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Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Holiday Blues

This post originally appeared on ocfamily.com on 12/21/2010.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

Well, what do you do when it’s not?

For me, the holidays are a struggle this year. Since last Christmas, I’ve lost three members of my family – my brother, my father and my aunt. Yes, 2010 was not a good one. In fact, I am officially naming it my “worst year ever”.

When you take that reality and add some endless rain to the mix, it can make for the holiday blues for sure.

The thought of the first Christmas of my life without my dad is a difficult one to wrap my head around. I thought about mixing it up this year by going away and just doing everything different. But, I thought better of it and decided to go ahead with our traditional Christmas celebration. Instead of running away from my feelings, I’m going to stay and tackle them head on.

I know that I am far from alone. There are many people who are having a tough holiday for a number of reasons: death of loved ones, illness, unemployment, loss of a home, divorce or a host of other reasons.

For those of you who may also have the holiday blues, I wanted to share some things that I’m doing to help get through:

  • Doing for others – Everything from giving money to help feed those who don’t have a hot meal, to helping out a neighbor or a friend who is also struggling – all of this helps take the focus of my own little pity party.
  • Keeping busy – baking with the kids, shopping, hosting friends and family, attending holiday parties – for me, the busier I am, and the more I’m around other people, the more I feel the holiday spirit.
  • Counting my blessings – although it’s been a tough year, I am thankful for the many blessings I do have: healthy kids, a supportive husband, a place to call home, good food on the table and great friends.
  • Exercising – I have been trying to stick to a regular exercise schedule despite the rain and holiday craziness. For me, regular exercise helps my mental health even more than my physical health.
  • Practicing moderation – I’m trying not to overindulge on food or alcohol because that just makes depression worse. And I did say trying – a couple nights of too much wine and a Peppermint Joe-Joe’s session excluded, I’ve been pretty good.
  • Confiding in someone  – the best thing you can do is find a friend, therapist, or family member to share your feelings with.  You can also talk through a game plan for how you will handle the holidays. If you think about it in advance, your feelings won’t take you by surprise and will be easier to handle.  If you have also lost a loved one this year, think about adding a new tradition into your holiday celebrations to honor their memory.

I wish you a wonderful holiday. I hope that it’s a happy one, but even if it’s not, know that there are many people out there sharing your feelings and who want to help. And the more you reach out, the more joyful your holiday will be.

Wishing peace, love and joy to you and your family and best wishes for a better year ahead!

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Wordless Wednesday: Rancho Las Lomas

There is a place near where I live called Rancho Las Lomas. Home to many exotic birds and animals, including a bengal tiger and two white tigers.

It’s a private residence, open for private functions only, and host to weddings almost weekly. Occasionally though, it’s open to the public, like this past Sunday when they hosted “Christmas in the Cages”.

My favorite part though is the scenery – trees, little buildings, fountains, creeks.

Rancho Las Lomas

My sister actually took these pictures on my iPhone. She made me enjoy the moment in spite of the drizzly weather. She’s bossy like that.

If you ever get a chance to check it out, go. A unique hidden gem in Orange County.

Yes, Now is the Time

As I dropped my kids off at school today and watched them walk away, I unexpectedly teared up. I have shed many tears over the past few days, but my reaction today took me by surprise.

On the way home, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Yes, it is time.”

I will not listen to the people who say that I’m not honoring the victims of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown by bringing up the issue of sensible gun control. Because for me, I would not be honoring the victims if I did not fight for this issue. Right now, while everyone is dialed in and listening, is exactly the time.

To me, it’s not political. What is political about wanting to protect my own children and, in fact all children, from this happening again?

The issue of violence at this level is incomprehensible, and the solutions complicated. It’s no easy fix. But to ignore the possibility of better, to say “now is not the time” or “we don’t need gun control, we need more guns”, well, I just simply don’t understand it.

Why can’t we look at solutions? Why can’t we expect better? Why must we wait to do these things? I believe this incident leaves us without a choice. We simply must address these issues and do it now.

Nothing is off the table. Let’s look at mental health care. Let’s look at gun control. Let’s look at security in our school systems. Let’s look at educational opportunities. Let’s look at violent videos games.

Notice at no time in this post did I mention a BAN on guns. I just said better gun control, so please don’t start with the second amendment stuff. Yes, I know we have the right to bear arms. But, nowhere does our constitution say we have a right to bear semi-automatic assault weapons. I don’t understand the pro-gun hunting crowd’s stance on this either. I mean, the last time I looked, hunters weren’t using 30-round clips to kill a deer. I would think that most true sportsman would agree that these types of weapons are unnecessary.

We can also do a much better job in regulating who can purchase guns. It should be at least as hard to get a gun as it is to get a driver’s license. Why is this controversial? Who on earth wants guns in the hands of the mentally unstable or those with criminal records?

And stop with the criminals will still get guns thing too. The guns used in most of these recent mass shootings were all purchased legally, not from some underground black market.

Oh, and the, they would just use other weapons thing? Last time I looked, you couldn’t kill 26 people in under a minute with a knife.

