Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Twin Christmas

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

One of the my favorite things to do at Christmas is to joke and talk about Christmas past. My children love to connect and share the history of their young lives over and over again. I started a Christmas journal years ago where I write about the holiday, who we visited with, what presents we exchanged, and how their lives are at that point in time. It's fun to do and wonderful to read.

The twins especially love to hear stories of our lives in the house when they were mere toddlers. We live in a tiny Cape Cod style house and only have the living room to keep the twins safe in. Like all parents, we child proofed the room and put away glass objects when they were small. Since Maverick is 3 years older, pretty much the room was kid safe. Or as we learned, kid safe is never twin safe.

We learned early that twins are more like combat troopers than toddlers. I am pretty sure the hospital should have sent us to boot camp to prepare instead of telling us how to change diapers. Look, we changed over 10,000 diapers but we never had twins in a room with a Christmas tree and presents before. I want to write a lecture "10,000 diapers and only one you. Guerrilla Momfare Survival Techniques Your Grandma Never Told You."

First, once the twins started to run marathons at age 9 months, we put the gate up on the living room to keep them in there during times of answering phones, taking pots out of oven and Mom trying to shower, pee and do her hair in under 5 minutes. Storm a gate with 2 bodies and it will come down. Buy another, stronger gate, same thing. Have husband build custom 3 foot gate with 2 inch plywood and slates to hold it in place, and now you have something. In the twins must stay, so what else can we do for fun? Oh, grab at pretty lamp shades and see what's in there that is shiny and burn your hand. Out goes lamps. Stand on brother to climb on end tables. Remove end tables. Run to Mom's bookcase and pull off pretty books, again, and again and again. Mom puts bookcase in bedroom. Hmm, room is kinda bare now, lets' climb on back of couch and touch pretty pictures on walls. Crash, boom, all pictures come down. Remove all objects on walls. Let's beat on TV entertainment center and climb in,. Put TV on floor. Not much left now, let's go in rocker. Rock, rock, right into wall and leave large holes in drywall that makes Daddy nuts. Out goes rocker.

And then we put up the Christmas tree. We were proactive, and took a large piece of leftover paneling and tied down tree stand. This prevented tipping of tree. No ornaments or lights on bottom, only top one foot. And no cover, let just keep taking it off tree stand and rolling in it. No presents, because ripping of paper is fun--Mom only needed to rewrap about 10 times to learn this, dumb mommy. So there we were with our bare room, only couch, love seat, and TV on floor, and a tied down Christmas tree. Still, it never looked lovelier. God decorated the room for me, with my beautiful family and our time together.

As I appr0ached this Christmas with the twins at age 12 and Maverick at 15, I was reminded of that sparse holiday. Money is beyond tight this season, so presents got less. But somehow, everywhere I turned I found exactly what I needed for my budget. Again and again I went to the well, dipped in my greedy hands for a drink, and God filled it up. Shirts were on clearance at Abercrombie for my god daughters. A sweatshirt that was really cool, price $100 was on sale for $35, so I could do the combined birthday-Christmas for my godson. Jeans were half the price I normally pay on sale. Flannel shirts appeared in perfect order at thrift store. Friends sent gift cards and gave me never been worn winter coats for Maggie. I found a great deal for Luke on a coat. The kids gave me small gift lists and seemed happy to get a few things. And then I got a great discount on a gift for my boss to make up for puking in his truck. Seems everyone loves a good story involving vomit and screaming at a new boss to drive faster and pass that granny going 20, who knew?

All around me abundance abounds. I don't have my cookies baked, my gifts wrapped or my house scrubbed. I am pretty sure laundry won't get caught up until 2010 and eggnog better double for Christmas eve dinner, or I am in trouble. I have bags under my eyes from trying to work while recovering from major surgery and somehow put on the Christmas pageant that takes weeks to orchestrate, a year to save up for, 5 minutes to unwrap, and lasts a lifetime.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. Chaos is bliss because it means that God trusts me with so much. I will work to remind us all that Christmas past is about the love and connections. Its the stories we share, like Jesus and Mary's travels and trials on that first Christmas. Ours just get richer with the retelling,

Share your stories this holiday season, just as we do in church and in the bible and in our prayers. Let them out and sing Joy to the World today.

God Bless and Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Post-operative stress

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

We ran out of eggs this week.

When I came home from the hospital last week, the children understood that Mom needed to heal and wouldn't be doing all she normally does, that she needed to rest. For the first 48 hours, it wasn't bad, they enjoyed asking me how I was doing and bringing me things. But it didn't really dawn on them, that my being sick wasn't the hard part; rather not having me do everything was.

On Saturday, Luke was first up. He obligingly started the coffee and I slowly walked to the kitchen. "Okay, now I need you to be Mom." Be you, what do you mean? Let's start our day while the coffee brews, empty the dishwasher. We have no clean mugs, so we need to get them 0ut and reload. Get the cups from the table. Okay, get the dishes from upstairs. Okay, get the dishes in the living room. Okay, load up and restart. Now let's go to the laundry room. I taught him how to run the washer and how much soap to use. Okay, let's wash darks first. I point down at the pile, okay, a couple of jeans, a couple of towels, Maverick's boxers, Maggie's bras. I see him freeze---yes, Luke, I am sorry I can't bend and you will have to touch the laundry in order to put it in the washer, and that means all of it, even their undies. He picks them up and quickly throws them like they have the plague.

We tried to keep the laundry going, but no one wants to do it really. And sorting it and folding it became a nightmare. I tried to stay out of it, but there was the underwear problem. Suddenly, I had none. I don't know where they were. Honestly, Maggie said she didn't have them and I couldn't see them in the piles anywhere. I kept bathing, sticking my one pair in the wash and nabbing it later. And my sweat pants and jeans that fit also got sucked up in the sea of laundry. I was living in jammies and getting a little sick of it. Guess I need to teach them some organizational skills. Like that their bedroom floors do not double as dressers, and that if you get someone else's clothes, give them to that person. And stop stealing my socks, darn it, another thing I couldn't find all week. I week to the chiropractor in dire pain, with a red and a blue sock on, no undies, and ripped sweats. Honestly, if I don't get well soon, I think people will start taking up collections for us because homeless people dress better.

And then meals and food became another issue. I sent my husband shopping. I asked what he wanted to cook, and I listed what we would need for that. And get the usual 4 gallons of milk--yes 4. 4 twice a week, we drink a lot of milk. He picked up what I listed and nothing else. We seemed pretty good, until about Tuesday when we ran out of eggs.

I have never run out of eggs. See, there just is a level of food I automatically have in the house, the basics. I automatically get them and don't even list them. Eggs, milk, oj, peanut butter, butter, yogurt, fruit, paper products, bread, spaghetti sauce, cheese, lunch meat, chicken, ground beef. While I thought of some of them, I forgot to check the eggs. I usually have at least 3 dozen, so we can bake or have them for a meal. Well, we had eggs twice for quick meals and we ran out. I have never done that before.

No undies, no socks, no jeans, no eggs. Still, not a bad week. Friends are coming to help Maggie and I do the holiday baking. I can sit and mix and direct while they do the rest. And lot of other friends helped this week, I am so blessed. The queen helped me get some shopping done, bought me lunch and gave me beautiful steaks to eat one night. Mrs. Grocery made me excellent lasagna. Mrs. PT cheered me up with a visit and hot cocoa and cookies. Miss art picked me up and got me out of the house. Mrs. GM gave me free tickets to the nutcracker when her sister-in-law couldn't go. Mrs. Happy Mom brought me soup, yum yum, broccoli with cheese.

I am truly blessed, thank you all. And maybe Santa will bring me undies in my stocking.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Deer healers

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

I often wonder if angels talk to us thousands of times each day, and we just don't have that channel tuned in. I think it's easy in times of trouble to just wallow in despair, focusing on what has gone wrong, turning the events over in our minds again and again and again. When we limit our focus that tightly, we blind ourselves to beauty of God that surrounds us.

