Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Perfect Christmas

We stayed up late, last night, filling the kids' stockings, putting the Santa gifts under the tree, and cuddling by the fire, sipping eggnog.  As we were heading toward bed, he grabbed my hand and stole a kiss under the mistletoe.

I wake up in his arms, the electric blanket keeping my feet toasty warm.  Throwing on my fluffy robe, I rush to the kitchen (turning the thermostat on as I went), turn on the oven, and stick the casserole I had made the night before into the oven.  Rushing back to bed, we whisper and cuddle while waiting for the children to wake up.

I hear the little one open her brother's door and climb onto his bed to wake him.  In our home, Santa leaves the stockings in front of their doors.  They can get into their stockings while they wait for us to get up.  We put satsuma oranges, granola bars, and nuts into the stockings to keep them from starving away to nothingness before we get up.

When we can hear the sugar rush is starting to hit (we're not heartless - we also include candy in their stockings) we get up so they can put that energy into ripping into their presents.  While I go into my son's room to say good morning, my husband goes downstairs to plug the Christmas lights in so the kids will come down to a magical morning.  I know he is also lighting a fire because he knows how much I enjoy sitting beside a glowing fireplace.

"You guys coming?" his yell comes upstairs to us.  The kids look at each other, sheer excitement in their eyes.  They rush off the bed, their early morning treasures spilled all over the bed beside the stockings, and speed toward their father.  As I reach the top of the stairs, they are hitting the landing.  There stands their father, video camera in hand, recording all of the Christmas excitement for me.  By the time I was on the main floor, they are kneeling in front of the tree, finding which presents belong to them.

I sit on the loveseat beside the man of my dreams and he hands me a cup of steaming cider that was cooking in the crockpot through the night.  We watch the kids, enjoying the "ooh"s and "aah"s, accepting the hugs they dole out when their Christmas wishes were coming true.  My son brings us the gifts which have our names on them.  My husband enjoys the gifts I had purchased for him.  When I open the one that was from "Santa" to me, it was more beautiful than I had wished for.  He helps me with the clasp and I admire it as it sparkled against my skin.  The mouth-watering smell of eggs, cheese, and bacon lets us know that breakfast is ready.

After breakfast, as we prepare for the day, I put some candied pecans in the oven so the warm smell of cinnamon fills the house.  We all get into our Christmas outfits, collect all of the gifts for our families, and pack up the food we had prepared and set out over the river and through the woods.  The smell of ham and stuffing washes over us when we enter the warm and cozy home.  The children take the gifts to the beautifully decorated tree and place them among the other shiny, sparkly wrapped presents while I take the food to the kitchen and share hugs with all gathered there.

Dinner is delicious, which is to be expected with my family full of talented chefs.  Yes, I do eat too much, but that's allowed once a year, right?  It is all just too good to refuse.  After dinner, we all sit around and open presents, everyone enjoying what they received.  When the shredded paper is all cleaned up, some of us sit around the table playing games while others sit by the fire to visit.

The children fall asleep in the car on the way home and the snow starts to fall just as we pull into the garage.  We carry the children upstairs and put them into bed, kissing them goodnight.  After shutting their doors, he takes me into his arms and kisses me.  "Merry Christmas," he whispers.

It really was.

Or, at least, that's how a single lady who is alone on Christmas imagines it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

School Sit-In

I was going to blog about the whole Duck Dynasty Debacle, but then I realized that anything I might say has already been said.  To Death.  Enough about them.  On to bigger and better.

Instead, I want to share with you a piece of local news for me.  Teacher Fired for Marrying a Man.  This news article started out quite negative, but the further I read it, the happier I became.

The story tells of a vice principal who was forced to resign because he married his true love, who happened to be a man.  Pathetic, sad, and wrong, but nothing illegal or unexpected was done by anyone.

Where it became happy was when I read that the children held a sit-in for their VP in the school cafeteria.  Now, I try really hard not to assume things about people, but we all do to a certain extent, right?  I think of today's children, and I think of open-minded, accepting children.  And then I think of private school children, and I wonder how open-minded they are.  Aren't they raised by yesterday's Republicans?  Their opinions had to have been at least somewhat influenced by their parents, right?  (See - that's me judging Republicans - shame on me!)  The students of this Catholic school know what's right and what's not, and they are standing (sitting) for what's right.  Good for them!

