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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Two Days of Thanksgiving

Gratitude Project (for as long as I can) I'm going to post at least three things I am grateful for. Join me!; 1)That I had a nice Thanksgiving Dinner with my family. 2) That even at nine and with a very short attention span my son still enjoys me reading to him every night (We are reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) 3)That I managed to get the one thing I wanted on Black Friday (a $80.00 wheeled crate, to lug all my substitute teaching supplies around in, for $20.00 with no shipping and handling) on line and didn't have to go out and face the insane crowds.

Usually for Thanksgiving we go to my in-laws house. I sit and chat with my Mother-In-Law and my Sister-In-Law and often feel ignored or am the butt end of passive aggressive comments. Often I suddenly am alone and have to find where everyone has settled. I guess I was used to it. If I stay at the table it ends up being all the men talking about sports and war. Not my favorite subject. I have tried to chip in and help do the dishes or clean up but there also never seems to be a spot for me to do this. I get subtly pushed out of the way and my help is often rejected or ignored. In fact still after 15 years I don't know where many things go in my Mother-In-Law's house. Oddly I have been told that they resent that I don't chip in and help clean up. I don't enjoy going there and I decided that I don't have to anymore.

So this year I didn't go. I bought myself some sushi and pot stickers and had a very nice dinner all alone. It sounds like it wasn't a good time, but I loved it. I got a lot of cleaning done. It turns out that when two children are not undoing all my cleaning the house actually can stay cleaner longer. I even got started on cooking for our second Thanksgiving Dinner to be hosted at my house on Friday.

What? Thanksgiving on Friday? That is unheard of! It actually was done to preserve our stomachs. Instead of trying to fit two Thanksgiving Dinners in on Thanksgiving when I was growing up we split them up. We went to my Nana's (my Dad's Mom) on Thanksgiving and then on Friday we went to my Grandparents (my Mom's parents) family Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes it was at our cottage where we had the traditional Thanksgiving push my Uncle's motorhome out of the mud because he always pulled into the soft part of the grass and sink. Ah, memories!

Fun story about me baking my pies. I was making from mostly scratch (I used canned pumpkin instead of a whole pumpkin) my first Pumpkin Pie. I know that I bought all the ingredients. I had the recipe out and was mixing all the ingredients together. Luckily I tasted it before I cooked it, I thought it just wasn't right so I re read the recipe that I somehow was no longer following and discovered that I forgot the brown sugar. It was 11:30ish on Thanksgiving night and all the stores were closed. Yikes!!! Egads!!!

So I went on a brown sugar quest, I went to Walgreens, but they didn't have it. They had flour, granulated sugar and honey but no brown sugar. I finally found a store that I thought was open and I knew they had it at 11:58 pm. As I closed the car door the outside sign turned off and when I tried to open the door it was locked. The cashier was counting her drawer but still I tried. I knocked on the door and showed then that I had cashed. I pleaded and finally a manager came to the door. He politely explained that they were closed and they couldn't do any more transactions. Still I pleaded, I only needed brown sugar, could I leave the cash for it and then they can ring it in the morning. He agreed to my proposition. I didn't mind waiting outside and soon I had my brown sugar and back home I went.

I love to cook, there is something about starting with a recipe and tweaking it here or there to make it your own. Yes, I am a recipe tweaker. Usually I cook main dishes or side dishes. If I cook a dessert it is usually follow the directions on the box or better yet buy it pre-made. This year I saw a great recipe for a Pumpkin Pie that I decided to try.

Wickedly Yummy Pumpkin pie
By: The Good Witches Farm House Kitchen

1 small sugar pumpkin
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1 1/4 cups half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)

Cut up pumpkin, and remove seeds. Place in large baking pan, and cover with foil or lid. Bake for 1 hour, or until very tender. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Scrape pumpkin into a food processor; puree until smooth.

Measure 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt. Stir in maple syrup, half-and-half, and flour. Mix in eggs one at a time. Pour filling into unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour, or until center is set.

