Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Recycled from Fast Food! A Change-able Box for a Little Girl

You know how you order the family pack at a local fast food place? You know... the kind (say... Del Taco or Wienerschnitzel) that has multiples of your faves in there to satisfy your family or at least part of it... or maybe just yourself (that's me!)? I collect those. I have my friends collect those for me, too! Why?

Well, they look like little A-line houses. Or boxes. Or fun little things to put other little things in. And... they look like they have LOTS of potential. And so... I have a large stack or two sitting around my craft room, ready to go... whenever I need them.

Sometimes, I wrap them. Um... take that back. I cover them. I cut the paper to fit, so the recipient can re-use it. (Wrapping just means you fold it all over, and the recipient would have to tear it all off... Making the box back to square one and looking just like the fast-food box it started off being.)

Other times, I have a little more fun with them...

Marissa was invited to a birthday party. That's what kids do. And of course... She wanted to just throw the gift in a bag with some tissue paper or no tissue paper at all. But... I'm her mom, and I just don't do that. (Of course, not!) The birthday girl's favorite color is turquoise? Alrighty then! I had some left-over turquoise chalkboard paint that should do the trick.

And paint it, I did. Three coats of it... the red from the box kept bleeding through. So... my recommendation to YOU, if you should decide to do this: Prime it first. Then it should only need one coat of the more expensive paint.

 I had Marissa wrap the gift in tissue (that way, I rationalized it as a compromise... she got the tissue part, didn't she?) and put it in the box.
 Put a shiny pink curly-ribbon bow on (and sealed it that way, too!)
And had Marissa doodle in pink (the birthday girl's "other" favorite color).

Reusable box to last for many years that can be changed on the outside? I think so! And... since the birthday girl plays softball (and the gift was a pair of batting gloves...), it was a hit! A Grand Slam!

*** Just a Note ***

For many of you that have written to me or commented regarding my grief... Thank you. I know there are no words that are the "right" thing. And just thank you. Some of you have sent me treasures, cards, and always kind words. I really appreciate it.

This post was meant for back in December... but it didn't make it. I am going to keep trying to catch up to life and the real world, even though all this life stuff has been pretty real for me. I just keep trying to go back to what makes me happy.

I have been crafting, on several occasions. I try to take pics... it just never seems to make it to here, my blog, where you all can see. Only because a friend's post of an RRR item today made me think... "Dang... it's been quite a while!" I didn't realize it had been since JANUARY! Ugh. I'll catch up a little at a time. (Thank you, Michelle, for inspiring me to post something!)

But again... Thank you. For all your thoughts, prayers (if you pray), and for just simply coming back here.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

MamaKat's Losin' It - Writing Prompt: 3. If the way you spent your New Year’s Eve is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, how would you say your future is looking right about now?

Wow. That is... A mouthful of a topic...

We don't usually have a party on NYE. We usually sit at home, have a meal (maybe In-N-Out), have a couple of drinks, casually watch the countdown and the performers on Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve, cheer, and go to bed... all in between snoozing (yes... I feel like I'm "old" sometimes...)

This year was different.

Quickie recap of 2014... We ended 2013 with the premature death of our beloved family dog, the day before NYE. 2014 was a bad, bad year. We went through a lot. Between allegations of "me" making my work environment "hostile" to death after death after death... I have never been to so many funerals or memorials in my life, all of the years put together. And we are fairly young. We are in our 40's. I won't dwell on this today.

This year IS different. We decided to have a "2014 was a Shitty Year Party And Let's Kick it to the Curb!" (There were many more expletives put in there when we "named" it, but that's the gist of it.

And so we did. We had some family and friends over. I made food. I did some frozen appetizers (which my husband wanted... he wanted the easy stuff. Go figure.). I handmade some other appetizers. And we drank, but not too much (nobody was wasted...). And we visited. And we sang. And we boogied our butts off.
Placing a Rose on the Donor Float at the Rose Parade -
What a WONDERFUL Experience
It was 1980's Old School in da house! (My husband's brother is a DJ, so the walls were vibrating...) We weren't forgetting all those we love that are now gone. We were living FOR them. We danced and laughed and waited for 2015 to arrive in our own time zone.

