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Bloganuary Day 20: What irritates me about my home?

The answer is nothing…NOT ONE THING. Our home was built from the ground up, and we moved in almost 2 years ago. This is the 2nd time we’ve had a home built, so I feel blessed to have experienced this journey twice in my lifetime.

We love our home because it’s absolutely perfect for us. I’ve blogged previously about our experience in Home stretch of our new construction build and Good bones: The kitchen. I thought I’d blog more about the new build experience, but life got in the way.

I’ve gotten a little lazy and need to take more recent photos of our home. In the meantime. I hope you enjoy these.

Cannoli enjoying the back patio in 2021. All these plants are now overgrown. I’ll blog about my gardening later.
I love our back patio.
Except for the bushes, all of these flowers/plants have been replaced because they died!
Cannoli sunbathing in the living room..
Cannoli loves to watch the birds outside.
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Merry Christmas

I’m taking a moment to send holiday cheer into the world. For my household, Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus’s birth and to also spend time with family, to let our loved ones know how much they mean to us, to be extra gracious and kind, and to just experience the joy of the season.

We started our day early. My 21-year old son, Caleb, who tries to play it cool with his emotions, woke us up from a deep sleep early in the morning. My husband, Bryan, later told me it was about 5:00 am. He asked if we were ready to open the gifts. We both shouted out, “No, a little later!” We knew he was excited, but we were too sleepy and soon dozed back to sleep.

When I was growing up, we opened Christmas gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve. Bryan’s family opened gifts in the morning, but sometimes they would open one gift at midnight. With our kids, we’ve mostly opened gifts first thing in the morning. I’m usually still wrapping gifts at midnight, but not this time. I had help. I asked my daughter, Elise, to wrap a few of her brother’s gifts. I had gift bags for some of the gifts and wrapped the rest. I completed my wrapping at about 8:00pm on Saturday.

Elise creatively wrapped her brother’s gifts to give him clues what they were.

I spent Christmas 2022 in my pajamas all day. My family is happy with their gifts so I’m happy. We tend to provide extra gifts to our kids since most of our families on both sides live in the Chicago, Illinois area. My heart is especially full because it’s the one time of year where I can get hugs from my kids. We’re not the most “physically expressive with our emotions” family. I’ve grown to be more of a hugger as I’ve gotten older, and as the universe would have it, my kids prefer otherwise.

Not only did Caleb gift me with a beautiful necklace, he reciprocated my hug, and told me he loved me. Elise also reciprocated my big suffocating hug. Perhaps other parents hear the “I love yous” and get hugs from their kids all the time. As my kids have gotten older, they do it much less, which makes it all the more special.

This is the first Christmas without my mother in law. I asked Bryan how he was doing and he said it’s been different. He’s been talking to his mom off and on today. He’s spent the past 2 days talking to family members. I can tell he had a great day. I’ve been communicating with family and friends through phone calls, texts, and social media. I enjoyed the connection, even if for a few minutes.

We’ve had some unusually cold weather in Texas for this time of year, so for the first time in a long time, we didn’t attend the church concert or Christmas Eve service. Thankfully, we didn’t have extreme weather like we did in February 2021, when the power went out and water stopped working for about a week for most people. Some people died which was heart breaking and incomprehensible, especially since I’ve experienced colder winters than that growing up in Chicago. I blogged about my experience in the posts Is This Texas? and Is This Texas Part Deux?

This time with the cold, we had no precipitation which makes it much more bearable. I can deal with cold, but it’s darn near life altering to deal with cold with rain, snow, or ice. It gets too dangerous to drive in the Texas terrain with drivers who do not know how to drive under those conditions. The temperatures were as low as the teens, but it has been steadily increasing. I enjoyed the nostalgia of having a colder Christmas week.

As I sit in my recliner couch typing and watching Bryan reclining on the other couch with his boozy beverage in hand, I can tell you, it’s been a SPLENDID day.

More than anything right now, I want more kindness, grace, and love for us all. It’s not cliché that life is so precious and short. One of my biggest light lessons for 2022 is instead of worrying about losses (such as in relationships, time, health, etc.), I’m paying more attention to the people who make room for me and who love me and the time and health I do have. If I don’t reach a goal as planned, I won’t stop living until the goal is achieved. I’ll continue living in the moment, appreciating where I am and knowing I’ll eventually achieve it. Sometimes, we get caught up in what’s missing rather than what’s here, right now in front of us.

