Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jesus loves me, this I know......

     Okay so yesterday was like any other day until I logged onto Facebook ( oh I love you Facebook.) To my surprise I had received a lengthy note from an old friend. My daughter has shown since she was very young a propensity for music. As young as age three she would bang away at the little xylophone and quickly tap out tunes like "Mary had a Little Lamb" and "Twinkle Twinkle." She just could hear the notes. I have never been musically inclined, so I jumped at the chance to send her to lessons. It so happened that her preschool music teacher was also a piano instructor. Like many folks the preschool I sent her to was faith based. All important fact to the larger story. She began her lessons and truly thrived. Her teacher is well- adorable in a word. I have likened her to Snow White on many occasions. She is just so radiant and pure. She exudes kindness and is heartfelt and good. It was nice to have my child being taught by and in the care of someone so kind. Through the years I have seen her family grow as has mine. She has three kids now and so do I. I have watched her become this beautiful mom. She is patient and loving with her kids and they are so happy. I was grateful to know her and so happy to see how content with life she had become. I felt like I watched her become a woman. That may seem silly but when we met she was only like 23 and just married and is now, nearing 29 and has three kids. Sadly this last year I had to make the decision to use a new piano teacher. It had nothing to do with her at all. In fact I stayed with her two years longer than I probably should have because I loved her so much. The distance was the only factor. We were making a 45 minute drive each way ever Tuesday night just for the 30 minute class. It was taking a toll on our evenings with homework being regular and taking a toll on my pocket book with gas and all. We switched to a class nearer my child's school. I kept in touch with the teacher as I truly felt sad to be leaving her. Like we had made a connection- kindreds in motherhood.

The letter I received was from her. It was well- uncomfortable a bit for me. It was as nice as it could be and it was sort of beautiful but the more I read it the more strange I felt. It was a letter that basically said that she loved my family and I and that she wanted to share the kingdom of Heaven with us so she felt compelled to reach out and bring us home to God. She felt that God had lead her to send this letter. She said she loved my beautiful family so much that she had longed to write this letter to me for quite some time. She asked if I ever felt that all I had done for my kids was still falling short and assured me that God would take up where I had left off with them.

It was such a nice letter yet some how it made me feel a little bit bad. It made me feel "judged."  I am 100% positive that that was NOT the intent. I am 100% positive that she would never hurt me. But still it was there and it is what I felt. That must be acknowledged. Now why? I have read this book "The Four Agreements" buy it now... now now now.. I'll wait.. no really it's a must read. It's short and to the point. Basically one of the agreements is to understand that "this is not about me." That is hard for me in general but especially when it feels like someone is saying I am not a good mother. That always knocks the wind out of me and doubt washes over me like a flood. No like a tidal wave. So here I sit. Here I sit thinking that this woman I admired feels like my kids and I are on the express train to Hell. As always I ponder, sort, scrape, mash, peel, tear apart and reconstruct my feelings on the matter. I ask for guidance from my tribe. One friend said that anyone who has met my kids even for a minute or in this case has had the chance to spend a great deal of time with them must know how happy and how kind they are. Finn at age four even holds open doors for ladies. He is a true gentleman. Jude carries my bags and says let me help you all the time. Char is so intuitive about feelings and knows how to heal all around her. They are GOOD kids. One friend said I should be flattered. That I should know that most people want to recruit those who are not that far gone. They want to help those up who are almost there already. They dont want to drag people from the pits. Ha Ha... I still fretted. This was after all not the first time something like this had happened. Once a woman close to me (even staying in my home for a few days) told me that my family was beautiful and my husband was such a good father.. "but it was too bad that we were all going to Hell since we were not saved." It was not the first time I'd heard these words. It was like the fifth.

In fact it made me think of a funny joke my Grandpa used to tell.

"It was flooding. As the flood waters were rising, a man was on the roof of his house and another man in a row boat came by. The man in the row boat told him to get in and he'd save him. The man on the roof said, no, he had faith in God and would wait for God to save him. The flood waters kept rising. A man in a motor boat came by and told the man on the roof to get in because he had come to rescue him. The man on the house said no thank you. He had perfect faith in God and would wait for God to save him. The flood waters kept rising. Pretty soon they were up to the man's roof. A helicopter then came by, lowered a rope and the pilot shouted down in the man in the house to climb up the rope because the helicopter had come to rescue him. The man in the house wouldn't get in. He told the pilot that he had faith in God and would wait for God to rescue him. The flood waters kept rising and the man in the house drowned. When he got to heaven, he asked God where he went wrong. He told God that he had perfect faith in God, but God had let him drown.
"What more do you want from me?" asked God. "I sent you two boats and a helicopter."

So were these people sent to me as a life raft? a helicopter? a boat to save me from drowning?  If God is so wise and so all knowing would he/she not have sent me a messenger I'd be more likely to listen to? Would he/she not have clothed them in garments I'd recognize? Make them someone who's council I'd be likely to seek?

My friend Tracey said it to me best.. If this is like the fifth time you'd had someone say these things to you, well then you should be feeling over-joyed. (WHAT??)  Because obviously you are good enough that they want you on their team. Yay! So I wont be picked last in the cosmic game of kickball to Heaven. Sweet.....Whew what a load off....

I guess this is where I am and this is basically how I responded. Religion to me is private, more private than politics in fact. Some may have you believe you'd only keep it quiet if you were ashamed but in fact I keep it quiet because it's mine. It's a place in my heart that I hold sacred and you will rarely be invited there. No matter who you are. My children and my husband reside there. There we run freely together in the multitude of blessings and of love we have for each other and for this life we were given. I love this man I married and I know he was brought to me by a higher power and for a higher purpose. I love these little sprouts I birthed. I know they are from the divine source. I share with these humans the beauty of life everyday. In an average day I tell them- "I love you, and I am thankful for you" over 1000 times. I am thankful to the Holy Spirit for the gift of them. My sermons are held each day at breakfast when we talk about what's good and right, when we talk about life and history and language and travel. My sermons are held at dinner when we talk about our day and our food and what we loved and what made us sad and what lifted us up. My sermons are held at bath time, when their tiny naked bodies are flailing around in suds and being silly and giddy my choir is their laughter. My sermons are held at bedtime when I kiss foreheads and linger in the smell of their hair or when my husband and I lie awakes and talk or hold each other close and warm. This house is my church and this life I have built my temple. Any one who enters can feel this love. I know I am loved by this higher power for I look around me each and every day and I am so blessed- Would someone undeserving or bound for Hell be this happy and this filled with gratitude?

I will face the end of my life with these people and I will not fear what comes next because this right here and now is my Heaven.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Listen to Your Mother, Excitement, and Random Thoughts..

     I was pondering the other day, as I often do, about the life and happiness. I was with my kids at an amusement park and they were so excited to be running from one ride to the next. They were seeing new sites and feeling over the moon hopped up crazy on adrenaline. I was thinking about when as an adult I had that feeling last. I know I was excited on my wedding day. I know I was excited to leave for our honeymoon. I get that butterfly feeling of possibility when I travel to a foreign country. I know on the way to the hospital to give birth I was ecstatic. But when had I felt it last? I started to be a bit jealous. Who knows when again as adults we might get that rush of new and amazing excitement, haven't we experienced so much that very little is new to us and still awe inspiring that is THRILLING? I'm not saying I'm unhappy or that my life is boring- far from it. I am simply saying that I wonder if much as a grown up makes us feel that pit of your stomach nervous excitement.

Well, I can say with complete satisfaction that the "Listen to Your Mother 2014" show announcements made me feel that way.

Giddy Goofy Happy Three Years Old again Excited!!


