Monday, August 6, 2012

go grab the good!

Today is the day!  After loads of planning and lots of hard work, I’m proud to launch my new website:  Grab the Good.  This site is the next step in my writing journey and contains the history of my former blog, Butterflies and Mud Pies, on which I will no longer post.  Grab the Good focuses on the same important goal:  finding good in every day.  Through personal insights, heartwarming stories, lots of laughs and even some experts dropping by to share their opinions, I hope to help you do just what the site name says, grab the good.  Sometimes it’s hard to see it amidst the chaos and challenge of our days, but it’s surrounding us all the time.  From good recipes to good causes, good advice to good family, I’ll be writing about the good in everything and look forward to sharing my thoughts with you.

On the site, you’ll also find my national weekly column of the same name, written for the GateHouse News Service, as well the associated video column.  I believe that all this good will help us zero in on what’s most important in life, the simple goodness we can enjoy by living in the moment and realizing the wonder that lies right in front of us.

I hope you’ll visit and subscribe to Grab the Good via email in order to receive my latest postings right to your inbox.   You’ll find the subscription box in the upper right corner – just enter your email address, confirm your subscription and you’re in.  You’ll start receiving updates with my next post.
It’s my goal for Grab the Good  to reach as many readers as possible.  If you feel inspired to do so, please share my site with your friends and social networks; anyone you think might be interested and urge them to subscribe, too.  Just imagine the the awesome ripple effect sure to come from all of us grabbing the good!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

finn's ridiculous annual injury

After an accidental puppy bite in his ear, last year's summer sled/bike/gravel incident and last night's shenanigans, I'm certain Finn will likely entertain us each year with some bizarre injury.  Here's the scoop:

There were nine children in my basement, seven of whom were female.  I was carrying a laundry basket upstairs when the most shrill, intolerable screaming began underfoot.  As I flew down the stairs, I was literally terrified about what I would see when we met at the basement door.

What I encountered was louder screams and the most blood this parent has ever seen.

It was pouring down the back of Finn's head and down his back.  It was all over my shirt, shorts and in the nooks and crannies of my watch.  I grabbed towel after towel to clean it up so I could actually see the injury, which was endlessly evasive.  After cleaning it like crazy, the bleeding abruptly stopped and I got the story while we iced the lump on his head.

Finn was climbing an old punching bag that was propped next to a refrigerator.  There were two 5-pound hand weights on the fridge.  When he jostled the punching bag, he rattled the fridge and the weights fell off onto his head.  (What?)  All nine children are sticking by this story.

Of course, my brother, his wife and my nieces were on their way over for a night of swimming.  Finn was distraught that he'd miss the event.  Since the bleeding stopped, I asked him to wash off in a bath and we'd see if it started back up.  It didn't, so I acted like the seasoned mom of three that I am, and I let him go to the pool.

But when he hit the chlorinated water, that thing freshened up and started bleeding again.  A lot.  A vicious fight ensued, but Finn lost and Mike took him to urgent care.

In the end it turned out to be a deep puncture wound (from a hand weight?) that did not need stitches.  It was good that they went though; we needed their help getting it clean.  Mike called to tell me what happened and we all decided to meet at Oberweis for a treat.

When I got there, I was shocked to see blood pouring down the back of Finn's head again.  "They left it like that?" I asked.  "I thought they had it all cleaned up!"

"They did," Mike grimaced.  "I ran into (our friends) Brent and Johanna and when I went to shake Brent's hand, I accidentally punched Finn in the back of the head with my fist!  Don't tell him!"

Seriously, this first week off of summer sports could not be any more relaxing!

Monday, July 23, 2012

sweet relief

The last two weeks have been a blur.  What started off as a routine mammogram; a 40th birthday present from my gynecologist, turned into an odyssey of anger, fear and extreme compartmentalization (a super power that I was unaware that I possessed, until now.)  In a moment, this control-lover had no choice but to relinquish everything to "what might be" and just move through.

I'm not squeamish about medical procedures or even overly modest, but I have to say that breast biopsies rank (in my experience) among the least tolerable.  They're not too painful, but seriously violating.  Lying half-naked on a cold table with four chatty women adjusting, groping, twisting and smashing you from below, is not my idea of fun.  I was horribly unprepared for the length of the procedure and how I'd feel afterward.  And I now have such respect for all those who have walked this path before me.  And who went on to walk it longer - through much harder terrain.

The physical discomfort of lying frozen for 90 minutes while they compressed, xray-ed, sampled and repeated, was nothing compared to how I felt once we left.  Double-tight Ace-wrapped with a hematoma and, I guess, a temporarily half-broken heart, I cried most of the way home, unable to share with my poor husband why I was even crying.  I'm not a crier and I suppose that made the whole thing even worse for him.  But I had been storing up all my "what if's?" and "how will I's?" for two whole weeks while looking into the eyes of my children.  Every time I felt happy, which was often, I immediately went to a different place and then, thankfully, I was able to sweep the fear away.  When I needed it most, my ability to set it aside and wait without surface worry kicked in with a vengeance.  Who knew I could do that?

I don't mean that I didn't have a few sleepless nights or dark moments, I did.  I've had my share of issues health-wise this year and I'll admit that I felt some serious self-pity.  But I survived it like we all do. We do because we must.  And because we can.

