A white Christmas, indeed! I blame my oldest who whined a couple weeks ago that it never snowed on Christmas. She didn't even remember that she complained after she drove home on the slippery roads from work Christmas Eve. It was lovely, though, and added to our Christmas and didn't keep us from our planned activities.
We had a lot of family time this year. It seemed like it was more than normal, but it may have just been because we have less family than we did a year ago. However, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Hilarity often ensued as we relived memories of Christmases past.
I felt a bit like a tour director as I ticked off our planned activities and the timing of it all. I'm nothing if flexible, though. None of it came off as planned, but it worked out anyway. We planned to eat Christmas dinner at Shari's and have pie shakes. I guess I thought we would hit the restaurant after we visited grandpa, but no one was hungry after our "flash picnic" (think flash mob, but picnic style).
The movie was a challenge unto itself. We showed up at a theater of our choice where the timing was just right only to find the only seats available were in the very front row. Off to another theater we went. After the movie, we headed to Shari's, but the line was out the door. We went to a Chinese restaurant with the same result.
Apparently our new tradition was not unique between the theater and the restaurants. So we came home and enjoyed leftovers from our Christmas Eve dinner. But it was no slouch with prime rib, candied yams, and green bean casserole. The chocolate cake topper was a bit over the edge, but we pushed through.
We watched a couple favorite animated Christmas movies and headed to bed.
Nothing like family togetherness.
T'was the morning of Christmas and all through the house
the adult children were sleeping and so was my spouse
Santa and I shared coffee with a flair,
we added some eggnog and a drop or two with care.
With everyone still all snuggled in their beds
Santa and I had visions of hilarity dancing in our heads.
He snorted, I guffawed, we rolled on the floor
as the stories went on and Santa tripped out the door.
The year as we knew it was coming to an end
We certainly weren't sorry and hoped for a better trend.
A couple loved ones we lost, MS had a headlining show,
My husband caught a race car but only needed a tow.
We're just worn out and ready for a fresh start
But happy we are that we aren't torn apart.
Though it's been a rough year, for sure that is true
however, I wouldn't call it bad, just very blue.
As Santa and I reviewed the year over our nip
We talked of the coming year and many planned trips.
I told him we're excited for the light to come back
to start the year full, for nothing we lack.
We drank the last dregs in the bottom of our cups
I told Santa I was grateful for my family's presence and love.
He bid me farewell with a touch of his nose,
"Happy Christmas to all!" and into the air the reindeer rose.
Weight Watchers made some exciting changes a couple weeks ago. There are several foods they've added that are zero points, but they've also taken points away from each member to make up for those zero point foods.
For some of the members it seemed too confining, but I'm loving it. Seafood is free, legumes are free, chicken breast, and turkey breast are free, eggs, too. I love being able to have a "cheap" snack and it seems like the just kick in the pants I needed to move me on my way to my goal.
It's fun to explore the possibilities, especially when out at a restaurant. I had the most amazing scallop dish at the Prime Steakhouse in Redmond: grilled scallops over polenta, kale and a balsamic reduction.
At the meeting some members were discussing a bean salad they purchased at Trader Joe's called Balela. Apparently it's yummy and low in points because of the beans and vegetables. Then someone posted this recipe on Facebook. I haven't had the Trader Joe's version, but this was very good, even if my family didn't like it (I didn't offer very hard - more for me later).
Middle Eastern Chickpea and Black Bean Salad
Happy Winter Solstice!
It's today, which means the light will begin to come back to us. My husband is also off work through the holiday now, too. With him home I feel like I hibernate until after New Year's and I get back on a schedule. We come out of our dens as work and school restarts with a fresh look at life.
I'm going to have a lot to figure out next year. My husband just ordered his retirement package. That would be all the paperwork to initiate retirement. The big day is tentatively February 28th. It's pretty exciting and he's very ready. But I'll have to make sure we don't treat it as a terminal Christmas holiday.
