Saturday, February 27, 2016

One More Card

Here we are 3 years after my Aunt Laynie passed away. And gosh! It's crazy how life goes on after you lose someone. In those first few moments it feels like it can't possibly go on, but looking back now, so much has happened. We've celebrated Christmases, birthdays, all sorts of holidays, family gatherings, and special achievements without her. It's strange and still really hard sometimes, but the great memories pull us through. 

Remembering her today has had me hunting down some of my favorite memories of her. I'm out of town, so I've been sifting through photos from FB and my blog just trying to feel her. Which led me to just what I needed to be able to "feel" her. 

I have this weird thing that I do, where I always save the last card I'm given or that my boys are given until the next occasion or birthday. Then I throw them out and save the newest one. I do it because you never know when it may be the last card or note that person gives you. I guess it's just a superstition of mine. But I can't help it! There's just something about the messages that I like to go back and read. Even if it's just "Love, So-n-so". And then there's something about seeing the person's handwriting and signature that's so very special and personal. Knowing their hands have touched the card and their thoughts streamed out by the strokes of the pen is very sentimental to me.  
Any who.
A few months before her passing, my Aunt Laynie knew her health was failing. I think we all knew it would be the last birthday she'd celebrate with me. All I wanted was "just one more card" on my birthday. Because she wasn't able to get out and about, I was afraid I wouldn't have my "one more card". My mom, knowing me and all my weirdness and how important that was to me, went to pick one out and took it to her to sign. It was so simple but the sweetest gesture on both their parts. Now, every time I look at it, it feels like I'm celebrating with her right then and there all over again. I will always treasure the thought put into making that birthday card happen. And I'm so incredibly thankful that I have my quirky little card saving tradition because there are days that I just need to read her message one more time. 
Missing you still, Laynie! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Comparing Crosses

I grew up Catholic and am now a practicing Episcopalian. Lent has always been a really huge deal in my Spiritual life. It's a time to reflect, repent, and take up your cross. I love the personal gains I make each year during those 40 days. Lent to me is kinda like the spiritual New Year's resolution. But my favorite day of Lent is Ash Wednesday! And if you're even remotely familiar with the Holy Day, you'll understand my reason why. Sadly, it's not even a holy reason at all.
Like I said, I grew up Catholic. Went to Catholic school for 11 years (I was the heathen in my family who bailed and graduated from one of those other know...public school.) We observed every Holy Day with an intense academic lesson leading up to it and celebrated it with all the pomp and circumstance of a full Mass. That's one thing I love about the Catholics, Episcopalians, and Lutherans, they do it up right!
Any who. I have always favored Ash Wednesday, simply because of the stir that the cross on your forehead causes. It cracks me up every year. Just FYI, in case you don't know, the cross that goes on your forehead is made with the ashes from the burned palm branches of the last Palm Sunday. The ashes symbolize that we came from dust and to dust we shall return. The little piece that they say when they administer the ashes comes from Genesis, I believe.
So this year, I noticed the same giddiness in my boys that I still get on Ash Wednesday...which happens to be a gigantic no-no in the church. You're supposed to be somber and in reflection, but you just can't help noticing what everyone's cross looks like as they parade back to their seats. You ogle at the darkness, thickness, thinness, and the ones that resemble other objects. You wonder if some people will notice the stray ashes that have sprinkled onto their noses. Should you tell them? Is it bad to wipe those off? Do those count the same? Because you're not supposed to wipe off the ones on your forehead.
Then when you get back to your pew, you check out your neighbor's ashes and you may even snicker about the shape or size. It's kind of funny to compare crosses. If you have bangs, you hold them up just so, so your neighbor can give you a nod or thumbs up on the artistry of your very personalized cross. If you've been there, you know this is kinda the unspoken order of things during the service.
Then you go out in public with your cross on your forehead. I love the instant connection you feel when you spot someone else with their ashes. Makes you wanna give 'em a fist bump or a peace out. It always amazes me the looks I get from the poor clueless folks though. And it blows me away the number of people who seriously do not know that the ashes are a religious thing. The looks and questions still make me chuckle after all these years. I have been asked if I knew that there was dirt on my head many times. I have been asked if my pen leaked. And the best so far was the waitress the other night who said..."I've seen a couple of people with that today. Is that for medical purposes?" I said, "Yes! It's the ashes from the medicinal marijuana I smoked earlier. It makes it last longer." No. I didn't really say that, but I really wanted to. 

Last week, when I got back to the pew, Sam said mom, yours looks like a person. I giggled. Then he and Fulton asked me what theirs looked like. I told them sorry guys, nothing exciting, just dusty crosses. Fulton asked if he could go to the bathroom to check his out. I can remember wanting to do the same, but my answer was No! you can wait. Same conversations we have every year. It's hilarious the anticipation that builds when you have to wait to check out your cross!  

When I left church, I headed to my ukulele class at my friend's art studio, and the girls in there all got it. No crazy stares or questions. But! They did exactly what I was talking about ^^^ up there. They were sizing up my cross compared to the others they had seen that day. We all laughed about the awkwardness of it and shared our funny cross stories. At one point someone said Wow! That's a big one. It kinda looks like an animal, but I don't know what. They said dog, horse, etc..

And then, lo and behold! We figured it out...

We had found my ashes' twin. Isn't he cute?!? Totally irreverent, but totally funny and true. I had Christi's cow on my forehead.
I better stop before I get excommunicated from the church. Now back to repenting and being somber.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

So This is What it Feels Like

Hi! My name is Claudia. I'm a recovering Over-doer, Martha Stewart Wanna-be, Viral Pinner (650,000 times because of this post), Creative Blogger, and Ideaholic. I hit rock bottom about 2 years ago.  My creative juices still flow and the urge is ever-present, but it had to stop consuming my life.
Ok. Kidding. Not kidding.
Y'all know I love some costumes, holidays, and theme parties! (Exhibit A, B, C, D, E, get the idea.) I still do. But it was becoming a chore. A competition among other moms, pinners, bloggers, etc. That doesn't feel very good. It squashes creativity and makes it no fun at all! And as life would have it, all those plans and ideas have suddenly fallen to the bottom of my agenda. Besides, I think the only one who really cared was me. The accolades were great and all, but they don't drive the train very long. The accolades weren't up with me at 2am making party favors or gluing gauze strips to long johns for a mummy costume. It takes a lot of energy and time. Making the cutest Valentines, creating the perfect birthday party, or costume is just not really that important anymore. It seems that now all I can wrap my brain around is the boys, their homework, extracurricular activities, and my must-dos.
So this valentine's I finally got what IT feels let it go, make it easy, manageable, and just keep it simple. And it all started with this box.
Fulton and Oliver were both required to decorate a box to use for collecting and distributing their valentines. I helped Oliver start his and then Fulton said, "Oh yeah! I need to do one too." Of course you do!!! I huffed and puffed and searched all over. NO BOX.
So off to Walgreen's we went! That's where I found these babies for 2.99 each. SOLD to the exhausted momma, who really no longer gives a poo and neither do her boys.

 And at that moment, the cute Valentine idea I had conjured up got upstaged by Darth Vader and the gang. Complete with tattoos and we even added a little pop of candy with a (Pinterest girls, close your eyes!) STAPLER! What?!?!?!? Who the heck have I become?!?!?!? Who uses a stapler? Staplers aren't cute and no body will ever pin, like, or repost store-bought Valentines that were stapled!!!
Guess what? I became the mom who no longer cared!
This is what their Valentines looked like. And I loved every square inch of it. It was easy and it felt so good! And the bonus: they did all of it themselves...except the stapler. YAAAASSSSSSS!
I urge you to PIN this bad boy to your "No One Really Gives a Crap" board.
My wheels will always be turning. I'll still plan parties, design invitations and my head. But I'll be sure when I'm ready to fall off the wagon and give those plans life, that it feels good and doesn't send me to my rock bottom.