Friday, December 16, 2016

A Christmas Mystery

My son loves nutcrackers. I have no idea why. This is not a passing phase. He has continued to add to his nutcracker collection for years. He loves attending Nutcracker performances. We couldn't afford to go this year and he was so disappointed. (Until I won free tickets from a local radio station!)

Noodle and I both love to decorate for holidays. We watch the "Great Christmas Light Fight" together and dream about having the resources to do a really big display at Halloween and Christmas. Instead, we have to satisfy ourselves with some shabby lighted garland.

Recently, I went on a Costco run with my friend Monique. I was helping her pick out a television. I have a love/hate relationship with Costco. I always get overwhelmed when I go and I can't focus. I end up wandering aimlessly up and down the aisles. After we picked out a television, Monique went over to the health aisle. I told her I wanted to check out the holiday decorations. Just for fun. I warned her, though, not to let me get too crazy. "Costco is the kind of place where you go for groceries and walk out with a six foot tall Nutcracker."

Five minutes later, I send Monique a text:

Now, there is no way I am going to spend $256 on a nutcracker. Even though I was tempted!

In the meantime, our Elf on the Shelf named Crumpet brought my son a new nutcracker as he does every year. It was a big hit. I figured that would be our great nutcracker moment of this Christmas. Noodle did inform me that he asked Santa for a giant Nutcracker but he knows Santa can't get EVERYTHING on one's wish list.

My husband got home today and found this sitting on our front porch.

It is a giant inflatable Nutcracker. Now, very few people know about my son's love of nutcrackers and even fewer know of my joke about getting a 6 ft. tall nutcracker. So where did this come from?  So far, no one has owned up to it.

When my son gets home from school today, this is what he will be greeted by:

Thank you to our mysterious Nutcracker benefactor!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Making Our Own TINY MAMA

For the past few years, we have subscribed to Bobbledy Books. It is a direct subscription service of pictures books and music for kids. Even though my son is outgrowing the books, we still love their whimsical drawings and stories.

The newest book to arrive was TINY MAMA. It couldn't have been more timely. TINY MAMA is the story of a little girl who carries a doll with her everywhere she goes named Tiny Mama. Not only is Tiny Mama a loyal companion but she also whispers advice to the little girl. When the little girl is faced with the behavior of a unkind boy, Tiny Mama reminds the girl of the Golden Rule. One day, however, the behavior of the boy pushes Tiny Mama to tell the girl to go head and hit the boy. The little girl must then learn about the consequences of that action and figure out how to make things right.

My 7-yr-old has been struggling lately to deal with emotions. He recently hit a friend in the face and had to face some pretty stiff consequences. I appreciated the timely nature of this book and how it talks about how everyone makes mistakes but that the important thing is to learn from them and figure out a way to make it right.

I told my son he could make his own Tiny Mama for his pocket to help him remember this lesson.  When I was cleaning out the garage recently, I found some packages of Shrinky Dinks. I thought this would be the perfect way to make our first Tiny Mama. There was some trial and error as Noodle found it difficult to draw his picture large enough.

We didn't stop with Tiny Mama. I made a tiny version of my son that I could carry in my pocket or handbag. We also made a tiny version of our cat. Noodle was very impressed with how quickly the images shrunk in the oven. It only takes about 2-4 minutes. Our final tiny masterpieces were too small to make anything with but we already have ideas for keychains and necklaces and all kinds of other projects! This is a great activity for a rainy day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Loss and Daffodils

(Image from Natalie Creates)

When we first moved to our new rental back in 2011, I was feeling very sad. Gary had lost his job one year prior and still hadn't found a new one. We were one year into a slippery slope of calamity and our downward slide continues. When we moved to Pacific in October 2011, I needed to do something to feel like myself. I decided to plant daffodils in the front flowerbeds. It would be months before I would be able to see them bloom but it gave me something to look forward to. I loved my daffodils so much. It made me happy every year to see them bloom again.