I am ready to be done with his 3:30 am wake up time and I don't even get up with him. But I feel bad for him and he's getting worn out. It will be nice for him to retire a bit early and have many years to play with his cars instead of putting all his energy into his job. Plus we can RV at our leisure now. We won't have to come home on Sundays with all the other people racing back to their employment. You should see our camping schedule already. I'm so excited!
I have to point out that I'm much younger than my husband. And though what I occupy my time with now doesn't bring in much money, it's important to me and at least I can take it on the road. I am glad I won't be working a 9 to 5 job while he's retired. Mostly, though, I want everyone to know I'm much younger so I can keep my status as a younger woman. It's okay, you can laugh.
Let there be light, indeed.
Yesterday was the last of my Christmas errands. This is a completely relaxing year for me. I suppose there are many layers to my casual attitude this year.
The biggest one being my Mother-in-law's passing, which greatly reduced my Christmas tasks. I don't have to download an entire year's blog and have it printed for her, I'm not making her a calendar of our family's activities, we aren't making big plans to gather at her house for her traditional celebration.
Truthfully, I still can't believe she's gone, but my brain has definitely geared down with the concept. There are some people, though, who seem to always be in your life because their presence was large. She would be one of those people, though I was sad to see her go, I also understand she was ready to leave.
I wrapped up my Christmas Eve menu we'll share with my mother before we go to church. My family and I will go to my father-in-law for a short time. I hate to think he would be alone the whole of Christmas day even if he can't remember who we are or even that it's Christmas. We'll visit for a bit, bring and share his favorite food, smoked salmon, then be on our way. We're going to find a movie to enjoy with just the four of us.
We are exhausted from the journey of watching someone die, so my mother and sister will move their "orphans" party to my cousins house instead of mine. There is a lot to download from our year and we are looking forward to a quiet Christmas.
Yesterday's news about the derailed train was heart wrenching. What should have been a momentous event became a tragic page in the history books. It's disheartening to think of those who died and their families who had no reason not to expect their loved ones to return home. It's also sad to think of the people who were injured in the accident or saw it happen and how they will have months or years of emotional trauma to recover from.
It's happenings such as those that remind me how precious and precarious life is. I'm tossed back to this summer remembering how close I was to losing my husband in a car accident. We, however, did come home.
I've had a note for quite awhile to write about comedian Patton Oswalt whose wife, Michelle McNamara unexpectedly died. He has a special on Netflix about how he and his seven year old daughter dealt with the loss and made it through the first days and months. But even more I wanted to talk about his wife, who was a true crime writer. She researched murders and wrote about the victims and the cases. With her life immersed in tragedy she had a motto - a way she tried to live her life: It's chaos, be kind.
To me it means go forth and remember we are all members of the human race. We all have our tragedies and struggles. We need to handle each other with care and remind each other that we are worthy and we are loved.
When something horrific happens like the train wreck, it shakes our foundation even if we weren't involved. We take a look inside ourselves and ask the hard questions that perhaps direct our lives. What do we answer ourselves? How do we conduct ourselves going forward?
It's chaos, be kind.
My daughter and her Cali friend had another Seattle outing on Wednesday to Pike Place Market. Again, I thank God she was mature enough to handle the day without me. Last time I went to Pike Place was with my daughters and our Japanese exchange student. She visited a couple years after she was in the exchange program. She is a mall ninja who can spend hours upon hours in shops just looking. All I remember from the experience is that benches are few and far between at Pike Place. I don't have the legs to randomly wander.
But I digress. So after my daughter and her friend arrived home, my daughter told me she had a story to tell me. I'm thinking, "She lost the car." (click here if you don't know that story) No, the car was in an obvious place, close by. She told me they went out to the balcony on one of the levels, looked over it, and saw a chalked unicorn with an arrow. She said to her friend, "we have to go down and follow the unicorn."
