Friday, June 29, 2012

Jesus, Take The Wheel...But Let Me Give You Directions

While we were in Cape May and lounging at the beach, a giant wave body slammed my husband, took his glasses and stole his lunch money.  I said this before and I'll say it again...the Atlantic ocean is a big, fat bully!

Not having his glasses is a big deal for my hubbie because he is blind out of his left eye and has poor vision out of his right.  This meant one thing: I was going to have to drive us home.

People, I am a nervous driver.  And I can get lost going to the supermarket! I don't like traffic either and let me tell ya, that's a wonderful trait to have when you are driving across the GWB from Jersey into New York City.

I'm thinking that the craziness of NYC traffic is second only to Mumbai.  And people are just as likely to drive you into a guardrail, spit on your bleeding body and hurl insults about your mother in both cities.

I was crazy nervous about driving and it didn't help that my husband is a back seat driver.  He leaned over me to check my speed, tried to direct me to an EZ pass lane (toll lane) of his choice and overall critiqued every moment of my driving like a passive aggressive DMV driving tester.

It was clear that he was out of his element, he is the driver in the family and to have to sit in the passenger seat made him squirm but he didn't have a choice.  He was at my mercy and had to surrender his control because he couldn't see two feet in front of him.    When we finally reached home he breathed a sigh of relief and said, "wow, you did a pretty good job!"  I tried to take the compliment but I couldn't ignore the fact that he was surprised that I had gotten us home without anyone ending up as roadkill.  He didn't have faith in me.

When I'm riding in the car in the passenger seat I typically fall asleep.  I trust my husband completely and feel safe when he's behind the wheel. I don't even pay attention to what direction he's going.  I would never be able to get us home because I don't pay attention to road signs or land marks either.  In fact, I prefer for someone else to drive.  I don't like feeling the stress of not knowing where I'm going.

Yet, it occurred to me that when it comes to my life and God, I'm just like my husband.  I scream out, "Jesus! Take the wheel!" and then I desperately try to pry it out of his hands or lean over him in my seat and check the speedometer or try to give him directions.  It's hard for me to surrender complete control because I've spent my whole life trying to drive myself.  It makes me uncomfortable to be in a situation where I have no control. I'm just like my husband not being able to drive. And when I finally get somewhere and I arrive in one piece I'm always surprised at God's competency. Oh me of little faith.

I guess I need to apply the same trust I have in my husband's driving to the way I surrender my life to God.  To be able to lean back, adjust my seat and take a snooze while he takes me where I'm supposed to go.  And when I arrive in one piece, I'll wake up, blink my eyes, stretch and be rested instead of seconds away from a panic attack which is mostly how I white knuckle my way through life right now.

I suppose it's a process.  There are definitely some things I've surrendered but there are things I cling to and try to control.  Kind of like how my husband kept pressing his feet into the floor board in a desperate attempt to hit the breaks.  It didn't work, obviously.  But it didn't stop him from trying.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's So Hard To Medicate Your Child

A couple of summers ago, my oldest daughter was diagnosed with ADHD.  Nobody wants to hear their child has anything wrong with them but for us, it gave us a sigh of relief because it confirmed that there really was something going on with her.

Up until that point, ADHD had proven an elusive thing, like a ghost haunting us that we could sense but not see.  The diagnosis meant we could deal with the issue in a productive way.  It was a blessing because the tension in our household, the parenting struggles and even the problems in school significantly decreased once we knew what we needed to do.

Don't get me wrong, it's not easy.  Parenting itself is difficult but adding something like ADHD just adds extra complications that make parenting a marathon of endurance and patience.  This is why I cut myself so much slack when I'm judged as a parent.  I do lots of things wrong but I'm dealing with a lot more than most people (adhd, anxiety disorder, autism).  And the fact that I have any desire to put one foot in front of the other with a positive attitude is a huge accomplishment in of itself.

This summer we've made a big decision, one that has my stomach turning with stress: we've decided to medicate our daughter.  It was suggested to us when she was diagnosed that the challenges of middle school would be greatly eased by medication.  I figured we'd cross that bridge when we came to it and here it is.  The creaky, rusty bridge looms directly ahead in the form of 5th grade.

The anxiety is already heightened for both of us.  I know that she'll get by without the meds but it will be a daily struggle.  So, what's the right thing to do?  In a way, we are lucky that my husband has adult ADD.  He can see the problem from a totally different perspective and his recommendation? Do the meds.

He has seen how his life has dramatically changed for the better since taking medication and he knows that he would have never struggled so much through school if he'd had a little help.  He wants something different for our daughter.  He wants her to have some sense of normalcy.

I took her to the doctor and got a script.  It's still sitting in my pocket book because it's terrifying to give your child a controlled substance.  I'm scared of what it will do to her and feel  a cauldron of emotion is stirring up inside of me.  This could be the best thing for her but I could also be giving her something that causes her stomach aches, hallucinations, sleep deprivation and anxiety.

Obviously, I would immediately stop the meds if she had those side effects and the summer is the best time to try to find the right drug for her so I need to get this show on the road but damned if it's not hard to hand her that first little pill.  I'll be keeping a journal to see what changes (good I hope) that happen and pray for the best.  It's times like these when we have to put our faith in God and say, this is something that I cannot control.  This is bigger than me and only God can handle it.  I know he will.  He knows the plan even if I don't and I trust that everything will turn out the way it's supposed to.  It's at this time I need to let go of the rope, close my eyes and wait for him to fly me there.

If you are a believer, we could really use some prayers now.  Pray that God give us the wisdom and discernment to make the right choices for her, that the medication is able to help her concentrate and be less impulsive without stealing the fire from inside of her and that she will not experience terrible and debilitating side effects.

Thank you so much!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Follow Me On Instagram

Facebook is starting to lose it's appeal for me.  I haven't quite figured out Twitter and Pinterest makes me feel sorry for myself- boards and boards of things I wish I had.  It's like marking a catalog of things you'll never be able to buy. Depressing.

But there is one thing that I'm in love with and have become addicted to: Instagram.  I love taking pictures.  I'm not good at it, I just like doing it and being able to share things I think are pretty, awesome or funny.  Or pretty awesomely funny.  It's like being able to blog with images.  If pictures are worth a thousand words than I can save my fingers the time and energy and snap a photo!

Plus, it's ridiculously easy to use.  Take a pic, mess with it, save it, everyone can see it. Easy peasey lemon squeezy.

So, if you're on Instagram and want to follow me, consider this your official invitation.  I will follow you back because I love to look at pictures too!  And seeing as how I'm not great at always putting pictures on the blog, you'll get another window into my life.  If you're tired of looking at me and do not want to see another window of me but would rather I close the drapes and stop showing off my backside to the entire neighborhood, then please disregard this message :)

To follow me on Instagram, I'm listed as (big surprise): americasnexttopmommy

Monday, June 25, 2012

Scientist May Soon Be Able To See Your Dreams

1 comment:
Have you ever woken up from a dream that you really wanted to remember?  Perhaps it was funny or super weird or maybe even scary and you wanted to recall it to a friend or a spouse.  But something happens in those first minutes after we wake up that seems to make our dreams disappear. One minute we have a grasp on every detail and then next, they're gone.

It's like our brain spends an entire night, drawing out a carefully constructed world during our sleep but the next morning, erases it like it's on a giant dry erase board.  We forget details and eventually can't remember a thing. But forgetting our dreams may be a thing of the past.