This past Spring, our landlord at Pacific asked us to leave. We were forced to move right in the middle of Noodle's 8th birthday and my 40th birthday. Not exactly how I had pictured celebrating these milestones. After two months of frantic searching, we ended up in a smaller house paying $600 more rent per month. But at least we managed to find something and stay in Petaluma. We packed up our belongings in boxes and decided to leave all the many plants we had lovingly planted.  I left my Fourth of July rosebush that was a gift from Gary and the fruit trees I had nursed back to health after the landlord had allowed them to be choked by ivy and (most heartbreaking) my beloved daffodils.

I thought the worst was over once we had settled in but I had no idea how vindictive my ex-landlord was going to be. Last week, we went to Small Claims Court. It felt dirty and uncomfortable and I hated having to do it. But that money meant a great deal to us. We received the judgment yesterday and it was a disappointment. We were only awarded about 1/4 of our claim. The hardest pill to swallow is that our landlord is charging the new tenant (who moved in exactly one month after we left) about $600-$700 more rent per month than we paid. He is not hurting for money. But I learned hard lessons and I won't make the same mistakes again.

In the past, I started watching the flower beds in the front yard around this time of year. When I saw my daffodils begin to pop up, I knew Spring was on the way. I wish so much I had dug up my daffodil bulbs before we left. I had thought at the time it would be a nice gift to the place we called home for 3.5 years to leave them. Now it just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. 

I saw the photo above on Natalie's blog today. Natalie has become a source of inspiration for me recently. She gives me a glimpse into the kind of home and lifestyle that I hope to build for myself someday. I don't know when it will happen. Some days I despair that it never will. I have to have hope that it will. And when it does, I hope there will be daffodils.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Life Book 2016

A few years ago, I did the Life Book course. I loved the combination of mixed media art lessons combined with self-help. It challenged me to really think about my life and to be creative on a regular basis.  This year, I decided to try again.

My creative life has dried up over the past few years.  I think about how I used to make things all the time when my son was young. I sewed and painted and knitted and did all sorts of things. Then, my creativity dried up along with my joy. Over the past five years, fear and anxiety have taken over my life and squashed my happiness. This year, I am going to try and take it back.

As you all know, we moved to a new rental house last Spring. I lost my workroom. Now, I have some of my art supplies on a baker's rack in the kitchen/dining room. Much of my supplies are still packed up in the garage. I am already behind on Life Book because I am still trying to find my materials. It is frustrating and I have come close to throwing in the towel. This weekend, I finally gathered enough materials to attempt the first creative warmup.

Work in progress:

Bacchus was fascinated and got right in the middle of my work. He ended up with paint on his nose.

I tried to pick a phrase that would be meaningful for this new year and this new venture. I thought about how I have let worry take over my life. Another Life Booker posted a variation on this quotation and I thought it would be perfect:

While this isn't my best work, it's a start. I am going to try to "exchange worry for wonder" this year. I need to get my happy back.

If you'd like to join me in Life Book, you can register here any time. All the videos are available the whole year so you are never behind.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Word(s) of the Year

I have been participating in picking a Word of the Year since 2011.

In 2011, I chose "remember."
In 2012, I chose "breathe."
In 2013, I chose "believe."
In 2014, I chose "thrive."
In 2015, I did not choose a word. I looked at the new year with fear and loathing.

It's time to renew this practice.

This year, I decided on two words which I think will go hand in hand.

The first word is "simplify."

Oddly enough, I had already decided on this word when I discovered the The Bloggess chose it as well.

I need to rid my life of clutter and stuff. Not only physical items but emotional and mental clutter as well. It's time to decide what really matters and get rid of the rest.

Along with that I chose the word "happiness."

The last time I felt truly happy unfettered by fear and anxiety was in 2010. That was when my husband lost his job and we started a downward spiral that continues today.

While my problems continue, I must remember that I can control my reaction to those problems. I cannot let these challenges steal my happiness. Life is short. It's time to get my happiness back.