All of my husband's siblings were here. and... it was "nice". There was NO drama which is a frickin' miracle or fighting. It was just a good group of people together. Hoping. Wishing. Praying. For a better year.
OMG! It snowed in our little city (This was NYE morning)... It NEVER snows (and sticks...)
So, all in all... my NYE was pretty darn good. My future? This will be a GREAT year! I am determined. We are determined. This is really truly going to be a great frickin' year!
No filter. Just HOPE.
*Undernote because it's not really on the side, is it? : I'm really just trying to get back into the swing of things. Write more. Craft more. Do more, like I used to. And this... is one more step to it.


If you would like to read more or join in the Writer's Workshop at Mama's Losin' It, please feel free to click on the link and enter in. The more the merrier... Be sure to leave some comment love for everyone you visit. And thank you!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

MamaKat's Losin' It - Writing Prompt: 2) 7 best ways to spend WinterBreak

I can think of so many things to do during Winter Break! But here are the 7 BEST!

7) Grab everyone and go for a car ride. Hot chocolate in a thermos, gloves and blankets bundling up each of us, windows rolled down, singing Christmas Carols, and viewing all of the glorious lights. This is truly a magical time. And with all of the twinkling lights and positivity around, everyone can put aside the horrors of the world for just a bit and enjoy all the season has to offer.
6) Pay it forward. It's always nice to have someone random do something for you. It makes you remember there IS good in the world. Be that person. Random acts of kindness performed for others will make YOU feel good, too! Coming out of the grocery store, you see someone struggling to load the car? Stop, offer to help... but be sincere when you do it. Did you just get a $5 rebate/gift card at Target on a special deal? After checking out, hand it to the person behind you. And wish them a Merry Christmas (or a Happy New Year!). Kindness gives us a special warm spot.

5) Watch holiday movies. Loving that hot chocolate (and popcorn this time, too!). Cuddle up on the couch with your kiddos (furbabies, too!) and enjoy the holiday romance movies that are all over the tv. Don't have tv? Watch them on the computer... Hallmark or Lifetime offer many of their movies online, as well. Holiday movies are always a feel-good thing for us. I record them on the DVR and watch them throughout the break.

4) Decorate! Enough said... What you didn't get a chance to do before the break... just add a little sparkle here and there... It makes it all the more magical.

3) Bake. Bake. Bake. Not just for your holiday guests or holidays potlucks. Of course, the traditional cookies, cakes, pies, candy, breads and such... but bake a little bit extra for someone you know is over-loaded. They're sure to appreciate the treat. And bake for yourself. Make and freeze just a little extra (label it, of course!) for that day when you need a touch of Christmas, and a cookie warmed up will bring it all back to you.

2) Play catch up. The year is almost at an end... There is always so much to do. And if you're a tv junkie like me, you need the breather (when they only play re-runs). So, utilize that time to catch up on other things. Clean up that closet; go through and donate items. Catch up on your email. Read the latest (and the past things) on your favorite blogs... There are so many things to do! Catch up on them.

1) Spend quality time with your family and friends, cherishing every moment. I'm pretty sure this one is self explanatory. But... in case it isn't... PUT DOWN THAT PHONE! Only take it out for group photos. Forget the selfies unless you are making them groupies. Don't text or check your email. Don't update your status on Facebook or post to Twitter or Instagram. Just enjoy the company surrounding you. Brush up on your social skills and partake in the conversation around you. Play a family-type game (Cards Against Humanity is a hilarious game to play in a group setting... but not advisable for under age 17...). Laugh so hard you cry. Remember those you love. Try a new food together and discuss it. Don't just unwrap those gifts and set them aside. Relish the thought that went into it. Most of all... Make the most out of the time you have.

There are many other wonderful ways to spend the Winter Break... but these are the things that mean the most to me. It makes my Winter Breaks so much more lively and full of sparkle. I hope you can take one or more of them, even beyond Christmas, and make the most of it. Time is something we can't get back; we must spend it wisely.

Want to read more from other writers? Stop by MamaKat's Losin' It!. Please feel free to leave a comment, as well. Tell me what YOU do during the break!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pardon my tears (Part Seven... [the last for now]) - It's a NEW YEAR!!!!

I needed to take a little break; I'm sure you all understand. (If you don't, please refer to my most recent posts. I'm sure you will understand, after that.)

2014 was the worst year ever. First, our son. Days later, my mother-in-law...

Every month after... at least one or two people close to me. I'm only 44. My friends and people close to me that this is happening/happened to are not old! Everything (almost) is completely unexpected.

