Category Archives: family

Christmases Past, Present, and Future

Merry Christmas, one and all! ‘Tis the season to reflect on Christmases past, enjoy Christmas present, and dream a bit about Christmas future.

Christmases past:

Every single Christmas during my childhood, I watched as my mom sprayed the (always real) Christmas tree with noxious white spray from a can. Lord only knows how many of her children’s brain cells were unknowingly killed over the years. But the tree always looked spectacular.

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Opening presents on Christmas Eve: Everyone at the same time. It was sheer, giddy, joyful, chaos.

Flash forward to my first Christmas with my in-laws, about 16 years later: Opening presents on Christmas morning. One person, one gift, at a time. This process took what felt like hours upon hours (that first year anyway). Especially with several in-laws who chose to open their gifts carefully to preserve the beautiful gift wrapping for future Christmases.

The funny thing about this, however, is that in the following years, on those Christmases when it was just the four of us at home (Hubs, me, and our two spawn), we chose to continue the Christmas morning gift opening, with one of playing “Santa”, tearing into each gift, one family member at a time.

Then there was that one Christmas spent at my in laws (about 2007?), who were living  in Iowa at the time, where we all gathered around the Christmas tree and listened to the tapes of Hubs and his younger sister that had been produced when they were kids for their grandparents who lived in Florida. Hubs and his sister told stories about what they were into at the time, like 4-H club and horses.  Listening to these tapes gave me precious insight into their childhoods and made me feel like a member of the Davis tribe. And we howled with laughter the whole time.

Christmas Present: Now we are two empty nesters winging it in a new state. Things are simpler, quieter, now. But we will make the very best of it nonetheless. We will be watching Christmas movies, making and eating high carb foods (we are currently in the throes of decimating a roasting pan of homemade Chex Mix) and (yahoo!) going out to the movies and out for dinner. And of course, missing our kiddos. And our almost 4 year old grandson. Like crazy.

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This year’s Christmas tree

 

Christmas Future: We will be warm and cozy together in our cabin in the woods. There will be lots of Christmas lights inside and out. Christmas music will play softly in the background. Every family member, young and old,  will be there that can be there, God willing. Our two dogs, one a little pipsqueak mutt and the other a black lab, will greet guests upon their arrival. There will be good cheer and laughter, catching up, playing games. Ice cream drinks and hot toddies and lots of fun appetizers will be served. As a group, we will watch Christmas Vacation. And later, travel into town in a caravan of cars to see all the holiday lights. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I’d say I can’t wait, but that would take away from enjoying Christmas present.

I hope that each and every one of you have the merriest of Christmases!

 

 

One Word Prompt: Enjoy

When I first started blogging, I often checked the daily word prompt, hoping for inspiration for a fresh and witty blog post. For the most part, I found myself coming up empty with the word of the day. So I would click for a new word. Ponder it for a moment. Nada. Then I’d clicked again, certain the next word would unleash the uber creative writer lurking inside of me. Bupkis. 

Having several sort of “meh” moments this week, it occurred to me that what I most need to do right now, in this moment, is to enjoy life. Savor it. Make the most of the ordinariness of it all. Laugh. Play. Enjoy. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “enjoy” is 1) to take pleasure in and 2) to keep, control, or experience as one’s own.

For my purposes this weekend, I’m going to focus on 1) what I’m enjoying, 2) who I’m enjoying it with and 3) how I’m enjoying my chosen subject of enjoyment. With the Christmas holiday upon us, this is surely not too complicated a task.

The what: Our church Christmas pageant rehearsal this afternoon. Hubs and I accepted a request from the mother of the writer/producer of this year’s production to play Mary and Joseph. I find this absolutely hilarious! Here we are, him just a couple of years and a few months from turning 50, and me, careening towards 51, playing Joseph (who I always presumed was in his 30’s when Jesus was born) and Mary (just a teen at the time). Hubs comment upon receiving this request was “I could see us playing Abraham and Sarah-but Joseph and Mary? Really?!”

More of the what: Watching Christmas movies. Eating good food plucked from our beloved crockpot. Making more Christmas cookies whilst jamming out to my favorite Christmas cd (Michael Buble). The simple things. Nothing fancy for this duo this weekend.

The Who: Hubs, of course. Duh. I intend to find that Santa hat he dons when he’s feeling especially merry during the holiday season. I’m going to insist he wear it for my enjoyment. He will tell me that his favorite Christmas song is “Silver and Gold” from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. He, the only human in this family of four who doesn’t possess a sweet tooth, will tell me that his favorite Christmas cookies are the spritz ones. He will mimic the character’s lines while we watch Christmas Vacation, telling me his favorite one is at the end, when the policeman tells the grinchy old boss that good old cousin Eddie kidnapped and brought to the Griswold’s with a big red bow tied around his torso, “That’s pretty low, Mister, if I had a rubber hose…”.