I know I have been telling anyone within earshot how great this thing is but until you actually see the show, hear these stories, FEEL the energy you will not understand. This is excitement, this is life, this is empowered funny and smart women telling the story that is life- that gave life- that sustains life, like only we can. It is beauty, pain, and overwhelming love and laughter all packed into one hour. I am so giddy to be a part of the creative team in Kansas City this year. I hope my story will make you laugh and make you love this show as much as I do! 

Here is a sample of what you can expect.  This is one of my favs from the 2013 show in Chicago.

Marianne Walsh is the "Penis Whisperer"

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Reconciled 8===D

Oh this is one of those where I have no idea how to begin. My process in writing is weird and simple. Most sit with some sort of device even if it's purely paper and pencil, not me though. I am in my own head. That is where my writer lives, her hunkered down comfy cozy self. She is in there thinking, editing, reworking the whole thing until the body wants to sit and actually do the typing. I've always been this way. Roommates used to laugh at me in college. Have you started that paper yet? It's due tomorrow! I'd always have it completely written and completely perfect IN MY HEAD. Then the day it was due it's type it out. Rough drafts are for pussies.. ha ha ha (of course this is why I have so many spelling and grammar errors...) I love to write, I just dont love the actual writing.. ha ha...
Ever read Tommy-knockers? by Stephen King? He has that device that the writer just uses, it reads her thoughts and puts them to paper. Oh how I wish I had that. Of course then over half would need to be censored (X RATED!!) and the other half would need to be edited for content as my mind wanders like the dog on the movie "UP".... squirrel!!!!  See I'm wandering off even now.

The beginning....
      I had said I wanted to write a piece about how I am not reconciled. I do accounting work as a PAYING job. In that world "reconciliation" means to make sure all the numbers add up. Everything is accounted for all the zeros and decimal points align. In my world in this head of mine it means a similar thing, but without the numbers. My image of myself does not add up. My image in the mirror and my image in my head are not the same. The me I am inside is not the same as the me I see in the mirror... Which one is right? Which one is real? I am not reconciled....

In writing one of the first things you learn is self-    i.e -  your perspective, your point of view. It can get a bit philosophical here... Freud's model of the psyche.. the ID the EGO and the SUPER EGO. There is the self as you see you, the self as others see you, and the self that you truly are. Which self is REAL? Then comes the question of what is REAL? and oh my God I dont have time for all that and my head hurts from the thought of it. Maybe I had time for that in my 20's but now in my 40's I'm too busy trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and too worried I may have run out of time to make up my mind. Now I just know that these selves are not adding up.

In my head I am this attractive, funny, smart, pretty (not beautiful but pretty), girl who is always on the go. The girl who is always moving, never sits still and is always up to some new feat. I am this modern ninja warrior woman who kicks butt! The girl who has breakfast lunch and dinner made, kids dropped off at school, house cleaned, laundry started, a few phone calls made to get a  $4000 check issued to finish off the new slide on the playground , bank book balanced, and status updated all before 9AM. This is the me of my head.

In the mirror, I am a tired, old, very over weight, fluffy, cranky, haggard.. hag. Old..hag. IN THE MIRROR that is who I am.

Where is the disconnect? (And jeez.. am I just schizophrenic??? After reading and re-reading those thoughts I sound like I might be?)

and then she thinks----

(I'm sitting here talking to myself- nay- arguing with my self over whether or not I am sane. That in and of itself may answer the question....)


So I struggle with this day in and day out. I see my beautiful daughter growing into this woman, and I am terrified (poop your pants, hair turns white, scared straight TERRIFIED) that she will become this unaccounted for column... How do I stop that? Nail biting, stomach in knots here.. How do I stop that from happening? By the end of my stories I usually have some perspective ladies and gents but not on this one. I really mean HOW? I really dont know. I am scared for her. Scared of the mean girls, the mean comments, the mean boys she will face if her body is not "just right." I am scared it will change the beautiful little soul she is right now. I am scared she will retreat into a shell and hide if those mean words are spoken to her and I KNOW they will be. Hell it has already begun. How do I shield her from this? How do I keep her safe?

It's not the same for boys. I dont worry about F and J this way. They will be fine. Pretty much none of a guy's self image is tied up in his reflection in the mirror. Good looking, or ugly, fat or thin, zit faced or baby faced.. a guy can still be THE GUY. The big fat guy can still get the girl, the car, the friends, the invites to the parties. He can still be popular. He can still be IN and he can still move around in our society without much of a grimace from anyone. NOT THE FAT GIRL. The fat girl wont be called for a date, she wont have a healthy relationship with a guy, she wont get asked to the prom, or have a herd of girl friends vying for her attention. She is punished day in and day out for who she is. The ugly girl too... but there is at least some small amount of sympathy for the ugly girl. She was born that way. NOT THE FAT GIRL. She must be LAZY.. a PIG.. she must stuff her face, eat bon bons while sitting on the sofa watching teen heart throb movies or soap operas. The fat girl is not just an outcast but she is actually and enemy, she is despised. She is like a virus the other girls think they might catch. They FEAR her, they fear they may become her.

I want my daughter to grow a penis so she never has to deal with this crap.....

(suddenly a light comes on and you were the first to witness this epiphany right here and now)

See I said I had no solution but there it is, the answer to all the problems women face day in and day out .... I just solved em all.! GROW A PENIS. There we go.. (she says as she brushes her hands together in the air) problem solved. I'll just tell Char to grow a penis. We will skip all the self image issues of teen years, we will hop right on over the MEAN GIRL BULLSHIT she will soon be facing, she will not worry about date rape, she will finish at the top of her class and get a high paying job without worry of sexual discrimination at all, she will always get the promotion, and she will never fear it was because the boss wanted to sleep with her- and it's all accomplished by the simple task of growing a fucking penis.  Whew- what a relief.

Wow- okay- that is all- carry on..... anyone know a good plastic surgeon???

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Google that shit!!

