Making Peace with October

My father with our cat Sylvester

My father with our cat Sylvester

Today marks nine years since my father passed away. Sometimes it feels like more time than that and sometimes less time than that. Either way, any amount of time without my father has been difficult. However, as the years have passed, the actual day of his passing has lost some of the heavy weight it had upon my heart and I’ve learned to make peace with October.

Feeling sad without my father after his passing used to come around certain dates such as holidays, his birthday, family birthdays, and the day he walked on into the spirit world. It would also come at just random times when I’d be struck with a wave of sorrow that nearly knocked me off my feet. But time has lessened the pain and I’ve learned to enjoy holidays and birthdays again. While I miss him every single day and will always miss him, I also know that he doesn’t want me to dwell in pain and sadness. After all, when my father was alive he was very much into celebrating holidays, birthdays, and all special occasions with as much happiness as possible.

This year leading up to the anniversary of my father’s passing, I’ve been distracted by various things. I was working hard to save up for my recent trip to New England and the week before I left for that trip, I was battling wasps that had come through the wall of my closet. The wasps were an unexpected and unwanted adventure and the trip to New England was my little reward to myself for surviving that harrowing escapade. I think those distractions served me well, even though one was far less pleasant than the other. I had a strong feeling that I needed to go to New England this October because I hadn’t been out in October in many years, and I’m so glad I went! I know my dad was with me in spirit as always and sharing in my travels.

Today I spent the time just enjoying a lazy Sunday with my daughters. My mom stopped by briefly to drop off a new coat for my youngest daughter and we had a nice little visit chatting about various things. I’ve also been playing a bit of World of Warcraft with my oldest daughter, which is always fun and interesting. Then I did some beading of a new Halloween themed pin and had a nice talk with my youngest daughter about the tablet she uses for school and how it helps her with her homework.

This evening will be more along the lines of just spending time with my girls and being grateful for the blessings and happiness in my life. I know my father would want it that way and I know that he’s always with us in spirit. He watches over us, laughs with use, and most of all, loves us all.

Advertisements

Clever, Crafty, and Creative Wonder!

crafty girl

Jordan painting wooden centers for my earrings.

My oldest daughter turns 15 today. Just typing that out I’m in disbelief! It seems like I just gave birth to her moments ago, but obviously that’s not the case. She’s been a blessing since the day she was born and she continues to develop into an amazing young woman.

Along with my brown hair and eyes, Jordan has inherited by artistic nature. Although in her, it’s magnified far more than the talents I possess. She’s a great painter, drawer, writer, sculptor, and musician and she’s far smarter than I was at her age, or even than I am now. She’s always on the highest honor roll in school and she uses her clever and intelligent mind in constantly evolving ways.

She loves to paint in both small and large forms and her freehand abilities with a brush astound me. She’s painted a map of her fantasy world on her bedroom walls and she’s paint quotes from favorite movies and shows that further express what makes her tick. I’ve been asking her for over a year to draw or paint some centers for my earrings and over the last couple months she’s painted several wooden centers that I’m looking forward to beading around. Her steady hand and uniquely creative mind helps her design and implement artistry that is both intricate and fun.

Jordan has also inherited my sarcasm, wit, curiosity, and sense of humor. Although really, I can’t take full credit for that that because she has her own personality and individuality. I’m happy to say that Jordan and I get along very well, which isn’t always the case with parents and children with similar personalities. I’m also very happy that she’s not like “typical” teenage girls in that she’s not interested in any of the high school drama, has no interest in boys (unlike me at her age), and is more intent on enjoying her life than getting caught up in teenage stuff. She’s mature beyond her years and I count myself extremely lucky that she’s my daughter.

Jordan makes me laugh, she makes me think, and she makes me proud to call her my daughter. She’s a wonderful older sister to Jaycie and both encourages her and keeps her on her toes. Being Jordan’s mother inspires me to be the best version of myself because that’s what she does every single day. I love my clever, crafty, and creative wonder!

The mean little appendix

image

My daughter watching TV from her hospital chair

My youngest daughter Jaycie was scheduled to have her appendix removed on October 4th, but the mean little appendix wouldn’t wait that long. On the night of Tuesday, September 13th, Jaycie woke up sick and had stomach pain. If she hadn’t already gone through the whole perforated appendicitis with abscesses episode back in August, I wouldn’t have worried about a stomach ache but after all that, I knew better.

She stayed home Wednesday with me and wasn’t feeling any better by mid morning so I called the surgeon’s office and they said to bring her in so the doctor could take a look. One thing led to another and we found ourselves in the emergency room getting Jaycie ready for a CT scan again. She really wasn’t happy about having to get another IV put in and I don’t blame her! Since we were close to home this time, I asked my mom to come hang out with us and she did. There was no TV in the emergency room but Jaycie had brought her tablet and there was wifi so she watched Netflix while we waited.

