Monday, December 31, 2012
The worst part of 2012 is that my mother passed away. Yes, I KNOW we are all supposed to find peace and comfort when a loved one dies, especially if that loved one was in a lot of pain. But I just wish my mother had been able to stick around just a little longer.
All the same, I accept that God called her home. My only comfort is that she is free now. No one can ever take advantage of her again. No one will ever hurt her or use her again. She has her voice back now. She has her legs back now. She can run again, sing, dance and fly free. Without pain. That is the best part.
Two of my uncles also died this year. One of them is an uncle I don’t even know if I ever met. I really SHOULD try to connect with family more often and reach out to relatives. That is one of my resolutions for 2013.
A cousin died this year, and we also lost a dear family friend this year: Mackie. I was shocked when I learned that he had died, especially at such a young age. It was a very sad time and I still mourn this loss. He was always cool to hang out with and I have fond memories of him. He was one of the kindest people I have ever known.
The kind people really stand out.
Aside from deaths, another thing did not go so well this year. The job search sucked. I tried to get a job both from home and outside of the house but no luck there. I REALLY need to get a part-time job, so that is also something I will focus on next year.
We were hit with a REALLY bad medical bill to pay this year, which required several months to completely pay off, and that also hurt us financially. As it is, my son needs eye surgery (again!) and I really want to get THAT taken care of more than anything. I don’t know how we’ll get him the surgery he needs, but it must be done as soon as possible considering what it is for. I wanted that to happen this year but it did not.
Those are the big things that made 2012 suck. I hope 2013 is better.
P.S. And, yes, I DID reflect on some good things that happened this year. That's on my writing blog, if anyone is interested.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
And, like I said, we all got what we wanted. Jennifer got the scooter she’s been asking for for years – and Jesse got a scooter, too! I got the book and candle I had asked for – of course, I had “books” on my Christmas list and I’ll be able to get more than one as a gift because I also got a gift card to the bookstore! Yay! Hubby got books, too (the kids each got him one and he also got a bookstore gift card) and Jesse got the Lightning McQueen car he had his heart set on. I also got a very cute essay that Jennifer wrote about family and Christmas (her dad and I both read it and it just made my heart melt) and Jennifer also got the book she wanted to buy earlier this year but didn’t have enough money for: Dork Diaries #4. She was THRILLED to get that book! (She also has #5; her dad got her that one earlier this year.)
And Jesse got a book, too: His very own copy of my new children’s book, A Million Doughnuts, which I had dedicated to him. Once Jennifer saw it, she started showing Jesse her illustrations in it. It was so cute!
And I think he liked the pictures of the doughnuts best. Ha!
Chewie got a new dog bed, as well as two dog toys. He didn’t like his new bed at first but I think that is starting to change. In fact, he now prefers the new dog bed over the one I keep for him in my bedroom!
Oh, yes. I did get a surprise gift. It was a surprise because I had secretly wanted one for so long but kept telling hubby, “Oh, no. I don’t need that.” But he got it, anyway: AN ANDROID!! Woo-hoo! I can’t believe it! I have a smartphone! Yay!!
The phone I have now is on its way to the great big cell phone heaven in the sky so he knew I needed a new phone. I didn’t say anything because I know they cost a bit. I am glad he got me one. I didn’t expect a smartphone, just a regular phone like I have now. So that was a very big surprise. Now I just need to figure out how to use it.
And Jennifer has taken over what is now my “old phone” until it conks out. I hope this will show her what it’s like to have her own phone and I hope she will learn how to be responsible with it. (She has had her own house key before, but she lost both keys we gave to her!) We DO want her to be responsible and we DO want her to be able to reach us in emergencies, but it’s a work-in-progress.
Here are a bunch of pictures I took from Christmas. The dog’s name is Chewbacca (we call him Chewie). There’s also a pic of the gingerbread men the kids and me baked.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Indeed, it was snowing. And Jennifer was hoping she’d get a snow day from school today.
When I looked out the window early this morning, I started to hope so, too. But that didn’t happen. Both kids had school today.
I was NOT happy. One thing I don’t like about living in the northwest is dealing with the winter weather. Specifically, driving in the winter weather. I DO NOT like driving when there is snow, ice and sleet on the streets.