Back in late September, I had one particularly dark day when I couldn't pop myself up for anything. I was literally laying on the floor, crying, seeing no end to the plight of my job search and my depression. I spent about 10 days in a row churning my grief over and over again. No matter what method I tried to get going, I saw nothing but the spiraling down of life, my debts, my feelings of worthlessness and my failures as a human being. The tools I had used for months, meditation, inspirational cd's, reading, affirmations, and prayer were not pulling me up.

I finally admitted the whole truth out loud to my therapist and began the process of my healing. She pinpointed a nasty event 10 days before that I had dismissed as inconsequential, which in reality had pushed me over the edge. Finally, I broke down the cement walls around my heart and understood what I was hiding. Afterwards, I stopped and got a coffee, and drove to nearby Glen Park to write in my journal about my feelings.

It was a chilly fall day, so I took out my favorite Raggedy Anne sleeping bag and another blanket to wrap up in and sat in the middle of a small section of the park, surrounded by trees and birds. I quietly began to give thanks in my journal and to ask God to lift me out of my despair, once and for all, and to restore me to the loving confident woman I used to be. After about an hour, I took a little nap and enjoyed a true rest for the first time in weeks.

I woke up, and took stock of the many things to give thanks for. Just then, out of the woods, 20 feet away, came 7 deer. They walked forward confidently and just watched me. It was so strange, like they were talking to me and looking at me as my beloved dog Molly does. So, I just sat still and quietly started talking to them, telling them my problems. They watched me for a good 20 minutes. I stayed after they left and went home in peace.

I remembered in my tai chi class that our instructor talked about receiving messages from animals and birds and started to wonder about the deer. I continued on my healing, not quite there yet, but starting to come out of the fog of my sadness. 2 days later, across the street from my house, in the morning, 2 deer stood and watched me through the window again for 20 minutes. Still, I didn't quite connect the messages I would be receiving from the deer, but I talked to them softly about what I was feeling.

On that Sunday, just before dusk, I was filled with anguish. Another week, no job prospects and the paper held nothing new, and I was feeling desperate. I drove to Glen Park to look at the birds and do some deep breathing. Out of woods came not my seven deer friends, not the 2 from my house, no, thirteen deer walked out of the woods and came 10 feet from me. I stood and talked to them for over 20 minutes and they listened. I felt such a peace and serenity come over me. I felt like I must have imagined it, but as I walked to my car, I saw 2 ambulance attendants eating their lunch. The one guy asked me how I got them to stay near me for so long, was I feeding them? No, I said, I just talk to them.

I looked it up about the deer, and its supposed to mean unconditional love and new beginnings. Shortly after, I got the lead on the marketing job I now have. I felt like the deer were sent to heal me and help me feel God's love. This week, I drove back to the park. My seven friends came out again and watched me while I talked.

You never know where the messages may fall in your life. It's easy to cloak ourselves in the dark and not see the light shining around us. Look for it today and feel the healing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Today was a very special Thanksgiving. I imagined it just last week, the turkey all cooked, the side dishes steaming, the family gathered, and me giving thanks for getting a really good job after 8 months off. I was going to count my blessing for so many friends; Mark getting a job, Lorain's Dad pulling through so they could do the big trip up to Northern Canada, Tim's treatment for meslthemioma, for help for Lisa's sister-in-laws brain tumor, for Laurie's son in the Coast Guard and Carla's 2 sons in the Navy, for Donna's husband Sam's foot injury, for my mother-in-law's recovery from breast cancer, for Mary's help on her dissertation, for a full-time teaching job for Denise, for a new pharmacist job for Biljana in Orlando, for the new job for John, blessings for my friend's Yvonne and Dan helping my husband and I get new jobs, for Matt's Dad's healing from cancer, for Nate's Mom's hysterectomy, for Chris's battle with Guille Barre syndrome---so many people have really been helped this year and I am so grateful, but all along I was really going to give thanks for ice chips.

Yes, ice chips. What a blessing, the cold and the wet. Heaven. I had my first full week of work last week and came in Monday for a short holiday week. Pain in my side, no big deal, same pain I have had off and on. Did a 2 hour meeting, suddenly felt like puking. I haven't puked since I was 8. No, really I thought? Really? Yup, all over the bathroom. Had to have my new boss drive me to the emergency room. Want me to pull over he asks? Nope, just drive faster, blahhhhhh, all over his Ford Expedition. What a way to make an impression on the new boss, puking in his truck. Get in there, 8 hours of tests, they tell me I have a large cyst, go home and call your OB guy in the morning.

I try to stay home, but I can't get any pain medicine to stay down what with the puking and all. I am in more pain then it took to birth my 16 pounds of twins. I am shaking and screaming and making all kinds of promises to God if he would just take the pain away. I have DH drive me to closer emergency room, get more tests, get lots more medicine, have a woman come in to do a sonogram at 2 a.m., get my OB guy out of bed at 3, lots of fun. DH drives back to emergency room number one at 4 a.m. to get the cat scan of my 4th dependent, a cyst the size of Nebraska. Seriously, it was 12cm by 20cm. I am pretty sure they had to get a crane to take it out. It was so big, they put in a zipper for ease in removing the next one. I tried to get a tummy tuck while they were down there, but my OB/GYN said no two-fers, this wasn't Wegmans BOGO sale.

All in all, from the first puking on Monday, to ice chips on Tuesday at 10, it was 34 hours without liquids or food. Nothing, because everyone was sure I must need surgery for something, but was it kidney stones, my appendix or a cyst, no one could decide on for a whole day. Finally, they sent me to LALA land to dream of Tim Horton's large black coffee at 8 p.m. Tuesday. I was never so grateful for ice chips at 10.

So, as usual, I find it really amusing that I finally get a job to only need to leave due to a surgery. My friend is convinced I am just trying to milk the system. Unemployment was out, so now you need disability? What next she laments, Medicaid? A Handicapped sticker for your limp from sitting on your butt all year?

Yup, I give thanks for all my friends who know me so well and give me grief when I am sick. Here I am taking it easy again. But I am home, and I am so grateful.

Have an amazing Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness--George Santayana

My 15th Halloween with my kids already. I can hardly believe it. This year I have a candy corn witch, a banana and a gangster. Yes, Maverick is trick or treating again. So if a 6 foot banana shows up at your door, don't be alarmed, just give him the contents of your refrigerator and you'll be fine. He doesn't eat much, just everything not tied down, especially skittles and Swedish fish, and maybe all your peanut butter and white bread too. He thinks a serving size of juice is a 2 quart bottle, but hey, he's learning to cook at his dish washing job, so maybe he will get refined tastes, like wheat pasta instead of ramien noodles. Yes, and I hope and believe in all the good things in life.

My costume this year is still the sweat pants, Red cross blood donor tee shirt and Aeropostle sweat shirt that I have been in about 8 months now. I used to get up, write, work out from 530 to 640, shower, get kid one up and yell at him to step closer to the soap today, pack my lunch, get kid two up and hook up her intravenous coffee, do my hair and makeup, yell at kid three to go shave and get a move on, let the dog out, sign papers, check email, unload dishwasher, reload dishwasher, start laundry, empty garbage, get something out for dinner, and leave for work; all in one hour.

Well, now, I roll over, crawl to the stairs, yell "Luke! Maggie! Get up, " stumble back to bed and pull the covers over my head. Luke makes coffee and hops in the shower. Maggie crawls in bed with me and says yet again that she is too tired to go to school. I turn on the news, cover up the dog, turn on a light, listen to the news, yell at Maggie to actually drink the coffee so she doesn't have to sit on the bottom of the shower to wake up, ask Luke to get something out for breakfast, yell up to Maverick to wake up and pile on more covers to keep warm while sipping my coffee. If I am lucky, I pull on sweats and drive the kids to school, but some days, (shh, don't tell anyone) I drive in my pink polka dot Jammie's. Then I get home, do Tai Chi, meditate to Wayne Dyer, do some writing and maybe look at job postings. Afternoons I do some more writing and a little house work, go to the park, visit the deer, come home, nap, and then do some more work. I am usually functional by 4 in the afternoon when the kids come home.

