A Different Kind of New Year’s

New Year’s Day is usually synonymous with optimism for the new year, resolutions, relaxing, organizing, and enjoying a well deserved day off. This was my plan heading into 2014 but I soon realized that was not how I was going to spend the first day of 2014.

Husband and I traveled home to be with my parents for New Year’s Eve because we had a wedding for a family friend to attend. We were running late as usual because it takes Mom a long time to get ready. It then takes a long time to get in the car. And as I watch Dad do this I fear every time he is going to hurt himself. We missed the ceremony but showed up in time for the reception. I watched Mom as she repeated herself several times about a group picture she wanted to take. Not repeating to make sure it got done but repeating to because she thought it was the first time she said it. I started to cringe a little bit. We then had to maneuver her around across cobblestone rocks that hurt her legs. We then had to find a good spot inside for her to sit. And the list went on and on. I sat there at the table just kind of tired and mentally out of it. Thinking these used to be fun and care free events for my family and now they just aren’t.

But we rang in the New Year at home with Mom and Dad. We had champagne and chips and queso. Husband and I opened belated Christmas gifts. It was a nice ending to the year.

New Year’s Day was frustrating though. It was frustrating because Husband and I had planned to get up and leave early. I quickly realized after waking up that wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t going to happen because Mom had invited Papa over for a big spaghetti lunch. She kept saying Dad could take care of getting everything ready but there was no way Dad could take care of everything because he was busy taking care of Mom. A whole separate issue going on right now too. I realized I had to stay. I had to stay to get lunch fixed. Mom had envisioned this lunch in her head and even though I felt it was unrealistic, it was too late and I needed to execute it. So I did. Husband and I stayed around and didn’t leave to drive back to our home until around 4 getting home around 7pm.

I felt happy I could step in for my parents and help them out. I also felt frustrated I had to step in to help them out. I also just felt defeated. I feel defeated by MS right now. I feel angry it is in our lives. I feel helpless about what to do. I feel sad for Dad and everything he is going through as Mom’s caregiver. I feel clueless about where it is going. I feel hopeless and then I feel guilty for feeling hopeless. I feel selfish for saying I miss Mom and I miss the way things used to be. I am feeling a lot right now. I don’t understand what 2014 holds. I know where we were a year ago and I know where we are today. I don’t know where we will be tomorrow. I am trying to take one day at a time but it’s hard. It’s hard when you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. You just see another day in the tunnel. And I am worried that 2014 is going to be a year of tunnel-filled days.

Wishing you health and happiness in the New Year! Thanks for sticking with me through 2013! 

A Thanksgiving Lesson

Husband and I traveled to my family’s house for Thanksgiving this year. Sister K spent Thanksgiving with her boyfriend’s family and with Mom primarily bedridden right now, I wasn’t sure how the holiday was going to go. I am big on traditions- the tradition of seeing Mom in the kitchen cooking, everyone together eating, etc etc. Because of this I was honestly a little nervous about Thanksgiving. But I realized a big Thanksgiving lesson- I realized at the end of the day, the purpose of the holiday is family, not food…and it is being thankful for present moments, not past traditions.

What am I talking about?

Well this year we ordered turkey and stuffing. We also ordered pies instead of baking them. Sister K is a teacher and was able to go home on Tuesday to help Mom cook some sides in preparation for Thanksgiving. Then on Thursday I cooked a few more sides and pretty much played hostess to our small family consisting of Papa, Husband and Dad plus Mom and me. Mom wasn’t able to cook anything like she wanted but I did have her cell phone and while I was in the kitchen trying to figure out sweet potatoes I was calling her (only 2 rooms away) to figure out what to do. Going into the weekend I was quite nervous- I was going to have Husband there and combine trying to make sure he is having a good time with a new dynamic in my family, a dynamic that is constantly changing. I had already talked to him about it a lot and he was totally fine as I deep down knew he would be…he reassured me constantly going into it saying we will just go with it.

And go with it we did. I am still processing the fact that in putting away any plans or expectations and “just going with it” I had a wonderful weekend. I also had a very eye opening weekend. I realized that Thanksgiving isn’t about traditional food, cooking together or Mom being in the kitchen. Thanksgiving is about being thankful. I made myself focus on the little moments of being thankful and I am so glad I did- because it was in those little moments that I found Thanksgiving and found the things for which I am most thankful.

