Tannenbaum Take Deux

How’s that for a mixed language title.

So I broke down and put up the other tree. And I’m happy I did. I stole some ornaments from the front tree and moved them to the back and both look much better. I also managed to use up every ornament and I’m happy about that, too! Why do I have so many ornaments!? Oh yeah, it’s because I hate decorating the tree the exact same way twice.

Here’s our old tree, now in the kitchen. It makes the house super festive even without too much decor.

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Who knew red and purple made such a cute Christmas tree? I strung colored lights to help with the dead spot. You can still see the dead, but at least there’s a twinkle there now. And I’ve never had a tree with colored lights since I’ve had my own tree. It is whimsical. I think it only works because the ornaments are red and gold and purple.

I stole all the red ornaments off the front tree and loaded it with more blue instead, and I’m much happier with it now. The red was just too much. But with only one tree, the red had memories I didn’t want to leave off. With 2 trees I could just divide the memories. Problem solved.

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(okay, there is still one red on the front tree, but I decided it needed to be there. Too special of memories).

Wrong Roads

There has been a video on YouTube I’ve been circling around. You know the type: the video you see in your suggestions, see in your subscriptions, and just never get around to watching? For me personally, there’s a bit of shame in that, but I’m getting past it. I finally put off the shame and just watched it. And it didn’t phase me. A “that’s nice,” type video.

And then I took my daughter to ballet. The instructor whom I adore commented on how much my little athlete has mastered the skills, and I said in passing that I wish there was another beginners class for an older age, because I watch my too-mature daughter get frustrated by kids just being kids, because she is there to soak in every second of it, not to get distracted. The instructor said, “Oh, but I do!” and invited us to sit in on the class the following day (yesterday). It’s definitely not the same beginner class as the younger girls. There is memorization, and repetition, and major skillsets being developed and worked upon. But we went anyway. About 3/4 of the way through the class, my daughter looks at me, beaming, and gives me the thumbs up. It’s been intense! I have watched the whole time. She doesn’t have the muscles yet and she’s worked really hard to keep up with the rest of the girls. I mouth “do you like this class?” and I get a strong affirmative head-bob.

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Attribution: Katherine Kirkland

And I think about how if we hadn’t homeschooled, I never would have gotten her into ballet. I’ve always been hesitant about the subtle lessons taught to impressionable kids; about modesty, about decency, about what is acceptable in behavior and body movement. Personally, some dances should not be danced by adults in front of an audience, not to mention the teens or kids I see dancing them. And some outfits I wouldn’t leave my house with, so why would I want them on the daughter I’m responsible for teaching modesty and providing safety for? It just never made sense to me. But getting to know the instructor personally (she homeschools, too), and watching her movements and light, I knew that I was comfortable with this ballet school, a school that teaches discipline and dedication, structure and love. A school where every student is sacred and precious. That is something I can believe in and support.

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And suddenly something occurs to me: What if the homeschool frustration was so that I could get her into ballet? I don’t think that’s the only thing we learned and gained from that glorious month that we couldn’t keep, but I do see how I could have had such a strong prompting for something I wasn’t allowed to keep. I kept what I needed to. And that is enough.

Tannenbaum

It’s the 3rd of December. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m no where close to completing my yearly goals (and yes, I usually keep them). I’m not so sure on this Christmas shopping thing (seriously… this is the first year since I’ve had my own income (and probably my first year PERIOD) that we’re not totally broke. I mean, we’re verrrry far from rolling in the dough, but we’re not broke. I’ve never really had to budget when a budget is even reasonable and I’m so nervous. Every other year of my life, Christmas has been almost entirely homemade. That’s what Christmas is to me. Homemade shirts, hats, toys; the works. And mom would always top it off with Forgotten Carols and A Homemade Christmas by Alma Yates. But this year, I just don’t have it in me. I’ve got so much I’d like to get done and I’m still 2 months behind from an incredibly intense canning season that lasted 2 months too long. So this year, most of the things are purchased. And like I said, I’m feeling out of my element. Everything feels so empty! And expensive. It has given me more time to devote to getting the tree up on time, though.