Well, that's all over for me now. One week of vacation before the I have to pull the big girl panties on and get back to work. Finally, someone believes I can do a job for them. Okay, so it took 12 hours of interviews and some whining to get the job, but at last, I have one.
Back to the gym and more regular schedules for me. Stop watching Leno and Conan. Actually get to sleep at a normal time. Eat real meals, not nachos for dinner. Know what day it is without having to consult a calender again.

Yes, its true, I do have abilities far reaching and its time to get there. Thank you to the Queen for networking and getting me a wonderful lead. Thank you to God for answering my prayers. And thank you to all my friends who helped me through this extended nap time. I couldn't have done it without you.

Now we just have to see if this is a trick or a treat of a job. But the really cool thing, after wearing silk long underwear, 2 pairs of socks and gloves to type at my last job----just a tad cold in the office--now I have my own thermostat. I am so excited. I can set my own temperature. I don't even have to fight with my always hot DH to turn it up. Wow.

Trick or treat, I'm ready. It was this or I would have gone out collecting candy tonight as a bag woman. Thank God for this, children really don't need to be scared tonight by me. Have fun, and save some snickers for me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. ~Rumi ~

Took Maverick out on a photo shoot last night for his class. Took 5 pictures of the area and then we ran to get them developed at a quick place. Mrs. no-mechanical ability needs to see why her computer gifted child can't upload his pics. But still, as a Mom, who has a child taking pics on the last possible day before the project is due, in the final minutes of daylight mind you, we do what we can. We get thru this crisis and then suffer with whatever needs to be fixed later. Nothing but tenacious I am.

So we are there in the drug store, getting the photos and I pay. And the smiling child (who knew 7 year olds could work there) hands me a coupon. Have a nice night. I look eagerly at the coupon. One time it was buy a lipstick, get one free, so I am anticipating the fun. Not tonight, oh no, What I scream, as I read it. Sign up for AARP free?

God, I must look bad. I mean, I know I need to start buying the hair dye in 50 gallon tubs. My irish heritage shining through with white roots every 2 weeks now. And the lip hair, really needs a tub of Nair again, it could be braided its so long. And well, mabye I am skimming on the moisturizer. 7 months out of work tends to make you buy the 99 cent one gallon all purpose moisturizer-car lube special. And well, who needs makeup on a boring Monday night, right? And the sweats held together with a safety pin by the one big hole; that probably wasn't a good idea either. And oh, nice, I have an old Red Cross blood donation shirt on, something most seniors wear. And I'm holding a coupon. And I have the really big, multi-purpose purse/lunch bucket with me. And the cheap sneaks. Gawd, I look like a bag lady tonight!!!!!

I don't even thing AARP would have me. I look too old. I look like, oh my, my mother. And my grandmother before her, God rest her soul. The safety pin in the pants is the kicker. Jeesh. Mom always complained that Gram wouldn't wear the nice clothes they bought her, but kept on wearing the old rags instead. And would blow her nose, and miss the garbage can with the kleenex. What's that on the rug? Excuse me, that is not mine, no its must be the kids. I would never be so messy (Please be quiet about that Mrs. Queen, no one is as neat as you.)

All right, time to go back to work already. I have a kick ass interview Thursday. Everyone pray for the bag lady.

I'll keep you posted. Time to go, um, lots of shopping to do. Anyone have a coupon for L'Oreal hair dye and Nair? And a Girdle.

Monday, October 6, 2008

World Crisis

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Good morning, happy fall Monday. Turn on the news again and its the world financial news again. Crisis. Take all your money out. Doomsday is near. Save yourself, but don't jump off the cliff. Blah, Blah, blah.

Near as I can tell, the ones telling us all how to handle all our money are men. Doomsday alerts abound now because the end is coming. See, they won't have beer money and are getting worried. They won't know what to do, how to survive.

Men really don't know how to handle crisis. Women get training at an early age, its called bad hair days. We wake up late, have trouble moving but go through the motions, get dressed, get our food, mentally make our to do lists, feeling we can handle the loss of time until we get to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Hair everywhere. Twenty directions all at once, curls when we have straight hair, a drooping flop when we have waves, grease when we have hair so brittle we buy conditioner in 5 gallon buckets; women have been through it all and survived. We are tenacious, we persevere, wearing barrettes and hair bands when our hair is one inch long. We get wigs when we loss all our hair due to illness or simply go with a pretty bandanna if we want.

We don't need Rogaine, we have our inner strength to carry us through and our girlfriends to make us feel okay about it. See our girlfriends will tell us it looks okay when we whip out the curling iron and make Farreh Fawcett waves in our stick straight hair, covering up the lion's mane we woke up with. Our girlfriends will laugh with us and remind us of our youth when we whip out a hairband when the hot flashes hit and our hair falls faster then Wall street when told their bonuses might be taken away. Our girlfriends will call us "skunk head" for the streak of white hair which showed up overnight in our bright red hair.

We know how to make each other feel good and go on. We still make our lists, multi-task and overcome despite serious illness making it hard to walk. We get up and drive our kids to appointments we made months ago rather then stay in bed because we feel we might puke any minute. We cook meals out of the remnants of a fridge so bare from unemployment that the food bank must surely want to bail us out, and then we share them with our new neighbors and 5 kids who have nothing to cook today.

We do it all and always have. Financial crisis or not, we go on. We learn how to make soup of leftover bones and make a happy meal out of macaroni and day old bread. We have birthday parties and fantasy play time to make our kids happy, even when we want to cry. We work the extra 20 hours to get the big project finished at work and come home to do laundry and pack lunches. We don't lay don't and cry over the money, we keep going.

We keep going because we know we will get through. We lean on chocolate when we need to and we give up things all the time for our kids and neighbors and coworkers in need. We may have to use mascara on our hair lines to stretch out the dye jobs now, or we might scrap the ends of the foundation bottle rather then buy a new one, but we'll do it.

Maybe we need to pass some tips to those heads of corporations who feel that can't go due to being only worth $70 billion instead of $140 billion. Maybe if they knew how to find a dinosaur picture at 6 a.m. or make homework reappear from the dead, we wouldn't be in this mess.

Let's all give them a shoebox and some paint and have them make a diorama at 5 a.m. I think restarting their creativity is all we need get over this. That, and giving them a bad hair day to make them smile. Or maybe they just need some chocolate to stop whining.

Or a bottle of wine, and a long distance call to a girlfriend who pees while talking to you. That would make them stop whining for sure.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Body Plumped

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

"I am realistic - I expect miracles." --Dr. Wayne Dyer

Five thirty in the morning found me trying out Body Pump at the gym with all my talented friends. I hadn't been in a month and they all gave me beautiful hugs. Then Mrs. Happy Nurse whispered that I should really watch the squats; do too many at too heavy a weight and you could find your legs screaming the Hallelujah chorus every time you bend to go. Great. So I tried to take it easy and learn the techniques of lifting and moving at that hour of the morning. Unfortunately for me they don't mainline the caffeine for you and you need to just keep on doing the lifting so you don't look like a major wimp. So I kept moving, trying to make the weight as manageable as possible since I haven't lifted in over 6 months. I kept adjusting down until I found I was looking for a -5 pound weight, which they only have in virtual reality games and cartoons. Soon even the bar became too heavy. Get to the end for mat work, yeah, happy to lay down again on the floor, but no, now they expect me to do pushups. Does it count if you only go up and down 2 inches?Hmm, seems to me I had boyfriends in the past that worked out okay for.

Afterwards, my ego was so deflated with the shape my 40 something body is in. I think the wine at Classic movie nights is catching up to me, or maybe its the candy we made for last week's theme (sponge candy with gold sprinkles and lollipops...and the movie was? anyone? Wizard of Oz.) Tai chi class on Saturdays is looking more my speed, but now maybe even the deep breathing might be a challenge. And to steal a line from Mrs. Nurse after her first class, can someone please come over and lift my arms so I can brush my teeth? Ow, who knew you needed muscles just to do that AND to pee.