And then it got even better.  Their teachers aren't forcing them to go to classes.  This, too, surprised my pre-conceived notion of Catholic schools.  Obviously, I know nuns don't teach the classes, but I assumed (shame on me) that more conservative teachers would be influencing the minds of the next generation.  I am pleased to find that they support what the children are doing and are also doing the right thing.  (I refuse to believe that they aren't just taking the easy way out or that they don't have enough control over the students to force them to go to class).

And then it got even better.  The movement has found its way (through social media) to other schools, who are likewise supporting the sit-in.  I love what this means.  To me, it means that love is spreading.  It means that intolerance isn't being accepted.  It means that our future leaders have a better grasp of how to treat each other than our past ones.

I refuse to believe that it means children just don't want to go to class on the last day of school before winter break.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lovely Evening

As I walked down the sidewalk, I wondered to myself, "I sure hope she's real."  We had been chatting online for a few days, and a large part of me assumed she was a scammer.  I've had my share of them.  I really didn't want her to be one of them.

She was a little confusing.  She didn't come up on a Google image search, as most scammers did, but she claimed to have two cars (what normal single woman has two cars?)  She wasn't online all day as most scammers are, but she said all the right things, as all scammers do.  Was she real?  Wasn't she?  I kept the online dating website up on my laptop right up until the last moment just in case she had an emergency meeting she had to go to (a typical way for a scammer to cancel a date).

Walking toward the coffee shop where we were scheduled to meet, I doubted she's actually be there.  I turned a corner and saw a figure.  From the distance and in the dark, I wasn't sure it was her, but I kind of thought it was.  As I neared, I saw her big, lovely smile and knew it was her.  We both admitted that neither of us knew if the other one was going to show up and laughed at ourselves.

In her pictures, she looked pretty and happy, but you never know, you know?  She also said that she was BBW (which means different things to everybody).  Her pictures were basically only from the chest up, so I had no idea how big she really was.  I was pleasantly surprised that she was not BBW - at least in my opinion.  She has a lot of masculine qualities, but she doesn't look like a hard core butch, which I also appreciated.

Ever the gentleman, she opened the door for me and paid (gotta love it- my last boyfriend never did that).  We sat at the little table talking about everything and nothing.  I was (hopefully not too noticeably) nervous, but she seemed completely at ease, which was nice.  Before I knew it, we had been talking for an hour and a half.  You know something good is happening when time passes without you realizing it.  I've been on dates where time almost seemed to stop as I desperately tried to come up with an excuse to leave.

She seemed genuinely interested in me, asking all sorts of questions.  We seemed compatible on most things.  She said a lot of things which made me admire her, and she made it sound like she thought I am out of her league (let's not tell her that I'm not, 'kay?)

Afraid the coffee shop wanted to close, we decided to leave.  We crossed the street of the outdoor mall so I could pick up a gift for my son.  She appreciated that I shop like a man - go in with a plan, get it, get out.  Granted, I don't always shop like that, but for the most part I do.

And then... what happens?  Do we call it a night?  Do we try to extend it?  We both start work early in the morning, so the responsible side of each of us wanted to call it a night.  The parts of us that were connecting didn't want to say goodnight so soon.

So, we stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes chitchatting a bit longer.  The cold, dark evening was lit up by the trees lining each side of the road which were decorated with strands of white lights.  The night was clear, so the stars were visible overhead.  It felt kinda magical.

But it was stinking cold!  She didn't want to wear her camo coat because she knows I'm femme and didn't want to overwhelm me, so she was cold.  Finally, we decided it was time to end our date.  Was she going to hug me?  I started slowly walking away when she said, "See I respected your bubble."  Online, we had talked about the large personal bubble I have.  I laughed, returned to her, and gave her a hug.  I think she wanted to, but was afraid to scare me off. 

Aww!  How sweet!

When I got home, I sent her an e-mail, telling her that I had a nice time and hoped she did too.  I also said that I'd love to see her again.  And then the nail biting began.  Did she enjoy herself as much as I did?  Would I get to see her again?

I got a text a short while later.  She had a WONDERFUL time and she wanted to schedule another rendezvous with me. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Best Sentence Ever!

About half a year ago, I gave a friend my manuscript to read.  And that was that.  I never heard back from her.  At first, I thought her busy life had gotten in the way - two active kids, a budding business, and an adoring husband.  And then I realized that six months is just too long for other things to get in the way. 

