After a lag of about 10 days, the latest I’ve ever been, I finally got our Advent calendar completely filled and hung over the fireplace. (not the traditional place to display such a calendar, but considering how big it is, and that we don’t use said fireplace, it’s the default.)

I simply wasn’t feeling it. I usually have everything picked out, wrapped and ready to go by Nov 30, because the first place the kids would head on the morning of Dec 1 was to the calendar to find out what their first Advent present was.

When they were little, it was easy to fill ~ little trinkets like fanciful erasers, tiny tubs of Playdoh, hair clips, Hot Wheels cars, holiday pencils, and varied and sundry Christmas candies.

It’s not the same when your babies are 20 and 16. Playdoh doesn’t cut it anymore. You have to get very creative. (I do want my own 64-count box of Crayolas with the built-in sharpener though.)

When JM left for college, her brother and I decorated a small wooden Snowman, replete with 24 little drawers to fill. We wanted her to have her Advent gifts on the proper days.

The second year she was gone, we couldn’t find the Snowman amongst all the other Christmas decorations and I got her a Advent wreath at Tar-jay. That too is lost this year… I just filled the pockets of the family calendar with her and WK’s gifts. I was too lazy Grinchy claustrophobic to crawl around in the attic to find either of the surrogate calendars. She had 12 days of catching up to do when she got home for her winter break.

During a recent telephone conversation, I mentioned the calendar. She said something along lines of this being the last year I would have to include two gifts. I was relieved in a way ~ relieved that it was JM who said it and not me. It was one more crossing from childhood to adulthood that I was reluctant to take. I didn’t want to be the one to make that choice… it’s sad, but it was inevitable.

(I asked WK if he also felt he had outgrown the calendar… he gave me one of those ‘hell, no!’ looks. That’s my boy!)

Her trips home have been fewer and far between. It’s understandable, she’s busy with classes, busy with friends, making the most of her college experience. That and she is only two hours away, not like we can’t see her whenever we want.

We’ve more or less turned her bedroom into a ginormous closet. Every time I know she is coming home for a visit I have to clear off her bed, or make a pathway from the door into her room. I don’t know what the customary waiting period is to turn your child’s room into an office. Is it like a widow being expected to go through a year of mourning? Do I have to wait six months, a year, from the time she permanently moves out? Or do I turn the room into a shrine, not changing a thing… ever?

This is so foreign to me ~ having a child leave home and her return stays being called visits. It’s very weird.

JM has a year to go before she graduates, and we really haven’t had any discussions about she wants to do after school. Whether she will move back home to look for a job, or stay where she is. I think there are some plans to continue with grad school, and that would mean she still won’t be living at home full-time.

She turns 21 in 235 days… I know this because I have a widget on my laptop dashboard that is counting down to her birthday. When I was her age, I was basically living away from home with no desire to move back after college. I should ask my mother about that, get her input on how she felt when she realized I had finally left home for good.

As much as I claim to be looking forward to an empty nest, the reality is vastly different. I am eager for both of my children to be independent and successful adults, but having them actually leave home, for all intents and purposes completely moving out, is incredibly conflicting.



For Wordless Wednesday I posted a photo of a huge pile of aluminum soda tabs. Seems I need to explain why I had all those tabs. It was the contents of a full gallon-sized ziplock bag filled with the silver-tone nuggets. My family has been saving them for years. Taking untold pounds of them to a local medical center when we fill up a couple bags worth, where they are then redeemed to benefit Ronald McDonald Houses around the country.

These facilities are for families to stay, for little or no cost, while their child is hospitalized, typically long-term.

When WK was six months old, he was severely burned. I won’t go into detail, because even now, 16 years later it’s still very difficult to talk about. Regardless, he spent two weeks in Nashville at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital burn ward. While he was there, I was fortunate enough to be allowed to stay in his room with him, and again a month later when he had another two-week stay following skin graft surgery.