I guess Body Plumped is more my speed this week. My knees are 80 but my spirit is 20. I expect miracles all right, I just didn't know I needed them just to pee.

Go me! One exercise class down, thousands to avoid. And millions more to conquer in my lifetime. Let's go team, it's fall and we need to get in shape for those Christmas cookies.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Smile Day

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. ~Phyllis Diller

A friend of mine will often say "Smile" to me to end an argument of some sort. Well, actually to shut me up on a subject when I am screaming with rage on the inside, but politely saying "Whatever" to his face (whatever is the new f*&K you a?%hole.) Of course, I tend to do anything but smile, like maybe scream in the shower instead or make the kids clean their rooms NOW because I am sick of the 5 foot deep river of clothing cluttering the landscape! Honestly, do they really believe kicking the clothes under the bed, shoving the dirty dishes in their dressers and throwing 3 comforters on top of their 3 week old dirty sheets is cleaning? Whatever happened to just shoving it in the closet?

So telling me smile has always just irritated me to no end because its more like an insult from your 3rd grade teacher than a help. So, I always tended to not do it when asked and get myself more pissed off, adding scowling and screaming to the list instead of just calming down. He told this again to me recently, and I paused for a minute to consider the act. Smile. Hmm, I do tend to take it for granted. Pay attention to this I thought and think. Pay attention.

I started performing creative exercises from a book called the "Artist's Way." In the beginning it talks about slowing down and paying attention, noticing the details. Giving thanks to our creator for the details. Hmm, smile is certainly one of them, just as walk, breath and type are things to notice. Notice the movements. Give thanks.

Strange things happen to our bodies everyday and until they do, we tend not to notice the details and give thanks. My next door neighbor, Mr. Thruway, has an inherited foot disease that rots the veins in the feet. Eventually circulation stops. Most of his family has died of this. He got to the point last winter when he wasn't walking. But fortunately for him, they have many cool new vein surgeries. He had one on his feet and within days was walking again. For months, he couldn't do the lawn work, trim the hedges, wash his truck, ride a bike. Now I see him out there doing this, and he has the biggest grin you ever saw on his face. He is so grateful to walk again.

A cousin of my husband woke up one day with hands the size of melons. Carpal tunnel. She has had surgery which helped but did not cure the hand. She still has lots of trouble and is disabled now. The simplest thing like holding a book to read is hard. How many times do we even think to give thanks for our hands? I love to read, and can't imagine getting pain from holding a book.

I've taken over the cooking chores since I've been home, cooking on a daily basis. Before, it was mainly on weekends. I got to the point I was real tired of it again. What had brought me joy, wasn't anymore. Just a boring daily task now that I wanted out of. No matter that it brought nourishment to my family. No amount of joy at my cooking and baking seemed enough. I had taken cooking for granted and was mad I had to do it.

But a month or so ago I gave thanks that I could cook and started being grateful when I did. Gave thanks for the simple tasks like running to the car, driving to the store, buying food and then cooking it. I even play music and sing while I do it now.

Why the change? A friend from the gym, Mrs. Sunshine, came down one day with a weird disease from a virus called guillain barre syndrome. It attacks the nerves in the body and she suddenly could hardly walk, or move or eat. Everyday tasks were horrendous. Terrible pain racked her body and awful headaches. She could not do much at first, and things like caring for the family and cooking were impossible. Her face has been immobile and she can't smile.

I've cooked her some meals to help them out. Not much really since I was cooking already. But I gave thanks and was happy that I could. I smiled for her and hoped it helped her and her family in some small way.

Don't take today for granted. Notice the details. Help someone you know smile instead of fight. Appreciate the hands, the feet and the wonderful daily chores we can do with cheer like cooking.

And for my friend Mrs. Sunshine, let's all make tomorrow Smile Day, and smile for her. I know her smile is 1 million watts bright on the inside because she is well on the way to healing. Thank God for that. Give thanks to God tomorrow by giving someone else your smile, its contagious.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Classic Movie Night

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

"I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille"---Sunset Blvd often mis-quoted quote

Bright lights and cans of Spark Malt Beverage--that's how it all began. We went camping at Allegany State Park and went on a long hike to the bear caves. Well, no actual hiking took place due to the rain and Soccer Mom showing up and introducing us to "Spark." Try having one of those on an empty stomach at 11 in the morning, and you too will be mis-quoting old movies like Sunset Boulevard. It was so bad, it took me 3 days and the Internet to remember the title to the movie was "Sunset Boulevard." But who could forget William Holden and the chimpanzee?

Well, it got Mrs. Chevy and I thinking that our wonderful daughters had no clue about some of the best movie lines out there, let alone the plots, the stunning clothes and the unforgettable kisses. Classic Movie night was born. Once a week, we meet to view old movies. One of us brings the movies and picks the theme, while the other picks the food and drink to go with the theme. It's a hoot just to see what we come up with.

Last night was movie noir foods and drinks to match. Mysterious Spark beverage with weird extra things added showed up again. Black licorice. Dark chocolate. Extra Dark. Blackberry juice for the girls. Salsa with BLACK beans. Crackers with BLACKberry jam. Fun stuff. And the movies? "Spellbound and Notorious." We couldn't find Alfred in either one. But boy, did we replay the gun scene at the end of Spellbound 20 times! Poof, the black and white film goes to red.

Another night we had foods with the word Thin. Thin Mints. Girl Scout Thin Mint Hot Chocolate to drink. Thin Spaghetti. Wheat Thins. Thin pretzels. Thin crust Pizza. Almond Thin cookies. And the movie was "The Thin Man" complete with Myrna Loy and her dog Asta.

We watched "The African Queen" and went to Africa for Watermelon slushies and hummus on crackers. We danced to "The King and I" and "My Fair Lady" while eating English biscuits. Mr. Chevy ate ribs while we watched Kathryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in "Adam's Rib." We just guzzled our Tom Collins and laughed at the dresses, hats and hair.

Maybe we'll watch "Key Largo" and eat Key Lime pie, who knows? It's a hoot and a way to connect to a simpler time, when everything was hinted at, when the pictures told the ideas and the themes were creative. Its a nice way to match our moods and go back in time to deal with the everyday. Hmm....I think we'll get "Psycho" for the next time we fight with our husbands. Everyone can use a good shower scene.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cooking Kids or is it Kids' Cooking?

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Summer and the living is easy. Cooking switches between the fun and the inventive and the quick and lazy. Now that the kids are older, I can often say "why don't you cook tonight." Luke will whip together something tried and true like eggs and turkey bacon; Maggie gets out the cook book and starts reading. The other night she pulled out Campbell's Summer Recipes, all using Campbell's soup. She made a nice chicken and rice dish which had tomatoes--oh, skip the tomatoes, Maggie hates them; peppers--use the fresh from the garden, nope Mom, I don't want to--golden corn Campbell's soup--oops, don't have that, use cream of chicken...still, it was the classic chicken and rice which is a favorite standby for a quick easy dish. Maverick even ate it when he came home from a long night of dish washing and said it was good.

Maggie has learned my habit of looking at recipes and making them work with A) What we like to eat ; B)What we have on hand and C)What is the cheaper version of the expensive ingredients listed (like who has fresh tarragon hanging around the fridge waiting to be used???)

I love collecting different and unusual cook books and reading through them. My favorites are the church cookbooks. Today I was reading "Tried and True;" a collection of recipes from the Heritage Village, Gerry New York, circa 1983. It contains lots of favorite wisdom's as well as recipes, like the following:

Dear Father, Help me to:
Forgive the wrongs in others,
Forgive the faults I see;
That I may be forgiven,
The faults that are in me;

--From Allie Musgrove's Scrapbook 1898-1983

The woman of Heritage Village collected over 100 pages of great recipes, everything from Sister Parktan's Brown Bread to Watermelon Rind pickles. You can just taste the love and laughter in the recipes and the occasions they made them for. Bucket of Muffins for 25? Church bazaar of course. Creme de Mynthe Cake? St. Patricks day dinner. Potato Chip Cookies? The grand kids are coming. Scalloped mushrooms and baked chicken almond casserole? Company on the way, bake the Dr. Bird Cake for dessert.