Okay I admit it I tweaked it a little, I thought I had more maple syrup and so I used 1/3 c maple syrup and 1/3 c apple cider. I also didn't have a pumpkin so I used 1 15 ounce can of pure pumpkin.

I poured it into the pie shell and it almost over flowed. I thought I pinched the edges down and I guess I didn't do a good job. In the oven they flopped backwards and drooped almost down to the oven grate. It also took almost 1 1/2 hours to cook. It may not have been the prettiest pie but it was the most delicious pumpkin pie that I ever had.

My parents were over on Friday for our second Thanksgiving Dinner. I told my traditional Thanksgiving joke to my mother. How many mice does it take to screw in a lightbulb? (Two but I don't know how they got in there.) I first told it maybe 15 years ago and my mother laughed so hard that she fell to the floor. In between gasps she tried to tell me that it was inappropriate to tell at Thanksgiving. I told her that it was hard to take her seriously when she was on the floor laughing.

The next year I remembered the joke and my mother's reaction so I asked if she remembered how she reacted the year before. She had no idea what I was talking about so I had to tell it again. She again was laughing so hard but didn't chastise me again. Since then I have told the same joke every year and every year my mom laughs so hard that she cries. The joke isn't why I tell it, it is my mother's reaction that makes it priceless.

This year was a wonderful year for Thanksgiving for me. It was low stress and because I used paper plates it also was a low dishwashing holiday. I am thankful for so much and I have to say I am thankful for all my readers. You help give me strength to stay on track. I love you all!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Learning to Let Go

Six months ago I received an email from my nephew, he invited us to his birthday party. The party was this last week, he was turning ten. He decided last May that he wanted it at a wall climbing center. I thought that sounds cool and over time forgot all about it. Last week I looked at the calendar and remembered all about it, yikes it was just days away. I pinned my brother down to find out the time and let my kids know.

My children can be as different as night and day, their reactions to this party showed me how true this was. My son was thrilled. He could climb walls! Where was this all his life? He couldn't wait. My daughter was excited about the party. She picked out a party dress, drew her cousin birthday pictures, planned how she would wrap his gift. She insisted I find out what his favorite color is and now is planning what kind of ribbon she will find for him.

B did decide at the last minute to bring a bag of play clothes with her just in case. It had occurred to her that a dress might not be the best thing to wear while climbing walls. Though I was sure if anyone could pull off a white dress with pink flowers while climbing a wall that she could. I am convinced that she will have grease streaks on her face as she arrives at prom with a bright pink frilly dress and hightop sneakers.

We got to the climbing center and my son was ready. He listened carefully to how to wear the harness (which was amazing in itself) and off he went with Daddy to hold onto the rope. However B wanted nothing to do with it. She hid behind me and refused to interact with anyone. This is a common occurrence at any place we go to where there are a large group of people that she has to interact with.

The part that amazes me, and sometimes frightens me is that with a group of strangers she has no problem interacting with them. She is outgoing and pretty spunky. But if we are in a group of people she knows or a group of people she knows and strangers she will hide and be super clingy to me. It was cute, but now I am trying to get her to embrace her spunk and participate at family or friend events.

My daughter and I walked to were P was climbing and I noticed the floor we were walking on was bouncy. I pointed this out to her and demonstrated how fun the floor was hoping she would un-cling herself from from my side. It worked and she started bouncing around like a kangaroo. Everyone was focused on climbing except for us. It was wonderful to see her happy and starting to break out of her fearful shell. She was thrilled that she could bound around and surprisingly the climbers had no problem with her bounding all over the place. In fact many of them took the time to watch us and smiles spread over their face. Occasionally she would stop and watch her brother climb and I asked her again if she wanted to try.

She ran to change her clothes and somehow the staff managed to get a harness to fit my daughters tiny body. She is almost seven years old and still weighs less than 40 pounds. Her brother gladly shared Daddy with her and up she went like a monkey. She was a natural! I think she went higher than P did. Like her brother she liked being lowered back down to the ground. I bet it was really cool, and no I did not climb. I enjoy having both my feet planted firmly on the ground. I was content taking photographs.