For a year after that surgery, he wore a spandex pressure mask and gel pads to minimize the inevitable scarring. Every month he had to be refitted to accommodate his ever-growing body.

The scar, which for years after was an angry red and pink, ran from the corner of his month, along his left jaw line almost to his ear. Doctors told us that as he grew, his scar would eventually migrate down and would hopefully become less and less noticeable.

While that in part was true, and many people tell us they don’t notice the scar when first meeting WK, it is still there, proportionally not as big as when he was an infant, but still there.

Kids would be cruel, teasing him about the scar. Adults would be ignorant telling me ‘I bet he won’t play with matches again.’ Really, a six month old can light a match or strike a lighter? Shit-head moron!

I digress….

When WK was in middle school, I applied to Shriners Hospitals for Children hoping to get him accepted into their burn program. Shriners Hospitals across the country provide free medical services to burn victims and those requiring orthopedic and other reconstructive surgery.

I was excited when the letter arrived telling me that they would take WK and offered additional plastic surgery to help minimize his scar. We are connected with our local Shrine, and arrangements were made to transport WK and me to Galveston, Texas for his surgery.

I will digress once more to say that Shriners Hospital and the Shriners as a whole are fantastic. All of our costs – transportation, hotel, meals, medical expenses – were paid in full. And the Shriners who drove us to Texas and back, the doctors and medical staff there were great. I cannot put into words how much I appreciate all of these wonderful people.

Once at the hospital for WK’s evaluation, we saw other patients waiting on procedures that put his case in vivid perspective. While his scar was drastic to us, it was still, for lack of a better description, superficial by comparison.

Other children there were so severely burnt they were missing fingers, limbs, hair, ears and noses… it was heartbreaking.

Even WK said he felt bad that he was there when so many of the other children were far worse off than he was. I had to continually tell him that no child was rejected because he was there, he was not taking the place of someone needing more extensive surgery.

Fortunately, doctors told us that if we could stay a couple extra days, they would be able to perform WK’s surgery the next day. Shriners stepped in and made arrangements for us to remain in our hotel for the rest of the week, allowing WK to get his surgery on an outpatient basis.

I’m telling this story only to explain that had he been required to stay longer, we would have qualified to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Galveston, a beautiful home within walking distance of the hospital.

In collecting and donating this tiny aluminum tabs I remind myself how truly lucky we have been.

WK’s injury could have been worse, but his scar was limited to skin only. He did not lose an ear, did not burn his eyes. He was treated at a facility that allowed in-room stays for parents and his second surgery was not only fully paid for, but also did not require a long-term stay. All of this could have been worse… but it wasn’t. For that I am grateful.

We’ll keep collecting soda tabs, keep donating for Ronald McDonald House and keep remembering that as bad as it could have been, it wasn’t, and remain thankful.



We got our tree up this weekend, but have only added the lights so far. The Boy and I will be unpacking ornaments, nativity scenes, stockings, a few decades of mish-mash decorations from Hubs and my childhood, tiny hand prints made in kindergarten, and new-ish trinkets to make the home look a little more holiday festive.

That holiday spirit hasn’t descended on me yet. I know this year will be tight with us being down to one bread earner. We’ll be focusing on quality and not quantity. I’m still working on handmade gifts for the ladies in our family and trying to pick out thoughtful presents for everyone else. We won’t be sending out a bulk mailing of cards, but WK did pick out some 3-D pop-ups for the Grans.

I miss that anticipation and excitement I had as a child, even as a young adult. Perhaps I’ve become too jaded, too cynical. I want to hold the spirit of the season in my heart and not resent the intrusion of materialism.

It should be a time of reflection… a time of renewal, hope, belief in miracles, thankfulness for family and friends, giving and love.

I want that back. I want to see the joy of Christmas in my children’s eyes and feel the peace that passes all understanding.

