Lone Jellyfish, Candy Apple Redhead, Happy Holidays, and a Weekly Photo Challenge

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In a tank full of jellyfish, we watched as this lone jelly moved gracefully away from the others

It has been far too long, but I am popping in to wish you all a very happy holiday season.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or warmest wishes for whatever holiday you might celebrate.

The boys and I celebrated a lovely (but exhausting!) Christmas together.  They both made special cards and scoured the house and found items to wrap up and place under the tree.  Picture that scene from one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  [If you haven’t seen the movie, you should.  My sister and I loved it so much as kids that we watched it more times than I’d care to admit.  As a result, we can recite the script verbatim, complete with accents and inflection, also something I only admit sparingly.]  Aunt Edna arrives at Clark’s house with two gifts.  One box is leaking and the other is meowing.  Old Aunt Edna doesn’t have much money (and is a bit senile) but still wants to give gifts, so she has wrapped up jell-o and her cat.

Thankfully the boys did not giftwrap the dogs this year.  [Yes, they wrapped the little one up last year.  She did NOT like it.]  They gave me chocolates from the cupboard, one of my favorite winter scarves (which was a relief because I thought I had lost it, but it was under the tree the whole time!), and a few other special items they found.

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“One of these birds is not like the others”
The photo doesn’t do the vibrant red hue of this red-crested cardinal justice. What a beautiful bird!  [What is a photo of birds doing in this post?  Trust me, there is a reason.  Read on…]

They gave their dad some things we were able to procure together, like a nice Columbia fleece and some of his favorite candy.  They also made homemade ornaments with their photos on them and special cards to accompany their gifts.  And they wrapped up a handheld showerhead we had gotten a few years ago for their bathroom.  Their current cheap showerhead leaks so much that their is minimal water pressure when they shower.  It takes them forever to rinse their hair.  So we acquired the new one from our struggling kitchen and bath supply business.  It’s lower quality than what we normally sell, so we decided to keep it for ourselves and figured it should solve the boys’ bathroom dilemma.

The only problem is that my husband hasn’t installed this unopened self-proclaimed “easy installation” faucet in the three years it has been sitting next to their bathroom door.  You are probably wondering why I haven’t just done it myself.  Believe me, the thought has crossed my mind a thousand times.  But I can’t manage it because I can’t lift my arms over my head thanks to the bilateral mastectomy & axillary lymph node dissection surgeries.  [Of course it would have helped to have continued my intense physical therapy sessions instead of failing to show up one day because I was too tired.  In my defense, I did call them to tell them I would reschedule when I felt better.  That was 2 years ago, though.  Woops!]

The boys thought that if they wrapped up their new showerhead and some of the other home improvement items that have been gathering dust, the jobs would get done.   I even caught them wrapping the curtain rods from their bedroom windows!  I had been really sick for months when we decided to remove the curtains, rods and their anchors so we could paint the boys’ room (ocean colors with freehand waves and plans for ocean creatures).  I had just started the painting when I had to go in for biopsies on both breasts and lymph nodes. The biopsies confirmed the doctor’s cancer diagnosis 24 hours later, and the diagnosis and more biopsies and scans were immediately followed by my first lymph node and powerport implantation surgery and intense chemo until I was ready for the mastectomy and full-blown lymph node removal surgery 5 months later.

Needless to say, I could not reinstall the curtain rods because of the “not being able to raise my arms thing,” so the twins still have no curtains up in their room.  Part of me thought, “good for them for wrapping up their curtain rods!”  But they know their father all too well.  They said they were sure they would have to wrap all of those things up again next year because (I’ll paraphrase, but it was something like this) “Dad doesn’t care about our curtains and showerhead and smoke alarm batteries and blah blah blah… because they are not the internet or a video game.”

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I know, I know. You are saying, “WTF, another bird? What does this picture have to do with the holidays?”

We had a quiet Christmas Eve.  I worked on finishing Christmas cards between appointments.  I’d been up until 3 or 4 a.m. for the few nights before, writing personal notes on the cards (and reapplying for health insurance).  I mailed a stack each day for those 3 days.  So when I was finished with my appointments at the hospital, my husband and the boys came to get me and it was a relief to stop at the post office to mail out the last stack of cards.

I was glad to be heading home after a long day.  I was tired and had a lengthy to-do list that had to be finished before Christmas the next day.  But my husband’s bad mood won out and when something set him off, he decided to punish us by parking the car and refusing to take us home or to relinquish the keys.  We sat for over an hour like this.  Luckily, I keep warm blankets in the car (it’s really a minivan) during the winter, so I gave the boys a couple each and they alternated reading and playing DS (handheld Nintendo games), while I worked on the Christmas cards that didn’t need to be mailed and finished my insurance paperwork.  It was 17 degree F and snowing but I dared not challenge him too much because I’ve learned that it isn’t worth it when he is in one of these moods.  And I honestly didn’t think he would keep it up for that long.