Nowadays we tend to drop by the Wegmans superstore and pick up chicken teriaki to bake and salad for the side. We skip the heavy desserts and munch on chocolate fudge Hershey kisses and cherry M&M's (or Lays Potato chips if you are the Queen). Gone are the 6 course meals with delicious desserts. One friend's Mom, Ruth, always had 2 or 3 desserts on hand. I remember when her son Sean came home from boot camp, she had Boston Cream Pie, Brownies, and chocolate chip cookies on hand. I still make her Grasshopper pie and remember all the trouble she went to make enough for her oldest son's wedding shower. Dinner at Ruth and Bernie's was always a treat. I pull in that love and cook on Sunday's, thinking of the way her house always smelled of the love and looked like sunshine, even on the darkest days.

I look to pass the love of food and cooking to my kids, and teach them to make the best of whatever you have on hand. Use the laughter, pull in the smiles, fold in the friendships by talking on the cell while cooking, add in the family by using the old recipes and making them new again, and best of all, to share them with friends and family. Whatever we are eating gets shared with the friends they have in the house....Maggie's BFF always seems to show on Sunday's, what's up with that? Beans and franks Monday's just don't cut it I guess. And Soccer Boy manages to show up for Taco night. It's time I showed him how to cook it I think.

Good food, good if I could just teach them to clean up when they cook. Hmm, my Mom used to say that to me. Still does.

Some things never change. Ok Mom, I'll clean it up in a minute, honest.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Buffalo Garden Walk

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. ---Walt Whitman

Yesterday I had the glorious joy of doing Garden Walk Buffalo with my good friend Miss Kodak. In Buffalo, in the last week of July every year, about 300 homes and more open their yards to strangers to view their nature's landscapes. We get to see up close their outdoor artworks, bursting with color and beauty, all neat and tidy for the guests of thousands.

We settled on the blocks surrounding Richmond and Sumner as our starting point. Very pretty indeed. We happened upon a little cottage street with charming views. One house used umbrellas to light the world. She had many umbrellas hanging throughout the side and back garden, with lights inside to cast a glow in the darkness from their bright colors. There also was a hot tub with some suitcases floating on top, as well as suitcases piled to the side to be used as a table. It was a wonderful slice of Eden. The umbrellas and suitcases created the sense of flying away to paradise; of packing yourself suitcase of troubles and landing in a cove of serenity.

Another trove of beauty was hidden behind 4 houses in an area the size of my suburban lot. We took a moment to cascade our eyes at the 4 different living spaces, sitting at angles and corners to each other, 2 behind the front. We wondered if the 2 front houses were built first, and then the other 2 were added later, perhaps to house children or extended family. As we walked in to view the gardenscapes, we were further delighted by an alley between the 2 back houses. Upon opening the gate, we were transferred to an alley in an English village, complete with 3 charming cottages. There was a cobblestone walkway in front and between each, with side gardens and back patios with fences for separation. Very peaceful and pretty.

As we further walked and delighted in the use of space and light, we happened upon Dorchester avenue. In the center island down the half-mile parkway, were planted many garden treasures, some simple, many complex in texture, color and size of plantings. One simple planting, had a beautiful pink rose bush in the center, trimmed so only the top half contained leaves and flowers. Surrounding it were simple plantings of pink and green, spread out for space and air. It was really attractive. As we turned into the only house on that part of the street listed in the directory, we found a charming back patio with the most interesting bush of the day. It was a cone shaped hydrangea in a light pink, about 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It dominated the one side of the stone patio with its elegance. As we greeted the owner and talked about the transformation of her private garden, we glanced up to the topmost level of her deck. Amazingly, they had planted cantaloupes in pots, "because you know how you always search for the perfect melon in the store and can't find one."

It was really interesting as we walked to see the use of color and texture to make the eye wander. One patio was interesting in the levels of plants along the fence. First of all, they used the fence almost as a wall in a living room. There was stain glassed windows, framed Garden walk posters, iron and plaster artwork, all hanging amongst the plants. In the front of the garden were the perennials like bee balm, purple cone flowers and black eyed Susan's. Most people plant these to the back of the garden, and plant the shorter annuals in front, but not in this paradise. Instead, behind the perennials were pots and boxes holding up planters with annuals and multicolored coleus in lime and pink. At first glance, you would think these plants suddenly grew that tall, but we fettered out the careful placement of pots. Above these plantings often were other smaller pots cleverly attached to the fence. When you stepped back and took it all in, it appeared to be well groomed plants of different heights, arranged for peak viewing. This was the most magnificent garden of all and must have taken hundreds of hours to arrange.

As we returned home, we stopped at the Buffalo Historical Society to see the Japanese gardens. So simple in its tranquility on the lake. When we journeyed onto the Scajacquada expressway, we glanced over at the steps of the Albright Knox art gallery, where several exquisite bridal parties were capturing the beauty of the their new life on the gorgeous summer day.

God's architecture and sculpture were everywhere to see yesterday, but it was in the joy of the new brides that I think it was really captured. Their grace and love were the whipped cream on a perfect cup of a day.

Check out the flowers today and bring joy to your heart.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Throwing out the scale

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind. ----Leonardo da Vinci

Today, I threw out the scale.

It's sitting in the garbage right now, wondering what it ever did to me but tell the truth. Well, the truth in terms of bags of potatoes maybe. As in, how many 50 pound sacks do we weigh today?

I've had enough with the scales' smug attitude. It didn't love me and support me enough in my time of need. It didn't cuddle up and tell me I look fabulous, simply fabulous darling. No, it just hadn't budged in weeks. Weeks, really, it could have moved a lousy pound, couldn't it?

Would it really hurt it to lie a little and tell me the pina colada's, taco supremes and pizza had no effect on me? So what if I screwed up a few times each week, wasn't I trying the other 95% of the time? Didn't I make it to the gym and about die in spinning class? Wasn't I sure on the way to washing my own clothes in sweat, while I was still wearing them? Aren't I getting up at 530 to start my day? Where is the loyalty now, mister? Cut me some slack, I'm a good girl.

Well, okay, I am a good girl. I have changed a million habits, left over from the ice age known as my 20's. I stopped eating butter. Dropped the high fat cheese habit. No pop tarts for mid-morning break, strictly Greek yogurt for me. Half a sandwich at lunch. Munching on almonds, drinking the water. Isn't that enough?

No, the reality is, it's not. Calories count. Calories count big time the older you get. Those 3 time a week lapses can't be shaken off easily anymore. You need to plan for the binges and control them. You need to work out longer and harder to cover for them, that's the every day fact of life now. You need to build muscle to maintain shape. You need to keep moving to be flexible. You need to do cardio to have energy for the weekends. You need to keep make exercise and eating less a mantra. You need to ramp up your plans for your body as you age.

Living in sweat pants and stretchy shorts is not helping the matter. I don't think a future employer will appreciate big shirts pulled out over the fat pants, held together with a rubber band at the waist. I'm pretty sure business dress codes don't encompass that.

But still, today, when I look at everything going on, I am sure it's the scales fault. It's not mine. It's not my age. It's not the peri-menopause symptoms. It's not genetics of the 6'5" 350 pounds relatives lurking in the past. It's not the snacks while sitting on the patio sipping a cool adult beverage. Nope, it must be the scale.

Instead of the scale, I'm building a dream board today. Healthy pictures, nice dreams of Paris and Maui, relaxing sayings instead. Hang up a size smaller outfit and try it on, picture myself in it, imagine. Use the dream imaging instead of the scale. The scale is just a number after all, and I am so much more then that. I have thoughts, feelings, beliefs that rise above all that.