Jaycie had a CT scan around 5:30 p.m. and about a half hour later the doctor came and said that her appendix was inflamed again but they didn’t see any abscesses this time. So they said surgery to remove the appendix was the best course of action and I wholeheartedly agreed! Jaycie was very anxious and scared about having surgery that night but we all knew she’d do much better once the mean little appendix was out.

It was around 8 p.m. when they took Jaycie back for surgery and she was understandably scared. I kissed her and told her I loved her and my brave little girl was off to surgery. Although the surgery happened ahead of schedule, I was relieved that it was being performed by the surgeon that was supposed to do it in October. He was very nice and explained everything and I had complete faith in his abilities.

My mom, myself and Jaycie’s dad had been in the surgery waiting room for an hour watching TV when the surgeon came back to say it went well and she was all done. He told us that there had in fact been an abscess but it wasn’t visible on the CT scan because it was behind a wall of skin as Jaycie’s body tried to protect itself from it. He showed us pictures he’d of her insides during the surgery (they did it all endoscopically) and it was both interesting and somewhat disconcerting. The surgeon explained that they’d removed the appendix and done their best to clean out all the bacteria but that she’d have to be in the hospital on antibiotics for a day or two to make sure she healed properly. I thanked the surgeon for his work and was again so very relieved he’d been the one to perform the surgery.

We waited another hour before a nurse came and said we could go see Jaycie in recovery. We all followed her down a few hallways and then into the recovery room where Jaycie was the only patient. She was lying in the hospital bed covered with blankets and mostly out of it as the anesthesia slowly wore off. They had her legs in compression cuffs that would squeeze on leg and then the other to promote circulation and prevent blood clots. I was familiar with such cuffs because my father had to wear them a few times during his hospital stays. It was a somewhat scary thing seeing them on my 10 year old daughter.

Although mostly out of it, Jaycie was happy to see us and she said a loud “Yay!” that her appendix were finally gone. She was a bit silly from the drugs but still my tough little cookie and I was so happy the whole ordeal with her appendix was coming to an end. They moved her up to a private room within a half hour and by then it was after 11 p.m. and we were all exhausted. Jaycie’s emotions were out of sorts due to the surgery and the medications and tears started to run down her face when I kissed her goodbye. This about broke my heart even though I knew she was going to fall asleep soon and not even know if I was there. I kissed her goodbye a few more times before leaving and promised her I’d return early the next morning.

Driving home in the dark that night was not fun as I saw several deer and a few of them had the audacity to run out in front of exhausted me. I made it home safely and collapsed into bed, setting my alarm for 5:30 a.m. the next morning. For the next three days I woke up before the sun and arrived at the hospital just before the sunrise or just after. I was there when Jaycie woke up every day and my mom arrived around the same time I did or shortly after. My mom and I would spend the day at the hospital with Jaycie until her father and Jordan arrived to take the dinner time to bed time shift.

image

Arriving at the hospital before sunrise

The first time I helped her get up to use the bathroom on Thursday morning she screamed in pain and that’s the most awful sound any mother can hear. She’s not fond of pain medications but they gave her some morphine that first morning and by the end of the day, tylenol was enough. She spent her days watching Disney Channel on the hospital TV and my mom and I would talk, read books or wander the hospital to keep our sanity.

Having endured the whole situation in MA when her appendicitis flared up, the days in her hospital as she recovered from her appendectomy were all too familiar. She was grumpy, not very talkative and didn’t want to eat the first day and then improve the second day and was eager to go home the third day on Saturday. The doctor who performed the surgery was one of the most attentive doctors I’ve ever encountered in all my times in hospitals (most of that when my father was ill) and he came in at least twice a day to check on Jaycie and talk to us about what they were doing and how things looked. With everything my father went through in hospitals, they’re not my favorite place, but this surgeon’s obvious care for his patients was very reassuring and comforting. He even came in earlier than he said Saturday morning so Jaycie would be discharged earlier and that meant the world to Jaycie, my mom and myself!

Jaycie was so happy to get out of the Saturday and to come home with me for the weekend. It was supposed to be her father’s weekend, but my house is much quieter than his since it’s just me and my animals so she came with me. Jaycie relaxed on my couch enjoying her favorite shows and tablet games and eventually transformed back into her usual talkative self. She had to stay home from school for all of last week and that was fine with her! I liked having so much time with her and seeing her heal and recover was extremely reassuring for me. She kept saying how happy she was that her appendix was out and she was out of the hospital and I understand completely!

image

My youngest daughter returned to school this morning for the first time since having the emergency appendectomy and she’s back to her normal self. She had her follow-up appointment with the surgeon yesterday and he cleared her to resume everything she usually does including participating in gym and PT and playing in band. We’re all very relieved that the mean little appendix is finally gone and that life can return to the usual routine. This has all shown me what a blessing the usual routine is and I’m so grateful that my baby is healthy once again!

