Monday, December 23, 2013

Resolutions, Smetherlutions

Here we are about to ring in the new year.  Out with the old and in with the new.  So they say.  How many resolutions have I made and not kept.  Tons.  That's how many.  And then there have been the years that I don't feel it's worth it to even try.  Why disappoint myself?  I'm just setting myself up for a let down.

Do you ever wonder how much money is spent on stuff that involves resolutions?  All of the exercise equipment, juicers, magic diet pills, and the list goes on.  I'm not anti-resolution.  I fully support healthy choices and positive moves that make more time for faith, family and friends.

I've tried all of the promises to myself and they really haven't worked out that well. In fact I often do the opposite of what was planned.  So that's what I'm going to do.  The opposite.  Stay with me.  This  is a little confusing.  Here goes.

I am going to eat more and sleep less.  I am going to spend lots of money.  I will cut back on my exercise routine.  I will spend less time with family and friends.  I won't read as much.  I will cut back on my walks with the dogs.  I will watch more tv.   I hope I don't have to travel at all.

In my goofy way of thinking, I feel I may have discovered a new way to keep my promises, my resolutions.  They say that opposites attract.  Maybe if I resolve to do the opposite of what I say it will actually happen.  Yep.  A reversal of thinking.  I'm liking it.  I think this may actually work for me.  Oh wait, I'm pretty sure that this will be a complete failure.  Wink.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Color My World

So I saw my therapist today.  We spent time catching up.  Even when you've found someone that you can confide in, there are common pleasantries that occur.  How is Scott?  And Gracie?  How is work going?  You get the picture.

After that we get into deep discussions.  About life.  About the holidays.  How we celebrate them and what is positive and negative about this time of year.  We discuss holidays that have passed.  We talk about loved ones that are no longer living.

We talk about how it is important to take care of yourself during stressful times.  We chat about the old example of the airplane emergency advice.  You know the one.  Where the flight attendant tells you that in case of emergency you should put your oxygen mask on before you help others.  We talk about how counterintuitive this sounds to us, how it is part of our DNA to help others first, even though we completely understand the deeper meaning of taking care of yourself so that you can help others.

And as the minutes pass and our time is up, I feel refreshed.  I feel like I've solved some problems.  I feel lucky to have someone I trust to bounce ideas off of.  I sort of feel like a new woman.   I'd like to think that I look renewed, too.

We bid each other farewell.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, too.  And I schedule my next appointment for six weeks from today.  In February I will do this again.  I will see my hair designer for another therapy session and coloring of the grays.  I look forward to it.  Always.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I'm not sure when my fascination with owls began.  I remember my Mom and Grandma making oil paintings that had owls on them.  The detail was spot on.  They would paint on pieces of wood and the end result was gorgeous.  I also love the fact that these creatures are nocturnal and can turn their heads up to 270 degrees around.  Phenomenal.  Maybe that's when it started.

Fast forward to now.  I have a few owl items dispersed throughout the house.  There is kind of an artsy one made of metal, wire and stones.  It's up high on a book shelf and surveys all of the happenings in the kitchen/dining room.  I have a picture of an owl in our bedroom.  I love the colors in this picture.  It matches our mossy greens, reds and blues. Perfectly.There are a few other owls in the house, but not many.

Then the catalog came.  Pottery Barn.  My favorite.  I found an owl in the catalog that is ceramic. The price was more than I was willing to spend.  Trying to be patient, I waited. And I waited some more.  Then I just happened to be at the mall.  The home of Pottery Barn.  I walked into the store and there it was.  My owl.  It was still regular price, so I pulled myself away.  Just then a sales clerk walked up to me.  Let me check on the price was what she said.  No discount.

The sales clerk then got very close to me and whispered, are you my friend?  Without hesitation I answered yes.  I'll be right back she said.  Within seconds she was back with a 40 percent off coupon.  For friends and family.  She said, I'm Sharon by the way.  I'm Ann, I said.

At the checkout she greeted me by name.  Hi Ann, did you find what you were looking for? Indeed I did, Sharon.  I handed over my 40 percent off card and smiled.  This owl was coming home with me.

This owl now sits in the middle of the dining room table.  It was made for this spot.  I really enjoy this ceramic owl.  I enjoy the journey I took in buying the owl more.  I met someone who has a great sense of humor and is spontaneous just like me.  Life can be a hoot.  I know that you get that.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

60 Minutes

No.  Not the show.  Although I have to say I enjoy the news program.  I'm talking about an hour or sixty minutes of time.  What about it?  Well, I found myself a few weeks ago thinking that I had too much to do.  I had too many places to be.  And I felt overwhelmed by tasks I wanted to complete.

I decided to take one day at a time.  I would make my lists and take them slowly.  But even this was too much.  The defeat would set in before the day was done.  No, I didn't get my list finished.  And worse, my leftovers from the day before would be added to the next day making things feel out of reach.  And then a funny thing happened.  I broke my toes.  You know this already.  Some may think it was an inconvenience.  I choose to see this as a blessing.

If I hadn't fallen, I would have never been forced to take a break.  Literally.  I had to let others get things and do things.  I had to accept and be grateful for this.  I'm very independent and used to doing a lot for myself.  And for others.  Now it was my time to accept help.  Scott did more than his share around the house, with Gracie and to help me.  I love how we know each other so well that he can actually pick up on what I need and want.  Sometimes I found I didn't even have to ask.

