My Thick Bitch

While out for a walk with my sweet little dog, I noticed she was stopping frequently for potty breaks. I found it odd because she often powers through her walks never halting even to sniff the things most dogs love to smell. The thought that she might be afflicted with a urinary tract infection motivated me to call the vet and scheduled a visit.

The process of going to the vet is a little different these days. The parent can no longer go into the appointment with their dog. The office requires a call to the front desk at the time of arrival. A staff member will come out to fetch the dog from the parking lot, and the owner goes about their day. Aside from Jazzy becoming terribly upset when she recognized the destination, and then trying to run away from the nurse who came out to collect her. Everything went as expected and I went home.

Not long after I arrived home, I received a call from the wonderful Doctor and he informed me that he and the nurse loved their time with Jazzy. He told me she was a very good patient and incredibly compliant with the examination. This news did not surprise me at all. The last time I was in the office during her exam, Jazzy did not protest or even flinch during her anal examination. She is either a good little solider or kinky. I haven’t decided yet. The good Doctor went on to report all the tests came back negative and she looks healthy.

However, he then stated Jazzy had put on some weight and is now at the top of the range that is considered healthy for her size. Jazzy is a small dog (a mix of a Boston terrier and French bulldog), and she typically weighs just over 14 lbs. He stated Jazzy put on almost two lbs. since her last visit. Without thinking of how it might sound, I immediately blamed COVID-19 for the weight gain. He was taken aback and said this was the first time he heard this particular excuse and laughed. We ended the conversation with him saying he would like to see more of a defined waist on Jazzy.

Looking back, I should have seen the signs of Jazzy’s uptick in weight. It seems she was always at the fridge and I did observe her stress eating her dinner after lying in bed with me watching the evening news. Jazzy also would mysteriously appear out of nowhere when I was eating, demanding she finish my leftovers. I often complied most times because I didn’t want to cause a fight. I noticed Jazzy eating with a new sense of intensity when in front of her dog bowl. When Rainy (my Labrador retriever) would get too close to her bowl, Jazzy’s response was incredibly emotional and she would go into full defensive mode nearly attacking Rainy.

Lately, she has been sleeping more and ignoring her watchdog duties, barking less at those who walk past our house. I know this will sound a little unbelievable, but I swear I caught her standing in front of the mirror attempting a no hand clap with her backside. To clarify, Jazzy always dances, but this was a new move I had not seen her attempt before. In retrospect, I should have seen the signs that my dog was becoming a thick bitch.

Angry Hugs

Over a year ago, maybe two years now, I was introduced to UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). I was surprised by how much I adore watching two people pummel each other. I have to say I love almost everything about it. I love the pageantry, the sportsmanship, the athleticism and skill of the fighters. I would like to say I could do without the blood, but I won’t. When the fights stopped due to concerns over spreading the virus, I was sad but understood the reason for the halt in the schedule. However, I was over the moon when the fights recently resumed. As I said to a few of my fight viewing friends, I was so starved for any form of sports viewing, I would have settled for the fighters to just stand in the middle of the ring and slap each other back and fourth for three to five rounds.

My daughter is not a fan but for some reason, most likely boredom, she decided to watch for a bit with me last weekend. She had many questions and I am not an expert by any means. I did my best. She questioned me about the weight classes and how a person can win and lose. She was perplexed about the grappling and was trying to find the words to describe what she was seeing. I offered that perhaps what she was seeing was angry hugging. She seemed to be pleased with this description.

My need to see some sort of organized sports is deep and this yearning is something I didn’t even realize. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania, just 10 miles from University Park, Penn State’s main campus. I believe it is mandatory all locals must love the Nittany Lions. I did, and still do. One of my favorite childhood memories, on game day was laying in the middle of my gram’s yard, in Houserville and hearing the muffled announcers from Beaver Stadium. On an occasion, I was able to go to a “Blue and White” game and be a spectator at one or two of the football games throughout Penn State’s normal season. It was heaven. Fall in Pennsylvania was my favorite season. Attending undergraduate studies at Penn State and spending time in the stadium’s student section will always be a fond memory of mine.

I moved away several years ago and still try to watch as many games as I can, but now living in Oregon I tend to keep track of the Ducks too. My first love will always be college football. However, I do love NFL and still follow all of my East Coast teams. Even when I don’t care about who is playing, I always seem to have a game on just for background noise and the comforting effects. When football season ends, I get a little depressed. I watch a little hockey and with the Blazers being super popular here, I try to muster up the same enthusiasm. The only team sport I cannot watch at all is baseball, cause I don’t have the patience or the time. However, since watching “Brockmire” I might give it another chance.