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Last year’s tree with the burned-out strip

This tree is HUGE! According to the box it’s no bigger than the one I had last year, (—->) but with it’s major fullness and super-loaded branches, it takes up a much larger space than I imagined. Last year, we tried to finally figure out which light was causing an entire 5-inch section of the tree to remain unlit. We replaced practically every bulb in the section. At least of the ones we could find. I’m sure we missed a ton. We at least missed the one that was causing the whole short. Or the more-than-one.

If I’m being honest here, the burned out row is not new to this year… But it is the first year we tried to remedy the problem. Needless to say, it took us all day.

Interestingly enough, We found our way to a great steal on a replacement before the season was up, but I wasn’t about to un-decorate a tree just to decorate another one (even though I do love decorating the tree, I want it to last a while), so we stuck it out with our ghetto tree one more year. We actually bought our new one off the back of a truck (no joke. the truck driver was overweight and facing a hefty fine if he didn’t remove some merchandise). I don’t remember exactly how much we paid, but I think it was around $50. As I’m assembling the tree this year, I’m pretty sure this isn’t a bottom-of-the-line, $50 tree. Or even a $100 tree.  It’s got different variations of needles, individual branches. And have I mentioned fullness?And guess what? It’s not pre-lit! No more rows of lights burning out!

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I didn’t do so well at getting lights all the way through it, and this picture doesn’t do it justice, but I’m happy with this year’s tree. I usually try to come up with a “theme” that speaks to me when I open the Christmas ornament box, and this year started out blue, but it ended up more of a hodge-podge tree. And that’s okay. It’s more personal. And I still ended up with my favorite ornaments on it.

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The blue Mardi Gras ornament in the middle of the glare was purchased on our honeymoon. The crocheted white snowflake is from my dear friend’s sister (who is also a dear friend. They’re pretty spread apart age-wise, and I’m right in the middle, so they call me the middle sister). And the brown nativity is from Israeli olive trees. And the thin icicles are heirloom. Kind of. My mother always had them on our tree growing up, and they were always my favorite. I looked and looked for good icicles like the ones from my childhood and couldn’t find any I liked as well as those. One day my mother saw a box of them for sale somewhere and snatched them up for me. Best Christmas present ever! Lets see… Oh the pears were left for us once by a Secret Santa.

I think my favorite part about Christmas is the Christmas trees. Everyone’s tree has a story to tell. And I love the blank canvas to decorate. I have to try really hard not to micromanage the design of it all. And I usually do pretty well. Occasionally, I’ve been known to move some ornaments while the kiddo’s asleep. I now I shouldn’t but that hasn’t stopped me. Believe me, it’s a huge sign of love that I even let people help. I’ve thought about using my spare tree (with the missing row) as a kid tree, but now that she’s eight, she’s really not leaving me anything to rearrange. I might set it up just so we have 2 trees to decorate, though. Except then I have 2 trees to take down. And last year while I took the tree down, it ate my ring and I had to spend hours figuring out which branch it fell to (moral of the story: don’t procrastinate re-sizing your ring… that I’ve still not re-sized).

Oh, and a side note: I’m wearing off on my kid. Go figure, right? The other day while we were walking around, she says to me “Mom, I know why Christmas is green and red.” I asked her why. “Because red is for blood and green is for life. Jesus gave both of those.” I’ve talked about that before, so I thought she might have gotten it from an old family home evening lesson. I asked her how she came up with something so smart and she said it just made sense. Her symbolism-loving mother is giggling at her mommy powers while absolutely loving the symbols she’s able to draw this Christmas.

Day 27: Negatives

Let me tell you about my night. My husband hit a deer. At midnight. I think my challenge is teaching me hard-core today. The interesting thing is, instead of getting frustrated, my thoughts sound like this:

Thank heavens that the “commuter” car needed repaired, or he would have taken it and this would have been much worse.

We just checked on our insurance. That’s interesting.

Ranger wanted new lights anyway.

I’m so glad he was in enough control to not swerve to avoid the deer. Swerving creates so many more problems. I’m grateful he had his wits about him.

We’re so lucky the airbags didn’t go off.