This morning, it was just snow, along with some flurries here and there.
All the same, I didn’t want to drive on a street like that! I DID NOT feel safe driving on a street like that.
I tried to talk myself into it. This was, after all, the last week of school before Winter Break. And the children did have to give their teachers their Christmas presents today. I even watched as one van drove along on the street. It went at a normal speed and seemed to be going okay.
That should’ve convinced me I could drive okay too, right? WRONG!
Instead, I waited until after sunrise to drive the kids to school. Jennifer was NOT happy to be late for school today but I told her that when she is in MY shoes, THEN she can complain! I just won’t drive unless I feel comfortable enough to drive in bad weather. If I’m too nervous to drive, I won’t do it. Plain and simple. I have to think about safety first.
Of course, I could’ve asked my husband to drive the kids to school, but he doesn’t get into bed until 4 in the morning and I didn’t think he’d be aware enough to drive in bad weather.
I did get the kids to school okay. And their teachers got their Christmas presents. No problems picking them up, either.
We’re supposed to have more snow tonight. And more snow tomorrow, too. We’ll see how much of it will be on the streets in the morning.
My nervousness about winter driving may be because I’m not used to it yet. I know, after 7 years of living in Oregon, you’d think I’d be used to it by now. But no, I am not.
When we first moved here, I was fascinated with the snow. Of course, I have lived where it snows before. But after spending over a decade living in a desert, snow was “new” to me again. It was cool, neat and fun. But now the novelty is fading – especially since now I’m driving around in it.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
December is the month of wrapping – gift wrapping, that is. We have been doing a bit of gift-wrapping around the house, and working on getting all of the gifts delivered, too, as well as all of our Christmas cards mailed. However, it seems like there’s another kind of “wrapping” going on for us this month. That of wrapping up unfinished business!
I am trying and trying to finish up some long-term projects I have had going on. These are mainly book manuscripts but I am also trying to finish reading and reviewing books for Night Owl Reviews. (I have 2 left!) I am working on finishing revisions of the second book in The GHOST Group series (almost done!) and today I finished revising my poetry collection Wandering Soul, which I am planning to submit on Friday. I am very excited about it; it contains over 100 poems! This will probably be the only poetry collection I ever do that is so large.
Jennifer has also been busy wrapping something up, too: An art project she has been working on for several days. And she finished it today! Unfortunately, she is not happy with how her picture turned out. I am no artist myself but I am a creative, too, so I told her to hold on to her picture. Keep the work she doesn't like because she might get ideas on how to fix it later. Or she can use it as a guide to figure out where she went wrong. In any event, I REALLY like her picture and encouraged her to send me a copy. (That's it at the top of this post.)
She has also been working on her next book, but because it is a novel, it is taking her some time to write. She’s been working on it whenever possible. I think it would be cool if she finishes the first draft before the new year!
I am planning on taking some downtime soon to spend the holidays with the kids and do holiday-related stuff (like our cookie baking day and crafts!), but I’ll try to get things done before the new year comes around. It’ll be 2013! A brand new year to start brand new things! But I’ll be around here and there to get things done. Or should I say, “wrap things up.” It’s good to finish things and this being the last month of the year, now is as good a time as any to finish them.
Friday, December 07, 2012
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Today, however, I read an article that I did not agree with. I have been following the story of the New York photographer who took the picture of a man pushed onto the subway tracks seconds before the man was crushed to death. This particular photo was on a recent cover of the New York Post. I have read several articles about this and have also spoken out about it on Twitter. (Nobody really responded to those tweets, so couldn’t get much feedback there.) I read one particular article today that stated the photographer was only acting naturally and that we cannot expect EVERYONE to be a Good Samaritan. And so, pretty much they were saying, “Stop throwing darts at him.”
Now, I am not one to judge people when I don’t know the WHOLE story, but I just didn’t like this deal at all. I disagreed with the article’s message and pretty much pointed out why I was not prepared to “give (the photographer) a break.” On the other hand, I’m not going to judge him or demonize him, either. I just didn’t like the whole thing.
But that’s just me. Just my opinion. And it IS an opinion! Just a comment I was sharing on an article that WELCOMES comments from readers.