And my favorite moment from the weekend- it didn’t involve Thanksgiving Day at all…

It involved Mom, me and Hallmark channel movies. Saturday night Husband and Dad went to go see a “shoot ’em up guy movie” and Mom and I stayed home. We made Thanksgiving leftovers which we ate in Mom and Dad’s room and watched back to back Hallmark Christmas movies. There we were Mom in her hospital bed, me laying in Mom and Dad’s bed with my high school purple fuzzy slippers, Hallmark Christmas movies on the TV and a daughter whose eyes felt very opened to what family and holidays are all about- it was honestly one of those moments I wish I could have lived in forever.

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Hallmark Christmas movies with Mom

Did I learn a big lesson in what it means to be Thankful? Yes. Did I also learn a big lesson in the moments I am thankful for? Yes to that too. I am trying to focus on these little moments more and more…especially when I am home and especially considering Mom’s MS doesn’t seem to be getting any better. These moments are going to carry me to the next moment. These moments will get me through the tough moments. We are given these little moments to remember that this is it. This is life. It is in these moments that I find pure bliss. I am making an effort to focus on these moments more, moments that I know can’t physically last forever but moments that if I take a minute to appreciate will last forever in my mind. It is these moments that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving season.

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Bring it Aisle 17.

Also, just because I love all of you here is a picture of husband and me this Thanksgiving. After dropping off Papa on Thanksgiving evening, we headed to Target to see if there were any deals we could score and this photo-op happened. Another moment I am thankful for and want to remember forever.

What little moments did you have this Thanksgiving? Do you think sometimes there is too much emphasis on tradition and not enough emphasis on the present? I am thankful for each of you and wish each of you a wonderful holiday season. Thank you for reading and sharing while I try to navigate this new part of life. 

Leaping Over Puddles

Halloween is pretty uneventful for me because Husband and I live in an apartment and we don’t get any trick-or-treaters in an apartment complex. So minus taking pictures of people dressed up in costume at work today (since I am in charge of our company’s social media and internal communications) and my cupcake adventure last night, it’s just been a normal day. But a very rainy day. It poured here all last night and all day until around 4pm. Then it all just went away, it had cooled off a little and the sun came out.

I decided to go for a run at the park even though I knew the trail would be soggy. Something about it just felt nice on this holiday evening. As I was running I was doing some thinking and also a lot of leaping over puddles. I had to really pay attention to the path because all of a sudden you’d be zig zagging to avoid huge puddles or piles of mud. Occasionally though you had no way around the puddle- so I leaped over it.

After I did this a few times I started thinking about those puddles. About how life is full of them. Smooth ground for awhile and then a big mess you have to get through and then smooth for awhile and then a mess to trudge through..and if you are not paying attention the big messy puddle sneaks up on you and before you know it you are right in it. I think I have a tendency to get in a puddle and then stay there. Focus on the puddle. I have a hard time letting go of the puddle. It’s a small feeling of negativity/glass half empty I am noticing that is always there in the back of my mind. But when I was running tonight I got such a rush after I’d leap over a puddle successfully. I started thinking wouldn’t it be great if I could just leap over the negativity and keep things positive. Leap over the messy puddles in my life. Not avoid the puddle, not jump into the puddle, but simply acknowledge it, figure out a plan and leap over it.

How do you handle negative thoughts? Do you think sometimes we can just dwell on things too much and really we just need to leap over them to move forward? Did you or your family dress up today? Happy Halloween!

A Cupcake Epiphany

I am not exactly the most natural when it comes to cooking and baking. I get very intimidated and stressed out in the kitchen. Cooking is not my thing. I am always worried I am going to kill Husband. I have been told I would be better at baking because things have to be exact and that’s the issue with cooking is that well, it’s not as exact.

I had the genius idea that I would bake Halloween cupcakes for Husband to take to work. I was actually pretty excited and feeling empowered. I had even found a clever recipe to use. At lunch today I bought all the ingredients and after work I decided to begin.

All was going well and according to plan, and just as I had put my first batch of 12 in the oven I thought wow, not too much to clean up. Then it hit me- I forgot to mix in the eggs. On a boxed cake requiring only three ingredients, I forgot one of them.