 

Winter writing, walking, and winging it!

winter field

December has arrived with cloudy skies and temperatures dropping into the teens by tonight. One would expect such frigid temperatures this time of year in Upstate NY, but considering that yesterday it was 50 degrees with occasional sun, I’m thinking it wise to expect the unexpected this month.

Along that thought, I’ve already decided something unexpected this month and that is to post a new blog entry every day in December. I was slacking a bit in November with the holidays and having to write my college research paper, but now that the paper is done and I know exactly what I’m getting for gifts for my girls, I can focus on writing for pleasure again! I don’t want my pursuit of a writing career and writing-based college degree to kill my love of writing so it’s best that I continue to express myself with the usual rambling Julie here.

Writing rambling or writing serious work are both easier when it’s cold outside. What isn’t easy when it’s cold outside is working up the motivation to walk Jazzmin. Nonetheless, she and I both benefit from our walks so I vow to walk every day in December! If there are days when it’s -20 with a wind chill we might not make it out, but I’ll do my best to make up for it with more than one walk a day if necessary! Jazzmin could walk forever so I’m certainly not worried about tiring her out and considering how much I love Chex Mix and sweets during this time of year, I could use the beneficial tiring out. 😉

Another thing that tires me out is overthinking. I don’t know if overthinking is just part of being a writer or if it’s just an unrelated malady I have, but it’s an exhausting quirk. I’m constantly thinking of the “what ifs” and “shoulda coulda wouldas” of life and all it does is make me overly anxious and waste my energy. Therefore, for my third W of winter (or at least for December) I’ve decided to wing it. As in go where the wind blows me and not worry so dang much about things I can’t control.

I know two very potent remedies for my overthinking and they’re beading and writing in fantasy books. When I use my overly active mind in my handmade creations, I’m amazed with my own capabilities. Focusing my highly excitable imagination into my writing has helped me come up with plots lines and character developments that astound me. I believe that if I just let go of my worries and allow hope, inspiration, and faith flow freely, I’ll finally be able to break through my writer’s block and create stories the world will love to read. 🙂

Tis the season for sappy holiday movies

It seems like the holiday season starts earlier every year, but I don’t particularly mind. Christmas decorations at Halloween are excessive but I’ve grown so used to it, I don’t notice it that much anymore. It also helps that I only leave my house to get groceries and other necessities and avoid the busy malls as much as possible. I’ve been buying my gifts online for years now and it’s ideal for me and anyone else who has ever worked retail and loathes the thought of holiday crowds.

There’s one particular aspect of the holidays that I didn’t realize started so early until this year and that’s the showing of sappy holiday movies. There was a time when I’d grumble and huff about them starting so soon, but not this year. For various reasons, I’m okay with kicking off the holidays sooner than usual. In fact, I already have a string of colored lights up in my living room at the request of my youngest daughter and I rather like the soft glow of them in the evening.

It’s by the soft glow of those holiday lights that I’ve been watching the sappy holiday movies in the evenings when I don’t have my girls. The movies are predictable to put it mildly. They’re filled with attractive single people who can’t find love or who have been scorned by love and then poof! The holidays happen and there’s magically someone new in their lives that they fall in love with. The blossoming relationship hits some sort of snag about a half hour before the movie ends but then everything works out happily within the last 5-10 minutes. Despite the fact that such a sappy holiday movie plot has yet to come true in my life, I still believe in love and don’t mind watching happy holiday endings.

I don’t expect Hallmark or Lifetime to make a sappy holiday movie that even remotely mimics my life. The plot would revolve around a single mother in her late 30’s who lives in the middle of nowhere (and I do mean nowhere), spends her days as a semi-recluse writing freelance from home, has two crazy kittens that alternate trying to snuggle up her nose with climbing the walls, has a dog as her constant shadow, trips over a bowling ball black cat named after a bird, and has basically no social life. Not much of a plot because it wouldn’t go anywhere interesting. No big holiday parties to attend, no social events in town, and no local friends to throw fun bashes..equals a most boring plot.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Nighty night, Mama!

Nighty night, Mama!

Last year I was able to go out to New England a couple of times over the holidays but that’s not in the cards this year. I enjoyed the holiday parties I went to out there and relished in the feeling that I was part of something outside of my little “cave” in Upstate NY. I’ll get back to New England in the New Year and will definitely make more holiday parties out there part of my 2015 plans. Nevertheless, for this year, it will just be me, my girls, and my small family or just me and my crazy household of animals. Perhaps someday I’ll know romantic love again or maybe I’ll just become a “crazy cat lady” 😉 but no matter what, I know I have many blessings to be thankful for!