My wish list for Christmas:

  • Renewal of faith
  • Peace of mind
  • Stillness of spirit
  • Joy of life
  • Contentment
  • Acceptance
  • Strength of heart
  • Love for my fellow-man
  • Hope



Me: Andrews Air Force Base is near D.C. right?

Hubs: Yeah.

WK: I’d live in D.C.

Me: Yeah, me too. (looking lovingly at Hubs and in my best coo), I’d live anywhere with you, even Singapore (another story) or (looking at WK) in Dubai.

WK: Yeah, Dubai!

Me: Dubai would be hawt! (to WK, who’s groaning) You know that was funny!

I don’t often speak about Hubs here and especially not about what his job is… a decision he is fully behind. I can’t even truly explain what he does at this job. Not so much because of privacy issues, but because I really don’t know. I have a passing understanding, but couldn’t go into any credible account of what he does.

The one thing I can say is that because his job is very specialized and only performed in limited areas, if he were to change employers, it would mean a move, a significant move for our family.

(No, we aren’t considering a move any time soon.)

When the Big Guy and I got married, even before that, I knew once we said our ‘I dos’ it would give full meaning to ‘cleaving’ to my spouse. Immediately, and I mean immediately, after our honeymoon we moved 100s of miles away from my family, away from the tiny town I had lived in and near most of my life.

I did it without reservation, without looking back. It was where he needed to be, what I needed to do, and that was all there was to it. When we moved to Florida 10 years later, again 100s of miles further away from family and friends, there was no reluctance.

In the intervening years, when he’s had a particularly shitastic day on the job, or some Apocalyptic Wind/Rain storm is bearing down on us, Hubs would taunt me about moving. Not moving to any other domestic location where he could practice his craft, but to exotic lands like Southeast Asia or United Arab Emirates.

If our children were younger, I’d jump on that cruise ship, no problem! Any reluctance to move now is based on what is workable for our kids, not any objection I’d have to relocating.

I’ve never been someone who fought moving, or felt it was nearly the end of my world when I did. I missed my family and friends, but relished the idea of starting fresh, finding new adventures.

High school friends were adamant about going to college close enough they didn’t have to leave their family home. I applied to schools that weren’t just miles away, but STATES away. When that didn’t work out for me ~ out-of-state tuition, even in the dark ages, was crazy expensive ~ I worked as much as I could to raise enough money to pay for my own dorm room. I did not want to live at home while going to college.

In college I was stunned by how many classmates still did not want to explore the world, to go beyond our city limits or state lines.

I do understand why some people, once established in jobs and with families of their own, wouldn’t want to move from where they’ve lived for so many years. I’m not judging. But for me, it’s never been an issue. Even today, if I could be assured of excellent medical care for WK, and that JM was established on her own and happy, I’d move anywhere with Hubs… anywhere.



I knew it was coming, even expected it to happen sooner than it did, but here it is… I’m getting all pissy about being home ~ most days by myself ~ and being expected to be all Suzy Homemaker.

Sure, other than major decluttering projects like reorganizing the pantry, or sorting through the cabinets for overstocked cans of green beans, and pulling old, frayed towels out of the hall closet, I don’t have much to do around here.

But, damn would it kill people to pick up their folded clothes off the couch? Do I have to deliver the freshly laundered stacks too?

Doesn’t anyone else know how to shovel cat poop out of a litter box, or open a door to let out two pee deprived dogs?

Seriously, if I have to pick another dinner menu I. will. scream. I don’t know what you people want to eat cuz you won’t tell me, even when I ask! I could use a little help here! Telling me ‘I don’t care, anything…’ is not helping! The threat of Brussels sprouts and liver is not idle. I need to just fix what I want to eat, if they’re hungry enough they won’t starve.

Granted Hubs has been good about occasionally clearing the dirties away after dinner, and I don’t even have to ask. Gawd, I hate loading the dishwasher with food-caked plates. And, he will bring in baskets of clothes for me to fold ~ gee thanks, hon.