     So when I started this blog in 2009, I had 3 very small children. All at home, all dependent on me- no daycare, no reprieve, and NO SLEEP. Of course I was nuts! Frankly speaking maybe a bit angry, frustrated, and jaded as well. Years have passed since then (four to be exact), and my oldest two are in school and I only have the one very sweet, kind, eager to please FiFi at home now. Life certainly seems a bit more tame, evolution as it were, has made me much happier and carefree person. Don't get me wrong, our life is still a circus however it's a far more well managed and put together circus. Those days that seem impossible to get through and the balled up sobbing heap of me on the bathroom floor is maybe only a bi-monthly occurrence instead of a bi-daily occurrence.  I may have mentioned the rotting corpse of the Leslie I once was that lives in our home smelling up the place? Well she is beginning to smell a little less like decomp and a little more like perfume. I also have more help now. My husband having read the blog may have helped slightly ( I can dream can't I?) or maybe he too has had some personal growth and has come into his own fathering vibe. He definitely seems to "get it" more.  The kids are far more autonomous now. I only have to wipe a very occasional butt and never have to chop up anyone's food into choke proof pieces unless we are having steak for dinner.  Ahhhhhhh- a sigh of relief.
     Problems of the past have morphed into - well the problems of today that are far less difficult to manage. It is only occasionally that I feel overwhelmed. Soccer season is one of those times, and there is of course the dreaded twice yearly school project time. Uggggg. Even though I "graduated' from third grade quite some time ago, lets face facts! Those damn school projects are just not designed for your kid to do alone. They are what I like to call the "parent" homework. Dioramas, habitats, and giant poster boards taller than your kid have to be designed and mapped out. 3rd grade brings Endangered Species, and Foreign Countries, seems easy enough? For weeks at a time our dining room table is overrun by glue, letters, paper, scissors, pictures, and notes. This year's project for C was on Brazil. She was so excited to have chosen it because she'd seen a documentary once on carnival and was excited to learn more. It should have been easy enough, and that is why one calm Sunday afternoon I left her to work on the project alone and put my husband in charge of the oversight committee. For the most part his help consists of, "I dont know sweetie, why dont you Google that." That is sort of fine, she needs to at least try do most of the work on her own right? And besides, I love Google- how did we ever live without it.  Why is the sky blue? Why did the dinosaurs die? How can you cut steel? Where is Easter Island and why is it called Easter Island? I DON'T KNOW KIDS- Google that shit. We do have an ancient dust covered set of Encyclopedia somewhere in the basement but one paragraph about Brazil does not a project make. If I'd been home I would have stood by her as she typed in the words and helped guide her on her word choice. I was not home. It was Sunday so there was any number of stupid sports shows on so my husband was otherwise inclined. If I were home I would have helped her select the right words to find what she was looking for and helped her chose which sites to actually look at. I was not home, so she was all on her own and did what most kids do. She typed in the most simple terms what she was looking for. She had already found a map, learned the topography of the land. She had already learned about their weather, their national treasures, the tourist sights to be seen. She'd learned about the major cities, and their population. She had researched the foods they eat and what interesting plants grew there. She had learned all there was about Carnivale and found at least three famous people who had come from Brazil. All that was left was to find out what people in Brazil wore and how they wore their hair. Yep, that's right. Any MOMMY who is reading this blog knows exactly where I am about to go. Why the connection did not dawn on my husband is beyond me. So that lovely Sunday afternoon my sweet 8 year old received a very in depth, very image filled graphic of what you get when you type in Brazil and HAIR on Google.
    When recounting the story to me later she laughed and blushed A LOT!  "EWWWWWW mom it was gross they showed it all!" and "Mom why do women need to shave down there??" (GREAT!!)   Thankfully she is a smart enough child not to have added THAT to her poster board.  I dont think third grade is ready for and X-rated foreign country project yet! My husband was more than a little embarrassed. Mainly because he will NEVER be comfortable enough to have even the slightest sex talk with my daughter. "Dad when do girl start wearing a bra?"- sent him crying to his room. "I dont know ask you mother!" was heard as he ran off to hide.
 The moral of this story? Just when I think "I got this.." Just when I think it's all getting easier and I'm feeling a bit of self confidence and pride... BIG PARENTING FAIL. Boom the universe or the internet more specially has other ideas.

Ha Ha..... I always try to see the brighter side though, and in recounting this story to a friend of mine she one-upped me. She told me that she left her husband in charge of finding the cheer leading bloomers that go under her daughters cheer skirt. She was thinking that a nice trip to the sporting goods store would be a good father daughter outing. He on the other had wanted to make sure it was a one trip shop so he told his daughter to go and Google the nearest store and see if they have them. He told his daughter...."Just go Google DICKS.com........"

AHHHHHHH and another contender for father of the year emerges...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kaitlyn and Braedon-Confidence- and The Insignificant Day

     Uggg- Sometimes sitting down to write is like when I used to walk into a record store to buy music. You have all these albums you want then when you walk in you can't even think of one thing. I had all these posts I wanted to write but now sitting here I can't think of one of them. I need to get on a schedule where I write everyday even if it's blather because at least then the good stuff wont get lost. Okay so I'm talking to you like you are part of some sort of inner monologue in my head (PSYCHO?) but here goes.

   As promised the post about Braedon and Kaitlyn. Who are they you ask? Truth be told I don't really even know but this is how it all went down. I took my fam in the last days of summer break to the lake for a nice relaxing day at the beach. It was all perfect and wonderful and totally relaxing until these teenagers showed up. They were not really obnoxious so much but I found myself glued to them like watching a train wreck. I just couldn't turn away. I kept reminiscing about my own teen years and then my mind would float off and day-dream about what Char and Jude would be like as teens.
      Kaitlyn and her little friend whose name I never heard, came first. They very carefully and calculatedly picked a spot and begin laying themselves out ever so perfectly for view by the near-by life guard whom they knew from school. So much care and time went into this it was mesmerizing. I remember what it felt like to be that girl who tried so hard to get that boys attention. Kaitlyn was sort of built like I was in high school although to her credit she had much more self confidence than I had then. Already pretty tan from the summer of beaching it, and long dark hair that she literally flipped about 2000 times while arranging herself neatly on her towel and applying oil or lotion of some kind. She was "curvy"- "built"-"thick" as some might put it. Not fat at all in my opinion. She was bigger than the other very waif-ish girl. She had big boobs, and a big but. This is what I looked like in school but back then I thought I was fat. Hid behind my clothes instead of wearing them. Hated my own body each time I glimpsed it in the mirror and would NEVER have worn a bikini like Kaitlyn was, or shown myself so confidently on the beach like she was. That is why I started looking at her in the first place. I felt pride in her for not being self loathing, and a tiny bit of jealousy for having confidence in HIGH SCHOOL for goodness sakes. Then from behind us came a very loud very large group of testosterone filled teen boys. About 12 of them to be sure. They were all sweaty and goofy and all of them had one thing in common. They thought they were totally cool. Obviously the cool kids,obviously the varsity team of something. They knew Kaitlyn and waif girl.They knew them well. The cool kids group. One boy stood out from the others. Not because he was cuter, or in any way superior but there was just something about him. The other boys kept calling his name. Braedon this and Brady that.. Hey over here Brady, Hey wanna play volleyball? All the guys wanted to be him or be his friend and Kaitlyn wanted to date him. It was obvious from the hair flipping. I just could not look away from this group. Frumpy old lady gawking on. It was shameful and I felt all pervy but, still I could not look away.
     I found myself wondering why they so held on to my attention. In part it was a desperate feeling of my own fleeting youth. I don't feel OLD yet but way past this stage for sure and in a way, in that moment, wanting it back. Wanting to be that young again and have my whole life in front of me. Wanting to be that naive. But mostly it was this intangible need to know why they were so confident and how in the hell do I instill that in my own kids? I sure as heck did not have it as a teen. I don't want Charley to hate her body and I don't want Jude or Finn to be that guy always hoping Brady will play catch with him. I want them to BE Braedon and Kaitlyn. Is that vain? I am not so much caught up in that they will be sought after and "popular" but that they will be looked up to for the right things. Confidence, Poise, Kindness, and Loyalty- topping the list.
     When my husband plopped down beside me he could clearly see I was in a far off place with my thoughts. He asked and instantly I began to tell him about this one.. very small very insignificant day that  I went swimming. It was at a pool in an apartment complex where a friend lived. My mom and I went. I was wearing a new bikini I had bought with my step mom. It was cool, at least I thought so. It was black on bottom and black and white on top. I was tan and I had long blond highlighted hair. I was nervous, but I felt good, felt like I looked good and felt somewhat comfortable in my own skin. I think I was 15 maybe? A boy I had known since the fifth grade and whom I had a severe crush on came up to me. I had no idea he was working there part time as a pool guy. He sat down on the edge of the pool next to me. We were talking and laughing, we had been friends a while. I felt good, I was flipping my own hair I am sure. I was Kaitlyn. That moment was fleeting and would be the last time I ever wore a bikini and the last time I ever felt like that again. I looked over at my mother and she made a gesture. At first I had no idea what she was saying. I was leaning against the wall and had my elbows propped back on the wall and feet floating out. Trying to be coy, trying to impress Jason in anyway I could. She was motioning to me that I should not lean back like that as it made my stomach look fat all pushed out that way. She came over to tell me since I did not understand her sign language. She whispered it to me. I remember feeling like I'd been stung by 10,000 bees. Hot and embarrassed. I wanted to die. I mostly wanted out of the bikini. I put on my t-shirt and sat out on a lounge chair until it was time to leave. I never wore it again. It became a symbol to be of my own self loathing. One insignificant day, one tiny remark that I am sure was never meant to inflict the kind of damage that it did.  No one had ever told Kaitlyn she looked "thick" in that suit she had on. She looked so cute to me. She looked happy and she looked confident. She loved herself and truthfully that made me a bit jealous.
     Everyday I wonder if something I might say to one of my kids might be the equivalent of this "bikini comment". Everyday I ask myself if this one seemingly insignificant thing I said to them might be the thing that makes them feel less than the spectacular and beautiful beings they are. I'd like to tell you by the end of this post that I have the answer and that I know the right thing to do to make it all turn out well for them in the end. I can't. because I dont know. I struggle everyday on these things and sometimes am taken aback at the weight my words carry.