Scientists are approaching a new dawn in understanding our dreams.   A team of researchers headed by Yukiyas Kamitani, PHD and head of department of neuroinformatics at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan are successfully decoding the visual contents of the human brain.

Kamitani connected his subjects to a computer and then showed the people some images.  The computer then mapped out what happened in the brain for each image and was then able "read" what a person was seeing without knowing it.

That means,  the computer basically translated what a person was looking at without knowing what they were seeing simply by comparing the visual thought patterns to previously seen pictures to the new ones.

In the image above, the top pictures represent what a person was seeing.  The bottom pictures represent what the computer deciphered purely from mapping their brains.

This ground breaking science is still in it's infancy.  Kamitani's computer can only digitize in black and white right now and the images are a bit blurry but he believes that in a few years, the computer will be able to interpret more accurately and we could actually be able to see our dreams played back to us like a high definition movie.

It begs the question: do we really want to know what's going on in our dreams? And furthermore, do we want everyone else to know what's going on in them too?  Perhaps there is a reason why our brain erases them.  Could it unlock a part of ourselves that we don't really want to know about?

I'll be honest, I think it would be super cool to see my dreams.  Maybe our dreams really do represent something; a fear, a worry, a desire.  And being able to access them accurately is the key to understanding ourselves and making ourselves better.

Would you want to see your dreams if you could? What was the last dream you remember?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Summer Hours

So, if you've been reading my blog since January, you know that I've posted every single day (except for Sunday) and have kept that schedule religiously.

That's because I love writing and want to do it every day.  But with summer here, I've been devoting a lot more time to my kids.  Which is a good thing!  My brain has downshifted to summertime and now only thinks about things like beaches and sunshine and flip flops and ice cream. Not blogs.

Basically, what I"m trying to say in painfully, drawn-out wordage is that I'm not going to be posting as often.  You can guarantee that I'll still be posting (probably 3-4 times a week) and I'll still be interacting but I really do need to loosen my tie and be more relaxed.  Who wants to be chained to a computer during the summer? Not I!

I cut back on the writing I do for Patch as well.  I'm down to once a week, maybe once every other week.
Will you miss me? Wait, does anyone even read this enough to care?  Of course you do.  I see the statistics! I know you're watching.  I SEE YOU, Stalkers!

Nah, I love you, I really do.  And once school is back in session I'll be rockin' a daily post but for real, I don't get paid to do this.  Lord, how I wish I did!  Then I wouldn't feel so guilty stealing a few minutes to write.  It's one thing to steal some time away from a pile of laundry or mowing the grass.  It's another thing to do it when I could be running through the sprinkler with the kiddos.

This reminds me why I didn't write much when my kids were younger.  Blogging during the 10 minute nap times that sometimes came.  Ah, those were the days in the trenches!

Anyway, I've got to get my big butt in gear.  We're headed to the beach today, slathered in sunscreen and drunk from sun-made iced tea. I'll see you on the flip side. Monday :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What If God Asks You To Do Something You Don't Want To Do?

There is a part in the bible ( Exodus) where Moses is walking along in the desert, minding his own business, kind of depressed-like because things just aren't going well for his peeps.  The Pharaoh was keeping them in slavery and oppression and things were looking pretty hopeless. 

I guess he was probably asking God for help and low and behold, God appears. Sort of.

The following is the Licha bible version (unabridged).  So Moses hears God in a burning bush and he's all, "Things are REALLY bad with this slavery stuff! Please, please, please, fix it!"

God says, "Sure! I see what's going on! And I do have a plan."

Moses takes a deep relieving breathe and is all, "whew, thank you! I knew you'd help a brother out.  So...what's the plan?"

That's when God is like, "yeah, about that.  My plan is for you to fix it."

Moses looks around the dessert then points to himself and says, "me?"


Can you imagine? What if one day you were praying about hunger in Africa and said, "God...please do away with  hunger.  Please stop the suffering" and he said, you know what...I totally have a plan to fix that and you are that plan.  Go ahead.  Go to the head of the U.N and tell them that they must spend 5 billion dollars and feed the hungry in Africa.

I'm betting you'd say the same thing Moses said.  It sounded something like this: "Say whaaaaaa? Me? Who am I? They are going to laugh at me, then strap me into a straight jacket and escort me to the looney bin!"

I love this story on so many levels.  First, because I love it when bible characters act so relateably human.  Moses doesn't blink and say, "yes Lord" and follow without question.  He hesitates, he tries to weasel his way out of what God tells him to do.  I see myself in his actions because I try to make excuses in my life too and it's nice to know that some of the most beloved, trusted and favored of God's people, are just as messed up as me.  It gives me hope and a assurance that if God can love them in all their flaws, he can love me too.

Second, I love that while he hesitates, Moses still goes and does what he's told.  He stumbles along, takes a chance and walks in faith.  This is a beautiful and amazing act of love and surrender and sets a wonderful example for how I can trust God, even when he asks me to do the most impossible sounding things.

Third, I love God's patience.  Moses tries so hard to give up.  He's scared, he's unwilling and God keeps encouraging him and comforting him.  "I'm here with you.  I've got your back.  Everything will be okay."  He doesn't get mad or frustrated with Moses. It's such a clear picture into the personality of our father.  He is love which is why he is slow to anger and always perseveres.

Fourth and finally, I love this story because while it is one of the biggest reasons why people are afraid to surrender to God, it's a reminder that God isn't going to ask us to do the impossible.  There are so many stories in the bible where God asks people to do some pretty scary stuff.  Give up everything you own and follow me, sell everything and give it to the poor, build an impossibly big boat, go to the Pharaoh and tell him to free my people. And we read those stories and start to think that surrender means ultimate and certain discomfort and sacrifice.  We are afraid that to surrender fully means he will send us to Africa to live with an indigenous tribe of herdsman or live on the streets with a sign proclaiming "the end is near."

But this scripture reminds me that while God does ask me to make daily sacrifices, mostly in the way of my humility, he's really saying, "do you see what I did there? I can control the movement of the earth itself, the position of the stars and the direction of every drop of water in the ocean.  I can most certainly handle that unexpected medical expense you've been worried about."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fun At Exit Zero

No comments:
We took the kids to Cape May, NJ for a few weeks days.

Have to say, liked it a whole lot more than Cape Cod! There were far more fun things to do in Cape May.  Plus, it's affordable, the beaches are the stuff of fantasy, the people are friendly and believe it or not, the traffic was better on the George Washington Bridge than on the Sagamore.

We got lucky, snagging a great deal ($100 off a night) for a beach front suite. (view from our room)

 We enjoyed the easy access to the beach.  Ah, the beach...the sand in Cape May is so soft it feels like baby powder and our kids, who normally lose interest after a few minutes, played in it for hours!

I could sit and watch the water all day long.  The sound of it is like a lullaby.  The waves lapped gently, one day, kissing our feet as we walked the shore.  But on another day they were raging, sneaking up and soaking us from head to toe.

One wave took my husband by surprise, knocked him over and stole his lunch money.  Turns out the Atlantic Ocean is kind of a bully and will punch you in the face and steal your eye glasses if you're not paying attention!

We also spent some time at Wildwood; walking the boardwalk, enjoying the many beachfront amusement parks, eating cotton candy, playing arcade games and soaking in the sun!

