Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bright Spots

The past week has been rather difficult in some ways but with bright spots. Celebrating my Dad’s birthday has been bittersweet. I'm aching for my mom and some of the experiences she's been having have brought me to tears yet she and I are enjoying a good relationship. Work has been super busy which is exhausting and yet such a blessing—we’re so thrilled and happy and blessed. I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed and like I can barely keep up yet somehow I’m doing it. I’m grieving (absolutely amazing how many reminders there are all around you all the time) yet functioning. And there have simply been various stressors going on for me. It’s been a tough past few days. But today has been full of bright spots sent straight from heaven. And throughout the day, my spirits have been lifted higher and higher (and boy, I’ve needed that). The bright spots really started yesterday right before bed with a couple of phone calls with some very good friends who were simply good to talk to about anything and everything. And today . . .

  1. We are having SO much fun as a family. We have a ton going on, we’re super busy, we’re a bit overwhelmed, yet we’re all talking nicely to one another, genuinely enjoying one another, doing a lot of laughing, getting lots of “just because” hugs and kisses, and simply loving learning and having fun. And we’re truly loving having our business in our home.
  2. One of our clients (he sees both Mark and me) stopped by our house this morning to deliver a belated Valentine’s gift to us—a book he got us on a holistic approach to depression. He says it’s important to do a nice thing for someone every day and that that was his for the day. He said that my reaction made his day. I thanked him and said, “Well then, let it fill your day with goodness!” He smiled and said he would. I asked how he’s doing and he smiled really big and said, “Really, really well.” We’re thrilled. We’ve been able to play a part in helping him overcome his alcohol addiction and he’s so thrilled with how it’s going, as are we. Very fulfilling.
  3. I got an email from a great friend simply telling me that she loves being friends and neighbors and co-homeschoolers with me. Her timing was perfect—it was a great boost to my morning.
  4. I got a hand-delivered, handwritten (who does that anymore?! It felt SO personal and heartfelt) letter from a sweet friend I’ve had for years that sent me over the moon. I’ve no doubt it was sent straight from heaven. While reading it (after she'd left), I even thanked her out loud to the room, to whomever. K looks at me and raises an eyebrow and says, "Um, she's not here." LOL! And it arrived within minutes of my giving a presentation as a guest lecturer to a support group in our community. The timing and content couldn’t have been better. This leads me to my next point.
  5. I gave a presentation today--I was mostly excited but yet a bit nervous because it’s been a while since I’ve done it. And it was rather brave (or crazy?) of me to agree to do it weeks ago because who knew how I'd be feeling with everything going on. I really wanted to do it and give it at least a try. But once I got going, microphone in hand, I was soooo in the groove. That is truly one of my niches. I absolutely love groups and motivational speaking. It was such a great group and the participation was good and fun. It went really well!! And I felt so boosted by the experience. My friend even told me I passed the "Jim Test." Apparently "Jim" is a very nice, but particular and vocal-about-his-opinions gentleman in the group who doesn't always like the speakers and he went out of his way to tell my friend that he loved it. And apparently that's a big deal and a huge compliment! Very, very nice to hear. I am really enjoying the work I’m doing on the side. And I feel it’s, not without its pulling and challenges, making me a better person in many ways. What a blessing—we love what we’re doing.
  6. A highlight for me at the group was being introduced by my friend who asked me to give the lecture today--I’ve also known her for years through our homeschooling group that we’ve founded together. She introduced me as “my very good friend” and that really felt good to hear. I mean, I know we’re friends, we email often, and we enjoy our monthly outings to the local coffeehouse for tea, cocoa, and chatting, but it felt good to hear it. And so publicly to boot.

The irony in all that is that I came across (without even looking for it—it was on the front page of news I check online daily) an article that talked about little touches in friendship making a big difference to someone who's struggling. Here are some excerpts:

"The best emotional support I received was from friends who really let me talk about how I was feeling," says Cathy O'Shaughnessy, a Glenview, Illinois, mom whose son Kyle, 8, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 2. "No matter how sad or angry I was on any given day, they didn't act uncomfortable or judgmental. Talking to them helped me reach a point of acceptance about Kyle's illness, which in turn helped me get proactive about his care."

. . .