Today I conquer the world, without the dry measurement of an obscene weight amount

Watch out world, here I come.

The tape measure better hide, it could be next.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

10 Steps to Control Stress

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

“Cheerfulness is the best promoter of health, and is as friendly to the mind as to the body.”Joseph Addison

Cheery, happy, joyful, blissful, peaceful, calm, full of mirth, tipping over with gladness, bursting with glee-a state of positive thinking we try to attain on a regular basis. We pray, we give thanks, and we meditate. We feel good. We feel God. We live in the state of grace, wonderment, and blessing....then we wake up smiling.

And sometimes we don’t smile. We wake up, having not slept all night due to stress, playing the problems over and over in our heads. Accidents happen, bones get broken, illness hits us or a loved one, jobs get lost, our parent’s age and our children misbehave. Sometimes our kids are clueless and we wonder where they got their brain cells, like the other day when Maverick hopped in a friend’s go-cart and drove it 5 miles down the side of a 6 lane highway in rush-hour traffic to pick up a friend. What on earth was he thinking? Of course, no brain functions were involved, only hormones were driving the bus that day.

And sometimes the hormones are so stupid school boards and the police have to get involved. Sometimes the disease takes more that a prescription to heal. Sometimes the job takes many months and countless applications to find. Sometimes the wound leaves a permanent scar we can’t heal, we can’t prevent and we can’t undo. And when it’s our kids, we feel the stress constantly. When we aren’t in control, and can’t just wave a wand to get a new job or do the day over, we suffer too.

I have developed some excellent coping techniques during my extended play time at home. I passed these on to a friend in need today, and I wanted to share with you too. Please send me yours and I will update.

10 Steps to Cope with Stress

1. TRASH TALK Just call a friend and vent, yell, holler, moan, diss the other people, scream about the unfairness, roar that you can’t cope, blast the government, trash your employer, and let it all roll out of you. Just let it all hang out. Don’t expect resolution, but you will find that talking through it will help you cope. Sometime, in tough situations, this is every day.

2. HELP, I’M MELTING Schedule a time each day to allow a melt down. That’s right, let it happen. Plan on it. When you are hyperventilating, pick a time later in the day, and tell yourself, this sucks, but I am not melting down until 2 p.m. when I take my walk.Only the will I scream and cry to myself, it will be just me, and that will be okay. I will flail on the floor if I want. I will simultaneously eat 5 pounds of chocolate and 3 glasses of wine at that time if I need to. However I want to melt, I will, but it will not be until then and it will only last 30 minutes. Plan a start and end time, and let it be.

3. SNAP OUT OF IT When turmoil strikes, one problem we have is seeing our way out of the situation. We get in a cycle of repeating bad thoughts in our head, and can’t get out of it. We tell ourselves again and again, “If Only…” Stop this. Wear a rubber band, and snap it on yourself when you realize you are doing this. Pull yourself back to the moment and break the habit of the endless moaning in your head.

4. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY Remind yourself to live in the moment and not view this as life ending. Whatever it is, you will get through it. Post a note on your computer at work, hang a sign on the fridge, clip one on your vent in the car that reads “This will NOT effect my eternity.” You are a child of God and your soul is much larger then whatever problem you are facing. In a year, you won’t even remember what caused you so much pain today. Believe it.

5. BE A LOVER, NOT A FIGHTER Loving yourself, your life and your day is the key to success and peace today. Fighting against the stress does not make it go away. Concentrate instead on thoughts of love. Make lists in your head, share then with friends to give you something else to concentrate on. Funny movies I love, best books I love, seasons I love, meals I love, people I love, best days I loved, etc. Keep the focus positive. Don't fight the stress, love it and let it go.

6. WALK OFF THE WAIT Get the feet moving. A sense of accomplishment in trekking for 30 minutes, in completing a course, in walking fast for 10 house; this walking will really pull you out of a funk. Watch your toes move, see the heel hit, notice your calf bulge as you dig in. Don’t allow yourself to think of anything but the walk. This is a powerful way to pull you back from a habit of worry.

7. COUNT YOUR SHEEP Sleeping gets very difficult when we are stressed. Talking to yourself
about it during the day really gets you in the mindset of being a good sleeper. Pretend this is the Olympics of sleeping tonight and you will be awarded the gold medal. See yourself handing God your worries in a worry basket, and crawling under the covers, and sleeping quietly for 8 hours. Feel the REM sleep take over easily and give you peace. See yourself smiling while you sleep.
Talk to yourself about it, see the worries being pushed aside, and make it happen. This really helps the sleep come quickly.

8. QUIET ON THE SET Set a time aside for quiet. You need it. It will give you much rest.

9.TAKE THE DOWN ESCALATOR Often when we are stressed, our moods with other friends, co-workers or family members get intense. We escalate the discussions into major fights (If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times to pick up your underwear after you shower!!) and before you know, the entire U.S. Army is needed to break up the discussion already. Stop saying “Always and Never” and take it down a notch. Walk away. Let it go. Let them win, and give yourself peace. Winning every fight does not make your stronger.

10. THRIVE NOT SURVIVE See yourself with a positive outcome, whatever it may be. Start with a gratitude journal, and move it up to major dreams. Allow yourself to bloom wherever you are planted, even now…see this manure as the fertilizer of your new life.

Give thanks each nite by remembering, “I am blessed, not stressed.”

Laugh each day. This is the best coping mechanism of all. It's makes us cheerful the whole day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

School's Out

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen (Alice Cooper School's Out for Summer)

6:30 a.m. Ah the sounds of peaceful children getting ready for school....

Maggie! Luke! Get up! Maggie drink your coffee and wake up already! Luke, no TV! Who's getting in the shower? Take the dog out! Why are you doing homework now? No, I don't know where your tights are. Get in the shower! Maverick wake up! Luke get the dog she's going nuts, the bunny must be out! Why do you need $5? What do you mean you lost your lunch money? Quit buying Red Bull with it! Starve! No, I don't know where a shoe box is! Get in the shower and actually step closer to the soap! Someone get the dog in, the cops are here again! Maggie, brush your hair, don't just put it in the pony tail! Who's burning the waffles? Why do you need me to sign this detention slip? Where is your homework! Luke, turn the hockey down! Maggie, eat some breakfast! Maverick get out of bed or I'm not driving you! Get the dog, she's eating your waffles! No, you can't wear flip flops again. What do you mean you need your yellow shirt clean today? The bus comes in 10 minutes, where is it? Did you look under the bed? Who has all the towels? Maggie go up to your towel farm again and harvest a load! Brush your teeth, gum does not count! Stop dripping syrup by the computer, eat in the kitchen! Maverick get out of bed or I'm coming in there with the soap and water. Get out of my sock drawer, find your own socks!Are you ready, the bus is on Ferndale! What do you mean you need to be driven today, I haven't showered yet! Maverick are you ready? What do you mean you still need to shave? No, I don't know where the shaving cream is, ask you sister! Get the dog in already! Luke did you eat? Who left the empty cereal box on the counter again, it doesn't throw itself out. No, you can't eat candy for breakfast! Maverick get in the car already. Where's you belt, a shoelace does not count! Pull your pants over that underwear or I'll pull them down. Get the dog out of the window before she breaks another one. Luke, get you homework. Maggie, are these your books? Maverick, where's your backpack? Get the dog and lock her up. No, I don't have $10. You need something signed, where's a pen? Who took the pencil sharpener? Brush your teeth, I mean it. Stop hitting your sister and go out for the bus already! Get the dog! Maverick get in the car!

By this time next week, the sounds of silence and the large smiles of Moms everywhere will fill the air. Can you hear me now? No, we can't!! Yeah!!!

