Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Must See T.V.

If you like smart television...I urge you to tune in to both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report which are broadcast on Comedy Central nightly!!! F.Y.I.-Steve Carell started out as a correspondent on The Daily Show...truly genius T.V.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I've always admired people who seem so at ease with "small talk"...individuals that appear comfortable telling a joke to a crowd, or relaying a funny anecdote at a party...I am so inept in this area...which used to bother me...a lot. But admiration is a tricky notion...as I believe it can quickly turn to jealousy if you're not cautious. So, I always surround myself with people who are socially gifted and silently watch with awe, wonder and sometimes envy as they seem to move through the world with such confidence and ease...giggling at their jokes, smiling at their antics and admiring their spontaneity. It has taken me close to forty-one years to come to terms with this fact. I am simply not a "small talk" person. I will probably never be comfortable in the social spotlight and that suits me just fine. I truly prefer to really connect with a person...one-on-one...discussing issues, sharing stories, and laughing at myself. And that's okay.

“When you're a beautiful person on the inside, there is nothing in the world that can change that about you. Jealousy is the result of one's lack of self-confidence, self-worth, and self-acceptance. The Lesson: If you can't accept yourself, then certainly no one else will.”-Sasha Azevedo

breakfast for dinner

Breakfast has never been my favorite meal of the day. I rarely crave bacon and eggs, never touch sausage (links or patties) and find morning pastries sickeningly sweet...shocking as that may seem. However, when breakfast is served at night...my fickle tastebuds are fooled...and the tastes I normally detest suddenly become so heavenly and scrumptious...especially when there is homemade maple syrup!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

pieces of my past

i may only have a few cherished items from my past...but the memories that each one evokes are numerous and i will continue to clutch each one of them closely to my heart.

a gorgeous glass vase gifted to my mother on one her last wedding anniversaries...a reminder of a time when we were just three...

my great-grandma bernice's rocking chair that lulled me to sleep in my own childhood nursery...steeped with mystery and legend as it was passed down from one generation to the next since the times of the civil war...

my mother's spode wedding china with the blue castle pattern...beautiful keepsakes that preserve chilly thanksgiving day dinners in a tiny northern michigan town...

“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.”-Bob Dylan

Calling ALL Prayers

We were walking hand in hand when we rounded the corner to find Uncle Ron outside attaching a birthday balloon to his mailbox. Of course we paused to say hello, ask about his Saturday and were shocked to learn that his son-in-law...Steven's cousin-in-law...was scheduled for open heart surgery on Thursday. During a routine physical a few days earlier, his family physician found something she didn't like...at all...an abdominal aortic aneurysm. In layman's terms he has a weak wall in the vessel that leads away from his heart. He must get this repaired immediately because if it bursts he couldn't get to the hospital quickly enough. Keep in mind this a pretty young guy (early forties) who has always taken care of himself with three young boys and a wife he has loved since they met in college back at Western Michigan. On Wednesday he will be going to the hospital for a catheterization to look for any other problems or blockages and surgery will commence on Thursday. Please, please, please on Wednesday and Thursday go to that place where you feel closest to God and pray for him...his boys...and his wife, Lisa.

“Pray, and let God worry”-Martin Luther King

Saturday, April 26, 2008

lamenting the laundry

Colors, whites, darks and reds...I despise them all. Grungy socks with crusty toes...disgusting! Sweat soaked warm-ups turned inside out and shoved into the bottom of the hamper...gross! Damp beach towels saturated with sand and starting to grow mildew...nasty!

But when buzzer sounds and I witness the magical transformation that has taken place...the contents burning hot and smelling of springtime...aahhh! The neat little piles that I create for Alissa, Kinsey and Steven...make me happy.

I may complain, gripe and throw a two-year old tantrum from time to time when the piles get really huge...but secretly I love this one little gift that I can give to my family every week. Call me crazy.

talking through tears

she read my blog. i knew the instant i heard her tear-soaked words say, "call me"...the voice so very much like my own. i cried too...this morning in the shower thinking back to our conversation. but they were happy tears...cleansing tears...things are going to be better tears. i am hoping...no i am certain...this is a beginning.

