Sunday, November 30, 2014


Thirty days of posting!  I did it!  The posts might not have been of much quality some days, but I am pleased with myself for getting something in writing each day. I had anticipated this being one of my weaker years.  I'm in a very weird place right now.  Introspection has shown that there are really two big factors contributing to my perpetual funk.  

The first is the coming of the empty nest.  In less time than it takes to cook a baby, we'll have no kids living at home.  I realize that this is part of life and that everyone goes through it; I don't think that I have the market cornered on loving and missing your kids.  It's possible that being an only child (of an only child) has shaped me a little differently than many though; I cling to those close to me very tightly because there are so few people close to me.  The value that I place on family time is exorbitant.  It's made for some wonderful traditions and memories over the years, but it is also making the coming changes very hard.  

Similarly, the other big factor is family related as well.  I'm having a rather difficult time with the changing dynamic in my family due to my mom's illness.  I won't get in to all of the details as some are personal, and some will just sound like me whining.  I'll just say that I'm not dealing with it very well and leave it at that.  

Both of those things, as well as a few other issues, have kept me in a continuous state of yuck for a while now.  That's why I've tried so hard this month to take my eyes off of myself and focus on being thankful.  It's harder to wallow in your own junk when you're trying to keep a stream of thanksgiving going.  I think I'm on the right track; I was given a great reminder this morning when our Associate Pastor quoted Philippians 2:3-5.

"Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had."

What perfect words to keep me going!  As I enter this Christmas season with substantially more baggage than I usually carry around, I was admonished to keep my attitude in check.  Instead of thinking about myself and what I'm dealing with and keeping my eyes inward, I am to look at how I can serve others and lift them up!  It's such a freeing thought, really.  Whether it's serving my family, my friends, or complete strangers, I need to be mindful of opportunities that I have to make a difference for other people.  I'm excited! 

My final thought, since it relates to my current situation, is a movie quote that I heard the other night.  Bonnie Hunt says it at the end of Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (I may have been watching it and crying a little bit the other night).  It's a beautiful quote and it helped me put things into perspective, even if for just a little while.  I'll leave you with her time-appropriate words, and wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very Merry Christmas!  Thank you for taking this journey with me.  -xoxo

Letting go is the hardest thing you can do as a parent.  
You have to settle with the past, engage in the present, and believe in the future.  
That vacation at Lake Winnetka reminded Tom and me that 
we're always learning as parents, and that the bond is forever.
Even as the kids grow up and venture out on their own, 
we'll always be with them and they'll always be with us...
because life is a voyage that is homeward bound.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Almost There

You might think that the title of tonight's post is in reference to the coming end of NaBloPoMo.  If so, you'd be partly correct.  Those who are especially perceptive will note that it is also a (frequently quoted in our house) line from the trench run in the greatest movie of all time - Star Wars.

There has been much ballyhoo about the upcoming movies in the last few days.  I've been trying very hard not to read articles that surface on the line (sorry, I recently re-watched The Internship); I don't want to be swayed by public opinion or come across any potential spoilers.  I was quite unhappy when Lucas sold the franchise to Disney and I was only guardedly happy when I heard that they were indeed going to make a new set of movies. 

Don't get me wrong...if done correctly, I'd be giddy as a schoolgirl!  I was just unsure if I could trust anyone to really do it justice.  Let's face it, Episodes I and III weren't great.  Parts of them were downright awful.  Episode III was pretty enjoyable, although it did forever skew my perception of Darth Vader - I wasn't thrilled about that.  But really...are three more really necessary?  From a money making standpoint it totally makes sense.  They want to get yet another generation hooked.  But for this child of the 80's who is a purist, I'm a little worried. 

My initial reaction to J.J. Abrams was positive; I like what he did with the Star Trek reboots.  But I was still very unsure.  It's like I really really wanted to be excited but I was still holding my breath.  And then the trailer came out yesterday. 

Sigh.  Have you seen it? 

My men and I all huddled around my phone and anxiously watched it.  For the first thirty seconds we honestly thought it was a joke, and that someone had spoofed the real thing.  Then for a few seconds it looked like a video game commercial.  Only at the end did we realize that it was indeed the actual trailer.  One of my men was quite charitable and said that "as long as it's better than Phantom Menace it'll be okay."  The rest of us weren't so sure.

My apprehension was further validated by various posts and reviews that we read this morning.  Look up William Shatner's various tweets about the trailer.  They're pretty funny.  And then I saw this:

So wrong.  
Not the quote that someone wrote, but the fact that there is a new movie coming out and in only 24 hours people are already not taking it seriously.  My worst fears are already coming true.  Star Wars should never be mocked, and it's quite sad that as a franchise, it's come to this.

