Just in case—I mean, there was a big ice storm forecasted. I don't like driving on ice. I don't know anyone who likes driving on ice and I don't like the idea of my kids riding in the schoolbus on ice.
I'm okay with the prophylactic snow day called in advance of the ice storm that's taking its own sweet time getting here.
And I know it's coming because the animals in the hood are prepping for it.
Every day, I'm peppered with questions, like: What's your favorite color? or If you could only watch one TV show for the rest of your life, what would it be? and If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
I don't like these questions and my kids pose them to me constantly. It's how my daughter defines her world, but the questions just stress me.
Now, I want to be the kind of person who has favorites, but I just don't think in those terms. I don't like to be stuck with just one when there are so many options. My favorite color for shoes might be oxblood but you can't go wrong with basic black, but I'm loving cadet blue right now and can't get enough of it! I want it in socks and sweaters and ... you get my point, yes?
Snow Day! Usually the words strike fear in this work from home mom's heart, but everything is good in moderation. My alarm chirped at 5:45am and the first thing I saw was a text message from the school announcing the closure. I let the dog out while my husband made coffee, and she tentatively stepped into the world made unfamiliar with the smells all covered under a scent-free blanket of white. It was quiet—like weirdly quiet, nary an engine nor a chirp to be heard. A few minutes watching the dog make sense of it and a lone owl hooted briefly before the silence returned. I love the snow. I love the smell of snow in the air, the sparkle of it across the lawn, the way it coats the brown winter blah with something beautiful.
Last year, we were cheated and had maybe a half inch dusting that lasted an hour or so on Christmas. This snow is still light, but enough to close schools. I'm adapting to red dirt snow, so different from the northern snow I grew up with, where you'd get half a foot and not half an inch.
We've had snow days in years past, some ice days. Some days when school was called and the roads were delightfully clear but our southern zip code means snow and ice in the forecast can cripple the city (not to mention clear the shelves at the grocery store) so best to be careful. Back when the kids were in elementary school, snow days meant making hot cocoa for the kids to sip after spending an hour searching for the mismatched, rarely used pile of snow gear in the closet, another half an hour getting warmly dressed and about 10 minutes playing outside in the snow before clamoring to come back in the house.
Now, it's almost nine and the kids are still in bed. The dog is sleeping on the couch and I'm sipping coffee in the quiet. We've had the major wave of snow overnight, the rest forecasted to come through shortly. We've got milk, bread, eggs and wine (the staples) and the birdfeeders are stocked and the birds have shown up en force (including a batch of yellow finches, new to my feederhood). The kids will likely whip up a cup of cocoa to sip when they finally roll out of bed in an hour or so. They'll look fondly at the snow every now and then while he plays videogames and she reads the books she checked out from the school library in case of snow day, and the extent of them playing in the snow will be when they take the dog out and get the mail.
Do you hear that? Aside from the snuffles of a snoring dog and the weird sounds the coffeepot makes, it's quiet. The kids are back at school, hubs is at work and it's me and Trixie doing the work from home thing.
I haven't seen 5:45am for a few weeks now (since last year!) and the day is spread out before me like a canvas. I'm having a hard time deciding between Gilmore Girls marathon (I'm almost through my season 6 rewatch and I'm loving/hating it) or productivity. I'm leaning toward productivity (see previous posts regarding no bullshit).
I started on the new year reorganization yesterday with the closets and cabinets. It felt good. Damn, that Marie Kondo might have been onto something. Getting things in order, pitching expired products and getting all the extra bottles of shampoo into one place is liberating. It's amazing that after just a year in the house and my organization of said house needs to be addressed. How much time can one woman spend standing in front of a shelf full of spices muttering about the three years past expiration dates when I just vetted all those dates prior to the move? Too much time.
Spontaneously apparating spices are clearly the opposite of randomly disappearing socks in my universe of home mysteries.
A wonderful side effect of this cleansing purge is finding the bracelet I'd misplaced last fall—my Live In the Moment bracelet that I lost when I clearly was not following directions and was rushing around, multitasking.
It's an auspicious start to the new year to find my reminder to stay in the moment. I wear it on the wrist that also has the permanent memo, to be thankful. Living in the moment is a good, no-bullshit way to live, but I'm not that experienced at it yet.
