One Last Surprise

As Christmas quickly approaches, it is the perfect time for a favorite holiday memory blog hop hosted by Janie Junebug and Cherdo on the Flipside!  I confess, I didn’t even start to ponder this until the last minute, but as I thought about it, I don’t think I can come up with a better memory than one I posted a couple of years ago on my old blog.  If you’ve read it before, I apologize, but if not, I hope you enjoy it:


My dad was a master present-giver.  Every year, without fail, there was always a bounty of presents under our painstakingly-decorated tree.  No matter what else was happening, no matter how poor we were, and we were definitely poor at times, he always found a way to Santa-tize our house.

On the really special years, his signature move came after all the presents under the tree had been opened.  He would sit there, looking dissatisfied, until we asked him what was wrong.  He would reply that it seemed like something was missing.  Then, sly grin on his face, he would reach into a hidden spot, saying, “it looks like there’s one more.”  And then he would pull out an amazing, surprise present for each of us.

The Christmas after he died?  He managed to do it one last time.

He passed in November that year and I was still living with my step-mom when Christmas rolled around.  We hadn’t put up a tree or decorated and didn’t really plan to do much celebrating.  It was hard to have holiday spirit when the one who carried the Christmas torch was missing.

We each had bought a present for the other and sat down in our bare living room to open them.   After I appreciated my new purse and she her new sweater, my step-mom said, “‘Wait, there’s one more.”  She reached behind the end table, and pulled out a small box.

“This is from your dad,” she said.

I stared at her, about to ask how that could be, when she continued, “He ordered it for you before he died.”

Instantly tearful, I took the box from her, and opened it.  Inside was a bracelet to match the necklace my dad had given to me for my birthday that year.



From a jewelry line based on the “Footprints in the Sand” poem, it had a little heart with small footprints walking through the center.   All I could think of as I gazed at the bracelet was the last line of the poem:

“…My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

My dad had died unexpectedly from a heart attack, so he hadn’t bought it knowing how meaningful it would end up being to me.  He had just been doing what he loved to do…buying me a special present.  Even through my tears, I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined my dad sitting there with us, smirking in satisfaction at pulling off that last, surprise Christmas gift.


Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!


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Painting the Poochie

Have you heard of Painting With a Twist?  Is that a thing outside of Michigan?  If you haven’t heard of it, it is basically an art studio where you can go and learn how to paint a painting.  The best part is it’s for anyone with any (or no) level of skill.

In their traditional class, everyone in the class paints the same picture.  The instructor tells you paint stroke by paint stroke what to do.  I have had friends that have done it and their paintings have all come out great!

I had been meaning to give it a try when a friend of mind asked if I wanted to do their pet painting class. I immediately said yes, which won’t surprise you if you have any clue how crazy I am about my dog.  Paint my puppy’s portrait so I can hang my punkin on the wall?  Yes, please!

The only problem is, once I agreed and we signed up, I started to get a little nervous.  I had never actually painted a painting before and I hadn’t taken one of their regular classes…how in the world was I going to pull off an elaborate painting of my dog?

For the pet painting class, you send in a picture of your pet ahead of time, they sketch it out on canvas for you and then it’s up to you to paint it.  They give the entire class basic instruction and come around to help individually, but because everyone is painting a different picture, it is more of a challenge than their normal classes.

Nerves aside, I was really looking forward to some art therapy that night as I was a bit out of sorts from a not so happy day.  But my mood instantly improved when I walked in and saw my prepped canvas.  Their sketch from my picture looked so good!


Kodi sketch

Aw, there’s my baby!


The instructor told us the first step was to do the background color.  I started blending something kind of teal-ish and off I went, surprisingly easily.  I realized later that this part of the painting process falsely led me to believe that this whole portrait painting business wasn’t going to be so hard after all…


kodi sketch background


The next step was to do the ‘medium’ colors.  They explained some brush stroke techniques, which I promptly forgot and I started smooshing medium colors onto the canvas.  I was really worried about losing the lines, but ‘fear not,’ my instructor said, so on I painted.