With the pandemic and most sports coming to a halt. Out of desperation, I have found myself sitting in front of the TV watching old Stanley Cup game play offs, golf and other games the networks have been so kind to re-broadcast. Having all of this on my TV makes things seem a little bit normal. My daughter thinks I’m crazy and I can see her concern and confusion when she walks into my room asking who is screaming, when I was watching an old tennis match too loudly. I typically never watch Tennis. It’s not the first and most likely not the last time my daughter has questioned my mental health status. I can only hope that I provide a little comic relief to distract from all the despair she is absorbing. The other alternative is that I will provide her with a long list of issues to work through in therapy when she feels she is ready. You are welcome, Ella.

Presently, I find I am watching normal and mundane occurrences much like sporting events, trying to equate points to various activities. Whether it be heated arguments between differing points of views on local news stations or watching squirrels fight to defend their territorial boundaries, as they taunt my dogs and sometimes me. I have my own point system going on in my head and I typically declare one side as the champion of the perceived battle. I believe most times I’m somewhat satisfied with the winner.

The effect of quarantine on my brain has done some interesting things to my thought process and I being to wonder. Would I participate in the viewing of events similar to The Hunger Games or The Purge, if they would come to be? Gosh, I hope not, but I almost can see a society where we have some type of organized sports teams who battle it our for scarce resources like toilet paper or a coveted meat product. A trophy is no longer necessary. I believe we are getting closer to a society where poverty, oppression and squalor might be played out in dreadful displays of competition. My want to read any more stories of this type of genre is slowly dissipating. However, my need to be a spectator has not gone away in the least and this is the scary part.

I completely understand this is first world problem of want vs need. But I need to see athletes battle it out, and soon on possible on a regular basis. I would even watch Tennis on a more consistent basis if all the players agree to scream more and louder as they smash the ball back and forth. I want to see bone crushing hits, played by men in really tight uniforms. The more aggressive the better. I do acknowledge that I have no problems with objectifying men and I might have underlying anger issues requiring therapy. I’ll be sure to get a referral from Ella’s future therapist, and maybe I will be enabled to explore my endless need to shove my mind full of brutal competition in order to quiet my own restlessness. Until then and until the other sports return, I will endure lots of angry hugs when watching UFC fights and perhaps If I am lucky enough maybe I’ll even give a few.

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Anti-utopia and Homeschooling

Over the last few months, I have felt like I have been walking through a dream. Not a good one. It has been one of those that might be more nightmare-ish. The ones where I find I can’t scream or move in the manner I want in order to protect or defend myself against whatever my mind unleashes when my guard has been temporary lowered. I wake up with the hope it was all something my mind has made up to mess with me, to keep me on my toes, but only to find my brain has been replaying the days events again during the night.

I find I am watching more TV than I should and am bombarded by shit I should turn off, but can’t because I guess I’m caught somewhere between no self control and boredom. I am forgetting myself and find I am focusing on things I can’t control like other people’s decisions to not to wear face masks. It seems this rationalization is now a political statement instead of being a careless and otherwise selfish act.

This never ending pandemic, my brother’s death a few weeks ago, George Floyd’s death this week and the reckless riots in the city I love…I now ruminate over the profound callousness of my fellow American citizens. I find myself not being myself and perhaps just slightly agitated, not the normal level of agitation I typically reach every morning with my caffeine consumption. This is a deeper level of unrest I haven’t felt since my hormone induced teenage years.

These are the times of “one glass of wine isn’t enough”. However, I still judge myself incredibly harshly even knowing these times are a little darker than normal. Returning to a practice of gratitude is always something I try to do in these times, especially when my humor escapes me. My bright spot is my lovely daughter and everything about her. I am so incredibly lucky that she is so amazingly independent with her school work. I do not have to take on the task of homeschooling.

I cannot image the level of strife parents are going through with potential joblessness or working from home and topped with the need to now be a teacher to your children. I might be able to muddle through most subjects, but my daughter just happens to be in compacted math. My daughter’s current knowledge of math far exceeds mine. Hats off to all those parents who are white knuckling though the next few weeks. With all that is presently wrong with the world, I have to believe that homeschooling might be a point of agitation and contributing to a whole new reason to struggle with self-esteem.