A warmish weather, no deadlines, holiday-fueled bubble. These first few days of the new year have been spent in glorious manner, sleeping in and eating when we're hungry and kids playing outside and crafting and projects and more. It's not a bad way to ease into the new year.
The kids, fueled still by their summer binge of Stranger Things have collaborated with their neighborhood friends to explore the nearby woods (winter=fewer bugs and itchy plants) and build their fort. As an overprotective mom, I've had to step back and remind myself how much I loved doing the same when I was a kid. They would leave after lunch after sleeping in and head out to the woods until dark, which granted is only 5 or so, but still. My 12 year old self wishes she could run out and join them.
I've been practicing my battle cry to be bullshit-free in 2017 with the user manual that inspired it—Gary John Bishop's Unf*ck Yourself on my Kindle. I've been waking up, reading a chapter and setting my goals accordingly. I finished a few projects, purged a few unnecessary items and went for a run. More walk than run, but if 2016 was the year I gave up running, 2017 will be the year I get it back.
I also spent the better part of an afternoon rebuilding the glorious ball wreath that adorned my front door for a short few weeks prior to Christmas. I used up all my high-temp glue sticks and was able to salvage 99% of the original balls, augmenting them with a pack I picked up on clearance just before Christmas. Satisfied with the finished, refurbished product, I carried it to my office to hang on the door so I could get a proper look at it and until I could get more glue to fill in any more gaps. Of course, when I did so, the hanger on the back of the wreath came loose and I dropped it and it broke. Again. Expletives flew like sparkly balls across my floor. That wreath was maybe not meant to be.
On a family outing yesterday, we perused the post-holiday clearance aisles. "Ooh, look," I said, "Christmas balls on sale!" I was drawn to them, imagining how pretty they would look in my wreath.
"Yeah, we should bring them home and throw them on the floor."
I tried to be weak in 2016. I see that now. I tried to be the one who can't handle the things and frankly? It didn't work for me on so many levels.
I'm reminded of when my daughter was a toddler having a tantrum. She would throw herself on the floor and wail like it was her job and she was looking for a raise. If I walked out of the room, she would follow behind me, quietly, until I got to where I was going and then she would carefully lay herself down before me and commence wailing once again. She was in control at an early age, you see.
I tried to not take control of my life in 2016. I had been in anticipation mode and that was behind me, so what was next? I tried to let things just happen to me, to crumble under the pressure... but that's not who I am. I couldn't do it. I'd reach out to someone to crumble a little and I'd end up talking myself out of it and offering them support as well. Turns out I'm not made for weakness as I'd previously thought I was. I'm made of much stronger stuff. Who knew?
And that's part of the bullshit I'm leaving behind in 2016, this idea that I'm not strong. That I'm not the owner of my own shit—good, bad or indifferent. That I'm on the other side of the door, when in fact, I am the one who chooses the door. I'm in charge of myself. I'm the one who knocks.
A few years back, I was playing Cranium with family, including my sister in law. I was supposed to act out "Princess Leia" without speaking, so I grabbed two boxes of cards from the board and held them to the sides of my head like her iconic Star Wars twin bun hairstyle. It was recognized immediately by my sister in law and we still laugh about it now, years later—she knew the character with a simple pantomime. This is how much a part of our culture Carrie Fisher is. Was. Sigh.
I've been thinking a lot about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds this week. It's hit me harder than I ever imagined it will. Is it the mother/daughter thing? Or is it just reminding me of my own mortality.
We saw Rogue One on Tuesday, the day Carrie Fisher died, as we'd planned to do for about a week, and at the final scene, I gasped and sobbed like a baby. It broke my heart open.
When I was leaving the theater, I got a text from a friend who was clearly sharing headspace with me: I'm weirdly affected by Carrie Fisher's passing, she said. I think many of us are, especially those of us who grew up with her strong Princess Leia as a touchstone. I had picked up her latest book several times at the bookstore and put it back down again. I planned to buy it at some point—but a trip to the store this week finds the shelves are cleaned out, even Amazon has her on back order. We don't want to let go of her just yet and I've read that the publishers are planning another run of her many titles, for which I'm grateful. I downloaded The Princess Diarist audiobook and I'm comforted to have her voice in my ear.