 Mother= confidence.

 Staggering math.

or maybe Mother = complete self loathing.....

What goes into making a Kaitlyn and a Braedon? Lots of hugs and kisses, lots of speeches about self worth? I fear it's some of that but more the example I set in how I treat myself. I wish I was Kaitlyn. So confident, so flirtly, so young, so naive. Instead I am me. Jaded a bit, getting older, but hoping beyond all hope I can muster enough confidence in my own mothering skills to teach my kids to love themselves and hoping to get back to where I love ME a little more.

ummmmm... and no that does not mean I'll be wearing a bikini any time soon. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The summer of our contentment... uhhhh and why I have not posted in a while..

     Aside form the usual bullshit life has to offer (two vehicle replacements due to major repair, a leaking hot water heater, a new washing machine, and two cavities, and a stray cat caught in a tree all  in the span of a two month period) this has been truly one of the best summers I can remember. Don't laugh I am totally serious.
     If you know me you'd know I am all about gratitude on any given day. Aside from looking these problems square in the eye and saying, "Ehhhh you wont win," I have been truly HAPPY. I caught myself thinking it the other day and almost freaked. When was the last time I felt that. I felt "content"? That is the best word I can use to describe it. Not ecstatic, not joyous,  not elated- but content. Which to me is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY better. That word lends itself toward a peaceful calm happy that sort of washes over and coats your soul. Content is like floating.
     During the school year I allow myself to get so caught up, wrapped up in the kids lives. Their homework is my homework, their project is my project. I room parent in at least two rooms, team up to deliver at least one sometimes three art projects for the big school fundraiser, collect donations for the classroom baskets, attend every PA meeting, plan teacher gifts, plan things like field days and picnics and school halloween parties, coordinate snack schedules, make sack lunches everyday and drive to pick up and drop off each kid at their respective schools. I am on the Board of Directors at the school as well and we are currently in the middle of creating a three year strategic plan. I volunteer at Harvesters, and recently engaged in speaking at a live performance of "Listen to Your Mother." I blog, I tweet, Instagram, and FB galore. ( oh and I have a full time job did I mention? ) My husband says he never sees me. Which in all reality is pretty close to true. These three babies are my life and when I say that I mean it to my core. I make sure each and every aspect of their lives is as perfect as I can possibly make it. I'm that mom you hate. Oh except that I'm overweight and usually look like a haggard old mess, with a stain and a hole in my clothes somewhere.... so you hate me less than the skinny mom that rocks the makeup and hair to parent pick up.
     But this summer- boom- I decided to halt it all. I can't halt the Board of Directors things but they are minimal over the summer. Everything else has completely stopped. I decided on day one to simply ask my kids what they think would be fun to do for the summer. Not the token "Summer Bucket List" I've heard tossed around. Just a simple what do you all want to do today? Not here is what we are doing but what do YOU think would be fun? Mostly I found what they said -SHOCKING- "Sleep in and cuddle you mom." Finn even said in his little guy voice.. "I wish dad did not have a job so he could be with us all day too." So that is what we have done. No running, no appointments, no early to bed and rise, no schedules, no yelling, tyrant me who needs to be somewhere at a certain time with a thousand things in tow. Ahhhhh. it's nice. Just us. Just to be a family. Why did I think all that other stuff was so important?
     So each day I am greeted with kisses instead of alarm clocks and cuddles instead of sack lunches and book bags. Now I know it can't always be this way. I know we have to go to school and be on time. I know we need to do homework and stay on task, but will my kids fall apart if I dont plan each of their holiday parties or bake something for each event, or spearhead the fund raising efforts? All of it pales in comparison to the freckled, sun kissed, very relaxed, adoring faces of my three babies. This is what contentment feels like. Home, love, calm, peace, and my babies in my arms.

 We are floating.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Writer's Block, Sentiment, and Sangria

    Can't write- have summer writer's block. I know I know it's a cheat to say but it's totally true. My brain is absorbed elsewhere with other things. The number one thing being how my kids are growing and how I feel like the time is slipping away from me. So two things will happen here. The first is that I will spend that time this summer with them cherishing every little word they say and every little hilarious thing they do. The second is that I will drink. ha ha ha... really I will. Heavily- to ease the pain and to slow my roll. Ha- I need to chill a little I know on the sentimentality of it all. At 9, 7, and 4 I still have them and I just need to enjoy the now. J's cleaning up the fort mess of a room he made, Fi's following his every move and hanging on his every word. C's designing jewelry for her Yia Yia. My kids are awesome. 
     In other news my job stopped paying me for the food blog which is sort of fine. But now what to do with it? So since I'm dismantling it and since I need a drink and since I can't write, I'm cheating. I'm going to take a few of those posts and put them here. Just the ones I wrote about my own recipes and my own food feelings. So sue me if you are bored with it but I think every mommy needs a sangria recipe. So here you go! Eat, DRINK, and enjoy your summer of kids moms. I am sure going to try.

     Gin and tonic’s are my usual fall back summer drink of choice but a few years back, when we traveled to Spain I got a little bit “hooked” on Sangria. Light crisp and slightly fruity if it’s done right, red or white, it can be the most easy to drink summer cocktail out there. I have to take a min to add a note here. Rick and I found a tree at the top of the "mountain" in San Sebastian Spain. We carved our initials into it's trunk. We got wasted on blush wine and ate cheese and bread. It was one of the greatest days of my life. So this recipe brings me to summer, to love, and to Spain. I hope you love it as much as I do! Most people think that it’s as simple as adding some chopped fruit to a glass of iced wine. They’d be wrong. There is a trick, and a secret ingredient that most miss. Without it, it’s a total miss. Bet you can’t guess?

I’ll wait…

Brandy! Who knew? And it really can’t just be any old Brandy. It needs to be something elegant, sophisticated, and fresh. Cardenal Mendoza Solera comes with my highest recommendations. Slightly dark fruit waves rush over crisp orange notes, giving a glass of sangria exactly the perfect flavor. Added to a light red that is not to acidic, like a Rioja. Hailing from North Central Spain this wine is primarily made from the Tempranillo grape.  Marques de Caceres is my brand of choice because it’s usually very inexpensive. No sense in spending a lot of money on a wine when you should be saving those extra pennies for the Brandy. Finally a slight hint of fruit juice is needed. You can really go with just about anything here; orange or pineapple,  but I prefer apricot. I know it’s unusual but I think it makes the drink. I have seen recipes that add sugar. I do not. I think the apricot juice does that for me. A splash of 7-up and then diced apples and sliced oranges. An additional trick I use is to freeze grapes and then use them instead of ice cubes. It leaves less chance of a watered down beverage. Try this with red or white, you can even use a rose. The specific measurements are listed below. I dare you to find a better recipe anywhere!

