All That Jazz

It’s over.

The tree is down. The inside lights are mostly down. I left the winter scene atop the bookshelf because it’s one of my favorites. The outside light are still up because it’s colder than Hell out there.

In Hell, Norway it’s currently 0C. It’s -9C with a windchill of -15 here.

See? Colder than Hell.

My last posting was The Daily Elf on December 21st. You see, my parents arrived on the 22nd and the blog got put on hold. It really doesn’t seem like a week has passed since we were opening gifts. For their arrival, we got a giant refigerator box, wrapped it in wrapping paper, and stuck a bow on it. Shortly before my parents got here we sent the boys to DW’s mom’s house. When my parents got here, we had the box in the living room by the tree and in it my parents went. Then the boys came home and unwrapped them.

Seriously, if you are in need of a smile, go watch the short video. The boys had no idea what they were were unwrapping.

Bang was stuck to my mother all week long. Every chance he got he was snuggling her.

We got to do some stuff while they were here, though certainly not all that we wanted. They got to go ice skating with the boys. Or at least my dad did. My mom has a tendency to break her ankles, so we kept her off the ice. She got to watch them, though. They got to see Bang sing with his church choir friends at Christmas Eve mass. They got to open presents with two three very excited boys. DW’s mom and stepdad joined us and we had a big unwrapping fest. We enjoyed a big Christmas turkey that my parents brought with them. They made their traditional trip to Baddeck. They never come to Cape Breton without going to Baddeck. We also took them candlepin bowling. Bowling in Canada is a little different than it’s American cousin. The pins are tall and skinny and the balls are the size of softballs and you get three rolls. The 6 year old won both games.

My brother-in-law and his family arrived Boxing Day (that’s the day after Christmas). The boys love playing with their cousins. There were 12 people in our house! I would call it a happy chaos.

The night before Nana and Pop Pop (my parents) left for their 1100 mile drive home, Crash and Bang said good bye to them. Bang quickly gave them hugs and tried to hurry to the basement. When I stopped him I could see his eyes get watery and his lip quiver and suddenly he couldn’t hold it in any more. He sat hugging his grandmother with tears flowing and heaving sobs. He managed to bring tears to a few eyes that evening. His only consolation was that he could call them via Facetime. And he has done so every day. Even to read them a story at bedtime.

When the kids woke last Friday morning, my parents had already left. DW’s brother and his family left around noon. Bang suited up and was ready to leave with them because they were stopping at McDonalds for lunch. Suddenly we had gone from a 12 person house to 4. It was strangely quiet. I wanted the noise back. The noise meant the holidays weren’t over. The noise meant family. Like Seuss said, “It’s not what’s under the tree that matters, it’s who’s around it.”

Our family may have left, but the New Year is here, now. Hello 2018. Time to get back to our version of normal. The tree is down. The inside lights are are down. The decorations are down. The elves, Woody and Elfis, are back at the North Pole thinking of new ways to cause mischief. Christmas is packed away for another year.

However, I still have Christmas spirit, joy, and all that jazz in my heart.

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42

A city girl from Pennsylvania.

A farm boy from Maryland. 

They met in college at the boy’s birthday party. The rest, as they say, is history.

The girl’s mother asked the boy, “Why do you want to marry my daughter?”
“Why not?” the boy responds.

I laughed when I heard this story. I used to think it was smartass remark. But thinking on it, perhaps he had no reasons why not to marry her. Perhaps, he knew all the reason why. 

But knowing him, it was probably as much a smartass response as it was romantic.

Through the years they’ve had their ups. They’ve had their downs. Perhaps even a few side ways. They’ve lived in at least four different states. Twice as many houses. They brought two strikingly handsome, brilliantly intellegent, incredibly strong yet gentle, loving boys into the world. They couldn’t have done that if they weren’t all that themselves. 

It takes something special to make it 42 years. A great sense of humor, for instance. Like when your husband sneaks up on you while you’re blow drying your hair in the bathroom and bangs on a pot with a wooden spoon. If you don’t laugh, you might kill him. It also takes wisdom. Like knowing you can only get away with said scare only once. It takes great patience. Whether one of you is working vast amounts of overtime or it’s time to move house again or finances are a struggle or your kid just broke another window, patience will see you through. Supporting each other when the going gets tough and laughing together when going gets easy will help any marriage survive the test of time. 

I try to follow their example in both marriage and parenting. Patience. Humor. Love. With a little luck we’ll last 42 years, too.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

My Thankful Post

Once upon a time there was a family who celebrated Thanksgiving on a farm. So many family members attended that two tables were needed to sit everyone. There was so much food, two tables were need to hold it all. One of the seats was a church pew. There was much talking and laughter. There were bumping elbows and food stolen off plates. There was always one dish getting passed the wrong direction.  Through the years we ranged in age from newborn to grandparents.

