Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A tale of two Christmases

As of 12 p.m. yesterday, I am off until 1/5, without having to take any vacation days. Ah, the perks of working for a university. :-)

This year, our actual Christmas Eve/Day celebration(s) will be about the least eventful I can recall. The hub's mom and grandma were to come down just this afternoon, and then we would head to 5 p.m. mass, for which J and the children's choir would be singing. But unfortunately the MIL came down with the flu or something, so here we are on Christmas Eve, with nothing much to do. My mom has been in TX visiting with my little brother and his family for almost four weeks now. She should be back this weekend, so we will celebrate, just after the fact. But it is just weird for me not to be around my family (besides my immediate family) during these few days.

I am pretty sure the kid still believes in Santa, so there is that, but I am also pretty sure I will tell her what is what afterwards (or maybe tonight, if she brings up putting out milk and cookies, and I, the terrible liar that I am, won't be able to go along with it). Until then I will enjoy following Santa on NORAD's app/site.

I finally mailed my Christmas cards this morning, which was an accomplishment for me. I was not in the mood to create (i.e., select pictures), write, or send any out this year. Sadie's death affected me so much more than I thought. And I still miss her terribly. Bailey, the new dog, is driving me crazy. I am glad we have her, as it is helping at this time of year, but the amount of things that have been destroyed in our house (not to mention our constantly bitten hands) tempers the excitement. 

But back to the cards. Every year, it seems that fewer and fewer people send cards (at least to us), but knowing that this is the only connection I have to some people, I could not give it up. I tried to put a card together online last weekend, but at that last minute, did not submit my order. I bought some cards on Sunday night, but did not feel like writing anything. Then yesterday, since I was home by early afternoon, I decided to, once again, try to put something together via Walgreen's website, as they can print your cards for store pick up in an hour. I sent our fewer this year myself, mostly just to those who sent us ones, plus another half dozen. But in the end, I am glad I did so.

Here it is, including Jordan and both dogs: Sadie, lower left-hand corner, because she was with us for over 11 months of 2014; and Bailey, upper right-hand corner, because she is our dog now.


I want to end this with a few pictures of one of my favorite places, Phipps.Wishing all of you out there a merry Christmas. May your days be merry and bright.










Sunday, December 14, 2014

Trying to keep the fading magic from fading

J is in sixth grade. She is of an age when most kids do not believe in Santa. In fact, I would guess in her class pretty much no one does; most kids gave that up in fourth grade, some as late as fifth grade. But J? Well, on my birthday last week, after she found out there was no elf that flew away each night and came back every morning (because she straight-out asked me, and I will not lie), I figured she might have stopped believing in the fat guy in the red suit. But she is my daughter, so I knew there was an even better chance that she figured that just because one thing was not true, that did not necessarily mean the other mythical creatures were not real. [When, sometime between fourth and fifth grade, I found out there was no Santa, I refused to ask my parents about the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. Even though I knew they probably were not real either, I decided to hold onto hope and get one more holiday out of it.]

Yesterday, I took J to the Santa breakfast at our church because good friends of ours were going. J loves their toddler and preschooler, and those two pretty much worship her, so J was only too happy to go. She went up with the kids as they sat on Santa's lap, and she stood next to Santa while the two told Santa what they wanted. Later, I told J that I thought Santa was kind of pushy when our friends' little girl said she wanted an Elsa doll, and Santa kept asking her what else she wanted. Then J said to me, "It's not like he's the real Santa"

So that comment leads me to believe that she still is holding out a little glimmer of hope that just because an elf does not go back and forth to the North Pole nightly that does not mean that Santa can't pull off his feat of visiting the houses of millions in one night. I thought about coming clean, and I always said I would never lie to J about it. But unless she directly asks me, I think I will keep quiet. Worth noting is that last year (or maybe it was the year before) she asked if there was a Santa. I replied in my best teacher answer, "What do you think?" J answered that she wanted to believe. And I told her then that she should believe, and that I believe in the magic of Christmas. I threw in something about the "Yes, Virginia" story, and that was that. I did not lie, so I could live with that.

I realize there is a chance that she could talk about it at school, and someone could tease her, and I do not want that to happen. And maybe she does not even believe still.

But I guess I just want to hang on to that last little bit of magic, because I know there are a lot of years in between the wonder and belief you have during childhood until you get to the grown-up version of magic, if you even get there at all.

