Thanksgiving is Over but I’m Still Thankful

My Thanksgiving this year was lovely. We went to my aunt and uncle’s house and I ate enough turkey and carbs to fuel a small country for a week. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Obviously. I didn’t eat that much turkey.

Chandler is away at college in Washington D.C. and didn’t come home. It’s too far, too expensive, and he’ll be home in two weeks for winter break. He was invited to my friend’s for dinner (she lives in Virginia) and to a couple of teammates houses for the weekend, but declined all offers and stayed in the dorms with what seemed like very few others. (Most of the kids at his school are east coasters.) He wasn’t sad, so I tried not to be sad even though he probably had Easy Mac & microwave popcorn for dinner. I missed him like crazy but am so thankful he is living his dream.

Because I knew what I’d be eating, I went to the 5:30 AM boot camp class on Wednesday and the 90 minute 7:00 AM boot camp class on Thanksgiving Day, but skipped the 5:30 AM boot camp class on Friday morning and went on a hike with my friend Rita instead. (Not at 5:30 AM in case you’re wondering.) We were supposed to do a five-mile loop, but got lost twice and according to my step-keeper walked over ten miles. Then we went to brunch. Saturday I went to kickboxing, but Sunday I blew off my walk with my running group. Yes, you read that correctly, I said, walk with my running group. Some of us are walking now. Don’t judge. Walking is better for you anyway. Want proof? Read this article. (And ignore the fact that it has a picture of an old lady mature woman running.) I am thankful that at age 50 I am able to move my body so much. (Even if I was too tired to move it on Sunday morning.)

Mature woman jogging on beach
Quit running, old lady – it’s bad for you!

 

Friday night Dave, Marley and I went over to Rita’s house for pie and games. Rita’s sister was there with her eight year old daughter and Rita’s neighbor came over too. We played Guesstures, which is basically charades. When the game was over and Rita’s sister and niece left, instead of leaving like good people and good parents Marley convinced us to stay so we could play Cards Against Humanity. I knew what it was, but had never played before, and really should know better about letting Marley talk me into such things. If you are unfamiliar with the game their slogan is: A party game for horrible people. The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. It’s like Apples to Apples, but wrong. So very, very wrong.

Here are some examples of the combinations you might come up with:

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
So wrong!

 

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
Even wronger! (Yes, I know that’s not a real word.)

 

cards-against-humanity-question-and-answer-card
Actually, this one is kind of right!

 

These are actually some pretty tame combinations. If I screenshotted some of the more risque ones I’d forever live in fear of child protective services knocking on my door. But Marley has played the game before. (At school!) And as we all know, there are some parents that buy booze for their kid’s parties because “everybody does it” and “all kids drink anyway” (newsflash: everybody does NOT and all kids DON’T). I’m not that parent. So if I play a party game with my fifteen year old where possible answers could be assless chaps or foreskin, I guess I’m not the worst parent in the world (and I’m thankful for that).

Saturday night we went to my friend Arlyne’s for her annual Saturday night Thanksgiving and steal-the-presents bingo. Rita was there and Lisa (who says I never write about her in my blog) was there which meant I laughed a lot, because Arlyne and Rita and Lisa always make me laugh. Once again I ate too much and drank too much, but felt so happy and blessed that a retail job in the 80’s netted me life-long friendships with some amazingly awesome people.

Sunday I’d like to say that I detoxed, but I had leftover butternut squash lasagna and cheesecake for breakfast and two glasses of wine with dinner. I did do laundry and wrote a little (very little) and dusted the TV. It was a lazy day. After dinner Dave and I watched the movie About Timewhich was written and directed by Richard Curtis, who wrote and directed Love Actually. (Which everyone knows is one of the best movies ever!) I loved it (British humor is the best) and balled like a baby at the sentimentality of it. At 9:00 I was too tired to watch The Walking Dead and was so thankful for my DVR.

My life is not perfect. In fact, if you want to know the truth it is riddled with problems and stress and is oftentimes hard. (Like, impossibly fucking hard.) But every day I take the time to recognize what I am thankful for, both big and small.