The kittens love using each other as pillows. :)

The kittens love using each other as pillows. 🙂

A day of surprises

The first surprise today was the amazingly nice weather for November. Yes, the weather forecast had said it was going to be almost 60 and sunny, but anyone who lives here knows not to believe such an optimistic prediction until they actually experience it. Thankfully, the crystal ball-reading forecasters were right today and the sun shined warm and bright.

I shined almost as bright and warm as the sun today when I checked the SNHU connect app and discovered that I’d won the Most-Liked/Commented Halloween Costume contest for my picture as a Swashbuckler Sith. I was shocked! I’ve never won a costume contest (not that I’ve been in many) and I don’t win many things in general so I was ecstatic. The physical prize is some SNHU swag which is very nice, but the real prize is much deeper than that. For a girl who was either not seen in high school or viewed as weird, a witch, or worse, feeling a small taste of popularity was a surprising self-confidence boon!

The announcement of the winner. :)

The announcement of the winner. 🙂

The winning Halloween selfie. Swashbuckler Sith.

The winning Halloween selfie. Swashbuckler Sith 😉

In all honestly, I’m a Jedi Master and not a Sith, but I dressed up as a Sith just to see what it felt like. Apparently, I wear it well, but that I’m still a believer in the positive, perky, and sunny side of the Force.

To partake in the sunny side of the Force, my girls and I headed down to the school playground for some fresh air fun. The playground is rather nice, well-built, and very familiar to all of us as I’ve been taking my girls there since they were little. Jaycie usually spends the entire time on the swings because she loves swinging but eventually Jordan and I were able to convince her to join us exploring the “towers” of the playground. The surprising thing was that once we got Jaycie off the swing, she didn’t want to get back on and she was more than happy to chase around with her older sister. I know how truly blessed I am that my two daughters play so well together, especially since there’s a 4 year age difference between them. It felt wonderful playing around with my girls and pretending I was a kid again!

Sign at the playground. Yes they do!

Sign at the playground. Yes they do!

Jaycie swinging as usual.

Jaycie swinging as usual.

Yay! She's off the swing!

Yay! She’s off the swing!

My girls on the playground bridge.

My girls on the playground bridge.

Jaycie conquering the bridge!

Jaycie conquering the bridge!

Awww! They're playing together. =)

Awww! They’re playing together. =)

I am queen of the sunken half-tire thingies!

I am queen of the sunken half-tire thingies!

Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be even better than today’s and I’ll happily take it considering how awful November was last year. Every nice day is one less icky, winter day and no matter the weather, each dawn brings the potential for miracles, gifts, and surprises.

The power of pizza!

Love on a pizza :)

Love on a pizza 🙂

During my Friday night grocery shopping trip, I picked up a can of Pillsbury’s Pizza Crust because I was planning to make pizza tonight. Usually I buy the store’s ball of dough and fight with it until it mostly fits on the pizza pan. I decided I wasn’t up for that fight this weekend so I grabbed the Pillsbury version instead. A simple-seeming thing but with nostalgic significance.

I’m not sure when it started, but I can remember my family using that particular pizza dough to make many pizzas. It was so convenient to just pop open the can and roll the dough out on a cookie sheet and I can completely understand why my parents opted to use it instead of other dough. When I made the pizza tonight, happy memories flooded back to me the moment I smelled that familiar dough. Pillsbury dough has a distinct taste and smell, much different from the store brand of dough or homemade crust.

As I rolled the dough out onto the cookie sheet, I suddenly decided that the girls and I were going eat in the living room tonight and watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Long before my family started using the Pillsbury dough, I remember that one night a week we would order pizza and watch the original Star Trek reruns on the TV in the family room. It was a real treat eating in the family room, I loved sitting on the floor with my plate on the coffee table, and my eyes glued on Star Trek. My father loved Star Trek and I grew up loving it too. Every time I watch Star Trek TNG now, I remember watching it with him and going to the Star Trek movies with him. It makes me miss him but it also reminds me that he’s always with me in spirit.

The simple act of buying that pizza dough transformed tonight into a tribute to my father’s memory and I was inspired to arrange the meatballs on the cheese in a heart shape. My daughters thought I was loopy of course, but that’s okay. As a further tribute to my father, I had a glass of the root beer in my fridge that went flat long ago. My father would always drink the flat pop and that’s another of his traits I inherited. There’s something to be said about not having bubbles going up my nose making me sneeze. 

Sitting on the floor of my living room with my girls as we watched the first episode of the second season of TNG filled me with happiness and contentment. Carrying on traditions, even ones as silly as eating pizza while watching Star Trek, help me keep the memory of my father alive and insure that my girls never forget their amazing grandfather.