Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Annual Not Christan At Christmas Post

I am feeling a bit battered this week: my husband is out of town, my schedule is in a tailspin, and I am pretty sure I am out of clean clothes.  Despite this fact I am still hanging in there getting things done. I am sure by the end of the week I will have achieved some sort of equilibrium.   

I am decking my halls, and buying my gifts.  I did make a list and checked it four times and still forgot something somewhere.  I am sure my lack of decisions will be an issue on the night before the big dinner.  

On a good year it takes some big motivation to get my “Christmas mojo” going.  Not being Christian, I find some of the trappings do elude me.  However, I seem to get it together somehow.  This year I seem to be dealing with a bit of depression and, worse still, a huge dose of apathy.

Still, I do like to make the dinner for my family and kids.  I put up the tree to remind me that the sun is returning. Soon the days will get longer and we will have more light.  I burn a yule log in my hearth and enjoy the fact that I can pull it now off my own property.

My family is accepting of my rituals and rites, odd though they may be.  My husband is a trooper and even helps me.  I am a happy Pagan with a family I love and friends who accept me the way I am.  

So, I embrace a little Christmas for them and they are learning to embrace the Solstice traditions that I add to their celebration.  I still do my rituals on the proper day, but bringing some of my celebrations to theirs really has made this a less stressful time for me.  It helps me stay grounded.  

I am blessed by the Goddess with family and friends.  Doubly so for my amazing husband who stands at my side. Together we make a team that is darn near unstoppable. I am still learning each year to embrace my beliefs to own my path.

To each of you and yours… Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, a blessed Winter Solstice, Happy Holidays or just good day to you.  Enjoy each day, for you can only live it once.

Bright Blessings
Heather Garcia.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Community-a word that evokes happy gatherings of people at parks or working together to clean up the town.  When we moved, over a year ago, my husband quickly became a volunteer firefighter. We helped with fundraisers and such.  It is great to be a member of a community.  I have always lived in big cities and this has never been an option for me.

What I have learned is that some communities are more accepting than others to new blood.  My hyper-local community accepted us with open arms, whereas, an attempt to get involved in a larger area made me feel like an outcast. Not to say everyone was closed off, but there is an obvious close-knit clique who aren’t as friendly. I am assuming you have to be born into it or give blood to join. That’s fine. I met some nice people and will stick with that. 

It’s amazing to me that one would not want to embrace new people who are coming in: offering to lighten your load, wanting to help and being fresh and full of ideas and energy.  Letting them take up the mantle for a bit would make life easier and make the work lighter for all.

That said, I will take it for what it has been: a learning experience. Any lesson in life is worth learning even if it is seeing what some people think the meaning of community really is!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Biltmore (Mom's bucket list trip)

My mom was asked to attend an event in Charlotte NC, as a “reward” for attending the event she wanted to go to the Biltmore in Asheville.  So on Saturday afternoon after our event we packed up the car and headed to Asheville.  The drive was so stunningly beautiful I know my words or images can’t do it justice. (Mostly because the images are from my cell phone)

We got up early on Sunday and drove the 10 minutes to the gate.  Everyone was very nice and directed us to a parking lot to take the shuttle to the house.  The road was winding and beautiful.  Fall in Asheville is just spectacular.  The vibrate colors are beyond anything I had seen before. The shuttle driver did a little spiel about the little bachelor cabin Mr Vanderbilt built.  The kind driver talked about how the new Mrs Vanderbilt must have felt riding in the carriage up to the house for the first time.  We were not disappointed.  The sight took our breath away.  

We decided to tour the house first.  If you have not been and decide to go please get the audio tour. It has so much information and you are not stuck reading the guide.  You want to be looking around the whole time.

As you start the tour each room is better than the last.  There is staff everywhere to assist with questions, they all seemed to love their jobs and they all were full of information.  The up close views of the textiles and wall coverings are amazing.  I think I could walk it ten more times and see something new during each one.  I could not get over the kitchen, the copper pots and pans are original. As in everything all good things come to an end and before we knew it we were done with the tour and it was time to go tour the gardens.