Later, I went back to that article to see if other people were saying anything about this topic. There WAS another comment, and something about it just didn’t seem right. This particular person was saying, “Many people who are sitting in the safety and comfort of there [sic] homes are quick to judge unless you are there taking ..or not taking action to save a stranger at great risk to yourself keep your opinions to yourself .”
Wow. Keep my opinions to myself? Really?
First of all, I AM NOT judging the guy. I just said it’s hard to make him out to be a saint given what happened AFTER he took the picture.
Second, I won’t “keep my opinion to myself” when it comes to a web site that ALLOWS people to share their opinions! It’s a free country, you know! It’s called freedom of speech! If I have an opinion, then if I think it would contribute to a discussion, I will SHARE that opinion.
And I encourage everyone ELSE who wants to share their opinions to do so! If you have something to say about a topic, something helpful that adds to the discussion, then by all means, go for it! Share your thoughts. That’s how we create a discussion or debate on things. We share our thoughts and opinions. And I think that people SHOULD be able to share their thoughts and opinions, even if other readers do not agree with it.
I know that posting a comment on the Internet means that people will make snarky comments in return or judge me in some way or another. But I think it’s laughable that someone would advise another person NOT to share their opinions when it comes to a site that WELCOMES opinions!
Or it could be just me. Me and my silly opinions.
Saturday, December 01, 2012
“It’s plonking December already.”
Such was the tweet I read on Twitter when I logged in today. I could only chuckle and nod in agreement. Seriously, where has the year gone? Today is the first day of December. The first day of the last month of 2012.
The time has just flown by.
So today, I did the usual things I do when it’s the first of the month. Set aside the rent money in my bank account, turn the page of the calendar to the next month, and put out all the magazines we have for that particular month. (I am subscribed to quite a few magazines, so I usually have a good stack of the new month’s editions on hand when the first of the month arrives.) I also make mental notes of doctor appointments scheduled for this month as well as what birthdays there are this month. (My mother was the only one who had a November birthday, so it was a little hard last month when her birthday arrived and she was not there to celebrate it. We still did a little something in honor of her birthday.) I have a niece and a nephew with birthdays this month. The one with my nephew left me feeling sad because I haven’t talked with him for years. (We sort of lost touch.) So I started to think about trying to find out if anyone in the family has heard from him.
December means getting out the Christmas decorations, as well as all the Christmas-themed movies. Last year, we watched a Christmas movie for every day of December up until Christmas, and we are repeating that tradition this year, too. We have been watching The Munsters TV show on DVD, so we are excited that there is a Munsters Christmas movie out this year. There is also A Christmas Story 2! Wow! I hadn’t been aware of such a film. We’ll definitely have to check that out. We usually watch A Christmas Story on Christmas Day. Also last year, we watched all of the different versions of A Christmas Carol. I don’t think we’ll do a repeat this year. I’ll tear my hair out if I have to watch all those different Tiny Tims saying “And God bless us, everyone” all over again. AAH!!
Another thing about December is CHRISTMAS CARDS! Usually, people fill out Christmas cards on the day after Thanksgiving. Alas, I missed out on that AGAIN this year. Ugh! So I’m making it a point to get it done this weekend. Last year, I was sooo late with Christmas cards! I didn’t get them all out in time. One person even got her card the day AFTER Christmas! Gah! So I really gotta make it a point to work on getting them out as early as possible. Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the addresses for everybody, so tomorrow I am contacting people for addresses – well, those I need them from. I have contacted some already but they have not gotten back to me yet. If I don’t have their address, then I can’t send them a card. That’s just the way it’ll be.
As to Christmas presents, I have been working on that, too. I have some gifts planned for certain family members and I got Hubby and the kids a stocking stuffer so far. We’ve all made our lists so we have ideas on what to get everyone. And I know what I’m getting the dog!
Unfortunately, money IS tight this year, so I can’t get EVERYBODY in my family a gift. And some of them are couple gifts. I have yet to get a new job or a gig, so that compromises just how much I can give to family and friends. I am definitely looking for any good deals, in that regard!
