Deconstructing Christmas

IMG_1461Yesterday when I reached down to unplug the lights that decorate our family room, three year old let out a cry of dismay. “NOoooooo, don’t take down Christmas!” He has an extensive vocabulary, well beyond his three years, but this was the year he discovered Christmas. In his ever-expanding world, the concept of Christmas was so huge it was beyond words. If you were to point out each individual decoration, tradition or experience, Beej could easily tell you its name accompanied by some incredible adjectives. But this entire experience has been so enormous in his life that he wants to hold onto all parts of it.

I’ve been slowly taking down decorations when he’s not here. The stockings, pillows, table runners and other fabric items have been washed, folded and stacked up to be packed. Any wall decorations have been taken down when I noticed them still hanging there. Snowmen and Santas and all the other cutesy stuff I place on shelves or table tops has been gathering on a table or flat surface out of Beej’s reach, ready to be wrapped up and boxed.

When Beej arrives today he will find the biggest change so far with only the tree with lights but minus ornaments, window lights and yes, the “Christmas” aka lights in the family room being the final reminders of the holiday. I’m hoping this will satisfy him as I get him prepared for the next holiday. Valentine’s Day.

Beginning with Halloween, Beej is more aware of holidays and seasons. This causes him to be slightly resistant to changes. He mourned Halloween and protested Thanksgiving. He insisted that he did not like Thanksgiving (although he didn’t know what it was) and within a day or two, Thanksgiving was the greatest! It doesn’t fail to amuse me because around here the difference between the two holidays is that I pack away the ghosts and pull out some turkeys- everything autumn-like remains. And then in true Beej fashion, he was so attached to Thanksgiving that he incorporated the cornucopia into his play kitchen.

I’m always sad to take Christmas decorations down. For such a stressful time of year, I should be happy to see it leave. And yet, each year stirs different feelings inside. This was the first year that I had the full Christmas beyond my husband and kids. Hosting for everyone (my parents, siblings, nephews) is a big job, but this year didn’t seem as much of a trial. Everyone is in a much different place than years past and I think it speaks to the strength of family what we were able to rise above past drama and come together. Two of my children were not with us on Christmas day, which left a huge hole in my day, but we celebrated as a family a few days later and it was good.

Maybe it’s all the extra baggage that Christmas includes- tons of family face time, crowds shopping, planning parties, our own expectations, missing loved ones who are not here- that leads to a sort of let down feeling. But the truth is I’m ready to pack it up and let it go. I’m all into letting things go these days so I’m focusing my thoughts on how uncluttered my house will feel with all the Xmas trimmings gone.

It’s time for me to shake my thoughts free of jingle bells and Santas and look ahead to a full year. I have a loved one still on the road to recovery, two kids graduating from college, one applying to grad schools, a lost sheep who needs some tending, and mindfulness of my own to work on.

Oh, and if you hear the angered cry of a three year old, you’ll know that Beej has begun his boycott of Valentine’s Day!

-Kat

Yesterday Once More

“If you were offered a recording contract, what favourite song would you record and release into the singles charts?”

This is the question posed by Hugh in his post- 51 Weeks: 51 Songs From the Past: Week 38. 

In 1973 The Carpenters released “Yesterday Once More” on the B side of their Now and Then album. This song kicked off an oldies medley that included 8 cover songs from the 1960’s as part of an old time radio show. (This video is 19 minutes long- the entirety of that side. You can stop after the first song, or listen all the way through.)

2017 Kat will be stepping aside to make room for Teen Kat to step up to the microphone.

*****************

IMG_3818

Hi! It’s me, (Teen) Kat here. I’m here to sing the song that is going to skyrocket my name into the top selling hit charts of the year….. Okay, not really, at least I sure hope not! Since I first heard this album in the mid 70’s, I fell in love with the B side.

Let me set the scene for you- I’m Kat, I’m a teenager in the late 70’s. I’m here in my parents’ basement holding a microphone, preparing to record my own hit song. My ensemble consists of my favorite (skin tight) Jordache jeans, a tube top- which I have to pull up constantly because I don’t have anything to hold it up, and my platform sandals. When I’m here, safe in the basement away from prying eyes, I am transported to another time and place. As the song “Yesterday Once More” begins, I sing along with Karen Carpenter, walking around the room, pausing to lean against the piano to smile at Richard. I sing my heart out and in my head, my voice is as smooth, rich and beautiful as Karen’s.