After a hearty meal, the table cleared off and the dishes cleaned and put away, there would be football and parade watching on TV. They would doze in and out of tryptophan comas.

Well rested, the boys would gather in the front yard for some pigskin tossing and tackling. “Down 42! Blue! HUT HUT HUT!” Just like they were a Pittsburgh Steeler or a Dallas Cowboy. On warmer occasions, the girls would participate and it would become a family game of two hand touch .

Today, while the table remains, not as many gather around it this Thanksgiving. My grandfather, having passed away many years ago, no longer steals food from my mother. My brother and his family are now in South Korea. I and my family are now in Canada. My cousins are scattered up and down the east coast from Florida to Maryland. Some are travelling the world. There is no more football in the front yard.

The times have changed and nothing seems as it was in the “good old days”. Our gratitude, however, remains healthy and constant. Forever are we thankful for those days together. Thankful we could share a table with so much family, with so much love. Differences were set aside for a few hours of food and fun. Quarrels were ignored in the spirit of the holiday.

The newborns are now great grandchildren. Grandparents now outnumber children. Blessings outnumber worries. And we’ll celebrate American Thanksgiving here.

Happy Thanksgiving…

md-happythanksgiving_11-2012

 

 

Make It A Great Day

Sometimes posts land in your lap. They come to you as if you were sitting in a taxi on Highway in Sao Paulo with guy who just jumped out because he was about to pee his pants. 

Sometimes they quietly tap you on the shoulder and quietly whisper, “Don’t get bitter, get better“. 

That sparked a memory. 

Once upon a time I taught 4th grade. The school I taught in televised their daily announcements every morning. Thanks to our vice principal, they always ended with,

Make it a great day. Or not. The choice is yours.

In our lives, the run of the mill, ordinary day, this holds true. Imagine if every little thing that went wrong in our day, ruined us for the rest of it. 

Crash often gets upset or angry over the littlest things and I ask him, “Did getting angry solve the problem? No? Then there was no need for it.” Granted, there are times when getting angry is necessary, when it will solve your problem. But the other 99% of the time, calm patience wins over. 

Is it a problem or is it a challenge? Problems create stress. They ruffle our feathers. They cause us to lose our patience. We twist more, we push more, we hammer harder. 

If we find our Zen we find that sometimes a whisper is louder than a shout. Sometimes gentleness is stronger. Sometimes the anger just isn’t worth it. If you make your problems into challenges to be solved, you can rise above them. You can solve them with ease and understand that it’s not the way you planned it, but it still works. The world won’t end because things didn’t go exactly as you envisioned they would.

Rise to the challenge. Make the change you need to make to solve your problem and move on. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. Flight just got canceled? They don’t give two nickles how angry you are about it, they’re not going to uncancel it. Kids just dumped cheerios all over the backseat? Anger won’t clean up the mess. Employ the patience when it’s Kool-Aid or cheesie dust. 

If you read yesterday’s nonsense post, you know I had pretty much nothing to write about it so I wrote nonsense. I could be bitter about it. Why did I post nonsense when I could have posted nothing and just written today? Because sometime our practice, our training requires us to be subpar. We learn more from our failures than our success. Successes are much sweeter, though. Reflect on the failures to make your best better. 

Problems beget problems. However, challenges create champions. Be a champion. Or not. The choice is yours.

Sunday Share Happiness

I’m too lazy to look up what number share this one is. So I’m calling it Happiness instead.

My about page was pinged yesterday. That’s when I learned that I’d been nominated for The Happiness Tag by a fellow creative blogger friend Laura from The Riddle From the Middle.  Laura paid me a lovely compliment when she said that my posts make her smile.  What a wonderful thing to say to another writer.  Thank you so much for your kind words.

*Thanks for the words, Laura! 

She couldn’t have tagged me for a Happiness post on a better day. Yesterday was a happy day to beat all happy days. Well not ALL of them, of course. But still…

Here are the rules.

List:

  • Five things that make you happy.
  • Five songs that make you happy.
  • Five bloggers that make you happy and notify them of the nomination.

The five things that make me happy are all from yesterday.

