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!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

the village matters so much

Finn's baseball season ended last night and it's bittersweet.  While I know we're all ready for some free summer evenings around here, it's been so much fun watching him learn the game and get better along with his young teammates from the sidelines.  We lucked out with super supportive coaches and families, all there to ensure that our kids were challenged, confident and learning all season long.  We've experienced the same community, kid-valued spirit on Logan's swim team and it's made me realize how important it is to have a "village" like this behind our kids. 

Not only are they learning skills, having fun and spending time doing things they love, they're also feeling part of a bigger group of their peers and other families who cheer and support them right along with their own family.  They join that group in support of other kids.  Their enthusiasm builds and the group's numbers grow, until we are all cheering everyone on together, inspiring so many good vibes, that I can't even describe it with words.  The "village" behind our kids matters so much.

So as baseball winds down, I'm already looking forward to the fun and camaraderie of next year.  Of all the great times, plays and laughs, my favorite moment has to be this one:

Our team was at bat Monday night and Finn was supposed to be in the hole.  He had run off to relieve himself in the prairie grass behind the field since there were no bathrooms on site.  We knew he was up and we were calling and calling to him, as his spot moved from the hole, to the deck.  Just as the little guy before him got a hit, he appeared in front of me, with two freshly picked cone flower blooms and a shy smile.  Then he ran off to hit the ball.

On Monday, more than any other day, I needed this.  I didn't know it, but Finn did.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


We are lovin' Logan's summer swim season.  She made a splash last night with two 2nd places and one 1st!  She bettered her times like crazy and outdid herself by far!

I can't tell you how much I have grown to love our little Otters' community of families that get up and cheer for all our kids together and love to share in each and every one of their young successes.  We are really blessed.

And we were even more blessed last night, because our favorite little gals, Piper and Sadie, are here visiting this week.  Logan gave them a good show!  We're so proud of her hard work and determination!

(can you see her smiling in response the raucous cheers in the picture above??)


I love the Indigo Girls, so naturally, this Galileo quote is a favorite, too:

(I found this on Tumblr from member "saywhatnow".)

For those of us that choose to find the good in every day, even when it's dark and scary, this always rings true.  My days are bit dark right now, and even though my writing is in full force, my posting is at a minimum, for the time being. I am in love with the stars and the absolute belief that everything will be okay.  Whatever you're going through, I hope this hits home for you, too. 

So grateful for the love and support of so many!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

announcing abby

So in love with my beautiful new niece!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

onward and upward with YOU

As someone who lives to learn and write about the good things that stand out in our lives every single day, I'm also human and occasionally catch myself urging my kids to conform.  In hindsight, this shocks me.  What is it that makes me think I need to change something about their uniqueness in order to make them want to be just like everyone else?  I'm not sure.

The fact is, it need only matter to them if their clothes don't fit right or their hair isn't brushed.  For nonconformity outside the realm of health and personal safety, what can really go wrong?  Discovering their own likes and style should come from them, not from annoying reminders from me.  Years ago, I was appalled by parents who were hopeful that their children would be teased for sucking their thumb or acting foolishly with hopes it would curb the behavior. I was the parent who fought to ward off all that harmful harassment with too much information that my kids could not, and would not, digest.

While I'm much more willing now to let them learn lots of life lessons on their own, I still falter into my mama bear role at times.  But I fight hard to let THEM stand their ground and be their own people and personalities.  As long as they are good at heart, being exactly who they are and not worrying a lick about what the world thinks is the best way to go, if you ask me.  I, like most of us do about our own kiddos, already think they're perfect anyway.

We will love them like crazy no matter what, who, how, when or why.  So onward and upward with YOU, I say.  Off into the future to just be everything good that YOU already are.

Monday, July 2, 2012

early summer pasta

It's late and you have nothing planned for dinner.  Enter this satisfying, quick, fresh from the garden pasta dish sure to please.  It's sooooo GOOD and completely flexible to whatever veggies, herbs or cheese you have on hand!

Note:  In this version, I roasted my tomatoes because a.) the ones in the garden aren't ready yet and b.) these little grape ones were nearing their last leg.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss with salt and pepper and roast at 400 for about 15 minutes.  Delish!

Early Summer Pasta

1 lb. pasta, whatever you have on hand
1 lb. roasted grape tomatoes
6 ozs. fresh mozarella, cubed
bunch of chives, snipped
handful of basil leaves, chiffonaded
freshly grated parmesan or romano to taste
1 cup reserved pasta water

Cook pasta al dente according to package.  Drain, reserving 1 cup starchy pasta water.  Return pasta to pot.

