Thursday, November 12, 2015

The One Where I Quit

In the words of the great Kenny Rogers, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run...."

I've tried.  I've really, really tried to keep up the blog this year, but I just can't. 

To be completely honest, I'm in so much inner turmoil right now that most days it takes most of my focus and energy to just get through the day.  And whatever additional focus I do have needs to be spent on other things than blogging.  Let's face it, I wasn't cranking out winners this year anyway.  

The Byrds told us (and so did the Bible, actually) that there is a season for everything.  As much as I wanted to fit writing into this season of my life, I've realized that it's not to be.  Maybe at some point in the future I'll be in a place to pick it up again.  But I've decided not to force it for the next 18 days and make myself sick over it.

I feel sad.  I feel like I'm letting myself down, as well as you, my very few but faithful readers. I'm actually tearing up a little as I write this.  I feel like I've failed.  But I also know that I need to try and let myself off the hook.  

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope that you're able to spend time with those you love.

Until I return...  
Love to you all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Childhood Gifts

I had the day off today and I decided to spend it Christmas shopping.  I really want to have everything purchased, wrapped, and under the tree by the time my first offspring comes home for his Christmas break.  I would like to be able to spend those last two weeks having fun and doing things with my family, not running around to get last minute presents taken care of.  However, since that’s only one month away, I needed to get started.

As I was walking around the mall checking things off of my list, I was reminded of my infamous Christmas gift from 1983. This particular gift has been referenced in our family each and every Christmas since, often popping up in conversations around birthdays or anniversaries as well.  I’m about to let you in on some classic Reed lore.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and gift giving has always been extremely important to me.  While I love to receive gifts, I also love to give gifts to my family.  My parents always fostered this and even before I was earning my own money, they would give me money to go and buy gifts for them and for my grandparents.  When I was a kid, the gifts weren’t necessarily awesome, but I did try to think of things that they would like.  I remember once when I was about eleven years old, my best friend and I were dropped off at the Mission Valley Mall and I had about $20 to do all of my Christmas shopping; I was able to get gifts for my parents and all four of my grandparents at the drug store that was next to May Company.  I was so excited!  That was also the day that I knocked the mannequin over in May Company and broke the escalator and thought that I was going to be sent to jail.  But I digress…

In 1983, when I was eight years old and not old enough to go shopping without a grown-up, my grandma took me to K-Mart to do my Christmas shopping.  While I don’t remember what I got everyone else that year, I DO know what I got for my dad.  As Christmas morning approached, I couldn’t wait for him to open his gift from me.  I was So. Freaking. Excited.  When the moment finally arrived and he opened his present, he smiled, gave me a big hug, and thanked me.  He was now the proud owner of….

The Return of the Jedi Soundtrack.

You know, because he totally wanted that.  Or maybe, just maybe, I wanted that.  Let’s face it, while my pops didn’t mind the movies, there was only one Star Wars junkie in the house and she was eight years old.  I’m sure that, as parents do, he saw right through me.  But my dad is so wonderful; he acted like it was the best present that he’d ever received.  My grandma gets a few props too, for letting me purchase it “for him” and not making me put it back and think harder for something that he’d actually like.

That cassette lived in our brown, VW Vanagon for years.  My dad probably listened to it a time or two; I listened to it all the time.  And by the time the next Christmas rolled around, a new phrase had worked its way into our vocabulary.  Any time that someone in our family gave something to someone else that benefited them (the giver) in some way, it was referred to as a Return of the Jedi Gift.  It’s never said maliciously, and we all really do try to get gifts that the recipient will love.  It’s just our good-natured way of giving each other a hard time.  For example, if Mom bought some chocolate chip ice cream at the store so that everyone could have some, my butter pecan loving dad would tell her that she got us all a real Return of the Jedi gift.  If I went to the store tonight and bought some Peppermint Oreos for “us,” Andy would accuse me of getting a Return of the Jedi gift.  When I surprised Andy with a trip to Vegas for our 5th Anniversary, that was pretty much a Return of the Jedi gift.