"Whether our relationship is strained or easy, hostile or amiable, we need [our mother] if only in memory or fantasy, to conjugate our history, validate our femaleness, and guide our way. We need to know she’s there if we stumble, to love us no matter what, to nurture the child that resides within us even now without infantalizing us."-Victoria Secunda

Thursday, April 24, 2008


i hate the pressure on high schoolers to go sneak a drink or smoke behind their parents' backs because "everyone" else is doing it...even the "good" kids who pledged to be drug-free until twenty-one. i hate the pressure on young girls to give their bodies away to greedy young boys who don't care a lick about them or their feelings.

i've done my best to teach them right from wrong...to help them value themselves and their souls enough make the best decisions for their safety, self-esteem, and futures...have I done enough?

"The people in the popular group say there is no peer pressure because they are at the top of the food chain. Really what they are doing is just eating away at everybody else."-Lauren Greenfield

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

locked away dreams

"No vision and you perish; No ideal, and you're lost;
Your heart must ever cherish some faith at any cost.
Some hope, Some dream to cling to, Some rainbow in the sky,
Some melody to sing to, Some service that is high."
-Harriet DuAutermont

I secretly dream of selling everything, packing up my kids and husband, and moving thousands of miles away to some intriguing country like Portugal, Switzerland or Morocco...shopping in outdoor markets, buying fresh baked bread from wrinkled old women, living a relaxed life while totally immersed in a strange new culture, figuring out how to communicate and adapt.

I secretly dream of owning a quaint little bookstore with big red awnings on some busy downtown street...the rustic shelves filled from floor to ceiling with hardcovers...first editions of the classics alongside the popular authors of today...the faint scent of the inky paper filling the room while big overstuffed chairs shoved in little nooks invite patrons to luxuriate while snuggling with their books.

I secretly dream of plummeting to earth from a plane with a parachute strapped to my back while my husband is at my side...screaming at the top of my lungs from the rush of adrenaline...keeping my eyes completely open the whole time...overcoming my intense fear of heights with that single jump.

But for now...I still live in Naples...my bookshelves are in my home office...and my feet are firmly planted on the ground. I will keep dreaming.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

HER FEET ARE BIG, her footprint is small

"Idealists are foolish enough to throw caution to the winds. They have advanced mankind and have enriched the world."--Emma Goldman

SHE listens to her idealistic heart. SHE strives to create change. SHE definitely makes an impact. SHE is willing to stand alone in her battles. tonight when we have our dinner by candlelight, on glass plates, with cloth napkins...i will silently thank HER for the inspiration...as my esteem for HER footprint grows.

how big is your footprint?


Monday, April 21, 2008

can you keep a secret?

shhh! please don't tell steven. i agreed that I would not spend more than five dollars a day at starbucks. but this was special. dawn and i needed each other today. to see that welcoming, familiar smile. to feel that warm embrace between longtime friends who don't need to see each other daily to remain close. to chat for one and a half hours without a lull of silence. sometimes you have to break the rules.

april is poetry month

Poetry is my newest passion...an interest I cultivated after my eldest child revealed her intense love for words...and her truly poetic soul. Following her lead, we have explored together the works of poets and playwrights such as Shakespeare, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Mary Oliver, and Emily Dickenson. We both have a partiality to poems about Mother Earth's many gifts. The way a poet can capture the essence, humor and simplicity that exists in nature is astounding and spiritual to me.

One typical morning while getting ready for work, I was surprised to discover a poem hastily scrawled in my then twelve year old daughter's hand, with the notation above it, "Mom, you are my reason for waking early" on my bathroom vanity.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the miserable and the crotchety--

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light--
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness

-Mary Oliver

Faithfully I read these magical words each and every day...smiling and remembering why I wake early.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

searching for peace

I was raised by a former atheist and agnostic in an extremely Catholic small town. If felt like everyone went to church...but me. It felt like everyone had a belief system...but me. Shortly after my parents divorced, my mother became very involved in a local church, got baptized for the very first time that I'm aware of, and generally changed her life completely. This all occurred my senior year of high school.

While I was away at college mom felt the "calling" to leave the safety of our small town for full-time missionary work. That was over twenty years ago. Since that time she has lived in three different states and traveled to countries on practically every continent on earth. Honestly, I can't even count the amount of time she has been out of country...all totalled it's been several years. This leads to my quandary.

I am intensely proud of her dedication and commitment. I know she is at peace and feels that she is satisfying the purpose of her life. And from time to time, I can't help but feeling sad. Sad that she's not here when I need and want her most. Sometimes it feels like everyone gets a piece of her but me. I don't want to be sad anymore. I want to find my own peace.