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Santa Hubs, circa 2004

The How: With a joyful spirit. With music in the background. Dressed in comfortable clothes (wisdom of being 50 is that comfort trumps fashion). With a sense of playfulness.

What will you be enjoying this weekend? This Christmas season? As one of my Christmas wishes is to receive more comments on this blog, please share with me what you are or will be enjoying!

Gratitudes

It seems fitting to me, with it being November, the month of giving thanks and all, that I share what I’m grateful for, aka my gratitudes.

At this particular moment in time, I thankfully have an abundance of things for which I am sincerely grateful. 

Without any further ado, here we go:

#1: I am grateful for employment.  I started my new job last Wednesday, working part time as a program assistant in a non-profit serving senior citizens. And all signs indicate this is going to be a very good fit for me.

#2:  I am grateful for our early Thanksgiving celebration with our two lovable spawn. We had a wonderful time with them last weekend, when they came out to visit us here in Colorado. We had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, spent time cracking each other up playing board games, and saw a few local sites. It was all so very good for this mom’s heart.

#3: I am grateful for my friends, both old and new. Like my friend Kevin, who is like a brother to me, who appreciated the Google playlist I made for him when he came for a visit last month. Like my newest girlfriend here in Colorado, who has such a good heart and a fun loving personality. I’m looking forward to spending more time with her.

#4: The mild climate here in Colorado. Let’s just say I don’t recall being overheated in a long sleeved shirt outside in mid-November when I lived in Wisconsin or Minnesota. It’s actually supposed to be 70 degrees here on Thanksgiving!

#5: I am grateful for Hubs’ support of me working again, which he demonstrates by doing things like staying on top of the laundry and the dishes, and cleaning the house.

#6: I am grateful for our church family. They are a kind, welcoming, supportive and faithful bunch.

#7:  I am grateful for nature shows on t.v. Hubs and I have allowed ourselves to consume an unhealthy amount of MSNBC the last couple of months. Nature shows, like the one we watched about sea otters the other night, are such a welcome and delightful respite from all of that bad news.

#8: I am grateful for blogging. Not just the process of writing and publishing, but the community. Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been reading more than writing due to time constraints from having the job I am so grateful for. It is a bit of a Catch-22, so my future posts will not be as frequent as a result. Here’s a few posts from other blogger’s that I particularly enjoyed that I think you should check out:

This one inspired me to sprinkle cinnamon on my hot cocoa and it was fabulous!

Perfect mug of cocoa

This one introduced me to the concept of Hygge, which I really appreciate!

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What are you grateful for? Please comment and share your gratitudes!

 

10 Fall Favorites

 

Pumpkin desserts…mmmm. I have collected a good number of  recipes for delectable pumpkin treats over the years. Like pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin pie cake, and pumpkin ice cream dessert. The one I’ll be making this week, in honor of my sister and brother in law coming to visit us in Colorado for the first time ever, is Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt cake. I’m more than happy to share any or all of these recipes. All you have to do is ask!

Beautiful fall colors outside. The colors of the changing leaves this season to me are breathtaking. I imagine when Hubs and I are old and gray grayer we will be one of those couples who takes a vacay out East to marvel at the spectacular fall foliage there.

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Rocky Mountain National Park, September 2016. Photo courtesy of Hubs

Premieres of my favorite t.v. shows. After a summer of ho-hum t.v. viewing, I embrace the fall t.v. season. This is Us premieres tonight (btw, am so happy that Sterling K. Brown won the best actor emmy. His character is the heart of this show). The Good Place, Hubs and my favorite new show from last fall, has already premiered and it continues to be the most awesome show since like, ever. Then there’s Scandal, which sadly is on its last season. I can’t wait to see how Olivia Pope is going to behave sans white hat. You gladiators know what I’m talking about. And good old Grey’s Anatomy, one of my all time favorites. I sure hope the writers finally wind up the love story between Alex and Jo once and for all.

Halloween!!! After approximately 18 years of having a kid-focused Halloween (aka going back and forth ad nauseum with our spawn about what freaking costume they want and hiding candy that I bought too early that was always found and mostly consumed before the big day), Hubs and I have re-claimed this holiday for ourselves. Last year, we dressed up as Walter White and Jesse from Breaking Bad. Picture will not be made available. Complete with fake blue crystal meth (Hubs, being a scientist, relished the opportunity to create this product). This year, I’m thinking either Samantha and Darren from Bewitched because I tend to have witchy tendencies and he is a great straight man of course. Or Peg and Al Bundy from Married With Children though I’m not sure I can pull off spandex pants in public. 

The cool air in the house as I’m sleeping. Nothing says “Nighty Night, Sleep Tight” to me than breathing in the cool air from our bedroom window while spooning with Hubs under soft, freshly laundered bedding.