Cupcake Disaster

As I tried to decide what to do I figured I would just let that batch go. There was no hope and no saving them. I decided I would just mix the eggs into the remaining batter. Then I proceeded with baking the rest of the cupcakes as planned. There was another tricky part though…the batter now was not as thick after adding the eggs. I don’t think it was ever supposed to be thick but when it was thick it was easier to put in the liners. The thin batter was thinner and trickier- it actually just required more patience.

Then it hit me for the second time tonight, I am lacking patience. Patience in life. Patience with Mom. Patience with myself. Patience. It’s a big thing I struggle with from a tiny thing like putting batter into cupcake liners to a bigger thing like patience with my loved ones. So  I stood there slowly drizzling the chocolate batter from the spoon into the liners and I clearly had time to think. I am notoriously hard on myself when I mess up but really, I am just not patient with myself. I give myself one chance to get a recipe right and then I get frustrated and give up. Or if I mess up a recipe as I did tonight, I try not to be hard on myself yet deep down I am because I ruined 12 cupcakes. If I can’t be patient with myself how can I expect to be patient with others? It’s something I am chewing on tonight as I sit here and chew one of my cupcakes. And just so you can see my final product-

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Do you struggle with patience? Do you believe sometimes we can struggle with being patient not only with others but patient with ourselves? Are you a natural chef or baker? Have you ever forgotten an ingredient in a recipe? What do you think of my cupcakes?

The Cards We’ve Been Dealt

On December 23, Sister K, Mom and I all headed to the mall…Husband and Dad headed to the movies together. It was girl time/best friend time/mother-daughter time/all of the above. We were done with our holiday shopping but went to enjoy the sales, soak up the frenzy of the pre-Christmas chaos and spend time together.

As I was there I saw other families together, other mothers and daughters but for the first time I didn’t feel the instant twinge of jealousy I used to feel. Sure Sister K and I pushed our Mom around the mall instead of walking beside her…but instead of focusing on the differences between our Mom and other Moms…I just focused on being with Mom. We had a wonderful day. We wandered around, in and out of the stores, showing Mom things, trying clothes on, stopping to grab something to eat, and to insert a line from a familiar Christmas tune “laughing all the way.” It was a special time and the perfect way to leave the cares of my life behind and become focused on being home with my family for Christmas.

I felt very blessed by the relationship I have with Mom and Sister K. I felt blessed that I “wanted to go home to spend time with them” as I listened to people complain about being home with their parents for holidays. Instead of thinking of the frustrating cards we have been dealt with Mom’s MS I thought about the good cards I have been dealt with my family. I am learning to take all the cards I’ve been dealt, the good and the bad, and to make it work. And if it means taking turns pushing Mom around the mall in her wheelchair, sometimes having some minor issues with navigating through doors, and sometimes taking up too much space- I’ll do it. I’ll do it because as I sit here today I don’t remember those things, I just remember the time spent with Mom.

So a week after Christmas and with the holidays behind, here are some pictures of
Sister K and Mom “rolling” around the mall:

Enjoying the lights of the season

Enjoying the lights of the season

Avoiding the cobble stones to the left- we learned Mom isn't a fan

Avoiding the cobble stones to the left- we learned Mom isn’t a fan

We also learned Mom's wheelchair doubles as shopping bag storage

We also learned Mom’s wheelchair doubles as shopping bag storage

Did you do anything special with your family over the holiday season? Do you ever focus on the negative cards you’ve been dealt and overlook the positives in the process? Does anyone else enjoy going to the mall to enjoy the pre-Christmas chaos or are you among those still doing last minute holiday shopping up until Christmas Eve?

New Year, New Perspectives

Happy New Year blogging friends- after a bit of a holiday hiatus I am back!

I am also curious…Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I am not big on them. The main reason is because I feel like if you want to make a change in your life do it, don’t wait for a new year to do it. But with that being said, there are a few I am making this year just because I am feeling like the timing aligns well with some changes I want to make in my life.