It will be hard to celebrate Christmas on our own without being with our relatives and family members. It will also be hard getting through Christmas without that phone call to my mom. But we will keep everyone in our thoughts. It sure would be nice if family could come and visit us for Christmas instead of us going to them but we understand that's not possible. (My youngest sister came out for one Thanksgiving and I will always be grateful to her for that. We had such a great visit and good times! That created some pictures we cherish and memories we like to share.)
Christmas aside, I am dreading something that we might get this month: Snow! We usually don’t get snow until after the new year, but whenever it may come, I am not looking forward to it. Of course, the kids get excited about snow, but as I have told them many times: “When you’re a kid, snow is fun. When you’re an adult, snow is work!” Thank goodness we have a garage to keep the cars in, but I don’t like driving on snowy streets. I still shudder when I remember the time my car slid on the ice and I almost crashed into a bus! Just don’t like driving in snowy weather. Which is why I try to avoid it when possible. Or ask Hubby to drive the kids to school!
This being the last month of the year, I am trying to get things done and wrap up loose ends. I like starting a new year fresh and ready to take on new things, so I am preparing for when that day comes. A new year will mean new opportunities and new life changes and while I’m nervous about this last month of the year and trying to finish up as much as I can, I am hopeful about 2013 and what new things the new year may bring.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
So, yes, I woke up feeling pretty sad. I’ve been sad a lot lately. I have been told that there will be good days and there will be bad days. And after I broke down in tears in the bathroom, behind the locked door because I didn’t want Jesse to see me cry, I started to ask myself, is this going to be one of those bad days?
But it couldn’t be one of those bad days! Not today! I had WORK to do! I have book promotion stuff to do for certain authors! I had a cover reveal for a new book to announce! I had some reading to get done for a book I’m going to write up a blurb for! And I had some writing to do!
This could not be one of those bad days.
So I tried to just continue with what I had to do. Even as I got Jesse up for school and get him his breakfast, get him ready for school, I barely had the energy, the drive, to do anything. I just wanted to climb back into bed and be sad all day.
But I couldn’t do that.
Later, after I got Jesse to preschool, I got on the computer and did as much as I could get done. I read an email from a friend of mine. This friend knows about my loss and she has been an awesome amount of support and understanding. She has lost her mother, too, in the past, so she knows that pain. And in this email, she offered some very comforting words. Something along the lines of “it will get better” and “You start to remember and think about the good times and the pain only comes once in awhile. I think it is God's way of helping us bear it.” And the fact that she was keeping me in her prayers helped A LOT, too.
But, still. I was sad. I just couldn’t function like always. I went to lie down on the couch, covered my head up and fell asleep. And when I was sleeping, I felt something on my back. It was like a light touch on the center of my back. And when I felt that, I was just really filled with so much love and comfort. When I woke up, I wasn’t sad anymore. I actually felt a lot better. I even smiled. I was HAPPY.
When I got back to work on the computer, I thought of my friend’s email. She was talking about how she’d helped her daughter with something, something that cost a bit of money, and she said her daughter did not say “thank you” when all was said and done. I could only shake my head and mutter, “Ah, parenthood. The most thankless job in the world.” I could relate. Many times I have helped my kids with something or another and didn’t get a “thank you” in return. (The same goes with dads.) Of course, I DO try to teach my children manners. To say “please,” “excuse me” and “thank you.” But sometimes they forget. And we moms, we can only mutter to ourselves “yeah, you’re welcome” because we do the things we do for our kids because we LOVE them. We’d do ANYTHING for them. Even if we don’t get a “thank you’ in return. And we’d do it again!
But I thought some more on that. I HAVE said “thank you” many times to my mom, for some thing or another. But then I realized, you know, there are some things that I HAVE NOT thanked my mother for.
And maybe I should thank her for them right now. Why not? I AM grateful to her for these things! And I know she’s not here to hear them or to read this, but I felt it was important to say.
Thank you, Mom, for being in this world and becoming the wonderful you that you were.
Thank you, Mom, for having me and being my mother. I could have had any other mother in the whole world, but God picked YOU to be my mother.
Thank you, Mom, for caring so much about me to teach me things. To teach me right from wrong, how to be smart, how to be strong.
Thank you, Mom, for always being there to talk to. For always being that shoulder to cry on and that ear to listen. And thank you for talking about things when I needed you to talk to about things.
Thank you, Mom, for always being someone I could talk to.