I am tired of it all. I am tired of mourning. Of fresh tears. Of opened wounds. I get that "it" will always be there but will get easier. It's just hard. The holidays especially. I cannot write how much I cried. How many tears were shed. But we made the best out of it. We did all that we could.

Me? I stayed super busy. No... I didn't get Christmas cards out. I hardly made any for 2014. I didn't do as much shopping as usual, either. Or decorating. Lots and lots of boxes stayed put in the garage for the season and didn't even get cracked open.

We even forgot to put out the stockings. Eek! Thank goodness for Elfie. He relayed messages to Santa, telling him how "out of it" we were. And that's ok.  It's ok for us to be "off" for a bit. We did put Jr's picture with the kids for the Santa photo...

I won't be posting pictures of our precious photos. Those are mine to cherish and to share with people close to me. I'm trying to stay healthy... and to deal. And so...

We threw a New Year's Eve party.

We NEVER do that. But we had such a crappy year... (it needs to be said... and last year's year end started with our beloved dog dying, and went downhill from there, ending with lots of losses). We know death is a part of life. But OMG! Give us a break. We are accepting and trying to move on. We want to live and cherish the memories, not dwell on the "what if's" and the "why's". They won't be answered.

And so we "partied". We had family and friends come over. And we had fun. We said goodbye to 2014 and kicked that awful year to the curb.

We are now here in 2015. It is a new year. A fresh start. And that is all of that. Welcome to the new year. May it be better than the previous. May we all be healthy and wise for it.

Attempting to write more often, improving myself, learning more, and being more positive are on my list for the year. I'm not saying they are "resolutions", but just something I'd like to do for myself. And if I do it for myself, it will improve everything about and around me. I need positive air surrounding me. I am going to do it.

So watch for it... Today is the second of January (I needed a recupe day, ya know?)... and I plan on being much more present this year. How about you?

And just so you know... Besides taking down most of Christmas today, I actually overhauled a full room! Fresh start! The laundry room is super fresh, now! Watch out world... HERE. I. COME!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pardon my tears (Part Six)

I go to wake him. I believe this is a nightmare's continuance.

I wish I would wake up. I keep shaking my head. Is this a really bad dream?

He can't believe this is happening, But either. Has happened.

I begin making the phone calls... To his brother. No answer. To his brother's wife. She hands the phone to him, as I ask... Deep. Anguish. NOOOOOOO!!! "My mom?" "NOOOOOOO!!!!"

I then call another brother... This kills me deeply. I speak to him and tell him.

Quickly, we all get ready. I arrange to drop our 9-year-old at my mom's while we handle things at his mom's house. My other daughter and sister are going to continue on to the fundraiser... And again, we have to tell our youngest something crippling.

Remarkably, she handles it well. And I remember another ditty she said to us when we told her about her brother... She said to my husband, "You know what Mommy told me about Xanny, when Xanny died? She said it Xanny dying would prepare me for something much bigger. She was right."

Last December (less than a year ago!), our beloved family dog got really sick. We had been at our own house; it was raining outside; I had kept our pet in during a Girl Scout party. Several people brought younger children, in spite of the "rules" (Girl Scout and registered parent/adult). No worries, right? Wrong. I caught two very small children feeding my sweetheart chocolate (from the chocolate fountain... DARK chocolate from the chocolate fountain. Several. Times.) She (our dog) got really sick. Chocolate (especially DARK chocolate) is toxic to dogs. Since I didn't know exactly how much she had consumed, the vet said we'd just try to see if it passed. I hadn't taken her in right away, so the damage was already lurking... there was nothing we could do. And a little bit over a week later, she left us, howling her last breath at 3am.

I was devastated. We were all devastated. I still tear up, thinking about it...

But never in my mind, when I had to talk to our youngest did I believe I was preparing my child for the tragic death of her BROTHER! and then her GRANDMOTHER!

Bringing us back to the events here... As I leave the house, I get a text from a cousin of my husband... "Why is XXXX posting 'RIP mama' on Facebook?" [Ugh with the Facebook thing again... Granted, I just "posted" services for our son, utilizing the mass powers of Facebook and Instagram. Posting the final services for him and asking those who were tagged to pass it on to others that I may have forgotten or are not on my friends list, reaching out to as many people as possible, giving whoever would like to attend the opportunity to say their final good-byes... pay their respects... cry... have closure... whatever you'd like to call it. I consider myself a pretty fair and equal opportunity person...]

