No-Fail Holiday

The holidays can be a real pressure cooker.

Jam-packed with shopping, activities, travel, family, wrapping, decorating,

and the obligatory holiday cooking and baking.

Self-imposed unrealistic expectations often lead me to a weird perfectionism.

Which then leads to holiday performance anxiety.

Recipes I can usually whip up blindfolded suddenly and mysteriously

don’t turn out when it comes to cookie-swap day or take-a-neighbor-a-plate day.

Maddeningly, this is after watching every American and British

holiday cooking/baking championship known to man.

HGTV, Food Network, and the Cooking Channel have taught me well.

Hacks, tricks, and tips…all designed for a no-fail holiday.

And speaking of no-fail…

In an effort to keep me humble this year,

even my No-Fail Fantasy Fudge

you guessed it—

Failed!

(Grainy!! Arghhh!!!)

O-H       F-U-D-G-E!

Exasperating.

What gives? I make fudge seamlessly every year-without fail.

(See…Never-Fail)

 

Oh well, apparently some years are simply not cookie-cutter Christmases.

WAIT…

Other than sugar cookies and gingermen,

do I even want a cookie-cutter Christmas?

Is it possible that I’m way over-thinking when it comes to the holidays?

(of course not, when have I ever over-thought anything?😂)

Realistically, can fudge gone awry ever be called a fail?

(not in my book-or anyone else’s I’m guessing!)

If grainy fudge can’t really fizzle a Christmas,

then maybe all the other little holiday missteps

I seem to cook-up aren’t really fails either.

Maybe they are all just part and parcel

of what makes up treasured holiday memories.

Funny thing…as I thought about Christmases past,

 Perfection was the last thing that came to mind.

What did come to mind was family, togetherness, fun…chaos even!

In fact, the unexpected holiday glitches created the best memories.

As I thought about it I realized I couldn’t tell you the gifts I got-

or even bought last year,

but I do have a memory that makes me (& the rest of my family)

laugh every time it comes to mind.

My husband has a happy tradition of ordering me flowers for a centerpiece for various holidays throughout the year.

I love fresh flowers, and he always does a spectacular job.

The online flower company he uses—NOT SO MUCH.

Despite his diligence, ordering early and following through…

deliveries had been known to come past the requested date,

in the middle of the night,

or sparsely flowered when larger bouquets were ordered.

He complained to the online flower superstore who explained it was a random process where arrangements were fulfilled by local florists,

and they would make sure he got someone else to fulfill his order next time.

And they threw in a coupon for good measure.

And so it came to pass, that last Christmas Eve

we waited and watched all day

for the promised flower delivery, (from said trustworthy florist.)

Darkness settled and still no flowers.

Time to eat, centerpiece or no centerpiece.

Ding dong.

Flowers!!!

We rushed to the door and there was the anticipated box.

We opened it and were delighted to see beautiful roses with a snowman vase-

just as depicted on their site!

They required a bit of fussing and arranging, but voilá!

Tablescape perfection!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear?

Tucked under the tissue was a card.

I opened it and my eyes skimmed the message…

Oh no!!! Not again!!!!

Was I being pranked?

(I knew something was off the minute I read I was a wonderful woman who had touched the hearts of many…)

Who in the world was Dawn? Or Paul for that matter??

At that brief moment in time, we were indeed crying and in great spirits…

but it was because we were all laughing so hard we couldn’t stop.

Presumably, somewhere over a Christmas Eve dinner, poor Dawn was opening flowers with an identical snowman vase and reading a card meant for me from my husband and family, extolling my virtues or wishing me the best.

This was too much.

Meanwhile unsuspecting Paul may never get credit for his thoughtful gesture…(good-hearted or not!)

And if he did find out, He was surely going to be fuming over his failed online flower experience.

 

But for me, that flowery 🌹 flub was just the imperfection

that made our holiday memory perfection.

 

So no-fail fudge that somehow failed?

You’re in the line-up.

After all, you’ll be just a silly memory in a day or two.

Fa La La La fudge fail…

at least the plate was cute!

 

I’m not expecting any flowers this year…

but Paul if you’re out there

 You sure know how to put the HO-HO-HO in holiday!

 

 

Think Small

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I recently passed what I consider to be a milestone birthday. You know the kind…where both numbers match; 11, 22, 33, 44…etc? You only get a very few of those in a lifetime. 

Suffice it to say, I’m now officially “etc.” years old. 😂 Because I was not looking forward to this particular birthday, I decided early on to make it a special one. 

