Christmas in my family has never been terribly complicated – we buy what we can when we can and everyone gets some stuff. Sometimes the stuff is what people want, sometimes it isn’t, but no one really complains or seems to care much. But, my MIL (who I love dearly) has this obsession with everything being “even” in gift-giving. So, even though one person asks for something and would be perfectly happy with that thing, she insists that she has to spend exactly the same money on everyone. And as the family grows it becomes even more complicated. So, in the interest of keeping all of us from spending crazy amounts of money (especially my MIL), we have tried to do drawing names with a limit, family gifts with a limit, etc. But, my SIL (who I also love dearly – just want to make it clear that these are good people driven mad by the holidays in my opinion) is very adamant about only getting things on her list and having a list from everyone else (I’m horrible with gift lists for myself – I can never think of anything when put on the spot. I’ve started keeping an Amazon Wish List, but half the time when I look at it, it is all things for Bean. Oh well…). So, this year, we have seriously spent over an hour figuring out how we were going to do gifts. It kind of takes the fun out of it when people seem either totally disinterested or outright hostile to it (my BIL and FIL), but we’ve done it. I actually got my FIL, which I will probably give to my hubby since he loves to get his Dad gifts. My SIL also has her birthday on Christmas Eve so we have that too. Anyways – I am not a Scrooge, but the cat’s opinion fit mine at the end of the conversation about present buying earlier today. But, now it is done, so I’m trying to lose my scrooge feeling.
Tomorrow begins December and I’m hoping to be better about doing Elf on the Shelf this year for my daughter. Last year I was okay, but I probably only moved him a couple of times a week. I am also going to try a “Giving Tree” advent calendar. Tomorrow I will copy this idea for an advent calendar focused on giving and without candy, which my daughter doesn’t really like anyways (I ate all the chocolates in last years).
This week’s Five Minute Friday theme is “fly” – so, before I head to bed tonight, here goes:
Usually I immediately think of something to write about connected to the 5 minute Friday theme, but not tonight. I thought of flight, as in travel. I thought of flight, as in personal achievement and empowerment. I thought of flight, as in running away. I even thought of fly as the bug. But, none of that strikes me immediately as being a great topic to write about tonight. Strange…
So, maybe I will just write about fly as in what time does to me. I wrote about it earlier today already, so I’ve already kind of gotten a start. But, it really became an issue for me recently because my daughter is scheduled to be enrolled in Kindergarten next week. There was a time when I didn’t know if we would ever take her home from the hospital again, and that time does not seem to be four years ago to me. But, here we are, getting ready to celebrate her fifth birthday, enroll her in kindergarten and for her to become an official “child” – no longer a toddler or a preschooler. I feel like we’ve done a lot. I feel like we’ve definitely celebrated her toddler-hood, her preschool years. As I look back through the myriad of pictures in my digital files, there is much to remember, much to be happy about and much to celebrate. And when you get right down to it, what more can you ask than that? Time flies, but the memories last.
Done – that was not bad at all. Just needed to find the right interpretation of “fly”. As a celebration of today’s post – a few random selections from the digital files:
Not space. Time. I can not believe how fast time travels around me while I seem to stand still. I can’t believe how long it has been since I posted on here. I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is less than 30 days away and even worse, 2014 is only a little over a month away. Where does it go? What am I doing while everyone else is accomplishing things? I mean, I have accomplished some things during this time. My house is relatively clean, my garage is REALLY clean (for my garage, which is probably averagely or below averagely clean for other people), I have about half of my pile of grading done, I’ve finished one syllabus for Spring 2014 already (that, folks, is crazy talk for me), and I have most of the prep for our huge event that happens the Saturday after tomorrow all done. So, not bad overall, but I still feel like time just gets away from me.
I do have a few things to discuss today though – first, I am excited to get December started this year. When I left for Thanksgiving with the in-laws I put the Elf on the Shelf out on our table with the book, ready for our arrival on December 1. This is the first year we’ve been at a church, so we’ll be doing the Advent activities there on the 5th and I will be trying to set up an advent calendar for my daughter (I did that last year with chocolates, but she hates chocolates and I ended up eating all of them, so this year it will be something not candy related). I have made a momentous decision to stop doing part of the competitive activities I have been doing since starting and that means that I will have more time off in January and will not be traveling as often in the Spring semester. I am both sad and disappointed and somewhat relieved.
I am also excited to start 2014 as of now. We’ll see how long that holds out.