Give her time. The desire to talk often extends well past the height of the crisis. Jinny Breedlove of Katy, Texas, needed to talk about her stillborn second son long after his death. "Many of my friends, without saying so directly, let me know that it was time to stop talking about him," says Breedlove. "But I had one friend who kept calling for months after our son died -- ostensibly to chat but really to listen to me. It meant so much that she called for so long, and that all she did was listen."

Don't try to solve the problem. "We all have a tendency to want to rescue someone we love, but charging in just makes people feel incompetent and overwhelmed," says Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., a research associate at the Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, and author of The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood: Coping With Mothering Stress, Depression, and Burnout.

. . .

Send loving notes. A card or even an e-mail saying "I'm thinking of you" is always welcome. If you can include a compliment -- "You're doing such a good job dealing with this; it must be so hard to do it all!" -- it's even better. A kind reminder of the courage your friend is showing can end up helping her feel empowered.

. . .

If she's truly unwilling to accept practical help, don't push it.

. . .

Make a point of remembering the dead. When a friend has lost a loved one, a phone call on that person's birthday or other significant anniversary will be a comfort when the rest of the world has moved on.

That point in the article is an interesting one, because my Dad’s birthday was really just a few weeks after his death. And though she didn’t time it this way on purpose, our friend still felt impressed to do it when she did and look what we got in the mail as we bittersweetly celebrated my Dad’s birthday:

What a boost. Really, what a boost. And OMIGOSH so amazingly yummy to boot! “Fresh from the Factory” really DOES make a difference and WOW. Wow!

These boosts are just what the doctor ordered. I needed this today. I really did. And I’ve felt buoyed and strengthened and lifted by them, more and more throughout the day. So much so that I did something I haven’t done in quite some time. I was very early to the presentation so I stopped at the grocery store next door to the support group location and bought flowers for my husband and kids—individual (and individualized) bouquets for all of them. They have been a MUCH bigger hit than I would’ve guessed. They’re all in individual vases and they’re gorgeous—we can get pictures of them, too. The kids have been reading stories to the flowers and singing “rock-n-roll” to them all afternoon “to make them happy.” I've told the kids that I knew the flowers would be pretty but I didn't know they'd be such a source of fun!

Writing on our blog is therapeutic to me. It’s a form of journaling and I enjoy it very much. And I love the comments. So, as I’m getting ready to hit the post button, in comes yet another email from yet another friend with a sweet message on which to wrap up this day. I have really, truly needed this. I am feeling looked out for, cared for. I feel calm and good and rejuvenated by this day and I’ve not expected that (given some of the stress I’m experiencing) though I’ve needed it very much. And if the law of attraction has any merit whatsoever (and I firmly believe that it does), I’m pleased with how it’s working. These “Bright Spots” are a welcome blessing today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Daddy

Hi Daddy, Happy Birthday! This is the first time I've not been able to call and tell you that. I've always loved calling you for your birthday--you haven't ever been one for presents and hoopla, and you probably wouldn't even mind if people didn't mention your birthday, but you've always appreciated the calls and the thoughts. I've always loved hearing you say back, "Happy birthday! (For some reason, you usually wish it right back at us and I've always found that so cute and terribly endearing.) Thank you, Bibi. I love you." Some people think they can say those words too much, but I've never tired of hearing it. And I miss hearing you say it.

I miss hearing your voice. I miss different things at different times--your hugs, your smell, your smile, your laugh, your generosity. For the past couple of days, I've really missed hearing your voice. No one else has a voice (and adorable accent) quite like you. Oh, how I miss it. I cried last night, Daddy. At 1:30 in the morning. I laid in bed and cried. All I was doing was sharing a cute story about you and I even laughed and then suddenly I was crying. I don't tell you this to make you feel badly. Please don't feel badly. We're okay. We're doing well. Mark is so good to me, the kids are great. Just know that I miss you. I miss you so much that it hurts sometimes. It doesn't feel real that you're gone. And it's odd--I know it might sound strange, but I feel like we helped you die through hospice, so somehow it feels like we could bring you back again. How can it feel like that? I know intellectually, but I feel . . . it feels surreal, hard to explain.