Before you label me a whiner, it’s not that I’m complaining about the work. It has to be done. It’s the expectation that it’s all mine to do. That just because I’m here, these tasks, these same jobs that needed doing when I was working outside the home, are now my sole responsibility when they were, more or less, shared before.

I would like the chance to do something I find enjoyable without having to also endure stink eyes and all that huffing because the dishes are still in the sink or a load of clothes is cooling off in the dryer. If you don’t have clean underwear that’s your problem for not taking it to the laundry room. Start a load yourself!

Oh yeah, get up and get your own damn glass of water, your legs ain’t broke!



Why is it that nothing can be easy?

I filled out the paperwork for unemployment benefits only to find out I still had to wait two weeks before I could get the application certified, AND I’ll have to continue checking in every two weeks for the duration of my eligibility. The online certification process was screwed up, and going through the voice option on the telephone was about as much fun as a root canal without pain killers.

Okay fine! No, I did not work during the past two weeks and no, I did not subsequently get a salary of any kind. No, I did not turn down any referrals (didn’t get any, but whatev…). Yes, I am looking for employment. No, I don’t think my life could suck any more than it. does. right. now.

This whole job interview thing is weirding me out. I don’t like interviews… the questions are freakin’ ridiculous. I’m always afraid I’ll say something stupid or volunteer too much information and admit some past indiscretion. The inane small talk drives me crazy. I’m constantly fighting with my inner bitch to not scream ’shut up!’ halfway into the conversation.

What are your strengths? I make a mean cup of java, and know how to use a dictionary and thesaurus.
What are your weaknesses? I will absolutely swoon over anyone who will buy me lunch. If you nibble on my neck I’ll even collate and staple for you.
Where do you see yourself in five, ten years? Who the hell knows! I don’t know what my future is five minutes from now.
What interested you in our company? I like the soap in the women’s restroom. It smells purty.

Job searches are too much like dating. You get all prettied up, maybe buy a few new outfits. You may even get your nails done and your hair did, not forgetting the caterpillar eyebrow. Brush your teeth, floss, rinse, repeat. Perhaps go for broke and take care of those furry legs and pits. Neglecting the little things can be a deal breaker.

You’re all nervous and giddy during that first meeting. You want to appear interested but not desperate, be engaging without dominating the conversation (… unless you like that… dominating, I mean. That could be one of my strengths, if you want it to be.) You feel like you have to laugh at all those silly jokes, then are afraid your laugh is verging on hysteria. (I hope I don’t snort…)

Are my palms all sweaty? How can I wipe them off before having to shake hands without being too obvious? Is there a bright red smudge of lipstick on my teeth?  Should I not smile so much?

And, gawd, whatever you do, DO NOT mention you have a blog, pure death knell.

Damn, I don’t want to do this again. By now I should be the office matriarch scaring the bejeezus out of the pimply faced newbies, not the entry-level geek always trying to prove myself.

What I need is an Internet Employment Service that will match me with my perfect job based on a 47-point compatibility questionnaire.



I know there are people reading my blog who, if the truth be told, I really wished didn’t. (don’t worry D, it’s not you.)

And, I know there are harmless lurkers… I can spot you every now and then.

But, there are also stalkers. People hanging around to, I don’t know, find out stuff I would rather they didn’t.

That is all my fault. I was under the mistaken impression that what I write here, is mine and mine alone. That I am free to be as free with my thoughts as I want. But, the Internet being what it is, that is a false sense of security.

But the thing is, this is my PERSONAL blog. My place to record what is going on in my life, the good things, the not so good things, the rants and raves, the thanks and the oh shits. A place where I can drop the f-bomb at will, without so much as a raised eyebrow. Where I can get out my pent up frustrations and not take it out on my peeps. Kinda of my do-it-yourself therapy.