I think we've officially decided as a family that we will definitely be returning to exit Zero again next year and stay a little longer next time!  What's not to love about 6 person bicycles, salt water taffy, fresh seafood, sunshine, gorgeous beaches and roller coasters. Oh yeah, and a new family hermit crab named Herman (Hermie for short).

I don't remember which one of you suggested Wildwood NJ as a great family vacation spot a few months ago but I thank you so much! We had a blast! And I have the sunburn to prove it! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Forgiveness- The F word

No comments:
Have you ever been lecturing your kids only to have it dawn on you that you don't take your own advice?

My oldest daughter has a tendency to pick on her brother and sister, as most older sisters do.  She's a bossy-know-it-all. I have no idea where she gets it from. *looks around the room, carefully avoiding the mirror*

When she makes a mistake, her brother and sister are always so gracious.  All they require to set things straight is a simple, "I'm sorry."  But not my oldest?  She hears their "I'm sorry" and raises them an "I told you so."

She's, as they say, is like a dog with a bone.  Will not give it up!  It's exasperating!  So the other day I sit her down and say, "if you expect forgiveness from others, you need to be willing to forgive easily."

And before the words even left my mouth, I felt the sting of conviction as God nudged me in the ribs with his elbow and knocked the wind out of me.  Because, HELLO, I forget that forgiveness is a choice that I have to make every single day and sometimes I think I'm just too busy to forgive everyone all over again and I just don't want to. The "F" word can be a difficult thing to do.

My biggest target for unforgiveness? My husband! Isn't that awful? That the person that I love the most is the person who I struggle to forgive? I'm really bad at seeking revenge, you guys.  Does that make me a vengeful person? I suppose it does although I only plot, I rarely follow through.  It's crazy how I say that as if it makes it any better! 

Last Saturday I woke up and my husband was gone. It was a crazy morning because my daughter had a sleepover and we had birthday parties and shopping and cleaning to do!  He didn't return for four hours.  He didn't leave a message, didn't text, wouldn't answer his phone.  I was so worried! Most of my anger (okay, all of my anger) usually comes from fear.  I was afraid that something had happened to him and his lack of response made me anxious.

When he finally returned and explained that he had taken his mother and another blind woman to a meeting and helped them get settled, I should have been relieved.  He was (almost) blameless.  Instead, I was still angry. I gave him the silent treatment which by the way, is just about the stupidest thing we can do to our men, ladies, because guess what? They like it! That's like him getting mad at you and as punishment, buying you diamonds!
Along with my silent treatment, I plotted revenge! I would go to my meeting later that week and I wouldn't tell him where I was going, who I was with and when I would be back.  I'd give him a taste of his own medicine! I would let him suffer just like I had! What am I? Thirteen?

I fantasized about it.  I imagined he'd be nauseous with worry, checking his phone, texting me frantically.  "Where are you? Are you okay? I love you so much! Come home!"  Ultimately, I didn't go through with it though.  Because it dawned on me that even when I do tell him where I'm going, he forgets so if I did this, I would probably come home and find him not biting his teeth and staring at  the phone but snoring in the recliner with a bowl of chips in his lap!  But also, I didn't do it because it dawned on me that I love him and want to work to BETTER our relationship, not damage it!

So yes, I get it. I need to work on forgiveness. I probably always will!  I need to take my own advice and "be willing to forgive easily if I expect forgiveness."

It's not as if I don't know this.  I work at forgiving every day and I'm getting better but damned if I don't make the same mistake over and over again.  It reminds me of what Paul said to the Romans (Chapter 7 v 15)
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 

I feel ya, Paul! I don't understand why I do it either.  I want to do better but I keep doing exactly the opposite of what I want to do.  I too have the desire to do good but do not carry it out.  I too am wretched.  And "thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guest Post- My "One Thing A Day" Philosophy

No comments:
 I am so pleased to be sharing this guest post with you.  It's from my friend Joy.  She just started her own blog and is so amazing! This post she wrote makes me feel sad and happy all at once; sad that she's leaving and happy that I had the chance to meet her and that we are still connected through this interweb thingie.  You can read more from Joy at A Life-Giving Moment.

So if you’ve read any of my blog posts up to now you know that my husband and I are getting ready to make a radical move from Connecticut to Alabama.  It’s at these times that I get very overwhelmed (and that’s an understatement !!).

It might be better described as “sitting-in-the-middle-of-the-floor-in-tears” overwhelmed !!  I’m at that 4 weeks to go spot in the moving process and that means within 4 short weeks the entire contents of this house have to be sorted out to my children staying here in Connecticut (sniff, sniff) and the rest  packed up,  moved out and cleaned out.  Along with that, I’m  also  getting with family and friends to hold on to each other as much as possible before the…goodbyes  – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I won’t go into all the details because I don’t want to completely depress and overwhelm you too because selfishly speaking, I  desperately need you sane people to help me during my insane time (shameless plea there !!)

To avoid the  ”sitting-in-the-middle-of-the-floor-in-tears” episode, a very key thought — well a couple of thoughts, but they’re the same theme — came to mind.  One is from a dear friend of mine, Joni, who lives here in Connecticut. It was the  great advice to this easily overwhelmed mama …
“Just do one thing a day.”
This was her motto when it came to cleaning her house.  She would pick one thing a day, whether it be a task that took 20 minutes or 2 hours, and “get ‘er done” (a phrase my husband and I have adopted from our southern friends ). This was brilliant advice…I mean absolutely brilliant !!!  It helped me break things down into reachable , tangible goals and kept me from being overwhelmed at the entire  list of projects that needed to be done.  I would just tackle one thing and when it was finished I felt like I had a sense of accomplishment and could literally “call it a day”.  

The funny thing is that when you accomplish your “one thing”, you feel empowered , yes empowered, to venture out there and possibly add yet another thing.  The great thing is, you don’t feel like you failed if you don’t get Thing # 2 finished because you’ve already scored 100%  for the day on Thing # 1 –for those of us who LOVE to be perfect :-) — and you don’t have to prove anything to yourself or anybody else at this point.  You’ve already succeeded and anything else is gravy honey !!!  (Ahhh…my southern-ness is coming out already !)  For instance, the other day I decided to clean the microwave (safe choice — it’s small and quickly accomplished)…

and if you start a blog, you can shamelessly post pictures like this for bragging rights too !!!  Well the clean microwave… turned into a clean fridge but unfortunately I deleted that picture already  – God’s way of keeping me humble — but it’s beautiful , trust me !
This also reminded me of a quote I heard from Elizabeth Elliot years and years ago…

“Just do the next thing.”

She said when we find ourselves  in situations that are overwhelming and we don’t know what to do, just do the next thing.  Simple. Profound. Possibly life-changing.  I know– I know…I’m getting way too passionate sounding but I tell you, when you’re in the middle of a  ”sitting-in-the-middle-of-the-floor-in-tears” , completely paralyzed, overwhelmed  time in your life, these words can be very life-giving… and after all —  that’s what I’m all about !

This “philosophy” also carries over in other areas of your life other than cleaning and moving too !  If you feel a little “dry” spiritually, just do one thing today to change that — like reading a chapter in the Bible — let’s say Isaiah 58 (one of my favorites !)  If you feel on the “chubbier – than- you’d – like – to – be” side like I do right now, get out there and take at least a 30 minute walk (getting ready to do that myself !).  If you feel lonely or out of touch with friends, pick one friend to contact today by phone or e-mail or in person.  If your marriage needs some freshening up, plan a little ” something special”  to do or say to your spouse today that will breathe life into your relationship. 

