Holiday Traditions

Bryce and I had a quiet Thanksgiving -- dinner just the two of us on Thursday after a relaxing day, Bryce's duck breast with blueberry port sauce and potatoes gratin and asparagus, and completely delicious and tart lemon chess pie (gluten free of course). Friday we went up to my mom's and had drinks and appetizers in the garage with the door open to assuage our COVID fears, which was great except the real feel outside was TWENTY DEGREES. I appreciated the flexibility in the name of peace of mind even though we felt like we might lose some toes in the process. 

On the way home, we saw something we haven't really seen before -- Thanksgiving decorations! There were multiple homes that had the Giant Bags of Ugliness (big blow up lawn ornaments, can you tell how I feel about them?) but instead of early Christmas stuff it was a TURKEY! A turkey in a pilgrim hat! I have conflicted feelings about the pilgrim hat, but I was like, "Yeah! Giving the turkey his due!" 

This morning I talked with my best friend on my way in to work, and she was thinking on when was the latest she could get away with putting the Elf on a Shelf out. Her kids are 14, 13, and 10, but the 10 year old is still gung-ho about it. Now THAT is a holiday tradition with kids that I am glad we don't have to do (you move the little elf doll around each night, it's watching the kids and reporting to the North Pole, and if anyone touches it Krampus comes and devours the whole family or something like that). Some holiday traditions seem to have exploded in the way of gender reveal parties and promposals and "Will you be my bridesmaid" elaborate exploding boxes with confetti. 

We haven't put our tree up yet, even though I wanted to on Sunday, but it will go up by the end of the week. Ahhhh, fake pre-lit tree, year two. It will be interesting to see how Eggi does with the tree since this is her first Christmas with us. I thought I'd be sad with the fake tree, but it is actually gloriously easy to put up and turn on and I don't have to worry about setting the house on fire by accident. 

I think this next weekend will be our Christmas Decorating Extravaganzaaaa, and we'll get our Woodland Critter Countdown out for Wednesday. So far I've just changed out Pumpkin Bourbon candles for Balsam Cedar and Winter Clementine. We're a bit behind, but there's no pressure from tiny people to have stuff ready. 

The holidays used to be a source of deep, deep sadness. Christmas is literally about a miracle baby, and families and family things are flung in the face willy nilly (oh how I hate "the magic of Christmas is all about children" and similar comments accompanying Christmas photo shoots on Facebook), and it used to be a horrid reminder of all we lost. But, I think about our new house and our new prelit tree and all the ways that we have made the holidays ours, enjoyable for what they are and not what they could have been but weren't. I don't think I would have believed 5-6 years ago that we could be in this space of acceptance and flourishing. It is good to remember how it felt that that sadness would never end, and now it's more of a hum I can only hear on occasion when a song or movie hits just right, and not our whole experience. 

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Holiday Card Hurrah

It's time for me to start thinking about our annual holiday card -- the closer to Thanksgiving you do it, the cheaper, and it's something fun to think about and put together. We've done a photo card every year since we got married in 2009. It's a fun exercise and a time capsule -- I have a box with all of them in it so far. I also feel like they should be for everyone -- not just people with kids. 

I've noticed an increasing trend of only putting kids on the holiday card, which bothers me. Mostly because it seems to make more tangible this idea of losing your identity to the process of child-rearing, or of saying, "this is what truly matters" and taking yourself out of the picture. I enjoy so much more when the whole family (especially dogs and cats and various critters) are featured, too. 

Something that has always bothered me is the lack of diversity in the card offerings. Not race as much as age and relationship status/family types, since they are doing a great job with representing a variety of ethnicities. I'm seeing more and more same-sex couples with children, and single parents. 

The biggest change I saw this year though, thank heavens, is the inclusion of more people without children. There's always been young couples who've just been married, and of course the horrid pregnancy-announcement-holiday-card, but on Shutterfly I saw middle-aged couples without kids, couples with dogs, and a single woman with her dog. HALLELUJAH! I saw a couple where the man had a hearing aid visible, which was lovely too. And some older couples who did not have a bevy of grandchildren with them -- older couples that seemed to be without kids. 

It is about freaking time. 

Representation is important in every sense, and it has felt very much like "these cards are not supposed to be for you, what the hell are you doing here?" in the past. I got a National Wildlife catalog and they are now doing photo cards that support their work, but ALL OF THE CARDS HAD KIDS. Which made me titchy. 

So imagine my happiness to see such a diversified set of families featured on Shutterfly! (TinyPrints, you have some work to do, even though you're related.) And, couples without children were labeled "The ___ Family!" 

I know not everyone WANTS to do photo cards, and cards in general seem to be falling out of fashion (which is sad and indicative of the end of civilization I think), but everyone should be able to see themselves in something you create to wish others well at the holidays. If you want to do a card, you should be able to envision yourself on an example without erasing tiny humans from the picture. It should put the message out there that you are worthy of a photo card, too. That it's perfectly acceptable to have a photo card with you and your dog, or you and your significant other and cats. 

