Sep 302010
 

It was a gorgeous day out, so I had all the kids playing with those huge bubble wands on the back porch.  As I walked thru the kitchen, admiring all the fun they were having, I didn’t notice they had spilled a pint of bubbles on the floor. I slid across the hard woods, like a cartoon character, trying to grab everything I skidded past to save myself, and landed in the splits by the back door.  I chipped my elbow, sprained my wrist and bruised my knee.

In the blink of an eye, I went from walking across the kitchen floor in running shoes, (thinking fondly of my kids), to landing in the splits by the back door – and didn’t even see it coming. I was totally blind sided by the entire event.  One minute I was here, and the next, I was gone!

There’s a song by Revive, called  “It Happens in a Blink” and it sure did.

It happens in a Blink

It happens in a Flash,

It happens in the Time it took to look Back

You try to hold on Tight,

But there’s no stopping Time,

What have I done with my Life!

There are 86,400 seconds in a day and we’re not promised them all.

Teach me to number my days, that I may have a heart of wisdom and fulfill my Purpose for this Life.  Ps. 90:12

The clock is ticking, and like characters in a story, none of us know how much time we have left.  Some people pass at the ripe old age of 100, others – due to foreseen illness . . . while many are on our way from here to there, in a hurry, thinking about our next business meeting, what they’re making for dinner, and In the blink of an eye, we’re here today and gone tomorrow.  We’re standing upright, and the next moment we’re doing the splits by the heavenly door.

Make it count, before you turn around and it’s too late.  The Hands of Time are ticking and there are no real do-overs.  There are few things that can’t be recovered in life, and one is Time – after it’s been Spent.

If today was your last day, who would you call, what would you say, how would you do it differently?  It’s easy to say: Live like you’re dying.   But do we . . . Really?

Do our kids know how we feel about them or is work more important?

When I was a kid, no matter what we did for fun or how many times, I always begged for ONE More!  Sometimes you get it, sometimes you won’t.

We get the call in the night, that changes our life forever.  Write the letter, write the book, write the blog, make the call, put down your most pressing issues that really aren’t so pressing.  It Happens in a Blink!

 Posted by at 7:41 pm
Sep 152010
 

When I was 5 years old, I fell off the top of a bunk bed, dreaming that I could roll forever.  It was a vivid dream of white puffy clouds, until I got a 1/2 roll and Boom, off I went.  My head karate chopped the side of the bed  . . . and I won a round trip ticket to the ER.

From that day on, I became quiet familiar with the Emergency Room, acquiring stitches many more times, before moving out of the “clumsy, oops I did it again” stage of my life.

From reaching up to place a bird in its nest and falling 10 feet, to slashing my ankle in a stain glass shop, it seemed as though I had a scarlet thread of “oppsie daisies” running through my life.

Some accidents involved selfless acts, others involved adventure; and while the memories of those days are vague, the scars still remain.  Sometimes we need those scars to remind us of tough days gone by.  Some people suffer from disease, loss of a job, a child, a home or loss of themselves.

You look at a scar and know there’s a story.  It’s easy to complain.  Complaints seem to jump out at every opportunity and like a ball rolling down a hill, it has its own momentum, taking little effort to sustain:  the kids are driving you crazy, the dishes and laundry are mounting a war, your budget isn’t big enough, the car isn’t clean enough.  We wished we had a grocery delivery service, an errand boy, a nanny, a better job, a bigger house, more time, more money, a date night, someone who thinks I’m right – and the list goes on.

We all suffer hardships and unpleasantries, some more than others for sure . . . I read a blog the other day of a woman who had just had a baby.  She wrote a Top 10 List of all the things she loves about having a newborn.  And also admitted, she could write a list equally as long, listing all the tough – how did this happen, what have I done, this hurts, why won’t they sleep, wha wha wha moments, but she chose not to.

Turn your face toward the goodness, the hopefulness.  Lift up your eyes and count the blessings.  Write them down, shout ’em from the roof top; however you’re reminded, do it.  Look at the weight you’ve lost, not the weight that remains; be thankful for the car you drive, not wishing for something you don’t; embrace the moments you have with your family; live life to the fullest.  The living room is messy, but you have a house full of happy kids.  In the Race of Life, we can choose to focus on the moans and groans, and heavy breathing to the finish line, or we can be thankful that WE’RE BREATHING!

Life on this earth will bring heartache, you can count on it.  I’ve never met anyone who’s truly lived, that didn’t bare a scar.  What is your view from the front porch looking’ in?  Will you look at the scar and view hardship or what you gained through the experience.  You’re alive . . . every day, hour and minute, you can have a do-over to make this life, Something Beautiful.

A Word to the Wise: If you find yourself on a bunk bed, dreaming you can roll forever . . . Don’t Do It!

Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14)

 Posted by at 9:52 pm
Sep 092010
 

Growing up, my Dad always said:  There’s a Hard Way and an Easy Way.  For whatever reason, I chose the hard one- and ended up with a few more beats, bumps and bruises along the way.

Probably like you, our kids wake up for school in the dark.  I’m not a morning person.  I would much rather see the sun Set than the sun Rise; and I’m a firm believer it’s not truly daytime, when the moon is still up at 6am.

I’m always asking moms how they handle morning routines, after school snacks and endless laundry.  There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel.  I’d rather copy it.

Does this sound familiar?  I would get up 30 minutes before the kids woke up, commence to make lunches and realize we’re out of bread.  Hmmm . . . there’s no cereal for breakfast and only 3 mis-matched socks in the laundry basket.  I was spinning my wheels, trying to re-configure Plan A with Plan C about the time the kids were waking up.

“Mom!  said child #1:  Where’s the socks . . . One is crying, I don’t want to take a frozen burrito to school – there’s no microwave.”  Child #3 is still sleeping, after I’ve run up the stairs twice to wake him and Child #2 is upset because he wanted cereal, instead of last night’s pork chop for breakfast.    Poor kids, what a mess.  If only I were organized!

I have 3 boys in school:  Pre-k, 1st & 3rd.  I know what it’s like to bribe, fight, cry and whine my way through morning rush hour to get them to brush their teeth, eat breakfast and get dressed in the morning.  Then one day, after dreading the morning routine, I decided enough was enough.  I’m the boss of this joint and I’m not gonna take it anymore. If there was going to be a Revolt, it was coming from me!

And just like that, the Pletka family went through boot camp 101.  Like a captain in the Army, I put them in a single file line and we marched from upstairs to downstairs, acting out the way I wanted “Morning Routine” to look like. The baby followed along with her blankie dragging behind.  No more whining . . . no more crying . . . no more “I don’t wanna wear that.”  Nope, nada, nein, not gonna happen.

I lined them up one by one and asked:  Are you potty trained?  Yes Mom!  Do you know where the spoons are located?  Yes Mom.  Do you know how to pour Milk? And the list went on.  Just like the movie Dodgeball, in a scruffy, old, cynical voice he said:  If you can Dodge a Wrench, you can Dodge a Ball . . . My theory was:  If you can pour milk, you can feed yourself!

And this is how it went down: I began placing cereal in a bowl with a spoon in it, the night before.  All they have to do is pour the milk and eat.