I found that from the moment I fell, my girl could be there for me, too.  In fact the day I fell she was the first to respond.  Here she was, fresh out of shoulder surgery herself, hooked up to an ice cuff and rendering me aid. When I fell she unhooked herself  from her ice machine and brought me ice packs.
With her good arm she could carry a light basket of laundry to me and I could fold clothes.  Later, Scott would carry the basket upstairs.  Team effort.  We got things done and felt accomplished.

I scaled my lists back.  It wasn't reasonable to keep going at the lightning pace I had before. Then about a week into my injury I scrapped the lists altogether.  Who needs them anyway?  What needed to be done and addressed was attended to.  Others did these things just as well as I did.  In some cases even better.  It was a time when I became very grounded in the fact that my team works like a well oiled machine.

I have shed the walking boot I needed to wear.  I'm still taking things slow.  I come home from work and soak my foot and elevate.  And I'm still taking one hour at a time.  I do this not to avoid being overwhelmed.  I take 60 minutes at a time now to enjoy and to embrace my team and the time we have together.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Look At What Happens When You Skip A Step

I have been known to take shortcuts.  I love it when I find a quicker way through town.  One that skips a few lights.  One that takes me on roads less traveled.  And the end result is that I usually get to my destination sooner.

I have not always been very patient.  With others, I generally am very patient.  Not so much with myself.  Yes.  I'm the one that likes the shampoo and conditioner combination.  It's quicker that way.  I like the clothes that don't need to be ironed.  I use the laundry soap with softener in it.  I am constantly looking for ways to be quicker in things and more efficient.

I have had some success and some failures in cooking.  There are times when the recipe should be followed to a "t".  And if the recipe says you should sift your dry ingredients, you should follow this direction.  I have also had some success in using substitutes.  But it hasn't worked out well every time.

So this weekend, I did all sorts of rushing around.  I finished cleaning my upstairs in record time.  I was celebrating this accomplishment by whistling as I walked, ok bounced, down the steps.  Almost to the end I missed the second to last step and fell.

After a couple of hours the pain had not subsided.  In fact it was getting worse.  Even after icing it.  And elevating it.  I needed to go to urgent care.  Luckily my sore foot is my left one. I'm still able to drive.  An x-ray was ordered.  My doctor said it looked like a sprain.  The x-ray said it wasn't. In fact three toes are broken.  Pretty badly, too.  Home I went with a fancy new boot and a pair of crutches.  And now I get to have a follow up appointment with a podiatrist.

All this for skipping one step.  Just one...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

47 Things I know...

Ok.  I'm not actually going to type 47 things that I know.  The reason that I used the number 47 is because that's my new age.  I like the sound of new age.  It's mine and I'm going to own it and tell you a few things that I do know.

I like to spend time, not money.  Any day of the week.  I have money.  I need money.  But the things that mean the most to me don't cost a thing and are yet priceless.  Spending time with a friend over a two hour cup of coffee.  Visiting family and laughing at the jokes that only your family understands.  This is the stuff that life's made of.

A good meal made by someone you love, or for someone you love, nourishes the stomach and soul.  On my birthday Scott made steaks.  With sautéed mushrooms and onions.  It was a meal that pleased my palette.  More than that the company, my man and daughter, made me feel full and loved.

Surround yourself with young ones.  It makes you remember that you're not always right.  It keeps you fresh.  In ideas, humor and language.  It will challenge your brain.  And they will drain your energy and help you sleep well.

If your clothes don't fit, quit wearing them.  I did another major purge this summer of drawers and closets.  Seriously.  It's amazing what I really don't wear.  In my world a good fitting pair of jeans is worth a million bucks.  Ok, not a million, but they are worth a lot.

Moisturize.  On the inside and on the outside.  I recently read a statistic about how Americans are often not hydrated well.  This makes a difference in organs functioning properly and how your skin appears.  Of course there is the need for topical moisture, too. Especially as one ages.  Find one that works.  Your outer shell depends on it.

I don't feel 47.  And I don't feel 21 either.  I feel content.  I feel loved.  I love and laugh.  Like all of the time.  Perhaps this is what keeps me feeling younger than my actual new age.   Or maybe it's all of the lotion and the young people I surround myself with.  Whatever it is, I'm going to keep doing it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

For Benny And Schoep

It's no secret that I am in love with dogs.  I didn't grow up with them, but I adopted one the minute I married.  This is where my love began.  Belvedere was an English Bulldog.  Not the lovey on your lap kind of dog.  He was the kind that pulled me around the block and ate furniture when brought into the house.  But I loved him.  He opened the door for me to love other dogs.

Soon after came Chester and Winston.  Both of them changed me forever.  They made me a better person.  I will always have them in my heart.  And that brings me to Benny and Schoep.  These dogs were not mine.  But their humans shared them with many.  I did have the opportunity to meet Benny.  He was the fun loving fella that lived next door to my parents.  Benny and my dad had a connection.  They visited often.  Dad said he genuinely felt an affectionate bond between them.  A little over a week ago, dad and Benny shared their last visit.  Benny saw something interesting and died shortly after darting out into the street.

And a few weeks ago Schoep died.  I never met him.  Or his human, John.  Schoep was this wonderful boy who had the love of a man that helped him reach the age of 20.  He was hard of hearing and had poor eyesight.  His hips were bad and he had arthritis.  But somehow John found a way to comfort him and restore some pep to this beautiful boy. John would carry Schoep into the lake and let the water work its healing wonders on him. Schoep touched thousands of lives because of a picture that was in a newspaper of John and Schoep on one of their trips to the lake.  The world was honored to be with John and Schoep in their journey together.