I thought I’d share these too since I figure that if you are reading this blog you know me pretty well even if we’ve never met in person:

My Superficial Resolution:
1. Stop picking/biting finger nails. This has been a looming issue for me. I actually think I picked it up from Mom which is kind of comical. But as a reward for stopping I made an agreement with myself that I’d treat myself to a manicure.

My Carry over from Last Year Resolution:
2. Cherish the Moments. I have talked a lot about this on here and it was a central theme throughout my holidays. Really trying to be present and almost take a mental snapshot of my time with loved ones or memories with myself that I let slip by or not appreciate. I felt like I really soaked up my time at home with Mom over the holidays, but I also really cherished my time at home. I cherished the little moments with Mom and with my family. I really want to strive to be better at this rather than always thinking two steps ahead or not being fully present.

My Epiphany Resolution:
3. “Evacuate MY dance floor.” I love to dance. This is no secret and I have talked about this many times on this blog. New Year’s Eve as I was staring at a football bowl game Husband was forcing me to watch by taking over our TV, I had a thought- I have really struggled with letting people bother me. The kicker is these are people who in no way directly influence my life on a daily basis. They are people from my past, people I only know about through Facebook or people who used to be friends and I am working through the ending of that friendship. The point though is I allow these people who I never interact with to control my moods sometimes. I allow myself to ruminate on their actions or words that were hurtful to me and in effect I end up in a downward funk. I am realizing though that my family is facing and is going to continue to face some trying times with Mom. And using her as my focus, if there are people in my life who I don’t think I can pick up the phone just to say “I am having a hard time” then those are people who should not be in my life. So in effect I will be asking them to “evacuate my dance floor.” I will not literally be informing them of my decision but I am going to internally hold myself accountable to evacuating them from my dance floor and therefore my thoughts. This is going to be my motto of 2013. Because I do believe I am hitting a point where friendships are harder to maintain, life is throwing bigger curve balls my way and I need to surround myself with people who I want to be surrounded by whether it is being in their company or thinking about them in my mind.

So here we go. Thank you for sticking with me as I kick off 2013. I love this blog and am so thankful for the people who have found it and read it- more than you know. I look forward to navigating 2013 with you by my side and knowing that no matter what life throws at me this year, I am lucky to have this place to come and deal with life.

How were your holidays? Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions? Do you think it’s important to take the time to “cherish the moment” everyday, not just during the holidays? Did you know there is a song called “Evacuate the dance floor”?…it may or may not be my new anthem 🙂

A Big Fat “No Comment”

I am currently on a committee that is helping to plan a big coat drive for the city. The portion I am in charge of involved a coat drive competition between schools and business to see who could raise the most coats. This morning I got to be at a live radio remote at 5:30am where we announced the winners and presented them with banners. Needless to say I am a little tired this afternoon after waking up at 4:30am. It’s been a long day. If this post doesn’t make any sense, that is why.

I am curious if you all send out holiday cards? I have always loved Christmas cards. Ever since I was little Mom has sent them out every year with a picture of our family or Sister K and Me. As I got older I helped her design and address them. Now I have taken on the task of being the main creator of the Christmas card and Christmas letter, getting input from Mom on the picture and design and taking the reins from there. I don’t mind since I happen to love Christmas cards.

But I also think they are interesting. They are a split second, a moment in time when my family takes a picture and sends an image to say “look world, we’re doing okay.” This has become important since Mom got MS. Maybe even more so than it should be. It’s become a way my family makes a visual statement to say we are still smiling. Some people who receive Christmas cards don’t know Mom even has MS. But I think that’s also why I love them so much. It is a way we make a statement not through our actions but through a picture. Behind the smiles no one can see that Mom was struggling to walk to that moment to take this picture; no one can see we were arguing as we tried to get Mom in the car; no one is questioning how we are handling Mom’s MS; no one is watching our every move; we are just sending a stamped smile. A big fat “no comment” to all of your comments and opinions surrounding our life right now. And I enjoy that. I enjoy moments where I am able to “tell off” the world with a smile…instead of using the “words and phrases” I’d really like to use sometimes that are not so nice.

Do you send holiday cards? Do you enjoy sending/receiving them? Do you agree that sometimes it is a way to show a moment in time where your family appears to have it all together? Have you ever told someone off with a smile instead of not so nice words? Do you believe 4:30am is entirely too early to begin anything?