At this point I was glad I choose my walking shoes for this adventure.  The gardens are large and numerous. The mums were in bloom and their were so many beautiful colors. The rose garden was at the end of blooming but still had some beautiful flowers.  The shrub garden was so cool.   But I have to admit my favorite was the hot house.  The tropical plants are so calming and beautiful.  

As we walked back to the house we decided to do some shopping then head back to the car so we could drive to the winery.  She shops are nice and again I was impressed by the friendly staff… These people love their jobs.  It makes visiting there so much fun.

The drive to the Biltmore Winery was beautiful. The winery tour is included in your ticket price and there is a free tasting at the end.  It’s a self guided tour and it was fun if you enjoy wine.  We also hit Antler village.  There was a film to watch that was great about the history of the home and land.   We met the master woodworker who was chatty and helpful.   There is a playground for kids to burn some energy if all the walking does not do it for you.  I suggest hitting the creamery and getting a waffle cone of Biltmore Vanilla… It was yummy.

The day was over and it was time to head back to the hotel.  Our feet hurt, but we both left with a smile.  It was early to bed as we had a long drive back to reality but I have to tell you it was an adventure of a lifetime.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

NC Lupus Summit 2015

A phone call from my mom asking me to go with her to Charlotte, NC started an adventure.  We took off on Friday and drove the three hours to the hotel.  My mom had been asked to be a panelist for the Lupus Summit.  She would talk about her experiences in Lupus clinical trials.  My mom has been involved in trials for close to 15 years.  She believes her involvement now will help her kids, grandkids and beyond.  

We had no idea what to expect.  We were informed that mom had to show up before registration to film a one on one interview.  After registration we were off to listen to an amazing keynote speaker. After that, her panel, lunch and a class in communication.  A full day for sure.

For the two of us being such homebodies, we did well.  I got mom all dressed up, did her hair and make-up, and got myself ready.  Mom was terrified of the filming, and even more about the panel.  We were downstairs early and they did her interview early.  At least that was out of the way.  

So after a quick trip to McDonald's for coffee, we sat down to listen to the opening of the summit.  The NC president of the Lupus Foundation had some lovely words to say, but the key note speaker stole the show. The theme “Aim High” was taken from her CD.  Shanelle Gabriel proceeded to tell her story of how she came to her diagnosis. As we all nodded and smiled at the familiar themes, It was comforting to see I was not alone, but I have to admit a bit of sadness knowing all of the people were touched in some way by this autoimmune nightmare.   

She performed her song “Aim High” and I saw a room full of people, no matter race, creed or gender, feel her pain.  I was moved and of course I cried. This is a strong woman who is not letting her diagnosis stop her from living and is sharing with the world what Lupus is.  As an artist and an advocate she is an amazing woman.

Mom and I headed to the clinical trial panel and the room was packed.  It was standing room only.  There was a camera there to film this event. It will be used to help inform people who are thinking about clinical trials.  The experience of the three panelists will be used to educate, inform and support.  I am so proud my mom was a part of this.  

We got to meet some amazing people, hear some incredible stories and learn we are not alone. My mom and I learned a lot of new information.  We talked to people who have similar stories, some who have taken a different path, and even more who have managed to hold on to hope no matter how bad a flare is.  

In the end I am glad we went.  I was excited to hear that next year this will probably be held here in the Raleigh area.  I am actually looking forward to attending again.  This was an amazing experience.  One I am so glad I was able to have.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Row Row Row Your Boat

Grey.  That is the best way to describe the recent weather.  Oh and wet.  Grey, wet and humid.  I am beginning to think that bright orb in the sky will never return. An entire weekend of plans have been scrapped and suddenly I am left at odds.  

I enjoy weather and I love a good storm but there is a limit to my enjoyment of rain.  I think I have now found it. I don’t remember when we had our last sunny day.  My indoor plants are crying for some sun.  