Kodi medium colors


The next two steps were the dark colors and the finishing touches like the nose and eyes. There are no pictures from this stage…because holy heck!  It was hard!!  I could not focus on picture-taking when Kodi’s nose looked like a big blob of brownie batter and I was afraid to even start the eyes.  Thank goodness one of the instructors came by and saw my pleading face.  He swooped in, helped me paint the nose (read: he painted the nose) and gave me some tips for the eyes.


painting class2

Teach teachin’


I posted some pics on my Facebook page and I think a few people thought I was using false modesty when I said I really struggled.  I swear, I’m pleased with how the painting turned out, but I also know how much I struggled.  Happily, though, with the help of the instructors, I was able to come away with something I’m not ashamed to hang on my wall.


finished painting at class

There he is, sassy glint in his eye and all 🙂


Now whether Kodi is ashamed for this to hang on my wall, is anyone’s guess.  Or not…I’m thinking it’s not hard to guess…


kodi with his painting

That look on his face does NOT say ‘way to go mom.’



If you don’t know already, I’m 44.  This is not old-old, but it’s not young and springy fresh, either.  By this time in my life, I had thought I had long passed the call of duty of being a bridesmaid, but, if not that, then at least, at least, I never imagined I would have to wear a bridesmaid’s dress again.

Until I got the text a couple of week’s ago.

My oldest friend, Jordan, who I’ve known since 5th grade, asked another friend and me (we’ve all three been friends since high school) to be her bridesmaids in her wedding.

Okay, I thought, that’s really sweet and an honor, and the best part was I knew I wouldn’t have to wear a bridesmaid’s dress, because we had had this discussion on multiple occasions.  We were way past that stuff.  Maybe a color scheme, definitely a pretty dress, but no official bridesmaid’s gown.  Yay!

Until that text.  The text where my friend turned on me and Pam and asked if we were free to go bridesmaid’s dress shopping the Saturday after thanksgiving.

Wait, what?  Bridesmaid’s dress shopping?  We are going to be wearing bridesmaids dresses?  But, but, we agreed!  We said no bridesmaid’s dresses!  But…  Noooo!

But what could I do?  Of course I just had to say yes.  Of course I couldn’t complain.  I had to suck it up and deal with the fact that I was gonna look like an aging prom queen.  Sigh.

So when Jordan texted to confirm early in the week, I answered with a less-than-enthusiastic, ‘Sure, no problem, whatever you want, blobbety blobbety blah.’  Our friend Pam did likewise.

But then, the most wonderful thing!  A reprieve!  Jordan shared with us that the dress shopping was going to be for her bridal gown.  Woo hoo!  Now that was something I could get excited about, so I texted back enthusiastically, ‘Oh, yay, that will be so fun!  I am so excited to help you choose a dress!…yay, excitement, girl shriek, yay!’

Apparently it was obvious to Jordan that my friend Pam and I were a teeny tiny bit happy about this fortuitous turn of events when she responded to our over-the-top texts:

jordan text

Of course, this hasn’t gotten me out of wearing a bridesmaid’s dress, but I will take a reprieve when I can get it.  I’m definitely not a just-get-it-over-with kind of person.  If I can delay the inevitable, I will delay that sucker for as long as possible.

But in the meantime, we had so much fun.  I am a romantic, so watching her try on beautiful, feminine dresses made my heart happy and my eyes teary.


Wedding gowns

She tried on lots of pretties!


wedding gown from rear

She has a great booty, doesn’t she?


I imagine in a couple of months, you’ll hear me crabbing about bridesmaids dresses again, but for now I’m good. For one thing, she promised she won’t make us wear something ugly (but I’ve heard that one before…)  Plus, helping your oldest friend to choose a wedding gown kind of softens you up a bit.

And she did find one!  I can’t put up the pic here, but trust me, it is completely gorgeous.  Like she will be.  Aw 🙂