Throw in roasted tomatoes, chopped herbs and cheeses and mix.  Add pasta water to create a bit of a sauce and get the ingredients working together.  Place into bowls or plates and top with more grated parmesan or romano.

Super yummy, loved by the whole family and crazy fast!

Friday, June 29, 2012

attitude of gratitude

Being grateful, being focused on and thankful for what you're blessed with, is one of the secrets of life.  When I'm really on top of my game (or have a moment or two for free thought) I try, to at least think about that for which I'm grateful.  Sometimes I have the energy to even write these things down in a gratitude journal; an idea that I wholeheartedly believe in but never really got off the ground for me.  If you were to look at my journal, it would appear I've only had grateful days about seven times in the last three years.  Not an accurate account.

Reading Judy Belmont's uber-inspiring post from yesterday on Stepcase Life Hack,  I couldn't help but be moved to try again.  I want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude every day and one of the ways I do this is through my writing.  Belmont's post reminded me of the attributes of a grateful person, and couldn't have done a better job describing the person I strive to be.  The Top 10 Habits of Grateful People is a must read if you're in the mood to cultivate the 'tude.  This, my friends, is good stuff.

In the meantime, sometimes you've just got to spell it out.  Here are a few random things I'm grateful for, right at this very moment:

1.  A good friend who has kids with the same age, gender, interests and schedules as mine.  I honestly have no idea how I'd survive this summer without the willing carpool schedule I share with her for a multitude of activities.  (Thanks Merritt!!)

2.  Hot coffee.  It's the only way out of the Keppra morning fog.

3.  The fact that one of my daughter's most loved activities recently relocated to our town, shaving about 40 minutes of rush hour driving off our days.  Not to mention the amazing new Phenom Gymnastics facility!

4.  A semi-successful summer chore system in the works.  There's still room for improvement, but we haven't thrown in the towel yet!  (This is already an Anderson summer record.) 

5.  Brave, optimistic kids.  I am amazed almost daily at my children and how they fearlessly face challenges that come their way.  Whether they're standing on the block of the pool waiting for the gun, dealing with the loss of someone they love, accepting things that come with growing up, performing for the judges, shaking off something that hurts emotionally or physically, or standing up for themselves with their pals, they are courageous at some point every single day.  They make me want to be better.  For them and for myself.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

finger trap

Yesterday we played hooky.  Mike and I both threw caution to the wind, pushed work aside and took the kids to Raging Waves Waterpark.  It was a great day, although by lunch time the lines were brutal and the lazy river looked more like a crowded Florida beach on spring break that anything remotely relaxing.  Regardless, the kids had a blast, which is all that really matters, and we did, too.

While the girls went off to try another slide, Mike and I reluctantly agreed to ride that river with Finn, once again.  I am not a fan of EXTREMELY crowded public pools, so this was truly a labor of love.  We found two tubes, plunged in, linked up and popped Finn in Mike's lap.

I'm not sure what the deal is with kids of all ages being allowed to walk, run, splash, dive and swim without tubes in the lazy river.  I can't tell you how many times they swam right under my tube, tried to pop up between us or forcefully moved us out of the way so that they could continue their game of chase or chicken.  It was the exact opposite of relaxing (whatever that is.... parenting, maybe?)

In the few moments my mind was actually able to wander while we were shoved and knocked around,  Mike and I linked hands to stay connected to each other.  We weren't holding hands, but instead had our palms both faced downward, with our fingers interlaced and pointing toward each others' wrists.  Each time we were pushed or pulled away from each other, our fingers locked and tightened effortlessly, just like a Chinese finger trap.

It's funny, I thought, a good marriage is like a Chinese finger trap.  (Bear with me here.)  We're linked up and all intertwined, constantly combating things like demanding children, obligations and circumstance that attempt to pull us away from each other.  But the link of a solid marriage is strong, like a Chinese finger trap.  The harder life pulls or pushes, the stronger the bond.  Working together, whatever the goal, is the only option.  So, no matter what life brings, we can face it together, head on, and emerge even better than before.

"Trap" is a definitely a bad word choice and we've certainly faced greater challenges than the lazy river, but you get the idea.  If this is a trap, I'm grateful to be in it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

shoestring living: just say yes

A recent blog post inspired a Shoestring Living column, too.  Here's why you should say "yes" -  in print and on video!