I am writing about these two boys because they are universal ambassadors of love.  We as humans provide them with love, food, water and a home.  We make sure that they have proper medical care and licenses.  But what they give back to us is priceless.  They teach us to love at a level deeper than we ever knew we could.  They teach us to be thoughtful. To be happy to see each other.  Every time we come home.  They teach us to be patient and kind.  To exercise.  They teach us to play and be silly. They show us that even though they don't speak to us, they understand.  They are incredibly forgiving.  They never see us humans as flawed.

I know these families are grieving the loss of Benny and Schoep.  Many others are mourning with them.  And this is where we can take a lesson from our furry loved ones.  Be gentle in this time.  With yourself.  Allow yourself the time to feel.   Remember some of the valuable lessons these wonderful creatures have taught us.  Be thoughtful and happy to see each other.  Every time we come home.  Be patient and kind.  Be silly and play.  Exercise. Understand and forgive.  And keep your heart open to love again.  This is the best way I know of to honor our four-legged family members.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Traveling Bassinet

We had been looking forward to this day for a long time.  The day that we would walk through our back door with our new baby.  I had a difficult pregnancy, so it was a relief to be at this point.  Mom and baby healthy and home.  As a result of my time on bed rest there wasn't a lot of time to plan and decorate.

Oh, don't worry.  I made my maiden voyage to the children's furniture store.  And within fifteen minutes I had dropped a thousand dollars.  Scott didn't say a word.  He didn't blink an eye.  He just wrote the check.  For this grand amount we received a crib, a dresser and bedding for our new baby.  Blame it on the hormones, or perhaps my limited time to shop, but it was an insane amount to spend. Fourteen years ago.

Back to the much awaited moment of walking through the door with our priceless addition. She was tiny.  I know, I know.  All babies are small.  But Gracie was four pounds, fourteen ounces.  A little itty bitty thing.  She was early, but healthy as a horse.  We introduced her to our dogs.  They checked her out.  Sniffed her.  Licked her little head.  And they gave us their approval.  It was as if they said, "it's all good.  You can keep her."

After a little while we decided to put her in her crib.  I laid her down gently.  Scott and I looked at her sleeping peacefully and smiled.  And then I freaked.  She's too small to sleep in such a big space!  This isn't going to work for me.  And then the tears.  And there were many.

Scott was off like a superhero.  With the help of my mom he left for the children's furniture store.  To buy a bassinet.  Because the thousand dollar furniture was too big for his baby.  Not really.  But he understood that it was too big for his wife to bear at this very moment.

Back they came with a lovely little bassinet covered in white eyelet.  It was perfect.  Small, like she was.  It was on a stand that had wheels.  And wheel it I did.  From the living room, to the kitchen and back to my bedside.

It wasn't long before she grew too big to be in this bassinet.  By this time I was much more comfortable with her sleeping in her gigantic crib.  Not really.  I mean her crib wasn't gigantic.  I meant that I was at peace with her being in there.  Gracie was at peace, too. She slept beautifully.

Such a pretty bassinet it was.  And so when we heard that friends were having a baby we loaned it to them.  They kept it through two babies.  No sooner was it returned to us and another couple we knew needed it.  They kept it through four babies.  Right now it is being used by a baby boy born a month ago.

This pretty little impulse buy is getting a lot of use.  This traveling bassinet has held a lot of babies.  It is the gift that keeps giving.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Bigger The Better

It's me again.  So soon, you say?  Yep.  When the writing juices are flowing you've just got to do it.  You may have noticed that I changed my template.  It was time.  I like to change things up a bit.  I'm just having a little trouble with the predominance of pink.  Otherwise I like it.  Free form watercolor.  Good for now.

It's summer and I have changed a few things up.  I bought a new couch.  It's a sectional.  Brown leather.  It feels like butter.  So comfortable.  And we all fit on it.  Scott, Gracie, Sweet Pea, Bailey and me.  With room to spare.  I loved the look of this couch in the store and I love it even more in my living room.   But I need to be honest.  The furniture is bigger than I thought it would be.  I am usually so good at visualizing.  Really.  It's like a gift.  Or should I say it was a gift.  I sort of made this piece of furniture smaller in my mind.  To fit in my small living room, of course.

Anyway, we're loving every minute of it.  And then we saw Nate Berkus on t.v. the other day.  I love his design tips.  I had even caught a few of his shows before his daytime spot was cancelled.  Well, Nate suggested to viewers that they decompress first thing when they get home.  He said to sit down and put your feet up, even for ten minutes, it is the best gift you can give yourself.  Scott and I looked at each other.  Telepathically we communicated. Yep, hardly a word was spoken and we were off.  To the furniture store.

Our lives will not be complete until we do this, is what we said.  We marched into the store and we were on a mission.  To find the ottoman that matches our mammoth couch.  So we can put our feet up and decompress.  Every day.

So, Scott picked up the ottoman today.  It's big.  It matches the couch.  Scott says that our couch reaches into next week.  And now we have a matching ottoman that has its own zip code!

Be Sweet

Yesterday in church we had a visiting pastor.  He said he feels that anger has consumed much of our time.  Anger has become more and more prevalent.  We read about it in the papers.  We watch news stories about people focusing on the negative and getting angry about it.  I get it.

I have wasted time in my life.  I have been angry for sure.  It's a normal human response.  It shouldn't be taken away.  It has a purpose.  I think it goes back to the survival instincts we have.  If something isn't right, or fair, we will occasionally respond with anger.  This lights a fire within us to make a change.

The unhealthy type of anger is the kind that consumes our every waking moment.  The kind that causes road rage.  The kind that causes people to say mean and rude things to others.  The not cool kind.  This is the kind that makes you see red and act in ways that are inappropriate.  It's the kind of anger that gets feelings hurt and people killed.