If there’s something God’s been nudging you to do for quite sometime and you don’t know how to begin…Just do one thing toward that prompting whether it be research, talking and praying with a friend or just plain stepping out in faith and doing it!  For me recently, that involved starting a blog and you can see where that got me !!  Come on…you can do it !! In Elizabeth Elliot’s words… “Just do the next thing !”

Saturday, June 16, 2012

(Heavenly) Father's Day

1 comment:
On this Father's Day, I want to turn my attention to my heavenly father.  What do you get the God who has everything?

Would he be pleased with  a paisley tie? A cheesy mug that says, "World's Greatest Dad?" A pair of silly looking golf pants?

What do you give the father who gave you everlasting life? A father who always endures, always forgives and always loves?

I suppose the best gift I can give him is the same thing that every father wants not only on Father's Day but every day.  I can give him my love and my time.

I can thank him for everything he's ever done for me, the sacrifices he's made and for loving me when I am prickly and practically no one else can tolerate me.  I can praise him for his awesomeness.  I can pledge to him, my undying devotion.

As far as earthly father's go, I didn't draw a lucky hand.  One abandoned me and one abused me BUT...I do finally know the unconditional love of a father, one whose heart smiles every time he sees me.

I belonged to him all along. I just never knew it.

I finally found my way home.  I burst through the door and screamed his name.  I searched feverishly and quickly found him welcoming me with open arms.  Daddy! I'm so happy to see you and I love you! Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

What's In A Name?

My mother-in-law is friends with a woman who has a striking, young daughter named Chloe.  Chloe is a licensed hair stylist and often comes to my house to cut and color my desperately out of control hair.  She gives me fashion advice too (that too is desperately bad).  I suppose that technically makes her my "stylist."  When she's here, I feel like a celebrity.  If people call while I'm getting "styled",  I answer and jokingly say, "sorry...can't talk right now...I'm in hair in make-up."  

I once went to a stylist that was so rough, my scalp ached every time I left her salon.  Not Chloe! She has the most gentle touch that it almost instantly reduces my blood pressure by several points.  She's sweet and young, does a good job and best of all, doesn't charge much.  Plus, I  like her and want to support her in this new career!  Her name is actually Amanda but she hated it and one day, she decided to change it.

"It's so common and not me at all.  Plus, everyone called me Manda Panda," she said.

This made no sense to me, the part about the panda I mean.  Because Chloe is petite and slim with long, reddish hair and icy blue eyes.  She has tattoos and face piercings and in no way resembles a panda.  She's never been fat or dual-colored.    It was an unfortunate rhyme that made her self conscious. She told me when she was in junior high she refused to wear black or white because she was afraid it would give her tormentors more ammo.  Kids can be so cruel with their name calling.  "Amanda" tolerated it until she was 18.  Then she shed her former panda self and became "Chloe".

She hasn't legally changed her name...yet.

It's interesting how much a name can affect our identity.

Chloe felt that she didn't fit her name and she longed to be called something different.  I can  relate to that.  I didn't like my name when I was a kid either. In fact, I changed my first name too.

Later, when I got married, I eagerly undressed of my maiden name and clothed myself with my husband's.  I was a new person and I had a fresh start. I was so happy when I got my new driver's license and social security card with a brand new moniker on it.

I loved that I was no longer called by my biological father's name. Having his name meant there was an association between us but because he chose to stay out of my life,  there wasn't. It made me feel like an imposter, confused about my identity. My step-father once offered to adopt me and give my his last name but that didn't feel right either.

After I was married, I knew who I was and where I belonged.   It fit perfectly.  Every once in a while I will run across something with my old name on it and I hardly recognize it as me.  It's like keeping an old piece of clothing that you wore years ago and when you pull it out of the closet you say, "how did that ever fit me?" I don't want to ever change my name again.

I have worn lots of names in my life but nothing has ever fit quite as nicely as wife, mother.

Do you feel like your name fits you perfectly? Have you ever wanted to change your name?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Poem For A Rainy Day

The sun never woke up this morning.  He lazied around in his bed and flung the fluffy clouds up over his body.  He hit the snooze button on his alarm and drifted back into a dream.

The sky is sad, she is crying.  Sometimes she weeps in big thundering sobs and her tears fall so quickly they leave puddles.  All of the weeping makes the flowers droop in empathy.

Sun is still asleep, spending the day in the company of his friend, the Sandman.  Nothing seems to wake him from his slumber.

The sky's sobs turn to sniffles.  She is still crying but only in a subtle mist now.  When she opens her lovely eyes, they are swollen and can barely see through the fog.

The air is heavy and she is unable to breathe.  The grayness makes her numb.  Her happiness has been swept away in the rain.  She cannot be consoled.

Oh sun, please wake up! The day misses you so! She longs for your warm kisses to dry her face.  You mustn't sleep for long.

I hope that tomorrow you will be rested and greet us with a colorful smile.  And the sky will stop grieving your absence.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Learning to say "No"

My kids get out of school tomorrow and I am SO excited! This year has really kicked me in the butt and I'm so ready for rest and relaxation.  Plus, I miss my kids.  They are gone all day at school.

I'm guessing they will be driving me crazy after a week but it's still going to be great to have them around fighting and touching each other, running in the house and not asking permission to use each other's toys.  No really.  It's going to be great because at least there won't be an alarm clock nagging at me and lunch boxes hungry to be stuffed and backpacks waiting to be checked.

Nobody will be searching for a sock at half past a second before the bus comes.  We can sleep in and when the kids wake up, they can pile in my bed and watch cartoons before breakfast. It'll be nice to have nowhere to be and nothing to do because I'm running on empty and I need a break.

I need to be better at balancing my life, at helping out where I can but not over-involving myself in things that take time away from me and my family. This last year I was an epic fail in that department. I was room mom for two kids, did PTO fundraisers, helped run a daisy girl scout troop and shuttled kids around to seemingly endless activities. All of those things are pretty normal kinds of mom things but I always end on taking more than what is necessary.

My husband had work and boy scouts and golf and meetings and travel and so many times we couldn't even have a basic family dinner because one of us has to be somewhere by 6pm.  It was all a misappropriation of our priorities if you as me.

I need to be better at this and set an example for my kids. 

Meetings that interfere with family dinners should be banned.  Sleepovers that interfere with church? Outlawed!  Anything, and I mean anything short of emergency surgery or sudden death, that interferes with date night, should be shot, stuffed and hung on a wall as a display of our victory over inconsequential distractions.

When I imagine myself on my death bed (I don't do that often, that would be creepy- but for the purposes of this blog lets pretend I do), I don't imagine myself saying:

"If only I had devoted more time to PTO meetings.  If only I had let my kids take more swimming lessons."

No, first off, I don't want to have any regrets when I die but if I do have any, I would bet that they would revolve around not spending enough time being in the present or spending too much time doing useless stuff or spending too much time being angry.

I want to give myself the permission to not only say "no" but not feel guilty about it. Can I hear an "Amen!"