It’s good-natured, it’s all in fun, but it’s a constant reminder of my childhood and the parents and grandparents that I was blessed with.

Oh, and the cassette?
Yep.  I’ve still got it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oily Thoughts

I don’t sleep well.  Like, it’s a serious problem.  In the last fifteen years or so, I can count one hand the number of times that I’ve slept through the night.  I’m not kidding; I don’t know what it’s like to go to bed at bedtime and then wake up when the alarm goes off.

Because I love sleep so much and was pretty desperate, back in January I decided to give Essential Oils a try.  I have a number of smart friends who use them (and swear by them).  So today I thought I’d share my ten favorite oils (so far).

1. Lavender.  I’m pretty picky about my lavender scents, but the one that I have (combined with a few other oils) does seem to help me sleep a little bit better

2. Lemongrass.  Not only is it a component in my homemade pain cream, but it’s one of my favorite scents to diffuse in the summertime.

3 Sandlewood.  This is what I would add to the lavender for bedtime if I could afford it.  So wonderful, yet one of the more pricey ones.

4 Breathe Again.  A blend that comes in a roller ball so that I can carry it in my purse and use it when I’m congested?  Yes please!

5 Mel-A.  The bomb for cold sores.  And probably a bunch of other things.  But I haven’t tried it for other things yet.

6 Bergamot.  Something new that I’m trying with the lavender.  I’m thinking that it might be helping.

7 Stress Away.  Hands down my favorite scent to apply.  I don’t know if it actually takes the stress away, but the smell makes me super happy and helps me to focus and calm down when I need it.

8 Peppermint.  I’ve used this for all things tummy.  Pretty effective.

9 Tranqil.  A sleepy-time blend in a roller ball…I apply this one at night while I’m diffusing the others.

10 Joy.  This is my very favorite to diffuse.  It makes the whole house smell so yummy wonderful.

There are a lot more oils out there; we'll see if I start to use them more in time.
I have some others, but I haven't necessarily figured out what to do with them.
For now, I'm pleased with these.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Easier Said Than Done

finish each day and be done with it.
you have done what you could.
some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
tomorrow is a new day.
you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered by your old nonsense.


This is the second magnet that I purchased for the refrigerator, and there are a couple of things that I really do love about it.  

First is the line about forgetting the blunders and absurdities as soon as you can; and secondly, the part about not beginning a new day with your old nonsense.  You see, while I may be good at a few things, I’m absolutely terrible when it comes to extending grace to myself. 

When I fall on my face and make mistakes, whether they are trivial little things or big, life-altering poor decisions, I have an extremely hard time letting them go.  I don’t mean that they should be completely forgotten immediately and that there should be no consequences for our choices, but at some point I need to ask forgiveness or choose a different path (whatever the situation warrants) and then move on.  Living in the perpetual funk of guilt isn’t healthy.  Beating myself up for the same thing over and over and over again isn’t going to help me make better choices the next time.  In fact, it seems that the more I tell my myself what a horrible person I am, the more I start to believe it.  And let's face it, nothing good is going to happen at that point.
So I love Emerson’s quote. 
I also love the way The Message puts 1 Peter 5:7:
Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.

Living carefree before God…how freeing of an idea is that?

So I can cast all of my cares His way, made adjustments to my life as needed, and then begin each new day without the weight of my old nonsense.

It certainly sounds like a better alternative to guilt and regret. 
If only it weren't so hard to put in to action.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The One About John

I know I've kind of cheated with pictures these last few days.  Oh well, life is like that sometimes.  I'll start writing again tomorrow.  I just couldn't write posts about our weekend with Matthew without giving John a few minutes too...