I have had times of frustration.  My plan to clean the house, my plan to meet up with friends and it doesn't go the way I want it to.  This is a set up for disappointment.  But there are some key factors in what I just said.  Here they are..."my plan" and "the way I want it to."  I do have control over how I plan things and how I want things to go.  It's like working a math equation.  If I add the same two numbers over and over the outcome will always be the same.  The problem with the I and my statements that I just made is that I didn't factor in any outside influence.  Or any other people.  So really why would I expect the result to change?

Top this with the fact that behavioral scientists have shown that it takes more effort to be angry than it does to be happy, kind and accepting.  I have chosen in life to be the former.  I save my energy for being pleasant.  For being kind.  For helping others.

I hold doors, smiling, I'll let someone with only three items to buy go ahead of me in the grocery store line.  These are small things.  They are practice.  For me.  I will still be strong and have my own opinions, but I will see others' perspectives, too.  I aspire to be more laid back and calm.  So I can carry on.  And save my times of frustration and anger when they can be thought out and used to make a positive change.

So along with simplifying my life, I have made a conscious decision to try to always be calm and well intentioned.  It's something I can control.  It is good for my health.  And for those around me.  It's just easier to be sweet.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

She Dreamed It

Scott and I decided before Gracie was born that we would try to never tell her she couldn't do things.  Don't worry. We would never let her touch something hot or let her play in traffic. We wanted her to feel like she could be and do anything her heart desired. We wanted to be encouraging parents.

It started when she was small. Newly verbal, she began by saying, "I do it." Like when she was just over a year old.  She said this over and over.  And she did do it. She walked. She ran. She jumped.  And she flipped.  And then, at seven, she broke her arm.  And even that didn't stop her.  She got her black belt in karate.  She became a strong swimmer.  She jumped off the high dive.

She has gone to camps and on trips all over the country (courtesy of Grandma and Papa). She has met new people. She has volunteered. She tries new crafts. This she gets from her artistic Grandma. She googled a recipe on the night of our anniversary and prepared a four star restaurant-worthy meal for us.  She snaps photos. Like her dad. And she has a great eye. It's genetic.

She loves people. And she loves to talk and laugh. And make other people laugh. Like her mom. And her aunt. She is supportive and takes risks. She has a can do attitude that I wish I could bottle. She has been supportive beyond her thirteen years. She has helped me in difficult times. She was sunshine to her dad through his battle with cancer. She is her Papa's favorite nurse.

She is athletic. She plays hard. She runs. She lifts weights. She takes good care of her body.  Especially her back. She has scoliosis and has been paying special attention to strengthening muscles around her spine.

Last year she made me a bookmark. I think that it sums up how simple her motto in life is. It says, "she dreamed she could, so she did." Definitely words to live and dream by.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I've Been Away...

Not literally.  Figuratively.  It's been a busy time.  Nothing earth shattering.  No tragedy.  Thank goodness.  Just very busy.  In mostly good ways.  Starting in early May I started checking things, commitments, off my list.  Confirmation ended.  My Wednesdays are now completely mine.  Yeah.
Gracie's commitments at school and outside of school are coming to an end.  That means Ann's taxi service catches a break.

I am counting down the days until school is done.  This is my summer to get things done.  I have a basement that needs attention and organization.  In fact the whole house needs a once over.  If you were to walk in the door right now, you would probably see that my house is pretty orderly.  But deep inside there is work to be done.  Things that need to be recycled, reused and reduced.

I've been on auto pilot for a while now and it's time to make life simple and prioritize what is most important.  So this summer I will sleep more, eat better, exercise and take time to READ.  At least a book a week, if not more.  I remember the days when I could read two or three books a week.  Good times.

Spending time with family and friends is a definite.  Lots of time for that.  And campfires and pontoon boat rides.  This is what I am looking forward to this summer.  I want to feel a sense of accomplishment.  A sense of order brings peace to everything.  Body, soul and mind.  And this is what I strive for.  Now that I'm back.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Story That Should Be Told

I love stories.  They are something that cannot be replaced by technology.  They live the test of time.  Even if they are passed down in history via technology.

I love times when people sit down face to face and share stories that we can laugh at, cry at and have the permission to share.  I have one of these sharable moments.  Gracie and many other students at her middle school have been training for races.  One of these races was yesterday.  It was a kids triathlon.  The kids swam laps in the pool.  They then ran outside to a transition area, put clothes on, jumped on their bikes and rode five miles.  At the end of the bike ride they ran a mile around the high school track to the finish line.

Months of training had gone into this event.  All with the guidance of a fantastic coach.  He tirelessly worked with these kids.  He taught many how to pace themselves.  He taught them how to efficiently set up their transition areas.  They ran and they swam.  He gave them positive words of encouragement and told them he was proud of them.  And they were ready.

One last thing, is what the email said on Friday.  The coach asked if all of the families involved would take the time to help cheer on a student who has been training for his triathlon. This young man has cerebral palsy.  He had been riding his bike in the hallways of the school to train.  He swam, biked and used his walker to walk the final leg of his race.  All the way through his race he was with his coach, my daughter's coach, every child's coach.  And this man encouraged him along the way.

And the rest of the families and students cheered, too.  All along the course.  People who didn't even know this young man started chanting his name.  There was screaming and hollering in the most respectful way.  It was one of the most moving events I have ever been part of.  I was so proud of this young man, this coach and of course the kids that the coach has been involved with.  And I would venture a bet that this story will be told.  Even by complete strangers.