Mental health professionals have their work cut out for them and will have to do a major overhaul to those questionnaires and surveys that some take in their PCP or therapist’s offices. Two new questions I propose to assess overall mental health should be: (1) how many rolls of toilet paper do you presently have in your home and (2) are you currently homeschooling? If so, how many children? A “yes” answer to homeschooling, regardless of how many children, is a automatic prescription to a anxiety/depression medication of your choosing. If the answer to the T.P. questions is zero, then that might require a psychiatric hold.

Meals, Weed, Rap, Repeat.

I know so many of us have lost count like I have on the number of days we have been living, working and entertaining at home. I was on a Zoom happy hour and someone said it was 8 weeks. I don’t think it has been that long, but I honestly don’t know. Maybe 6 weeks? My brain has gone limp, and it no longer is able to process time the way it used to. Now, the measurements are not in days or weeks, but my time is now tracked by meals.  These days I yell to Ella from across the hallway to remind her of the awesome something or other that we made for dinner the other day, week or month. I’m also paying attention to the news threatening a meat shortage.  This is what I have turned into in just 6 or 8 weeks.

I also have renewed my addiction for weeding and rap music. It seems that one cannot exist without the other. For the past couple meal cycles, I have been tackling parts of my yard and my weed problem. I do get a bunch of gratification from ripping, tearing, pulling and digging these strong invasive nuisances from the earth. However, when you have Snoop Dogg and all of his friends on Pandora playing, it is heaven.  The weeds are no longer weeds, they become muthafu!@%ing bitches! And I realize that my love for rap makes so much sense, as I love the word play, cursing, and channeled anger.

Unfortunately, my love for rap has bled unto my daughter and I found her listening to Eminem in her room. Her only question, ” Mom, why is he so angry?” I tried to explain he was just a po white boy who had a bad mamma. I tried to expound to describe that rap is form a blues, but spoken and angry. I don’t think she understood, so I invited her to a Zoom meeting for further clarification.

I was a little concerned my daughter was listening to rap, because I do understand women are depicted often in a terrible manner.  However, I  think it is because rappers have watched one too many porn videos and it’s played out in the music to perhaps enhance masculinity. Nonetheless, I wholeheartedly believe in the average rapper’s home, the woman is calling the shots. I mean, Snoop cooks with Martha when he isn’t out being a gangsta.

My point, I have none, but I’m not certain I am documenting this time as I should. When Ella looks back on this period of time I am a little concerned. What she will remember, tell her children, and how I will be depicted? I am curious of how this will all shake out in the end. Until then, I will continue be in my yard and garden with my weed(s) and my muthaf!@%&#ing hoes.

Keep Your Social Distance

I went out for a run last week. Then I was training for a race I just learned was cancelled. Regardless of the cancelled race, I need something to focus on other than all the negative thoughts presently flooding my head. I was minding my space during that run and keeping to the right side of the path. I noticed a biker coming in the opposite direction and he began to point at me as he rode past in a manner that I thought meant “move over more”. My first few thoughts were not very nice, and then I rationalized for I bit. I guess I could have moved over three, maybe four inches more, trying to determine if we did have 6 feet between us.  I ran a half mile more up the road and realized. The biker. He was turning left.

My friend’s husband  pointed out that hypochondriacs  have been preparing their whole lives for this. I imagine that we might not see some of them again, not because of illness and death, but because this is the pandemic that might create a epidemic of shut-ins and now we have the infrastructure to support it. Similarly,  introverts have wished their whole lives for some type of ongoing excuse to stay home. This is an extended holiday for people like me. This has gotten me out of so many awkward conversations with some of my neighbors, and not riding in elevators with…people. Gosh, it’s like a freaking vacation, socially. I no longer have a fake excuse waiting in the wings of why I just cannot make it to your function.

When I am minding my social distance, I try to respect and not offend.  I do want to see my friends, but I know what’s at stake. So did the grocery store employee, who sprayed bleach on the key pad of the self check out. I actually got teary eyed at the gesture. I was surprised she didn’t spray me directly. It’s not the first time someone has questioned my state of clean.  However, I am deeply grateful of all of the grocery story workers who are coming to work every day. Not to mention all the other people who don’t have the choice to stay home. I would like to see all my local store employees wear the bleach spray bottles in makeshift gun holsters with the handkerchief face masks, cause it does seem like the wild west out there in grocery land.  I wouldn’t even mind if they even spoke to me aggressively and threatened me with a squirt of bleach if I was not as compliant as they demanded.