I miss you especially today, it being your birthday. 73. It's too soon for you to have gone. Your Parkinson's has been so slowly progressing for so many years that when it progressed so quickly, it caught me off guard. I never in a million years would've guessed, this past summer, that you'd die by the end of the year. And yet you've been saying it for so long. I guess I was in denial. I cried yesterday thinking of how you must've known on some level. You walked back to the tennis courts to say "goodbye" -- that is heart breaking. I wonder about that. Did you cry? Did you talk out loud? How badly did it hurt? I know you were so down about not being able to play and garden and feel healthy. It was so frustrating to see things you've always enjoyed slowly being taken from you--your yard, your garden, your tennis, your computer games, your cards, your checkers. Parkinson's is so cruel. It's a thief. And watching it slowly rob you of hobbies that had brought you pleasure was painful, for you and for me. Because I love you and I've hated seeing you down. I know what it feels like to feel down and it's horrible. I've always quietly felt that we've shared that even though I know you probably wouldn't call it anything or talk about it much and I've ached for you.

I've been thinking about Kubler-Ross's stages of grief (because I'm kind of nerdy that way) and they are:


I've gone through denial for years. And I feel horribly about it. You've been saying that your body is dying for so many years. Looking back, I can see it. But at the time, I didn't want to see it. You've always been my strong, protective, healthy, active, wonderful Daddy. Why would I want to believe you were dying? I'm sorry for not listening to you more. I think I used to sort of wave it off and show you all that you could do. That must've been annoying. I'm sorry. I meant well. I know you know that. I'm your little girl. I believed you could do anything. Even as you lay dying, you would squeeze my hand with such strength it was hard to believe you were bedridden and really fading.

I don't think I've really dealt with bargaining. I know you've wanted to die, so I haven't felt a need to bargain. I guess in that way I've been supportive of your wishes even though it was hard. I haven't wanted to see you suffering. Not being able to feed you was painful (c'mon, we're Portuguese!) and doing nothing but give you morphine drops was difficult. It was hard to not know what you were thinking, feeling. Yet I'm so glad to have had that time with you and to have been able to care for you. I hope I did a good job. I know you'd tell me I have, no matter what. You've always been good to me that way. I love you so much, Daddy.

I keep vacillating between Anger and Depression. I guess I've experienced Acceptance, but maybe I haven't since it so often doesn't feel real. I don't know. But Anger and Depression keep rearing their heads for me. Sadness anyway. I don't call it depression because somehow I'm functioning, at least pretty well if not fully.

I feel a lot of anger. And that's new for me. I feel very, very angry. At what? At whom? I don't know. I'm being brutally honest here. I don't like admitting ugly feelings. I don't mind sharing with people that I've dealt with depression--there's no shame in that. But anger? That's new for me and it feels ugly. I'm trying to figure out what I'm learning from it. Maybe then it'll dissipate.

I'm not at all angry with you. I feel gentle toward you. Sometimes I feel angry when I see other people enjoying their Dads, but that's not their fault and I know that. Again, it's an intellectual knowledge that doesn't always reconcile with my feelings. Sometimes I feel angry when I see men in their 80s and 90s and 100s and up. I feel jealous and angry. I see so many things that remind me of you and I focus on them as happy reminders rather than getting bitterly angry and upset. I learned that trick from a book on grieving and I'm grateful because it helps.

I happened upon a video of you the other day. I didn't know what it was until I hit play. You, playing with our kids in the park and waving at the camera. I sat and sobbed. It startled me to see you so full of life and vibrant and talking and happy and smiling. I miss you so much it hurts.

Something that frustrates me, too, is that we're just getting into REAL home ownership--we have our first real house and big yard and garden. I've been excited to have you here, learning your fabulous gardening skills, having you coach us as we set up our grapevines, learning form you how to truly raise fresh, organic produce as you always have. People would visit us JUST to see your meticulously organized, beautiful garden. So, as we get into gardening here, I especially miss you. I've always thought you'd help us with this stuff. I want to grow things like you have--beautifully and with care. I hope we do it all justice as we do it. Always.

I've recently felt your presence. I've felt that you're proud of me, glad that we have rental property. I was standing in the basement of our townhouse (that YOU helped us finish) and I felt a surge of pride. From you. I haven't ever felt right about selling our townhouse. I'm glad we have it. I'm glad we have rental property. Just like you've always said. I love feeling that you're proud of me. We're so grateful. You've helped us do everything we're doing, you know that? You've taught us, helped us, supported us. And we're making you proud, Dad.