I had to face it - she didn't like it.  She hated it and she didn't know how to tell me.  Not wanting to hear how pedantic it was, I never asked her about it.  We talked about other things, but I never brought up my book again.

Sure - I've been working on that series for nearly a decade and I felt that the first book (the one she read) was ready to be published.  Sure - I had pinned all of my hopes and dreams on this series.  But, I had to move forward. 

I moved on to other things.  For Camp NaNo, I wrote a twisted fairy tale.  For NaNoWriMo, I wrote a romance novel (those are easier to get published, right?)  I thought I would pursue other genres, get my name out there, improve my writing, and try the YA thing again in another decade or so.

And then my friend contacted me.  Things had gotten in the way.  She hadn't been able to get to it.  But, the first day she opened it, she contacted me to tell me that she had to run an errand, but she couldn't put my book down.


Oh my goodness!  The sun shone more brightly than ever, the heavenly choir sang, and rainbows were sprouting up all over the place.  Could a more beautiful sentence ever be said to an author?

The next day, she let me know that she had finished it and she wanted more.

OH MY GOODNESS!!!  I can die happy right now.

So, here's the quandary - I've heard that authors need a platform.  I'm no good at building platforms.  I need to build a following.  I'm a painfully shy introvert.  How does one make friends and get people to follow you?

I'd like to think I'm good at writing.  I've always said I was born in the wrong time.  In previous eras, an author was selected by how good the writing was, not how many people followed him or her on Facebook.

So, do I spend the next year trying to develop a following, or do I just submit and hope that my manuscript is good enough to stand on its own?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Electric Blanket

So, I finally got an electric blanket.  It's been a journey.

I'll just say it - I'm a cheapskate.  At night, I turn my heat all the way off.  The house I rent literally has no insulation, so heating that thing can be extremely expensive.  So, I keep the heat low during the day and off at night.  This can lead to a really, really nippy bed.

Sure, there are things I can do to ease my pain - remember to wear slippers (I'm getting better at that), we have throws on both couches, and I drink warm drinks.  That all helps, but it's still pretty cold in my house.  I know I could turn up the heat, but that wouldn't help all that much - the floor is still cold and the furnace would have to be constantly on in order to warm the house thoroughly.

It doesn't help that I ignore my body.  I frequently have really cold feet, but fail to notice until I crawl into my chilled sheets, and it somehow becomes painfully clear exactly how frozen my feet are.  I have spent over an hour, trying desperately to warm up my bed with my body heat.  I have even placed my icy feet on my warmer calves in order to defrost them.

I had a boyfriend for a while who slept over almost every night.  He was always so warm!  It was nice to have him there to warm my frigid tushy.  He would patiently spoon me until my rump warmed up.  It was the only thing he was good for.

When he left, I was back to a wintery bed.  When I complained to my mother, she offered me Grandma's and Grandpa's old electric blanket.  Eagerly, I accepted, ecstatic to bring it home and try it out.  Apparently, it preferred Grandma and Grandpa.  It aged rapidly in my house.  When I first got it, it took about half an hour for it to warm up my bed.  Last week, it took closer to an hour and then it was hardly even noticeable.  It was important to remember to turn it off before falling asleep or else one spot would superheat (the spot to which my feet naturally gravitated), nearly burning my skin and scorching my bedding.

You know what Friday was?  Black Friday!  I was one of the crazies who went out among the throngs in search of great deals.  Guess what I found?  An electric blanket over half off!  Sold!

I washed my bedding to welcome the newest member and then put everything back together, excited to get into bed that night.  When the time came, I found that it warmed up in about 5 minutes.  I was thrilled!

And then I really got to experience it.  It was the yummiest warmth I have ever experienced.  It wasn't the suffocating, inescapable heat of summer.  It wasn't the scorching, dry fieriness of a desert, nor was it the lung-soaking, sweat-pouring heat of the sauna.  It wasn't the uneven, unpredictable heat of the old electric blanket.  This was a delicious heat that warmed me through and through.  It was welcoming and comforting and soothing.  Even my derrière was warm - the heat washed through me so thoroughly that it even warmed the part of me which is consistently chilly.  It was the best night's sleep I'd gotten in a very long time and I woke up warm and ready for my day.

There are a few small pleasures which make life so much better.   My new electric blanket is now on that list.