And it should be.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Almost Perfect

It's been a while.  I've missed writing.  Life, as it does, got in the way.  Scott had shoulder surgery.  Nothing major.  But it was enough to upset our normal routine.  He's healing beautifully and right on time.  We're thankful.

Isn't it crazy how a small change in routine can seem to mess everything up?  We had been in a groove for a while.  I liked it.  On a perfect day, I would get up, make coffee, feed the dogs and go for a walk.  I would shower and enjoy a leisurely cup of joe.  Scott and I would discuss what our day had in store for us.  And off we'd go.  Into our routines.

And on a perfect day the traffic would be manageable.  I would hear songs on that radio that make me happy.  The trip to work would be uneventful and no longer than 25 minutes.  I will find parking right on the street in front of the building I work at.  And my day would begin.

Over the past couple of weeks I've been getting up at night with Scott.  Man, interrupted sleep can sure make an impression on a person.  I was almost a zombie at the end of the week.  So today I returned to my normal routine after a night of uninterrupted sleep.  I woke up refreshed.  I made coffee, dogs were taken care of and I showered.  Off to work I went.  The radio did not disappoint.  My drive time was 30 minutes.  Not quite the usual, but close.  It really is the small stuff that makes my day.

Little things make me happy.  My qualifiers for a perfect day are small.  That's true.  I like it that way.  It keeps things simple for me.  And perfect.  Almost perfect.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm That Age

This past week was spring break at my house.  I initially had made grand plans of simplifying my house.  Like to the extreme.  But then the time actually arrived.  And I wanted to sleep.  And eat.  And read.  Without pressure.  So I did.

I wasn't completely lazy.  I was middle-lazy.  And that's not all I am.  Apparently I'm middle-aged, too. Ok, so it's not like I didn't really know that 46 is in the mid range of my time on earth.  But you know how it goes.  You feel like you are in your mid twenties on the inside.  That is until you go to the doctor and start answering questions.  Honestly.  A little trouble sleeping?  Yes.  Hot at night?  Yes.  And the list went on.  I won't bore you with the details.  Well Ann,  you are about that age.

And my reflexes were checked.  Excellent for a person my age.  That pain in my knee?  No, we won't fix it for a while.  Maybe some arthritis.  Come on.  And then the good news.  Now that I have reached the age that I am without incident, I don't have to have certain tests done every year.

So I left the office relieved and having some mixed feelings.  I'm entering a new age for sure.  Two days later I had the every six week appointment I need to cover the plethora of grays emerging from my scalp.  And then the event that hit me square between the eyes.  I walked into a fine department store to find the miracle moisturizer.  The one that will give me sun protection and make me look 20 years younger.

When I walked up to the counter a saleswoman approached me.  I said I need a moisturizer.  She said to address the fine lines in the corners of my eyes?  No, I said.  Oh, something to take care of the dark circles under your eyes.  Not exactly, I said.  Man, kick a girl when she's down.  And along came another saleslady.  Who is now my new best friend.  Mostly because she was kinder and gentler.  She did indeed find me the miracle moisturizer that will address all of my issues.  And included in the package was some concealer.  And we all have things to conceal.  Especially me with my dark circles.

Tomorrow I go back to work.  Rested?  Check.  Medically cleared?  Check.  Hair appropriately colored?  Check.  And wrinkles and dark circles diminishing?  Check.  At least I hope so.  And if not, what do you expect?  I am that age.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Isn't it crazy how something as simple as a picture can take you back in time?   That's what happened for me this week.  I was skimming through posts on Facebook.  A friend had posted a picture of the snake that had taken shelter under the top of their grill.  It was by all accounts not a big snake.  The colors were pretty.  And in that exact second that I looked at that picture, I shuddered.

I shuddered because I was transported from my current age of 46 back to a time when I was six.  My grandparents had taken me to the zoo in Des Moines.  I loved this place.  There was a water fountain that was shaped like the head of a rhino.  There were big and small animals.  And best of all there were opportunities to interact with some of the smaller animals.  One particular day I had the chance to get to know snakes.  I was excited.  This I remember clearly.  There were probably twenty of us taking part in this hands on experience.

The zoo people told us what to expect.  They asked us to leave some distance between us.  And one by one we all got our very own small snake to hold.  We were instructed as to the best and most respectful way to hold the snakes.  They were smooth and wiggly.  We were having a great time.  And that's when it happened.  A little girl in the row behind me was startled by the snake flicking it's tongue at her.  She dropped her snake and screamed.  And from then on it was like a nasty chain reaction.  Her snake started skimming across the floor.  Up over the sandaled feet of the kid next to her.  Yep, he dropped his snake and screamed, too.

And it went from bad to worse.  In seconds there was pandemonium.  Lots of kids screaming.  Lots of parents and grandparents yanking their kids to safety.  Many little snakes probably looking for a safe place to hide.  The zoo workers were frantically using these grabber devices to catch the terrified snakes.  I was saved by my grandparents and the fear of snakes was instilled in me.

Fast forward to the library when Gracie was about five.  This wonderful veterinarian who rescues injured animals gave a presentation.  He brought with him several of these hurt and healed animals.  One of the animals was a 14 foot python.  Maybe longer.  The vet slowly would weave his way through the aisles of children and parents to let them touch and love these animals.  And here came my chance to show my fearless little woman child that her mama was strong.   I thought about leaving to use the restroom.  Or maybe he would just pass me by.  And then Gracie reached out and touched this enormous snake.  Mama, it's beautiful.  Smooth, too.  As this point I'm hyperventilating inside for sure.  And at the same time trying to appear calm on the outside.  Nodding my head like a fool.  Trying not to open my mouth because we have been told to keep quiet out of respect for the animals.  And if I open my mouth a scream will for sure escape.