  • 1 Bottle of Rioja
  • 1 Apple cut into wedges
  • 1 Orange cut into thin slices
  • 1 Cup frozen grapes red or white
  • Splash of apricot juice
  • 3 Shots of Brandy
  • 2 cups 7-Up          

  P.S.- I also was on the crew that helped open La Bodega here in KC. If you love their Sangria.. pssssst...lean in close now...... this is pretty much it. I think I remember distinctly going through about 12 recipes before we settled on this one. Oh what a night that was....

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mother is God in the eyes of the child….

I am nothing if not a horror movie addict. Oh not the kind that really gets into them and watches them like a cult follower. I’m the ridiculous kind that has to turn down the volume at times, watch with a friend and have all the lights on. Addicted because I like to run up the basement stairs for fear my ankles will be grabbed by the monster lying under them or jump three feet to the bed so no hands swipe out from underneath it! That kind. So if you are too then you know where that line comes from. Silent Hill. (The first one not the dumb second one.) But that line… oh that line still haunts me, and not for the right reasons.

It’s true. Mommy can do no wrong in the eyes of the child. Not until that child grows up that is.

My daughter stayed home with me yesterday and I held her tight. Told her stories of her babyhood and giggled like girls. We had fun. She must have said to me that I was the best mommy ever like 30 times. It weighed on me. Mommy is God in the eyes of the child. It weighed heavily on me. I am my own worst critic and so I am always evaluating my own actions. This one sweet phrase from my baby girl sent my brain into a tornado like spin. Every thing I’ve yelled, every criticism I’d given, every time I’d shrugged away a hug while washing the dishes or loading the dryer just piled up on my soul. If you are a mother you know what I am saying because no matter how small your sin, you remember it. I carry mine with me. I think of them often and I live in almost fear of them sometimes. Fear that my kids will be taken from me for these sins. If you don’t appreciate what you have it will be gone. While they are small this is my fear. Fear that I can not protect them from every evil there is or from to world, and fear that my little moments of flaw will add up to one big universal IOU. Will they be taken from me if I do not relish every last moment with them as if it were the last. Take nothing for granted.

If I manage to make it past their youthful years into adulthood will they then come to collect on my bad debts? Will they languish over those shrugged off hugs or moments of yelling anger?   Will that be what they remember?

Every moment I ask myself these questions. I wonder if I am making mistakes and if they are the big kind that one can hardly pay for in one lifetime. Who has the answers? Guilt is the hairshirt I wear.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Groundhog Days of Our Lives- as read aloud at LTYM 2013 KC

     Once heard that the average toddler hears the word “no” over 200 times in one day. Yeah well, who do you think is saying it? Remember that movie with Bill Murray where he wakes up and keeps having the same day over and over? Of course you do, if you are a mother, it is the story of your life!

Here are just a few of the things I repeat daily;
“I don’t know where your (insert random object here) is. I was not the one who had it last.”
“Stop hitting your brother.”
“Stop picking your nose.”
“Hold my hand in the parking lot. Do you want to get hit by a car?”
“You have to taste it before you say you hate it.”
 “Your coat does not go one the floor.”
“Eat your dinner before you can have any candy.”
“NO! NO! NO!”
 “Stop sticking things in the outlets! While you’re at it stop sticking things in your nose too.”
 “That is not a toy.”
 “Please get down from there.”
“The word your looking for is WON’T not CAN’T. You CAN do it but you just won’t.”
“Poop, Butt, Fart, Turd and all poop related words are off limits!”
“Please be quiet.”
 “Apologize to your sister.”
“Stop hitting!”
 “Pick up your room.”
“You need a time out.”
“Get off of the ground this is a public restroom!”

And those are just the things I say to my husband.

No really… I could sing them like a deranged Christmas carol.
Three “Turn it downs.”
 Two “Start listenings.”
And a  “Do you have any sense?” 

  I say the same things day in and day out. At some point in time one would think they would get as tired of hearing them as I do of saying them. You would think they might just do what it is I was asking. Instead,  I speak and I think all they must hear is “WA WA WA WAH WA WAH.” At what point did I become Charlie Brown’s teacher? Do they think I like to sound like this?
     Honestly, it only contributes to my tired and listless appearance. The grey hairs are multiplying by the minute, the wrinkles invading.

 My youthful glow is slipping away like sands through the hour glass.

Sometimes it’s   ALL    sooooo    mundane.

It amazes me what actually excites me these days. A trip to the grocery store alone is a treat! Warm food is nice.. oh how I have missed warm food. A full chapter in a book read is great. OOOOO OOOOO how about shaving  both legs in the same shower? Yes... that’s a good one…
     Today is an excellent example; my six year old came home and put his coat on the hook instead of the ground.  I felt like a choir was signing hallelujah! My front room somehow seemed enlightened. The clouds in the sky suddenly parted and angels flitted about is little head. Had I actually finally been heard? I have only been saying, “Please don’t leave your coat on the ground,” for two years, three days, 16 hours, 23 minutes, and 15 seconds now.

Everyday it is the same thing. My own mother got mad at me the other day and said. “He’s only six. You don’t have to be so snipity with him.” Yes mom he’s only but he can play Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on the violin so I think picking up his coat should be a no brainer??
I mean after all this IS a simple little task that his mothers’ sanity may hinge upon right??

I guess it’s a question for the afterlife. Right up there with why the husband won’t actually look for something before coming to you and saying he can’t find it anywhere! Where did the other sock go, and what is the meaning of life?

It seems I remember that I wanted nothing more in my twenties than to be married and have kids. Used to wish upon a star in fact.  Oh! Wish I may wish I might have this wish I wish tonite….
“Oh please give me a handsome loving and devoted husband and lots of beautiful obedient babies?”
        And now I want nothing more than to be swept away in a leer jet to Paris. It is no wonder women get hooked on soap operas and romance novels. They need to escape from the mundane, these groundhog days of their lives.
I guess I somehow thought it would be different. Thought it would be more glamorous? Didn’t June Cleaver seem a little more happy?
I definitely thought it would be easier!
I completely thought there would be less POOP.

WHO KNEW ? there would be so many bodily fluids involved in this job called motherhood??

I sometimes wonder if it’s only me?
But don’t we all go to our friend’s houses and see that gleaming picture above their mantles (you know the one you all have it!-----, husband, wife, darling children, picket fence, family dog.) I have to remind myself here and now, that it’s only a frozen moment in time when for the one split second of that camera shutter all was right in that mommies  world. A brief hiccup in time where everyone was quiet and everything was still.
The   picture   perfect   family.
 But remember this folks… no one takes pictures at a funeral. By that I simply mean…We all want to remember the good, the beautiful, that perfect life looking back from the gleaming photo above your fireplace.

But sometimes that just isn’t REAL!
Not what LIFE is really like at all...

That smiling mommy on the mantle! She was probably having a groundhog day of her own. She had just wiped her son’s nose with his sister’s “back up panties” because that is all she could find in her purse, then she yelled through gritted teeth, “Smile for the camera. Stop hitting your sister. Quit picking your nose. Where did that stain come from, you’ve only had this shirt in for two minutes?” Her armpits were probably sweat stained, her hair probably glued in place, someone probably has to use the potty, the kids probably had to be threatened within inches of their little lives-

And oh and by the way her husband just farted.