Why can’t we just consider the possibility that it should be easier in this country to get mental health care and harder to purchase assault weapons? Why is that a controversial statement?

As mothers, we have to ban together to be the voice of reason. Let’s make our voices louder than those of the NRA. Now is the time and I fear if we don’t do it, no one will. Until the next tradgedy, when everyone argues about it on TV and in social media, and then a bunch of people tell us “it’s not the time”, and then everyone does absolutely NOTHING to fix the problem…until it happens again…then we hit repeat…

I want off this spin cycle. The status quo is not working. It’s time for change.

Instead of just talking about it, I am going to be more active. If you would like to be part of the change too, here are some things that we can do right now:

In addition to better gun control, we also need to look at the inadequate mental health care funding in our country and address the level of security in schools.

But for me, school security must stop way short of armed guards in every school, and teachers carrying concealed weapons, and teaching our children to live in fear. If the level of security at our schools needs to be armed guards to take out shooters wielding semi-automatic assault weapons aimed at our children, then I’m out. I will kick and scream and protest outside our schools before I sign up for that gig.

Most importantly, as moms we can love. Love our children. Love other people’s children. Love people who agree with you. Love people who disagree with you. Love other parents. Extend a hand to those who need help.

Change is in the air, I can feel it. I am hopeful, but beyond just being hopeful, I intend to do something this time. I can no longer stand idly by and let my voice be drowned out. This issue is too important.

I choose love. I choose change. Now.

Wordless Wednesday: Holiday Card Display

Every year I struggle with what to do with the holiday cards. Everyone has such great photos and I love seeing all the families grow. I want to display them all, but it always takes up so much room. Here is my solution for this year:

Holiday Card Display

I totally made this up! I didn’t even find it on Pinterest, which is pretty amazing.

The best thing is that I didn’t buy anything. I had this wreath and nowhere to put it.  Then, I wanted to use twine to tie the cards. But I didn’t have twine (I used it all to string up tomato plants that died because I kinda suck at growing things).

So I only had this leftover yarn from some school project. I think it was used as hair for our “famous dead person” report last year. Yeah, we had to make a puppet of a dead person – so anyway… I had this wreath I didn’t know what to do with and leftover string from dead-person hair, and I made this.

And I kind of love it.

Of course, our card is not there because, although I do pride myself on holiday decorating, holiday card preparation and mailing – not really my specialty.

So there you go. One more idea for how to display your holiday cards. Now I can “pin it”. Nice!

Hope your holidays are merry and bright!

DIY Granite Cleaner

A good vinegar and water solution will clean just about anything, but there are some exceptions. Vinegar, along with any citrus-based cleaner, is not good for granite. It’s too acidic. Over time, it will dull and scratch your beautiful stone. (Also DO NOT use Windex on granite –  it strips the counter of it’s sealant).

Granite is a porous stone the requires a special type of cleaner. There are plenty of safe, natural granite cleaners available (Method and Howard’s Naturals are two I like), but I haven’t found a granite cleaner for under $8 anywhere.

I like to clean my granite counter tops A LOT, so I went looking for something homemade (read – safe and cheap).

I didn’t make up this recipe. I grabbed it from a site called Mama Cheaps. Here is that recipe along with my modifications:

1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka
3 drops of dish detergent
1 cup water
A few drops of essential oil (to make it smell pretty)

I used vodka instead of rubbing alcohol . Vodka of the Gods to be exact, so fancy – or, Trader Joe’s cheapest brand.

I have a large spray bottle so I doubled the recipe. And because it’s the holidays, I used a few drops of peppermint oil. It smells like Christmas every time I clean the counters!

DIY Granite Cleaner

I don’t know precisely the cost of 1/4 cup of vodka, three drops of dish soap and a few drops of essential oil, but I can tell you one thing – it’s a fraction of the $8-$10 cost of over-the-counter granite cleaner.

This recipe, an empty spray bottle (you can even reuse your store-bought bottle) and a soft cloth is all you need to keep your granite sparkling clean – at a fraction of the cost!

The Problem with Your Kids Following You on Instagram

Our after-school conversation today:

My daughter: “Mom, did you know that you posted a picture of eggs on Instagram?”

Me: “Yes! It’s the new packaging of the organic Costco eggs! It’s recycled plastic now instead of styrofoam. Isn’t that cool? I’m so excited. I have written to Costco, and tweeted them, and I kept asking them to change it and the finally did!”

Radio silence and blank stares

My son: “But why did you have to take a picture of it?”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, was that wrong? Okay, then tomorrow I’ll just post a bunch of selfies instead of posting about green things. How about that? Does that work for you?”

Cue synchronized eye roll.

Me: “Okay then, glad we had this conversation. Next time I need your advice on what to post on Instagram, I’ll ask.”

The controversial photo that caused childhood embarrassment –

IMG_2256

And that, among many, is my problem with my kids being on Instagram. I’ve previously been told that I post too many photos of food, my writing is too “formal”, and generally, I’m just kind of a dork.

It really is amazing that I have made it this far in life without them. I mean, how did I do it?

All of which reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: “Unsolicited advice….always welcome.”