Thank you, Mom, for supporting me no matter what choices I made in life. It helped knowing that you were still on my side no matter what, and that you still loved me no matter what.
Thank you, Mom, for keeping all of us safe. For making sure we had a home, a bed, clothes to wear and that we got an education. Even when you were firm with us about going to school and eating our food, we knew you did this because you loved us.
Thank you, Mom, for making sure we had good times, fun times, more than the bad times.
Thank you, Mom, for always having good advice and telling me how to find my way whenever I became lost or afraid. Even across the miles, you were there for me when there was nobody else, and nobody else on my side.
Thank you, Mom, for your love, your attention, your guidance and wisdom and strength. You inspired me in more ways than you will ever know.
Thank you, Mom, for being in my memories. You may be physically gone from this world, but you are still in my heart, in my mind, in my dreams and in my thoughts for always.
I love you, Mom.
Friday, November 23, 2012
I am thankful that my son can read and write some words.
I am thankful my daughter can create such beautiful art and write exciting stories.
I am thankful I can still see, although not as good as before.
I am thankful to all of the teachers I have had who helped me to learn to read, write, do math and understand the world we live in.
I am thankful for books.
I am thankful for coffee.
I am thankful for modern medicine and to the doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and specialists out there who have helped us.
I am thankful for living in a free country and to those who fought and lost their lives to make this a free country.
I am thankful that there are kind, honest and generous people in this world.
I am thankful there are people promoting peace, especially during a time when there is so much violence and bloodshed in this world.
I am thankful that there are groups out there helping people in need -- the soup kitchens, food banks, disaster relief groups, warming centers, shelters and other groups helping animals and people.
I am thankful that we live in a country that respects all religions.
I am thankful to God for answering the prayers He has answered and helping me to understand why some prayers were not answered.
I am thankful for the people who I have crossed paths with, especially those who are no longer in my life.
Monday, November 19, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Leave it to Jen to accessorize. Once she saw this mask at a local store, she KNEW this was going to be her Halloween mask! The rest she threw together to create this creature. We're calling it "Pumpkinhead" even though this one does not look like the Pumpkinhead in the horror flick.
Jesse was Spider-man a year ago and decided he wanted to be his favorite superhero again this year. That almost didn't happen because he lost the mask -- and we have TWO Spider-man masks! Fortunately, for his birthday, he got a new Spider-man mask. What wonderful timing! (Thanks, Misty.)
Happy Halloween from our family to yours!
Thursday, October 25, 2012
For his 5th birthday, I wanted to make this day special for my special boy. So this morning, I made Jesse a special birthday breakfast, per his request: Pancakes (not the frozen kind) and bacon. We had a “surprise party” waiting for him when he got home from preschool today. I baked him a chocolate cake just for the occasion and he had a favorite ice cream to go with it: Peppermint. (His dad also really liked the peppermint ice cream, too. It’s a big hit!)
The hat he is wearing is courtesy of his preschool. (Thanks, Kim!)
After cake and ice cream, Jesse opened his presents. He got a pirate scabbard and shield from Jennifer, as well as a SpongeBob and toy car.
For months, he’d been asking for a DreamLites. We were not able to get him one but we got him something similar: A “Twilight Turtle” that does the same thing as a DreamLites.
- Tools (he has a lot of play tools)
- The Cars movie
- At the age of two, Jesse often clomped around the house in his daddy’s shoes.
- Jesse’s favorite breakfast is French toast sticks.
- Jesse LOVES to play Bingo! Of course, I always try to let him win.
- One of Jesse’s favorite TV shows is Special Agent Oso. (I’m a HUGE fan of James Bond and I think this Bond knockoff for kids is cute.)
- Jesse’s other favorite movies are Pinocchio, Nanny McPhee, Curious George, Stuart Little and Scooby Doo.
Saturday, October 06, 2012
After the food and cake, Jennifer opened the presents from her friends. She was very happy with everything.
Then they moved on to watching movie, doing karaoke and playing games. They are all having a great time.
It’s not so great for Jesse, though. He’s pretty much feeling left out because it’s a girls-only thing. But hubby and I are taking turns spending time with him.
Happy Birthday, Jennifer!
