe and warm - again

Well, despite some gusting winds last night, we did not lose power, and we are all snug and warm inside. We will not be attending our family Christmas party in Bothell today (drat!), but we will enjoy our West Seattle community. We haven't left the house yet, but according to the West Seattle Blog (LOVE those guys) the roads here are an icy mess. Our car will stay in the garage.

Best wishes, everyone!