The beauty of the sunrise or a desert flower in a parking lot planter.

desert flower
Finding beauty in everyday places. (And then snapping blurry pictures of it with my cellphone.)

 

The laughter I experience when I’m with my good friends.

A gym with kick-ass classes and kick-ass people.

Children who are happy and healthy.

A husband who still makes me laugh and think even after knowing him for over 26 years.

Parents who are healthy. And wonderful.

Music that makes me sing along and dance in the kitchen. (Did I forget to tell you about Marley catching me dancing and singing in the kitchen when I was making sweet potatoes?)

My Snuggie that keeps me warm as I binge watch TV.

Wine that is cheap, but still pretty damn good.

cheap wine that is good
Bargain wine from Costco – cheap and delicious

 

No, my life is not perfect, far from it. But it’s also pretty wonderful. Really wonderful. I know that I am so lucky. And I choose to be thankful for all that I have – big and small. Not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.

Every. Single. Day.

 

Photo credit of mature woman: here

 

My Perfect Week

During a perfect week I wash my hair on Sundays and Wednesdays so I only have to take the time to blow dry my hair once during the work week. Please don’t confuse this with I only shower on Sundays and Wednesdays. (I actually wouldn’t mind that, but my co-workers might.) That’s what shower caps are for. Yes, my hair is a disaster on Saturdays and spends all day in a frizzy mess of a ponytail. Or under a hat. But I’m a forty-nine year old suburbanite. We don’t go out most Saturday nights.

On a typical week something goes awry in my allowable-hair-dirtiness plan and I end up washing my hair twice during the work week making my hair look better, but also making me late(r than usual) to work.

On a perfect week I start my Sunday morning with a four mile run at 7:30 completed in forty-four minutes. (Hey, I just started running a year ago. And I’m old. And not racing anybody. So shut up about how slow I am!) Then I have coffee with my friends around a fire pit at Stonehaus. (Who yes, if you must know all finished before me. Even the ones who ran five miles.) I get up at five o’clock to write even on Sundays so I have plenty of time to pack some Greek yogurt (the delicious full-fat kind) and fruit or put some oatmeal and peanut butter in a thermos to take with me for breakfast after the run. (Yes, I take my own breakfast to a coffee house. Shhh! I’m on a budget!)

On a typical week I “sleep in” until six, waste time on Facebook, lose track of time and rush out the door at 7:26, with no time to make breakfast and making my friends wait in the cold for me to arrive so I can run behind them.

On a perfect week I clean my room on Sundays, do all my laundry, put it all away, and pick out my  outfits for the week including accessories.

lay-out-clothes-the-night-before-work

 

On a typical week I manage to do all my laundry, but don’f fold it until nine o’clock while we’re watching The Walking Dead, and put it in a laundry basket where it will remain (in the den) until Tuesday, okay Wednesday Friday. I kind of visualize in my head what I’ll wear that week (and still change 2-3 times each morning before putting the original outfit back on). My room remains a mess for another week.

During a perfect week I will go to Trader Joe’s and Costco on Sunday, plan my meals for the week, and not have to return to the store until the following Sunday.

On a typical week we will run out of milk on Tuesday morning. Wednesday night if I buy two. And that Tuesday or Wednesday milk-run will likely be the second time since my Sunday shopping trips that I have to run back to Trader Joe’s to pick up something I forgot. I will probably go a minimum of two more times until the following Sunday. (Sometimes those two times will happen on the same day.)

During a perfect week I will get my shopping done early so I have time to do some cooking for the week. I’ll cook some ground turkey and quinoa and roast some vegetables then chop them up small with my Pampered Chef food chopper and mix it all together. Then I’ll put the mixture into five containers, the turkey and quinoa weighed and measured for the appropriate protein to carb ratio (20g protein, 30g carbs), ready for grab-and-go lunches for the week. As I’m preparing my lunches I’ll also make a nice Sunday dinner, and put together some gringo enchiladas (only gringos use cream cheese and flour tortillas for enchiladas) or a meatloaf to pop into the oven one night during the week.

green-chile-enchiladas
Yes, I stole this photo from Pinterest. You can get the photo credit and recipe for these yummy enchiladas for gringos here.