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
Friday, September 07, 2012
Yesterday, I made a list of book projects I need to complete before the year is out. There are a total of seven books that need to be typed, written and revised. But that's nothing compared to today. Today, I worked on one of my books. After seven days of not working on any of them.
These are big steps I have taken since writing a short story inspired by my mother's death last week. It was a story I was inspired to write because it helped me to cope with the loss of my mother. (Though I know we have not REALLY lost her. Death is not the end.) But just because I am back to work on writing, revising and editing books, it doesn’t mean I am completely “over” or healed about my mother’s death. The truth is, I’m not. I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing her or ever “get over” her passing.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t go on living life like I used to. Because I know we all have things we have to do. Responsibilities. Deadlines. In the beginning, I did things I had to do out of necessity and I was on autopilot. Now it's with a sense of purpose, because I KNOW my mother would want us to continue with life. And I know she would want me to continue writing. So we do the things we gotta do, even if we do these things with a sad look on our faces and with a downcast look every now and then. Or the occasional tear trickling down our cheek.
I have had a lot of help to get through the first week. Lots of tears were shed and lots of prayers were whispered. There were times I just sat down and sadly stared at the sky, wondering if I’d see Mom’s angel, and times I held my kids extra close just one more time. Times I wanted to cry and scream, and times I just kept asking God why. I also turned to a personal journal that I keep. I usually don’t write in it very often, but lately, I have written in it. A lot. I just had a total outpouring of my thoughts, feelings, memories, emotions and struggles. I dealt with the anger instead of lashing out at people with it. Struggled with guilt. Groveled in my sorrow. Kept asking things like was I a good daughter? Did I do enough? Did she know how much I loved her? I just let it all out on the pages. That helped me so much.
It also helped that people took the time to reach out. All the comments and messages on Facebook from relatives expressing their condolences and words of support really meant the world to us. The emails from other people also meant a lot, too. It really means so much that these people took the time to share their condolences and thoughts. It also helped when people shared their own experiences of losing their mothers. One person said you can’t really relate to it or understand it unless you have gone through it, too. I so know what she means. And I also know that sharing this experience helps. I have known others who have lost a mother or father in the past and while I expressed my own condolences to them, I was not able to REALLY relate to what they were going through. Now I do. Now I have been there. And now I can help someone else who goes through such a loss, because now I know what it is like.
It is a little strange losing your parent. I mean, this is a person who played a role in creating us. This is who we came from. And that's a very strong connection. Losing that person is like losing a part of oneself.
The cards we received in the mail were a surprise. We did not expect them. Well, I hadn’t. But they were a very pleasant surprise. I was very grateful for the cards and we will cherish them. We also received a lovely plant. I don’t see it as a reminder that my mom has died; I see it as a sign of just how strong a bond is between people who care about others going through a difficult time. And that says a lot.
And I have also really noticed who exactly have reached out. And who has not. Makes you wonder about who is paying attention. And maybe even who really cares.
One big thing that has changed me since my mother’s death is that I definitely won’t be wasting my time anymore. Time is all we have, really. Time for ourselves, yes, but most importantly, time with the people who matter. For months I hated the habit I had of spending hours on the Internet reading everything. No more of that. If I don’t HAVE to be on the Internet, then I won't be on the Internet. There is a life out there in the world to be lived. I am going to live it. We are not meant to box ourselves away from each other or spend our lives PLANTED in front of some form of technology or another. We are meant to enjoy this world that we live in – the world that is outside our door – and spend time with people. As much time as we can.
So I have made changes to where that is possible. I still work on books, yes, but they’re not going to take up hours of my life every day any more. No more of that!
I have also gotten to where I ask, when I am unsure of something, What would Mom do? What would Mom say? Of course I don’t have an EXACT answer. But I can guess. And that’s the next best thing.
I may be tough on the outside, but I’m still fragile on the inside. I may act and look like I am over my mother’s death, but I’m not REALLY over my mother’s death. I don’t think I ever will be. Life goes on, I know, but it's really hard to pick myself up and keep going without having my mother in this world, too. But at least I am slowly finding my way along this path I must travel, even though my mother is no longer there for me to call on the phone or send a card to. No, but at least she’s still with me in spirit. And that helps, too. That means that she is not really gone. Not really.