So appreciative for these very easy fixes that have been a long time coming. 


I am feeling just so...blah. Depleted. Zonked. Wiped out. 

My arm is healing in terms of the bruising fading -- THREE WEEKS LATER it is still visible. But, my shoulder is all messed up. I must have done something to it when I fell because I don't have full range of motion, it feels "stuck." I actually went to Urgent Care last weekend and got my arm x-rayed because so many of you were like, "I was worried you broke it!" and I realized I never got it imaged. Good news: it's not fractured or anything. 

Question: how old do you have to be for them to stop asking you if you could be pregnant? They said, "Any chance you could be pregnant?" and I said "No," and he said, "Are you sure?" and I said "I DON'T HAVE A UTERUS," which is now my stock answer for everything pregnancy related. But when is that? 50? 55?)

Bad news: I have to go to an orthopedist for follow up as I may need an MRI to check for shoulder damage. Arghhhh. 

School is just exhausting. The teaching in masks all day is tough but doable, but the emotional toll is so great. I have students who I have to shut off the emotional piece of things. One with many significant issues has decided she ABSOLUTELY HATES ME, and we've tried so many ways of engaging and stepping in and out and I pretty much feel like my job is to keep a paper trail and document like mad so we can get her what she really needs, but in the meantime it just feels awful. It all takes a toll after a while. I'm not the teacher who needs everyone to like her, liking me is besides the point and really my big thing is to love everybody even when they show their need for love in horrifically unlovable ways, I don't need nor do I want to be students' best friends. But hearing "I effing hate you" daily can be...tiresome. It also feels like pandemic teaching is just never. going. to. end. I could cry.

I feel like I need a lot of restorative time. Puzzles are great but then I get obsessive and lose myself in them for a whole evening (I can't really do them on weeknights because then I don't go to bed early enough). I'm reading, but am finding that my concentration isn't what it used to be. I want to just lie on the couch. I'm trying to do the bike or a walk as soon as I get home to move my body, but in addition to my arm/shoulder I hurt my left foot on a walk where my orthotic met bar inserts seem to have slipped and so pressure was put on a metatarsal that wasn't good. I feel like I am being sabotaged in that department. I still go to Pilates, it's my saving grace, but I'm super modified with my stupid shoulder/arm. [insert not-so-silent screaming here]

Anyway, I'm sorry for just dumping all this here but it just feels like a lot, you know? I am SO looking forward to the Thanksgiving break... today was Monday and tomorrow is Virtual Friday (I have Wednesday-Thursday-Friday off, thank goodness). I can do this. I can make it through one more day and then rejuvenate and reconstitute for the break.

Want to read #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

A Heavy Shelf

Part of my decluttering (read: procrastinating along with de-funkifying) yesterday was to move a shelf in my office. It's kind of hidden by my chaise longue/unfortunate cat scratching post, so I'd put a bunch of picture books there. 

These are books that fall in a few categories: 

- Books I took home from discard book boxes when I worked at Scholastic Book Clubs over TWENTY YEARS AGO. Holy hell, that makes me feel old. 

- Books I bought because I liked them, but also because I thought I'd share them with my own child at some point. Some Bryce bought, too. 

- Books from our baby shower 6 years ago that have dedication stickers in them that say who they are from and a message to our FutureBaby, who turned out to be in an alternate reality that never came to pass. 

- Books that were mine that I loved, and that I wanted to keep for my future children. You know, the ones that don't exist. 

Perhaps this wasn't a task to take on while fighting a funk. But, I did. I don't know what to do with them, but I do have a shelf in the hallway upstairs that has some old picture books of mine, and they are going up there. Except the Maine ones, those go on the Maine shelf in the living room. They don't need to be in my inspirational space. 

It made me think... WHY am I keeping so many? I have actually given a bunch away to friends with actual children, and most of the ones left I still have for reasons. I love picture books. They represent more than just the kids we never had. But, they don't have to live so close to where I spend so much time. 

I decided to donate a bag of them to the organization that helps with tutoring and chubby services for a large low income housing development in my district, where there are also a lot of families involved in refugee resettlement. Who doesn't need books of their own? I'd rather more go there and get used than be sad in a shelf I keep slowly moving and winnowing. 

It's still hard, though.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy. 

How to Get Out of a Funk

It's been a rough couple of weeks. 

I have a bad habit of sort of disappearing when I'm having a hard time. It's probably not the healthiest. I've done it before in moments of crisis, and all it does is isolate me and let me sit in a cycle of suck. It makes me believe my inner voice that is a constant spin of "everythingisterrible." 