In the evenings, when we make lunches for the kids, I lay out their clothes, socks, shoes, back packs, lunch boxes, the whole enchilada, to make this portion of the day, run like a well-oiled machine.  If a pair of socks or one shoe is missing, it can be a deal breaker – put a glitch in the morning, maybe miss the bus and everyone’s in a bad mood.  If Jr.’s shoes are outside under the trampoline, you’re up the creek.

We placed alarm clocks in each room, so they go off at the same time, or pretty darn close.  They come running down the stairs, trying to pass each other along the way.  It sounds like a herd of animals running on their heels, beating and thumping all the way down.  This, in turn, becomes my alarm clock.

While one is eating breakfast, the other brushes his teeth and yet another is putting on his clothes.  They circulate through the 3 step process with minutes to spare.  Life is much better, now that we have a system in place.  They feel a little more independent, I’m relinquished of my role as drill sergeant and am realizing these little guys are growing up fast and I need to freeze frame all the moments.

Life has changed.  We sleep a 1/2 an hour longer, lunches are pre-made at night, outfits are pre-approved and the kids are much happier.

I’m amazed at how children can step up and make it happen, when we raise the bar and increase our expectations of them. There’s a Hard Way and an Easy Way, both with the same destination, but how you get there, can make ya or break ya.  Enjoy Your Life!

Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go, so when he’s old, he will not depart from it.

 Posted by at 4:18 pm
Sep 022010
 

The other night, about 3am I woke up to a loud thunderstorm.  The entire room lit up and our dog Max, (a terrier slash fox hound – whose talents include jumping, digging and howling like the hound that he is) was shaking uncontrollably underneath the bed.  He was deathly afraid of the storm, and with every tremble . . . he farted.

We’ve had this dog 10 years, and I’ve never known this to happen.  Of course, it’s never on John’s side of the bed, always mine, but it wouldn’t matter.  If a tornado took the roof off the bedroom, John would continue to sleep.

I have to say, Max has been through a lot in his 10 years with this family.  In the beginning, (BK) Before Kids, he was the Prince of the House.  He wore sweaters, napped at the end of our bed, had a constant stream of bones and toys at his disposal.   Life was one big adventure.

As time went on and kids began to infiltrate our home, one by one, he moved lower down the totem pole.  At this stage, he’s just excited that someone remembers to feed him.  Good ole Loyal Max.  When we brought him home from the animal shelter, we proudly bestowed him with the name Jack.  A good solid name for a terrier, don’t ya think?

One year into enjoying our little Jack, we found out we were having a boy, and the name Jack suddenly became a valuable commodity.  My husband’s name is John and he wanted his son to be named after him, but we did not want to burden the kid with being John the 4th.   So we changed the dog’s name from Jack to Max and gave it to our son.   Poor thing was confused for . . . who am I kidding — he’s still confused.   He’ll come to anything you call him.

So when I woke up, it wasn’t the lightening that acquired my attention, it was the smell of FEAR, that smelled like a fart.  That’s the way it is in life.  We fear the storm, we fear failure, we fear loss of a job, we fear lack of safety for our children.  Fear is like an electric fence you can’t see, with signs hanging everywhere –  “Beware”, “Feel Guilty” “Don’t Forgive” “Don’t Try This”, “Failure Isn’t An Option” You’re a Loser” “Don’t Rock the Boat”  “You Won’t be Accepted” . . . It holds us prisoner within invisible borders, whispering to us in the night.

Don’t allow FEAR to get its tentacles in you.  Instead, embrace life, get up and grab it by the horns; write your own signs:  Seize the Day, Try New Things, Do Your Best & Forget All the Rest, Failure IS an Option.  We learn when we Fail.  Of course, we don’t want to fall, but if living in Fear of Failure is gonna hold you back from pursuing a life of meaning, adventure, peace and purpose, then it has to go.

You don’t want to wake up in the night and smell fear. It presents itself in various forms, shapes and sizes, often renaming itself, in hopes of disguising its identity.  You can put new clothes on it, maybe add some lipstick, but it’s not your friend.  Just like Max trembling under the bed in unproductive Fear, (not the adrenaline rush you need, before standing in front of a crowd) but the kind of fear that holds you captive, holds you hostage to the great life you deserve – Fear, by any other name, is just a bad smell.

Now go out and live the life of Purpose and Meaning that God has called you to live – and embrace the adventure.

Fear not, I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.  And through the rivers, they shall now overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.  And the flame shall not consume you.  Isaiah 43: 1-2

 Posted by at 8:07 am
Aug 242010
 

Do you ever teach your kids things like sharing, honesty, responsibility you know, all the character stuff, and hope to goodness it sticks?

The other day we (me, my 4 kids and husband) spent the day at the pool; as soon as we walked in the door, the kids are hollering:  What’s for dinner?  I mean, we just got home.  If I could click my heels, dinner would be on the table, but give a mom a break, would ya?

Where’s my shoes?  Can you untie this?  I need socks!  Where’s my piano book? Where’s the PIANO?  I mean, really?  I think kids get so use to relying on mom to do everything, they begin to ask questions they already know the answer to.  I said:  Do you know where clean underwear comes from?  And, as if I was about to reveal where Santa Claus lives, the excitable 4 year old said:  Where?

I felt like a rebellious teenager.  I rose up and said:    The Laundry Room!  Eight little eyes looked at me as if I had said:  no more cartoons for the rest of your life!

Where are my shoes?  Wherever you put them.  Do I have underwear?  I hope so.  I felt rattled.  I said:   I quit. . . I quit . . . I quit.  They stood in Silence – Then came the giggles.  “Mom you can’t quit.”  You’re MOM.

Of course, I couldn’t  quit.  Nor did I really want too.  I mean, if someone else tried to walk in and take my place, I’d give them a run for their money.  We may complain, but we still want the job, right?

But what I have learned, is kids can be responsible for things, even at the smallest of ages, and while they may buck the system in the beginning, they sorta like the whole “team spirit” I’m apart of something “greater than myself” mentality.

It gives them a chance to see how life really works; they aren’t the center of everything, rather they’re one of MANY spokes on the family wheel.  It’s good for them to see how dinner gets made, and how clean shirts make it from the laundry basket to their closet.

They begin to take pride in helping with the dishes, the laundry, cleaning out the car and sweeping the kitchen.  Look at your to-do-list, tear off a piece and give it to them.  Before long, they’ll expect a chore or two, and before you know it, they’ll be cleaning the house, making dinner and doing the laundry. . .  I’m envisioning it now.  It’s all a process.  Just stay consistent and the rewards will be great.  Until then, has anyone seen the piano?

Teach me to number my days, that I might gain a heart of wisdom and fulfill your purpose for my life.  Psalm 90:12

 Posted by at 11:12 pm
Aug 172010
 

When I sold my business to stay at home, I figured – if I was the CEO of my company, I’d call myself the CEO of my household.  Hey, I run this ship, right?

But kids don’t care what titles you hold, who you know, or what you do for a living . . . When they’re little, it’s all about what THEY want.  I notice, each time I go to the bathroom to pee or even take a quick bubble bath, it must set off a silent alarm somewhere in the house.  As soon as the bathroom door closes, the kids come running.  It doesn’t matter if they’re watching a movie, playing in the backyard or riding bikes on the cul de sac.  As soon as I close the door to the bathroom, it becomes someone’s duty to knock, I mean – bang, cry, shove notes underneath or plead urgently for food.