I planned ahead to make sure that on the big day I would be doing my very favorite things with my very favorite people. And so naturally that meant I was off to visit my grandkiddos.

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Granny Puckett from Hoodwinked Too!

Spending time with young people is supposed to make you feel energized and youthful. Spending time with my busy little ones, ages 3 1/2 and 16 months however, quickly made me feel every single year the oldster. Wait. How can that be? Wasn’t I just dealing with my own kiddos a few years back? Well…maybe a bit longer ago than that-but it still feels like yesterday to me. 

So what’s changed? Besides the fact I’m not as peppy…(understatement)… seemingly in a blink diapers are different, baby food now comes in pouches instead of teeny jars-(more like food I imagine astronauts eat), and don’t get me started on the blasted red button on car seats! Just when I figured out the over-the-shoulder straps and click into place, my hands didn’t have the super-human strength required to snap that damn red button. (Inconveniently located in an area where I could do a lot of harm with a misfire, I might add. Who designs these crazy things? )

 Now to officially sound like an old person on a rant…

Life was so much easier when I had my kids in the 80’s and 90’s. Probably not as safe when it comes to car seats, but definitely easier!

I never did get the knack of fastening those two car seats the entire time I was there…but I did do things that reawakened long forgotten sights, sounds, and feelings from way back in the day when I was a younger version of me. 

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Starting with the sights. The majestic mountains reminded me of the many times I had driven alongside them on trips from Idaho to Utah. Starting at about age 19 I would drive my car (Henry) down to see my friends at college for brief visits. We wouldn’t really do much of anything, but we always had a great time together doing whatever it is that kids do at that age. 

Fast forward a few brief years, and I was frequently taking my baby daughter to the University Hospital there to receive treatment for her kidney disease. Gazing at the hospital now it surprised me that I was dealing with all that at 24 or 25 years old. Either I was very strong back then, or it was the youthful blessing of ignorance is bliss…

Of course when you look back with hindsight, you’re glad you didn’t know all that was coming. But it was a tender time, and those tender feelings rushed back. 

I actually felt grateful to be older (& wiser) because those uncertain times were now behind me. 

On to happier times, and fast forward quite a bit, and I remembered traveling up from Texas to drop my son for his time in the Americorps where he worked in the rugged wilderness of Utah for a time. A skip ahead brought memories of my daughter and her hubby married in the Salt Lake City Temple, and then a year later dropping my other son off for a two-year church mission. (That was a rough one as memories go…) 
Lots of memories and lots of years. But all of these things-past, brought me here today to my milestone birthday-present

Time  to  celebrate  the  here  and  now. 

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My birthday dinner was at The Roof Restaurant overlooking Temple Square where my daughter and son-in-law were married. (It also happens to be the same building where we celebrated their marriage with a lovely luncheon reception.) 

With beautiful views of Temple Square, the surrounding mountains, downtown cityscape, and the Capitol building, it was a wonderful place to be. 

The pianist even played a jazzy version of Happy Birthday just for me! It was a bit awkward when the waitress showed up with crème brûlée and a lit candle-not because I felt shy, but because I was sitting there drooling over a plate of tiny desserts, fork-at-the-ready that I’d already nabbed from the dessert buffet using my grandson as a decoy.

Embarrassing! 

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Oh well, eat, drink, be merry, and all that. I’m daily marching closer to the “all that” so I might as well enjoy it a bit. present

Being with my grands was the best gift I could have given myself, and a timely reminder to enjoy the dailies. And I did. Like sampling lots of little desserts on a plate. Picking wildflowers in a field. Blowing bubbles. Feeding the ducks and playing at the park. Bath time! The joy of boardgames, baking cookies, and watching cartoons. Going to the library and reading lots of books. Mud puddles and dancing. Jumping on an air mattress…(don’t try that one-just sayin’.)

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Being yourself with no inhibitions. Trying new things. Like Mickey Mouse waffles and kid’s toothpaste. (Yuck-bubblegum flavor? not so much…) 

Or trying old things you forgot about…like blue cotton candy, fruit loops, and cheap blue box mac & cheese. 

I even had Kool-aid for the first time in a million years. (Ok-not quite a million, I’m not THAT old!) 

Turns out, although I was dreading it, getting older really is just a state of mind. And if it continues to go the way it’s been going, I think I might like year 55 best of all.

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The year I learned that to be happy being “big” you actually have to think “small.” 

imageThat’s me having my cake and eating it too!

 

Queen_Minnie_BBSGrowing old is mandatory but growing up is optional.