I didn't think anything of it as she related the story, but later I started to feel a bit concerned. Isn't the idea of following a cute character everything we tell our children to be wary of? We instruct them: Don't take candy from strangers. Don't help strangers find lost dogs. Don't follow strange unicorns, cartoon characters, or something to that effect? Basically we tell them to treat anything fun and happy with suspicion.
Anyway, they followed the chalk unicorns which led them to an artists' shop, where they sold their works. In some ways I would have been right to caution them away from following random unicorns because the artists are known for their inappropriate potty humor. My daughter and her friend are far enough into their twenties that they understand bathroom jokes. But wouldn't that be a rotten surprise for a mother to follow said unicorns with her little ones in tow only to happen upon an inappropriate shop?
It was however a successful way to advertise, I have to hand them that. My daughter was tickled pink. Years from now will be the only thing my daughter remembers about the outing and may be the only shop she wants to go back to on her next trip downtown.
I think the lesson here is: Don't follow unicorns if you aren't prepared to deal with the end result or something to the effect.
Quite awhile ago, when I was in an emotional state, someone said to me, "you need to learn to compartmentalize things." I had no idea what it meant and I wanted to poke that person's eyes out. Dumbass.
A short time after that on a sitcom I was watching, a couple men were discussing a situation their wives were having and one guy said to the other, "women just don't know how to compartmentalize stuff." I thought, "Ah! It must be a guy thing."
Now, whenever I get into an emotional state for whatever reason, that phrase comes to my mind. Yesterday, for instance, I was running errands. Things weren't going my way. I was spinning my wheels, which cranked up my emotions.
Then I had to interrupt an otherwise frustrating day to run to the car dealer so they could see how I tore the handle off my car. After the gal looked at said handle and I piled the pieces in her palm, she went back to the counter, consulted her supervisor and said, "we can't really go back to Kia and have them cover this type of a situation." I asked her why we couldn't have resolved that question over the phone considering I had the handle in my hand when I called.
She had no satisfying answer, but offered to make an appointment to have it fixed. I told her that my husband wanted to fix it himself. As I was driving myself back up into Kent, fuming all the way over my shitty day, which, BTW didn't start out that way, I starting thinking about compartmentalizing everything that had occurred. It didn't help calm me because I still don't understand the phrase, but it did distract me from all that went awry. So I drove myself to the Target Starbucks and ordered the biggest eggnog latte I could handle.
Compartmentalize that Dumbass.
My oldest and her Cali friend ran around Seattle yesterday. All I can say is THANK GOD!
I'm so glad my kids are old enough that I don't have to play tourist for them and their friends. I love that she's discovering things without me. I'm super proud of her for planning a whole day's worth of outings without my input. She informed me of where they were going.
She started checking in with me around three in the afternoon, apologizing for not having gotten in touch before then. Quite honestly I had kind of forgotten she was out and about because I was busy with my writing group then my mother. I looked at the clock every once in awhile thinking of the different places they probably were by that time. Then I dropped my mother off at home and opened my back passenger door to get her walker out of the backseat and the handle came clean off. Either it was doomed to break or I don't know my own strength.
When I landed home I briefly wondered if the kids were having a good time, but got on the phone right away to a dealership to figure out how to get the door handle fixed. The parts department said it might be on warranty, so then I waited for the service department to call me back to confirm or not if it was. I had to make an appointment to bring it in today because apparently they have to actually see that the handle busted off before they can tell me whether it's on warranty, because I have nothing better to do this time of year.
I was pleasantly surprised when my daughter texted me. She is her father's daughter and not one to remember where she isn't, so I wasn't worried. Admittedly, I would've begun to be concerned, maybe after I finished making spaghetti and meatballs and salad for dinner and packing up the almond roca. I was occupied.
Either she's grown up enough that I trust her judgement or I'm finally grown up enough to let her live her own life.
Coffee with Gleigh
These are my morning musings. Have a cup of coffee with me and we'll solve the problems of the world, or at least laugh at them until they make sense!