There's no one event. It's just...everything. I am completely overwhelmed at school. It spills over to home. I work and work and work and never really feel ahead and then I come home and just feel...paralyzed. I have a million things I want to do, but I'm just overtaken by this bone tiredness and ennui. 

I'm upset that I got Shingles again, but catching it early and slamming it with medication (that, yeah, made me feel bone tired and out of it) made it a LOT less painful this time around. Which meant I didn't take any time off for it. Probably not a great move. I missed some Pilates classes because of it, but then was like, "I feel so much better!" and went off the nerve pain medication for our anniversary (more on that later), and then felt shitty again on our actual anniversary (Halloween) and had to go back on. 

But then, I had a really bad day on this past Monday, and I was completely exhausted from my tough caseload and a week where we were facing a TON of tests and we're shortstaffed and don't have a test center for accommodations, so I am taking it upon myself to help out and read tests during my prep periods. (Yes, I can hear the sound of so many hands slapping foreheads at this. I realize it's not up to me to fix everything, but I feel this weird compulsion of I'LL DO IT that serves me not at all.) I came home, exhausted and cranky, writing my daily email to one students' parents because of the heavy heavy behavioral component, and my laptop started dying so I got up to plug it in in my office and then...

I tripped on Eggi, who was sitting next to my chair, and slid out of my puffin slippers, and tried to grasp at something and grabbed my chair THAT HAS WHEELS and fell with all my weight on my left arm into the knife edge of my desk. It SUUUUUUUUUUUCKED. I started crying right away, and then it became howling (because of course it was Shingles Side of my body), and then I no joke cried like Sally in When Harry Met Sally for about an hour. Bryce held me and then when it didn't abate at all, he said, "This is so not just about your arm." He then said, "THAT'S IT, you're going to go put pajamas on and your office is off limits and you're going to read and do a puzzle and take care of your damn self this evening. ENOUGH." 

My arm hurt so bad that I had tingling and numbness in my left hand, and had to skip Pilates all week because I tried the stationary bike and it left me tingling and shooting down my arm and I really didn't need to be balancing on equipment like that. 

2 days after I did it

Ooh, pretty colors. Today, almost a week later.

Wait, the title of this is "How to Get Out of a Funk." So far I've just told you how to get solidly stuck in one. 

Fast forward to this weekend... yesterday I felt just blah and then angry that I felt blah, because IT'S FINALLY THE WEEKEND AND MY TIME TO RECOUP and I keep feeling shitty when my body has permission to let go. I spent some very mopey time on the floor of my office (the carpet's really soft and Eggi came by for some purry pets) and did some dusting and organizing, and then was like... ENOUGH. 

So here are my tips: 

1) Get off the damn floor. It's great for about 5 minutes, any longer and you start sinking into it and your thoughts go haywire and just keep you down there. GET UP. 

2) Put some makeup on. I love how makeup can make you feel more put together, not BETTER per se but just, decorated, maybe? Not everyone loves the makeup, but I do and it's sort of like coloring. On my face. It makes me feel brighter and happier. 

3) Get out of the damn house. Get outside. Do something physical. We went to this trail behind our local SPCA, and it is like a little hidden gem. You go up a huge hill past the rescue horses and some paddocks and then a memorial garden, and then you enter this beautiful golden wood that then goes down into a basin that is ALWAYS filled with a magical mist when we go. Which apparently is every early November. It's quiet, there's no other people, the light is spectacular, and in early November it's crisp and exhilarating. 

Wearing my "Stay Sexy...Don't Get Murdered" t-shirt (My Favorite Murder Podcast)

4) Connect with people. Don't hide away like an injured forest critter. It's not good for you. 

I'm kind of in a funk again today, probably because I can feel the crushing weight of all I have to do to get ready for the week later today, but I'm doing some book organizing and rearranging in my home office and that's making me feel better. I did that after school on Friday, too -- I am so ridiculously busy that my desk gets covered in piles of paper each week and it feels completely overwhelming. Friday I stayed until it looked decently clean, and it made me feel so much better. Doing the same at home now. 
And so, 

5) Do some organizing and decluttering. Decluttered surroundings really do help with having a more decluttered mind. 

We have a day off on Thursday, for Veterans' Day, weird midweek day off but I WILL TAKE IT. Having a sub shortage makes me feel like I can't take a day. I am going to have to get over that because no one else seems to have a problem with taking a day if they need to. And I am in a place where I feel like I need to make some changes or else I am going to end up in a world of hurt before December. But at least I have tips, some of which I learned while spending lots of time facedown on the floor during my health crisis that ultimately ended our parenting journey. Get up. Get out. Get dressed and do your face, even if you're just tromping around the woods. Harder....stop feeling like you have the power to fix all the things and everything will be awful if you actually stop and take care of yourself. Remember how good your body is at making you stop completely when you don't. 

Breathe. And know that awful times pass eventually.