Celebrating the Advent season with a child a state away – it can be done 

Celebrating the Advent season with a child a state away – it can be done 

Advent season is approaching like a freight train. How quickly this year has zoomed by and we are entering into December. I feel like I was run over a few times on the way to this month, but we’ve arrived. Advent is a season that I’d never really participated in until I joined the Christian Church, but it has become part of our Christmas traditions. To me it puts Christ at the forefront because each week of advent we are celebrating the promise of Christ’s birth. In our house we follow the pattern of the church with candle lighting, scripture reading and a prayer maybe not in that order though.

Since my son went to live with his dad three years ago this makes advent a bit more challenging for us as a family. This blog is about how we do advent long distance. It’s meaningful and it’s still Christ centered. 

What guide do I follow? My favorite and the one I keep stored in my bible all year long is an insert that was sent to parents called teachable moments. It gives each week, what it means, what candle color and a scripture to read. Makes it easy for me. 

Teachable moments

In other years I’ve used different material but this year I decided to go back to my favorite. I let my son know on Friday that he would need to set aside a little time for me. Teenagers are busy creatures! I shopped for my last candle on Saturday, so I was ready to go for our Sunday afternoon time via the phone. I assigned him the verse to read, and I read the week one info as given on the sheet. Once I got to the scripture I had him read it. Then we finished off with ways that we are filled with hope because we know Jesus. That kid brought tears to my eyes with what he said. He knows even during the hard times that Jesus will be his hope and strength. Since the candles are here I light the first purple one. At the end I offered up a prayer for our time together in celebration of advent and how Christ represents hope to each of us.

Some other ideas that I’ve used can be found on Pinterest, and I’m including the links here➡ Advent Wreatha fresh Advent wreath, and new verse ideas. I’m sharing this example because finding purple candles that aren’t tapers is hard as heck! I don’t have a taper holder, so I use purple tea lights. I have enough for one more year. This is my plan once I finish them off. 

My twist on an advent wreath – eclectic

How does long distance work? You have two options phone call where you put them on speaker so you can manage the tasks. I will normally ask my son to read the bible verse, since I’ll be lighting the candle and normally he’ll want me to pray. Divide up those tasks so they are being in the moment and not doing something else. The other option is facetime. This is awesome because you can see each other, they can see the candle lighting and it makes the family time feel more like you’re together. Sometimes the connection isn’t so good, so then we fall back on a phone call. Again even with facetime divide up the duties. 

Today he actually had a friend over, but he took time out to spend it participating in our family tradition. I could hear his buddy about the time we were coming to a close. He was shouting tell your mom ”hi”, so I was returning the the greeting. Not our first exchange. Hopefully I’ll finally get to meet him when my son graduates.

I think it’s important for a child or children to understand the who, what, how, and when of certain celebrations. He’s experienced prepping communion during my first year as deacon, we’ve practiced Lent together, and both of us had challenging tasks. I felt for a long time that I was failing him with his christian walk. As he becomes an adult I want him to know the religious celebrations, as well as, having that relationship with Christ. I’m trying to make sure he has all the tools and support I can give him to grow into a strong christian man. He took care of finding Christ all on his own bless him.

As we go into the following weeks remember that distance doesn’t have to be a barrier to traditions or family. It’s taking the time and being purposeful that you can share in them together. Photos, calls, facetime, and even texting can all be ways to bring you closer to the ones you love that are far away.

Week 1 of Advent

Many blessings – G.

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Another holiday weekend come and gone 

Another holiday weekend come and gone 

Thanksgiving is a great time to spend with family gorging on the traditional fare and hanging out. I enjoy the time off but this isn’t my favorite holiday. If it wouldn’t cause a riot I’d probably travel during my time off. With my son staying with his dad during this holiday I always feel at loose ends. I hate Black Friday shopping so that’s out, so instead long naps and leaf raking happens. It’s dismal and I need a new plan for next year because this is getting old!

Let’s talk food – despite my goal of smaller portions which I did….somewhere I miscalculated and had too many carbs. I took a 7 hour carb coma nap and then I’ve suffered every day after from the food. Ugh I totally get why meal preppers take their own food and get grief, but it may be worth it in the long run. Damn I’ve been miserable.

Between now and when my son gets here for Christmas break I’ll get the house all decked out…totally deck the halls. This is one of our favorite holidays to spend together. I work from home while he’s here which I appreciate and so does he. I have a presence in the house, we have our meals together, and have some awesome conversations. Give us time and we’ll solve some world issues! It’s during those times that we’ve plotted and planned the future. He’s a sharp kid and I can’t wait to see what he does in life. 