 Amazing photo by Karen Ledford

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teaching my kids what they are worth

     How does a mom put a value on what we consider priceless? A tough question... but if left unanswered is maybe the most dangerous thing in the world. My job as a mother first and foremost is to teach my children that they have worth. That they are worthy and that they are therefore empowered and should feel confident. These things have been rolling around in my head. This job, raising kids, is so multi-faceted and so enormous. I feel like as of late, every time I turn on my tele or my radio I hear of a woman or a child being abused, killed, kidnapped, raped or tortured. I am tired. Tired of this.. of hearing this. If we all taught our kids their worth would this happen? If we taught even our boys this lesson would this happen?
     A friend posted this article about Elizabeth Smart. It opened my eyes. We are teaching our girls and our boys that a woman's worth lies in her -vagina -in her purity- in her looks ? None of these things are correct! And it sickens me to think of this. To hear that children of any religion or in any sex "education" (purposefully put in quotation marks) are being given examples of a doughnut or a cupcake being passed around the room and then asking them if now they want to eat it as everyone as touched it. Disgusting analogies and I'd like to point out that they are intentionally AIMED at women! My nine year old daughter will never be taught that when she chooses to have sex at the appropriate age for her that it will be to gain love and or respect. I have explained in great detail to my then 17 now 19 year old step daughter that when she does have sex that it should be because SHE chooses to. She should not do it with the hopes it will gain her anything. I did not lie and say it was magical or wonderful or powerful. I told the TRUTH. I said at 17 you will feel pain, embarrassment, uncomfortable almost shame. It will not feel "good" AT ALL the first time. Not for a girl. It is messy and at 17 you can not understand all the emotions you will feel or sort through them or cope with them so I asked her to promise me these things. That she would do it because SHE wanted to. Not because she was "talked into it" by a boy who WOULD feel good and who would get a release from it, who would not be uncomfortable or embarrassed most likely. I asked her to use precautions. I asked her to come to me and talk openly if she wanted to. I told her she would not be judged. I also explained that until she was comfortable in her own body and understood how it worked that she would most likely not have sex in a pleasurable way. I told her for me that was not until I was like 25! ha ha.. But I told the TRUTH.
     I will do that for my sons when the time comes. Tell them the truth. I will tell them that when a girls says NO it means fucking NO! ( by this mans rationale I could postulate that he deserves the electric chair) It's not a game. I will tell them that when they have sex it should be because THEY want to. Not their friends, not a girl. That their choices will effect them FOREVER. I will tell them that sperm once it enters a woman's uterus can create life. DUH! and that unless they are prepared to care for, support, and own up to the responsibility that that life brings they need to take precautions.
     I WILL NOT TEACH THEM ABSTINENCE!! I am not so old that I do not remember CLEARLY the feelings I had as a teen and the urges. To try to talk them out of what FEELS natural to them would be just plain stupid and fruitless. But I will arm them with facts and  more importantly I will teach them that I love them. That they are worthy of my love. They should be confident that I will love them NO MATTER WHAT. They will be taught that the value they place on THEMSELVES is the most important value of all. That this body is merely a shell and that silly terms and body parts like penises and vaginas are of no value but that what is inside of us- our beings, our souls- has no price tag and can not be replaced. Giving away that soul, allowing someone to hurt or damage it, allowing someones actions or words to alter it is the only sin here.
     I will teach them their own self worth and I BELIEVE with all of my soul that that lesson alone will be the one that shapes all of their decisions and not just the ones about sex. It will teach them to live the most joyous, successful and fulfilled  life that is possible. ( or at least I will die trying...)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Vajazzled and Vajaded

Oh how I have wanted to write this week. But my brain is like scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes right now. Can't seem to focus on any one thing for too long. Then it sort of hit me. Yup, that's just exactly what I NEED to write about. I've been bitching for years about this right here on this blog. All that we do as women. I have read and listened to and overheard these same sentiments from woman of all race, ages, and cultures. It's seems to be universal. We all suffer from this over extension of ourselves. But are we pariah's ? Is this a self inflicted wound? I dont know. Feeling tired, defeated and downright FREAKED out about the upcoming speech on the 11th, I can barely form a coherent sentence.

I have been under so much stress from the extra time commitments that I feel like I'm living someone else's life. Tired, bitter and jaded party of one- Your table is now ready. 

The first night I met all my cast members we were talking in smaller groups and one or two of them where using a word I'd never heard of! Jenn kept saying something about "Vajazzling." I thought she was saying Vajasoline? In my own head I formed and awful image of some weird  greasy glitter laden coochie lube? ha ha . (Ok so here I will insert that this is a weird jump from where I started but I promise I will circle back around and I also want to point out that I already warned you my brain is mushy!) I was like- "Jeez I want to be at that end of the table! Their conversation is way more twisted (and therefore WAY better!) So I, not caring one ounce that I am a nerd and have no idea what they are all apparently well versed on, ask what is that??? To my horror I find out that it is a new THING, women are  doing to jazz up their cookies! baaaaaa haaaaaaaa I am simultaneously cringing and cracking up. Opps, no pun intended. This shit is just plain crazy. First your fingernails and now your who-has? Come on- Is this a joke?

 It's not enough I do all the housework, take care of the kids, volunteer my time to my community, and service my husband, plan and decorate for all the holiday's, but NOW- add to the list decorating my punnaner! Like some sort of deranged Christmas Tree? Like a disco ball hanging there between my legs.

I was suddenly bombarded with images of my husband coming up from eating at the Y with a bedazzled chin and a mouth full of jewels looking like on F'ed up version of Lil Wayne. Totally crying laughing now. How had I never heard of this?

Oh I know! because I'm way too busy to even brush my hair let alone have my lady bits diamond encrusted!.. ( also I'd like to point out all my clever euphemisms for the vagina! So mature.)

I'm too tired for rhinestones. Plus I'm just worried I'd be walking my kids through the school halls while little jewels fall out my pant legs."Mom looked what I found n the floor!" -"DROP THAT!! Oh my god you have no idea where that's been."

Women since the dawn of time have done it all. We have juggled this circus of a life and now we are clowning up our vaginas in order to make them more attractive? Oh lord help me. Where does it stop. A man would not be caught dead with a bedazzled penis. Ladies, we must put an end to this insanity.

Oh it seems hopeless sometimes.  I think the Mayans may have been right... the END IS NEAR and that end sure is a shiny one.

Friday, April 26, 2013

"PRETTY PROJECT"- continues with a how to guide on spreading this "virus"

You are Pretty!

To explain- I am beginning a movement. I am calling it “The Pretty Project.”
In light of some recent events in my own life and some sort of epiphanies I have had I believe it’s time we take back that word as women and redefine it in our own terms. No longer to mean the model on the cover of an airbrushed magazine or the actress in the movie that has and entire support staff to help her achieve this beauty. Instead it will mean what we want it to. It will have meaning so great, so powerful, and so enlightening it will be unable to be contained. It will encompass all that we are and no longer just what we reflect in a mirror. I am doing it for our daughters. Please join me!

______________ you are pretty!

You are pretty. When I sat with you at my child’s parent teacher conference, your pretty eyes light up when you were talking about my son. I said nothing but fought back tears because I truly felt like you actually SAW my son. For all his glory as if he was your own. That to me is the best thing a teacher can do. See all the little beings she has in her hands and appreciate all the intricacies that are them. You amaze me with your gentle ways with these kids and although I do not know you well I believe from what I see of you with my child that you must be a loving, kind, gentle, amazing, patient, mother. There is nothing in the world more pretty than that.

Please tell at least three other women in the next few days that they are pretty too. Let them know all the beauty you see in them and help me to change the world one amazing woman at a time. 