Ah, me time, from 630 to 730, gotta love it. It's not the beach we love, it's this. Summer at last, yippee!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Muffin Tops

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Part of the secret of life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside --Mark Twain

Chocolate chip cookie dough. Raw. Extra chips. Good stuff. We always have to make a double batch, half to bake, half to eat. I know, I know, safety should prevent me from eating that. Aren't we all aware that salmonella lurks in raw eggs and we must not eat raw cookie dough anymore? So we stick the bowl in the freezer, make the germs work a little harder to make us sick. After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If salmonella wants to attack, then it needs to overcome the obstacle of being frozen. Nothing easy, it must work and strive and adapt like everyone else.

Maggie made cookies the last couple of days. Baked half up for school then forgot them. When Luke asked what was for dinner, I said chocolate chips cookies. And beer. Well, no beer for you, milk. A Mom must have standards. "Cookies?"he said, "you'd need to eat like 16 for dinner."
So, what's your point? I think the 4 food groups are covered, sugar, fat, caffeine and chocolate. Close enough, dig in.

Summer leads to strange meals like chocolate chip cookies. I had no excuse, it wasn't even sweltering heat in Buffalo yesterday, just Friday afternoon and no desire to cook. Called my favorite pizzeria. Closed. Closed, how dare they take a vacation? Don't they know I need grease and I need it now? My arteries were starting to clear up, the blood was flowing easier, we can't have this, the cholesterol count must be maintained at all costs. Who cares what I look like? My clothes fit, I can eat what I want. Life is good.

Well, that was all fine yesterday. Overnight the fat molecules ganged up on me and reproduced. Today I tried on my favorite summer jean shorts. Let's just say that zipping them was a chore. That zipper must be hippo strength to hold it all in. I pushed, I poked, I prodded, I jabbed. I fell down to the floor, sucked in my breath and performed master surgery. I tucked and pushed like I was moving a ton of bricks off my suffocating child, and I finally got the belly in and the zipper up. Yeah! I'm still good. I pause to catch my breath, I turn to the mirror. Muffin tops. There I am, all neatly sucked into the shorts, but the belly has escaped over the top. Huge rolls of fat lay like buckets of lard fighting to escape from the jeans.

Muffin tops. Cookies always go to the muffin tops. Chocolate too. We may as well open a fat pocket there and deposit it in. Smear it on there all melted and see how good it looks. It never goes to the chest, no sirree, only the stomach. Heaven forbid we eat cookies and gain a bra size we want. That would be too easy, no, it has to go to the stomach.

You can eat 4 cookies and gain 5 pounds. My former boss claimed this was impossible, the calories just did not equal out. He would get out the statistical analysis and excel spread sheets to show me how wrong I was. But I know better. I know my body. It really does happen. Women's genetics just work this way, we just need the scientific study to prove it. We need to go on a revolution to study this. The theory is that opposites attract. So it 4 cookies can add 5 pounds overnight, there is another simple food that melts the 5 pounds overnight. We just need to find it.

I just hope its Lays potato chips and Bison French onion chip dip with a Merlot chaser. I think I'll go work on my research right now, muffin tops be damned.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Birthday

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. - Lucille ball

Today is my gym friend Nurse Sunshine's Birthday. There we were at 5 a.m. doing the treadmill together. I hadn't worked out in 2 weeks due to the sore back, and she really didn't want to get out of bed and go, but did anyway. Talking just made the workout more fun, less mundane. Somehow, the connection between people makes it all worth it on the days our bodies just want to lay in bed and do nothing...for the 5 minutes or so we have before the kids get up.

Nurse Sunshine gives herself the most wonderful birthday present. She wants to spend time with the how romantic, right? Yes, she wants him to spend time with her, doing whatever she wants. There I was, imagining him cooking her a gourmet meal, pouring her a glass of wine, massaging her feet while drawing her a bubble bath, all with the kids at grandmas...but Nurse Sunshine's ideas were even better, more wild, more fun. She spends time with her hubby on her days--Mother's day, birthdays, doing whatever project she most wants completed. It could be mulching the gardens, it could be cleaning and scrubbing the patio. The kids join in too. It becomes family time, with everyone helping out. They get one big thing done that she really likes to look at, to accomplish. What a great idea!

Birthdays really become our days, but how often do we do what we like most? We no longer have the hot dog birthday parties in the backyard like CK had as a child on California Road. Every year, her Mom let her have a group of 15 kids in the backyard for her own party. Both of her grandma's would be there and we would eat lots of ice cream. I so loved walking down the road to her party. It was like it became my own to get to go every year and share it. As CK's sons had birthdays, she continues the tradition of having the special day. Of getting to pick the food, and the event and the theme. Your day, your way.

Sometimes we look at birthdays as times of grief, especially on the "0" birthdays. Its hard to look past the numbers and see the accomplishments. The love, the unions and marriages, the kids, the wonderful jobs, the joyful friendships, the bloom of life no matter what the age. Why do we try to boil all that down to a number, as if that is all that matters? How can we be even begin to condense our souls to that one thing?

I like the idea of making the birthday your day. As woman, we don't do that enough. We really should take one day a month and call it our own, and do what we love, and get things accomplished we want. Feel good for us. Because when we do that, we can give it back to the world tenfold.

Make today and everyday your birthday. You deserve it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Prayer Garden

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

"Four things for success: work and pray, think and believe"--Norman Vincent Peale

I came across an interesting column in Guideposts June magazine, The Inspired Home by Kelee Katillac. ( Kelee likes to take things around the house and look for new uses in any hand-me-down item. This month she had talked about her small garden she put in that she likes to sit and drink lemonade by. She used old paint sticks as stakes for her herbs and tomatoes and such, and decorated them with names of friends she is praying for. So instead of referring to how her tomatoes are doing, she calls them now by the friends names. "Last summer Roy--the Big Boy Tomato-had a real touch-and-go start, at the same time her friends Roy was struggling. She took pretty old plates from thrift shops, and used those as edges for the small garden.

I loved the idea, and decided to put in a small garden myself, in the corner of my yard. Me, another garden? Hard to imagine, since I mainly sponsor weeds for my plants each summer. Nope, I actually went to the flea market yesterday, and picked up quite a few plates at various stands. I already had some herbs to try planting, and added some more. Along the way I noticed a tiny little chair. I decided to paint this and put in near the garden, so the angels have a place to rest while they are praying along with me. I asked the twins what color I should paint the chair, and they told me "Gold and White of course Mom, for the angels."

Today I actually turned over the ground, even though my back is killing me today. I haven't thrown my back out in over 8 years, but here it is again. I decided if I was going to be in pain, there should be a reason for it, it should be big and I should go all the way. So I did. I am sure my chiropractor will love me when I go get adjusted.

I decided to call the garden the prayer garden. It seems its not only me that is having a hard time this year. Lots of illness and deaths among my friends parents. I guess it's just our age, but we all seem to need extra help. Every day someone else is calling with bad news, or maybe good news. Maybe we just have to focus on our loved ones going to their eternal reward and forget about our grief. Maybe we all just need to laugh along with them and picture the voyage as a happy one.

DH's Aunt passed away last week. A very quick spreading cancer took her from us. And as she spoke on her last days, going into hospice, she mentioned to her daughter that she saw her deceased siblings, and Mom and in laws. They all said, come on along, its fine over here. What a nice thought from someone that really wasn't keen on organized religion. To picture here at peace is the best thing.

As I build the prayer garden, I will be adding my own prayers for a new beginning, a new career, and maybe less weeds then usual. I am looking for the old fashioned aluminum rocking chairs to set by the garden and take a load off, and maybe some more flowers to add to the weed collections. With each plant, I will name them and prayer for my sick relatives, out of work friends, and disenfranchised middle-agers. As the plants bloom, I hope so will they, in God's love and peace.

And who knows, maybe the weeds will give me a break this year....NOT.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”--Oscar Wilde

What is your passion? What gets your mojo flowing? What fills your body and brain with lust and excitement? What makes you have to have it, do it, see it, need it, read it, touch it?