And then the vet says in a calm and soothing voice, mom, she did it and so can you.  He continues, I see you are afraid.  The snake is more afraid of you than you are of it.  Not possible, is what I say.  And then he encourages me once again and I touch the snake.  I'm not sure what happened after that.  I think I blacked out.  No I didn't.  It was smooth.  The vet said good job, mom.  You made a good impression on your daughter today.  I said, actually, she made a great impression on me.

Am I over this snake business?  No.  As evidenced by my reaction to the post this week.  But this experience reminded me to take risks and face fears.  As the saying goes, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ya Big Tease

Really?  One day it's sunny and smells like spring and the next it's snowing and ten below.  I'm no stranger to weather changes.  It's everywhere.  I am in it every day.  I can't help it.  I have to get from point A to point B.  There's no way around it.  I do not live in some eco-dome that would let me enjoy the 60-70 degree temperatures every day.  Nope.  Not me.

I live right here in the midwest.  The place that has season changes four times a year.  The place where the weather predictors have a lot of wiggle room if you ask me.  I once heard a prediction that went something like this, "today we will have highs in the 50s and lows in the teens.  With winds from the southwest to the northeast ranging from ten to fifty miles an hour.  Seriously?  What a nice job.  Pretty much guaranteed to hit and not miss on that one.

And yet I'll hang on every word spoken by these weather channelers when I wish the weather they are predicting to be true.  Like right now.  When I am so desperately wishing to throw open my windows and smell fresh air.  I cannot wait to sleep with the windows open.  Time to get that winter dust out of my lungs.  Tomorrow is the first day of spring.  Ha.  With highs predicted to be in the upper teens to low twenties.  Yuck.  Spring?  Ya big tease.

Monday, March 11, 2013


With the change of time, which I am none too happy about, I know that spring is around the corner.  I know.  I'll love this when it stays lighter out later.  I already did today.  But the loss of one hour hurts.  I woke up so tired on Sunday morning my body really hurt.  I'll adjust.  The spring in my step will return.

It's also a reminder that spring cleaning should take place.  So I started.  With the pantry.  Yep.  An overzealous task for sure.  There were some things in there that shouldn't have been.  Like school supplies and some junk mail.  I have a theory.  We probably had some company drop in.  In a moment of panic I threw what was on the counter into the pantry.  And over time this stuff got shoved further in.
Thank goodness there were no bills in this stack.  This isn't normally how I roll.  But I will stuff and shove when I need to clean fast.

And herein lies the problem.  You see I still love a simplified house.  I'm usually pretty good at keeping it this way.  But there are the times when it is impossible.  Those times when we are so busy that our house feels like a hotel.  Mostly because all we do is sleep here.  Thankfully in the last couple of months we've fallen into a routine.  And now it's time to dig out.

So I started with the pantry.  And my goal is to accomplish a small task each day.  I'd like to do this before spring break.  That way my break time will truly be that.  A time to relax.  I think I have my family on board.  We've purged closets.  If it hasn't been worn in a year, it's gone.  Extra holiday stuff has been sent away.  We still have the basement and garage to do.  And the rest of the kitchen.  So goes my motto.  If you don't love it and you don't use it, it's time to lose it.  Happily springing into action and wishing you the same.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March Came In With A Break

I flipped the calendar over on Friday.  I love a new month.  A fresh start.  And on a Friday. Bonus.  I knew that I would have a nice Friday night with Scott.  And I'd sleep in on Saturday.  I could hardly wait.  Around 10:00 p.m. the text came.  Call me ASAP.  It was from Amy.  I sort of smiled.  I thought that she would be reminding me that her birthday was only two hours away.  She would probably be saying that I only had a couple of hours to talk to her before she turns another year older.  We are sisters.  And yes we're goofy.  Most of the time.

This wasn't one of those times.  I called and she had news for me.  Mom and Dad had been at a dinner party.  Dad went to get the car for mom.  He does that.  It's one of the things I love about him.  While walking to the car he fell and broke his arm.  Some fellow partygoers helped him get to his feet.  He got into the car and sat in the passenger's seat and mom drove him to the emergency room.  It was there that they ruled out any injury to his head, ribs or hip.  Thank goodness.  But he had broken his arm in two places and it was a compound fracture.  That's right.  Bone poking out of skin.  Oh man.  This is bad.

A terrific surgeon was called in.  From 12:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. he was in surgery.  A plate and several screws are now a permanent part of my dad.  There was a lot of clean up that needed to be done on dad's arm.  Lots of fragments that needed to be removed.  And of course there is the worry about infection.

So instead of getting together for brunch on Saturday to celebrate my sister's birthday, we gathered at the hospital to be with dad.  Not exactly the venue we had planned on.  But that was about all that was different.  Dad was still chatting it up with hospital staff.  He was talking with the nurses and hamming it up.  We were laughing and joking.  There he was, in bed with stitches from his shoulder to his elbow, and he's asking other people about where they are from.

He's always done that.  Both my mom and dad have always been equally as kind to people they know and love, as they are to people they are just getting to know.  It's who they are.  They are truly interested in others.  They are smart and great listeners.  They are compassionate.  They are funny.   Even in difficult times.  They are authentic, beautiful people.  I couldn't have asked for better role models in life.