We sat until the kids and I couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom.  So the boys and I got out of the car and walked to a nearby grocery store to use their restroom.  When we got back in the car, the boys insisted that we go home.  We were going to Christmas Eve Mass at 7:30 (which they were not looking forward to earlier in the day, but were now begging to go home for) and we were still 30 minutes from home and had to eat dinner and get ready to go.  So he reluctantly drove us home.

We barely made it home to eat, and I didn’t have time to change out of my wet clothes (a byproduct of a day full of hot flashes — a gift from my hysterectomy) and then ended up getting to church late.  For as often as we go to church (not often at all!), I don’t think we should walk in late.  We hadn’t been in weeks and filing in while everyone was seated and the priest was watching us walk in the door was not a good way to return.  But the service was nice.  And we ran into my aunt and uncle (and my cousin and her boyfriend), so that was a good surprise.

Christmas was nice.  I was up until about 4 writing long notes in books and special cards for the boys and helping Santa get things ready (he left notes for the boys and personalized their stockings, etc.).  Comet even left a note and explained how he was sorry for leaving a bit of a mess on the front step — he left some chewed up carrots from the plate we left out for the reindeer and some droppings that looked a lot like raisins that had been soaked in warm water to plump them up.  [Yep, reindeer poop.  Since the kids had been questioning the Santa thing all of a sudden, the big guy had to step the proof of his existence up this year!]

And then the boys were up and ready for Christmas morning at 6:30.  Thanks to the kindness of a family at church who “adopted” us, and to the generosity of the boys’ teachers and school, we had gifts to put under the tree.  There were even gifts for me, including several giant packs of paper towel, toilet paper, Lysol wipes, and laundry detergent.  Such amazing angels who knew exactly what we needed.  Despite the events of the day before (and so many days before it), I couldn’t help but feel thankful for the good people in my life.  Such a stark contrast to my marriage are the relationships I have with other people.  Thank goodness, or I think I would have given up a long time ago.

We rounded out the day by going to my aunt and uncle’s to spend the afternoon with my family.  We hardly ever get to see them, so it was good to be together.  And then we moved on to Christmas dinner and dessert with my husband’s mom and dad.  It was a busy day and we didn’t get home until late, but it was really nice.  And I was glad we were able to have our own little Christmas in the morning and then have time for both sides of the family the rest of the day, so Christmas felt complete.  And I know the boys enjoyed the time spent with family.  They fell asleep on the way home, though they were up again at 6 a.m. to build their new Lego sets!


Hmm, I was hoping to have this post serve double duty as a photo challenge post, but this week’s challenge topic is “Joy” and I think this post is just not joyful enough to qualify.  So I will improvise.   While I missed The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge for last week, I might as well show you the photos I would have designated for that post.

Titled “One,” the challenge asked that we show:

“photos that focus on one thing.  Maybe you’ve got a stark photo of a single tree silhouetted against the setting sun, or a lone sandpiper wandering the beach as waves crash.  Perhaps you’ve caught your mother sitting by herself in a moment of quiet contemplation.  Maybe you saw a basket of wriggling puppies, and got a photo with a single fuzzy face in focus.”

So now you see why I have a photo of a lone jellyfish and two oddly placed bird photos here.  Thanks for bearing with me!

Here’s one more:

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And I promise to come back with the JOY photos from this week’s challenge.  Full disclosure — I’ll tell you that I’m in a “Tell it like it is” frame of mind so I can’t promise that the text will be overtly joyful.  But I can promise you honesty and I hope that’s good enough!

Until then, thank you for reading and for giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts, light and dark.

My warmest wishes and appreciation for you all…

p.s.  If you would like to participate in The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge, just click here for a list of challenges or here for the current challenge, “Joy.”

45 thoughts on “Lone Jellyfish, Candy Apple Redhead, Happy Holidays, and a Weekly Photo Challenge

  1. I am really glad there were things (and people) who brought you and your boys joy on Christmas. I so wish I wasn’t living on the other side of the world and could actually do something to help. Thinking of you – Ady in Israel.


  2. I LIKE your kick-ass, optimistic attitude. I LIKE the fact that your boys have inherited that treak in your character. However, I DON’T like hearing that you were left in a van until Mr Grumpy got his act together. He was lucky the boys didn’t tell Santa what a bad boy he’d been – I’m sure Santa wouldn’t have left him those gifts if he’d known about his behaviour on Christams Eve. Sending you a big hug for Christmas, little Miss Kick-ass. 😀 xoxo


  3. I’m so sorry, that you have so much on your plate, I don’t understand the world… I felt relieved to realize you live in a community that cares enough to brighten your holiday. The description of what the boys did for xmas really is heartwarming, they certainly know the true spirit of the holiday.