In the minute it took me to pee, one of the kids colored their tennis shoes with a blue highlighter.  Why did you do that, Johnny?  Well, I was trying to tell you I couldn’t find paper and you weren’t listening.” Yes, it’s because I was IN the bathroom.”

I can hide in the closet to eat a rice crispy treat, (because it’s the last one – and frankly, I don’t wanna share) and what happens?  They come running.  It’s like they were born with dog ears, that can only hear high pitched sounds, like cookie wrappers and bathroom doors closing.

I can say:  Clean your room – And what do I hear? Nothing, but cricket sounds.  But you go to the back yard to sneak a piece of chocolate and they’re hunting you down like a heat seeking missile.  If I holler for the boys to clean their room, they can’t hear me.  If I call their name with a high pitched voice, they’ll come running; it’s like a horn blowing for a cattle call.

Like Bert is to Ernie, and Ying is to Yang, so it is with our children – doors close, they knock.  Wrappers rattle, ears perk up.  That’s what kids do.  It comes with the territory.

Just as death and taxes will always be with us, so will little hands knocking on doors and pint-sized sniffers smelling chocolate, after they’ve gone to bed.  Embrace the little-ness while it lasts.  One day, you’ll get to pee in peace, eat that last cookie in broad day light and be a respected CEO, once again.  But until then . . . embrace it ALL.  They are your little sniffers and door knockers. And we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap a harvest, if we do not lose heart.”

 Posted by at 11:55 pm
Jul 222010
 

In February, it snowed.  So I made a last minute dash to our local Stuff Mart to buy warm gloves and the manager said: “Sorry ma’am we don’t have gloves anymore, we’re selling Spring items.  Bathing suits are on sale, 30% off.”  Now why would I wanna a bathing suit in February?  Maybe I could wrap the the bottoms around my hands to throw snow balls.  hmmmm.

As a mom, I value the organization that my little “to do list” slash scroll, offers me.  Laundry on Monday, Violin lessons at 3pm, buy groceries, pay the kids to find the stinky smell lingering in the car, and the list goes on.  What would you do without the list?

For whatever reason, it makes me feel ahead of the game, accomplished to be able to scratch something off that piece of paper, even though something else immediately takes its place.

I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments, until I ran an errand the other day, and low and behold, they were selling Christmas trees in the summer.  There was a sale on decorations, pumpkins, scarecrows and holly.  Oh Dear God, it was Christmas in July.  I don’t know about you, but it took me 3 months to get over the Holidays.  From the weight gain, to the finances, to getting all the decorations and party supplies packed and put away, I sure didn’t wanna see Christmas in July.

I was just now enjoying the kids being out of school for the summer.  We were going on vacations, spending our time enjoying parks, pools and popsicles.  I finally felt relaxed, accomplished and at peace with myself – living in the moment.

No homework, no rushing around, just enjoying the present . . . until I walked into the local BoxMart and saw the Marketing Machines running:  Advertisements were everywhere:  Pick up Schools supplies now, hurry up and buy Winter Coats (they’ll be gone soon) Pumpkins are 1/2 off and bathing suits, well . . . you can’t find one now, it’s July.  Are you crazy, retail businesses are already thinking Fall & Winter.

What happened to living in the moment? It’s as if you are being set up for failure:  you can’t spin your wheels fast enough, juggle plates high enough . . . the bar continues to be set higher, the finish line placed further out.

We have to fight to live in the moment.  We have to place security around the borders of our life to keep “Peace of Mind” and Living in the Moment” protected from all the chaos this world brings.

I wanna throw out the black book that seems to direct our every footstep and keep us busier than we’ve ever been before, and embrace the small stuff, the free things, the simple things, the wind blowing leaves through the park, as you enjoy your time sitting on a bench.

Embrace those conversations with the kids over laundry, sports or cleaning up the back yard.  Kids grow up fast.  Some days it seems like Tick . . (cricket sounds). . Tock . . . and when they hit 11 and 12 years old, the hands of time won’t stop spinning.

Claim your moment now.  Live in the present.  Don’t allow the marketing machines to guide your life, rather you are the owner, the gatekeeper, the captain of your ship . . . you decide whether you’ll be throwing snow balls with the bottoms of a bathing suit or wearing ski gloves instead.  Enjoy all the moments, for the only person that can truly take away “living in the present,” is you.

 Posted by at 8:20 pm
Jun 032010
 

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I’ve had wonderful role models over the years.  Between what I’ve learned from them and discovered on my own, (and the “on my own thing didn’t always go so well) I thought I’d pass those “successes and “don’t try this at home” along to you.  Hey, us girls have to stick together!

Don’t Try this at Home:

I have 4 kids.  I brought the two little ones to school to pick up my 2nd grader and Kindergartner. After getting everyone in the car, buckled and unloaded at home, the school counselor called and said:  Are you missing someone?  I had left the 3 year old in the lobby, starring at the fish aquarium.  When I got back to the school, he said with a loud voice:  You left me!!  I said, Nooooo . . . I just wanted you to finish looking at the fish . . . and with squinted eyes, he said:  You left me!  lol  Smart kid!

Tip #1  Falling down the stairs:

When my little ones were old enough for me to remove the stairwell gate, ever once in a while, even the best climber would find themselves tumbling down the stairs.  So in an effort to pad their fall, I placed a large bean bag at the foot of the stairs as a nice “hello” to greet them in the foyer. Usually mom beats them to the bottom, but just in case.

Don’t Try this at Home:

It was a nice day for a stroll in the park, so I took our fox terrier and 5 month old baby for a walk.  It was hard to push the stroller and hold the leash, so I tied the dog to the baby jogger, you know – kill 2 birds with one stone. As I walked thru the park, all was well in the world, until the dog spotted a squirrel and tore out across the field with the baby in the stroller, bucking’ and flying behind him.  That was the only time I ever outran the dog.

Tip #2 Kids & Money:

We don’t pay the kids for standard family chores, (like laundry, dishes, cleaning their room) because we have a big family and we try to instill “team effort.”  If each family member makes 1 or 2 messes, it can become exponential, in a heart beat.  Each person is responsible for cleaning up the mess they made or put up what they took out.  But we offer them bonus chores, such as cleaning the car, yard work, sweeping the garage or picking up dog poop in the back yard.  No one wants to do this one, so it makes the most money.  : )

With the bonus chores, the kids have an opportunity to make money, which we divide into 3 groups (Spend, Save, Give) 10% goes to Save, 10% goes to Give and the rest goes to Spend.  So when they see 10 dimes or $10 dollars and only have to give 2 away, with 8 left over, they’re so excited.  We then go to the Dollar Tree or similar store at the end of the week, where they get to use their money to purchase whatever they want.  This way they connect hard work to how much something costs . . . and how long they need to work to buy a specific item.

Don’t Try this at Home:

Before I had kids, my friend and I had a lunch date at my house.  She brought her 6 month old baby with her.  With a sigh, she said she had forgotten the baby food and before I could catch myself, I said:  I made chili last night! There was silence!  I’m sure you can imagine the look on her face.  She was like:  Feed my baby chili? Logically I was just thinking it was soft food, but uh, it probably WAS a bad idea.

Stay tuned for more Successful Tips and “Don’t Try This at Home” ideas.  I’d love to hear yours.

 Posted by at 3:52 pm
May 172010
 

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I have this running list of goals, check lists and hope too’s, that include things like:  Parachuting before 40, getting skinny by (this one is still obscure), writing a funny mom book and vacationing in CABO with all my favorite people, but the hope of a clean house – well, this just doesn’t seem possible.