I'm not talking Clintonesque passion for Monica that left stains on the blue dress. Or Spitzer lust for escorts that toppled the governorship and led late-night top ten lists. And not the desire to be twenty-one, free and in search of love...for the hours between midnight and 6 .a.m. anyway. Certainly not the desire for a Beck's brewskie, Lay's potato chips and Bison French Onion--best in the world-Chip Dip ( Or not even the passion we feel for cheering on our kids, sitting 3 hours in the pouring rain for little league baseball, facing high winds and wind chills below zero in a Buffalo springtime.

Zen, zeal, bliss, joy, freedom to face a life that's yours, your captaincy, your course, your purpose. What's driving your ship? What are your core values that makes your days fly by?

Questions, lots of questions...are there any right answers? We would like to think it's only one thing, like I was born to be a nurse. Or I am a painter. I used to search endlessly for my "one thing" like in the movie City Slickers. I would read the help wanted section of the newspaper and scan the Internet web sites, trying to box myself into one job category. After all, they tell you to read the job descriptions and put the words the headhunters are using in your resume. This way when your are scanned electronically (oh baby, it's feels so good, do it again) that you are picked as the one.

It all comes down to the magic words. "Amazing, funny, talented, creative Mom desires position that encompasses her stellar skills that enable her to get each twin to the right ball park at the right time in the correct uniform (excluding the times the socks disappear, preferring to spend their time in an orgy with the knee-his and boxer shorts) while simultaneously paying bills on-line, getting the barfing dog to the vet and derailing the Skateboarding eldest on his pursuit of demolishing my house and himself. " Somehow the job descriptions don't match my true talents.

Passion, I have decided, is what really needs to drive your life, your career, your Momdome, your fatherhood, your sphere of reality and your corner of the universe. Pursuit of knowledge. Quest for newness. Curiosity. It's the joy that fills your days because it feel right. It's your thing and your path, whatever it may be. It's what leads you load 5 kids in the car and drive 3 hours to see the Rock and Roll hall of fame, even when your parents tell you "Well, you shouldn't be doing that. You are unemployed." And it's what causes you to call your best friend at 5:45 A.M. in the morning and say, "I'll meet you for happy hour tonight. Have my wine ready." and then drive 550 miles to meet her in Richmond, Virginia, with only an email and no maps to guide you. And it's what causes you to know you will be all right because you are finally on your path. Your zen. Your thing.

I like to write. I don't know what that means, but I will keep doing it. And find my way with it, whatever that may lead, and wherever it takes me, and with the people who guide me along the way. And I will read books. And take spinning class. And dance out loud to pretty music at 10 a.m. or sing along with joy because I love the Iris Video from Goo Goo Dolls (

Passion, what does it mean? It's simply what makes you you. Whatever makes you feel at home and at peace, is what you should do. We all know the way, but sometimes, our other adult choices get in the way, like the home we own or the place where we live. We think we can't, but that's the problem in itself.

We need to be like the little engine that could, "I think I can. I think I can."

Say Yes. If you haven't read the book, "The Yes Man," a bibliography by Danny Wallace, Get it. It's so funny. And true. The movie comes out in December. And it's really what we need to remember. Follow your passion. Say yes.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Evil Bunny

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

I saved the bay window again. It's only the 1000Th time I've had to save it since moving in. A few times I missed. I still have one broken pane from last fall when a tiny little dachshund walked by and Molly went crazy, jumping and barking like the little princess was getting her last bit of food. One foxhound mutt meets a 5 pane bay window, and sometimes we lose.

Tonight, it was the evil bunny. Molly has a piece of yard that is hers. Sometimes the bunnies come right there and poop, just to torment her. Then when she next comes out, she goes nutso. You'd think someone was robbing us. Sometimes they frolic just outside the limit of her tether. They love to see her go berserk, and they gently chew away, grazing on our too long grass. Tonight, the bunny was bold. She moved just a few feet from the window where Molly sits in my great-granddad's horsehair chair. She was gulping on the dandelions that Maverick still had not mowed down. I came over and calmed Molly down, looking to see who was walking by and driving her crazy. No little doxie, just a bunny.

I never watched a bunny eat anything but grass. I have a yard full of lovely white flyaway dandelions. She would calmly sniff a few dandelions, taste the tops of some, and when she finally found one she liked, she would bit it from the bottom and suck it in like a child eats spaghetti, stopping at the flower top. There she would sit, with the flower sticking out of her mouth, chewing away, then suddenly, Plop! the top would get sucked in also.

It was funny to sit and hold Molly still and calmly watch the bunny eat. It made me think of all that window has been through. It's a lovely oak window from the 1960's. When we moved in, it was solid white, and the seat of the window had brown linoleum tiles glued on it. I have fond memories of weeks spent stripping it down during Maverick's nap time, while listening to the OJ trial. And I even remember watching our lady mail carrier walk-by while they announced the verdict, and running out to tell her.

We just finished the window and remodeled the living room when Maverick threw the remote at it and broke a pane. I immediately signed him up for baseball even though he was only 18 moths old!

Next abuse of the window was when the twins were wee babies. 2 a.m. feeding time. I went upstairs and picked them both up from their cribs, came down,got the bottles from the stove and went to the living room to sit in the lazy boy by the bay window to rock them. I would sit with one on each leg, on a pillow, heads propped up with a bottle in each mouth. So I was grabbing pillows, holding babies and bottles. and bending to sit in the chair, all while half asleep. I didn't aim right, and hit the back of the chair while pushing back, not down. Next thing I know, I hit the chair, it flips completely over with me and babies and bottles, snapping up and getting stuck on the window ledge. I'm afraid to try and get out, so I spent 10 minutes trying to wake sleeping DH by screaming my head off. He comes running finally, hitting lights as he goes to see where I am--and 2 lights in a row blow out as he flips the switch. Man, what a night!

Maggie and Luke took out a window while practicing baseball. I was just heading to the door to tell them to turn the other way in the yard, when Luke threw a hard ball and Maggie ducked, letting the ball sail right into the living room. We barely got the window fixed, when the October surprise hit, knocking out 2 more windows. We fixed those and Molly took out another one. Fixed that, and then she cracked another one. I was just saying it's time to fix that one, and here comes the bunny.

And as I sit quietly telling you about the window's adventures, when the little neighbor children come over to get the twins to play. Molly goes nuts, I get up from writing this to grab her again, and you guessed it. She pounced right through as if it was empty and leaped right on the little kindergarten girl.

Maybe I need stock in a glass company.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Job Fair

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

If a man is called to be a street sweeper,he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.He should sweep streets so well that the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."- Martin Luther King -

Heading to a job fair today. Lots of opportunities to hear about jobs that are available. Uplifting to think of all the possibilities at every company represented there. Challenging to make yourself heard in a chorus of thousands of lost souls looking for their next great job, the next team they want to run passes for, the next symphony for their music to play in.

Mass market hiring can be fun and interesting. When Maggie and Luke heard I was going to a job fair, their faces lit up. Will there be rides? Sure, a Ferris wheel soars you to new heights as you search for the next job. And a roller coaster bounces you up and down, twisting your stomach and shaking up your brain cells as you wait in line to speak to recruiters. And the tilt-a-whirl throws you around and beats you senseless when you whine "no one will hire me." And there is a dunk tank you throws balls at, yelling, "I am NOT unqualified! My skills do meet your needs! I am a good fit!" And they sell grown up job searching candy called "Tums", "Ibuprofen" and "Wine."

No, really Mom, are there rides at the job fairs? Or maybe do they sell crafts and toys too? Or how about cotton candy? No, just selling hope, faith and inspiration. A new job, a new beginning. It's like opening day for baseball. You just never know if this might be your year.

What team uniform will I be wearing? I'm open to all possibilities. Well, maybe not the brown and orange polyester uniform I wore in high school and college while working at Bells supermarkets. That one, I think should be retired. 5 years as a cashier is enough for anyone. We used to spend our nights joking about letting the customers check themselves out....

If we only knew.

Inspiration comes to us all the time. We just need to stop and listen. And believe in ourselves, and our passions, and go with the team that fills that bliss.

Maybe I'll find mine today.