A response via text for this situation is not appropriate, in my mind. And so I make another phone call. During the conversation, it occurs to me most people ask how they can help. Holy Family! That's it. I've already been doing the whole phone call thing... I don't have that much in me now. "Please pass it along to your brothers and sisters, as well..." I ask when asked if she can help. Done.

Wonderful. Helpful family members are just that. Wonderful. I called other cousins and asked if they could do the same. We are almost to my mom's now... dropping off the youngest. My phone calls will probably continue the full ride, between conversations with my husband and bouts of tears. And they do.

We arrive at his mom's house (after dropping off the youngest). There are tons of people there. His mom is still there, lying there. Waiting for her ride away from home. After a couple of hours, the mortuary FINALLY comes. It is insane. People rush the house before she is even down the driveway.

My heart breaks. I cannot believe people are like this. I hustle people out. We will handle this later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pardon my tears (Part Five)

July 31 - He is gone. He is still on breathing machines. But... he is no longer with us. We've already said our good-byes and know there is nothing more than to bring deep sorrow on more. We all need to strengthen ourselves, as we know it's not the end. It never will be.

On Saturday, the harvest is over. It is done. The machines are no longer supporting him and he is released to the coroner. (So cold...)

There is a whole boatload full of emotional and verbal drama that happens when someone dies. Between the cremation versus burial and other final decisions, it really sucks. I sure couldn't imagine it all. But it happened to us/me. There is so much more when it is a blended family, it's impossible to fathom. And even without a blended family, when parents are divorced, if the other parent takes over... One gets left out. In the dark.

Sometimes, people cry for attention. They seem to make a death about them, and not the person who died. Of course... more drama ensues, and we all try to handle it. Emotions are raging. They are not pretty. And with all of our tear-stained faces, neither are we.

Skipping some of it... It seems like I am being biased or underspoken, I'm sure. Don't worry. I'm not. I just need (for me) to understand and know that some people may be reading this that are participants. No... they will never see themselves as monstrous or verbally abusive, or hateful, so I'll just go with this. I just don't want to stir up more drama NOW. So... we'll jump to a bit later, as I also don't want to re-stir up the anger and frustration within me again...

There have been fundraisers to support the final services... and I am preparing baked goods for a food fundraiser on Saturday, August 9th...

A little bit before 9am, my cell rings. It is the mom. I think, "I am rushing the best I can. Dang it. It doesn't even start until 2pm!!!" Only... She tells me I need to wake my husband; his mother has died.

Unbelievable. Only 9 days after his son. And now his mom? No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We haven't even had time to heal. And my heart breaks more.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pardon my tears (Part Four)

The girls aren't long either. We all quietly cry as we go back to the car... There just are no words.

There are questions. Questions that will never be answered. And for that... I have regrets. Now, we just wait.

We still have my youngest with us and my two nephews...

We are at the circus... It's supposed to be a happy time. A happy place. Before noon, texts start exploding on our phones. It is done. He has been pronounced. For the sake of the little kids with us... we clap. We try to smile. I can't wait to get outside again, so I can wear sunglasses... The tools that allow me to cry and not be seen.

[Why is it when someone dies, people run to Facebook? Let the families have privacy... Since July 26th, I am rarely on any type of social media. I don't want people to ask me questions. I am tired of repeating the same thing. Telling the same thing. It hurts. It's one thing to see/have the people directly involved (i.e. the parents or siblings) say something, but for everyone (including those who didn't/don't know the whole story) to just start bombing the social media world with private things... wow. Everyone grieves in a different way. I get it. But... for those that just post. to get attention. Or to  be the first to spread say something. Just. Wow. I don't get it.]

Now that he's really gone, it rips through me. It's hard to contain my grief. But I keep trying.

We decide it's best for everyone in our little group to not do anything else after the circus and just return to Mom's.

It's a really sad time. Only sad... just doesn't begin to describe the intensity of the feelings I have. I am at a loss. Not only at a loss for words. A loss of mind. A loss of heart. A loss of space. A loss of time. A loss of everything I feel like I've ever known. I don't know how I should feel. What's "acceptable".

It was pushed upon him that "I" was not his mother. For years. No. I did not give birth to him. This is true. I loved him just the same. I love each of my children unconditionally. Equally.

So... to hell with it. It is ok for me to feel this huge emotional void within me. It swells with anger sometimes. It swells with pain. It beats with a rhythmic emptiness that pumps itself up to devour me. I cry in anguish. I cry alone.

And I know it couldn't be worse. But I am wrong.