So the next six to eight weeks will be different for my mom and dad.  Dad won't be able to dash off for coffee or lunch like he's used to doing.  And mom will be full time nurse.  This will not be easy for either of them.  But I also know that those who love them will be stopping by and calling often.  I know that I'll do what I can.  I know that my sister will be fantastic at helping wherever she is able.  And I know that their grace and humor will ease the pain a little.

This wasn't the fresh start I was anticipating in March.  I'm pretty sure it wasn't the birthday party Amy had planned on either.  But we made the best of it.  And right now I can almost hear it in my head---my dad saying,  them's the breaks!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Picture This

We all have friends and family that we share history with.  And I'd bet that all of you have stories in your past that are hysterically funny.  The kind of story that can rock you to your core with laughter at a  moments notice.  Maybe only a few words need to be spoken.  Sort of code words that will ripple through your group or between two of you and bring tears to your eyes.  In a humorous way.

I have several of these that I share with all sorts of people, but this week one came to mind.  I had just given birth to Gracie.  I think maybe two weeks earlier.  I had set up a vet appointment for our two dogs, Chester and Winston.  And I had made this appointment way before I knew Gracie would be arriving early.  I could have rescheduled, but was thinking that Scott would probably take the dogs in for me.  As luck would have it, he worked overtime and wasn't able to make the appointment.

I was feeling good.  Really good.  After a pregnancy plagued with all sorts of complications, I felt like a million bucks.  I had a gorgeous and healthy baby.  I had lost a ton of my pregnancy weight and I had energy to spare.  My baby slept through the night.  Life was good.  How hard could it be to take the dogs to the vet?

I put Gracie in her car seat.  Made sure I had the diaper bag.  Hooked the dogs up on their leashes and made sure they did what dogs do before they got in the truck.  Off we went.  I was singing with the radio.  It was a sunny October day.  I really couldn't believe how beautiful it was.  It was a short drive to the office and I parked right out front.  I slung the diaper bag over my shoulder and lifted the carseat out by the handle, balancing Gracie in the crook of my left elbow.  To the other side of the truck.  I picked up the leashes and out hopped Chester and then Winston.  My perfect family.

Just as we step up onto the sidewalk the dogs start to pull.  Off to my right a woman has just pulled up in a small car.  To the other side of her car she goes and lets out her dog.  More like a cow or a horse.  I still don't know what it was.  Perhaps a mastiff or something.  Anyway this tiny woman was trying to coax her larger than life animal into the vet's office.  It was not going well for her.  Lots of pulling, grunting and empty promises on her part.  On the other hand, her dog was resisting and rearing back.  The woman looked at me as if to say, could you help?  I thought, really, with a diaper bag, baby and two dogs of my own?  But I did my best.  I said come on buddy, it'll all be over before you know it.  It's not so bad.  I even tried to enlist my own dogs in the process.  Come on boys, I said, let's show this big fella that it's fun to come here.  I am not lying when I write this.  Both my dogs, on hearing this from me, sat down in protest.

So the bull's owner is still pulling and I notice something.  Um, excuse me, I said.  I'm not sure how things are up there for you on the north end, but on the south end we have some action.  The dog was starting to crown.  And I'm right there to bear witness.  Now I should mention that I was never sick a day during my pregnancy.  Like vomiting sick.  I have a stomach of steel.  For real.

But when that dog/bull pooped two steaming turds the size of soda cans, I couldn't help it.  And these  waves of nausea took over my body.  What was I going to do?  It's not like I can move anywhere fast.  There's too much involved.  So with my best aim, I puked into the bushes.  Did I mention this vet's office is on a very busy street and right across the street from a high school track?  Where there were several dozen students running at that exact moment.  An audience.  Terrific.

The look of horror on the bull owner's face was the final stamp on this humiliating moment.  And then she had the nerve to finally get her dog in the door and didn't even mention the remnants on the sidewalk to the receptionist.  Unreal.  So I did.  Not like it could be mistaken for something my dogs left behind.  And then I said with utter embarrassment, when you hose off the sidewalk you might want to spray off  the shrubs, too.  Sorry.

Our appointment went just fine and the dogs, baby and I had a three hour nap when we got home.  The appointment had exhausted us.  This event happened thirteen years ago.  And was randomly brought back to life this week.  Good times.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Too Much Of A Good Thing

I know right off the bat that this post will strike a nerve with some of you.  I'm ok with that.  Because a nerve has  been struck with me.  I think that technology is ruining family life.  There.  I said it.  Computers, cell phones and iDevices are a convenience for sure.  I happen to own them all.  And I'll be the first to say that I enjoy them.  These technological devices are definitely a convenience.

I need my cell phone.  It is the way I clock in and out of work.  It is the way that I stay in touch with my out of town family.  It is the way my husband and daughter are able to reach me in an emergency.  This is where the need ends.  And the dangerous slippery slope of wanting the technology begins.  It has become the norm to use cell phones as communication.  But there are times when this is taken to the extreme.  People are sitting in the same room and text each other.  I saw a couple in a restaurant who sat through lunch never saying a word.  And they both were on their cell phones texting or using the internet the whole time.  Sad.  I actually read about a couple that were in bed and texted each other good night.  Really.

I have been around kids that are absolutely unable to live without their phones.  They literally freak out if they aren't able to respond to the latest Facebook posting.  Kk. Lol.  I kid you not.  I have seen kids almost shake with withdrawal from using their phones.  I live in a house where the television and computers have taken over the living room.  And because of this, conversation has been minimal and feelings are hurt.