My poor indoor/outdoor cats are climbing the walls, they miss their time outside.  Hell even my son and I (both lovers of the indoors) miss the ability to go outside and enjoy the fall.  80 and humid is not fall weather.  It’s just not.  Where are my crisp fall days?  Where are my chilly fall evenings?  I am sure they are somewhere.  Just not here.

Today is at least cooler.  I think it might call for a pot of chili to celebrate.  Today I will clean up the house so I can be ready to be gone all day tomorrow.  First I think I need another cup of coffee.

Monday, September 28, 2015

I Will Learn

I Will Learn...Someday

I am a grown woman and I know my limits. HA! Let's be real. I am a walking mess.

I have good days and bad days. On my good days I over do it… ALL THE TIME. It’s not like I don’t know I will pay for it.  It is more like I know I need to get it done “while the sun shines.” On a good day I try to do too much because I know it will not last long. Then I need to spend a week recovering.

I don’t know who I am trying to impress.  Except maybe to prove to myself that I can still do the things I need to do. Or maybe to make my husband proud? That can’t be right. I know he loves me, chronic pain or not.  So who knows why I feel the need to over do it when I know I will pay for it later.

That said, I usually feel accomplished on those days. It is a self-reinforcing problem. I push push push, over do and then crash. I am working on setting limits and doing things in small doses. This is so I can accomplish stuff more often and not just on good days.  

I know I am not alone; there are many who suffer from chronic pain have the same problems and deal with this never ending cycle.  I just wonder sometimes if there is some key to beat it that I don’t understand. Just maybe I will learn, someday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It’s not a competition

We all are parents.  We all love our kids.  We all think our kids are the best kids ever.  So why do we make everything a competition?  From “my kid is smarter”, to “my kid is more active.”  Instead of building each other up, we tear each other down.

We all have faults and so do our children.  There are ways we can help each other and teach each other if only we could get down from our high tower and admit we need some advice.  I have recently been blessed to find some very amazing women who have taught me so much. Women who are real about their lives.  Women who don’t put on airs on Facebook about how fantastic their lives are.

I have been guilty of putting on a “show” for Facebook.  We all want to present our best and that is not always easy.  So we post the happy, and sit in despair, thinking we are alone with our imperfect lives.  

Maybe if we spent more time talking in person we would learn that sharing our lives with the real people, not the social media persona, is how to make real connections.  It’s how to make long term friendships.  Not to discount the connections I have made via social media, but there is something about being able to sit face to face for a discussion, or get a real hug when you need it.

I believe the age of social media has made parenthood a competition: who can post the nicest dinner, have the most friends, be in the most groups, and who can brag the most about every little accomplishment without really ever making any personal connections. In the end we feel isolated.  So put down the phone, walk away from the computer and tablet.  Go to the park and play with your kids.  Meet some people for coffee. Take time to enjoy the real life outside the internet.
Have a great day,

Monday, September 14, 2015

Out of the Club

I feel like I am going to get thrown out of a club or something. I feel like if I say “it” out loud, or put “it” in print, there will be serious repercussions. Who says I don’t live dangerously?

I do not like pumpkin coffee.

There, I said it. Now we wait and see. Will I get thrown out of the club?

Now, that is not to say I do not like a good slice of pumpkin bread, or even a good pumpkin muffin or a slice of pie. I do enjoy all of those things in moderation. I mean, I make a pretty good pumpkin pie with real whipped cream for the top, so what’s not to like?

That said, I will go ahead and say I also don’t wear yoga pants. I am pretty sure I don’t even own any- nor furry boots, nor puffy vests. Guess I have always walked to the beat of my own drummer. Who would want to add a puffy vest to an overweight middle aged woman anyway? Not I.

I do love fall, and enjoy days where I have to put on a sweater and where it is cool enough to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea or coffee. I love when it is cool enough to bake and the oven helps heat the house. I am blessed to watch the trees on our property change to a dazzling display of color.  Seeing the fall garden growing and harvesting our crops really increase my enjoyment of this season.