You and I have a lot of quirky things in common, you know that? People are quick to say that Mom and I are alike (and we are in many ways), but there are sooooo many quirky qualities that you have that I have, too. I think we're both a little OCD--in a quirky, non-psycho way. We both enjoy the little things. We have simple pleasures. We love food, especially fish. I'd like to think I have the caring, compassionate, generous qualities you've always had. At least I hope I do. You are a role model. I know you haven't ever felt like one, but that's exactly part of the reason you're such a good one. EVERYONE looks up to you. EVERYONE. And yet, you don't even know it. You're that humble. You're that unassuming. You're that guileless.

You and I have always enjoyed having our birthdays close together. We're both Pisces. :) Growing up, it's always been fun--celebrating your birthday has always meant that mine is coming up. My birthday is in less than 2 weeks. And I'm going to miss hearing you wish me a Happy Birthday (on my birthday :P). I think that's going to be hard for me. I find myself really wanting to do things I've always wanted to do. There's something about the past few months, you dying, me missing you, that makes me want to DO things. Travel places. Enjoy life. Do things we've always talked about doing but haven't yet done.

I have some ideas for my birthday and I think we may actually do it. I don't want to be down in the dumps--I know you wouldn't want that. I want to feel good. I want to celebrate. You've always wanted the best for me. You've always worked so hard to give me the best. You've worked long and hard so that we wouldn't lack. You've always made sure we have money for things, from Pizza to College. You've always wanted us to have more than you've had. THAT is the model of a loving, generous parent. It's always been about not lacking. You'd give me the last bite of your favorite meal, just to make me happy. And you'd do it gently, lovingly, generously, with no resentment whatsoever. You'd do that with your money, your time, everything. Even in retirement, you and Mom have been nervous to spend money so that you don't "spend our inheritance." How amazing and generous is that?!? So, that lives on. You, your legacy, your kindness, your thoughtfulness for others, you continue to be the most amazing Dad EVER. I continue to know you love me. And I love you.

We're celebrating your birthday today. We're celebrating you today. We've bought a bunch of your favorite foods. We're having pizza for lunch and coke--no ice. We got Ritz crackers and Havarti cheese. We ate Corn Flakes and Oh's for breakfast. We're playing checkers. We're looking at pictures and videos of you. We're talking about you. Yes, we're crying, but it's healthy, too. We love and miss you so much, Daddy. I hope you're eating some sort of amazing heavenly ice cream. There's just GOT to be food in heaven. And I hope you're playing tennis and checkers and cards. I hope you're having a wonderful birthday. And I hope you know that you're loved and missed. We're so very grateful for you. How blessed are we to have you in our family? So blessed. So very, very blessed. I love you, Daddy. Happy Birthday.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

143 million pounds of beef recalled

Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting. It's the largest recall yet--it's enough meat for every man, woman, and child in the United States to have 2 hamburgers each. About 37 million pounds of it already went to school programs and has already been eaten. And as for animal cruelty, the article states:

Federal officials suspended operations at Westland/Hallmark after an undercover video surfaced showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts.

Two former employees were charged Friday with animal cruelty. No charges have been filed against Westland, but an investigation by federal authorities continues.

Authorities said the video showed workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing "downer" animals that were apparently too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse. Some animals had water forced down their throats, San Bernardino County prosecutor Michael Ramos said.

Sick and wrong. And yuck.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Great Pictures

We're looking through pictures (and you'll soon see why), but I've come across these--aren't these AWESOME?! SO CUTE!!

Clueless Crosswords

Our family is addicted to this game.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

8 Things You Didn't Know About Me

This is difficult. I'm a pretty open book, so what don't you know? Let's see if we can come up with something.

1. I lived with over 30 roommates/mission companions before getting married. Fun times, lots of growth, lots of learning.

2. I used to be politically conservative. I now lean politically liberal. This started switching for me right around grad school.

3. My best girlfriend in college and I once ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream in one night. With chocolate bars for spoons. And with a package of Oreos. We were PMSing and it was a massive craving, no, need for chocolate. We felt revoltingly disgusting the next morning. That's 1240 calories, 80 fat grams (not counting the Oreos or chocolate bars) split between both of us for those keeping count at home.

4. I have lived on 3 continents--North America, Europe, and Africa. Living in Africa has been a life-altering experience. Living in Portugal has been a romantically-charged experience. You absolutely can be in love with a country.