I’ve walked miles in this house, picking up stuff, folding things, stepping on sharp toys, throwing away unidentifiable objects and looking for weird smells.  I’ve washed a million dishes, made that many lunches and wiped about that many little butts and still, this house is full of piles.

There’s a clothes pile, a shoe pile, a toy pile, a book pile and the accumulations go on and on.  By the time one pile is put in its place, another one appears, containing kid’s swords, the inside of a shoe, a teddy bear and a sippy cup.

For the record, I believe children should be given responsibilities, tasks they are held accountable for, to ensure team spirit, whether it be laundry, dishes or picking up toys.

When it comes to making breakfast, if they help make pancakes, there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll find batter on the ceiling or the dog is following the baby around the house, vying for her food.  As much as we delegate responsibilities, if each person makes 2 messes, that’s 12 messes, which can catapult into exponential numbers, in a matter of hours, if we don’t stay on top of laundry and dishes alone.

I love to have a clean house, a pristine kitchen and spotless windows.  I love candles and nice smells, but if it stayed this way for more than 2 days, it’s probably because we’re on vacation.

I was talking to a friend last week who has 2 year old twins.  Wow, she has her hands full.  She was telling me how hard it is to have a reasonably clean home; as quick as you can organize, the little ones are destroying it behind you.

What I realized, in talking with her, is – though I knew my house would not be “Party Ready” at a moments notice, I still had not resolved myself to the fact, that my house really isn’t going to be organized everyday, just spurts of every day.  That’s hard for me to swallow.  If it were up to me, my house would look like Pier One Imports, minus toys and any signs of high chairs and bouncy things, but that’s not feasible.

I spoke the words with my mouth, (“I will NOT have a clean house everyday, and that’s OK”) but I didn’t believe it, “It’ WASN’T OK,” which placed me in an odd predicament.  I was like a person with one leg on shore and one on a boat headed to sea.  I was straddling the fact that I could have a clean house all the time and still have a livable one.

Welcome to reality:  you can’t have 4, 5, 6 or more living under one roof and keep it clean all the time.  This either means you’re living in a museum, or no one is having any fun.  I choose fun.

While I’d like to be skinny, I do enjoy my occasional pizza, and while I’d like to go parachuting, I FEAR what I’ll do to the guy who pushes me out of the plane.  I may need to re-evaluate my list. But one things for sure, I need to cherish this season of life. Don’t rush it.  Don’t rush to windex the handprints off the windows . . .  for one day your house will stay clean . . . but it will also be empty.

So embrace the giggler with the dirty hands and move out the furniture for your boys to have fun wrestling matches;   Mark Twain once said:  Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.  And just like a house that is disorganized at times, with piles of things and little mud prints by the door, it indicates where love lives.  Embrace it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

 Posted by at 11:28 pm
Apr 022010
 

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When you were a kid, did you ever dream of how your life would be?   Like the ending from a Disney movie: No bumps in the road or dark horse characters, just knights in shining armor, 2.5 kids, picket fences, adventure and a cute puppy that looked like you.

Well, life is not that simple.  It doesn’t come with a guidebook, though many an expert have tried to help us navigate it.  But nothing truly has a guarantee.  Webster’s defines a guarantee as a “sure thing”, a promise with a specific outcome.  But in real life, this is not the case.  There is no guarantee our children will be healthy, no guarantee that we’ll grow old with our spouse, no guarantee little Johnny isn’t going to skin his knee trying to ride his bike for the first time, or that our children won’t need counseling after we’ve given our “best shot” at raising them.

I pick my children up at the bus stop 5 days a week, 20 days a month, 180 days a year.  I’m on standby to give them the biggest hug of the day, if they choose to take it.  By accident, due to traffic or just not noticing the clock, I missed the bus twice last year and the other day my 8 year old son said:  “Mom, remember last year how you always forgot to pick us up at the bus stop?”  What?  There’s also no guarantee they’ll remember they had a great childhood, but we’ll keep our finger’s crossed.

Life is not like the Stepford Wives – where you tell Toby to keep his room clean and he just does it, no questions, no whining, just clean!  Or when you tell Ruby to drink her milk and no complaints there.  No, they’re gonna throw food, pitch a fit, mess up their room, skin their knee, fight with their siblings . . . but they’re also gonna surprise you with maturity, make responsible choices when you’re not around and help those in need when the moment presents itself.

They’re gonna come home from college with a broken heart, a bad grade or a bill they can’t pay, but they’re also gonna make lifelong friendships, give you a big hug and tell you how much they love you.

It doesn’t matter if you have 1 or 9 children, they all have their own personality, their own ideas and each has to be treated, punished and rewarded differently.  Life is loud, complicated, fun, exhausting, rewarding, but how life turns out . . . it’s highs and lows, and how things go, is not guaranteed. But we choose to invest in life and love, as a risk, an adventure.

Life is not a bowl of cherries nor is it a bed of roses.  It’s more like the box of chocolates Forrest Gump carried around.  You never know what you’re gonna get, but it’s worth discovering.  It’s better to have lived and loved, right?

There are days when the kids are all talking to you at once, when the baby has a great (2 week phase) and is now 7 weeks into a bad one . . . just hold on.   When your loving child suddenly becomes embarrassed by you, in the school parking lot, hold on . . . in the quiet of the day, they’ll need advice, a hug or a pep talk that only you can give.

Life has no guarantees, except that it won’t be perfect.  But perfect would be boring.  That’s probably why this word only exists on paper and not in real life.  So throw out the bowl of cherries, toss out the bed of roses and grab the box of chocolates and head to the bus stop and enjoy the Fruits of Your Life!

Proverbs 16:3

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed!

 Posted by at 12:58 am
Mar 172010
 

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I was raised in the SOUTH!  Life was pretty simple.  All you needed was a good bike, fishing pole and a trampoline.  Brushing my hair wasn’t a high priority, but tree climbing was.  We lived in a modest house, but nobody told me.  Life was full of adventure, dirt roads and all the ice cream you could eat.  I had parents who loved me with all their heart and told me daily.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

Then I grew up and moved to the City . . . Atlanta to be exact.  We bought a house that seemed a little too big for the needs of 3 people, but now that there’s six, it sometimes feels as though we’re bustin’ at the seams.  I love my house.  We’ve done quiet a few home improvement projects and I’ve had fun decorating it. But then we made a mistake. We visited a house nicer than ours.

We went to a party a while back and let me just say, this house should have been in the “Parade of Homes.”  I’m surprised they let us in.  After a fun evening with friends, I came back to my house and all the sudden, my ceilings were too low, the TV was too small, the kitchen felt too tight and . . .I think the living room shrunk!  I wanted to kick the cat . . . but I didn’t have one.

We are all on an UPWARD spiral to obtain the Golden Handcuffs, the dangling carrot, the top of the corporate ladder.  When is the house big enough, the car styling enough, the corporate title impressive enough?

The problem with this “Pie in the Sky” mentality, is there’s no finish line.  There’s no race course with a flag at the end that says:  You made it!!!  Congratulations, you are Officially SUCCESSFUL!  You can rest now.