I am not certain how long I have been in the social distance/quarantine pattern anymore. I have trouble keeping track of the days. But I am still training for my non-existent race. The reason I am forcing this practice to continue is because it happens to be my daily treatment for my anxiety. Taking away the run while in lock down seems like a terrible idea. Over past couple days, I have come to the realization that there is just too many people out on the running paths, with the good weather, and I feel I have become part of the problem.  So, with a heavy heart I decided I would stop going outside for my daily run and I dusted off my lonely treadmill that faces the wall in my garage. I did move it to face a window. Not sure why I didn’t do this 7 years ago.

I am not a fan of the treadmill, but am grateful I have access to one during these strange times. Some runners believe the treadmill is a practice of self harm. I agree, but I also think  wearing jeans during the quarantine when I have decided to eat like a hobbit is more of a practice self harm, so pick your poison.  Trying to continue some type of normal in times when nothing is…is difficult. So, I will focus on gratitude. As I press the on button today as I start my half marathon, I will be grateful I am consistent with my practice of self harm. I will wait to put on my jeans until my run is finished, at least this time.

 

 

T.P.

Growing up my mom never talked about the act of pooping, but she had some interesting sayings about poop. One of my mom’s poop saying is, “You might as well shit in one hand and wish in the other and see which one weighs more. I understand this is not the most optimistic of sayings. However, I am certain I do not need to test this logic. The logistics of crapping in ones own hand I think will be trickier then one would think, and if you are actually doing this to see which hand weighs more, then you have bigger issues at play.  However, for some reason this saying keeps rolling around in my head with the new state of affairs that are now upon us.

It is a mystery to me why so many people who appear reasonable would stock pile toilet paper. I might understand this if the overwhelming side effect or symptom  of this global epidemic might require one to be tied to the toilet seat for hours and hours in a unmanageable purge of bodily fluids, but this does not appear to be the case. This did get my wheels a spinning thinking about the average American and their bathroom habits.

It might be that people are so frighten that they have a heightened startle reflex. Aside from this unending self-quarantine and social distancing, I can relate to this. If I would arrive home and find many friends and family waiting inside for me. I would most likely think incredibly deeply about the location of my toilet paper for a few seconds or minutes. However, I want to be clear, I have nothing against surprises. I would believe it was an intervention until I see the balloons.

Aside from all this toilet paper shortage talk, the smatterings of stomach upset commercials, and Dr. Oz, I find that most people don’t talk openly about poop. It might be a inner circle discussion for some. I do know some feel comfortable enough to openly announce proudly upcoming features or movements, while others hide every hint or evidence that this natural phenomenon occurs much like they are hiding a crime.

I have a friend that openly announces that he launches SEAL teams, sometimes  he only launches half a team, sometimes he launches a team with support. When he leaves the bathroom after a successful launch he will give a yell. I find this fascinating, because I have been a bit of the opposite. I have bought  things like Poo-Pourri, their tag line is “Don’t Do the Doo Without It.”  My goal is to be quick and to hid every evidence of the event.

Growing up, in my house, nobody ever spoke of number two and I think this is incredible with the understanding that six people shared one bathroom. I do remember my father spending an inordinate amount of time inside this room of mystery while all of the rest of us would wait impatiently outside. I also think this also shaped my current bathroom habits to be a quick as humanly possible.

From my childhood, I will always have the memories of my gram walking across the room, while crop dusting the entire length. During these events she would state she was going to visit “Aunt Sally” and she would disappear into the bathroom for a bit. I have to admit before I became wise to my gram’s poop humor I wondered why Aunt Sally never came out of the bathroom, and I questioned when my gram had excessive gas it made her think of Aunt Sally.

Most of the people I know do not talk about poop. My runner friends only talk poop before a race, because it very well may be with as much as we all run, we all have had that unfortunate memory of going out for a run and coming back with one less sock. And it might be just me, but in the summer I look for the neighbors who are doing home renovations and have a Honey Bucket in their front lawn. I have never needed to use any of these, but knowing this might be an emergency option is comforting  to me for some reason.