Honestly, this is not without sacrifice.  We are going to have to let some things go.  It might be painful.  There might be temper tantrums and crying and bargaining going on.  And don't even get me started on what the kids will be doing!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Last Minute Father's Day Gifts That Will Wow Dad For Father's Day!

Father's Day is just around the corner, June 17 to be exact, and it's that time again to celebrate those special men in our lives; the men who work by day and coach soccer by night.

It can often be hard to find that perfect gift that says, "Thank you, I love you and you're still cool," all at once. If you're still looking around for the perfect gift, check out some of these great ideas. I've compiled 15 amazing gifts that any dad is sure to love!  Click on the link and order. It's as easy as that!

Beer Of The Month Club ($35)
Give your dad a gift that keeps on giving all year long with a membership to a beer club available in 3, 6 or 12 month lengths. The cost for a three month delivery is $101.85.  Each month he'll get 12 bottles of four different kinds of beers that come from award winning breweries.  Shipping is free and you can even have a personalized message sent with each delivery!

Adidas Samba Golf Shoes  ($100)
My husband is totally getting these for Father's Day.  Shhh, don't tell him! Golf shoes aren't exactly known for being the most stylish footwear around.  But not anymore! With these Adidas kicks, he'll be able to sport a casual yet stylish look while he's walking the links.

Cassette Iphone4G Cover ($15.99)
It's hard to believe but there was music before itunes but if you were born before 1980, you probably remember making mixed tapes on your cassette deck.  Take dad back to the good old days of jamming to the Beastie Boys on his Sony Walkman with this amazing iphone cover that looks just like a cassette tape!

Original Aviator Sunglasses ($150)
"These striking aviator sunglasses feature the original Shuron frame worn by U.S. Army and Air Force fighter pilots during World War II. This sleek, modern interpretation of the iconic MacArthur design is styled in a silver tone with glass lenses exclusively for RedEnvelope."

Nike Fuel Band ($150)
Chances are, dad cares about getting enough exercise.  But also, chances are that dad doesn't want to strap on a geeky looking pedometer.  This Nike Fuel Band tracks his movements during dozens of daily activities.  It can even track his progress through the day and when he hits his goal, it will light up green! Great for active Dads or Dads who want to get active!

Iris Notes Scanner ($92)
Does dad spend lots of time in meetings? Make his life easier with this digital mobile note taker that allows him to write notes or make drawings on any paper and then digitally convert, edit and save them into text. It's a proven fact that dads love gadgets and this one is something he's sure to love.

Personalized Digital Keychain ($20)
"Digital photo frames are everywhere today, but you can trust us to come up with a very portable version that does double duty as a key chain. Take it anywhere you want and get ready to brag; it holds a whopping 100 photos and has a battery life of 1.5 hours. Engrave their name (and phone number, in case they lose it) on the back for a gift they can't quit looking at."

Candyshell Hard Iphone Case ($39)
Dad can leave his wallet at home with this handy iPhone case that doubles as a wallet. It will allow him to store up to three credit cards plus cash in a rubber slit that keeps them safe until he needs them! Perfect for when he's out on the boat, golfing or out with the family and he needs that extra pocket space to stash a handful of goldfish crackers.

Nook Color ($169)
Personal tablets are getting less and less expensive. Such is the case with the Barnes and Noble Nook Color, which features:
  • NEW! Movies & TV Shows from Netflix
  • NEW! NOOK Comics™ including the largest collection of Marvel graphic novels
  • World's most advanced VividView™ 7" touchscreen
  • Over 2.5 million books, magazines, interactive kids' books
  • Must-have apps like Angry Birds, top music services, & more
  • Tablet essentials–email & Web w/video
  • Expandable memory- add up to 32 GB w/ microSD™ card
  • Always free NOOK support in-store
Motz Tiny Wooden Acorn Speaker ($40)
"Made of wood and 100 percent handicraft products, this Tiny Acorn speaker produces rich sound. Includes a USB connector for charging and a standard jack to connect to audio sources."

Old Navy T-Shirts ($6-$12)
With T-shirts as low as $6, you can afford to get dad a variety of comfortable summer shirts at a reasonable price! Shirts come in all colors, sizes and prints and is sure to help Dad look his best.

Sephora Favorites The Finest Shave Deluxe Sampler ($25)
"This set includes all the tools he needs for a luxurious shave. Inside this box you’ll find seven deluxe samples of our most sought-after men’s shaving and grooming products. This set includes a soothing lip balm, refreshing and moisturizing shave creams, a daily facial scrub, a conditioning treatment, and a soothing after-shave gel. Try them all and then bring the included certificate to any Sephora store to redeem a full-size version of your favorite featured product at no extra cost."

Pit Boss Barbeque Tool Belt ($70)
Dad will look like he's ready to get the job done in this one of a kind barbeque tool belt! "The BBQ Pit Boss is the world's only competition-grade BBQ Tool belt. It was designed by barbecue enthusiasts to hold everything you need when you are grilling, barbecuing, or tailgating...."

Personalized Gift Cards ($vary)
Can't think of that perfect gift but want to still do something special? Try giving him a customizable gift card! They offer a great selection of designs and you're sure to find something that's perfect!

Man With A Pan ($15.95)
Have a dad who loves to cook? Try giving him this amazing cookbook aimed just for men! He's sure to find some great recipes, inspiration and funny stories from famous men who love to cook!

So there you have it, 15 great gift ideas for dad this year! Hope you were able to find something that he'll love! Have a wonderful Father's Day

Monday, June 11, 2012

Unexpected Wisdom From 50 Cent

I love it when wisdom comes from unexpected places.  Like when one of your kids speaks a truth that is way beyond their years, a kind of honest realness that cuts right to your heart and reverses the roles of teacher and student.

Or when you hear a famous, misogynistic, hardcore rapper like 50 Cent speak a simple and fundamental truth of God and it leaves you feeling shocked and convicted.

 Last night,  I was fingering the remote and came across a new show called "Oprah's Next Chapter."  What caught my attention was an interview Oprah was doing with Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris.  It was an amazing interview that really brought some clarity into the genius that was Michael Jackson.

For example, when asked what she thought when her father made her and her brothers wear masks in public, she said (this is paraphrasing) "he did it so we could have a normal childhood."

I remember seeing them on TV when they were little and  looking from the outside in, it seemed like anything but normal.  How could a child be "normal" when their parent makes them wear a mask?

"He did it so nobody could see our faces when we were with him.  That way, when we went in public without him, we couldn't be recognized and we could just be like normal kids."  She spoke of how their favorite places to go were Chuck E Cheese and Toys R Us.  What kid of a celebrity has that kind of freedom? Not many, which means that one of the biggest celebrities of all time pulled off an amazing thing; he gave his children the gift of normalcy.

Most of us strive to give our kids what we didn't have when we were growing up.  We'll do anything to give them the toys, clothes and vacations we never had.  In this sense, Michael was no different.  He never had a normal childhood and he proudly wore the role of weirdo so that his kids could have it.  Funny how things become really clear with a little distance and perspective, huh?

But what surprised me came after the clarity that Paris provided.  Oprah interviewed 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson).  He's a multi-millionaire, mega successful rapper who has a bad boy image. In the interview, it's clear that there is a duplicity about him.  He has a persona and a personality. What you see in the interview is not a gritty, foul language rebel but instead a meditative, thoughtful and intelligent philanthropist.