On a typical week I don’t make it to the market until 4:00 when it’s overcrowded and they are out of at least one of the things I want the most. I get home much too late to make my turkey quinoa mash, but at least I managed to buy broccoli slaw and kale to mix together for salads that will be made in the morning instead of the night before, making me late(r) and  will surely get stuck in my teeth (which is awesome because I usually eat lunch at my desk). I also remember that gringo enchiladas are too fattening and that my kids hate meatloaf. (Even though, trust me, my meatloaf recipe, which is actually my Uncle John’s meatloaf recipe, is the bomb. I will have to post it one day.)

During a perfect week I will pop out of bed every morning at the first sound of my 5AM alarm, pour myself a cup of coffee that has already been brewed because it was set up the night before and I will write.

But y’all know I never have perfect weeks don’t you?

Christmas Came Early This Year

I was at another cross country meet early Saturday morning when my phone rang. It was my uncle asking what I was doing and what time I’d be home.

“That was weird,” I said to Dave after hanging up. “My Uncle John said he’s coming over this afternoon to bring us something.”

“What do you think it is?” he asked. My uncle lives about an hour away from us, so it had to be something that he really wanted to get rid of. Especially since we are going to his house for Thanksgiving in less than two weeks. (Ohmygod how is it possible that Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks?!)

“I have no idea. I hope it’s a car,” I joked. “Or maybe he won Lotto and is splitting up the money.”

“I don’t think it’s either of those things,” Dave said bringing me quickly back to reality and popping the Italian-villa-vacation, new-car, new-floors, new-windows Lotto-dream thought bubble that was forming inside my head.

“Are you sure?” I joked again. I really had no idea what my uncle could be bringing us. Maybe some old Coke bottles he found at a yard sale for Chandler’s collection. Or perhaps he and my aunt got a new bed and were bringing us their old mattress. He always joked that he was going to give me a lump of coal for Christmas. Maybe it was a really big lump. I was certainly intrigued.

I called Marley to tell her to please vacuum the den and make sure the bathroom was at the very least not gross. We clean our house on Sundays so by Monday morning Saturday it’s full red alert FEMA disaster status. People dropping in on a Saturday (without giving me at least 24 hours notice) and seeing my dog-haired, dusty, two-teenagers-live-here-and-I-work-full-time mess of a house is enough to make me break out in hives.

When my uncle got to the house he had me look in the back of his truck. I could not believe my eyes. It was not a mattress or old Coke bottles or even a really big lump of coal. It was unbelievable. It was a box for a 60 inch flat screen smart TV.

“You got us a TV?! Where did you get this? Did it fall off a truck?”

He laughed. “This is the box for my new TV,” he said. “I read on your blog that you still have a box TV so I thought you might like my old one. It’s a few years old, but it’s a 50 inch flat screen.”

Uh, yeah. I was at his house about a month ago watching football on his “old TV.” Let’s just say that it’s more than just a little bit better than watching football on the twenty-year old twenty-six inch box we have sitting inside our antiquated TV cabinet.

He and Dave carried in the TV, we did a bit of furniture rearranging (and behind the furniture ohmygod-I-can’t-believe-how-much-dog-hair-there-is-back-here vacuuming) and set up the TV that brings the Ross family into the 21st century. Mostly.

We are a bit tech un-savvy (I know, shocker!) and had a little trouble getting the TV to display a picture (which it turns out is kind of important), but I figured out the problem shortly after my uncle had to go. (Hint: it helps to attach the cable box to the cable cord coming out of your wall as well as to the TV.)

I can’t tell you how blown away Dave, Chandler, Marley and I are at my uncle’s generosity. (Even though it’s painfully obvious he was just trying to find a clever way to be mentioned in my blog.)

Dave was in heaven watching the final NASCAR race of the season. Football is a lot more exciting to watch on our new flat screen. The Walking Dead is a lot gorier. According to Dave and Chandler we never need to go to the movie theater again. I think having a houseful of teenagers for a movie/video game night is in our near future. We might even host a Superbowl party next year.