I hardly feel that I need to mention the overuse and misuse of the phone in cars.  Accidents happen all of the time because of this recklessness.  I was almost hit the other day while I was walking across the street because someone was texting while driving.  And how many of us are glad to have a distraction for our kids when we need them to be quiet?  I get it.  I've done it myself.  What I don't get is why this has become the norm.  Electronics shouldn't babysit your kids.

I guess what I'm saying is that I've had it.  Enough.  Too much of anything good can be bad.  Just ask my girl.  She has to figure out how to make it through the next twelve hours without her phone.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Been There, Done That

I had a conversation with a friend one day concerning the favorite age of our children.  I said that I couldn't nail that down.  I couldn't choose one age that meant the most to me.  They all do.  Especially the one I'm in.  For obvious reasons.  Because I'm in the moment living it.

In the past month I've had some conversations with Gracie, too.  We have had meaningful, in depth conversations that will always be ours and ours alone.  I cherish the privacy that we afford each other.  The trust between a mom and daughter that will be special to me until the day I die.  But we have also had some talks about how things are different for her than they were for me.

I will grant her this.  Typewriters were the norm for me at age thirteen, not computers.  And cell phones?  Not even a glimmer in my eye.  I was perfectly happy to have a phone cord in the kitchen that I could stretch down the hallway and into my room.  And then I'd shut the door.  This didn't always make my dad happy.  My actions were hard on the phone cords.

But there is so much that is the same.  I felt like a grown woman on the outside, but felt like a kid on the inside.  There were tensions between friends.  Not often, but they did happen.  There were the new feelings that girls and boys have.  I felt like time dragged on because I was impatient.

So here I am, in my upper 40s.  And I would offer this advice to my girl.  There will be a  time in your life that a week will feel like a year.  But all too soon a year will feel like a week.  Enjoy the little relaxed moments.  Hug your mom and dad.  Remember where you came from.  And remember that you are loved more than anything in the world.  This is something I know because I have been there and done that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Train Of Thought

I was sitting in church on Sunday.  I was listening to the sermon.  Really.  And this adorable baby girl caught my eye.  She must have been about three or four months old.  Her dad had just lifted her out of her car seat.  Maybe it was the fact that she was being held.  Or maybe that she had a new perspective on things.  Whatever it was it made her the happiest baby.  She had dark hair.  Lots of it.  And it stood straight up.  And she smiled.  The kind of smile that melts your heart.  I like to think she was smiling at me.  Who knows?

This made me think of Gracie as a baby in church.  She would coo and smile to anyone around us.  My mom would hold her.  I'm pretty sure that my mom wore bracelets every Sunday to keep Gracie entertained.  Mom and I were almost always in church with Gracie by ourselves.  Dad was there, but up front preaching.  Scott was at home.  Sleeping.  He worked nights.  And I thought of the sweet day that Gracie said the word "conoonya".  What?  I couldn't figure this one out.  I spoke Gracie fluently and this word stumped me.  Until I realized that she was saying the word communion while we were sitting in church.  She wanted to go up to communion to see her Papa.  I love that memory.

This made me remember our life then.  Scott would get home at 6:00 a.m. and play with Gracie for a little bit and head to bed.  Gracie and I would go about our day.  Scott would get up around three.  We would eat early.  As I was cleaning up the kitchen, he would give Gracie a bath and we would read to her and play games with her.  To bed she would go between 6:00 and 6:30.  We would have some time to ourselves before Scott would go to work and the cycle would repeat.

That was a lot of routine back then.  It had to be that way.  I long for those days.  We've been out of routine for a while.  We're getting back into one.  It just takes time.  And willing participants.  The three of us seem to be on board.  I'll let you know how it goes.  And then my thoughts went to a grateful place.  A place that feels very content with my family sitting in church together.    My brain must have been on overdrive during the sermon.  I visited all of these memories in the time it took to listen to a sermon.  And believe it or not, I think I got the message being preached to me, too.  Amazing.  And this train ride all started with the beautiful smile of a baby girl.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lightening Up

With the new year here I've decided to lighten up.  I know, I know.  This phrase could be taken in so many ways.  That's kind of where I'm going.  In many different directions.

So, I want to lighten up.  This year is going to be a good one.  I know it.  It's going to be less serious.  Full of fun.  Boring even.  This is what I am hoping for.  Yep.  The ordinary and mundane is where I strive to be.  I have had enough of being in the crisis mode.   I am done with letting stress get the best of me.  Of wearing me out and making me tired.  Ha.  Washing my hands of it.

On to another meaning of lightening up.  It's time to do the yearly purge.  I kind of lost track of this last year.  Too busy with the above mentioned stress.  But now that I'm done with that, I'm ready to clean the house out.  All of the old rules apply.  One thing in, one thing out.  Or maybe two?  If it hasn't been used in a year?  See you later.  The 24-hour rule.  I will wait a day to see if I have an urge to buy something.  I'm going to purge starting with the clothes.  And room by room this house will undergo a deep cleansing.  If you stop by you might not even notice this has been done.  But rest assured it has.  Just check out the calm look on my face.  It will be the look of satisfaction and not being ruled by my stuff.

Then there is the third type of lightening up.  My sister is getting married this summer and I need to show up ready to bridesmaid with a healthier body.  No more excuses.  Healthy food and exercise.  I'll keep telling myself that.  Over and over.  I'll keep this simple.  I will eat foods in their natural state.  I will walk extra miles with the dogs.  I will get the sleep I need.   Sounds simple.  I hope it is.

Lightening up is something I am looking forward to.  I will be and have more fun.  I will not allow consumerism to rule my life and retail therapy is over for me.  And last but not least, this is the year of transformation for my overall health and well being.  Here's to a lighter year.  Any way you choose to take it.