At least I didn’t buy the new headlights for Christmas, yet.

Any more to the front and it would have been serious damage. Any more to the side and it would have caused way more problems.

It’s nice to have good insurance.

Thank heavens deer collisions count as incidents and not accidents, so our rates wont increase.

Naturally, I’m grateful he’s up and walking around. Probably a little stiff today, and his nerves are probably on edge, and I understand that. But I’m so glad he’s not unconscious on a road somewhere.  And let’s not even get into anything worse.

OuchAt first, Ranger was pretty frustrated and “why did this have to happen,” and I can see his point of view extremely well. I’m selfishly glad it was him and not me. It’s his “baby” as far as cars go. But so much has come up the past 48 hrs that could have come up any other time, so if he was really supposed to avoid the deer, he would have.  Maybe it was to teach me about being grateful for the negatives. Who really knows. But I can say that if we were supposed to hit a deer, this was probably the best possible way to do it.

That is all finding the silver lining. That was a previous challenge. But being downright grateful for the negatives like today’s challenge is ironically in place for (Yes, I mean situationally ironic; or cosmically ironic, you choose…  Grammar Nazi still resides in my head)? It is a bit tougher but still quite doable.

dareInterestingly enough, after working on gratitude and charity all month, it’s pretty easy to be grateful for the negatives. Here’s why: When you’re more focused on gratitude, you’re willing to look past yourself. You’re willing to trust that the higher power knows what he’s doing, that there is a force stronger than yourself that has watched over every step you’ve taken and won’t set you up for a fall that you can’t rise higher from. When you’ve spent all month working on gratitude, it’s even possible to see potential outcomes. This may take care of some problem in the vehicle that we were currently unaware of, or might have saved us from some bigger woe. Who knows. I’m not far enough away from the life event to see anything in focus, but I can see that this was not just some fluke in life. There are blessings I can’t see yet.

And then there’s the other vehicle. Finding out that it needed to stay home for repairs was a pretty big bummer. But look what a blessing it is now with a little more perspective. It had a lower profile and a curvier front end. It wasn’t as highly insured. It has less-responsive breaks. The list is pretty intense.

Needless to say, instead of teaching gratitude, today, life taught me.

Weighing In

So, it’s day 14. I’ve been sort of keeping up… Meaning I’ve fallen behind on writing, but I’m all caught up now. At any rate, I just wanted to weigh in. How is the challenge working for anyone else? Is anyone even doing it?

I wanted to share an anecdote from my day. Testimonial from the source. It’s lunch time, and I’d had a bowl of soup already (I love soup. fyi. In case you really wanted to know), but I was still hungry. So I made myself a peanut butter sandwich. I reached in and got a butterknife, looked over at all of the dishes I’d managed to get dirty just by feeding my family breakfast and lunch, and instead of thinking ugh. Dishes. It stinks that so many get dirty. I thought,

I am so blessed to have clean dishes when I go to reach for some.

No joke! Score a point for the home team, it’s working!

also, here are some excerpts of what I am thankful for. I haven’t posted them on here, because I wanted the chance to actually get personal with them, but I’ve chosen some to share here. I thought it was appropriate.

[warning]This first one might be gruesome for some. [/warning]

I am blessed to have people I can rely on in an emergency. Tonight at the Relief Society activity, my daughter’s nose started bleeding rampantly. This is her 4th nosebleed in 36 hours. I rushed her to the bathroom to clean it up and get it to stop bleeding. I couldn’t get it to stop. And then, as we were pulling the tissue away, we pulled out a 2” clump (seriously, not an exaggeration), that wasn’t attached to anything, just clotting in her nose since there was so much blood and the stuff on the walls of the nose was still fresh and oozing. So I opened the door in the RS room, asked the first person I saw if they had a vehicle and if they could drive us to our house. Instead, we bypassed the house and went straight for the ER. She even stayed with us and gave us a ride back home. I was so grateful! We got the nose all cleared up… right before the doc walks in, naturally. I’m pretty sure that it was about an hour’s worth of bleeding. He checked for anemia, didn’t see any signs. Needless to say, we’re adapting to the Vaseline in the nose routine at our house. I think I’ve perfected it, because she doesn’t hate it nearly as much as I used to. It’s all about breathing out while you’re stuffing that cue tip up your nose.