Related posts:
give in.  say yes. 
shoestring living:  tips on giving kids allowance
shoestring living:  tips for reviving old routines


"There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling."- Mirabel Osler

For me, this is true.  I could work outside in the yard all day long, without interruption, without worry or concern about the things I'm not getting done elsewhere, all with a smile on my face.  I yearn for unencumbered hours that allow me this true and simple luxury, to learn and urge on the living things that greet me each time I walk about the door of my home.

And with each passing year, they deliver.  Reaching and winding and grabbing on, roots and vines deepen our connection to each other, turning house into home, vacant canvas into art, and backyard into haven.  And each summer, our garden bears the fruits of our labor and love and we eat endless tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers and herbs with vases full of peonies, hydrangeas and lilies that bring the beauty indoors.

Helping something else grow, someone else grow, seems to be a theme for me as it's the basis of this blog as well.  Tending to my real garden, or the garden of my life, fills my soul and leaves me with a smile on my face and in my heart each and every day.  Here's to finding the life's work that puts the smile in your heart.

Monday, June 25, 2012

keep on holding tight

This time of year, as I wrote about last year (and the year before) is all wonderful and summery, but with an undercurrent of dread.  For the last several years, I've let the kids fly on their own to go visit Grandmom and Granddad in North Carolina before our annual summer vacation.  Even though summer is off and running and we're enjoying it to its fullest extent, occasionally my mind goes to the fact that in a few short weeks, I'll be putting a subset of my kids on a plane.  That will fly in the sky.  Without me on it.

And this year is different.  For the first time, it's not a subset, but a full set.  The three most precious little people in my world will look back and wave, board a plane and happily take off into the wild blue yonder.  Fearless and filled with a spirit for adventure, they'll speed away.

I already know this will be the worst two hours of my life and I'm already thanking my lucky stars that it's only two hours.  For someone who likes to hold the reigns, this is the epitome of letting go.  Once they're there, I'll be fine.  I love that they're going.  That they have these memories with their grandparents who live far away.  That they don't even entertain hesitation - they just fly.

Even though he waivered a bit in the begining, I'm sure Finn is ready.  However, I see something in his eyes when we talk about going, the logistics, what it will be like.  He looks at me as if to say, "Will you be okay?"  Even if I've said nothing at all, this little old man of mine knows how I'm feeling.

Last week, while walking around the Naperville Riverwalk, Finn grabbed my hand as usual.  Whenever my grip loosened, he repeated, "Hold on tight.  I like it when you keep on holding tight."  And since then, anytime we're near each other, he grabs my hand and says the same thing.

While watching a movie on Friday night, he took my hand and placed it on his chubby, dirty, boy foot.  He pressed down.  "Hold tight.  I like it when you keep on holding tight."

Either he's going to miss me or he knows I'm going to miss him.  I suppose both are true and he's easing us both through by reminding us to keep on holding tight.  I so love this little dude.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

super sausage sluggers

As with almost any recipe that I create, this one came from necessity.  Another night out, on the baseball field this time, and the desire to cook and not purchase subs, again, led to these yummy hoagies on the go.  It was my intention to serve them at home, but the clock ran out and the natives were starving, so I wrapped and we went.  Here's what you need:

1 package of Italian sausage, spiciness to taste
1 bell pepper, any color
1 onion
1 can Hunt's Diced Tomatoes with Spicy Red Pepper
hot dog buns
fresh mozzarella cheese (I usually slice a plain log, but I had these tiny balls left over from caprese bites I made for a party last weekend, so I just sliced those.)
olive oil

Prep time: 5 minutes, Total cooking time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice onions and peppers in half moon shapes.  Place sausage in bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Top with sliced peppers and onions and tomatoes with juice.

Cover tightly with foil and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove foil and stir.  Cook another 30 minutes, uncovered.

Remove dish and turn on broiler.  Place one sausage link, topped with a heap of tomatoes, onions and peppers and some sliced mozzarella in a hot dog bun and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining sausage links.  Place tray under broiler.

Watch your Sluggers; cheese should melt and begin to brown in about five minutes.  Remove from oven.

If you're on the go like we were last night, line a sheet of foil big enough to wrap your sandwich in with parchment or wax paper, and roll up from the corner.  They stay hot FOREVER.  We enjoyed them about an hour later and they were perfect.  By the way, Mike LOVES these and I don't really eat sausage and I LOVE them, too.  They are the perfect consistency and offer loads of healthy veggies to boot.  For all of you low carb loving carnivores, they're great without the bun, too.  And my girls who hate sausage?  They thought they were the bomb!  (Or maybe they really were starving??)