I have had a good Thanksgiving, although little annoyances always get to me. But, so far, they have not spiraled out of control. And we’re going to my mom’s tomorrow and then home on Sunday, so there isn’t long for the annoyances to build up now. I am thinking that I should have a theme for this blog in 2014. I was thinking about Leadership. I was also thinking about Diversity as a possibility. Those are two areas I am interested in and it would not just be that, but I would dedicate a couple of days a week to it at least. So, we’ll see.
For now, I am happy to get this post up. I will be doing the Five Minute Friday post later today and maybe posting some pics from our trip to the local Pioneer Village tonight. Currently, my daughter is playing with Mega Blox, painter’s tape and some little cranes. She is hyper, but she’s been pretty well-behaved considering she has been stuck in the house for the last 36 hours with no other children. I’m hoping she makes it through today, enjoys tonight and we can do something fun tomorrow and then we’ll be on the road. I just worry about her annoying others as the only kid in the group.
Well, after a night of insomnia (I haven’t had it this bad in a really long time) that actually was pretty productive and thoughtful, I realize that I need space in my life. I need space in my home (I’ve been cleaning up the piles that have been building up over the last few weeks of busyness, but my garage is a huge mess of stuff that needs to be cleared out, sorted through and lots of it probably needs to go. I also have started to panic (a full 10 months early) about Bean going to kindergarten next year. I don’t know how we are going to do it. I need space in my schedule to get her to school and back each day (and right now I don’t even know when that will be – morning? afternoon?), five days a week. With my travel schedule, we often have been gone on Fridays, but that will have to end. I will have to go to tournaments late I guess. Everything is so up in the air, it is tough. In addition, I need space in our budget for emergencies. We’ve been making it these past few months (barely), but if something big were to arise we would be in a $%^@storm!
So, I’m committing myself to creating space. Space for myself to do thing I want to do (need to do?). Space for my daughter to have my undivided attention and engagement. Space for us to live without tripping over stuff or piling stuff up constantly. I just spent about two hours cleaning in the garage today and started to notice that many of the things I was moving/organizing were the same things I moved/organized a couple of months ago and again a few months before that. There is not enough space for it all, so it inevitably starts to pile up everywhere and then needs to be sorted out and reorganized every few months. I’m tired of it. Space in our budgets for emergencies. It will mean cutting back even further on spending. I’ve been much better about grocery spending the past few months. But, I spend a lot of frivolous money on small things for Bean and myself sometimes, thinking “it is only a few dollars”. But a few times of spending a few dollars each week and four weeks in a month and it starts to pile up. Plus we had the $1000 vet bill last month for the dog and we have car issues which means we’ve been renting a car a couple of days every two weeks or so and that also starts to add up quickly. It is all just too much. Finally, and this is a big one for me, space for me to rest and relax and recover each week. I am constantly feeling on the edge of a break down – physically or mentally – and I can’t do that anymore. So, I need space to do things that allow me to rest, relax and regroup. Yoga maybe – I can do that at home in the morning with the TV. A day of nothing being scheduled each week. Just doing what I want to do that day. And I need time alone each week. I love my daughter dearly, but living life where I’m either with her or working gets to be too much. I had Thursday mornings this semester without her, but I often scheduled things during that time because it was my “morning off”. Instead of viewing that as time to fill, I need to view that as sacred space.
That last phrase is really starting to come into focus for me. Sacred space. Space that is holy, hallowed, allows connection with God, blessed. That is what I need more of in my life. Right now, my space is simply utilitarian. And sometimes it doesn’t even meet the most basic of those utilitarian needs, so really my space is non-existent in many ways. I have no boundaries for my space. So, when something arises or someone calls or my husband asks me to do something, I simply do it. I don’t even think about it. I know my work schedule and I am protective of that, but beyond that, my time is your time. My space is your space (in a literal sense often – today as I was cleaning out the garage a bit, I realized that my friend who stayed with us two summers ago now – so a full year and a half ago she stayed here for about five months because she didn’t have money to pay rent – and her vacuum cleaner and her golf clubs are in our garage. There is also a full rubbermaid tub of her stuff in our guest room closet. And I loaded a full-size shopping bag full of her stuff about five months ago when I cleaned out part of the guest room closet. Nothing is sacred here. There are no boundaries. My space is everyone’s space. This. must. change.