Contentment is the state of being satisfied.  It is A State, not An Estate!  Finding satisfaction and keeping it, is a balancing act, with someone constantly trying to knock us off the “balance beam of life.  The grass is always greener, the schools we AREN’T accepted to – are better, the tennis outfit she’s wearing is cooler.  It’s a crazy cycle that steals the joy of the moments we’ve worked so hard for. Life is never quiet good enough because we don’t have a finish line to know where “good enough” is.

Contentment comes from within.  If this button isn’t fixed, all the upgrades in the world can’t repair or fill the void.

What really matters is the legacy we leave on this earth.  I’ve never read an obituary that said:  His house was 10,000 sq. feet!  Can you believe it? or she was the top realtor in town with 1 million in quarterly sales.

Nope! Instead, you’ll read words that describe their character . . the impact this person had on their friends, family and community.  How they prayed big . . . helped big, loved big.

What is the most valuable item here on this earth, that if it were hurt, sick, bothered or taken, you would give your life to protect it?  This should be your focus.  A house can burn, a car can stall, a job can be lost . . .

Invest in things that matter.  Not in materialism, but in relationships;  your family, your spouse, your kids.  Value the time spent with them at the park, on a date, in the car, working on a school project; etch in your mind the hilarious stories and endless laughing you enjoy with your friends.  Enjoy those late night walks and meaningful talks.  For we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

Go back to the simpler days; have a picnic at the park, lay on a blanket with your spouse.  Bring back Thursday game night, write your friends a “hand written” note. Take your buddy fishing.  Life is short, but it can be so sweet.  Go back to the basics, for in it you will find contentment and great satisfaction . . . and maybe a good tree to climb.

Hebrews  13:5 – Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.  God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

I Timothy 6:6 – But Godliness with contentment is great gain.

 Posted by at 8:45 am
Feb 182010
 

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Has your life’s Exclamation Point . . . become an Exasperation Point?  The highlights of life can be sabotaged by discontentment, discouragement and frustration.  Sometimes we have to re-arrange the way we do things, in order to boost the energy we need to catapult us to greatness.

When I worked in PR, everyday was crazy, exciting, unpredictable and full of “pats” on the back or “kicks” in the butt; one way or the other, you knew where you stood.  Raising children is a little different.  Often times, nothing too exciting happens during the day – from teaching them Math and having late night talks, to throwing in some “moral character” with a splash of discipline and fun activities.  I’ve worn the heels, gone from suits to sweats and am now somewhere in the middle.

On any given day, I find myself researching a new business venture, catching up on 6 loads of laundry, emailing friends to plan girl’s night out, having a conference call with other moms to discuss a class party, while thinking about how I’m gonna cook chicken for the 3rd time this week, when it occurred to me:  Is this my life?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy, the deep kind of happy that a few bad days or set of circumstances can’t steal.

But my life needed a tune up, like a musical instrument or attitude adjustment.  I love my husband; he’s very supportive, loving and fun to be around, and as a bonus, he’s good looking.  I have a small core of really good friends.  I have 4 kids that are loud, fun and interesting.  My life is full, but I knew with the tools and resources I had, things could be better.  I laid on the bed one day and just explained to John how I felt.

WITHOUT fear or threat that perhaps he had not provided a good life for us, he did a little research (another great quality of his – thoughtfulness) and by morning handed me a book, that has taken me on quiet an interesting journey, to fine-tune my happiness from mediocre to deep contentment, where people want to know why you’re smiling.   My quest began with:  The Happiness Project, a book by Gretchen Rubin.

I’ve heard it said:  When a student is ready to learn, the teacher will appear.  Happiness is a state of mind.  Per Webster’s dictionary, happiness is a state of well being, a feeling of contentment, joy, satisfaction or pleasure.

I felt this, but not to its full capacity.  My mom is always reminding me that my calling here on this earth (no matter what position I hold in or outside the home) is to invest in the hearts of my children.  It’s not about recognition, fighting for a position on the corporate ladder, the need to feel appreciated by the outside world or add another gold star to my collection, but it’s about devoting your time and energy into raising healthy, Godly, well adjusted children that will go into the world with confidence, knowledge, and a sense of community.

But in order to do this, Mama needs to be happy!  And if Mama ain’t happy, well . . . you get the gist.  The first category in the Happiness Project is:  To Boost Your Energy.  To be honest, I’ve never been so tired in my entire life.  Before kids, I trained for a marathon, raced in triathlons and had endless energy.  Now, it’s a different story.

The happiness project

“The Happiness Project” lists 4 things that are needed to “Boost Your Energy:

1) Go to Sleep Earlier

2) Exercise Better

3) Toss, Restore and Organize

4) Tackle a Nagging Task Early

I don’t know about you, but all my life, I’ve gone to bed late, put exercise on my “To Do” List (and rarely crossed it off).  I allow that pesky task to haunt me all day (hoping it will just go away – of course it gets bigger and steals my joy).

It’s like a perfect storm – just as the kids are saying “Mom I’m Hungry (after they just ate) you open the closet – and out springs jackets, scarves and a skate board into the floor, about the time the door bell rings and unexpected company has arrived.  Yikes.  You feel conquered, overwhelmed and under pressure.  Then comes the guilt . . . I’m a terrible mom, how will my kids turn out . . . whaaa whaaaa whaaaa!

1st Month’s Challenge

Challenge 1) Sleep Earlier:

I began going to bed earlier.  Can you say:  Hard.  I starred at the ceiling and noticed all the blinking lights in the room, from the phone to the clock to my lap top, it was like the “Vegas Strip.”  Some people count sheep:  I was counting loads of laundry.  Your body has to be reprogrammed.  But with my next challenge, sleep came earlier and sleep came easier.

Challenge 2) Exercise Better:

I’ve never liked waking up early.  My dad always said “the Sunrise is so Beautiful.” I figure the Sunset looks much like the Sunrise, so I’m ok with that.  But, in order to exercise better, I began taking the kids to school, so I could just keep going – head downstairs and begin working out.  The first week, I didn’t like it.  I felt angry, tired.  The “Work Out” guy’s voice on the DVD annoyed me. But then I created my favorite playlist on my ipod, for better motivation.  Now that I’ve created this routine, I enjoy the time for me.  Plus, when 6:30am rolls around, my eyes just pop open.  Your body gets use to what it knows, getting up and working out.

Challenge 3) Toss, Restore and Organize:

My bedroom closet had become  “Central Station” for things that didn’t have a name, a home or description.  Honestly, I found things I should have taken a picture of and tried to figure out its name on Google.

I had a hard time letting go of comfortable underwear – the kind your mom says you NEVER want to be wearing if you end up in the Emergency Room.  It was hard giving away those red shoes you’ve never worn, but are waiting to find that fantastic dress to match it.

I found parts to toys I didn’t know we had, books I’ve never read,  snack wrappers, gifts that had never been given. . . . and the list goes on.  It took 3 days to cleanse my closet, but in the process , it cleansed my mind.  I found 10 incredible outfits to choose from vs. dredging through piles and baskets of wrinkled things, to discover one sock, jeans I couldn’t wear or a bad concert t-shirt.  Difficulties like this, make your head hurt, especially when you’re in a hurry and need to be somewhere 10 minutes ago.

Challenge 4) Tackle a Nagging Task Early:

Between emails I needed to write, bills that needed to be paid, a conversation that needed to be had or a mess that needed to be cleaned, it haunted my thoughts all day.  It drove me crazy.  Now, I wake up, conquer the the task and feel good about the VICTORY, early on.

