So, you survived Christmas, let’s celebrate!

HurrayIt is the day after Christmas. It’s 12:30 and I am still in my PJs. Why? I survived Christmas and I’m celebrating. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great Christmas. Both of my boys are home and even my Dad spent the night. While we didn’t do a lot of the things we normally do because of my broken leg, we still enjoyed the day. I even survived listening to how great Fox news is, the war on Christmas (that doesn’t really exist), and sentences that started with “not that I’m racists but…” and get this..




My youngest son did interject a random, “How about them Jets?” at one point which of course made everyone laugh.

Let’s face it, Christmas is not always the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. Alcoholism, divorce, death, illness, singleness, and a myriad of familial dysfunction can make the day beyond stressful for many people.

My parents got divorced when I was four. Between the ages of nine and twelve, the day after Christmas was spent on an airplane on my way to visit my father and his new family in New York. My mother hated the fact that she had to share me with him and we would invariably argue the week leading up to these visits. Honestly, I was really too young to understand what was going on, I just wanted to see my Dad. She didn’t think he deserved it. I only saw my father three times between the ages of four and nine for  various reasons.

He made lots of plans to see me after the divorce, but 90% of them fell through and she was the one left to pick up the pieces of a broken-hearted kid. I would stress so badly over the tension that by the time the trip arrived, I’d be sick and still insist on going anyway. It would be at that point that she would threaten to pack my bags and send me off to live with him for good if I was so insistent on seeing him.

Instead of anticipation, family and joy, Christmas for me, came with fear and trepidation as a kid. Forget Santa. All I wanted for Christmas was parents who knew how to behave.

Would he cancel the visit last-minute? Again.

Would she really send me away for good? (She never did)

It’s not like the trips were all that great anyway – I left one drunk household for another. One set of problems for another.

Neither of them were sober back then, I had learned how to be the adult for all of us and I was really bad at it. But that didn’t keep me from trying. There are some things kids just aren’t supposed to be able to fix.

Then Mom got sober and the trips back and forth stopped. Instead of NY, Dad now lived in Chicago and even though it was only four hours away, he was too busy to see me. While I was hurt by that, I was also relieved by no longer being stuck in the middle.

Flash forward ten years or so, now married with my own children and fueled by my own painful memories of Christmas past, this broken child turned into the Queen of Christmas. We were going to have the PERFECT Christmas come hell or high water even if it killed me and everyone around me.

We did Christmas on our own in Oklahoma. We did it all, lights, Church pageants, decorations, presents and food galore. There was no Christmas at Grandma’s house because both sets of parents had downsized and there wasn’t room for us and neither set wanted to travel. Only my Dad came. He was harmless enough, drinking himself into a quiet stupor in the recliner. Besides he had nowhere else to go and I picked up my old hat of saving the world.

Did everyone have a perfect Christmas? I don’t know. By the time the holiday actually arrived my martyr hat was glued on so tightly that I’m pretty sure it impacted the blood flow to my brain and affected my judgement. Fortunately for me, (and thankful for my own 12 step program) I did eventually learn how to give up the ghost and stop trying so hard and believe it or not, my boys (now grown) actually have good memories about Christmas.

I have a broken leg this year – I could not have been the queen of Christmas even if I wanted. My husband had to take over the decorating, shopping, cleaning and a good part of the cooking and you know what? It was great! He did a wonderful job and I learned Christmas doesn’t have to rest completely on my shoulders.

I don’t know what your Christmas was like. Maybe it was spectacular. Maybe you had to sit through dinner with a Republican. Or a Democrat. Maybe you lost a parent or loved one. Maybe it was your spouse’s turn to have the kids and you were alone. The bottom line is, not matter how Christmas went, today is a new day.

You got through it, no matter what it was, therefore I suggest we celebrate. Stay in your jammies if you want. Call a friend and tell them “I did it!” I did this hard thing – let the kids see their dad, missed my Mom, survived the family dinner, stayed sober — what ever it is you did. Celebrate it. Take a bubble bath – go for a run, ride a bike. Do what ever it is you do when you celebrate. Give yourself a pat on the back. It’s okay — I give you permission.

Great Garden Finds

With the present onslaught of triple digits in Oklahoma, I thought I’d take a few moments to show off some of my Northern Friends Gardens. These ladies are super creative and have inspired me to continue on my quest for garden art. Enjoy.

Concrete Pool Side Dragon, painted and glazed.
Terracotta Pot Garden Man, held together with wire. Do you see the boot on the lower right? It has a pot in it.
A welcoming sign by the front steps.

It Was a Carb Coma Kind of Day

Our dining room set for Thanksgiving dinner
Image by rick020200 via Flickr

I’ve learned that the trick to a great Thanksgiving dinner — aside from awesome recipes ala Ree Drummond, is apparently drinking a cup of coffee at 6:00 pm the evening before. Laying in my bed, bugged eyed at 1 am, I decided to go downstairs and pour myself some warm milk. While in the kitchen, I thought to my non sleepy self, since I’m up I might as well set the dining room table, and the next thing I know I’m making the mashed potatoes at 3 am. Turns out I’m creative when I can’t sleep, one dish followed another and I did not go back to bed until I put our stuffed bird in the oven at 6:00 am. Then and only then did I stumble into bed for 3.75 hours of wonderful sleep.