So, I’m going to work on purposeful boundary control. I am going to ask her to come and get her stuff (she has been living with someone else here in town ever since moving out of here and has never offered to pick up her stuff). I am going to establish my sacred space on the calendar each week and when people ask if I am available, I am going to say no. If they ask what I’m doing, I am going to say that I am providing myself with some sacred space. We’ll see how that goes.
So, there it is. A different way of saying the same thing I’ve been saying, but maybe this rhetorical change will make the difference for me.
I finally caught the bug that has been going around my family and school. It started out as a sore throat (horrible, painful, can’t swallow without wincing sore throat) that only lasted about 36 hours, but now has moved into my sinuses. I am in much less pain now, but still feel pretty horrible and just plain tired. I took the morning off on Thursday, but could not miss any class, so taught on Thursday night and then went to my leadership workshop after that because my mentees were presenting, and then Friday I had an International Students workshop that I definitely did not want to miss (because I’ve had an influx of international students on the Speech and Debate team and I’d like to continue the trend) and then I had volunteered as a faculty mentor for transfer student orientation for those transferring in for the Spring semester and went to that for a couple of hours last night. So, I basically did not really give myself much of a break for being sick. But, today, I had a number of things planned – a Coffee Connection for women at my church that I had planned to attend and Santa is arriving at the mall today in our town and tonight is a Mom’s Night Out for my mom’s group. I wanted to do all of these things, but figured if I don’t give into my body’s need for a break I will probably end up even more sick than I currently am – and going into Thanksgiving break and only a few weeks left in the semester, I can’t afford an elongated illness. So, I skipped the Coffee Connection this morning (bummed because I was looking forward to meeting some more people at my church) and I am going to lay low for the day and see how I feel for tonight. I am not going to push it though. If I don’t feel considerably better, it will be a day in the house with only my 15 minute bursts of cleaning/organizing here and there and lots of sitting and resting and grading and planning in between.
How about you? Have you had “the bug” yet this season? Do you try to “power through” or do you give in and rest and recover?
That is my husband cutting down our Christmas tree last year. For the past three years, we have bought a tree cutting permit and gone to our local forest to cut down a tree. The trees are not perfect like the ones on the tree lots. We have done a poor job of deciding where to cut them to get the best trunk space or branch balance. But, the process is worth the imperfect (and natural) result in my mind. It is a tradition. One of only a few our little family has established. And I must admit that I love it. I am already looking forward to it (we usually go just after Thanksgiving with the hopes that the tree will survive the month or so until Christmas). We are getting a little better at it each year. I figure by the time my daughter is old enough to know what a tree should look like, we will be pros! 🙂
Right now, the process for her is just as important. Last year we had to hike back a bit from where we could park to get to a tree that we liked. She loved traipsing through the forest with the pine needles and fallen branches and trees beneath her still-a-bit-unstable feet. This year she is bigger, better on her feet and more adventurous. I look forward to witnessing those differences. The first year we went, she sat in a car seat in the truck while we cut a tree nearby. Each year presents a change and each year will be more memorable for her as she moves forward.
I long for family traditions but have not done a good job of establishing many. But, this is definitely one of my favorites.
Well, I think the stress of the last few weeks (months?) has driven me to illness. I started getting a sore throat yesterday morning and by last night I was achy, it was extremely painful to swallow and my ear hurt. The aches seem to be gone today, but my throat still hurts (helped by Tylenol, but only for a few hours, then it gradually comes back until I can’t really swallow without flinching anymore) and my ear still hurts. So, I took a sick day today. And my Thursday Thumbs Up goes to sick days. I appreciate the fact that I have a job that offers me paid sick days, but I also appreciate the fact that sick days give me a bit of an excuse to take a break. I am working today (online for student questions, but no one has contacted me yet) from home, but last night I came home from work, got into PJs and curled up on the couch with a blanket. I didn’t open my computer and only answered my phone when my husband called. It was nice. It made me realize that I probably need to spend more evenings “off-line” even when I’m not suffering from flu symptoms.
I still had to make my daughter dinner, help with her bath, etc. because a Mom doesn’t really get to take sick days. My husband is out of town for work until tonight, so it was on me to make sure those basics got taken care of for her. My heart goes out to single parents without strong support systems who can come over and help things get done when you are feeling bad. It isn’t easy.
But, overall, I am quite lucky to have such flexibility in my job and to know that if I absolutely had to, I could call my husband and have him come home and take over for me. So, today’s thumbs up goes to the ability to have sick days!