5. I am fairly fluent in 4 languages.

6. My grandmothers are sisters.

7. My favorite day of the week is Monday.

8. I've set foot in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Okay, so tell me, which ones are new information to you?

Hot Button Topic!

Well! Thanks to all for the instant messages, emails, and phone calls about the "Being Real" post!! Who knew that was such a hot button topic for so many?? But thanks, all, for letting me know your feelings on it--I'm so glad you like it! It's fun to hear the feedback (remember, you can always comment, too! :P), but IMs and emails and phone calls are fun, too. Geesh, maybe I should publish that one. :P

Speaking of Hot Button Topics, let's talk Reality TV! Well, just when I was starting to get American Idol weary, they mix things up and get my interest again! I do think this past season sort of put a damper on it overall, but I must say I'm liking it so far. I know we have an American Idol blog (and you're very welcome to visit that--it's about to get hopping there), but you can comment here, too, if you like. Who do you like so far? I like the Irish girl, the Australian guy, and that cute 16-year-old boy with those awesome vocal pipes! Your turn--sound off! :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

On Being Real

I came across a great article today called Have An Average Day. I think it's a great article.

It got me to thinking about the kinds of skills I teach my clients. I teach mindfulness. I teach affirmations. I teach people to consider and challenge their thoughts (if they're right, accept and work on it and if they're wrong, don't buy into the crap). I teach them that there is a danger in being too serious and that laughter is healthy. Basically, I teach them to be real.

I don't teach them to put a positive spin on everything. I don't teach them to only look at the bright side. I don't teach them that depression and anxiety are "bad" -- they simply are and it's all in what we do with it. It's even okay to have setbacks and not demand so much of ourselves (as that's generally what gets you into problems in the first place). I don't teach them to simply say that everything is "GREAT!" That was the pop psychology of the 80's--I'm okay, you're okay, and doggone it, people like me! That's isn't real. That's Alec Baldwin's Parker character on Friends.

I teach them to simply be real and to be okay with being real. After all, if you can't be real, then who is everyone around you hanging out with? And how can anyone have a real relationship of any depth with you?

It got me thinking about family and friends and how much I appreciate people who are real, genuine, the real deal. There's depth there. I love people in the east (no offense to those in the west--it's a Boston thing). They tell it like it is. The guy you don't even know on the street walks past you and says, "Geez, it's wicked cold! This freaking weather, eh?" Go Red Sox. They're not looking for the silver lining, but yet they're not being negative either. They're being REAL. And they're telling it like it is, usually with a warm, friendly smile on their face (or not, but the tone is friendly). I like that.

I have a great friend who has recently brought to my attention how far I've come in being real. And how much she likes that. She complimented me on my bravery in that. I used to put up a fake, cheerful front even though I was a mess inside. That sucked. And I battled that. In a very. major. way. And I *have* come a long way. I'm spotting it more easily in others--that pretense, that facade, that fraud, sometimes even to themselves. Something's brewing under that fake surface. Some of them must explode behind closed doors. Some of them haven't yet, but are going to in a major way when they finally crack.

Several of my clients have said that they feel comfortable with me because I'm "real" and down to earth and not stuffy. That is a mighty big compliment. See, I'm far from perfect, but I try my best to be real with those around me and I expect the same courtesy in return. Or at least, I connect more deeply with those who are brave enough to give the same in return. Otherwise, I am being betrayed. And so is everyone else.

I once heard a saying that went something like "People in the east will bite your head off, but watch your back with people in the west." Obviously that is a gross generalization, but you get the idea. I'd rather know where I stand. Don't clench your teeth and sweetly grin at me and try desperately to find something to compliment or something sunny to say (and then turn around and roll your eyes or think nasty thoughts), just tell me what you think! Again, I say, how_else_can_I_have_a_relationship_of_any_depth_with_you.

Anyway, I'm grateful for people who are real. I'm seeing more and more that it's a skill. It's easy to be fake. It's much harder and more truthful and more vulnerable to be real. After all, people might not like you when you're real, right? But then, who wants friends who like you only because they really don't know you? And better yet, how great are friends who like you because they know the real vulnerable you despite or maybe because of your shortcomings? Then not only are YOU real, but your friends are, too. Win-win. "Hey, look at me! I'm a headcase! You still like me? Good! Then you're my friend."