With that, I say cheers to Christmas 2022 knowing that it can be an especially difficult time for many people for various reasons, including the loss of loved ones and loneliness. Give the gift of kindness, grace, and love to others and especially yourself this season and every day.

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Christmas Eve Message

Today was a pretty uneventful Christmas Eve. I slept in, worked out for an hour, and watched a few videos on YouTube. Then mid-afternoon, I decided to take a nap, headed to my bed and proceeded to spend several more hours watching YouTube videos and scrolling through my social media channels periodically. I felt that my body needed to do nothing and I actually listened. My husband, Bryan, picked up pizza for dinner so I didn’t cook. After I recuperated, I wrapped the rest of my Christmas gifts, straightened up the house a little, and began preparing for our Christmas meal. It’s going to be so good and a departure from what I said I was going to cook in my post Fall Food Chronicles 2020.

Yesterday was Bryan’s birthday. We started the celebration on Tuesday, a few hours after my doctor’s appointment, rather than Wednesday. His birthday is the same day as my mom, Solange’s, who passed away 3 years ago. It was a bittersweet day. Although my mom didn’t celebrate her birthday for religious reasons, it is still and will forever be her birthday. On Wednesday, I actually forgot it was her birthday until Bryan said something indicating he remembered. His memory has greatly improved in the last year. The reason why he has a problem with memory in the first place is due to hydrocephalus.

I felt bad for a little while because I forgot it was also my mom’s birthday. I had received some news that I was preoccupied with. My sister sent a group text to my siblings and myself indicating that she was missing our mom. I expressed how much I missed her too.

I was reminded that aside from this global COVID-19 pandemic, which has many people anxious and on edge, this time of the year, the holiday season, is difficult for many people. It’s especially difficult for those who have lost loved ones and friends, lost jobs, have strained or no relationships with their families, and/or don’t have a lot of money to get their kids what they want, let alone put food on the table. Many people have lost their loved ones due to COVID-19.

Some messages during the holiday season are that this is the season of sharing, caring, togetherness, giving, kindness, and gratitude. But there is also loss, grief, despair, depression, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, hopelessness, helplessness, and people who act unkind, impatient, and entitled.

It bothers me that people, including myself sometimes, lose sight of the real reason for Christmas, which is to celebrate Jesus’s birth. Jesus lived a life we can never fully live up to on this earth. Yet, there is pressure, at least depending on how you look at it, for people to spend money on gifts….a lot of money on gifts. I was at a retail store recently and to see how people were frantically looking for stuff to buy really struck me. Why do we feel so compelled to show people how much we love them by buying things?

I’m not sitting on my high horse looking down on everyone else either. I participated and bought my family gifts too, but we had some lean Christmas’s in my life where we got very creative. For us, this pandemic is a walk in the park compared to what Bryan and I have been through. In fact, our circumstances helped prepare us for it. My perspective has really shifted on what’s important in life. What’s important to me is keeping myself healthy so I can care for those whom I love and who love me. It’s also to ‘pay it forward’ and lend a helping hand when I can.

Last Christmas, I budgeted for gifts, but it was a lean Christmas. Bryan hadn’t worked in 3 years due to his health condition. The year before he did work for UPS during the season for about 2 months so we could have a great Christmas. That we did! Bryan had his first grand mal seizure in November 2019. He had another one in January 2020. My greatest lesson in these last few years is how precious life is. All of the other stuff is just extra. To be ALIVE is a blessing. To be able to help others is a blessing. I’m grateful that we had those hard times because I appreciate even more that we’re in a good place now.

My message in this post is for anyone who is struggling or grieving a loved one…cast your cares on God. I know it’s not easy, especially as you live through challenging times. Life is hard…so hard that I work to not let any bitterness or coldness settle into my heart. But if you can find one small thing to be grateful for, it will help. Praying and having people pray for you will help. It may not take you out of your situation immediately, but it will help ease the pain. And you will be better on the other side of it.

From my family to yours, I wish you a warm, bright, PEACEFUL, JOYOUS, and LOVE-FILLED, Christmas! Our gathering is usually small with Bryan, our 2 kids, and myself, so we didn’t have to make any modifications. However, I know many families are missing seeing each other. Hopefully, next year will be different. My family and friends and I have already been making plans to see each other in 2021.

I’d love to hear how you are spending the holidays. If you celebrate, what are you cooking for Christmas dinner? Mine is gonna be so good!