The next day, when we heard the news of Debbie Reynolds, it was another blow. My kids knew her from Singing In The Rain, which I'd watched with them years ago and we still quote from. I've been known to wake them up with a chorus of "Good Morning" and we have a fond and abiding love of "Moses supposes his toeses are roses, but Moses supposes erroneously for nobody's toeses are posies of roses as Moses supposes his toeses to be." They know it from the movie; I first learned it through the board game "Pass Out." The bittersweet idea that she died of a broken heart keeps hitting me like a wave. I pray for her family and for comfort and for peace and understanding.
Yesterday, with the kids in the car (where the big talks happen), we were talking about god and heaven and reincarnation and religion. They've been talking about that a lot lately, both of them identify as agnostic, which catches them a lot of grief from their peers. I don't know if it started as a Christmas-related topic of conversation or what, but it's been on their minds. We talked about life and death and reincarnation and heaven.
He said to me, "Mom, I think when you go to heaven that you live in your perfect dream world. Do you?"
This year, I'm floundering about for a word. Do I want to be a word? This is the annual blogging existential crisis, wherein considering distilling myself down into a neat little word becomes overwhelming. I mean, I had those awesome words for the past 3 years and I feel like I'm still right where I was. What's the point? The point as I see it is to give myself something to key in on when I'm mid-flounder. A mantra—a take a deep breath in, think about said word, exhale and get to stepping. It's a shortcut to productivity, a shortcut through the bullshit that I hide behind that tells me the best course of action is to watch Netflix all day (aka the best day ever) or cancel the plans for the thing or put off that deadline or deal with this that and the other later.
So maybe this year I need more than just a word; I need a reminder that serves as a swift kick in the back end. Because if 2016 taught me anything, it's that nothing is promised, success requires work and not lip service and life is a brief, beautiful dance that could end at any moment.
For 2017, I'm taking an Elvis TCB approach and will consider things through a no bullshit filter—NOBS, if you will. I've been testing it out in 2016, and I think it's a winner. No bullshit, not mine and certainly not anyone else's.
So if you are speaking to me and you ask me something and I take a big pause before replying, trust that it's my bullshit filter testing my answer. Is this the right choice for me? Is this the best way to spend my time? In doing this, will I free up time so I can spend a day watching Netflix without judgment? I'm going to be my own bouncer instead of my own worst enemy. I think that's a goal worth achieving.
We have reached the portion of our winter break where we're all just over it. Over the holiday, over time spent in each other's company, ready for structure and schedule and next year, for the love of all things good and happy.
Or maybe that's just me?
After so much time spent planning Christmas, it seems like a week of flailing about, trying to figure out what's next. I'm a planner and a project-focused person, and once that project is behind me, it can be a struggle. We save holiday-related fun for after Christmas when we're all home together and then none of us want to participate in it. The lights don't seem as fun before the holiday.
This year, on the day after Christmas, we had a lazy day in pajamas where we watched a marathon of The Office and I crocheted until my arm went numb. Leftovers and too many sweets were consumed. And every time I stood up, I put some holiday-related thing away. I'm ready for it to be done and life to resume.
I spend weeks decorating for Christmas, adding bits and bobbles and I'm spun up like Clark Griswald by the time we sit down to watch Christmas Vacation on Christmas Eve.
What I really want for Christmas is for it all to disappear before the end of the month, for it to be spirited away by Santa's elves until I get all excited about seeing the tree and rearranging the living room again.
It makes me appreciate the holiday so much more, appreciate my parents and the Christmases of my past where my Mom was the bringer of the tinsel and the cookies and the presents.
Next year, I'm going to give myself the gift of planning not for Christmas, but for the day after Christmas. I'm going to schedule laziness, make sure the crock pot is loaded with something delicious, have a project to work on, spend time in the sunshine (hopefully).
I don't mean all the words, like these ones here, but rather the ones we make that are dramatic declarations with a purpose to guide us through the upcoming new year.
We're an introspective group, we bloggers.
Back in January of 2016, I made the bold statement that ACTION was going to be the word to guide me through the year. Taking action instead of sitting back and considering action. But you can't always predict what the year will bring.
This year did not bring so much action as it did suck. Lots of things sucked. Not everything, not by a long stretch, but many things. And those are the things that are hard to ignore.