This was a letter that I wrote to someone in my life. I handed out about 15 of these now. Each one is distinct and unique to its reader. There are no rules other than that. This is simply a guideline to how it works. I chose women who I feel are beautiful to me for all that they are. It has absolutely nothing to do with physical beauty. Most of them are stunning in that area as well but I chose them because they shine brighter and deeper than just what is one their surface. I chose them because I see them everyday. I see how truly intricate and amazing their beautiful ways are. I chose them because they stood out to me as shapers of the world. IN A BEAUTIFUL WAY.

 They stood out to me....

That is how you should chose your women. Chose them for all that they are and dig deep within yourself to try to capture all that you see in them. Let them know how they lift you and how they shape the world. Be genuine. Be sincere. Be honest. Be deep. BE SPECIFIC!!! 

I give these letters written on plain white paper. I want them to be this simple thing and I want only the words to stand out. I give them in passing. I make no fuss about their hand off. I never stay to watch them read and I have not really asked if they were read after I gave them. That is not the point. The idea is that I am only the deliverer of this message. I want them to react genuinely and without and audience. They dont need me there when it's read. They need to feel it however they want to and not worry about who is watching. I dont need thanks.. ( it is super awesome to hear later how it made them feel but not at all the point.) The only thing I need in return is for them to pay it forward.

Doing this has done something for me that I did not know or understand would happen. It has caused me to have this permanent smile on my face and in my heart. It has lifted my soul. I never even thought for one second how it would change ME, but it certainly has.  

I invite you to copy and past my letter if you like or to create your own. 

I am in LOVE with the idea that gratitude, love, fierce beauty is INFECTIOUS.. like a virus.. I LOVE the idea of women everywhere being infected by PRETTY...

As I said- I am doing this for our daughters. Help me spread this PRETTY and let's see just how far it can go.

Beautiful photo by the talented Pam Wirken of Wirken Photography

Monday, April 22, 2013

To my Fellow Cast Members.... and anyone else who is listening.

Like pulling teeth- I wanted to write the past two days. Felt like I needed to. But, somehow, at the same time, I’ve been avoiding it. Felt like I was afraid of what might come rushing out. Afraid of what I know is inside me and what I feel may have been “tapped” in the last few days. So many stories, so much information, so much pain, so much- so much pain, so much gratitude, and so much love. 

I have, as you well know by now, been chosen to speak at Listen to Your Mother. Sunday was our first "read through." It was beyond words.  

Henri Miller once wrote- “Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself.”

That is how I feel about this journey. Like I am discovering myself in each and every line I write and even in each line I hear read through these lovely women’s voices. I can not explain to anyone what this is. What this “show” is. It’s beyond description. It’s beauty can not be contained by words. When a wordy girl like me says words will not do! YOU BETTER LISTEN. 

Now I need to write to each of you. To each of you my fellow cast members.  I have a special things to say. I NEED to say these things. I MUST say them.  

Erin, of your story. I was struck by your love and your respect for your mother. I was moved to tears when you described her. Thank you for allowing me in. Thank you for being the definition of Grace.

Lisa, of your story. My GOD! We are sisters of the soul. You may just as well have been telling my story. I truly related to you. You bared yourself and took me from crying with you on the ground to standing up and standing strong to say “fuck you!” I loved it. 

Michelle, of your story. I related to so much. I can’t explain without giving away to much. But you were to me, like a little girl there on “stage” just asking to be put first over all else. I loved that. I loved FEELING you. Not just hearing your words but really feeling like I wanted to hold you. 

Dani, of your story. I was on the edge of my seat. How would it end and a lump in my throat. Thinking in my head the whole time; How is she this calm? Could I stand or would I collapse under the weight of what you’d gone through. Brilliant writing.

Rita, of your story. Happy and sad. As it was meant. Making me think about my life and where I am and more importantly where I am headed. Making me think of the lives of women I have loved who have already gone and wondering if they’d felt they’d done enough with their time. Warm and loving as it was meant.  

Laura, of your story. Made me smile so much. The universe is always teaching me new things, and I truly believe it brought you and I together. I know that I will know you until the day I die and I can’t wait to have you on my journey. 

Ashley, of your story. Your’s may have been the hardest for me to hear. Brought up for me things I’m not even ready to talk about STILL. Someday soon I will share with you things about my little Finn. He’s the baby ( 4 now), my love for him now makes it so hard for me to talk about the days after he was born. So thank you so much for your story. 

Greta, of your story. You are so strong. I have hugged my husband a thousand times since yesterday. I’ve told him how much I appreciate him. I’ve told him how much I admire him as a father. I have been so grateful for his love. I thank you for giving me that reminder. 

Molly, of your story. I had no clue where you were headed when you started. Where it ended was so beautiful, so transformational, that I was in awe. And man don’t we all need the reminders to be grateful. Don’t we need to be reminded of the miraculousness of the world we live in everyday and how very little “coincidence” is in this life. 

Jen, of your story. You rock. You are so funny and so cool. You made me laugh and even today I had several moments of uncontrollable giggling at the thought of the “victims” in your story. Thanks for making me laugh. Thanks for giving me something to live up to! 

Sarah, of your story. My children are my life. They are not perfect by any means but they are perfect for me. I feel exactly about them as you described. I cried so hard to hear your words because I wondered if they really understand that, that’s the way I love them. Someday they will I suppose. 

Julie, of your story. While so uplifting-I am so not there yet! Jealous of you though… ha ha! I know I will be soon enough but mostly I kept thinking about all those lasts. Thinking about how they are all slipping right past me un-noticed. Today I talked to my kids about them. We laughed and we remembered. Thank you for that.
This is my point. Every one of you had such different things to say. But somehow there is this tiny thin little thread that weaves all these stories together. That thread is motherhood. It’s one that stretches back in time and one that crosses continents. It brings us together in this life. It levels our playing field. It makes us one. I will be so proud to stand hand in hand with each of you telling our separate stories- but as ONE.
To all the rest of you reading this. Take note! I really can not stress enough this one point.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You have felt it before, there are things that you have gone thorough that you may have thought no one else had. But you’d be wrong. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. These women will show you what good company you’ve kept with out even knowing.
You are each so lovely and I am honored to share this with you. 

Beautiful photo above by the very talented Laura Seymour

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Pretty Project- the birth of an idea?

I watched those ad spots that Dove created. As I told you, they made me cry. They moved me. I wondered all day about how I view myself once again, coming back to that place. Thinking about my own mother and also the mother I now am. How the life she led shaped me. There are two things my mother can be counted on for. The first is that she always has some new diet scheme; a pill, a book, a magazine article, a juicer, a hormone.. whatever. She was never fat, never even slightly pudgy. She always looked great. Still does in fact, but it was always clearly a concern for her. The second thing is that she always has a new self help book. There is really nothing WRONG with that. Always trying her best to better her mind and soul. She is always suggesting I read one or another of them and some of them have actually been pretty amazing. I feel pretty thankful for the fact that my mom taught me to seek to be a better person than I am today.
     However, if you remember in that ad, the lady who talks about how her mom always said she had a big jaw? or was it chin? I'm sure her mother meant no harm. I'm sure it was never with the intent to cause pain or shame. I don't think we as mother's ever really intend harm to our daughters. But I have said before that there will be a day of reckoning. A day when my Charley says to me all the things I did to her to "screw her up." In all honesty I can probably name like three right now. Nothing that I have ever done was meant to cause harm but in hindsight I can see where it may have. It's this job, motherhood. It's nearly impossible to be a complete success and boy you better be careful how you measure that! But I digress....
     I think my own mom's constant focus on weight may have caused me to be so out of control with my weight. NOT HER FAULT. That is ridiculous, I own my flaws. They are mine to love and to heal. But I wonder if down deep in there somewhere it lurks. Just as the obsession with self evaluation does. I've also said a time or two that I'm no psychiatrist (If I were there'd be Xanax in the water people!) But I have to ask myself if it's there? Those things just below my surface.So there is the first part of how it started. The egg meets the sperm, the idea begins to split into cells.
     Then as luck would have it the "Breakfast Club" came on. in the beginning of the movie and again at the end. A letter is read. It's as follows. "Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was that we did wrong. What we did WAS wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us... in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at seven o'clock this morning. We were brainwashed."


