Love, In Focus

For a good part of this past year I’ve been grumbling that I need reading glasses, and not actually doing anything about it. It usually slips my mind until the kids’ bedtime, when I read a chapter aloud from the Bible and find myself holding the book at arm’s length to focus on the tiny words. Or when I’m trying to read the microscopic list of ingredients on some container. It’s typical middle-age presbyopia; there’s no problem unless I’m trying to read fine print. Anyway, for some reason I just kept whinging about needing the glasses and never got around to buying them.

Guess what I found in my stocking on Christmas morning?

Elizabeth bought them for me. With her own money.

And to appreciate the significance of that, you have to understand that my sweet girl is, let us say, Not A Financially Generous Person. To my knowledge she has never spent her own personal money on anyone but herself before. This is a kid who can spot a penny on the ground fifty feet away, and will stop what she’s doing to go and pick it up. A kid who loves the annual Christmas Gift Shop at her school because it offers lots of inexpensive shinies for her to buy — for herself. True story: last year both kids ended up getting a lot of cash for Christmas from various relatives. We went on a shopping trip and Elizabeth had soon frittered away all her money on useless shiny objects. Luke, who had received everything he’d asked for for Christmas, came home without spending a dime; he just hadn’t seen anything that he wanted. And within a few days Elizabeth had wheedled him into spending all of HIS Christmas money on stuff for HER via

Another true story: last week when we went to Riverside, I was feeling very budget-conscious because of all the money I’d spent on Christmas, so I packed a lunch for us to eat at the park and I told everyone to eat a good breakfast because I didn’t want to end up having to buy any food in the pricey Mission Inn area. Apparently both kids were having an off morning, because Luke neglected to eat any breakfast at all and Elizabeth neglected to put our lunch into the car (the one task I’d assigned to her). I was pretty exasperated when I found out, and not just with them. I realized that I’d fallen into a pattern of picking up the slack in these kinds of situations, rescuing Luke and Elizabeth from the consequences of their carelessness, smoothing things over, so they’d had no motivation to improve. Even then my impulse was to say, “It’s okay, we can get lunch at that sandwich place near the Inn.” Which we could, but that place is freaking expensive like all the other places to get decent food near the Inn, and I really and truly could not afford to drop thirty dollars on lunch that day. So what I said was, “We can go to that sandwich place near the Inn, and anyone who wants to eat can pay for their own food.” They both had this year’s Christmas money, so I don’t think I was being unreasonable. I paid for my lunch, Luke paid for his lunch, and Elizabeth….

Well, Elizabeth bought herself a cookie, because she could not bear the thought of spending her precious dollars on anything as mundane and transitory as food. (She had the last laugh though, because Luke’s lunch was too big for him to finish. She helpfully polished it off for him.)

This is not a girl who is lavishly charitable with her money, is what I’m saying.

But she went into an actual grownup store and spent a fair chunk of her beloved lucre on a lovely pair of reading glasses for me, so that I would have something in my stocking on Christmas morning. (And probably also so she wouldn’t have to keep listening to me grumbling about needing them, but still.)

This is one of the things I like best about Christmas: the way it inspires people to show their love in ways they normally might not. The happy surprises.

Happy Love Thursday, All. Here’s to the moments that help us see our loved ones…a little more clearly.

Categories: Christmas, Family, frugality, Humor, kids, Life, Love, Love Thursday | 4 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Dark Wings, Bright Lights And A Spigotcicle

Categories: Animals, Christmas, environment, Horses, Life, Weather, Wildlife, Winter, Wordless Wednesday | Leave a comment

I Don’t Know What Griffless Means, But I Think It’s My New Favorite Word

Our pre-Christmas trip to Riverside got rained out, so we went this week instead, during a brief sunny lull between storms.

As always, our first stop was Mt. Rubidoux. We usually walk up the down road, which is steeper but shorter, but this time we decided to use the up road. So we got to see some new stuff that even I hadn’t known (or remembered) was there.

I LOVE this:

Espio came with us, of course.

We’d planned to go to Fairmount Park afterward, but I’d assigned Elizabeth the task of putting our picnic food into the car and somehow she forgot. So by the time we finished climbing up and down the mountain we were all too hungry and thirsty for parks and we decided to go get some lunch at a little soup-and-sandwich bistro near the Mission Inn.

And since we were already there, we ended up browsing through the marketplace in all those gorgeous, expensive little shops that make me want to recklessly spend money so that my house can be full of beautiful, useless things. But Christmas took all my pennies this year and we made it through the gauntlet completely thingless.

Remember back in February when I blew my “Year Without Stuff” resolution on that package of tiny plastic flying monkeys? Well, this time in that very same store I found a totally WTF line of…I guess they were action figures. They had to be marketed for adults, because what kind of action is a kid going to get with this guy:

This one was the squidgiest:

Glow-in-the-dark hands. I have no words.

After that we went to the Natural History Museum across the street, where Luke made me get photos of every. Single. Piece. Of antique machinery and gadgets from Ye Olde Southern California. From every angle. I will not share them with you here, Dear Internet. Believe me when I tell you that you are missing nothing.

By the time we left the museum it was getting dark. The halls of the Mission Inn were decked most splendidly for the holidays, so we walked around and admired the lights for a while.

And then it was too dark for Fairmount Park, so we headed home.

Visiting Riverside always fills my head with grand visions of what my property could look like with a little time and effort and money. Stone walls and hillside staircases and flagstoned walkways and cool splashing fountains. Bright flowering vines trailing out of enormous sculpted planters. A glass solarium along the south-facing wall of my house, shaded with (griffless?) leaves in summer and sun-warmed in winter. Trips to Riverside are part recreation, part inspiration, and the tiniest nibble of frustrated discontent with my lack of funds.

Luckily the discontent never lasts for long once I’m back home. There’s always plenty to keep me busy here, always a project or two that doesn’t cost money, just time and effort. My little homestead looks a lot different now than it did when we first moved in; for the most part I’m okay with my slow but steady progress.

Is today Thursday? I’d planned to write a Love Thursday post about the gifts my kids and I gave each other this Christmas, but I guess that can wait another week. This one could sorta be a Love Thursday post, if you tilt your head and squint a little. I think it’s about sharing big dreams and small outings with your favorite people. Or maybe it’s about making the world a more beautiful place, one tiny project at a time? Anyway, happy Love Thursday, All. Do something beautiful today!

Categories: Christmas, Family, Gardening, Humor, kids, Life, Love Thursday, Weather | Leave a comment

Wordless Wednesday: Season of Light

Categories: Christmas, Life, Wordless Wednesday | 4 Comments

My Faith In Humanity Just Got A Much-Needed Lift.

Yesterday I posted a rather long rant about how people are digging America’s grave by handing over their last vestiges of financial security to the very mega-corporations that are bleeding this country dry. Also there was some grousing about how we’re teaching our children that acquiring More Stuff should be their top priority in life, instead of showing them the value of family and friends and true community.

While I stand by everything I said in that post, I have to confess that today’s post from the Bloggess made me tear up a little and reminded me that love, family and community can take many forms.

This is something I needed to read today. Give yourself the gift of Christmas cheer and check it out.

Categories: Christmas, Family, Friends, Life, Love | Leave a comment

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