Now because of my jealousy and disappointment I have built so many walls around my heart that it's difficult to smash them down. But I really want to...I really do. I need her. I love her. I miss her.

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."-Mother Teresa

Swiffers, Salmon Oil and Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

My mother-in-law is insane...in a good way. Hands-down she is one of the most unique women I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. After watching our beast of a dog, Montana, this weekend, she returned her to us along with a curious assortment of gifts. Swiffers, salmon oil and homemade chicken noodle soup. I'm not kidding. The crazy part is...this is totally normal and typical for Paula. Earlier in the week she dropped off apples, almonds and paper towels. You gotta love it!

"For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.”-Jean Dubuffet

another one bites the dust!

Team Spirit! Go NVA...you know!

Bopie and Grandma Margie came to watch the last tournament!

Another club volleyball season is over. No more rushing to get to practice on time through rush hour traffic. No more taped fingers after a massive block. No more sore thighs from twenty "suicides" in a row. No more nasty looking body scuffs from sliding across the court. No more searching for clean spandex and socks. No more denying yourself sugar during tournament weekends. Until next year! We'll miss you!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

planning. prepping. partying.

on april 18th the newest member of our family turns one. kinsey planned a party. little man helped with the stamping. she invited one of her favorite girlfriends and her dog. she made a cake of her own design. she wrapped his presents. party is at 4:30 tomorrow. she can't wait.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

daddy's everytime helper

"Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express."-Joseph Addison

Whether Steven is busily preparing a big family meal, planting new flowers around our palm trees or simply working on a home improvment project like emptying out the gutters...Kinsey is always just a few steps away.

He pulls out the cooking supplies...she rushes to put on her apron and starts making place cards. He puts on his yardwork gear and she's on the hunt for her garden gloves. He steps onto the ladder and she's right there handing up tools while keeping him steady and secure.

Since she's been a toddler she has reveled in being Daddy's little helper. And he's always so patient and sweet with her...even when she spills the flour, stomps on the new blossoms or drops his favorite tools in the bushes.

There's a lot to learn from them as a silent observer...their relaxed acceptance of one another, his repeated validations and most simply the way they seem to share a phyical and emotional dialogue that makes both of them very happy. Me too.

Locks and Locks and Locks of Love

Alissa's gorgeous long locks have been her signature for years. Her flowing tresses (love that phrase although it makes me feel like I should be writing an ad for hair products) are her emotional security blanket. Only for a good cause would she even consider parting with her hair. In her mind it's been her lucky rabbit foot...her four leaf clover.

The last three haircuts she has had to stand so the beauty operator (borrowing that word from my grandma...love it too!)could trim the ends. Personally, I think her hair length was bordering on freaky long, but she was still gorgeous...just in an Amish sort of way! I thought she might back out at the last moment...anyone who knows Alissa knows how completely attached...actually obsessive she can be about her hair...but she was so calm and serene the entire time. As I watched my lovely daughter go through this experience tears welled up in my eyes but I wasn't sad. I won't miss her hair. I was utterly awestruck...she humbles me to the very core of my soul.

Quick sidenote: My camera battery died while at the salon. One of the women who was working there amazingly offered to let me use her camera and is sending the pictures to me by email. It was awesome how everyone in the shop was cheering her on! It was like God opened their hearts right before my eyes and they saw my daughter exactly the way I see her...the most selfless and giving fourteen year old I know!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

lucky, lucky girl

Eighteen years. He has been building fires for me for eighteen years. Without complaint he treks out to the nearest grocery store for a fake log from the shelf, rummages around an empty lot for fallen timber, or simply finds a broken tree in our own yard to make me happy. Sometimes he even hurts himself in the process. As I watch it burn I am constantly reminding myself about just how lucky and grateful I am.

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." -Albert Schweitzer

soul sisters

I've never had a sister. In fact, I'm an only child. Although I'm blessed to have two awesome step-brothers, we weren't raised by the same set of parents in the same home. The experience of having a sibling that you grow up with is one that I've never had. Yet, I've always longed for a sister. I even made Steven promise me when we started our family that we wouldn't have an only child.