It hits me. (Man I love that movie!) I also have to insert here that my mom has made me read this new book called "The Four Agreements" by Miguel Ruiz.  See I told you! Again with the self help books. But this IS one of the better ones. This link is to a website based around the book but it's a great overview. It talks about right on the first page of the site what the book calls "Domestication." The idea that as children we are our true selves and we allow all those around us and our world to change us into what it needs us to be instead of who we are naturally.


Now the embryo is beginning to take shape.

BRAINWASHED..... Not in a cult sort of way... well not exactly. But similar I suppose in that we sing out loud as a child and maybe it's off key but it's beautiful and fun and full of life until another says. "Wow, don't quit your day job." Then we sing only in private and all the while doubting ourselves. We feel pretty and excited about a new hairstyle, until your friend says you don't have the face for short hair. Then we hide and feel ashamed. We believe what all those around us say subtly or otherwise, instead of what we FEEL inside of ourselves.

The kids in the movie believed they were the labels they'd been given, and they believed it to be true of those around them. I believed things about myself that I know in my heart and in my soul are not truths. So how do we undo it? How do we change our perceptions?

I wish I had all those answers. What I do know is that it has to start somewhere. So that is where this idea came from. The Pretty Project. The idea that I will move forward on this day to recreate my own image of myself and to help other women recreate theirs as well. That pretty will no longer mean to me what is reflected in a mirror but instead it will mean ALL THAT I AM and not one thing less. The idea that I will use words only to lift others and thus elevate myself. The idea that I will spend time watching others and trying to see their truth and then telling them how amazing it is. The "label" they will receive is PRETTY.  But it will encompass so much more than is shown on the surface. Everyone of us has this beauty in us. We all radiate our truth. We all send off this beautiful energy- ALL OF US. It's there and this cultivation of it needs to happen. Its a radical shift in perception, but I know if you give it a chance you will see what I see. PRETTY all around you. That's how the idea was born.

I will write more soon. It's late. I will tell you though that I have already begun. I will also share this with you- It's one of the most wonderful things I have ever felt. I can't wait for you to feel and share it too.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dove- a soap or a revolution???? I say REVOLUTION!


I am posting two links here... I'm bad at the technical side of this blog thing so forgive me if I get it wrong the first go around.

This first one is called "evolution" and it's a Dove spot. Created by their ad team.

It's eye opening to say the least!


 The second is also by the same team. It made me cry my eyes out today upon watching it.

 It's so true.. I have said a thousand times... I am not reconciled... in book keeping terms it sort of means.. things add up.... two columns are equal an balanced... in my head I am not reconciled. I in my head am a different person than I see in a mirror.... I love this company and I love what they are doing for women... helping us reconcile..

I need this.. I need a revolution in my own soul and we need one in this world. I need to be able to show my own daughter that I can look in a mirror and say that I am "pretty." 

I see myself on this "cliff" this precipice in life.  I need to jump. to take that chance to make that leap of faith an to believe in me if not for myself than for my own daughter. So that she can look in the mirror and see someone reconciled; someone "pretty" staring back at her. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Charley doesn't believe in the Easter Bunny anymore= my heart is completely breaking

So this year Charley let me know she doesn't believe in the Easter bunny any more. No matter how much lying and finagling I tried to do she was not buying it. Here is how the conversation went.

Char: Mom is the Easter bunny real? (said with a menacing smirk)

Me: Yah! Why?

Char: Well we have that whole box of plastic eggs and our baskets down in the basement.

Me: Yes, well I keep those things for the Easter bunny and he then fills up the eggs and the baskets when he gets here. What you think he can carry around all that stuff to every kids house?

Char: Well, then using your same logic how can he carry around all that candy and stuff to put in the eggs and the baskets?

Me: Uhhhhhhhh.. Maybe it's like on Tom and Jerry where they have like a little pill and they add water and poof all the stuff pops out!

Char: Like dehydrated food?

Me: Yes, sort of.

Char: I don't think you can dehydrate Easter grass and hollow chocolate bunnies.

Me: I don't know that shit is magic! Don't ask me to explain magic! That's like asking me to explain a shooting star.

Char: That's easy. That is an asteroid or other space particle that hits the earths atmosphere and burns up as it's entering.

Me: Yes... you are right but isn't it nicer to imagine the magical star shooting across the sky and making wishes and what not?

Char: Yes if you are a child! I'm not a child!

Me: Don't get all analytical and jaded on me already!!!!! YOU ARE NINE!

Char: Yes, but I'm no child.

Me: Well then what exactly are you?

Char: A young adult!

Me: Oh Lord help me... I'm' going to be drinking heavily when we get home! This is the saddest conversation I have ever had.

And it was not until later that night. She caught me trying to stuff  three baskets into our suit cases since we were headed out of town for Easter weekend. I knew that the jig was up then and in an effort to control the damage I decided to give her the following letter. I could not bear the thought of her possibly discussing her new found information with her little brothers.

Dear Charley,
Thank you for our talk the other night. It was a very very good question: “Are you The Easter Bunny? Is he real?” I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say.
The answer is no. I am not The Easter Bunny. There is no one Easter bunny.
I am the person who fills your eggs with candy and baskets with presents, though. (And yes, Daddy helps, too.)
I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Easter morning. You will love seeing their small faces lit with excitement.
This won’t make you the Easter Bunny, though.
He is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch, He gives them hope and lights them with magic.
It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.
Magic things like the Easter Bunny are our teachers, and I have been a student of this magic. Now you will know the secret of how he fills all those baskets and eggs across the world, and now you will learn this magic, you will help others believe in this magic. The Easter Bunny has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.
With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping the Easter Bunny do a job that would otherwise be impossible.
So, no. I am not the Easter Bunny. He is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too. Together help me guard this magic. Please help me keep it alive for little Finn and Juder Bug too. I hope they believe as long as they can. It’s important to hang onto that magic.
I’m proud of you and I love you and always will.- Mom and Dad

I adapted it from another I saw like it on the Internet about Santa.  When we read it together she simply smiled a wry and self important smile. One of some kind of pride at being "let in on the secret."

      All the while I bawled my eyes out. Yep- leave it to me to be the one crying and not her. She actually comforted me. She really is the more mature one in this relationship anyhow you know? But I just sat there feeling crushed. Feeling like I was looking at a 20 year old who'd just told me she was having kids of her own. Feeling like I was no longer looking at my innocent child but instead looking at this girl, this pre-woman, this mature,kind, and smart little lady. And well- I was.

Today I feel a mixture of happy and sad. Sad at my little girls growing up and happy at how it is happening. I don't think we give ourselves enough credit as mommies. Always second guessing our decisions. But today I feel good about this one thing. She is me- she is a reflection of me and what I am teaching her to be. Kind, compassionate, loving, smart, and mature. I feel such pride in her. So for today I will feel that same pride in what I am doing here raising these kids. Good kids, because I'm a good mommy.

Tomorrow I'll go back to flogging myself.