A Broken Jingle Bell

For the past few years, I have had a very hard time getting into the holiday spirit. This year, I didn’t really at all. The only Christmas songs I listened to were when CJ turned on a Christmas playlist for the kids. I avoided it in the car. I avoided it if I was home alone with the kids. It just feels so broken and disjointed. I feel like the family of the little boy in The Polar Express who can’t hear his bell from Santa’s sleigh ring. I’ve lost the spirit.

I stress over gifts I can’t afford, but feel obligated to buy. I dread the multiple family gatherings. What ever happened to everyone coming to celebrate together? I mean, I could celebrate Christmas any random day in December and my kids would never know the difference because there are still two more Christmases for them to celebrate this season. This is part of the reason it doesn’t really mean anything to me anymore. Christmas is not about gifts. It is about family. And I miss them. I know they always come to celebrate with us, but it’s just not the same when it is a week or two after.

There was one, brief moment on Christmas Day – before church and before I had to go to work – that made me remember that child-like wonder of the season. Q was the first up, was is not normal, so I said I would wake up MJ. I jumped on his bed and said, “Santa was here.” His eyes got real big and he pushed me out of his way to lunge out of bed. His bare little feet slapped against the floor in the hallway until he arrived in the living room. I then watched him drop to his knees in front of the Christmas tree, raise his hands in awe, and whisper “Santa.” It was a beautiful moment and the only time I really felt the spirit. I can’t wait until the girls are a little older and able to enjoy Santa as well. I have hope that their belief will restore mine.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year.

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Cumberland Falls

I never thought I would ever reach the point in my life where I started admitting that I was too old for things, but alas, that time has come. On vacation, I spent a week sleeping on a pull-out couch with CJ and paid for it. I am officially too old to sleep in a cruddy bed.

My parents wanted to revisit the place they went to for their honeymoon and decided to take the whole family. There was 12 of us in all. It was crazy and chaotic and fun. My babies don’t see their grandparents very often, so they absolutely loved spending time with them.

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EM and my dad on a train ride

One of the days, my parents took the six grandkids so my sister, her husband, CJ, and I could go whitewater rafting. I was terrified. I’m not so good in water as I’m not the strongest swimmer. They had arranged for us to go on  guided tour of the Cumberland River with the Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort. The guide was able to put me at ease when she tackled me out of our boat at the first swimming hole. I know that some people might think that sounds awful or crazy, but thanks to her, I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the tour. Well, relax as much as I could while praying I didn’t get tipped out of the boat into any rapids. It was unbelievably fun and also led me to facing a fear. One of the stops along the trip was at a cliff to climb and jump off of. I wasn’t sure if I would really do it, even when standing at the top as I don’t like heights at all. CJ had already jumped and was supposed to wait at the bottom for me, but he was so jazzed about jumping, he was already out of the water and climbing up to go again when I jumped. I earned lots of hugs from CJ and my sister because they honestly didn’t think I would do it. But I did 🙂

Last but not least, the day before we left we decided to go for a hike. We didn’t realize that the signs posted at the beginning of the path gave the difficulty of the trail. We really should have read it before we started. Turns out the trail was labeled “strenuous” and we had all six kids with us. It was exhausting and terrifying. The trail ended at a waterfall with a swimming hole which was gorgeous, but would have been more fun if you didn’t have to think about the walk back.

img_3012Overall, it was a nice vacation and I just wish I had taken more pictures.

Summer Camp

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gorgeous views from cabins

Once upon a time, I went to a summer camp I thought was truly magical. Once I turned 18, I returned to this camp as a counselor for three years. This particular camp was a sleep away camp, meaning I only had Saturday afternoons off for two months. Just enough time to go home, clean my clothes, take a real shower, and head back. I loved it.

Any time I smell a bonfire, it brings me back to opening and closing campfires, delicious s’mores, and clothes that smell slightly smoky all week. This past week it’s been a little rainy, so my wooden front door smells like the cabins in the woods would smell when we got stuck in the dining hall playing BINGO while it rained.

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the year my sister worked there too

These few things, plus a couple more, always tend to bring back camp memories. But on top of this, I’ve just been thinking about camp a lot recently. It was a huge part of me for a long time. Today’s TimeHop pictures really got to me…

This year, they decided to close the camp down for good. They sent out an invite for former campers, counselors, etc. to attend the last closing campfire and some festivities. I chose not to go. I regret it.

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one of eight cabins for campers

 

Why would I not go when I loved this place so much? I was afraid. My last summer there was a confusing one. There was a boy – well, really a man (8 years older) – who I feel really took advantage of me emotionally. So I didn’t want to see this person, I didn’t want CJ to feel awkward since he knows all about it…just so many reasons not to go. Yet every time I really think about it, I regret I kept myself from saying goodbye to such a wonderful place because of a guy. I know he was there – I’ve seen pictures from the event – and it burns my ass I let him keep me away. I am 28 years old, dammit. I shouldn’t have let something from over 8 years ago dictate my life. So now there’s one more thing to be mad at this person about. Thanks.