I will undoubtedly see the new movies.  I'll probably even brave the crowds on opening night.  
But deep down inside, I'm very worried.  Kind of like how my dad never wants to have another  cherry coke from the soda fountain in the little town where he spent his summers as a kid because he's afraid that it wouldn't live up to the awesomeness of his memory.  That pretty much sums up how I feel about the new movies.  I'll see them.  But I'm very afraid that at the end of the day, when looked at with a critical eye, I'm not going to like them.

And that makes this Star Wars junkie very sad.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Making Of A Singer

Today I'm taking you all the way back to last Friday. 

You may recall that I posted pics of the Mr. and I in Santa Monica.  Well, the reason that we were in Santa Monica with multiple days to kill is that kid #2 was selected to and participating in the SCVA Men's Honor Choir.  He had two days of rehearsals (over 9 hours each day!) and then a concert on Saturday evening.  

Before I post a couple of pictures from the event,
I thought I'd share just a few memories from his musical journey.  

One of his earlier musicals.
He was very concerned with the hole in his sock,
but he recovered in time for his solo.

My sweet, enthusiastic angel.
Had to include a picture of Joseph; my eldest was quite the performer too!

Not quite as rambunctious, but still doing all of the motions!

Trying his hand at acting - the first time in a dramatic role!
He was the nerdy professor in this particular play.

Helping to lead worship at VBS.

Debut as a high school singer - a member of the Men's Ensemble.

His first season with the Chamber Choir.

The ever-faithful fan club.

Swiped this one from someone's FB page!
Matthew and six of his choir buddies - each of them made
one of the SCVA Honor Choirs!

Words cannot express how happy I am that Matthew has pursued singing.  It makes my heart so very happy and so incredibly proud.  He has a beautiful voice and I love it when I am able to pick him out in a song.  For SCVA, he was in the Men's Choir (they also have a Women's Choir and a Mixed Choir); we couldn't have been more thrilled.  There's just something about a good, quality men's choir.  As I watched him sing and listened to the beauty that those young men produced, I was literally moved to tears. 

One final check before it was time to head to the concert.

My illegal picture!
You weren't supposed to take pictures, but my silly attempt
yielded this funny result.  You can actually see his face twice -
once with his eyes opened, and once with them closed.
I'm looking forward to the arrival of the professional photos.

These three were all in the Men's Choir.

I look old and horrible and show every bit of my lack of make-up.
But I love my boy. 
And I'm now shorter than he is.

Keep singing, Matthew.
Always keep singing.

Every day, for the rest of your life -
whether you're in a concert hall or your living room.
Make music in some way every single day.

It will help you express joy in the good times,
and it will bring you comfort and peace through the rough times.

Don't ever stop.

I love you.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Random Thoughts As I Wait For The Pies To Cool

I really do think that I broke my finger last week. 

I just listened to part of a wildly inappropriate song during some movie credits.  No idea what the movie was - we turned it off.

Three pies, a massive apple turnover, fudge, and peppermint bark...probably way too much dessert for six people.

I love my new Christmas lights.  SDG&E will love me since they're the old energy-sucking kind.

My nephew said that if I set up an account, he'll Snapchat with me.  Do I want to?  Could be fun.  I'd love to keep in contact with him more. 

My husband knew most of the answers on Jeopardy this evening.  He should go and win us some money.

I love that I get to have Thanksgiving all over again tomorrow.  I can't wait for the mashed potatoes.  I hope my parents bought enough butter, because it really does take a mountain of butter.

I skipped the gym today, so I should probably to in the morning.

I'm happy that I can hear both of my children upstairs.  Sunday is going to come too soon.

My mister will be traveling next week.  I'm going to be insanely lonely. 

I really should start Christmas shopping.  I could to go to Target right now.  I was tempted a few minutes ago.  Then I thought better of it.  I don't like shopping or people.

Watched two movie trailers yesterday (before watching Divergent) and both movies had high school kids having sex.  Really?  I mean, I know that they do, I'm not stupid.  But do we have to advocate it so boldly and make it seem so nonchalant? 

I miss having acrylic nails.  They really made my ugly hands look better.

College waiting for #2 seems more stressful than it did for #1.  Two of the nine accepted him already; would the rest please follow suit?

I don't want to go back to work on Monday.  Can I just call in sick until January?

Goodnight, my friends.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Last List

For the final Ten on Tuesday, and since I’ll officially be able to turn on my Christmas lights in less than forty-eight hours, I thought I’d share ten of my favorite holiday traditions.   