While climbing I worked on her to get her to leave my side. She was participating but still wouldn't be on her own. When I say I wanted her to leave my side, I tried to get her to go see her aunt who was maybe twenty feet away and within my line of vision. At some point I won't be able to stay with her as much as I do and I want her to be comfortable to join in the fun. I was so shy as a child that I missed out on many things. I see that starting to happen with B and I wish I could get her to learn to let go when it will help her learn to interact with her family and peers.

The day ended with a rare find. We went to a craft show and next to it was a small playground. You may think in mid November that a playground would be off limits. But it was an unseasonably warm day, I wasn't even wearing a jacket. The kids wanted to play and we thought why not. Soon the temperature will drop and the snow will fall. This maybe the last playground they play in this year.

In this playground was a small merry-go-round. This is something you don't find on many playground in our area. We had one in a playground near us but it has been removed. My children were thrilled to see it and excitedly ran to it begging Daddy to spin them. Then the air was filled with giggles and pleas for Daddy to spin them faster. They stopped briefly to use the slide one time, but that was not as much fun as getting dizzy so back they went to the merry-go-round. Now they can't wait to go back to that small playground. Funny it has much less to play on than the playgrounds near us, but that playground is all they are talking about now. I wonder if they will remember it in the spring?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Who is God?

I am watching a tv show about Muslim Americans and I am fascinated. Before 9/11 I never really thought about Muslims. I knew about them, but I knew very little about them. It was not a religion that I had taken time to learn about. I was raised Roman Catholic and I embraced it until I found I that I no longer agreed with many of its laws, rules, philosophies, doctrine. So I explored a little. I found one that fit me better and I stuck with it. Unfortunately like Islam it too is one that can fill people with fear and worry. Maybe it is because of this that now I want to learn more about Muslims. It is through ignorance sometimes that fear is spread.

As I was reading comments people wrote about the show and was disturbed by people claiming that our country is Christian. They took the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance "Under God" to imply that God referred to the Christian version of God only. Where does it say that? I believe in God and I believe when I say the Pledge of Allegiance that it still applies to me. However I am not a Christian.

There is a old riddle about an elephant that in my mind is a perfect way to describe what God is, and no I am not implying that God is an elephant though that could be a valid and in some religions is a valid implication. Basically three blind individuals each are standing next to the same elephant. One at the elephants nose, one at the elephants body and one at the elephants leg. Each describes what they think the elephant is. Each one describes the elephant differently. They are all correct but they are all also incorrect because they can not "see" the whole elephant. Just because different religions have different descriptions of God does not make them wrong. Even if we could see God with our eyes, hear God with our ears, and feel God with our hands would our descriptions be similar enough that we could all agree?

Some of you may have noticed I have not used a pronoun to refer to God. Why? I don't think they can truly apply to God. Is God a male? Is God a female? Is God both? Maybe God is neither? I do believe in the masculine and the feminine of God. Still I find myself referring to God as a male out of reflex, that is how I was raised.

I want to know more about other's beliefs it fascinates me. In other countries and through out history wars have been fought over religion. Our country was formed as a country where we would have freedom of religion. We can have open discussions of "who is God?" and we can decide what religion we want to follow. Even so religion is still something in America that can bring a crowd to riot. Our religious beliefs can be so strong that we are willing to fight to express them. We also should fight so others can express theirs.

One thing the Muslims interviewed on Anderson had to say about Sharia Law, which I keep hearing hearing Americans refer to when they argue that Muslims should be watched and not allowed, is that a countries laws supersede them. They made a point to say that the Koran instructs followers to follow a nations laws above all. They are American's first and follow our constitution. These were not my words but words I heard on the tv show. Still they make sense to me.

So who is God? What are your beliefs? What would you think if after all is said and done you find out that God is the giant bird in the above cartoon? It is possible that we are all right and then again it is also possible that we are all wrong. Still I have no problem with you having your beliefs, please share that courtesy with me and everyone else. Maybe through respect and understanding we can care a little less about who is right and start finding ways to get along.