What else? Cooking – I have some truffle Mac’n Cheese to make while he’s home so gathering ingredients is on the to do list. This dish ranks higher than chocolate cheesecake with ganache. The cheesecake I’d be restricted to a sliver so I’m kind of glad this one is off the table. I’ve been researching other options. Flourless chocolate cake is on the list along with a chocolate tart. High in cacao and lower in sugar. Still looking so if anyone has a recipe to throw my way remember low carb. 

Holidays don’t always work out like we want and that can be ok. This year I drove my grandfather home. He only complained a little about my driving and I’d be shocked if he didn’t. It’s part of the experience. I wanted to offer to take him down to my grandmother’s grave, but he looked tired and ready for a nap. So I kept the offer to myself and gave him a big hug and took off. As I was tooling down the road I still felt the need to visit family that had passed. I was coming up to the turn off for the cemetery where my dad is buried I jumped two lanes and made a crazy right turn. No other drivers were harmed in the lane change or turn. It was like some internal need that had to be met. Maybe I’m just strange but I was heading to the graveyard in no time. It wasn’t planned so when Ginger jumped out I’m snatching her up in fear of having my dog decide she needs a potty break. That just seemed wrong. 

Many years ago I read a book and one of the characters would leave a stone on the headstone to represent they had visited. The cemetery that my grandparents on my dad’s side are buried you can’t leave flowers because they have strict rules, so I got in the habit of leaving a stone.  

My step-mom has really pretty flowers throughout the year, so again no need to bring flowers to the cemetery where he’s buried. Every time I visit or when Seth comes with me, we leave a stone to say “we were here.” So on this visit I’m looking around for a small stone with a dog under one arm. It was a brief visit but it settled something inside of me. 

What’s next? Tomorrow it’s back to the office and the daily grind, but it just means I’m getting closer to time for my son to be here. Deck the halls and let’s be merry cause I’m ready for some mom and son time!

However you celebrate the holidays enjoy! If that’s not your thing have fun on your days off if you get them. 

Peace and goodwill – G.

The Game of Life

The Game of Life

The Game of Life, not to be confused with my favorite show – Game of Thrones. Although I can draw a correlation between the two. “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” I think of diabetes as a potential road to death, hence the game of life. What kind of life do I want? I’m insulin resistant, which is type 2 diabetes. It’s treatable and I have the option to take control of my life.

I like my food. Plus I travel and I have a desk job so I’m not staying as active as I should. Although I did start wearing a Samsung watch that gives me nasty grams to get my butt moving throughout the day…stay active. Foodie and desk rider does NOT pair well with diabetes of any sort.  A key piece of the game.

Earlier this year I had been feeling miserable and just couldn’t get past symptoms that had been coming and going for more than a year. I’m terrible to treat myself with home remedies a lot of times. Plus I kept thinking I eat healthy so I’m not getting why I feel so bad. Along comes June and a girl I went to high school with walks up to the event I’m supporting, and I’m like damn she looks fabulous! What has she done? Since we’ve known each other a long time I had no problem asking. She tells me she had bariatric surgery. 

I hadn’t really thought about having surgery until that moment and then I thought “would that work for me.” I went home and did my research, met with her to get the lowdown on what she did, and then talked with another friend that had a different type of surgery. It was a big decision and I needed to talk to my doctor. He had to officially sign off on this medically. 

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” Amelia Earhart

I was at that point of making a decision. What action do I take?! I’ll tell you after much discussion and bless my doctor for spending the time talking with me. I decided that based on my health, and how I felt about my “sugar control” that surgery might not be the best choice. I had other challenges that needed to be overcome like a carb addiction. If you just laughed no worries but I’m not being dramatic. A lifetime of eating whatever I want and especially carbs because my body craves the crap out of them thanks to insulin resistance. You feed the demon and it demands more. I’d been happily feeding mine and now I have to find control, so I can be healthy beyond right now. I don’t want to fall into full diabetic status and just by having surgery wouldn’t guarantee that wouldn’t happen. In the end it might cause more complications so controlling my sugar a necessity. Mostly so I don’t have the highs and low’s – gain some control. 

First thing was the list my doctor gave me of what to avoid:

  1. Sugar – no kidding
  2. Pasta – OMG I love this stuff and I’d make a fantastic Italian
  3. Bread – nirvana
  4. Rice – stay away from white food
  5. Potatoes – I cry over this
  6. <30gm/meal of carbs – fml

He gave me a book that lists most every food. What I thought was a good option got booted and figuring out ways to eliminate carbs but feed my foodie soul was a challenge. It’s still a challenge. There are days I just drink a protein shake cause nothing sounds appealing. I try to eat as fresh as possible. I think over processed food is a major issue as well…go natural as possible. Fortunately for me right down the road is a farmer’s market. The Fenton’s have their own store front they keep open most of the year. The owners are wonderful and I love supporting a local farmer and the produce that is sourced from around the state.