Like I said last night, I am so thankful that the boys chose schools that are reasonable close to each other.  They're only about 100 miles apart, so whenever we are visiting one, we generally see the other as well.  As you know, we spent the weekend with Matthew, so today we drove up to see John.

My firstborn.
One who gives the best hugs ever.
A guy who would do anything for you.  
Someone who never lets life's curve balls get him down.
The one who just found out that he made the Dean's List last quarter.
And a guy who never turns down the Never Ending Pasta Bowl.
The first one to capture my heart completely nearly twenty years ago; one who will have it forever.  
My John.

Who doesn't love loading up on carbs at 11:00am?


Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Day in Pictures

We started the day at our favorite
coffee joint in Carpenteria.
The next stop was Crushcakes.
It was tasty, but I decided that my
Limoncello Cupcakes are just as good.

The water was so blue today.
Top Gun Part 2?  :-)

For some reason, I love train tracks.

We stumbled across a store closing sale at Haggen's.
Hooray for 50% off!

After our morning activities, we picked up the kid.
He'd suggested coming back to the hotel to play games,
but he promptly settled in for a nap instead.
I guess college wears him out!

Once he woke up, it was time to eat.
Taking a page of out his brother's playbook,
he chose to go to Outback.

After dinner, we came back to the hotel, saved the world again,
(dang, we're good at that game), and then took one
last picture before returning him to school.

We walked over eight miles today.
Now I'm curled up with a drink in my hand and a football game on TV.  
It's been a great two days up here visiting Matthew; tomorrow we get to see John.  
I'm so thankful that they ended up at schools that are reasonably close together. 
Yay for long weekends, visits with your kids, and time away with your hubby!


Friday, November 6, 2015

The One About Matthew

I quoted a movie line last November that said, in essence, the hardest part of parenting is letting go.  I can't say definitively that it's the hardest; I’m willing to concede that there could be something more difficult down the road.  However it’s certainly been the hardest part for me so far.

When our firstborn left three years ago, it was rough because everything was new; it was a season of firsts.   First college visits, first applications, first time one of the littles left the roost, first holiday or special occasion without the four of us being together...first everything.  Oh, and it was even the first serious illness!  It never occurred to me when we left him that he'd contract and fight something significant that would entail hospital visits, narcotics, and the eventual medical leave of absence from school.  There were so many firsts and it really did take a while to get used to the new dynamic.

When our younger son left this past August, it was brutal in a whole new way, as everything seemed like a last.  All throughout his senior year, really, I struggled with the lasts.  Last birthday (for me) with any of my children living with me, last Mother's Day with a kid home, last drive to the high many lasts.  While (thankfully) they come home to visit, it's never quite the same once they're adults and have been living on their own.  We truly did close the door to a significant chapter in our lives and it's been rather difficult to navigate at times.  It's been very hard to let go.

I must say though, there’s a certain peace that comes with knowing that your child is in the best possible place.  (This applies to John too, but I'm going to speak of Matthew now.)

When we began looking for a new church home almost four years ago, I had no idea that the Lord was already setting His plan for Matthew's (college) life into motion.  Looking back, there were so many things that worked together and led Matthew to Westmont College.  It really was (and continues to be) an answer to prayer.  I miss Matthew terribly, but I can honestly say that he is at Westmont because Christ used some phenomenal people and opened some pretty big doors to allow him to be there.  He's right where God wants him to be, of that I am certain.  And that is a pretty wonderful thing.

I'm so thankful to be up here for the weekend.  I love him so very much.  

Somebody is tired and not in the mood to have his picture taken!
This was right before we headed in to Multivariable Calculus and my head exploded.

After dinner we had to come back to the hotel and save the world.
You can sleep well tonight; all four diseases have been eradicated.
You're welcome.

There's the face I love.

The tables have turned!  I'm the one who is tired now!

Such a great day; I can't wait to see what tomorrow's adventures bring!
(Spoiler alert....the next few posts might just be more pictures.  Don't say I didn't warn you.)