So, this is a goodbye to a place that taught me:

  • friends come in all shapes and sizes
  • I could survive a week (then later, months) without my parents
  • I could take really fast showers – when absolutely necessary
  • escapades after curfew were always the ones that were the most fun
  • walks on the beach in the moonlight are indescribable
  • I was incapable of winning Ugliest Counselor Contest  😛
  • Mailman is an extremely revealing game
  • camp couches are not meant for napping
  • some daily work assignments were definitely not as cool as others
  • I am a boondoggle MASTER
  • camp songs will forever be stuck in my memory
  • camp spirit is something you should always have
  • everyone loves a side-hug
  • Megadog did not taste as good as it sounds (and definitely did not deserve its own parade)
  • tie-dye t-shirts RULE
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SVC side-hugs 

Thank you to all my camp family. You will forever hold a special place in my heart. I wish I could have seen you one last time, but at least you will remain forever young, fun, and happy in my mind.

Camp SVC all the way! HOW HOW!

Munchos and Milk

Last weekend, my father was passing through town on his way to a week-long fishing trip with my uncle. Since I was working the day he was picking up my uncle, he decided to stop in and visit on my break. He was super proud of himself because he brought a drink and snack. And I mean: giant grin on his face, holding up the food, excited.

He brought a bag of Munchos and a half gallon of 2% milk. So why was he so excited about these two seemingly mundane things? They are his favorite, go-to snack and he believes they are mine too.

I’ve never been a big fan of Munchos. They are far too salty, if you ask me. Growing up, I drank a lot of skim milk and that kind of ruined all other dairy for me. Everything else is just too thick.

Dad worked a lot while I was younger. One of the few times you could hang out with him was while he was grabbing a snack between projects. He always shared, because that is just the kind of guy he is. For years, I choked down chips and milk I didn’t really care for because it meant more time with my dad. So, last Sunday night, I once again choked them down since apparently they are my favorites.

I had a great time with my dad and would gladly suffer through more Munchos and 2%milk for similar, fun visits.  🙂

 

 

The Boy Who Lived

I know the kids may still be a little young for this, but last night I began reading them Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time. We only read one chapter, but CJ and I were really impressed with how long they were able to sit and listen before getting distracted. What I would really like to get is this illustrated edition. It is the entire, originally published story, yet there are gorgeous illustrations on every page to keep a younger audience interested longer.

I really hope to share my love of this series with my kids (besides just my love of reading). CJ may not be as big of a fan as I am, but at least he doesn’t think I’m crazy. He has supported my habit a bit by taking me to midnight showings when we were dating and by taking me to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as part of our honeymoon. (And it was only part. We went other places, too.)  🙂

I am anxious to read more with them, but I know I shouldn’t overwhelm them with the current version I have if I really want them to pay attention to the whole chapter. Then again, MJ just had a birthday last weekend, so maybe I can convince him to buy the illustrated edition with his birthday money so the whole family can enjoy it.

This afternoon, I overheard the tell-tale giggles of a tickle war happening without me. CJ was in the playroom with the two older kids and they were having obvious fun.

We ended up in a massive pile on the floor; even the dog got involved by licking any exposed faces. CJ hates his feet being tickled, but I somehow managed to pin his feet between my legs. He was going to lose! MJ had CJ’s underarms, Q has his ribs and belly. Poor Daddy.

Our downfall came when Q decided to stop what she was doing to pick up one of the toy phones. She starting yelling “hello” into it and I informed her that “Now is not the time to make a phone call.” She took this to mean I also wanted to talk on the phone, so she began holding it up to my ear so I would talk as well. With this distraction, CJ was able to shift the tide in his favor.

Needless to say, CJ won. Another tickle battle lost in our eight years together. One of these days, I swear I’ll win one. Oh, who am I kidding? I probably won’t. But it sure won’t stop me from trying.  🙂

All the wrapping paper has been thrown away. The last of the gift bags have been folded and stored for next year. As I have been going through everyone’s gifts and finding homes around the house for them, I was able to pay a little closer attention to the charm my parents (well, Mom) had gotten me for my charm bracelet. It is a simple silver heart engraved with the words ‘Best Mom.’

When I first opened it, I didn’t realize it was engraved, so I only thanked them for the charm. I wish I would have noticed the words sooner, because I would have liked to thank her for them as well.

My mother does not hide that in both our child rearing and career paths, my sister and I have differed from what she herself did and what she believes to be best for us. Therefore, this gift really struck a chord with me. You don’t buy this type of gift for someone if you don’t believe it yourself; at least a little. It means so much to me that even though we do/did things differently, she still thinks I am a good mom. Well, I think she’s a good mom, too.  🙂