In this part one of the interview, Oprah asks him about everything from their supposed feud to his being shot and  he is surprisingly likeable and honest, even timid at times.  At one point he talks about not being afraid to die and says, "Either pray or worry, don't do both...If you're going to sit there, say a prayer, and 'then' worry about it? How does God feel about you? He knows you're sitting there worrying."

*clears throat*

How profound is that? I know he's right.  And here's this guy who sold drugs on the street, harbored enough enemies that someone shot him 9 times in front of his Grandma's house, writes lyrics that demean women, advocates violence and stirs up racial tension yet there it was, a divine truth.

It's a humbling feeling when a street thug gets and lives something that basic and you don't.  Cause I struggle with worry, people.  The anxiety and I? We're like the Hatfield's and McCoy's!  I'm getting the upper hand but I think this will be a fight to the death!

It was a reminder that  most of us are two people in this life; what we show the world and who we are when we get home and strip off the mask.  It also reminded me that we all have something valuable to offer and that God will use the most unlikely people to speak the biggest truths because when it comes from an unexpected place, we are often more likely to listen.

You'd expect wisdom when you're listening to Joyce Meyer or Maya Angelou but have you ever heard wisdom from a very unexpected place? Please share!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Links Of The Week

No comments:
It's Saturday! And you know what that means, right? Amiright?  Here are some of my favorite links I found this week!

1.  Lifetime has a new show hosted by Heidi Klum called "Seriously Funny Kids."  It's a hat tilt to Bill Cosby's "Kids Say The Darndest Things" from back in the 90's.  Don't you just love how I say "back in the 90's" as if it was so long ago that I'm referring to the 1890's.  It feels like a long time ago.  Or maybe I'm just trying to add some distance between myself and that teased hair and fingerless glove phase. Yikes!  So anyway, about the link, check out this page for a preview of the show as well as videos and stories that parents have submitted that are pretty darned funny.  You can even submit your own!

2.  Check out this house that is almost entirely covered with mirrors.  The effect makes it blend into the background and almost look invisible! So cool!

3.  I don't know how this girl accomplished THIS but if I go even one day without shampooing my hair, it looks and smells disgusting.  I know a woman who swears by not using shampoo in her hair, opting instead for vinegar to decrease the oils.  I'm all for reducing chemicals and saving the earth but I hate the feeling of being dirty.  Maybe it just takes some getting used to?

4. If you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw this but I'm just going to go ahead and post it again.  Stop rolling your eyes at me young lady/man!  I wish I could say I'm one of those parents who doesn't let their kids ever watch TV or use the internet and always entertains my kids in a healthy educational sort of way but you know what? I'm not.  My kids play with my ipad in their down time and this is a great list of amazing and fun apps for kids.  It includes fun games that are also learning tools.  This way, the kids feel like they are gaming and I don't have to shoot myself in the head because of the guilt I feel for letting them play a game instead of making them read a book.

5.  Father's Day is just around the corner.  You didn't forget, did you? For me, Father's day is that day when I feel like my husband makes me payback everything he did for me on Mother's day. Damnit!  I'm going to be posting a great list of gifts that will WOW dad on Father's day (stay tuned for Monday's blog) but if you don't want to got the route that will cost you much cash, try some of these great DIY Father's Day Gift Ideas!

6.  I love to look at amazing photography and am in awe of anyone who can graphically create a masterpiece.  This is probably why I find these so fascinating.  They are incredible works of art created by a young woman named Chiara Biancheri.  Is that not a masterpiece of a name in of itself?  She makes the most incredible fractal frames.  I would explain what a fractal frame is but then I'd have to say words like, "alogorithm" and "Apophysis" and that might fractal your brain. Trust me.  LOOK AT THESE! They almost look like the kinds of pictures that Nasa takes of other galaxies! So incredible.

7.  This is an awesome and incredibly thorough article that details the Top 30 Best Photography Apps For Your Phone.  Have you ever wanted to take incredible, trendy, beautiful, creative pictures? Nowadays you don't need a giant expensive camera to do so.  These apps can transform your images into works of art and make you the envy of your friends! Many of them are free and even the "expensive" ones don't cost more than $4.  I use Instagram.  Correction: I'm ADDICTED to Instagram but have been really fiddling with the fish eye app recently and am hopelessly in love. I love this list.  Like, went down the list one by one and bought each and every single one.

There you have it, this weeks link list.  Hope you enjoy them all and have a wonderful weekend.  See you Monday!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Dancing Tree

We have a tree in our back yard that stretches itself past our third floor. It almost seems as though it's trying to tickle the clouds. When it stands still and the light hits it just right, it looks like a ballerina on a stage.  It's long limbs, lifted in a pose, cast shadows on the curtain behind it.

When the wind blows, this tree becomes a moving dancer.  It sways in a gentle rhythm yet, though it's under the force of the movement, still holds it's strong frame.  It's leaves seem almost like hair.  They fall as it bends down but then when it thrusts upward, they fling behind it. When the wind slows, those same leaves flutter softly as if they are struggling to catch their breathe.

This tree creates the most amazing silhouettes, each branch and stem, poised just so, like the hands of a dancer, speaking another language yet entirely understandable. The beauty of it can move me to tears.

After a recent storm, it started to lean and it now looks as though it's head is arching with it's arms outstretched in an arabesque.  I expect it to curtsy at any moment.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Having A Spiritual Savings Account

I'm so battling a case of the blahs today. Blah diddy blah, blah, blah!

There is absolutely no reason for it.  Okay, so I might have some excuses but they're not really big enough to be important. I'm not going to remember them a week from now, let alone when I'm 50. Isn't it funny how our problems seem so big right now that we can't help but worry for 8 hours straight and wring our hands  but if someone asked us, five years from now, what we were so worried about on June 7, 2012 we wouldn't be able to recall if our life depended on it?

Good grief, I'm ridiculous sometimes. I waste so much time trying to think myself into a solution when I don't have any control over a situation. So I'm having a bad day. I'll get over it.  Boy, it was a whole lot easier to admit my bad days when I wasn't a Christian.  It's like before I was expected to be a screw up but now, I'm supposed to have my act together. Keep that halo un-tarnished!

I'm feeling a little rejected right now.  I'm also feeling sorry for myself because having two kids with special needs makes being a parent that much more complicated. It's easy to get sucked into the "why me" syndrome and lose all sense of perspective.  I have healthy, happy kids and in the grand scheme of things, I am beyond blessed. Still, right now, at this moment, it's hard.  I'm putting one foot in front of the other and I'm being brave.  This is what that looks like yet I'm afraid to show it.  If you asked me how I am doing,  I would  probably show you all of my teeth and say, "wonderful."

That's because at times like this, us Christians have the propensity to put on a happy face and in our best Tony the Tiger voices say, "I'm GREAT!"  We're gonna fake it till we make it.

We know (or should know) that God is going to pull us through it and this is just temporary so there's no point in  making a big deal out of it. And we can't let anyone seeing us struggle.  Because we think that wouldn't make God proud.

Must. Focus. On. The. Good!  There are probably mothers who watched their babies die of starvation today and I'm sitting here re-playing the ugly events of a PPT? What kind of a selfish heathen am I?