Here's hoping you can find some magic!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The birthday celebration (dog included)

So I turned Troy Polamalu years old last Friday. If I owned his jersey, I would have worn it, to proudly display my age. :-)

I had a great few days (I try to celebrate for two or three). It started on Thursday with my traditional birthday lunch at Mad Mex with a couple of friends/former coworkers. Mmm, shrimp-mushroom-spinach burrito. 

Friday included wearing of the birthday pin (for the 19th year) and a coworker-made hat (by the coworker who shares my birthday), lunch at Hems with coworkers, early work exit, dinner at Roman Bistro (best of the three meals) with family, Penguins and Pirates shirts as presents, and watching "Girl Meets World" with my kid to end the evening. 

But the biggest part of my birthday weekend was our adopting a dog from the Humane Society!

Since J and I will be off for almost two weeks for Christmas, and the hubby shares about half of those days (plus a few before our break starts), we figured it made sense to get a dog soon. J had fallen in love with Evie, this kind of crazy-looking rat-bull terrier, via the website a week or so prior. And as luck would have it, she was still there on Saturday morning when we finally made it to the shelter. I, on the other hand, was enamored with a black pit bull-lab puppy. Elvis was calm and complacent; Evie was wild and barky. But one look at Elvis's giant paws deterred me. Plus, I know some people were afraid of our pittie mix, which was kind of crazy. 

Anyway, we got Evie, whom we renamed Bailey after a few hours (that was her name at one point, and she responded to it). And life has been crazy ever since! The energy level on this 10ish-month old puppy is, well, crazy. She goes from 0 to 60 in about five seconds, and then right back to calm. Yesterday, she jumped down the last four steps to fetch a ball, and today, she was several feet in the air, spinning around, trying to grab a toy.

The hub has left her downstairs for a few hours while he was out the past couple of days. The toll? A slipper, a dress shoe, the top of a plastic stapler, the lid to a bottle of hand sanitizer, and part of a Scooby hat. Sigh.

Oh, Bailey, what have we gotten ourselves into?! :-)


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Looking on the bright side

I decided a couple of days ago to do a "bright side of December" thing for Facebook. Last year, so many people did 30 days (or however many days there were until Thanksgiving) of thankfulness. No one I knew did that this year, and I realized I kind of missed it. So I figured I, who am often optimistic, would put my own spin on something.

On Monday, I had to get my windshield replaced. This was the second time in five years (almost to the day), and in between I had some cracks/nicks replaced. Having to spend $100 (deductible) on something like that so close to Christmas does not make me happy. But the shop ended up doing it in only 20 minutes, and it cost $80 instead. So I decided to think of it as saving $20, not spending $80. Bright side! Oh, and I no longer have to look at the cracks in my windshield.

Yesterday, even though I left work 10 minutes early, it took me longer than usual to get home. But I decided that morning to put in a CD of my music ministry's Lessons and Carols service we did a couple of years ago. Listening to that in the morning really calmed my usual cranky-because-I-am-in-traffic self down, and it had the same effect on me last evening.

One of the things I like most about the holidays (and I am considering the holidays as beginning on Thanksgiving and ending New Year's Day night, with my birthday in between!) is the music. I am a singer (not a great one, but I can hold my own), and I can plunk a few songs out on the piano. And there is just something about a lot of the Christmas songs, particularly some of the slower ones.

I also very much enjoy lights and decorations. Some of my best (but briefest) childhood holiday memories are of our tree and looking at the decorations of others around our neighborhood. Every evening when I look out our back window and see houses below us with their lights, I can't help but smile.

And I will soon be headed to Phipps to experience their Winter Flower Show. I was so mesmerized by it last year that I joined a week later. I have been there at least eight times since. It was the best $85 I spent this year. I have to imagine even the most anti-holiday, hardened person would be moved by what they see there.

For today's bright side of December, I am thinking it is the fact that I am home taking a sick day. I woke up with an upset stomach and for the second night in a row got about 5 hours of sleep. But being home allowed me to take a long nap this morning, get in a load of laundry, and not put on any makeup or do my hair. Bright side!

Here is hoping you can find a bright side to things. I am pretty sure I am going to have to look long and hard when I get my tires replaced this week. My guess is that my brakes will also need to be replaced and something else will come up when I get my car inspected on Monday. So I better really take this to heart. :-)