I’m blessed for soup. My friend gave me the recipe last year, and it has been such a blessing to my life! I have been able to share it with others, and it has blessed their lives as well. Something about this soup made from ingredients I grew, that is hearty and healthy… It’s soul food. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing resource at my disposal. It’s also quick and easy to grab in nights that we’re in a hurry.

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I am blessed to have a husband that encourages me to take time off. The world makes husbands out to be a “what did you do all day” sort of person, but Ranger has never even implied that I was lazy; quite the contrary. He often rejoices in a day taken just for myself. I am so grateful that he encourages me in resting. He makes me feel accomplished even when I didn’t do anything, because it meant I was taking care of myself. And I love him for that.

I am blessed by bears that say prayers. My daughter had her bear kneel down with us during prayers tonight. I didn’t see her do it, I just opened my eyes, and he was there. That is a childhood memory I want to keep. So sweet and innocent. She is such a breath of fresh air. Nov

I’m blessed to have a past. Because of my past, I see things in others. Because of my past, I have warning signs to notify me of danger. But I can also show a level of compassion not available from a soul that has not also suffered. The human existence needs other humans to succeed. We need to be understood, and I’m grateful to have that level of understanding.

 

Happy Halloween

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It’s Halloween, but most of the festivities here are already done.

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The mummy hotdogs and pizza are eaten. The witch has a nose pinned back on, the fish are all “caught”, and the “potions” are strewn around. The costumes are set aside for tonight, and the punch bowl is empty. That being said, there’s still a brain mold full of jello sitting in my fridge because I forgot all about it.

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Yeah, I wish I could say that was out of the norm for me… But oh well. We’ll just have a family game night tonight.

These mob bosses and one adorable Hello Kitty are looking forward to a night full of treats, tricks, and freezing temperatures.

Battle of wills

We’re currently on our way back from my  high school reunion (oh man, was that an eye opener), and jamming out to Hispanic music. Lest you think we actually enjoy it, let me explain:

I speak Spanish, and I think it’s kind of fun to listen for words I actually remember. Ranger, however, can’t listen without saying something about how it reminds him of circus music and changing the channel quickly. While we were flipping through stations on our drive and it tuned into a Latino station, I sarcastically said, ” here we go, let’s listen to this.” Not to be outdone, he left it there. Well, I can’t let him outlast me, when I’m the one that claims to enjoy it. And I honestly could probably stand it just fine except I keep expecting him to change it.

Why Seven?

In college, I took a Religious Contexts class. I also studied an Old Testament Symbology class. And while taking said classes, an interesting thing came to my attention. The number 7. In the Old Testament, and throughout Semitic religions, the number 7 appears over and over. We took a day discussing that biblical numbers are often symbolic, i.e. the number often tied to sacrifices is symbolic to help those following the Mosaic law in remembering the reason for the symbol. 7 is the symbol of perfection, wholeness, completeness, and exactness. It sums all of these concepts up, and many more. They all go perfectly together, and yet are different concepts in my mind. I like that there is one word that can put them all together, even if it’s just in my head. And I guess that’s what I’m looking for. Perfect completeness. Whole perfection. to me, completeness means the project is done, but not necessarily perfect. I can have a complete object that has lots of nicks and dents. And perfection, at least in mortality, is rarely complete. I can be a perfect piano player, but by being so, I’m probably terribly imperfect at something else. In order to be perfect at something in this life, I will have had to sacrifice something else, creating imbalance, being incomplete.

Symbolism in a biblical context suddenly made sense. And made Leviticus and Deuteronomy a whole lot easier to understand! And enjoy, for that matter. Imagine my surprise when in my Religious Contexts class, the number 7 was still rampant! It’s everywhere! And I’ve yet to find a time when discussion of the concept of 7 didn’t fit into my understanding of it. Holistic religions, Ancient Egyptian, Chinese culture, art, it’s everywhere!