Beyond just controlling food, aka the fork as my doctor called it. I have to exercise. Failing in this key area….I think weight loss would be greater if I would exercise. I decided that I would breakout the hated exercise ball. Previously I completed the New Rules of Lifting for Women. I’d like to start that program over again, but I’d need to get a gym membership. Ugh my last gym burned down and it was in a great spot. The options left to me are 3x’s as expensive and I hate paying for classes I’ll never use. I like lifting and I detest cardio. Just throwing that out there right now. All those cardio memes are probably for me. Anyway in NRFLFW there are several exercise ball circuits that will make you wish for death….I mean make you sweat. Plus the body weight exercises will be an improvement over doing nothing. Geez admission makes me feel like I have to do it now to have some accountability. Gah

As I said in the beginning I’m playing the Game of Life. My life as a person that isn’t held hostage to diabetes and all the other issues that come along with it. What does it take for me to win or die in this game? It takes control of the carbs I put in my body. Sounds easy but it’s not. It takes losing weight so my body can hopefully right some of the insulin resistant issues I’m creating. Again no easy task because one thing a person with insulin resistance knows is that losing weight is like winning the Olympics. Lots of effing hard work. When you do those things you keep doing them because you can easily slip into old habits that will put you back on the path of death. And finally being active and exercising. Riiiight, like exercise is something we like doing. All I can say is find something you like doing. If it’s hiking then hike, walking then walk that ass, or if you’re like me and it’s lifting get in the gym. Until I can get over the sticker shock I’m going to torture myself with the freaking exercise ball and body weight exercises. I’m committing to a future report out to stay accountable just don’t expect it next week or even next month. This task is almost as hard as the carbs. 

Oh to be young and willingly go for a run, now I’d rather sit on the couch with a book and a glass of wine. So I’m going to gather some courage and start this program. I’ve been tenacious up to this point. I’ll keep grinding on until I know I’m in a place where my body is healthy, and I’m winning the game not back in the pack.

Play to Win – G.

*photo Voodoo donuts Portland, OR – Voodoo doll (deliciousness also a sugary sweet carb)

Black & white experiment

Black & white experiment

I was tagged recently to post black and white pics for seven days. If you’ve been on Facebook you’ve probably seen some of your friends doing this and then finding other willing victims to do the same. Only rule is no people. Seems easy enough. I started with my dog who is technically a person (she thinks), missed the second day because I was on the road all day and forgot, so now I’m going to see if I can finish off this experiment with a bang. 

I’m going to share all 7 of my b&w wonders. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. ✌

Day 1 – rat terrier at rest
Day 2 – key to the kingdom
Day 3 – travel finds

The rat terrier and the cigar box have drawn some good conversation. Dog people love dogs. I should know I follow UPS dogs on Facebook and then dogs on Instagram. 

Day 4 – beautiful fall day

This oak tree has been the most liked post. It was the most work. I actually took the pic upside down in my hand standing with my phone angled enough so I wouldn’t be in the pic, rather than laying on the ground and facing up.

Day 5 – rest and relaxation
Day 6 – a gift that keeps giving

A family friend made the birdhouse and it is in use all year long. The birds have a home to enjoy and squirrels a nice place to stand and observe their domain. 

From this photo you can’t tell that it has a bright red roof and it draws the eye immediately when gazing in my backyard, which I do often since I’m a backyard birder. Still working on my life list and with many thanks to my friend that built this house. Unfortunately he passed on the day I took the photo but I have a reminder of this sweet and generous person. May he rest in peace and sing with the angels!

Day 7 – thankful for those that serve

My seventh day is just shy of Veterans Day, which lands on a Saturday this year. As I left work all the flags looked so pretty at the entrance. Glad I work for a company that recognizes our veterans contributions. Thankful for my family members that were in the armed forces. 

This “experiment” because I’m not sure what makes it an experiment unless it’s a social experiment. I can see that possibly considering I was using social media and trying to elicit a response from people. And I was successful with more than one of my photos. 

The experiment did foster a lot of conversation social media or in person. Part of the challenge was to solicit others aka challenge them to participate. I did tag three people that didn’t take up the challenge. They’re the control for the experiment or failures depending on how you look at it. It was interesting and fun to see what people identify with or recognize from the photos I’ve posted on social media. 

I challenge anyone that is interested to post photos for 7 days on their favorite social media site. Hopefully you have more success finding willing victims that will participate with you. Share in the comments if you had an interesting experience with your b&w experiment.