I'm very blessed to have a great REAL husband and awesome REAL kids who fully support and encourage me (they love the real me!) in all paths of life. It's mutual. I think they're pretty great, too. I'm blessed to have REAL friends (both in person and online)--the kind I can really open up to and say what I really think without judgment or fear of pretense from them. I'm feeling quite grateful for real relationships. Real people.

So, have an average day. Enjoy the ordinary. Go after what you want in life. Focus on "being" more than "doing." Be real. And revel in the common.

And don't be a Parker. It's just annoying. (Watch video from 3:12-5:26):


I know that this is a controversial topic, but I'm simply posting to say that I have a pretty great mother-in-law. The older I get the more and more we find we have in common. I love to talk books with her. I love that I feel she looks out for me like her own daughter. I love that she's supportive of what we do. I love that she's fiesty underneath that calm. I love that she's raised such incredible sons--I'm so grateful to be married to such a wonderful man. I love that sometimes she calls just to talk to me. I enjoy talking with her, getting philosophical, sharing. I love that she's accepted me as more than a daughter-in-law by marriage, but as part of the family. I love that she's great with our kids. I love that she visits us. I love that she is thoughtful. I love that she really considers our taste when she thinks of us and sends us things. I love that she respects our choices. I love that she is open with us. I hope I'm not embarrassing her. Ever since talking with my Dad before he died, I especially feel even more strongly about sharing my feelings with others and telling them what I think of them. So, I mean no embarrassment. I'm simply saying I love my mother-in-law and I know that not every girl can say that, so I count myself as pretty blessed.

P.S. Gary, you're pretty great, too. Sometime, you'll get your very own post. I just didn't want you to feel left out!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Free Rice and more

Hey Everyone!

Be sure to click on FREE RICE over there on the right every so often and play and help end poverty and hunger.

Another site to visit to help other good causes with just a click can be found here.

Good News from the Government

Yay. Refunds, Rebates, Woohoo. And we get a letter in the mail today that says that I'm 9 credits from being eligible for FULL Social Security benefits (40 credits--I have 31). Woohoo! I know a lot of people already have that, but I'm excited and grateful that all the various side jobs I've been doing along the way have been building that up. So, with our clinic, I'll hit that 40 credits in a couple of years! Hurrah! I feel kind of . . . old. Or something.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Presidential Bumper Sticker

This is kind of awful, kind of funny . . .


I'm craving some serious carbs. I'm craving Peanut Butter Brownies like nobody's business (that's what happens when you drive by the Reese's plant TWICE for your super cool field trip). Sigh. Anyway, I'm so not a baker. Mark usually does the baking (we both cook though). And he's swamped, so I'm not asking. So if I had a magic wand, I'd be whipping those out right now. Peanut Butter brownies -- smooth ones with no chunks, no chocolate either, just pure natural (not that trans fat Skippy stuff) peanut butter. I'm starting to drool . . .

Hmmmm, maybe that blog post title is "too much information" for some of our male readers (like my father-in-law). Oh well, he's getting daughters-in-law and granddaughters like crazy, so he may as well get used to it. :P

PA is a beautiful state

One of my friends and colleagues recently sent me this website--it's certainly worth a look. WOW! Gorgeous. She's won awards for it being the Best American Photoblog--stunning. PA is a beautiful state.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Creative Birthday Cakes

Okay, Lena's inspired me to start a post I've been itching to do for a long time!

For first birthdays we generally keep it low key and smash cupcakes all over ourselves.

We generally do very creative theme birthday parties (though this year we're doing extended family parties in MA, which is kind of fun).

Here are some cakes from our fun theme parties so far:

K's parties:

2nd - Haven't yet scanned the picture but googly-eyed Cookie Monster Cupcakes (very fun!)

3rd - Crayon Party! (Shared with Uncle Greg)

4th - Fish Party!

5th - Treasure Hunt!

6th - Archaeological Dig!

7th - Animal Safari!

M's Parties:

2nd - Construction Trucks!

This cake merits some up-close shots for detail . . .

3rd - Trains!

4th - Knights and Ladies!

Super Fat Tuesday

Overheard at snack time today:

We have a homeschooling friend over to play today. As the kids are sitting and eating a snack, they start to talk about how today is not just Tuesday, but Super Tuesday. In starts a great political discussion:

K says, "I want Obama to win because he's nice, he's a good leader, and he believes that blacks and whites should all be equal."