Thank you Uncle John. I love you.

And to anyone reading this who’d like to be mentioned in my blog -and who wouldn’t?!- have I mentioned we drive a 2000 Honda Civic and a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer? (I’m just sayin’….)

Why I Let My Thirteen Year Old Daughter Watch The Walking Dead

Yep, that’s right. Alert the Mommy Police. I let my 13-year-old daughter watch The Walking Dead. Do I think she’s old enough? Hell no. I cringe as she’s watching it. But I’m not a lazy parent. (At least when it comes to “viewer discretion.”) She’s been begging to watch The Walking Dead for two years and I have held firm with my no. This year I caved. But it’s not for the reason you might think.

The Walking Dead
This show totally looks appropriate for 13-year-old girls right?

I didn’t watch the first season of The Walking Dead. Well, at least not the beginning of it. But Chandler and Dave did. I would occasionally pass by the TV and see some zombie getting its head shot off or bashed in, in a way more gruesome than the time before and ask Dave, “Do you think he’s old enough to be watching this?”

“It’s fine. He’s okay,” would be Dave’s response.

At some point during the first season I got pulled in. And by then it was too late. Chandler, who was in 8th grade at the time, was fully invested, and while it might have been a wise “tough” parenting choice to make him stop watching it, I didn’t.

I will admit that during the second season, when the depth of the darkness of humanity really began to be exposed, is when I started to worry about my son watching the show. The violence and extreme gore are bad enough, but what really bothers me is the means humans will go to, to survive. And on The Walking Dead if you want to survive you have to kill – and not just zombies, sometimes you have to kill other people.

In case you are not aware, The Walking Dead is an extremely dark show.

But for three seasons (well two-and-a-half for me) Dave, Chandler and I would watch The Walking Dead. At first while Marley slept. But as she became older and she started to stay up later, we would start to send her to our bedroom to watch TV in there.

Last year, when Marley was in 7th grade (which, you know, was actually earlier this year), she really started to amp up The Walking Dead campaign. “Everyone at my school watches The Walking Dead, Mom.”

I would immediately list three kids I knew for a fact were not watching The Walking Dead because I knew their mothers well enough to know that there was no way in hell they’d be watching that show. (You know, those super moms who really showcase how lacksidaisical my slightly-better-than-mediocre my parenting skills are.)

“You know we are not allowed to compare ourselves with those families,” she would tell me. (My children have tried to make it a rule that we not compare ourselves with the three super-families run by those three super-moms because they truly are superior in every way to ours -I mean their kids actually like each other and stuff- but I can’t help it, I do it all the time.)

“Different families have different rules,” I would tell her for the millionth time. She would roll her eyes at me and I would wonder what kind of mother would let her 7th grade child watch The Walking Dead(Even though some of “those mothers” are my friends.)

But Marley is in eighth grade now. The same grade that Chandler was in when he started to watch. So when season four started this year and Chandler and Dave and I excitedly sat down to watch to see what would become of Rick and his crew after taking down Woodbury and Marley poked her head in the room and said in the perfect martyr-like tone of dejection and resignation, “Oh I guess you guys are going to start watch The Walking Dead without me,” I told Dave to pause the DVR.

I had visions of Marley remembering a childhood of being sent to the other room while the three of us watched TV. It’s one thing to send both kids out of the room while the grown-ups watch things that are “inappropriate,” but to send one kid out while the other kid stays in is something entirely different. Especially when done on a weekly basis.

“What grade were you in when you started watching this show?” I asked Chandler.

He thought about it. “Eighth, I guess.”

I looked at Dave.

“Okay Marley,” I said. “I have to be honest. I don’t even like that your brother watches this show. It’s very dark and it shows people doing very terrible things.  But I think it’s only fair to let you watch too. Unless it starts to give you nightmares.”

“Oh don’t worry, Mom,” she told me. “Gross stuff like that doesn’t bother me.”

Fantastic.

So there you have it. That’s why I let my thirteen-year-old daughter watch The Walking Dead. I am most definitely not a super-mom. And we are definitely not a “Super Family.”