1.  The Bowl Schedule.  I mentioned this in my football post a few weeks back, but the Bowl Schedule going up always means that the holidays really are here.  I love it!

2.  Nachos.  Nachos are pretty much my favorite thing ever; I’d eat them every day if possible.  Knowing that I can’t, the Christmas break is always especially exciting for me as that is the one time of year that I buy the big can of Que Bueno from Costco.  We eat lots of nachos over the break!

3.  The Way That We Unwrap Gifts.  We’ve never been one of those “everyone tear into your gifts” type of family.  Gift opening takes hours as the six of us (my parents come over) take turns, each opening one gift at a time.  After a sufficient amount of oohing and ahhing, the next person may begin.  I love it.

4.  My Santa Rule.  Obviously when the kids were little, Santa couldn’t come until they were fast asleep.  He’s still like that.  Santa can’t come, therefore the stockings can’t be filled, until they’re in bed.  I love being the last one up, putting the finishing touches on everything.

5.  My Christmas Tree.  I love, love, love my Christmas tree; it makes me so happy!

6.  Shopping With My Dad.  Every year, for as long as I can remember, my dad and I have a shopping date.  He takes me to dinner, and then we go shopping for my mom.  I look forward to it every year.

7.  Christmas Eve Breakfast.  Ever since the boys were babies, we all get up super early (6am…that’s early for holiday time) and go to breakfast.  Since December 24th is actually my favorite day of the year, it’s the perfect way for me to start the day.

8.  Peanut Butter Balls.  I only make them in December and I don’t give out the recipe; a true family favorite.  They will be loaded in both the fridge and the freezer the day that John gets home for Christmas break.

9.  Christmas Movies.  There are seven that I must watch every year; there are more that I watch every couple of years.  Can’t wait.

10.  Stille Nacht by Mannheim Steamroller.  It’s my ultimate, favorite Christmas song.  If I hear it coming on the radio, I immediately turn it off; I avoid it for the entire season.  Then, when everything is done and everyone is in bed on Christmas Eve, at the end of my favorite day, I get ready for bed, crawl in, turn off the lights, turn on the song, and close my eyes.  I let the beauty of the music wash over me.  It’s the only one of my traditions that is truly, solely for me.  It’s my moment of perfect peace.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Wall

A few weeks ago, folks celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  As I saw photos and video clips on the news, I was reminded of the time that we spent in Berlin; it’s hard to believe that it’s been six years!

History has always been my favorite subject and back when I was in middle school/high school, I fell in love with Europe and the World War II/post-war eras.  I’m not really sure why, it just resonated with me in some weird way.  I’m half German; at least I’m embracing the culture of my people!  (Andy says that’s where I get my stubbornness and my constant need for order and efficiency.)  I’m would never classify myself as “a reader,” but I’ve devoured countless books on the topic.  If it takes place in Europe between the 30’s and the 50’s or 60’s, I’ll read it.  Same with movies.  I was one happy lady when I finally had the opportunity to visit Germany.

My favorite place?  Berlin.  We were only there for a couple of days and nights; I wish we could have stayed for a month!  I was so happy there and I will always cherish the memories of the time spent there with my Mister.  It’s my happy placeI'm not kidding about that - ask my masseuse!  The food, sights, romantic nights, walks in the rain, countless photos…we spent part of the time on our own and part of the time with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law (who is German).  It was absolutely perfect. 

One of the highlights for me was a walking tour that we took of famous historic Nazi/WWII sites.  We spent several hours traipsing around the city visiting all of these incredible sites and buildings that I had spent a lifetime reading about.   History came alive!  We felt the lingering oppressive air in parts of (what used to be) East Berlin.  We touched bullet holes that remain in the walls more than sixty years later.  We saw memorials to those who lost their lives.  We read the texts from a press conference in which a Party official said, "Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten!"  (No one has the intention of building a wall!)  But that was clearly a lie.  We saw the Wall.  And although there is no way for us to comprehend the enormity of what that meant to those who lived on the other side, separated from their loved ones, we stood there and soaked it all in; we breathed history and we imagined what it would have been like to be living there in another time.  

So today, as I ponder the recent anniversary of the opening of the borders, I remember those who gave their lives attempting to flee and instigate change, and I’m thankful for those who helped to bring an end to a terrible time in history.  I pray that it can be a reminder of lessons learned and that history won't repeat itself.  I am grateful that I had the opportunity to walk those very streets and I am ever hopeful to one day return for an extended stay. 

In my own very minuscule way, I remember the Wall.