We aren't supposed to struggle as Christians, right? We're supposed to have it together, be perfect. But what example do we set when we white knuckle our way through challenges or try to fake that we're fine.  We ultimately show people that we're liars. Perfection isn't inspiring, it's downright science fiction.  Anne Lamott said, "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life."
She was referring to writing but it's true in life as well. Perfectionism oppresses not only ourselves, but others. It's a sort of spiritual and emotional slavery.

In a blog a few years back, Jon Acuff wrote this:

"Sometimes, we Christians, worry that if we admit things are not going well in our lives you will assume that our God is not good. You will see our struggles as a reflection of who our Lord is. So instead of being honest, we will drop the Christian “F” word, which of course is, “Fine."'

It's true that I often feel the pressure to  be "fine" all of the time.  Most of the time I probably am but admittedly I have good days and bad days. And then there are the days I wish I could completely erase and do over.  My faith doesn't give me a perfect life, it gives me a sense of hope and the knowledge that I'm not alone in this mess.

When I feel hurt or lonely or afraid or angry, I don't have to rely on my broken, sick self. I can sit down and say, "God...this sucks.  Take it from me and help me get back on track."  And he does. If I let him.

Have you ever overdrawn your bank account?  I've totally done this.  My husband and I once made a faux pas where we double paid our monthly car payment. I mailed the check, he called in a payment.  We didn't realize this until we went to buy groceries a few days later and our debit card wouldn't work! Which is not embarrassing at all, let me tell ya. To stand in the check out line with $150 worth of groceries and your card won't work is a humbling experience.  The cashier never hands you a discreet piece of paper that says, "card didn't work, do you have another one?"  No. It seems like she grabs her microphone and over the loud speaker you hear the resounding words, "YOUR CARD WAS DENIED!!!!!"  Everyone stares at you and you want to disappear.

It's a sinking, hopeless, scary kind of feeling when you realize you need to figure out how to get out of the mess. My husband wasn't due to get paid for another ten days which meant that we were going to hemorrhage in overdraft fees and I was wracked with worry. It was awful and I never wanted to go through that again so I set up a savings account that is linked to our checking.  This way, if we ever get into that situation again, the bank will automatically cover the negative balance with what we have in savings.

God does the same thing for me when I have a bad day.  He helps me every single time I go into the emotional negative. Sure, I feel really craptastic right now but what I lack in positivity, he makes up for in grace.  The mark of my being a Christian is not that I'm perfect, always have it together or don't have problems. The difference is that I'm not alone in any of it.  I have this huge savings account of spiritual wealth and when I over draw from my lack of planning or through my own error, God always fills in the gaps, steps in and relieves me. He makes an awesome savings account and he never runs dry.

So I'm done trying to be perfect.  Go ahead, watch me struggle.  See me fall.  And then watch my father pick me up, dust me off and redeem me.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Turning Thirty Seven

My daughter and her friend...

"Want some of my mom's birthday cake?
"Sure! It's your mom's birthday?"
"It was yesterday."
"How old is she?"
"Thirty seven."
"WHOA! That's OLD!"

Ouch! That conversation made me wince a little bit but then I remembered that when I was 10 years old, thirty seemed practically geriatric! And 60? Well, you may as well change your name to Methuselah because you were practically a freak of nature for making it to that old of an age.

I had a good birthday. I got a watch and some funny cards.  I spent some time with friends and came home with a sore belly from laughing so hard.  I went out for sushi with my hubs and got plenty of hugs, gifts, texts, and Facebook shout outs.  All in all, I felt pretty loved.

Still, I couldn't help but feel disappointed that my dad (biological) didn't called me.  It shouldn't really be a surprise.  He hasn't called me in over two years.  It's not expected but it's one of those things that just makes my day when he remembers me and I always hope he will call. Isn't that silly? That I'm thirty seven and still, my heart jumped a little bit every time the phone rang because there was a possibility that my daddy would call? Kind of sad if you ask me. 

It's a total waste of time to go there.  I've been to that place before and it leads to nowhere.  It's what Dr. Seuss calls "The Waiting Place."

"…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for
Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance."

Nah, I don't want to waste my time waiting.  I waited for too long and that waiting place is purgatory, a trap that keeps you from moving upward and being happy. As if he instinctively knew that I was feeling low, my son came and gave me a hug.  My boy gives the best kinds of hugs.  I've never taken hard drugs so it's just a guess but I'm pretty sure that Carter's hugs feel pretty similar to heroine.  The second he wraps his gangly arms around me, I can't help but close my eyes.  I feel a happy warmth all over my body and I am limp with ecstasy.  I never want it to end. It erases every thought, every feeling and everything around me. I am truly happy.  I'm pretty sure that if I started selling his hugs on the street, I could make millions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Twenty Things My Grandma Taught Me

When my cousin Tahnee was very little, she couldn't say our Grandma's last name correctly.  Instead of saying"Roybal" she would say "Rainbow." It stuck and from then on, the whole family called her "Grandma Rainbow." It was sweet and personal and anytime I see a rainbow I think of my Grams.  Well, that and when I see someone's bra strap hanging down their shoulder.  That was Rainbow's signature look.

She would have been 97 years old today. She once taught me a lesson about "turning the other cheek" in which she showed me how to swivel my butt in someone's face, essentially teaching me (6 at the time) to tell people how to kiss my ass.   She was the first in a long line of smart ass women in our family.  The matriarch of sarcasm.  She'd be proud to know that all of her grand-daughters and great grand-daughters and great-great grand daughters are proudly carrying on the family tradition- passing down the smart ass like a treasured family recipe.

Grandma Rainbow's house smelled like moth balls.  She always line dried her clothes.  Her towels would get hard in the hot sun.  When you folded them they would crunch and when you dried yourself with them, it felt like you were rubbing yourself with a Brillo pad.

She was "green" before being green was cool.  She made her own soap, canned her own food and made her own clothes. Her green chile was legendary. To celebrate her birthday, I thought I'd share some of the wisdom Grandma Rainbow taught me:

1) Oil of Olay is the only skin product you ever really need.
2) You should always have the confidence to pull off hot pink lipstick.
3) Old underwear makes great dusting rags.
4) Sheets should always be hung out to dry, even in the winter.
5) General Hospital was the best soap opera of all time.
6) Always wear a band aid over your arm tattoos when you go to church. It's respectful.
7) Start telling people that you're going to die when you are 50 so that when you die 40 years later you can say, "I told you so."
8) Remember every detail of every moment of the days your children were born.
9) Don't waste time feeling sorry for yourself.  Someone always has it worse.
10) Don't ever throw away clothes, make quilts out of them.
11) Always pull weeds the day after a big storm.
12) If you don't get second degree burns from the dish water, you aren't washing dishes the right way.
13) Big butts are beautiful.
14) Don't be lazy.
15) Be a survivor.
16) Don't be afraid to cry but don't be a cry baby.
17) Have a signature dish.
18) Always put left overs in the "refrigelator" and always take your trash to the "yunk yard."
19) Collect something from every place you've visited.
20) You don't need forks or spoons so long as you have home made tortillas.

Happy Birthday Grandma Rainbow.  It's Myra, Sally, Barbie, Alyne, Kathy, Kryste, Donna, Sharon, it's ME...Licha.

Monday, June 4, 2012

3 Year Old Asked Kicked Off Airplane For Refusing To Wear Seatbelt

1 comment:
Did you guys see the recent story about a 3 year old boy who was booted off of an Alaskan Airlines plane for refusing to wear his seat belt?