Full tummies, happy kids, parents that eat before 9 PM and a Yankees' win.  What could be better?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

give in. say yes.

Last night we said "yes."  Yes to 8 kids who wanted to go to the pool at 7 PM.  We were cranky and tired and didn't want to go, but we said yes.  And they were so happy.  It made me realize that we need to say yes more often.  If you could have seen our kids' faces and the neighbor kids' faces when I said, "We'll take as many as we can fit in the car!"  Well, they were priceless.

As they joked and laughed and squealed from their squished, seatbelt-less positions in the back of the van, all I could think was that this is something they'll remember.  A late night trip to the pool with pals on a super hot summer night.  I even, probably ridiculously, imagine them as teenagers or young adults sitting around a bonfire or something reminiscing about it.  (I know, I'm probably getting ahead of myself here.)  But I mean, we've lived here for 5 years already and they used to look like this:

And now they look like this:

Time is flying.  Give them memories.  Say yes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


"Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it." - Eckhart Tolle

We probably all come into this world with insufficiencies in small areas.  I think it's part of our mission to identify the ways in which life is letting us know what lessons we need to learn about those insufficiencies and to do our best to overcome them.  I have no doubt what life has tried to tell me, time and time again.  No one sums it up better than Eckhart Tolle in the quote above.

Oprah Winfrey is dead-on when she says that your life speaks to you, first, in whispers, and the longer you ignore the signs that change is needed, the louder the whispers grow.  Listen people, the last thing we need is life screaming at us!  Still, so many of us let things get out of control or go on for so long that we have no choice but to wake up when we're finally hit on the head by one of life's rocks. 

Learning to go with the flow instead of fighting it and accepting life by finding the good in every day is the message that my life, God, the universe has been sending me from day one.  As a child I worried about things beyond my control, as a teen I focused too much on body image or others' opinions and as a young mother diagnosed with a chronic illness, I temporarily became paralyzed by the thought of my own mortality.  Each time I conquered my concerns about whatever it was eating away at me and I was able to see the situation for what it was:  another opportunity to accept.

So now, another health setback has left me reeling in recent days.  It's nothing life-threatening, just scary and blanketing me with a total loss of control (note the theme here.)  For those of you following, my ongoing struggle to control frequent migraine headaches has become a more complicated battle with the diagnosis of "low threshold for seizure."  Having never had a seizure, this is hard to grasp onto.  But grasp I did and ingested the first few months of brain chemistry modifying chemicals, even though I hated to add another pill to my sometimes daunting ulcerative colitis treatment regime. 

Following a second EEG last week, I've had no improvement whatsoever.  My dosage now increased; I'll be retested in six weeks.  I've heard terms like "probable seizure disorder" and "additional meds" and "left temporal lobe sharps", too much for my liking.  I dread the increased fatigue that makes exercise a near impossibility and the occasional effect on my short term memory.

But I can't deny one other thing:  yet another chance for me to accept what life is giving me and move through it.  No matter what the severity of our circumstance, the only thing that matters is right now and the good we can take from this moment.  And acting as if we have chosen this experience, no matter what it is, allows us to take ownership of it and grab the reigns of our life with more drive and direction then ever before.

To avoid the risk of louder life screams, I accept.  Ever a vigilant advocate for finding good doctors and playing a major role in our own healthcare, this doesn't mean I won't question, research and implement lifestyle changes that will, hopefully, eventually, get me off all these medicines. 

So, I have chosen this thing that life has offered.  I accept it.  And I move on.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


This post is for YOU.  YOU know who you are.  You're the YOU of all you's, my one and only and most importantly, the greatest father on earth.  On Father's Day, more than any other day, I revel in the fact that, of all things, I am certain of one:  I chose right. 

It is such a pleasure, honor and thrill to help you raise our three amazing little beings, to see you pass along your patience, your good-to-the-core nature, your tireless work ethic and endless generosity.  You are the epitome of what "father" means and I will never tire of watching you in action.  You never cease to amaze me.

What a perfect Father's Day this year - we got to witness your Nascar Riding Experience with your Dad and Mary.  I'm sure the Driving Experience is next!

For all that you do, for everything that you are, for the dream you have for our family, I thank you and I wish you the happiest Father's Day.  In my humble opinion, no one deserves it more than YOU. 

You're the very best, so deeply loved and forever appreciated.