  1. Our littlest Bang had his graduation ceremony yesterday. He’s officially done with kindergarten. His teachers are begging us to have a little a little girl now so they can have another one in their class. I guess they adored Bang. Unfortunately for them there won’t be another from us.
  2. They nicknamed each one of their 20 students during the ceremony. They name our Bang “The Bucket filler”. In case you aren’t familiar with the book by Carol McCloud “Have You Filled A Bucket Today”, it’s about showing acts of kindness. So to know Bang is their bucket filler makes a mom and dad proud.
  3. After the ceremony we went out to a celebratory lunch with DW’s dad and step-mom (who is way more than a step-mom and is more like a 2nd mom). During lunch the owner of the restaurant realised it was Bang’s graduation day and told him he could pick any dessert he wanted and it would be on her. His eyes were as big as the plate his lunch was served on. She also extended this offer to another family (and good friend of Bang’s) who came to eat at the same establishment.
  4. Upon hearing that his grandson would be getting free dessert for graduating, Guppie (DW’s dad) borrowed Bang’s “graduation cap” and told the waitress that he just graduated, too. Anything for free dessert!
  5. Bang I washed the truck. He’s got as much water on us as he did the truck. I see why his teacher’s called him the bucket filler – he filled my soapy bucket right to the tippy top** While he and I washed and vacuumed the truck, DW helped the neighbor plant flowers in her garden. It was a wonderful day!

**not what bucket filling really means

Bang graduate

Bang the Graduate

Guppie the Graduate

Guppie the Graduate

Now for five songs that make me happy…

  1. Flo Rida – My House Bang has taken to changing lyrics to fit whatever is in his little head. This one being my favorite lyric change. He’s FOREVER playing with the garden hose. Sprays himself. Sprays everything within range. I’m FOREVER telling him to turn the hose off. The lyrics have become, “Welcome to my house, baby turn the hose off”. Give it a listen and change the lyrics. You’ll laugh, too.
  2. Strumbella – Spirits Here’s another lyric change for you. Outside playing yesterday and bumblebee flew into Bang’s hair. Naturally, he told me that he had a bee in his hair. Then he smiles his mischievous smile and sings, “I’ve got guns in my head and they won’t go, I’ve got bees in my head and they won’t go”.
  3. Elle King – America’s Sweetheart – This is a newer favorite. It’s a fun song with a wicked good beat for running.
  4. Jethro Tull- Aqualung  – This song is older than me, but I remember my parents having this album and I loved it. Reminds me of the rock and roll of my parent’s day (late 60’s and early 70’s). Queen. Led Zeppelin. Elton John. Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  5. Enrique Englais – Hero – This was our “First Dance” song, DW!

 

Five blogger that make me happy…

  1. That’s What Anxious Mom Said
  2. Grubbs-n-Critters
  3. A Momma’s View
  4. Ah-Dad
  5. Sounds Like Life to Me

I didn’t tag Eli of Coach Daddy because he was tagged by Laura. Otherwise I would have tagged him 🙂 I read that he’s accepted this Happiness tag and will post his own at some point!

What makes you happy?

O is for… #atozchallenge

O

Please stop reading this.

Off. Like the insect repellent. But not. Though, where we go, Off might be required. Because where we go is off the hook! (slang for awesome, if you’re not up to date on 8 year old slang)

When life gets crazy, as it often does when you’re stuck in the house with the same people for days on end, it’s time to get out,  unplug, unwind, and go off the grid.

It’s drug free. It’s all natural. Organic.
There’s no wi-fi. It’s not scent free, either.

It’s outside.

When the boys have nothing better to do than bug, irk, annoy, irritate and sit on each other, out they go. Out there, the possibilities are endless.

  • Climb trees
  • Splash in the creek (they found $20 splashing back there once)
  • Dig in the dirt
  • Hunt lions
  • Explore the rainforest
  • Slay dragons

Outside is where the sports happen, too. A game of catch. A 2 player baseball game. Soccer. Frisbee golf. If it’s summertime there will be trampolining. This is just the backyard.

If we’re ambitious, you’ll find us on our bikes. Lucky Bang gets to ride in the “chariot” (the bike trailer). Unfortunately, Crash outgrew his last bike, so he now needs a new one. Before he outgrew it we’d normally ride about four miles. He amazingly did 8 one day.

Attitudes change when we’re outside. Like a 9th inning, game winning homerun, happiness reigns. Smiles rule. Excitment overflows. It might be the fresh air. That highly oxygenated outside air is so much richer than that stale, motionless indoor brand. Maybe it’s the sunshine. A common side effect of elevated vitamin D levels causes euphoria, silliness, laughter and cartwheels.

There’s another reason people outside are significantly happier than the indoor species. Dirt. It’s not just dirty, it’s healthy. Don’t be afraid of the word bacteria. Like humans, there are good ones and bad ones. The good ones help a neighbor or digest food. The bad ones don’t use a turn signal or cause diarrhea.

Recent research shows that Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria found in soil, has been found to trigger the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. ~HealingLandscapes.org

Like I said, stop reading this. Go outside, get dirty, breathe in that fresh air, soak in the vitamin D and get happy!

We’ll meetcha in the yard!

nature