And now I feel like I've won the lottery.  Standing from atop Relief Mountain, I'm too aware that I could be in Victim Valley, if one microscopic cell was different on a slide.  I am grateful beyond words that what I feared is not the path I need to travel.    I've been given the gift of love and support from those who knew what was going on, and I'm so thankful for that, too.  "Thank you" doesn't even come close to conveying how I feel.

All that's left to do is move on and live this precious, blessed life to the fullest.  Let's get going!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

not a total loss

Sometimes I wonder if I'll truly lose my kids to technology.  At any given time, you'll find them tapping away in some sort of off-road race, dragon-slaying, virtual cake baking, listening to tunes or pseudo-texting their friends.  This is most apparent during car rides; and when it's going on, it's hard to be heard at all.  I sometimes say, "All eyes look into mine in the rear view mirror!" before I speak.

I'm sure I had my own version of attention-kidnapping technology that swept my mind away from the real world at times, although the first I remember was a Sony Walkman I received at 14.  I also recall our Gigantor personal computer which was pretty much an MS-DOS prompt with a black screen and flashing cursor.  Oh, and there was the VHS player.  ("What's that?" Riley and Finn ask, although Logan still remembers.)  And my first cell phone came after marriage; a couple of years later, I think!

But that's not the world we live in anymore.  As I drove home from some errands yesterday (don't ask me how many times I've been to the Apple store to get assistance with my painfully slow phone - that's another post entirely), I was in dismay over the lack of conversation and the only vision I could catch of all three kids in the mirror:  the tops of their heads.  On the flip side, I loved that no one was complaining about my Sirius XM The Coffee House radio.  (No offense Pit Bull, but a girl can only take so much!)

At a long stoplight, I quickly glanced at Facebook on my phone.  "Look at Abby smiling you guys!" I yelled to the zombies in the back seat about a recent photo posted by my sister-in-law.  And they responded instantly, with sweet grins and chuckles as they passed the phone around, so obviously in love with their new cousin.  See, they're still there, technology or not, I thought.  Kids need to veg-out with technology a bit, but want something new and exciting to hear about as much as we do.  It's our hard job to keep it all in balance.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

(grilled) peaches and (ice) cream

I realize that this idea is nothing new, but if you've never grilled fresh summer peaches and topped them with vanilla ice cream, you're missing out!  Mike and I have been making this seasonal dessert for as long as I can remember; way before we had three little beings with whom we could share it.  I remember enjoying it in the backyard of every home we've ever owned and almost every year during our Lake Gaston trip.  The kids enjoy it just as much as we do and I hope you do, too.  Really, try it.  It's the bomb!

grilled peaches and ice cream

ripe peaches, halved and pits removed
brown sugar
vanilla ice cream

Preheat a grill, clean grates and spread a bit of butter on each cut-side of peach.

Place peaches on grill, cut-side down, for a few minutes.

Flip peaches onto a foil-lined small baking sheet and top each half with a small pat of butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar.  Grill, cut-side up, for a few more minutes.

Place peach halves in a bowl and top with a hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream.  O.M.G.

Dive in!

Other recent recipes I've shared:

Early Summer Pasta
Super Sausage Sluggers
My ATA Sandwich
Crazy-good Feta Potato Salad

Monday, July 16, 2012

shoestring living: squash summer spending

The summer months are bank account drainers around here, whether we want to save or not.  Between endless activities requiring convenient meals, costly outdoor excursions and kids that seem unable to stop eating, I have been searching for ways to save.  In my most recent column for the GateHouse News Service, I share my best tips on how you might do the same.

Check out the column and the associated video!

Friday, July 13, 2012

katy perry, and me?

If you asked about my future writing plans, the last thing I'd expect my answer to include would be the new Katy Perry movie, Katy Perry:  Part of Me.  Earlier this week, I took the girls and their friends (and the boy - I'm sure not sure what the appeal was for him!)  Maybe I'm a sucker for a good story, but this actually was one.  I really enjoyed it and recommend it highly.

Before the movie, I wondered what the message would be for the kids and what they might take away.  Mike even wondered out loud, "I don't understand how this can be a movie for kids..."  After having seen it, I think the opportunity exists for kids to take away a lot.

First of all, the movie begins and ends with confessional-style submissions from Perry's fans, ages 8 to twenty-something, talking about how she has impacted their lives.  Each one of the children speaking has some valuable insight to share beyond their love for Perry; something I could see the 10 year olds in my group latching onto. 

More importantly, the movie gently tells the tale of love lost and the grueling toll a touring schedule takes on an artist.  I was moved to tears at the reality of Perry's experience, understanding that place we've all been: ready to give up but finding the strength inside to go on to whatever lies ahead.  She shows all of us, me included, that when times get tough, the tough breakdown.  And then they get going, stronger than before.  That's the human experience in a nutshell.

So while there were a few movie moments that left me squirming, (I'm still waiting for the "I Kissed a Girl" conversation), I'm thrilled that we went.  I'd rather share reality and humanity with my kids any day, than manipulate our good world with especially rosey-colored glasses.  I won't tell them the road ahead will not have bumps.  Because it will.  Witnessing Perry's ability to hang on and forge ahead while celebrating her own individuality is just the kind of life lesson I love to share with our children. 

Thanks Katy!