Granted, I have friends who do this normally anyway. Stay up all night, the night before and cook — but I usually don’t. I like my sleep.

What about you? Are you an all nighter kind of turkey day cook or do you cook the day of?  I’d love to know.

Friday Funny PG-13, Date Night

I love date night. It’s an excuse to dress up and be adults and try to be interesting again. It also beats walking around in sweats with my hair pulled back in pony tail. Which, sadly very easily becomes my stay-home-wife costume most days. I get in slumps where I know I’m not going anywhere important and I get lazy. I’m very female, I love to be pursued by man – in every sense of the word. Even on the days when I am pushing his hands away and telling him “not now” I really love it. I need date nights.

While spontaneous dates can be fun, I prefer the planned ahead kind. I like knowing it’s on the calendar, that he’s planned it out and all I have to do is get dolled up – for him – and be ready to go out when he gets home.  Jeff told me on Monday that he wanted to go out on Thursday and I had all week to plan and look ahead. I love the anticipation. We wound up going to one of my favorite restaurant in Utica Square and went to a new wine bar after that. The whole night was planned and I didn’t have to do a thing — PERFECT!

Relationship books will tell you that it is important to schedule dates and even sex, otherwise things like that get left to the way side of marriage, kids, and jobs. I wholeheartedly agree, while spontaneity has its perks, planning can be a lot fun.

Several years ago, I decided to be cute with my hubby’s blackberry. This little gem contains the life, the universe, and everything and has a nifty calendar feature. I started simply enough, posting important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, school plays and then I put things like “send your wife flowers today.” Then for fun, I added a little something extra — I picked a random date that was open and entered a lunch date in which he was to “go home and ravish wife.” In other words, I scheduled a sex date for the middle of the day just for fun.

I overlooked one small item. Corporate issued cell phones sync to corporate view calendars. Every day my husband plugged his blackberry into his computer to upload his calendar. Imagine his surprise when his secretary called him to say that she was trying to schedule a meeting for him but he had a conflict. When he asked her what kind of conflict she hesitated and then giggled.

“Uh, it says here that you have a lunch date to go home and ravish your wife. Should I move that out or do you want me to deny this other meeting?”

I no longer have access to his cell phone.

So tell me, what is the funniest thing you have done with your husband or significant other in trying to be romantic?

Written by: Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart: Confessions of a Spiritual Bulimic. All rights reserved. October 15, 2010

Monday Menus: October 11 2010

Confession: I sometimes treat my stay at home role as something I’m doing until my son graduates and I can go get a “real” job. The downside of that is multifaceted. Not only do I miss the moment, my family misses the connection while I dream and plan my days away.

Choosing to leave my telecommunications job in 1997 to stay home and raise our boys was definitely the right choice. Staying home was a lot more fun when they were little and in grade school because I had things I could be involved in. I loved being a home room mom, planning school events and even serving on the Parent Teacher League.  Now that my boys are in high school and college, there isn’t as much to do other than drive them places.  Yes, we made sacrifices so that I could stay home – losing my salary was a rather large one. And yes it was worth it. But I have to tell you, housecleaning, does not fulfill me. I need goals and things to focus on that are healthy and productive.

With D-man a junior in high school I find myself chomping at the bit for freedom instead of enjoying our last two years together.  I have freedom, and I think that is part of my issue. Gaining 60 pounds since they started high school is no coincidence. I eat – in part – because I’m bored.

Boredom is one of the things that really gets me into trouble when it comes to eating, that and lack of planning. I live with all men and it’s easy to just pick up grab and go junk food and not have healthy choices in the house. My guys could live on chicken wings and bacon – I think we need a better variety, don’t you? This new menu will definitely challenge my cooking skills. I went with a few new easy cook books. Better Crocker Healthy Heart, Dr Gott’s No Sugar No Flour, and The American Heart Association Cook book.  All three of these list calories per serving and all three are good for cooks like me – short on patience and time.

On the positive front, even with my feeble efforts of just not snacking so much, I’m down eight of the 15 pounds I gained post hysterectomy. Not too shabby for a month’s efforts.  I want to keep that momentum going and starting this week I  am grabbing my books and planning a real menu for the week and post it here.

Menu For Week of October 11, 2010

  • Make ahead Real Oatmeal for breakfast (From Dr Gott)
  • Make ahead Easy Fruit Salad, for lunches or snacking.
  • Mon: Glazed Beef Tenderloin with Herbed New Potatoes
  • Tues: Baked Fish with Italian Rice
  • Wed: Glazed Chicken over Couscous Pilaf – this is my night at the Looney Bin (Comedy Club) so I need something easy that I can make ahead and leave for the guys.
  • Thurs: Morning Star Tex-Mex Salad
  • Friday: Spring Time Pasta and Sausage
  • Sat: Date Night – eating down town with family the going to see Jeff Foxworthy at the BOK Center.
  • Sun: Grilled Garlic Sage Pork Roast


I haven’t figured out what kind of snacks I need available in the house yet. We have the standard fruit and cut up veggies, but I’d like to add variety. I am eliminating chips, ice cream and sugar laden cookies and cakes. I can hoover a pan of brownies in a day, and so can my 17 year old I’ve discovered. I’ll play with some healthy recipes this week and let ya’ll know what we like next week.