Mommy interjects with, "Well, Honey, to be fair, so does Hillary. So do all the candidates really."

"Oh. Well, I want him to win because he's really nice and a good leader who believes in a lot of good things."

Our friend interjects with, "I think this is a great race for a democrat to win, because either we get a woman president or we get an African American president. I personally vote for Hillary because her husband did a good job and I think it would be so cool to have it go Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton."

Mommy says, "That would be kind of cool. You know some people actually prefer someone else so that it's not Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. A woman actually wrote in during the debate this past week and said just that."

"Oh yes, I remember that. I heard it."

We pull out our "Presidents" placemat and look over it and talk about who's related to whom (Bushes, Clintons, etc.).

M says, "I want Obama to win! And some day I'm going to meet Tony Hawk!"

Vote on , Dudes! :P

Earlier, during lunch, we discussed what Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday is and Ash Wednesday and Lent. We like the idea of cleansing our bodies and spirits in preparation for Easter. It's kind of fun and challenging to give up something you like for a while. So, we've all decided to give up certain things for Lent.

Mark and I are giving up sleeping in--7:30 latest (c'mon, baby steps).
K is giving up making funny noises with her mouth (a random, quirky thing she does).
M is giving up hitting people. :P

It's going to be a fun 40 days.

At least it's Shrove Tuesday, so we're eating Faushnauts, sleeping in, making all the funny noises we like, and hitting everyone. Happy Mardi Gras! Hope everyone is enjoying their pancakes, fauschnauts, and political coverage! What are you giving up for Lent?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Well, here's an upper . . .

Middle Age a Low Point for Most. Just the kind of thing you want scientific studies to show, eh? Bah! 30s are sexy. 40s are sexier. 60s are the new 40. And so on. Basically, it's all sexy. It's all in how you look at it.

Ewwww. Gross.

Well, it's confirmed on Snopes. So disgusting. So so disgusting. I'm a germaphobe, I know, but ewwwwww. (Though can I just say that this is COMMON SENSE to me?). When I'm in a public bathroom, I put my purse on a hook and if there is no hook (YUCK), I spread out paper towels on the floor and then place my purse on it. Ewwwww. Anyway, click on the link to read the story. And educate yourself. I feel all icky. Blech.

More Reasons I Like Obama

Maybe they're minor reasons, but just the same.

He respects President Hinckley and even rearranges his campaign stops around that respect.

He supports homeschooling.

I'm considering finding his local campaign office and volunteering . . .

Good Friends

I could make a huge list of strange things and stupid comments I've seen and heard today, like being pounced on (innocently enough, but still) within 5 minutes of being in the building (though my friend did jump up to bail me out, which was sweet!), like being sarcastically asked if we're visiting, being fawned over for being there (Gag. So makes you want to not be there. Why can't people be secure enough in themselves to just act normal?), and like being called (kiddingly, but still) "apostate" (it took great restraint for me to not make him feel stupid by saying, "Yeah, well my Dad died."). All these comments have "Christlike" written all over them, don't they? No wonder people home church. Anyway, I'm so glad that I've gotten past caring what others think (it's so amazingly liberating), but it can still be annoying, even in its well-meaningness. But rather than focus on that (and that's an abbreviated list), what I really want to say is this:

Three acts by friends stand out in my mind today as things that have kept me sane on an otherwise difficult day (seriously, why did I leave the house today?). Ugh.

1. Our awesome friends came by this morning to share fauschnauts with us. We LOVE culinary traditions and fauschnauts are one of our favorites! I love cultural and religious food. And they're SUPER yummy. Mmmmmmm. Happy Mardi Gras. Read a short blurb about it here.

2. My friend who took the time to tell me how touched she was to read about my Dad on our blog and how he sounds amazing. It's so sad to me that from now on, those who haven't had the pleasure and blessing of meeting him will only know from stories--the stories are great, but the man is even better. Anyway, she had the sincerity and depth to say, "I've really wanted to help, to do something, but I haven't known what to do. He sounds like an amazing man." And then she cried with me and hugged me. Right in the middle of the womens' bathroom.

