Random Saturdays – Welcome Holidays!

The holiday season is here!  If you’re old like me, you find yourself saying, once again, “I can’t believe it’s already November.  Where did the year go?”  If you love the holiday season like me, you are also excited that the holiday season is here.  Canada has already celebrated Thanksgiving, and Halloween and Election Day have just passed in the U.S.  The next big U.S. holiday is, of course, Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is also the birthday season in my world.  From October – March it’s a non-stop birthday celebration.  I used to be one of the few summer birthday people that I knew.  Now that I’m married, half of the family have birthdays during birthday season, and the other half of the family has birthdays in the summer.  I’ve always felt sorry for people who had birthdays around the holidays because their birthdays are overshadowed by the big holidays, especially if you’re born around Christmastime.  That’s why I try to make a point of giving separate Christmas and birthday presents to Christmas babies.  Plus, there are so many great sales during the holiday season that it should be easier to shop for holiday season babies.

Oh and shopping.  There’s the neverending fight between shopping vs. meaningful holidays.  I really don’t think that they are mutually exclusive.  I believe you just have to be aware of the meaning in holidays and you have to try to share that meaning with others when you are giving gifts.  This is especially tricky with kids because they are naturally inclined to just want stuff, lots and lots of stuff.  If we don’t teach them to be grateful for what they have and to think about what they can give and do for others, then they turn into ungrateful adults who have the nerve to think they can actually criticize gifts given to them and favors done for them.  That is the type of attitude that kills the holiday spirit and turns everything into a debate about the “true” meaning of any given holiday in a bad way.

This was our first holiday season together. The kids are about twice the size as they were then. My stomach is about twice the size s it was then. (From left to right: Dora, Lego, Ben, Minecraft)


I am American and I celebrate Thanksgiving.  I love the food.  I love time off from work.  I love spending time with my family and friends. When I plan Thanksgiving at my house, I always try to do it as low key as possible, but then find myself stressing myself out by trying to cook everything perfectly and make the house look immaculate.  I do it to myself.  Not once has anyone ever criticized me for not having enough food, the right food, a dirty home, ugly decorations, etc.  It’s all in my head.  With the kids, I’m trying to be more aware of that and remember that if I stress myself out over this crap that doesn’t matter, then they will learn to stress themselves out over crap that doesn’t matter as well.  Just as bad, they may start stressing others out about crap that doesn’t matter and think they are entitled to criticize the cooking and entertaining abilities of others.  So, I’m trying not to pass stress and judgement on to my kids.

Then there’s Christmas.  Let me say now that I am not Crhstian but I do celebrate Christmas.  I grew up Christian, spent many years in a crisis of faith, and have finally found myself in a good spiritual place, the details of which I am not going to delve into during this post.  I celebrate Christmas because it’s what I grew up with and it represents a time of giving and spending time with loved ones for me.  When I had the Great Santa Claus Crisis around the age of 10, my mother told me that she believed in Santa Claus because he was the spirit of giving.  So, no matter how old you were, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  No matter how much or how little you got in your stocking, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  I decided to adopt that belief as my own.

We just had the kids write their letters to Santa because we won’t see them much in November and we wanted to make sure that Santa had plenty of time to get their letters.  They asked for some surprising gifts, but also had interesting conversations with Santa.  Dora was concerned that Santa might not like the milk and cookies she wants to leave for him.  Minecraft told Santa that if he were lucky, he would get cookies and milk.  Lego just wanted to know if Santa and Mrs. Claus were doing okay up in the North Pole.  They all decorated their letters with colorful pictures and included phrases like, “Santa’s #1!”  Three years ago, their letters to Santa just told Santa what they wanted.  It might not seem like much, but to see their thought processes go from “Here’s what I want,” to “How are you. Here’s what I might do for you.  I think you’re great!” is pretty cool.  They also helped each other write their letters, with no help from Ben or me.  We did have to get onto them once for arguing over marker colors, but they worked together well otherwise.  Now, I can add cooperation, mental growth, and emotional growth to the great things that Santa represents for me.