Still, there is that nagging little itch, that freakish feeling that someone is watching that takes some of the fun out of it. That needling awareness that I should be reserved, if only a smidge, with what I write here. That my rants can’t be as full-voiced as I would like, I can’t let loose with that cathartic, primal scream that would shatter windows and cleanse the soul.

There is the possibility of going to another site, but then I would have to start all over. I’ve been doing this for two years, it would be tough to do that again. I could change names and move to another address, but there’s a lot of baggage around here. Who’s with me?! Anyone got a truck I could borrow some weekend?

I know other bloggers who moved, and their stalkers followed them. Not good. If I did change entirely, to disappear, reincarnating IMSO by another name, could these shadow people follow me too? Could I, knowing now what I wished I had known then, remain anonymous?

I may eventually decide to go private, to only let a select few into my personal space. To always know exactly who has access to my words. If that is my final destination, when I close that outside door, when/if I do create that inner sanctum… then all hell is going to break loose.

Then again, I could just ignore the haters. Go about my business in blissful abandon. Saying what I want, how I want, without regard for the spiteful wraiths hiding in the shadows. If they don’t like what they see, disagree with my words, are irked by the truths they want to turn a blind eye to, then they can just leave… this isn’t about them anyway.



Yeah! That ’s right! The Boy is now a licensed driver in the State of Florida with all the rights and privileges afforded said drivers. Well… all the rights and privileges offered by the sovereign nation state of Mom/Dad anyway.

There are still curfews, still occupancy limits, and territory boundaries. Tracking software to install, surveillance satellites to launch, boots to attach to wheels… so much to do, so much to do!

Mayhap knowing that he will be motoring to class in his own car, The Boy will spring from bed in the morning without my constant nagging. One can only hope.

I do know that I will be making up bogus shopping lists to send him on errands to the grocery… milk, eggs, butter, ice cream, Snicker Bars… the possibilities are endless!

Because he already had his permit, the writing portion of the test was waived. The driving part, taken in his own 1990 Plymouth Laser, was no big thang. Took all of 10 minutes of driving around a bunch of neon orange cones.

Hubs was more nervous than WK was. Couldn’t even wait around to watch, dad had occupy himself at a nearby store so he wouldn’t be too anxious. I was oblivious, staying at work until the deed was done. I did have to text WK my own ‘good luck’ wishes.

WK is giddy happy, dancing in the living room. Antsy to get out for an extended drive by himself. His first solo trip is to pick up two medium bacon and sausage pizzas.

Ah… freedom!



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If only I could store away all the mistakes of my life into little jars, set them on a high shelf and never think of them again. Maybe taking them down every so often, dusting off the grime that coats them, and shaking them to make sure my secrets are still securely hidden away.

If I was feeling brave, I could pop the cork, pour them out and pick through them. Poking a finger here and there, marveling at how tiny some mistakes are and worrying that the bigger ones won’t fit back into their crude clay urns. Mildly surprised to count so many duplicates.

Should I bury my mistakes deep in the soil, leaving them to be unearthed by future generations with no instructions, no explanations, like my own personal Pandora’s Box. I could display them in a glass cabinet for all the world to see, a macabre museum exhibit, making others pay the cost for my wrongs.

Should I forget these errors, my imprefections? Or, do I need to leave the jars open so the contents don’t spoil and begin to reek? Can I forgive, if not forget? Are these then to be shared, compared to those of my friends and family. How alike are we, how different? I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.

Filling expensive crystal vials instead, are my mistakes elegant perfumes and rouge, transforming me into who I’ve become, coloring my cheeks with tinges of red and my eyes alluring mauves and taupe, leaving spider filament of silver running through my hair. Not to be flaunted, but cherished as only fine possessions should be.

Today all my little jars, filled to brimming, are lined up neatly upon the fireplace mantle. In the morning, I may find that the cat has knocked each one over, cracking the hard clay pots, as my mistakes ooze and seep into the dry wood.