Nesting. The cool chill in the air makes me go inward. As in, I crave the creature comforts of home right now more than any other time of year. I tend to come up with totally awesome home improvement/decorating ideas this time of year, often to the chagrin of Hubs. I get a huge kick out of going through boxes of fall themed home decor items which Hubs lovingly refers to as either crap or junk, depending on his mood. I am pleased to report, however, that last weekend he and I started a kitchen pantry re-organizing project which has weirdly filled me with glee.

Talk show Halloween hijinks or pranks. I discovered these on You Tube a couple of years ago. Here’s a sample:

 

Don’t forget Ellen’s Haunted House prank

Vikings football. Until about 3 years ago, I could not have cared less about football. While Hubs has been a huge Vikings fan all his lifelong life, I essentially focused on making and/or eating football fare like chips and dip, little smokies, and pumpkin bars instead of trying to follow what I believed to be a hopelessly confusing and complicated sport. After a couple of seasons of focus and patience, I now have a good rudimentary understanding of the game. I even found that it is possible, heck even enjoyable, to cheer on our home state’s team while simultaneously snacking my heart out.

Fall clothes. Oh, comfy, cozy, soft sweaters. And fleece! Lovely colors to wear like plum, burgundy, gray, and the always flattering black. With the temps rapidly falling here in Colorado, I’ll be bringing my fall pieces out in no time.

Getting company. For several years now, fall has signaled a flurry of guests coming to visit us, whether we lived here or in Wisconsin. My sister and three of her best girlfriends would come to Wisconsin for a 2 day girls trip during which we would stay in a hotel in downtown La Crosse, and get our fill of shopping at the local boutiques and shops during the day and slurp down our favorite adult beverages while scarfing down appetizers at nearby restaurant/bars in the evenings.  Friends or other family often come to visit during the fall as well, to celebrate Oktoberfest (which is a La Crosse, Wisconsin annual several day long party, complete with lederhosen and plenty of beer infused revelry).

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Look what I can do! I made my own meme!

 

And so it begins

Hubs and I will be leaving this week for a road trip to visit family and friends in our beloved states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I may or may not have opportunities to do any blog posts while we are away, but I will get right back into it upon our return to our still new Colorado home.

I have quite a mixed bag of emotions heading into this adventure: excitement, anxiety, and guilt are at the top of the list. I’m excited about the opportunities so see all those people I love and miss so much. I’m excited about presenting my mother in law, sister in law, and a dear friend their birthday gifts (all are in the month of July). I’m excited to give my dad a box of his favorite treats when we visit him in his new home. I’m excited to spend time visiting our friends at our favorite watering holes, restaurants, and backyards. I’m beyond excited to see our eldest daughter and our grandson.

I’m anxious knowing that this will be the first time at my parent’s home with mom living there alone.  It’s going to be so strange. I’m anxious about how my dad will react to our presence, as I’ve been made aware that he is farther into dementia than he was when I last saw him in April. I like to think he will know who Hubs and I are, but what if he doesn’t? I don’t know how to prepare emotionally for this possibility. I don’t want to cry in front of him because I think that will be confusing and upsetting for him. I must for his sake keep it together. Dementia is such a bastard.

The guilt will inevitably sneak it’s way into my brain too, I expect. Here I am, living the dream in wonderful, beautiful Colorado while my family is experiencing the hardship of my parents aging and the stress that comes with caregiving. I’m an unemployed (by choice for now anyway) housewife (domestic goddess?) with the time to pursue my love of creative writing via this blog and enjoy a decent social life.  Currently my life is virtually stress-free, which is a new state of being for me. I worry that my family might think “Who does she think she is?”.

But go forth we will. Much time and energy has been spent by Hubs and I in the planning of this vacation. That fact ought to optimize the chance that things will go smoothly.

I will savor the good times, which I have faith will be plentiful. Like having chats with Hubs in the car about the past, the present, and what hopes we have for our future. Listening to Al Franken’s audio book “Giant of the Senate”. Listening to the plethora of channels on our Sirius XM. Sitting in motel hot tubs with a cold beer at the end of a long day in the car. Trying new restaurants. Sitting out on my parent’s front porch reminiscing about the good old times with mom and Hubs. Morning walks along the shores of Lake Superior. Taking the dumpling (our 3 year old grandson) out for ice cream and to the zoo. Splashing in the hotel pool with him and reading him the Sesame Street book I recently bought. Having a nice long, heart to heart chat with my beloved eldest daughter.  Sitting out on my in laws deck, chatting the afternoon away sipping wine and smelling the barbeque my father in law is cooking on the grill. Having girl time with my sweet sister in law, laughing and shopping our way through Stillwater, Mn. Catching up with dear friends while sampling craft beers. Spending time at one of my very favorite places on earth: my sister’s home on the Baptism River. These simple things in life are what makes it worth living.

I am so fortunate to have all these people that I love so much and who love me back. I hope all of you, dear readers, are as blessed as I. Happy summer everyone!