Recently the Pepto-Bismol commercial has been bugging me and  mostly don’t pay attention to them, maybe it’s due to all this toilet paper talk. It has the familiar jiggle singing about stomach aches, heartburn, upset stomach, and always ending with diarrhea. However, this time the guy singing, sings diarrhea in a manner that is just too polite for the action we all have come to understand. Instead of this pleasant musical dedication, I think the diarrhea part should always be sung with complete urgency with the background of the heaviest heavy metal that one can image. Until this happens, I will put my version on the wish list. Nonetheless, I think I might be getting sidetracked.

This current global situation has brought everything down to assholes and people’s overwhelming need for toilet paper. If you think all you need is rolls and rolls of T.P to feel safe and secure as you all shelter in place, then there is not much I can say to convince you otherwise. If you think the excessive amount of rolls will serve you if you get sick. Well, you might as well shit in one hand and wish in the other and see which one weighs more. Just wash your hands, especially the hand that weighs more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Land of Almost and Good Enough

I found my daughter in the laundry room sorting through freshly washed clothes much like how a raccoon pilfers through trash looking for a tossed tasty morsel. The only difference between the two is Ella was looking for a clean bra. Surprisingly, I had no idea Ella has the same startle reflex as most wild animals and rodents. She jumped up from the laundry pile and scurried around me, holding her bra and her heart as if she had been mortally wounded.

I felt sorry for her and then for myself for not having the time or organizational skills to sort all this for her, but I try to remain positive.   The bra almost made it into her dresser, sitting nearly empty just a couple rooms away and at least it’s clean. Good enough.  It has not always been this way. I took a new job about 8 months ago, and there has a been a progressive down slide into what exists here in my household today. The state of my house reminds me how a dystopian novel reads… chaotic, hopeless, and apocalyptic. Unfortunately, I do not see any hero in, on or near the horizon coming to save me from the ever growing cascade of my list of to do’s.

When the weekend hits, I have a few moments of fleeting optimism. 48 hours seems like enough time. However, the realization of how things have gone a stray and having enough insight to understand that the amount of my shit exceeds the number of hours needed to make a dent. In spite of this I do my best.  But as I often say, sometimes your best isn’t good enough. I might have this engraved on my headstone.

Balancing the responsibilities of being an adult, being a parent, and still wanting to have a little fun, means for me that my house might look like my hair when I first wake up in the morning. I might be faster to take a comb through my hair then to clean my house, but I have been accused of being a bit vain. I feel it is my right to still try to look pretty in a messy house.

As a recovering perfectionist, I am trying to embrace the concept of almost and good enough. In one, five or twenty years, I wonder how much of this will matter? I highly doubt on my deathbed I will mutter the words to Ella, “I’m sorry your bras didn’t always make it to your dresser.”  Nonetheless, I do think, maybe too much, about lining up a person who can cull all those things I have collected that I don’t want Ella or others to find after my demise. I think this is a whole other can of worms that I might unpack on another day. Until then I will try to live happily ever after in my very imperfect world.

 

 

 

Cold Chicken

My daughter has a tendency to become quite agitated quickly over small silly things that  tickle me more than they should. We spend a great deal of time watching TV in my bed in the evenings and sometimes in the mornings.  Ella often walks into my room, hovers and becomes entranced by whatever is on the television. It seems she gets hung up on the commercials produced by the pharmaceutical companies, and often mocks all the side effects and allergic reactions that might occur.

This week we both were caught up watching a few Chantix advertisements. If you don’t already know, this is a medication some people take to help quit smoking. Ella was a bit infuriated by the featured chickens in this commercial (who were attempting to quit smoking) and she did not understand why they had clothes on, one had a coat on and another was wearing a blanket. I did not have the same confusion or agitation at the time I was watching these ads, because I feel nothing makes sense anymore. My only response to Ella, ” Come on Ella, don’t you know all chicken’s wear clothes when they quit smoking, duh?”  I even shared the story with a friend, cause it made me laugh. And I went on about my day, laughing at Ella and Chantix for the ridiculousness that is in marketing and in general.

Hours later… I was thinking about the chickens. Why were the chickens cold? I  then realized it is obvious that I need to see my eye doctor and I absolutely do not know how to identify cartoon edible fowl.  I  do take some solace in the fact that Ella has the same affliction of her eyes, her genes, and possibly shares the same apathy towards ornithology.   I do know the phrase quitting cold turkey makes much more sense when marketers use turkeys in their commercials.  Perhaps the moral of this story is it makes no sense when chickens wear clothes.