As I typed this, it was about 6:30 AM and I had been awake for three hours with a terrible headache.  The kids were just picked up for school by their bio-mom and Ben had just left for work.  The cat was running circles around the house, chasing invisible toys.  The Excedrin has moved from making my head a bit numb to making me rather dizzy and the cat has begun her grooming routine, signaling that she is ready to curl up with me for her morning nap.  I’m going to take the cat’s advice to end this post and get some rest.  I hope that you are as excited about the holiday season as I am and that it holds as much meaningful promise for you as it does for me.  Happy Holidays!

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Random Saturdays – Plan, Plan Plan

It’s barely the end of January and my calendar is filled through the end of June.  How is that possible?!  As I move through the days, I can’t figure it out, and yet, I keep packing more stuff onto the calendar.  It’s no wonder I keep having nightmares about people being mad at me for missing the ball on something that I either promised to do and never did or something that they volunteered me to do without my input.

Christmas was fun,  though.  Ben and I made the most of the time that we did have with the kids, our families, and our friends.  I was on call the week of New Year’s, but it was actually quiet enough that I was able to get out of the house without having to bust out my laptop and work.  It was a belated Christmas miracle!

Since then, I’ve had difficulty getting motivated to do any of the things I need to do, and I finally realized that it was because I was depressed…even though I’m on anti-depressants.  When I went to the doctor a week ago for a med check, she found that I had been doing well in alot of areas (cholesterol, blood pressure, asthma), but could tell right away that my depression had worsened since she last saw me.  After talking about my options, she encouraged me to see a psychiatrist who could monitor my depression more closely, but I told her that I don’t have the time or money for that.  She upped my meds a little (since I was taking the bare minimum anyway).  I will see her again in a week and am feeling much better.

It’s a difficult thing to stay on top of brain meds.  You have to keep track of where you are, what you think might have led to that, and know where you want to go.  Then, you have to keep track of your progress as well as any regression that occurs.  If you’re at the point where you need brain meds, this can be especially difficult to do.  I’m an old pro at this, though, so I like to think that I’m a bit self-aware in that aspect.

Since increasing my dosage, I am a bit more motivated to get things done.  I haven’t gotten into a regular workout plan yet, but I do work out while I brush my teeth and while I watch tv.  It’s just short spurts, but I suppose it adds up.  I’ve gotten worse at portion control since increasing my meds, but have been eating healthier in general.  So, I still haven’t found the best route for me yet, but I’ll keep trying.  Ben got a Bowflex this month and has been doing the 20-minute exercises three times a week.  It’s helped remind me that if he can find one hour a week to workout, I can too.  The cat has also been sick and we are on the second round of liver meds to try and get her better.  Having to make time to care for her reminds me that even though I may not want to workout or always eat well, it’s important to take care of myself.  At least, this is what I’m telling myself.

Plus, I need to get healthy to gear up for all of the stuff going on in the coming months.  Right now, we’re planning on getting our finances aligned to buy a house, we have a wedding to go to in February, Minecraft’s birthday, Spring Break with the kids, we’re getting married, other family members’ birthdays, the reception, tons of work, being on call, finding and buying a house once the financial stuff is good, and (hopefully) packing and moving.  Those are the highlights, but plenty of smaller events are sprinkled in throughout the weeks and weekends.

I used to rely on staying busy as a distraction from depression, but now, it just wears me out.  Ben has been great at trying to remind me that I need to rest when I need to rest.  I hate giving in and being lazy even when I know he’s right, but if I keep pushing myself, I know I’ll just end up burned out and on the couch for weeks or months.  Right now, our big project is getting the kids’ furniture set up in their rooms.  Santa gave them great gifts, but did not give us the time and energy it takes to put the furniture together.  This will really be the first weekend since Christmas that they’ll be at our house long enough to use any of it, though.  So, it’s important that we get everything set up so that they can enjoy the furniture before they outgrow it.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, but work, life, and laziness continued to distract me until I read this interesting article on non-dishware things that can be cleaned in the dishwasher.  Blew my mind!  Also, I don’t quite know how it inspired me to write this post, but, you know, such is life.  Either way, you can thank me when all your stuff is clean.