Yes, I love fall, but I will pass on the pumpkin spice latte.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Overscheduled and Out of Spoons

I woke up and looked around my house. It looks like I have let it go again.  Time to down some coffee and make it presentable.  I have had, and will continue to have, a busy few weeks, so I need to get off my butt and get this house in shape.  I really can’t function with a mess around me.  It clutters my mind.

Why is it that stuff multiplies on every flat surface in my life?  It seems, when I clean it off, the next day it is full again.  In my next life I will not have cats; too much cat hair to sweep up (okay stop laughing)!  Someday, we will only use paper plates so I can keep up with the dishes.  How do people keep up with all of this?

I know I will tackle it and win for a day or two and then, a week later, I will wonder what happened again.  Guess I was not meant to live in a showroom-clean home.  At least I don’t have company very often.

My “do a little,sit a little” style keeps me moving and get’s things done. But some days, I feel I am losing the battle.  So more coffee and grab the broom.  Where did I put that duster? Things are getting done here at Casa G today come hell or high water.  Just one more cup of coffee.

Monday, August 31, 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

The wind has changed. The weather is turning cooler. The leaves are starting to change color. Everything seems to be changing.  The days are getting shorter and the time change is almost upon us.  Soon we will not be working in the garden after dinner, and it will be time to break out the fire wood.

Anyone who has known me for anytime at all knows I am a fan of fall.  I love how the leaves change color; I love the cooler temps and the warm nights by the fire.   Having a reason to wear my sweaters and my fuzzy jammie pants are all things that make me a happy gal.

Now with the cooler temps comes fall co-op and my son’s birthday. How can it be that he will be 14 this November 1st.  It could not have been that long. Time is passing so fast.  I want to freeze this moment in time and enjoy it.  Starting “9th” grade is such an accomplishment.  I love seeing the spark stir into a fire when he is working out a difficult math problem or when he gets into a book and chatters about it excitedly.

Caleb on his rocking horse
That said this is our busy season so down time is at a premium and I will be taking full advantage of every second of it.  I enjoy are family dinners and date nights at home.   All of this is time for me to recharge for the busy homeschool times.  I am lucky to have a supportive husband who jumps in and helps when he can.  

Teamwork is key here at Casa G.  We have learned that when we pull together as a team we can accomplish just about anything.  We have moved mounds of dirt for our fall garden, we have overcome great math obstacles, and even slayed the dragon of time by stealing some for family dinners and movie night.

So bring on the fall- busy schedules and all. We can deal with it and come out better and stronger.  It’s just how we roll.


If you want to see the blog for the homeschool group blog click here.

Friday, August 14, 2015

What A Ride

I have been so sporadic about keeping up my blog. If you are still following me then you get kudos in my book.  I have to share some of the amazing things going on here at Casa G.  

It seems hard to believe we have been in our house over a year.  As a homeschooling mom, I was glad to have moved during a down time in our “school year”; yet, before I knew it, I realized that Caleb and I had not had any activities outside of the house in a few months and I set out to find us some new friends with which to hang out.

After researching groups I found the amazing folks at Wake Forest Homeschoolers.  As usual, I jumped in with both feet and, after meeting and being accepted into the group, I was suddenly attending a co-op with Caleb and assisting in a class.  When the next co-op period came around I found myself teaching!  Next thing I know I am the Secretary for the group and Caleb and Tony were building a website.

Of course I am an overachiever and had to create a blog for this group.  So I have found myself writing again after such a long time.  It has been a bit crazy. I am now writing blogs, attending board meetings and teaching co-op classes. What a busy and fun time.  

Not to be outdone, my husband has become a volunteer fire fighter-even attending calls on holidays and such. He has been busy with training and building their website.

Caleb is taking a webmaster course online and has become the webmaster for the Wake Forest Homeschoolers website. I can’t believe we are starting 9th grade.  He has become such a bright and amazing kid.  He will be in his first community theater play this fall.  I know he is loath to admit it but I think he is enjoying the process.