Enjoy! -G.

What defines you?

What defines you?

‘We cling to memories as if they define us, what we do is what defines us.’ 

Great quote from the movie Ghost in the Shell. It struck me to the core. Movie was pretty good but the quote was outstanding. Why? Maybe because I don’t live in the past. Life moves forward and I’m moving with it. I know there are times we get bogged down by things that have happened to us…we all do it. It’s how we react, at what point we shake it off and move on.

Bitterness is so hard to let go of because that means you have to let go of what you’ve been carrying around for hours, days or years. It’s not easy and I can say that from experience. Forgiving someone that has done you wrong and has caused this well of bitterness inside you might seem impossible, but truly it can be done. Once you let that burden go it’s like a breathing in new life giving air. You’re renewed and you can move forward with purpose. 

I would like to say I’m like Jesus and I’ll turn my cheek every time. I’m not Jesus so that doesn’t always happen. I can carry a grudge with the best of them. So I don’t want you to think I easily let go of burdens or that I forgive at the drop of the hat. I’m a real person with real challenges both externally and internally. We all are. It’s up to each one of us to decide how much control we want to give that person or instance in our life. Maybe forgiving isn’t an option but moving on is….

This quote is a reminder that moving forward with a happy spirit we will see things in a more positive light. Things will work out because our perception about where we are in life, our emotions, and maybe even our situation has changed. 

I’ve talked about being positive more than once and I admit I’m not always in a positive mindset. It takes effort. One thing I have seen are people that choose positivity then their positive outlook shines for others to see. The power of positivity! I want to be defined in such a way that I have the power to impact those around me in a positive way just by having a higher awareness of my attitude. 

For example, I was given news the other day that I could’ve taken in a negative light but instead I saw the positive. It was a win for me. I’m not letting this one instance keep me from my goals or throw me off track. With the power of positivity I can do anything. Sometimes I just have to give myself reminders. I’m my harshest critic. Really no one else can top how tough I am on myself. 

Things will work out and I decide how I’m defined!

Enjoy some fall weather wherever you are and be positive!

-G.

Prepping for life 

Prepping for life 

I’ve been pondering on what’s the main priorities in my life because once again the sand is shifting. It’s not bad things but there will be changes in the near future – how do I want to prepare or react. Life always seems to be going left when you were planning for right.

One big thing that is looming in the next year will be my son going off to college. We spent part of the time this summer doing a college visit and then him making the decision on “the one”. He’s already been accepted and the admission has been paid all before his senior year of high school starts…it’s like crazy talk! 

I’m so proud of him and at the same time the planner in me wants to start prepping. Just imagine a doomsday prepper but for college. I’ve got a list I’m already working on of what I need to be on the lookout for throughout the next year. It might be a sickness. 

This is what I imagine I look like except I don’t!

Second, the travel for my job has grown and that is not in any way a complaint! I love traveling which means priorities and activities in my life have changed to revolve around my work life. I was admiring my boat that has not been in the water one time this summer. Partly due to the crappy weather early on that put a bunch of trash on the lake and partly because I’m just not home. I’m in the process of deciding do I sell or do I keep. Selling is looking like the best plan based on the current projection of my life.

Third, I have friends all across the US and I would like to spend more time traveling and seeing them along the way. Sometimes it works out with my work travel but not always. I’ve also got plans to take advantage of some work opportunities, which means change and new priorities.

You would think life would settle into a rut of the same thing, and I guess I could let it happen…nah not really my style. See doomsday prepper above. I’m planning, I’m looking for an adventure, I’m learning something new, and I want to live my life to the fullest. You can’t really do that if you’re in a rut.

What’s next you ask? Probably sell the boat, more travel, see my friends, get my kid prepped for the apocalypse…I mean college, go to a fabulous wedding in the Colorado mountains and I plan to hit the beach in Florida. 

As I come to a close I want to share a quote I saw on Instagram…I’m in love with it!!! (I’ve included the link for those that love it as much as I do!)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BXKkCzDBx6b/

So dream big and be bold. You have to be bold if you’re going to do the things that scare you. An example, I have a love and hate relationship with rollercoaters. Love them but I hate that feeling where my stomach is one place and I’m another. But I still get in line, I still get on the coaster because I’m not letting my fear, or that temporary feeling prevent me from doing something fun or bold. 

Do you have bold dreams but you’re holding yourself back? What’s that saying?…oh yeah ‘get over yourself’ not the same context but I’m sure you get the intent. 

So, I’ve got some shifting sands, and I’m once again going to make some changes in my life, and it’s a good thing! Just prepping for a new day!

Peace – G.

*photo credit to prepperfortress.com