Motherhood is NOT easy.  Have you ever spun so many plates or juggled so many schedules?

Probably not, but it’s also Fulfilling and Fun.  Your cup is not full, it’s Overflowing. And if someone came in right now and said:  “I’ll take your place if you’re not happy”  We would karate chop them into a million pieces.  It’s ok to complain, but it’s most important to jump back on the saddle.  Lord willing, this position is for many years to come, thus we need to find that Deep Happiness and Contentment, so when we’re teaching our kids “Life’s Lessons” we’ll find ourselves – Whistling While We Work.

Wanna Boost Your Energy?  Start with you!  You are the family’s “Hub of Communication” the CEO of your household.  Take charge . . . GIRLS!  In cleaning those closets and exercising for you, you’ll feel Accomplished, Organized and Victorious.  Rid your life of Exasperation Points and Make them Exclamation Points to your Happiness! You are More than Conquerors.

Scripture:  Phil 4: 11-13

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

 Posted by at 5:52 pm
Jan 272010
 

People ask each other all the time:  What do you do for a living?  They see the car you drive, the house you live in, the clothes you wear, the schools your children attend, the teams they play, the size of your TV screen and the list goes on.

I had an SUV for years and loved it, until I had my 4th child; and while an SUV can hold all 6 of us, there was no room for the groceries, strollers and all the other stuff that looks like you’re moving, every time you leave the house.  So when you take out the 3rd seat, all you can carry are your kids, a purse and bottle; and that’s just not gonna cut it.

So we had to buy a minivan. I cried the week before we bought it, because for some reason I had attached the fact that I would be driving a Mini Van to the fact that I was loosing any cool factor I had left in me.  (sorry for offending others who love their mini van – But this is how I felt).  First, went the little black dress and heels, then the purse turned into a diaper bag, slash luggage, my hair went from stylish to a pony tale and my car went from hip to less hip, and then I gained hip . . . . . but in the wrong place.  : (

My mom said to basically “get over it,” she explained that these are just tools needed to get you from point A to point B for this phase in your life. Well I hadn’t thought of it that way.  I thought I was loosing my identity, but if my identity was wrapped up in material things that can be here today and gone tomorrow, something needed to be adjusted.

Who you are is made up of many factors: good character, great reputation and family name, are you charitable, do you help those in need, are you a good friend, are you trustworthy and honorable?

You watch commercials that show a husband and wife in the Caribbean, rolling around in a bed that’s sitting in the middle of the beach, while gazing into each other’s eyes and you think, “I should be there, not at Jungle Joe’s bouncing on a trampoline”.  Don’t let the marketers fool ya.  Nobody likes sand that much!

The grass is not greener and everyone has, what seems like slow moments, lulls in life, but not forever.   Life is Not passing you by.  You are the real deal.  You are Living Life.  Everyday Vacations, All the Ice Cream You Can Eat, driving a Roadster and Trump Tower living is NOT REAL LIFE.  Now if you get to enjoy those things, then great.  It’s a bonus, but not everyday reality.

Suddenly my attitude changed:  These are phases in life and they last for only a moment, so who cares about whether you have a mini van, a smaller house than you want or a piece of luggage full of bottles, bibs and burp rags.  The little black dress will eventually return, the diaper bag will become a cute purse once again and things begin to fall back into place as life progresses.  Change is constant, so be flexible.

Who cares that the leather furniture has scratch marks or the carpet is 10 years old.  Just embrace the happiness around you, the joy of your kids telling funny jokes, your husband coming home from work, happy that you are happy; know that there is always a time and place for newer, faster stuff . . . . grander vacations and more free time, but while your in this phase of life, embrace it, wherever you are.  Jump your cool-self into that minivan and embrace the Adventure!

P.S. Now that I have a mini van, I love it. Convenience is key!  I still love wearing a pony tail, my diaper bags are more fashionable and I occasionally pull out the little black dress and enjoy a night on the town, just not in a bed on the beach.  : )

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.  1 John 2:17

 Posted by at 5:25 pm
Dec 262009
 

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School is out!  Sounds exciting right.  Vacation, endless fun, afternoon naps, sleeping in, no pressing commitments . . . end of Story!

But that wouldn’t be REAL Life, would it?  The honest answer is probably a mixture of fun, fighting, boredom, re-learning some “thankful” lessons, messy house, making a million snacks and enjoying the slower moments of life.

Often times I envision something a little more “Norman Rockwell” during the holidays.  Those paintings always captured the essence of the holidays:  Everyone is happy, very little complaining, the meal turns out great, the house is beautiful and clean, except for us, it’s more of a Chevy Chase “Christmas Vacation.”  Traditional food, kids flying down the stairwell in a box or bean bag, and the UPS guy blows his horn as he passes our house, watching one of the kids fall out of a tree.  Our neighbors must REALLY Love Us!!

My dad told me once that I have the “Little House on the Prairie” idealistic mentality, where I think everything should fall into place with little effort, everyone sits down for dinner together on time and so on.  When he brought this to my attention, I felt hurt, as if he had burst my “Bubble of Hope” that one day this could happen.  In retrospect, he was saving me from a life of heartache and let downs. Now that I know this about myself, I’ve made some mental changes.  Changes that prepare me for those sand traps in life that I make for myself, when I hold things to idealistic measures – built-up beliefs I’ve made in my head regarding “Mary Poppins” on Christmas Day.

Life is What it Is!  Its sort of like a house:  It’s sometimes messy and disorganized, often delightful and happy, has its occasional technical mishaps, but for the most part, we wouldn’t change it for the world.

On Christmas day, I envisioned the kids running around, playing quietly with toys, eating the cookies we made, watching movies on the couch . . .

Instead, they were skate boarding through the kitchen, while one was TRYING to play a violin, the other a piano (on disco rhythm) and the baby was being licked in the mouth by the dog.  Not what I envisioned, but that’s ok, We’re all together, happy, healthy and loving one another.  I’m Thankful.

So, now that school is out, relax, be flexible, it’s ok to let the house go for a day or two,  enjoy a little HGTV, maybe some “Mary Poppins” and let Life be What it is!  Be Thankful.

 Posted by at 1:29 am
Dec 172009
 

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Moms work harder than anyone I know. Whether you work in or outside the home, it’s become a 24 hour job. Dishes, Laundry, School Projects, Manager Meetings, Sports Activities, Cooking . . . I can feed my 3 boys and 1 hour later, they’re starving! And those 2am wake up calls – when your child is just NOT tired and they want to share this with you or you wake up to them hovering over your face. That’s always fun!

For some reason, when the kids wake up in the middle of the night, they always come to my side of the bed to tell me they need to “go to the bathroom.” Hello! It’s rare, but even the dog knows that if he has an emergency in the middle of the night, he comes to me, dancing like a jackal, because (though he eats only dry dog food) someone who will remain nameless (my mom) felt sorry for Max and fed him a block of cheese. I’ve never seen a dog hip hop and go crazier at 2am! eh hum! Mimi is sleeping peacefully in bed, while the dog is dancing around me, hollering in a high pitched voice, as if every second counts!

So, plan something fun for you! This is a “Guilt Free” Zone; guilt is NOT Allowed. Write down the top 5 activities on your dream list: Big or small, expensive to least expensive, for a week, a day or a few hours – find time for you.