    • Thank you so much, Orli. Yes, thank goodness for them! I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have kind spirits in my life and just had the bad stuff to contend with! I appreciate the warm words of special people like you, too. Thank you… xo


  4. You amaze me… I am so sorry for the way you had to spend Christmas Eve..I hope 2014 brings you happiness, good health and peace..Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years to you and your sweet boys..xo


  5. Pingback: A BEAUTIFUL JOY | hastywords

  6. I’m so sad that he treats you all that way. You deserve the best. 😦 On a positive note, Hubby and I have made it our Christmas tradition to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every Christmas. We love it too. Sending you lots of love and hope for a better new year. xo


  7. Wishing you a new year of love, laughter, strength, and warm and happy moments.
    Thank you for sharing, so openly and articulately, parts of your life.


  8. Wishing you better days ahead. You are strong and beautiful. You will always be at the top of my prayer list. If I could have one wish, It would be to make you well again. . You are loved by many, even those you do not know. Continue to be strong. God is watching over you, even if you don’t feel it at times. He is helping you to get through this. Going to Church was a wonderful gift to give HIM.


  9. Seriously, what is your husbands problem? You sound like such a great mom and you are doing so much, and dealing with so much! You need a supportive, loving patten in a spouse. Have you ever thought you and the boys may be better off without him? I’m so sorry he tried to ruin Christmas Eve, we are all here loving and supporting you! Love the idea of the wrapped up car/dog! So funny!


    • Thank you, Harmony! It’s easier to believe that I don’t deserve supportive & loving, so it always makes me feel better to come here and read comments from people like you who make me feel like I’m worthy of loving behaviour — or to hear from people in my life who reach out with kindness in some way. Thank you!


  10. My heart bleeds for you. You and your boys deserve so much better that the treatment you receive from your husband. It brings back so many memories. I wish I could help you out of this situation. I feel that you live within driving distance of me, seeing as how you have been to Camp Good Days and Special Times, which is about 5 minutes from me. I keep you and your boys in my prayers. I just wish I could help you take that first step. It is difficult, but the process gets easier as the steps progress, and then Freedom! It was hard financially, but well worth it. No more fear, no more abuse. My girls and I thrived without that someone in our lives! Please consider leaving! Live your life without fear, without the abuse! Prayers coming your way!


  11. Know that you are loved and cared about by your true family and friends, those nearby and others far away. This will never be taken from you. You and your boys deserve so much better, I hope 2014 brings some positive change for you all and you are freed from this tyranny. As soul-bearing as it might be, your honesty serves as a beacon to people faced with similar situations – once we can say it, we can do something to change it. Sending much love and kindness xoxox


  12. We love National Lampoon’s Vacation. Keep up the wonderful work with your children. They appreciate all you do! Your spirit and strength are inspiring.


  13. Pingback: One crisp moment, filled with Joy! | Words 'n Pics...

  14. The behavior of your husband is horrid. The boys see right through it, very clearly. At least you know that. Holding you in the light. i know i’m just a stranger to you, but i do believe in strength in numbers. Every person you touch speaking your truth that hears you, or has lived any of it, puts something positive out to you, a light to ease your journey that can be darkness. Don’t discount your own light.


  15. Pingback: Joy « blogagaini

  16. Pingback: 12-31-13 A Minute To Joy: Weekly Photo Challenge | The Quotidian Hudson

  17. You gave your sons the best Christmas present they could ever have. Your love. The most valuable gift of all. One that will be with them forever.


  18. You are an inspiration … and I want to come over and give you a big (but gentle squeeze). I’ve been thinking about you and was just about to get in touch (and because I know you will ask – I am doing just fine!) 🙂
    There are things in this post that I would explore further if I could … I just hope that you and your boys do not often have to put up with the type of behavior you described; truly I hope that this is a first time occurrence, never to be repeated.


    • Thank you, I’ve thought about you, too, and am glad you are doing okay. I hope you are healing okay — I’m sorry for taking so long to check in — I’ve wondered about you and have sent healing wishes your way, despite my silence~ Thank you for the hug and I send you the very same… 😉


  19. You are an amazing woman, your love for your sons is outstanding and will serve to nourish their spirits as they grow into manhood, unlike the sorry excuse for a man who made all of you sit in that frigid vehicle waiting for his tantrum to pass.


    • Thank you, Swoosieque… I don’t feel very amazing, and I often worry that my love won’t be enough to make them feel that I wanted the best for them! but I appreciate hearing you say that it will nourish their spirits even when they are men. It makes me feel like they might be okay if I am not here one day — and it makes me feel like they might understand how much I loved them when that time comes. Knowing that these things might be true does my heart good!!
      Hoping the new year is being kind to you…


  20. you are always in my prayers. God is with you always. He loves you and we all admire your courage. Take one day at a time. None of us are guaranteed more than the moment we are in right now. Love


  21. Go find a family friend who can change out the showerhead and curtain rods and ask them for the favor while your husband is out of the house.


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