Taking Stock

I am not one for resolutions. I don’t like them. The undue pressure on top of all the other responsibilities one has to achieve on a daily basis is a recipe for bad self-esteem. The cycle from year to year continues. It often leads to feelings of not being good enough based on societal expectations that you may not even personally aspire to achieve, but feel pressure to do.

I think maybe starting small is a better idea. For example, I always want to organize my sock drawer. When I am in a rush and trying to stuff my backpack full of workout clothes, I am always slowed down in the morning when trying to match a pair of socks. This process of opening up this bin, looking in, and muddling things around reminds me of the card game I used to play in grade school. I remember shuffling a bunch of cards and laying them face down. The process is to flip, look and turn the card back over. Then flip another, look and remember where I saw the identical card (the match) I turned over earlier. This childhood game somehow turned into my sock drawer.

I am aware how easy it would be to match the socks when I do my laundry, but I don’t. Yes, I do understand the extra time spent on matching the socks when I fold laundry would make up the time wasted on trying to match them in the morning, but apathy doesn’t care. I’ve decided this daily exercise of matching socks isn’t a nuisance, but a cognitive practice that will hopefully stave of dementia in my later years. It has to be.

The amount of time spent on taking stock and nit picking or minimizing behaviors that may be significant does require more than just setting a goal and thinking your intention alone will make it happen. The changing of one year to the next is not enough to move or motivate a shift when cognitive behavioral therapy, detox or a prescriptions of medications will do the trick to effect the wanted transformation. My point, stop the nonsense of making big life changes that are driven by the stroke of midnight.

Tuning up the engine instead of majorly overhauling it might be a better way to approach this yearly phenomenon. In my case, for example, instead of wishing for the socks to be paired, I should appreciate my ability to put my socks successfully on my feet, matching or not. Or just acknowledge that my socks are clean and are put in the proper place. Baby steps my friend. Grounding oneself in gratefulness might be a better approach.

I think most of us have all this backwards. Maybe people should focus on the positive things that occurred over the past year and expand on it. For example, I did not tuck my shirt directly into my underwear in 2019, at least to my knowledge. I plan to continue to not tuck my shirt into my underwear in 2020. Tucking, low wasted jeans and bending over are not friends to me. Perhaps the real goal should be not caring about it if I do. I may be oversimplifying this and getting off track, but I feel change should be reserved for those rock bottom moments.

For those who are in the first week into a resolution and have failed already. Please give yourselves some grace. If you are getting up in the morning, breathing air into your lungs, managing to put one foot in front of the other, then rejoice. You are still here. Whether you think your life is sometimes heaven or hell, you are here and you must be doing something right. I’ll embrace my unmatched socks and terrible tuck jobs, if they occur. I hope that my approach to this coming year will help me return to the gratefulness that I think we all need to embrace in 2020.

Christmas Miracle

Since the birth of my daughter I have been an innocent bystander on watching her grow. I have been there for her first smile, rolling over, crawling and finally walking. I have been there cheering her through this aging process. I have to admit I was not fan of the infancy phase. I was a nervous wreck for most of it. I can’t say I loved the teetering toddler phase and the terrible twos and threes, I will never forget the power struggles that ensued. Ella also had a hair trigger vomit reflex that I have never experienced in my life before and hope to never again. As soon as she would get upset about ANYTHING, she would go into a dry heave to full on explosive vomiting, really in a matter of seconds. Emotion=Vomit. I spent most of her younger years, approaching her with towels, talking softly and giving her ample choices regarding whatever it was I wanted her to do. I walked on egg shells especially when I was in public, because sometimes I forgot my towel. Oh, and those folks that were stuck in our row on airplanes during this phase, you poor souls.

I have to say that her most recent milestone is my favorite. I have waited years and years for this. And it has finally arrived and I could not be more proud of her. When it came time this year to decorate for the holiday, for the second year in a row, I just could not bring myself to go through the steps of getting a Christmas tree. Of course, Ella wanted one and I was on the fence. We did decorate the outside with lights, which was enough for me. We had a bunch of lights left over to put on a tree, but still I could not make myself go pick out a tree. So, Ella and I decided to make a “tree” out of the lights on one of our windows. It took two strands of multi-colored lights to make our Christmas tree. I could tell during this process that Ella was just going along with it and was not super excited about this at all. We finished and stood together to get a look at our creation. I put my arm around her shoulder and asked, “Well, what do you think?” She stated, ” It’s breathtaking” in the most sarcastic tone. I almost cried, she finally gets sarcasm! It truly is a Christmas miracle.