3. My friend who simply let me be me and didn't make a fuss about how long it's been since we've been in church or make a fuss about anything related to church attendance at all. She simply let me BE ME. And she gave me space. And she was refreshingly normal with me. And she even made me laugh.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to bed. (Not really, but I am nice and cozy in my comfy, warm clothes). I love being a homebody.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Super Tuesday!

I know. I'm from Massachusetts. I should be blogging about Superbowl. Go Patriots.

But I'm admittedly more excited (and nervous!) about Super Tuesday. I've been following the news, learning about the candidates, and following the debates. I've come a long way politically. I used to be very conservative. I've often heard that most people get more liberal the older they get. I don't know if it's as simple as that. I've also been influenced by my graduate work, my colleagues, my friends, my values, and I'm especially influenced by our own family as we pursue, achieve, and enjoy our dreams.

I used to vote based on a single issue alone. On that issue, I still feel strongly about the moral implications, but I can better understand the foundation of the more liberal side of it and I can even get on board with it. I can even back that one up religiously.

I used to vote strictly by party. But I've figured out that that's just stupid. As is voting by issue.

I've matured politically. I look at the whole package. I look at who can truly be a leader. I look at who is best for our country given all that's going on with our country and the world.

I haven't been so inspired by a candidate in SO LONG as I am by Barack Obama. I am practically awestruck. It's electric. I am impressed by him as a person. I am stirred by him as an orator. I am convinced that he is the best leader for our nation.

And it's so exciting to feel so passionately about a candidate. Because for so long, I felt like I was trying to choose the best out of a buch of lame-o choices. I'm so thrilled that we actually have a real contest on our hands! See, Hillary annoys me and I disagree with her stance on the war and I'm just not pro-family dynasties in the White House. I don't think that's what our forefathers had in mind. I have nothing against having a woman president; in fact, I think it would be great! I even think she'd do a half decent job, truth be told. She did a better job than Obama in the recent debate. BUT, I don't think she's what we need now. I'm not amused by her refusal to admit a mistake. We've already got that in the White House and I frankly can't stomach much more. I'm tired of hearing her say that she's running on her own merits and then touting what her husband did as president. I'm just not "feeling it" from her (and yes, I've listened to her with an open mind). And I'm annoyed by her comment that it's time for the Iraqis to step up and clean up the mess in their country. Um, come again? Who has made that mess? And you just walk away and stick them with it? Oh, come now.

And then there's the Republicans. Ick. I'm a registered Republican (though I'm likely changing that for the Primaries) and I lean more Independent-Democrat the older I get. (I'm in good company--our dear President Hinckley is a proud democrat! I've always appreciated his valued, more liberal views and broader perspective. I've loved that about him as a leader). So, anyway, Romney? Not a chance. He's too slick. He's too much . . . too much of a politician. I don't want slick. I want inspiring. I want a leader. I want Obama. McCain? Sigh. I used to like McCain. But 100 years?? Is he kidding?? There's no way. I just can't get on board with that. I have strong feelings about war. Yes, I'm peace loving. I love this quote by Jimmy Carter:

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.

But anyway, I just don't think he's what our country needs. I actually shudder at the thought of him being the frontrunner. Though it could be good. For Democrats that is. I think whether it's Mitt Romney or John McCain, a Democrat will defeat him. And I think either Hillary or Obama is better than either of the 2 Republican frontrunners. But of the two of them, oh please let it be Obama! It may be a no-brainer that the Patriots will win tomorrow, but Tuesday is going to be a nailbiter. An exciting one, at least.

It's been so long since we've had a true leader. Someone who has vision. Someone who brings the country together across party lines. Someone who can change things. Someone who can bring us back to the world stage as friends instead of enemies. Someone who isn't afraid to admit that maybe, just maybe he *could* be wrong and has the brains and persona to surround himself with a wise Cabinet, one that as he says, who is willing to let him know when he is wrong. He doesn't want a bunch of yes-men and women. THAT is a true leader. And oh, it's about time.

Many in our generation haven't experienced a JFK-type leader. We've only read about that. Or seen movies. Or heard stories. I think of everyone running, Obama is that kind of a charismatic person, that kind of an inspiring leader, that kind of a contemporary, open-minded, revolutionary president.

I'm bummed that our state's Primaries are so much later in the game. For those voting on Super Tuesday, do us proud. "Our Moment is Now!" Obama '08!