The Daily News reported that the child's father had been asked a few times to fasten his son's seat belt but the boy was fussy, didn't want to wear it and wanted to be closer to his father during take-off.  After several attempts by the flight staff  to convince the father to buckle the boy up, the pilot taxied the plane back to the airport and the family was asked to get off of the plane.

In an interview, the mother said they were treated like "criminals" and the dad said his family's plane exit was "embarrassing." Undoubtedly it was.

When our kids were younger, my husband and I avoided plane rides like the plague.  This was because:

A. We have three kids which means we are grossly  outnumbered.
B. We know our children and while they are good kids, 2 and 3 year olds do have a propensity towards being unpredictable and mind numbingly difficult.  That was something we just really didn't want to have to deal with.  We didn't want to put ourselves or anyone else in that situation.

Still, it's not realistic to completely avoid air travel when you have little kids.  Situations arise when you simply must travel.  When my mom died we flew from Connecticut to Colorado for her funeral.  We tried our best to plan well, fly during times when the kids would be well rested and fed. Our trip out was fine.  The older kids (ages 5 and 3 at the time) sat nicely and watched a movie. We brought many snacks and they had fun with the novelty of the whole thing.

But the trip home was the stuff of nightmares.  The airline delayed our flight by 8 hours which meant that we sat in the airport for nearly 9 1/2 hours waiting and trying desperately to keep three kids under the age of 6, occupied.  They were exhausted and hungry, uncomfortable and cranky.

They all caught a stomach bug and shortly after we boarded the plane, all three of them were vomiting. Because of federal safety restrictions, they wouldn't allow me to bring milk on the plane and they only had 2 small cartons of milk for a 6 hour flight.  Our youngest (1 at the time) was desperate for her milk.  She cried for nearly 5 hours straight. The other two cried too and rarely were in their seats because they were always in the lavatory, trying to vomit out their livers.

I felt terrible for the kids, for ourselves and for everyone else on the plane.  It was a miserable situation to be had by all. We had no choice but to fly on that trip.  I couldn't skip my mother's funeral and we needed to get there in a timely fashion but after that horrific experience,  we decided to never (barring emergencies) fly again with the kids.  Its a lot of work to fly with kids and we didn't want to take the chance that they'd get sick or be unable to make the trip.  For our family, it worked best to wait until we knew they could handle being on a plane.

There's no question as to whether safety rules should be followed.  Kids should remain seated, wearing their seat belts and be properly behaved (within reason).  It is the parents responsibility to set an example and make sure the kids follow all of the rules.   If the parents cannot do so, it makes sense that an airline would have no other choice but to ask them to de-board the plane.

Honestly, I think it depends on your kids.  If you have extremely easy going, can sleep anywhere, always follow the rules and never throw a temper tantrum kind of kids, first of all you have been blessed in spades and second of all, by all means, book your ticket because flying with them will be a joy.

But if your kids still need a nap, have trouble sleeping outside of their beds, don't like to be restricted for large chunks of time and can be unpredictable, think again.  Short flights aren't bad.  Most kids can be entertained for an hour or two but those long flights?

Think twice and if you decide to fly anyway, vaya con dios!

What do you think? Do you think that parents should be responsible for making their children behave and follow safety restrictions on a plane? Do you think the airline did the right thing in booting this family?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Links Of The Week

Today is my birthday!!! Happy Birthday To Me :) I'm 37 years old and I'm so happy about that.  Because I actually forgot how old I was and thought I was going to be 38 today and then remembered that I'm only 37 and now I feel like a spring chicken. :)

I'm sort of taking the day off but I thought I'd share my favorite links of the week today.  There's not that many cause I haven't really been on the net that much this week (I've been slacking by doing the laundry and weeding the yard.)

Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

1.  Kids say the darnedest things.  Apparently, they write the darnedest things on their test papers too.  Here are some hilariously awesome incorrect test answers from kids.

2.  Photorealism is a style of art (painting) wherein the artist attempts to create an image that is strikingly similar to real life.  These photos by Robert Bernardi are nothing short of amazing.  No, these aren't digital pictures, they are paintings that will make your jaw drop!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Is A Billion Dollar House Over Indulgent?

I recently saw a story about the only billion dollar house in the world.  Ironically, it's found in one of the poorest countries; India. The home, called Antilla, is a 27 story skyscraper which boasts over 400,000 square foot of living space.  It includes it's own ballroom, 9 elevators, a 4 story open garden, 3 helo pads, a private theater and 600 staff to keep it all running.  It is owned by the fifth wealthiest man in the world; Mukesh Ambani.

I don't know about you but I'm thinking that 400,000 square feet just isn't enough.  I mean, clearly they restrained themselves from reaching half a million square feet which shows some restraint.  And where are they going to put their knick knacks in such a restricted space?

Hey, when your estimated worth is 29 Billion dollars, plunking down a cool billion to buy your own private island in downtown Mumbai sounds like a bargain, amiright?  It's extravagant to say the least and one might be inclined to be amazed or even jealous of such exorbitance except for one tiny thing: the building is surrounded by millions of people living in the Indian slums.  It's opulence casts a shadow on those people living on $2 a day.

It's really easy to look at that house, shake your head and say, "that is so over the top."  It is.  Who needs a 6 level parking lot because you have so many vehicles that anything less would be considered unrealistic?

I have this image of the homeowners standing around a table with their architect and saying, 3 stories worth of garage just so isn't going to cut it.  What would we do with our second fleet of Bentley's?

How could this family be so selfish when they are surrounded by heart-wrenching poverty? Can you imagine how that billion dollars could change the lives of the poor who scurry at their feet? It could provide housing, food, medical treatment, clothing.  The Ambanis could literally save their lives. 

Nobody needs a billion dollar house.  The name "Ambani" could be a new term in the dictionary.
Ambani, noun, : "a flagrant over-indulgence at the expense of the needy."

It's easy to judge yet so often I indulge in so many luxuries when I too am surrounded by people in need. Is not a McMansion in the suburbs equivalently un-necessary?

Here's the perfect example: I want to buy new office furniture.  I want to drive to IKEA so badly and pick out a trendy new desk, a few accessories, a rug, etc... and fix up our office space.

I don't really need to.  I just want to.  Because I can afford it and if the Ambani's can have their second home (oh yes it is) be a skyscraper, I can have my measly office.  Sure, I could buy 10 shares of a well that brings water to 28,000 people or send 30 kids to school for entire year or provide $12,000 worth of life saving medication with that $1000 I want to spend on my office but I REALLY WANT A NEW DESK! It would be so pretty and I could sit there once a week and go through my mail and pay bills and that's more important, right? Right?

Most of us do this kind of thing every day. We buy clothes, cars and houses we don't need.  We over-spend on vacations, we spoil ourselves.  Sure, it might not be a billion dollar house with 3 helo pads and an entire floor dedicated to fitness equipment but it's still selfish indulgence.

I'm not saying that we should never buy anything for ourselves or spend a little from time to time.  It's dangerous to go to any extremes but its really important to take note when our "wants" cross over into "needs."

When you start really believing and justifying that you "need" a new car when your so called old one is paid off or you "need" to take your kids to Disney every year, you "need" to get new floors put in when yours are still in pretty good shape, and you do this at the expense of generously giving to those in desperate need, it might be time to ask yourself: Am I pulling an Ambani?