So, I always thought the experience of sisterhood would be one that would remain an impossibility for me. Until Laura. She is the closest person to a sister that I will ever have the privilege of having. There are some people that you just know will be a part of your life forever...to share the joys and disappointments, remind you when you're being crazy and out of line, or simply to reminisce with about all of your inside jokes and shared experiences. I know her secrets and she knows mine. What makes our friendship so special to me is that it is by choice.

Even though we are polar opposites in many ways..together we find balance. She's hysterical and quick-witted while I usually think of something really funny ten minutes too late. She's a fantastic listener and I tend to interrupt. Her overflowing heart is visible to everyone who knows her but you need to read between the lines sometimes to understand my feelings toward others. Her head is the size of a peanut and mine's walnut-sized. Her unabashed exuberance and passion for life are contagious and I have a habit to hold back in order to get a sense of the situation before sharing. She's peas and I'm carrots.

It just works...it's even dysfunctional sometimes...just like birth sisters! In my humble opinion I'm just as lucky as all of you who have siblings by birth because I have my own special "soul" sister...a sister from the heart.

“Friendship is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”-Aristotle

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Heart Lessons

On more than one occasion I have stated to those close to me that I believe God gives us our children to teach us more about ourselves...our gifts as well as our flaws. We simply have to be open and willing to accept these enlightening lessons whenever they come along. As my children grow older and are granted more independence and responsibility, the nature of our relationship changes and evolves and the lessons become more and more profound.

For example, my oldest daugther and I share so many traits...some great...many not so great. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She is incredibly stubborn. She desperately wants to be accepted but needs to maintain her individuality. She reacts first and thinks later. I just get her. Because of our many similarities...I often project my feelings onto her...which is extremely unfair. As a result, I'm learning self-control, understanding and patience on a daily basis...because I love her unconditionally.

On the other hand, my youngest daughter is more mysterious to me. She laughs when she's nervous. She is unbelievably blunt. She hates serious movies. She doesn't care if she's popular. She is an Elvis fanatic. I don't always get her. Because of our many differences...I often project my feelings onto her...which is intensely unjust (notice a pattern?). Because I love her so desperately, I am learning tolerance, compassion and patience every single day.

What lessons will the future bring? My daughters will let me know.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y NIGHT! (think Bay City Rollers)

candles flickering all about.
silky bubbles from a glass bottle.
water so hot it turns my skin instantly pink.
favorite music filling the room.
thirty minutes without interruptions.

sweet chai tea in my mom's mug.

now that's my idea of a great saturday night.

Friday, April 11, 2008

90% idealist...10% pessimist...100% airhead!

In searching for a quote about regret the same theme kept appearing...

“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.”-Jonathan Larson OR
“To regret something is to hang yourself with your own noose. Mental suicide.”-Anonymous

Then, the clouds parted and this little nugget appeared before my eyes...

“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” -Oscar Wilde

Initially, I was planning on jumping on the idealist bandwagon and appear quite well adjusted, self-actualized, yadda, yadda, yadda. But then when I delved a little deeper I knew that I needed to let my inner pessimist (which I do limit to only 10% these days...progress!) have some input into what I really think...it goes something like this.

I have very, very few regrets. But I do have a few. Do they torture me at night? No. Do they pop into my brain at the strangest of moments? Sometimes. Do they help me to be a better person? Absolutely.

I regret that past experiences can diminish my initial trust in others.
I regret that I often tried to only please others and in doing so lost myself.
I regret that when I removed toxic people from my life I should have done it in a more upfront and honest way.
But most of all I regret that I picked up the clippers and applied them to Little Man's delicate frame because now he looks like roadkill.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I love my MTV!

"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." -Bob Marley

The greatest thing happened to me today! I was sitting in my room after work today in a very foul mood...just one of those funks I couldn't shake...when I stumbled upon MTV's show, "Crossroads" playing on the screen. Guess who was on?...Joss Stone (an absolute fav of mine...we even took Alissa to a concert in Ft. Lauderdale last year to see her...and stood six feet from her the whole time...I'm not even kidding!!!) and Leann Rimes. I was mesmerized and didn't even think about the fact that the two come from such different musical backgrounds and genres until there was a commercial. Leeann...deep county roots with pop undertones. Joss...total British soul sister! It didn't matter...the music just hit me and I smiled...really smiled for the first time all day!!!

In between songs, the two just chatted like good friends...it was awesome!