Monday, November 14, 2011

He's Back to His Usual Ways

I knew it was too good to be true, my worse half has been so much nicer these last few weeks. I was suspicious and knew it wouldn't last. This weekend the other shoe fell. He has become the Ogre that I am used to. Sadly it feels normal for him to be a jerk and for me to avoid him. I really didn't trust the nicer version of him.

He again is measuring my worth on how clean the house is. It a weakness of mine and I really try to keep the clutter picked up. That is not good enough, he wants the house to be spotless and so does his mother. He is upset that I have things in my room stored in bins. They are my teaching supplies, I am not getting rid of them. They are organized in labeled bins and are not in the way of anything. Still he wants them gone.

He is changing jobs and has been home for three days, the same three days as a long weekend for the kids. Add to that the fact that he is no longer trying to be nice to me (his words) means this has been a long weekend for Mommy too. He did actually tell me today that he has been trying to be nice to me these last few weeks and it wasn't working. How do I get him to understand that it will take years not weeks of him being nice to me for me to even begin to trust him again? Years I am not going to be investing.

He is upset because he thinks I am planning on leaving him. What gave him that idea? Oh I bet it was when I told him I was, maybe it was when I told the kids that as soon as Mommy finds another house we (the kids and I) would be moving. He was right there when I said that and he was part of the conversation. Now he is actually getting mad at me because I am going to leave him.

The only good thing to happen this weekend was the dreams I had last night. Mike Rowe was in them and I have to say that I will clean him any day. The dreams were wonderful and definitely cheered me up some. He can visit me in my dreams any night, during the day too. Hmmmmm, I wonder how many showers he takes? I bet he shows up tonight, he is happily on my mind!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Holding On

The last few weeks have been actually very nice. We have been getting along well with a lot less friction than I am used to. On one hand it scares me a little. Is this a calm in the storm? once I get used to the peace will he return back to the jerk that I am used too. Maybe he is back to the man I married so many years ago? It confuses me and frankly makes me uneasy.

In the midst of the calm I have time to think and ponder what am I doing. Why after so much bad have I stayed? I know I have no real place to move to, but I bet I could be resourceful enough to get out and find a place ASAP. Even after all the bad I still stay. I am not staying for him, I think it might be the house.

This house is the bast place I have lived in years. Our original house was a dump with no real yard. I broke my ankle there, got carbon monoxide poisoning when our furnace decided to eat itself one night. We had a level 3 sex offender 7 doors away and a drive by shooting close enough that I hear the shots and the car driving by my house as they drove away.

The last house I didn't like my neighbors, it started with our upstairs neighbor who made it her mission to be miserable and pass that miserableness onto us. Even after she moved out she still managed to be in our life and I still have to deal with her sometimes on the outskirt of my life.

This house I love, the only thing that makes it a little thorn in my side is that my husbands mother owns it and is our landlord. I do not like having my Mother-In-Law as my landlord. She is involved in my life too much and she meddles in areas that I think she has no business being in. I don't think we would let a landlord not related to us get away with what she does on a regular basis.

If she doesn't like something we, though it usually is me, do in the house she constantly tells us that she is kicking us out of the house. Still even with the threat of eviction if I do something that she doesn't like I still love this house. If I had the money I would buy it from her. The back yard is huge and wonderful for the kids to play in.

Leaving it is scary. Will I be able to find a place to live that will have a yard for them to play in. Will I be able to find a place to live that is safe, or will I have to move back to a neighborhood that I have to worry about crime in my face?

Still not having a real job also makes leaving scary. I have a substitute teaching job but they have not called me yet. What good is a job without a paycheck? I have a lead on another substitute teaching job but have not yet had it pan out yet.

I keep holding on and know that I have to let go. Will I land here and find a husband who has changed? unlikely even though the last few weeks have been happy for the most part. More likely I will have to let go and jump. I wonder where I will land?