I can’t remember a time when there weren’t toys around the house. I know that there were years between my kids outgrowing their toys and the next generation slowly infiltrating our home with theirs but it just seems natural to find toys here and there. I consider them mementos of the little boys who occupy so much of my time these days.
One of my favorite traditions is decorating the Christmas tree. Over the years my children and husband have been part of that tradition, sometimes more involved, sometimes not. Okay, so my husband sets up the tree and puts on the lights and he considers his job done. Since the big kids began college and aren’t home until days before the holiday, that leaves me and the little kids to do the job.
As you can imagine, young children and Christmas trees get along almost as well as Christmas trees and cats! Over the years we have adapted our decorating to accommodate the younger members of our family. For the most part, our tree and ornaments have survived. That is, until four year old Beej was old enough to reach the tree.
My mother recently asked me how my tree managed to survive all these years and children until now. I told her that none of those kids were little Beej!
Within an hour of the lights being added to the tree, Beej decided that they needed some minor tweaks. Somehow he ended up wrapped up in the lights himself! I’m sure he couldn’t resist the magical feeling of being surrounded by twinkling lights!
He meticulously placed each ornament so I have to believe that there is some secret four year olds logic to the large number of ornaments hung facing the tree. Maybe there’s something special hiding in the center of the tree? And the big gaping holes where there are no ornaments? Are those branches in trouble? Did they do something to offend Beej? When I point them out, he pointedly ignores the huge empty spots and places a second or third ornament on a nearby occupied branch.
Other ornaments do not receive the honor of making it on to the tree. Or maybe they hold another special distinction because I never know where I’m going to find them!
Poor Bert looks very lost and confused about he how ended up on the kitchen counter. And this sweet little Muppet found herself abandoned on the chair with an arm broken when Beej fumbled while trying to see if she could stand on her own.
It did not take me long to realize that I had two options- 1. Spend the entire holiday season being the Christmas tree police, or 2. Decorate the tree with unbreakable ornaments and pack away the precious heirlooms.
Knowing how easy it is to make an indelible memory in the mind of four year old, I chose option 2. I would rather have Beej (and any other grandkids to come) remember that I let them truly enjoy the tree, than have my nagging voice ringing through his head for the rest of his life! Thank goodness Target seems to carry an endless selection of $3 kid-friendly ornaments!
And on the plus side, just imagine how precious those older ornaments are going to be to us when we pull them out in a few years, after having them safely tucked away!
Two weeks ago I could tell you what was happening every day from that point on until today. I might have had to pause to remember which family members would be working or in this state or traveling, but I had it all figured out. Other than feeling a little tired in anticipation of the jam-packed two weeks, I was ready.
I’m not sure when things began to unravel, but unravel they did. The days got away from me and I felt like I was always behind, trying to keep up. I held on to some strands longer than others. I was able to keep up with my writing until last Wednesday when I slipped down the side of the mountain and now that I’m nearly at the bottom and the Friday deadline is looming, I’m not quite sure how this will play out. Oddly enough, other than total exhaustion on Thanksgiving day and a volatile three year old who spent the day sharing his many mood swings smack dab in the middle of the kitchen during food prep, the meal was prepared, edible, and somewhat on time. We are wrapping up a busy two weeks and preparing to pick up the pieces of everyday life until the next holiday hits!
I am thankful, grateful, and blessed for-
Celebrating our youngest family member’s birthday as only a preschooler can!
The pictures might be slightly blurry with wonky colors, but the memories are sharp and in focus.
Ari loves her kids, both big and small. She continues to be a conscientious caretaker, when she wants to be. And no one is more committed to ending horseplay or encouraging horseplay than she is and she will let us know it. In so many ways she is still the energetic loving pup she was when she first came to us over eight years ago. But she is getting older, as much as she refuses to admit it. Who of us wants to admit to getting older, right? In dog years she is older than I am so she must be feeling some aches and pains from time to time, especially trying to keep up with two energetic boys!
But if the truth be told, Ari’s favorite state of mind is snoozing while she basks in the sun. She especially searches out those sun spots as days get cooler. And once she has located a cozy place in the sun, it’s only a matter of time before she drifts off to sleep.
Located a half hour south of Chicago, Bachelors Grove Cemetery is rumored to be one of the most haunted places in the Midwest. I have visited it over the years, the last time being two weeks ago. This is when I took these photos.
I have only visited during daylight hours and this is for only one reason. I’m a chicken. While I believe in spirits, ghosts, and other beings, I don’t mess with them. I respect their right to exist peacefully among us.
This abandoned cemetery is connected to many supposed ghostly sightings and occurrences. I have not experienced anything exceptional although for the first time during any visit, I suddenly became overcome with nausea and had to cut my last photo session short. I cannot explain what happened but it upset me more than I want to admit. I tried to ignore the feeling of my stomach churning and the need to leave that place now. It wasn’t until I was safely across the street- wouldn’t it have been a shame if I was so rattled that I got hit by a car??- that I felt myself breath easier.
If you were to stumble upon this small graveyard, you would find it to be peaceful and serene. Although it is directly off a busy street, the moment you start walking down the closed road that leads to the entrance, all outside sounds fade away. There is little to no sign of wildlife, with the exception of a random chipmunk or a few brave birds.
One of the biggest draws is the Fulton grave. While from the front it simply appears to be an ornate and well-made headstone, you will be surprised to find the smaller “Infant Daughter” marker decorated with offerings less than a foot behind it. Her gifts range from everything from stuffed animals and dolls, to trinkets to cars and gum.
The last known burial was possibly 30 years ago, although it is difficult to find a firm answer. Some of the deceased were moved to other cemeteries and it is unknown how many are still buried there. Headstones have gone missing, have moved and have turned up in different locations. Some of this is the result of the desecration that occurred over the years and some is believed to be the work of the spirits who have been disturbed by people.
Among the stories circulating, the most popular are the sightings of a lady who is sometimes seen carrying an infant, a horse and cart with driver who go straight into the pond, growling dogs, floating orbs, and a house that appears and disappears. These claims are made by multiple unrelated sources spanning many years.
Another unproven theory for the presence of so much paranormal activity is that the pond, located directly outside the cemetery, was the dumping ground of bodies for Al Capone, Chicagoland mob boss. The pond has never been searched to confirm the presence of bodies or missing headstones.
Seven years ago, this cemetery played a major role in my NaNoWriMo novel, and after my recent visit it looks like it’s back with a new cast of characters. I find it ironic that being who I am, the person who does not like being scared, is not fond of Halloween, refuses to enter haunted houses or watch horror movies, that I am drawn to this creepy place and inspired to include it in another novel. This will require a bit of bravery on my part because I’m worried about that nausea incident last time. But to keep the feel of the cemetery in my head, especially when I get to the more emotional scenes that take place there, it will require periodic visits. (During daytime, of course! It’s actually against the law to enter the cemetery after dark, the property being part of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.)