~Walt Disney

Puppy Love

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Way back in the day teen heartthrob Donny Osmond crooned out his hit song Puppy Love. (Way before my timeI was but a youth…Ok, you caught me…it was my first 45 purchased with my birthday $ for my tenth birthday!)  Young girls went crazy for him and for that song in particular. Nowadays if you go see him in concert not much has changed, except for the fact that those “teens” are now middle-aged gals who transform back into their dreamy-eyed teeny-bopper selves when Donny teases the opening bars to that particular song.Image result for puppy love 45

Ahhh puppy love… that euphoric feeling of a first crush. A powerful sort of love reserved only for the very young.

Or  is  it?

(use your best Keith voice…)

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There is a type of joy that is akin to that happy “newly in love” feeling of youth. Don’t believe me? Just snuggle a puppy and you can’t help but feel it.

And they call it…

Puppy Love 

(I know quoting Donny’s lyrics was lame.)

Luckily this type of puppy love comes without the added baggage of teen angst and a broken heart. 💔

Previously, I’ve shared about the many pets I had  growing up and the tremendous blessing they were in my life. (Gimme Shelter Oct.2015)  To be accurate, I said some of my best friends were animals-and some of my family members were too! (Still the truth any way you slice it).Image result for faithful snoopy

 

Poster: Oriental Trading Co.

Horses, cows, cats, dogs-it’s all the same. Good day? Your pet is always there. Bad day? Your pet is always there. Mediocre day? You get my drift…. With happy spirits and unconditional love, pet family members have provided countless hours of companionship, comfort, and the best part-humor.

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Sylvester & Tweety

That’s not to say I haven’t done my share of complaining about my diva cat Jellybean, or rambunctious dogs that bark out trouble at every mailman, school kid, and squirrel. I’ve done that. Like Dr. Dolittle I talk to the animals-albeit sometimes in a caterwauling or barking tone of voice. 😼🐶  But pets being who they are, never respond in kind. (There’s that example of pets and unconditional love again.)

IMG_5830Bailey & Zoey BFF’S

Of course animals are a huge responsibility and it’s not all fun and games. Animals can be hard work–but as we all know, anything worthwhile is. And they give so much back, it really can’t be compared to what we do for them.

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BAILEY

This year has tested my puppy-love to the breaking point. In February our senior dog Bailey suffered a stroke and had to be put down on her 13th Birthday. She had exhibited all the old-age infirmities so we knew her time was limited, but it was so hard to let her go. As we returned home it felt different. Empty. Quiet. So many fun memories with our family revolved around her presence.

Her spirit was sorely missed in our home, and we grieved our loss. Luckily, Zoey our Maltipoo cheered us with her exuberant nature-even as she grieved her own loss. Spending time with Zoey helped us in our reminiscences about the two of them together. The doggy road trips, meandering walks and swims along the Boise river,  their silly canine hi-jinks. We were able to laugh and be grateful for the time we shared and the happy memories.zoey1

ZOEY

Mindful she was adjusting to a new normal, we took Zoey to the drive-in, on car rides, played hours of fetch, and tried to ease her loss even as she comforted ours.
Suddenly, last week we noticed a stumble here-a wobble there. Goofball. What was she up to? A day or so later a fall and some twitching. My daughter promptly took Zoey into the vet, where she on-cue exhibited no symptoms at all so the doc prescribed steroid therapy. Slight improvement and then more aggressive issues and rapid decline. Meds were changed, daily vet contact and still no answers. What was happening to Zoey?
Imagine our shock when one week after her first symptom we had to release her from this life by euthanasia. A mere 3 months after we had lost Bailey. Bailey to old age and a stroke, and Zoey-full of life and playful a week ago-seemingly to a brain tumor.
It’s nothing we could have imagined, and yet even in death we felt as if Bailey had gone on ahead to prepare us for the quick and unexpected demise of Zoey.

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Picture credits: Rescue Angels, Inc.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, All Dogs Go To Heaven…(ok, so I stole it from a movie-still true!) Today we feel the peace of sister dogs reunited, playing together in heavenly fields, chasing squirrels and freed from pain.

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Together Forever…

As raw as we feel, and even though we never want to go through this again (in theory), We know we happily will. Because having them in our lives was so worth it. One day soon this heartache will heal and we will adopt a new pet family member. In fact, we’re thinking maybe two. Sisters. Just like Bailey, Zoey, and all those beloved family pets that have gone on before. Why put yourself through it you ask?

 They call it Puppy Love. 🐾Image result for snoopy

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

~Josh Billings