As the last note fades away, the revving of the engine kicks off “Fun, Fun, Fun” and the radio segment of this side of the album. Here’s when the real fun begins. I’m working the stage with hips swaying, shaking everything I’ve got and even some stuff that I don’t when suddenly————————–

SCCCRREEECCHHHH!!!!!!!!!– No, that isn’t the phonograph needle skidding across the record album. It’s the sound of my mother opening the door to the basement and as fast as Woody and Buzz fall to the ground when Andy walks in unexpectedly, I crumple into a chair, my heart pounding while I catch my breath and try to look like I was doing something other than putting on the performance of my life. My mom gives me an indecipherable look and heads into the laundry room without a word, while I slink over to the phonograph to turn the volume down.

And there you have my flirtation with fame.

This is where I hand control back over to my older self and wave goodbye, exiting the stage area.

*****************

I might be re-thinking letting Teen Kat come out to play. I suspect she could really embarrass me! Anyway, Hugh asked and I responded. I’m still shaking my head at the tube top and mentally counting how many times I nearly broke my ankle in those blasted wooden sandals!

51-weeks-51-songs-from-the-past

Thanks for sharing this time with me! Have a great rest of your weekend!

-Kat

It’s Been 3 Years!

On April 1, 2014, I pressed that “Publish” button for the first time and Dandelion Fuzz was born. It wasn’t Dandelion Fuzz in the beginning- that name came pretty early on though. I have included the text of my first post below. It’s ironic that upon reading it again, I could be writing the exact same thing now, with just the slightest modifications.

When I began this blog all those years ago, and let me tell you- it feels like a lifetime ago- I had no clear idea of what I wanted this space to look like. I knew that I wanted to share my journey with my trans kid, Kris, but I had no way of knowing how many twists and turns that would take! As time went on, I shared what I hope were relevant pieces of information and my perspective as the parent of an LGBTQ kid. When I discovered challenges- especially photography challenges, this sparked an unrealized interest of mine and I began adding those posts.

At times I was very confused and uncertain of how I felt in Kris’s journey and it was at those times that I sometimes fell silent on the topic, trying to work through my feelings before sharing them.  And it was then that I occasionally shared other snapshots of my life.

In recent months, my topics have strayed more from the transgender issues as my life has been focused in another area. Although I don’t write as much about Kris, my involvement in supporting the LGBTQ community has not lessened any in my day to day life. I have mentioned, in passing, the thing that has grabbed my attention, but I remainhesitant to write about it- the matter of a loved one dealing with mental illness.

I am tossing around the idea of beginning a second blog dedicated to that issue, so as to not take away from this blog. But I’m undecided at this point.

One thing is certain- I’m so grateful to everyone who reads my posts. Although writing can be hard at times, for me pressing that “Publish” button and sharing my writing with others is even harder. I appreciate every person who takes the time to read my posts. It gives me the courage to write and put a little bit of myself out there. Although I always thought that just writing was enough, I wouldn’t be here in the blogging world without you!

And I love Dandelion Fuzz. It’s my heart.

If you are so inclined, you can read my first post below-

Image

Hello, it’s me, Kat!

This is my first post. Well, actually it’s my second if you count the one that I slaved over all morning that just disappeared when I clicked on what I thought was Preview. So, here I am- nervous, scared, a bit gun shy about sharing myself and my first post just disappears like that. Poof!

I can’t recreate it. I would drive myself crazy. So, this is my new first post. Much shorter and to the point. If you read About Me, you know that I’m a mom, wife and all that fun stuff. In my original first post I spent two paragraphs sharing a lot of stuff that I thought was important enough to include but now can’t remember. So I’m at that point- the point of no return. I need to start writing or start deleting.

Quite a few years ago, I gave birth to three healthy beautiful babies. Boy, girl, boy. That changed a few years ago when K,our teenage daughter, told us that she believed she was transgender. In basic terms, transgender is when a person identifies with a gender different than the sex they were assigned at birth. Simply put- a boy in a girl’s body. It isn’t that simple and it touched every single corner of our lives.

Parenting is very difficult. When my children were younger, I found other moms with kids the same age as mine were the greatest source of friendship and support. There’s nothing like the company of someone who knows exactly what you are going through. Being the parent of a transgender child presents challenges one cannot begin to imagine. The experience has been life changing for all five of us. I compare it to living inside a snow globe. Every time you shake a snow globe, you don’t know where that snow will land. The only certainty is that there is something slightly different every single time. Sometimes the changes are huge and other times barely noticeable. But something has changed. That has been our lives since K ‘s revelation. I feel that writing about this will help me process everything we have experienced and if I can help someone else who is on a similar journey, in even the smallest way, then it will be worth it.

Thank you for being part of my world!

-Kat

The Sound of Music

As I prepared to take my youngest son to a music retreat, I asked if he wanted to pick out some new music for the car ride. I handed him a stack of my lame CD’s, fully expecting him to hand the stack back intact. He surprised me by pulling out The Sound of Music soundtrack. He commented on how he remembers hearing the songs from the movie when he was growing up and thinking it sounded like such a happy movie.