Everything has a reset button: For example, you wash the car and a week later, it needs to be cleaned out again, the pantry needs to be re-organized and the laundry has to be cleaned, and the garage – well that’s another story. As the world turns, these are the days of our lives: we need to find time for ourselves, in order to keep the “better you” at the top of the list for everyone else’s sake.

When you board a plane, the stewardess comes on the loud speaker and announces that “in case of an emergency” place the air mask on your face first, so you can assist your children. If Mama goes down, everybody’s going down. If you don’t take care of you, then who will take care your kids, your spouse, your community? If you take care of yourself first, then you are just a better version of YOU! What should we expect: Peace, contentment, happiness, patience, a better perspective.

When we live in constant chaos and busy-ness, we’re feeding something that’s gonna grow into a “Venus Fly Trap. It’s gonna eventually snap up its prey. Well, that can’t be good! But if we invest in ourselves, perhaps a weekend retreat, a one hour massage, a long drive in the car with a coffee and our favorite music, a trip to the beach, a night out with the girls, a date night with your significant other, then everyone will benefit.

If you’re really desperate, you may be thinking, a grocery store run, alone is HEAVEN. Ok, that’s pretty bad, but sometimes its the baby steps that get us walking in the right direction.

Heck, your family is probably thinking “Go, please!” Give your “Mom Membership” card a rest, go put on something that makes you feel sexy and confident; find that cute girl inside and be selfish, for the sake of those around you. Get out there and do something Fun, For YOU!!

Here’s to Adventure . . . . . and Cute Heels!


 Posted by at 2:15 am
Dec 012009
 

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The 4 year old dressed himself for Church

with one tennis shoe and one Croc.  Didn’t notice until lunch.

I woke up one morning to the sound of all the kids in one room.  Turns out, they were all upstairs in the babies’ crib, where they had gotten a hold of a large Family-Sized bag of Dorito chips and busted that thing Wide open.  Everyone, including the baby was covered in ORANGE from head to toe.  They looked like little mascots for the GATORS.  They were giggling and crushing orange chips all over the place.

As I told my mom this story in frustration, she said:  Did you get a picture?  I’m like . . . a picture?  They made a mess, are you kidding?  She said:  It’s just STUFF.  It can be washed, but without a picture, it’s just a memory.  Huh!  I hadn’t thought of it that way.  I usually thought of myself, how it was more work for me to fix up, wash up and and clean up.  But if I switched gears and focused on them, it would be a funny story for later, and not so much of a downer for the kids living in the moment.

So next time you see your little one coloring their face on picture day or drawing on their bedroom wall, out of creativity and not sheer maliciousness, make a big deal out of it! Take a picture and then show them how to wash it off with Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser.  Memories are great, but a picture is worth a 1000 words.  Start clicking!


 Posted by at 1:46 am
Nov 052009
 

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I have a long list of exciting things I want to do before I kick the bucket, but there’s one regret that I wish I could fix.  But as we know, life offers no do-overs and for this, I have to make my peace.

Growing up, I felt like a tall giraffe in a glass store, awkward and out of place.  If there was something to be broken, I broke it.  I could stumble on air and fall.  Quiet clumsy, It was like: Watch Watch, crash . . . break.

My mom took my sister and I to church, where I began making friends, getting involved in youth group, rehearsing for plays, and so on.  This is when I met Mr. Garvin and Ms. Way-dee, an older couple that would change my life forever.

They would invite us to their house to stay the weekends, after church or weekdays if school was out. When I entered their property, I left all my worries at the front gate. They lived on a huge farm with lots of cows.  They both seemed old, with young hearts.  I guess when you’re little, everyone looks old, though I think she was only in her late 50’s and him in his mid 60’s.

I felt like I had hit the jack pot.  The church was full of kids, but they chose us. I don’t know why, but it didn’t matter because they were mine and I was there’s.  I felt so special at their house.  Ms. Wadie taught us how to make fun desserts, can sweet pickles and make a mean “molasses pancake breakfast.”  Mr. Garvin was like the Avon man for men.  He drove down the dirts roads and sold men’s cologne, men’s hats and clothing, hair products, you name it.  He was a tall, medium built guy, sort of gruff-looking with full gray hair and a smile.

He had a shed, slash home office out back that housed a mannequin, an office desk, dial up phone and adding machine; my sister and I would pretend to run our own business and make deals.  And when we got tired, Mrs. Wadie would send us out to the barn and we would make tunnels out of hay bails.

One day Mr. Garvin unveiled a Go Cart that had been hidden in the barn.  A treasure we had spotted in the past, but hadn’t been cranked up in years and didn’t know if it even worked.  He explained that they got it for their grandkids long ago, but because they lived in another state, the visits were few and far between.  I dreamed about -what it was like to be blood related to Mr. Garvin and Mrs. Wadie.  How lucky their grandkids were, to be able to have them as their grand parents.  But I was lucky because I got to spend many weekends with them.

Wadie never hollered, never got angry and was always sweet.  You couldn’t twist her arm to say anything bad about anybody.  She never gossiped, was always honest and had the patience of Job.  But there was one thing that could make her mad.  Don’t touch her feet.  I did one time and got this mean look that I never wanted to see again.  It actually seemed as though the “mean look” pulled energy from her body.

When I was 11, my real grandpa died.  I never knew anyone that had passed away.  And though he was sick, I hadn’t expected him to go so sudden.  I loved my paw-paw and was devastated that I would never see him again.  He and I use to drive the tractor and bail hay all day long.  We were close.  I stayed at Mrs. Wadie’s house for what seemed like a week, during all the funeral arrangements and endless errands.

One day, while looking through old records in the living room, I discovered “Swing Low, Sweet Chariots.”  I listened to that song for hours and cried.  It was depressing and comforting all rolled into one. Mrs. Wadie must have heard me play it over and over.  That house was tiny, but she knew I needed time to myself and never came in once, never interrupted, just let me be.  I knew it and she knew it.

Mr. Garvin was quiet a bit older than Wadie and was retired from running a grocery store, where they met and got married in their older years.  He would get up in the middle of the night, in boxers, talking to himself, and scratch his back like a bear on the hallway post, up and down, up and down.  I used to giggle because he had no idea anyone saw him.  I don’t even think he was completely awake for that matter.

They use to have snoring competitions and boy did it get loud.  Neither of them slept in the same bed or the same room, for that matter, because they said the other snored too loud, but believe me, either one could have won that contest.  Once, Mrs. Wadie quit snoring really loud and I thought she was dead.  I got out of bed and leaned over her face to see if she was alive.  When she woke up, I was hovering over her.  In her quiet voice and startled eyes, she said:  What are you doing?  I said:  I thought you were dead.  She just rolled over and went back to snoring.

Mrs. Garvin use to take us with him on his rounds, to check on the neighbor’s cows or visit friends.  We would hop into his old red truck and drive down all the dirt roads and hollows, knowing our next adventure was around the corner.  I remember Mrs. P down the way.  Her husband was a doctor and they were the sweetest folks. She had long gray hair that was always swooped up like a messed up bird’s nest.  With a smile and kind voice, she usually met us in the driveway.  When we stopped by, they would always talk about their grandkids, how proud they were of their children,  were never in a rush and always had time for impromptu drop-ins.

Then late one night, the phone rang.  The kind of late when no one should be calling unless something was wrong.  It was Mrs. P frantically hollering:  He’s gone!  He’s gone!  We didn’t know who was gone.  By the time we got there, Dr. P had had a heart attack on the floor and our preacher was doing CPR until the ambulance arrived.  This would be my 2nd dealing with death.  We rode behind the ambulance, trying to keep up, as it ran all the red lights.   The siren was at an ear piercing level.  It felt like the slowest and fasted ride I had ever encountered.  When we got there, Mrs. P was crying and begging God not to take her husband and I had no words.

I will never forget the Dr.coming into the waiting room shaking his head, saying He didn’t make it.  We had just visited with him the day before.  As she heard the news: She fell to the floor and kept asking:  What am I going to do?  I wanted to fix it, but Mr. Garvin and Mrs. Wadie just held her and cried.

That afternoon, Mr. Garvin tuned up the Go Cart and we took off, my sister and I, screaming and Ya hooing all over the cow field that day, hitting thin hard-shelled cow patties and watching them blow up as we drove over them. We chased cows, hit all the bumps and flew over all the hills we could find and it felt liberating.  We didn’t have a care in the world, it was just us, the cows and the wind that day.

Garvin got a call not too long after that.  His only grandson had been killed in a car accident.  He was test driving a Porsche and it flipped on the interstate.  I think that was the saddest day of his life.  I wanted to fix the pain, but nothing could.  I felt a little guilty about being there, sort of being the surrogate grandchild, especially when his grandchild had been taken from him, but somehow, we both fit the bill for each other that day.

Not long after, Wadie came to my house.  My parents took her out on the boat, where we went with friends to “The Swing,” the Mountain Dew swing to be exact, which consisted of about 7 frayed ski ropes tied together, hanging from a huge leaning oak tree.  The only way you could get to it was by swimming up to the bottom of the steep embankment and grabbing tree roots.  Then you would grab the ski ropes, climb a little higher, jump on the swing and hoped to goodness your rear end didn’t drag the ground until you could swing out over the water and drop.  It was loads of fun, mostly because you feared greatly for your life.

Wadie had borrowed one of my mom’s one piece bathing suits.  I had never seen her in one and frankly was shocked when she agreed to go swimming.  She put that bathing suit on and we had a laugh because the pattern was bright white magnolias on the bottom and when she bend over, it looked like they were blooming.  She didn’t know that, but we did.  It didn’t matter who wore that bathing suit, the flowers always bloomed.  We were on the boat when I asked Wadie if she’d be willing to swing from the rope.  With her great big eyes, she said:  NO WAY!  I laughingly said:  “I’ll never come to your house again if you don’t go.”  I was kidding.  Hey, I was 11.  She climbed out of that boat, swam to shore and made her way up the bank and swung over the water.  In that moment, I realized just how much she loved me.  She took that challenge seriously and I was awestruck by her quick response.

HERE IS MY REGRET.  As time went by, we grew older, moved away, got married and never really kept in touch.  They were always in my heart and quiet frankly changed my life for the better in many ways, but I never told them how I felt.

A few years ago, Mr. Garvin popped up in my mind.  Not sure why, but he was on my heart.  I thought about him everyday and felt like I needed to write him a letter: tell him how much he meant to me, how he changed my life and how much I appreciated him taking me in and loving me like I was his own.  I felt a since of urgency to write, but I kept thinking I”LL DO IT tomorrow.  Then I wrote the letter, but didn’t have a stamp or his new address.  I had that “hand sweating, heart beating” do it now, but never did.  Then one day, just like that, the urgency was gone.

A week later, while visiting my dad a few hours away, I told him about not being able to get Garvin off my mind and how I FINALLY wrote him a letter (much later than I had anticipated, but better late than never, right).  I sent it off yesterday.  He said:  Oh Stephanie, Garvin DIED LAST WEEK!

OH, My heart sank.  I wanted him to know how much I loved him, how much he meant to me, but it was too late.  I had all the time in the world months earlier and yet I waited till it was too late.  My dad tried to encourage me by saying how much it would mean to Wadie to read the letter, but I should have listened to my heart, to God’s prompting.

Do you have someone you’ve been thinking about, but haven’t made the call, because you don’t know what to say, you don’t have their address, a stamp, or the time to make a quick visit?  Perhaps it’s “Their Fault.”  We can come up with a 1000 excuses, but it doesn’t matter.

Make the call, pick up the phone, write a letter, text them, write it in the sky, but do something to tell them before it’s too late.  Tomorrow is not promised.  Let go of your pride and make it right.  Be the bigger person:  The way things were, doesn’t mean it is how they have to be.

Do you have a Wadie and Garvin?  Tell them how much you love them.  They sacrificed part of their life for you and will find much joy in knowing they helped make you a better person.  Good or bad, if you have someone on your heart or mind, give them a call; we may not even understand the reason behind their name popping in our head, but give them a call, for nobody is promised tomorrow.  Keep the bucket list long and the regret list short.  Here’s to Great People in Our Lives.


 Posted by at 9:18 am
Sep 032009
 

Break out the Resuscitation Paddles, It’s time to Find the “Sexy You” underneath all those Mom Titles You’ve Collected!  Chauffeur, maid, cook and laundry lady . . .

When I first found out I was having a baby, after being married for 6 years, I had no idea just how drastic my life was about to change.  I was use to business meetings and heels, coming home and cooking a fancy dinner with a glass of wine, and discussing my day without interruption.

After fighting rush hour traffic on Friday night, we would decide, last minute, to head out of town for a little getaway.  I look back now and think “we had nothing to get away from.”  Life was EASY!

Now, things are a little different.  We come home from work and jump into chaotic mode.  With 4 kids between 8 and almost 1, someone is talking, crying, singing, pooping, has a boo boo, is hungry or needs a hug.

They ALL want attention immediately, especially if you sneak off to the bathroom for a quick shower or pick up the phone to call someone.  They have radar sensors that pick up – –  “What is a “Really Bad time for You.”   Hey, The bathroom door closed, it must mean “BANG ON IT!”

Multi Tasking is constant.  No wonder we can’t think of a certain word most of the time.  We’re always in defense mode:  Within 30 seconds, I’ve told the 3 year old to quit riding the dog’s back, the other, “quit licking the walls, one just fell out of a tree and the phone is ringing.

I had no idea what true multi tasking was, until I had kids.  And I was in PR for goodness sakes.  I truly think that if moms were in charge of the war, we could have conquered the enemy with baby screams and doo doo diapers.  The high pitched, ongoing sound of an infant screaming, and the hideous smells of poop alone, could make anyone surrender.

And if you decide to go on vacation, it’s a full-on strategic military move to arrange for babysitters, make a list of what if’s:  medicines, insurance cards, emergency numbers, how to get Millie to the bus stop, and Charlie to soccer.

Pull out the paddles, it’s time to Resuscitate!

Girls, it’s time to dust off those heels, pull out that cute little dress.  Yeah, you know the one.  You may have to wear Spanx this time around but go for it. Put on that bright red lip stick, your favorite perfume and go hang out with your girlfriends, have a night on the town, where everyone is talking and laughing at the same time.  Those “Laugh until you pee in your pants” moments, where only your girls can “fit the bill.”  It’s good for the soul.

Embrace the YOU, not the titles you’ve collected along the way. Break out the paddles and resuscitate the young, fun girl that you know you are.  You have One Life; Go Girls, get Out there and Enjoy it!


 Posted by at 6:30 am