Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Two-Fer!

My great friend Sera arrived from California today!

She's here visiting for the next several days, and is officially the first visitor that we've had since we relocated ourselves to Ohio.

I love having visitors!  Not just because it's great to catch up with old friends, and not because it's fun to show folks around who aren't from here.

I love having visitors because it forces us to clean!!!

Somehow, cleaning is less important when it's just the two of us. 

I see the clutter, I know it's there, and yes, I have learned to ignore it. 

Crumbs on the counter?  I can overlook them.  Dust on the tv cabinet?  Nope, I don't see it.  Dog hair in the carpet?  That's why we have shoes!

Somehow, I'm ok living with stacks of mail on the kitchen table.  I can get around the random boxes that clutter our guest room, and I effectively block out the dirty dishes as they pile in and around the sink.

But, as soon as we knew Sera was coming to visit, we began evaluating what needed to be cleaned and organized before she arrived.

After several days of behaving like grown ups, our humble 900 square feet was made presentable - I would even feel comfortable having my mom walk in here!

So, this week, aside from being super thankful to have my friend here for a few days, I'm thankful that her arrival motivated us to finally get around to the cleaning that we'd somehow managed to keep putting off.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Good And The Bad

Christmas is always such a powerful time of year.  At least for me.  While I love Christmas, it makes me feel like I'm practically bi-polar!  One minute I'm happily enjoying the joys of the season, spending time with family, reliving some of my favorite Christmas memories.  The next, I'm missing my grandparents, getting road rage because of the idiots driving around me, and feeling sad about all the friends I've lost touch with over the years.

This year was no exception. 

I had a great time with my family - we went to Christmas Eve service at church (the first time I've gone in several years), we opened lots of fun presents, and we enjoyed our favorite Christmas Eve tradition of eating Chinese food and watching an inappropriate movie (this year it was The Hangover 2).

Now that we're more than a year out from my dad's diagnosis, I tried like hell to take little mental pictures throughout our Christmas weekend, knowing that next year could be completely different.  Sitting with JB in church, talking to him at dinner, watching him open his stocking presents on Christmas Day and seeing his face light up when he got a movie that he's been talking about for months.  Click, click, clickity click - pictures, pictures, and more pictures (though, ironically, we didn't take any actual pictures)!

However, while we enjoyed our time as a family, I found myself fighting back tears on several occasions. 

Tears about the fact that we continue to see a decline in my dad, tears about the fact that the next year is a great big unknown, and tears about what will never be. 

As we sat around on Christmas Day, I thought about how great it would be to have a little one with us (no, I'm not pregnant).  How fun it would be to walk into my parents' house with our little family and call out "Merry Christmas", to gather around the Christmas tree to open presents, and to get to see Christmas through our child's eyes. 

And then it hit me...if and when that actually happens, my dad won't be there.  He won't get to see his grandkids all dressed up to go to church on Christmas Eve.  He won't help them set out cookies and milk for Santa.  He won't be there to see them tear into presents on Christmas Day.  And that breaks my heart!

Even as I type this out, I'm in tears.  It's heartbreaking to think ahead about all the changes that 2012 will likely hold for our family, to think about the trials that we still have ahead of us, and to realize that unless there is some medical miracle in the field of memory loss, JB's disease will continue to slowly, ever so cruelly, take him away from us. 

Of course, we don't know what the next year holds, and we certainly don't know what next Christmas will be like for our family, so I'm trying to focus on the positive and am feeling blessed and thankful for a great Christmas this year with my family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

That New Car Smell

This year, Christmas came a little early for me.

I've been toying with the idea of getting a new car over the last few months (ok, years).

Yes, Little Red (as we affectionately called my tin can on wheels), was a good car, made the trip from Ohio to California in one piece, and did its job getting me from Point A to Point B.

So, on Tuesday, I pulled the trigger and am now the proud owner (leaser) of a 2012 Nissan Rogue.

Go me!  Thanks to my darling husband (and former car salesman), I got a screaming good deal and can say with confidence that I bought a great car!

So, my thanks this week is not only for my new car (which I love), but for the security and peace of mind that it brings.

No more worrying about when the check engine light is going to come on again.  No more stressing that despite the bright red color, larger cars on the freeway simply don't see me.  Most importantly, no more panic attacks at the thought of driving my darling tin can into the "snow belt" of NE Ohio this winter, hitting ice on the hilly roads I take to work, veering off into a ditch, and freezing to death because I'm trapped and can't get out.

Yes, for all these things, I'm thankful this week!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Holiday Humbug

I love Christmas.  I love the build-up, I love the movies, and I especially love the baked goods. 

There are, however, things about the holiday season that drive me crazy. 

First of all, it's as if all traffic laws of the United States cease to exist during the month of December.  Seriously, between the horn honking, the running of red lights, and the fighting for parking spaces, it's enough to drive a person crazy (pun intended)!  Somehow I've missed how screaming out your window and giving a perfect stranger the finger became the standard greeting for the holiday season!

Second, I am confused by the people who put a red nose and antlers on their car to make it look like Rudolph.'s a car...12 inch antlers and a red ball on the hood do not equal a reindeer - it equals a minivan that looks like it hit a squirrel and then drove through a heavily wooded area, picking up a few stray twigs on the way.  The one exception to dressing up one's car is the semi-trucks that put wreaths on the front grill.  I'm all for that, especially for the truckers who spend the bulk of the holiday season away from their families and tackling the crazy drivers that emerge in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Third, I CAN'T STAND the musical arrangements of dogs barking or cats meowing to the tune of "Jingle Bells" or "Deck the Halls".  Whenever I hear something like this, I envision people in a recording studio squeezing the poor animals like a stress ball to get them to make these God-awful sounds!  I'm an animal lover, I'm guilty of watching YouTube videos of dogs licking babies, and I even get a kick out of (other people's) pets wearing sweaters when it's cold outside.  But, leave the musical performances to humans - unless you manage to teach your cat how to play the piano or get your dog to play the harmonica...THAT I would listen to!

Finally, I come to the people who confuse me the most...the people who do their shopping while wearing Santa hats. 

I DON'T GET THIS!!!  These are the same people who wear cartoon character sweatshirts, and I am still waiting for a valid explanation for this one!

We know you're Christmas shopping...we're Christmas shopping too...but you don't see the rest of us throwing on ridiculous Santa garb to trudge through the toy section of Target!  Once again, there is an exception to this rule - folks who work certain jobs can absolutely get away with wearing a Santa hat to enhance holiday spirit - doctors, nurses, the little man braving the cold to ring a bell for hours on end hoping to solicit a few donations for the needy - these folks are more than welcome to don their gay apparel.  But for the rest of you, leave it at home!

I won't even get into the baseball cap Santa hats - there are hardly words, and the ones that I can think of aren't nice.

While there are things about the holiday season that drive me crazy, I really don't consider myself to be a humbug (though I might sound that way today).  I listen to Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve, I spend evenings driving around looking at Christmas lights, I'm always excited to send out Christmas cards to my friends and family, and I look forward to our Christmas Even traditions.

Just don't expect to see me driving my reindeer car through a red light while donning my Santa hat on my way to buy the latest copy of "Meowy Christmas".

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Husband Of The Year

I often tell my husband that he is Husband Of The Year. 

Usually it's said with a sarcastic tone - picture me trying to get from the car to the apartment with my arms full and Ben walking alongside me carrying nothing. 

I joke about it...but today, he really is Husband Of The Year!

Work has slowed down for him over the last couple of weeks.  As we wait for the snow to finally hit (so that the $4000 snow plow he bought can become more than a really expensive and over sized hood ornament), he is spending the bulk of his time at home during the day. 

Today, he put his free time to good use.

He cleaned the apartment!!!!

I won't go into details about how disgusting this place was (really), or how many times he had to empty the vacuum (4) - I'll just say that I walked in here, and rather than fight the urge to turn and run, I was welcomed by a clutter-free, organized living room!

I'm not domestic, I hate to clean, but that doesn't mean that I'm not irritated beyond belief by the clutter that seems to materialize out of nowhere.  Today Ben completely saved me!

I'm thankful for my Husband Of The Year - for real!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Being Thankful Is Hard Work

It wasn't until I got an email from my mom today commenting on the absence of blogs that I realized that I completely skipped over Thankful Thursday last week.

I suppose it's because I haven't wanted to be thankful.  I'm tired of thankful being such hard work!

I don't want to be thankful.  I want to wallow.  I want to mope.  I want to sit around feeling bitter. 

I'm bitter about all the things that I don't have control over.

I'm upset by the feeling of wanting things but not being able to get them.

Wow, do I sound like I'm about 4 years old or what?

But, alas, it's true.  I'm frustrated, I'm tired of working hard and having nothing to show for it, and I wish upon wish that something, anything, would get just a little bit easier!

Yes, I have a wonderful husband.  Yes, I have a job.  Yes, I have a place to live. 

Blah, blah, blah..

Sometimes isn't it just easier to feel bad about what we don't have than to feel good about what we do have?

It's something I need to work on.  I don't like feeling jealous.  I don't like feeling angry about where my life is.  I don't like feeling as though I'm in a hole. 

Life is good, I've had lots of blessings, and everything is happening for a reason...

I just need to remember it!