If you are unfamiliar with the movie, (and can I just say- how is this possible? LOL) Wikipedia says it all-

The Sound of Music is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and a book by Howard Lindsayand Russel Crouse. It is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Set in Austria on the eve of the Anschluss in 1938, the musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children, and eventually their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide on a plan to flee Austria with the children. Many songs from the musical have become standards, such as “Edelweiss“, “My Favorite Things“, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain“, “Do-Re-Mi“, and the title song “The Sound of Music“.- Wikipedia

Listening to the CD as we drove brought back so many childhood memories for me. I grew up without cable tv (which we would get in 1981) and people were still deciding whether to get a their tapes on VHS or Betamax for their brand new VCR’s (which was still not until the later 70’s) so without the internet, Netflix, DVD’s, On Demand, Cable….. (the list goes on and on), our only opportunity to see our favorite movies was in theaters or when they finally aired on television. Like my other favorites- The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, my siblings and I had to wait for the annual showing to get our Sound of Music fix.

Before the movie began my siblings and I would gather up our pillows and blankets and bicker over who got the prime spots of laying on the ground in front of the television, which was probably quite small by today’s standards. My mom had this special garlic dip she would whip up, consisting of cream cheese, garlic salt and milk. She would divide it into 4 separate small (empty) butter containers so we could each have our own. Back then potato chips came in a box- 2 bags to a box. Now, these weren’t just any bags- they were made of some wax-like material which my dad just could not open. No matter how hard he tried, he ended up ripping the bag, practically in half, resulting in chips flying all over the place. We each got our own bag of chips and it was up to us to ask Dad or open them ourselves. (I opted for stabbing at the bag with a sharp knife trying to puncture it to gain a hole as a starting part for opening it. Sure, scissors would have been safer but where’s the fun in that?) We would already be in our pj’s because the movie was 3 hours long, and that was without commercials. We got to stay up late to watch it, if we were able to stay awake until the end.

And at long last, it would begin- Maria singing that the hills were alive….

We loved this movie so much. Some years we stayed awake until the end but mostly we didn’t. This was evident when I sat down to watch it with my own children and had to look up how long it was when it seemed to be going on much longer than I remembered. Sure enough, the last half hour was just a vague memory, hardly even remembered by me.

And then came the real fun.

We would spend weeks afterward listening to the record and acting out the movie. We took turns playing Fraulein Maria and the eldest daughter, Liesl. Well, my one sister and I did. We made my youngest sister be the youngest daughter, Gretl. We all glided around with towels on our heads portraying the nuns in the Abbey, trying to solve a problem like Maria. We took turns being Maria and the children singing Do-Re-Mi. We jumped from coach to chair and back again singing My Favorite Things. One of our favorite parts was re-enacting So Long, Farewell. We loved lining up, with each one of us popping out to say “cuckoo” and we were tickled when the audience sang “Goodbye” back to the children. And at the end, we trudged around the basement as we sang our hearts out and climbed every mountain. 

There were so many times during that ride that I wanted to turn off the CD player and share yet another story from my childhood but Andrew has heard them all before. And as I felt the urge to share this here, I started having second thoughts about writing it when which song should happen to play while my music was on shuffle? Edelweiss. That was my sign and so here we are.

I’ll leave you with my favorite children singing-

Are there any movies that take you back to childhood at the opening scene? What are they?

Thanks for sharing this time with me!

-Kat

Y is for “Yesterday Once More”

Blogging From A to Z Challenge: Y

Yesterday Once More– The Carpenters- 1973

“When I was young I’d listen to the radio waiting for my favorite songs…”

IMG_3818

I still have my original album and CD. 🙂

I didn’t have to look far to find my original album and CD. The CD was close by, along with Purple Rain, Grease, and a stack of other old favorites.

Even when I was young listening to the radio, I knew. Music was that much a part of my life that I just knew that this song about other songs was the real deal. I knew that there would be songs that I would always associate with certain peoples, places or events for the rest of my life. I was right. As I’ve worked my way through the alphabet with the A to Z Challenge, I’ve time traveled through my life, hopping back and sometimes way back, to revisit so many songs that have touched my life.

 

I remember laying on my bed, listening to this album over and over again. I loved the sound of Karen’s voice and how beautifully it blended with Richard’s. The first version of Ticket to Ride that I heard was the Carpenters’ so it took me awhile to get used to the Beatles’ faster version.

I cried when I heard that she had died. Knowing a girl in my class who struggled with an eating disorder, Karen’s death hit close to home. Little did I know that Karen Carpenter would be the first of many incredibly talented people whose lives would end much too early.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Kat

A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvib