Friday, November 30, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Thirty

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
William Arthur Ward

Well I did what I set out to do, I made time each day (even on some pretty dismal days) to seek out "the good stuff".  I know it was kind of predictable --- choosing November as my month to try my hardest to adopt an attitude of gratitude.  But predictable or not, it was one of the best things I could have done. 

Like the quote above states, gratitude is transforming.  If you let it, it makes the blah stuff shine, the ho-hum stuff rock and the ever day stuff matter.  But even more, if you are in a season of mourning like I am, it makes the pain bearable.

I know better than to say I will continue to do this every day without fail, but I think I can safely say I will try.  My heavenly Father bestows a multitude of blessings on this ol' Mama Hen everyday.  I just gotta remember they are there --- I need only to stop, look and be grateful.

 
Today's good stuff?
Seeing Handel's Messiah with my chicklets.
What an awesome way to close out November and move full force into the holiday season!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-Nine

A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after.
Peter De Vries

Whew, what a day!  I put on my chauffeur's hat this morning and I was just able to take it off about an hour ago.  I don't usually do that much driving my chicklets from here to there, which I am extremely thankful for.  Man, those of you who do have my respect!  How do you do it?  One day of it and I am pooped!  I better get used to it a bit, 'cuz it's the new normal around here for a while.  The Munchkin is taking several classes around town and Boy Wonder's robotic season kicks off soon --- between the two of their schedules it looks like I am going to be a Mama Hen on the go for the next few months or more. 

I am actually pretty excited for the Munchkin.  Unlike Boy Wonder who went to a brick and mortar school and knows it is not for him, she has nothing to compare her schooling to.  It's kinda one of those "the grass is greener" things, and even when we try to explain that this is what works and what is best for our family, she sometimes wishes to be "in school" just so she can see what it's like.  Fortunately, there are some classes available locally over the next few months that will give her the taste of going to school.  Well, what I would call the "fun part" of going to school anyway.  We've enrolled her in some art and drama classes and if you know her, then you know these classes are right up her alley.

I have no idea where life will take my little chickie, but I know wherever she lands she'll be doing it in a style all her own.

 
Today's good stuff?
Watching my baby girl spread her wings and fly.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-Eight

I want a hot cup of cocoa with a marshmallow or two!
I want a hot cup of liquid love, only the choc’late kind will do!
Phyllis Aleta Wolfe
lyrics from the song "Hot Cup of Cocoa"

Boy Wonder used to be in our county's children's choir back before puberty took his sweet angelic singing voice away.  Those lyrics were part of one of the songs he performed in his last Christmas concert.  He and I were each drinking a cup of "liquid love" today and he started singing it to me in his now "deep as the basement" voice.  It was still good, but it just wasn't the same. 

Time marches on and there ain't a darn tootin' thing we can do to stop it.  Boy Wonder is just shy of six feet.  No longer a boy, but not yet quite a man.  The Munchkin is growing up so fast too.  I went to buy her shoes recently and discovered my baby girl wears women's size 7's!!!  And the Little Prince?  He will always be my baby, but he's making changes too.  He still has that sweet "baby talk" tone to his voice, but his sentences get bigger everyday. 

What was that old ad for Carter's I think?  "If they could just stay little 'til their Carter's wear out," wasn't it?  So true, especially since I just donated three of the most adorable footie pajama's to the thrift store today.  I had to fight back a tear or two as I can still vividly remember all three of my "babies" wearing them.


Today's good stuff?
Listening to my little guy playing make-believe.
He comes up with the craziest scenarios --- such a vivid imagination on that one!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-Seven

Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities - always see them, for they're always there. 
Norman Vincent Peale

Well, one day down and three more to go on the "flying solo" parenting gig.  So far I only wanted to run away and change my name once.  Okay maybe twice, but who's counting?  At least I fed and clothed everyone and now they are all safely tucked into their beds and I've got a few hours of mindless television coming my way before I call it a night. 

I started out yesterday going down the path of thinking this week was going to get the best of me.  I mean come on, there's four of "them" and only one of me.  But experience has taught me a few things, like how a positive attitude changes everything (or at least makes things bearable) So I'm going to force myself to stay positive. 

And if that doesn't work?  Well, there's always running away ♥

Today's good stuff?
"Discovering" a local historical museum and learning things about my hometown I never knew.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-Six

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you”
A.A. Milne

I've got the blues today.  We just returned from the adventure to the East Coast and haven't yet settled back  into our old routines.  There are piles of laundry and three cranky chicklets to contend with.  To top it off, the Geek had to take a business trip and I've got to tackle it all by my lonesome.  He won't be gone long, but I still feel slightly "off" without him aroundThere are days I can just barely manage taking care of me --- being solely responsible for the care and feeding of five is almost enough to make me hide under the covers until his safe return home.

Today's good stuff?
Watching cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-Five

The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there. 
Ellie Rodriguez

Home at last!  Boston was a good place to visit and while I probably wouldn't mind living there ... for a while ... this is home.   The back porch light shined like a beacon to greet me, but I gotta tell ya, it ain't too warm inside at the moment.  My bedside thermometer says 39 so I am going to make this short and sweet 'cuz my fingers are freezing!

Today's good stuff?
Sleeping in my own bed --- even if I need a dozen blankets to stay toasty.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-Four

I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.
Mark Twain

That quote hits pretty close to home today.  "Hate" is such a strong word though, "want to sell to the gypsies" is probably apropos in this instance.  My three chicklets were none too happy to leave their East Coast cousins this morning.  To show their disdain they have banded together and chosen to be serious pains in the keester.  The two oldest did nothing but bicker and the little one whined for 8-plus hours.  If I didn't love them, I would be tempted to leave 'em at the hotel in the morning.  Don't worry, I would never actually do it ... it was just a thought that passed through my mind when I had to listen to the umpteenth complaint about how someone was in someone else's space.  Gah!  

You know what would be an awesome option on a minivan? A soundproof barrier between the front and back seats.  They could call it the "family travel package".  Just imagine ... the kiddies could whine and complain to their heart's content and mama wouldn't have to hear a thing. Ahhh!  Now that'd be a vacation!

Today's good stuff?
A nice long hot shower with plenty of water pressure. 

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-Three

Family
like branches on a tree
we all grow in different directions,
yet our roots remain as one.

I hope you and yours had a yummy Thanksgiving.  We sure did on this end!  My sister-in-law is a good cook --- even if she does roast her brussel sprouts (which, by the way, I found out weren't so bad after all).  But in the end it wasn't just the food that made the day so special, it was spending it with family and feeling the love we share wrapping us all up in a great big hug.  There were a few times that a tear or two slipped out as we thought and reminisced about Daddy, especially when my mama shared what she was most grateful for this year --- 86 years on this earth & 68 of those spent with the man she loved.  She prayed that we all would be as blessed as she in this life.  She then gave us a hand drawn family tree with Daddy and her as the roots and all of my siblings and I as the branches.  Grandchildren's names were on leaves and her great grandchildren's were on apples.  I wish I could post it, but for privacy's sake I can't.  You'll have to trust me -- it's priceless.

Today's good stuff?
The new pair of walking shoes my sweet sister-in-law bought me as an early Christmas present and you wanna know the best part? I didn't even have to step one foot in a store on Black Friday to get 'em ---she did all the work!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-Two


Thanksgiving, man.  Not a good day to be my pants.
Kevin James


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from me and mine!

Today's good stuff?
Elastic waistbands!

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty-One


Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
Harriet Van Horne
"Not for Jiffy Cooks," Vogue magazine, 1956

Spent the day shopping and prepping for tomorrow's great feeding frenzy.  We are sharing the Thanksgiving holiday with relatives we don't get to see all that often.  So far we've been getting along splendidly, and while I have no reason to not expect that to continue, there are a few differences of opinion that showed themselves in the kitchen today.

I have always believed there are two kinds of people in the world ... those who like whole cranberry sauce and those that prefer the geletanus glob that comes outta a can.  I'm a geletanus kinda girl, how about you?  

My sister-in-law started making a pot of whole cranberry sauce with orange zest this afternoon.  Say it isn't so!  Funny, how you think think you know a person.  You come to love a person and see them as a sister and not just an in-law and then you come to find out just how diametrically different you both are.  I mean I still enjoy her company, but can we ever be really all that close again?  Next thing I know she'll be roasting the brussel sprouts instead of steaming the heck out 'em ...   oh, that's right that's what she's planning to do.  Should we pack up and go home? Should we stand our ground and insist on our way or the highway? 

 Well I guess we might be able to work things out.  She does make a mean pomegranate martini and after one (or two or three) of those the whole jelllied vs. whole cranberry thing doesn't seem all that deal-breaking anymore:)

Today's good stuff?
Those pomegranate martinis I mentioned :) 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twenty

You're never fully dressed without a smile.
Lyrics from the musical, Annie

When the Munchkin was just a wee babe I loved to dress her up in cute little outfits.  Trips to The Boutique (aka the thrift store) always seemed to yield the sweetest things.  My mama  once commented that I changed her so much it was like she was my baby doll, and in a way she was.  Little boy's clothes just aren't as darling as little girlie stuff!

Well, fast forward a bit ... I still love to hunt down bargains at our favorite Salvation Army store only now she's starting to have her own sense of style.  She loves vintage clothes ... she loves it when it's  not just like what everyone else is wearing.  I love her fashion sense and look forward to watching how she refines it in the coming years.  She has such enviable self confidence and I pray she never loses her sparkle:)

Today's good stuff?
Seeing the Munchkin rock her style.
Tried to post pic but having trouble...check back later

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Nineteen




Today's good stuff?
Beautiful weather for a road trip  ... even the dreaded orange barrels couldn't bring me down:)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Eighteen

At the end of the day, a loving family should find everything forgivable.
Mark V. Olsen and Will Sheffer

Today was a day full of temper tantrums, whining and sassy attitudes --- and the kiddies weren't too wonderful either ;)  I don't know why, but everyone (except Grandma who seems blissfully oblivious to the tension surrounding her) put on their cranky pants this morning.   The Munchkin has a partial excuse --- she has been under the weather for a few days.  And I guess the Geek is a bit overworked and stretched pretty thin because of his job.  I might even give the Little Prince some little lee-way since he too is feeling a little on the funky side of healthy.  Boy Wonder's grumpalumpishness is mostly due to adolescent angst and the surge of hormones running through his man-child body. 

I guess that just leaves me without a good reason for my foul mood.  Dang it, hate it when that happens!  So much easier when I can put the blame on someone else.  Just for that, this Mama Hen needs to take a 10 minute time out.  Wait, I have been extra witchy ... better make it 30 minutes!



Today's good stuff?
Finding a few moments to play with yarn.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Seventeen

Well, it appears I spoke too soon --- the Munchkin still has the sickies.  She was fine for almost two days, but after tonight's dinner ... not so much.  I made a quick call to our pediatrician's office and was told that this is going around.  A crazy stomach virus that comes and goes a few times before being gone for good.  I sure hope she kicks this thing soon, as we are making plans for a Thanksgiving road trip.  I am soooo not up to road-trippin' with a sick chick!

please excuse my primitive graphics
Today's good stuff?
♥ ♥ ♥ Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses  ♥ ♥ ♥
Have you tried them yet?
Someday I will post a recipe using these
little bites of pumpkin goodness.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Sixteen

Good news!  The plague seems to be lifting on the ol' farmstead.  The Munchkin and the Little Prince have been "incident" free for almost 24 hours --- woo hoo! To say I am grateful about that would be a vast understatement.  There are a lot of less than desirable parts of parenthood -- the dirty diapers, the occasional boogie, etc. --- but the "technicolor yawns" are by far the absolute worst for me.  The absolute worst!

I needed to give myself something to do to get my mind off the spewing episodes, so I did a little "window shopping" on Pinterest.  Several minutes later ---- oh, who am I kidding --- a good hour later I felt extremely inadequate for all the uber-craftiness I don't possess.  I also felt somewhat guilty for all the blah suppers that typically grace the dinner table.  To assuage my mother-guilt, I decided to treat the brood to a culinary masterpiece the likes of which they had never experienced.  I then decided --- Meh! I don't feel that motivated so I settled for a something relatively quick to prepare.  I chose this.  In my defense, this is not a wimpy dish ---this puppy is on steroids!  I love my motley crew and this offering seemed to scream our personal love-language.  You see, here on the farm nothing says "I Love  You!" like copious amounts of cheese.  I pulled out all the stops and whipped together a main dish that should come with a cardiologist's phone number.  I kid you not, there is so much cheese in this entree I probably sent a dairy farmer's kid to college making this bad boy!
And my brood's verdict? It was unanimous --- it's a keeper!  Don't just take our word for it, try it out yourself.  Be warned, you'll have enough to feed a small army.  I fed six (including one teenage boy that eats enough for three) and there's enough for at least another six more hungry mouths or more.  As I said it has mega amounts of cheese, but the recipe makes a ton so you really don't get that much in each serving.  At least that's how I justified it for myself :)

 
Today's good stuff?
Enjoying some serious comfort food with my peeps.
Behold the power of cheese!
do you remember those commercials?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Fifteen

"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once."
Jennifer Yane
I'm a little too pooped to pen a meaningful post today.  I was up half the night with the Little Prince.  It appears he has a bit of a stomach bug --- yeah, not my favorite way to be woken from a sound sleep in the middle of the night.  It also appears he has passed said bug on to the Munchkin.  It ain't pretty folks!  Everyone else here on the farm is waiting with bated breath to see who might get "hit" next.  Please God don't let it be me! 


Today's good stuff?
Taking a moment to watch my little man nap. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Fourteen

Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young.

There are days where I am amazed at the fine young man Boy Wonder is becoming.  I stand in awe of his intelligence and insatiable quest for acquiring knowledge.   His quick wit and willingness to help others are commendable.  He is truly a joy to have around.  Yeah, there are days I am thrilled the he is my eldest chicklet.  Today? Not one of those days, folks.

Apparently today is "Give Your Mother Grief at Every Possible Moment and Hold Her Personally Responsible for All That is Wrong in Your Poor Teenage Life" Day.  Yeah, it seems I didn't get the memo that the fact that he has no clean clothes to wear because his sorry self did not manage to get the pile of clothes living under his bed into a basket and into the laundry room despite several requests is in actuality all my fault.  And the fact that he didn't eat lunch with the rest of us because he said he wasn't hungry when he really was hungry which ultimately resulted in the fact that that by the time dinner rolled around he was in such a state of what could only be labeled hunger induced beastly-ness You guessed it --- my fault once againI won't even insult your intelligence by asking you to guess whose fault it was that his hair decided that today was not the day it was going to go just the right way.  I mean what rock was someone living under if they could not see that it looked just horrible and not pretty much like it does every other freakin' day of the year?

Gah!

I may be preaching to the choir here, but parenting teens is not for the faint of heart!  Can I get an amen?  I shudder to think that I have to go through this two more times --- God help me!

 
Today's good stuff?
A nice warm cup of cocoa to sooth my wearied soul.  Mmmmm!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Thirteen

“So when you're cold
From the inside out
And don't know what to do,
Remember love and friendship,
And warmth will come to you.”  
Stephen Cosgrove
Gnome from Nome

This has been a crazy year.  It seems like only yesterday we were putting the air conditioners in the windows of the farmhouse, and now I'm freezing my patootie off.  Can you say "brrrr" ?  According to the trusty thermometer on the back porch it is 30 degrees outside.  That's a bit cold, but what really puts a chill in this ol' bird's bones is that it is only 60 degrees inside.  Oops, I lied.  My handy dandy bedside thermometer says 56.   Where did I put those long johns?

We heat the farmhouse with wood heat.  It usually does a pretty good job of keeping my tootsies toasty, but unfortunately the Geek hasn't had much time to gather firewood this fall.  Up to now it hasn't been too unbearable, but I think it's time to put it at the top of my "honey - do" list don't you?  I hate to nag, but my fingers are getting numb!


Today's good stuff?
A double "play date" for the Munchkin and me. 
She got a friendship ring and I got to enjoy some grown up conversation for a change -- what a treat! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Twelve

Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them. 
Brendan Francis

The Munchkin has decided that she is deathly afraid of going alone upstairs in the ol' farmhouse.  She says the creaks and rattles are just too scary to face all by herself.  I tried explaining that it's just the wind and the house settling from time to time (it is over a hundred years old --- it's entitled to a little whining dontcha think?) but the little lady is still wary.  Even armed with a logical explanation, she holds tight to her fears of the unknown.

I don't know about you, but I can relate.  Oh, I'm not afraid of the boogieman getting me (most of the time anyway) but that "unknown stuff" --- it sometimes scares the bejeebies outta me.  

There are times my mind gets stuck on the big "what ifs".  What would happen if the Geek lost his job?  What would I do if something terrible happened to my sweetie or one of my kids What would I do if Mom became extremely disabled and harder to care for? 

Sometimes it's the little "what ifs" that cause me to freak a bit.  There's no clean clothes, what am I going to wear Oh crud, I forgot to grocery shop---what are we gonna have for dinner? You get the picture.

 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."
Matthew 6:34 -- The Message

I've always tried to remember that Bible verse when I start to go down the dark path of fear and worry.   Just like I try to tell the Munchkin to turn on the light and it won't be so scary, those words are a "light" to me that remind me I have nothing to be afraid of either --- God's got it covered. 



Today's good stuff?
I've been listening to alot of Christian music lately.  This song is song that always brings a smile to my face.  How could you not be joyful when you are singing along to this?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Eleven

The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you've had.
Author Unknown
 
I've never had a lot of friends.  As my blog header states, I am more of an observer of life.  I prefer to stand off to the side of things and make fun of people watch.  Making a friend requires me to step out of my comfort zone on the sidelines and that's just not something I care to do very often. Thank.you.very.much.

I took such a chance once with the Munchkin's Godmother.  Our lives have taken us in different directions since we first met and she and I aren't able to get together all that often, but I am sure she will always be a dear friend.

My bestest friend and I met in college many moons ago.  It is nearly impossible to put into words how much her friendship means to me.  I don't get to see or talk to her as much as I might like, but whenever we do it's like no time has passed and we pick up right where we left off the last time we spoke.  It's one of those blessings that comes along once in a lifetime and I never take it for granted.  (If you are reading this, I hope you know how I love ya buddy!)

Through the years I've had some other people come and go in my life.  I guess I could go as far as calling some of them friends.  They came along during certain "seasons" of my life and just like the seasons change and go on their merry way, so did they.  Some I will never forget and some --- if I am being honest --- I would just as soon not remember.

Right now I am in yet another season of my life --- the homeschooling season.  I recently met a woman at a local event for homeschoolers.  Our daughters instantly clicked and we realized that in a way, so did we.  We found ourselves sharing bits and pieces of our life stories and philosophies on homeschooling.  It was a pleasant surprise discovering just how much we had in common. 

Today she invited the Munchkin and I to see a local theater production of Fiddler on the Roof that she and her daughter were performing in.  I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but let's just say it far exceeded my expectations! I would go as far to say in was incredibly awesome!  (The Munchkin concurs)  Apparently she had held back a bit of personal info --- as it turns out she was once had a  professional career in music.  What a cowinky dink!  Something we else had in common --- beautiful singing voices --- not 'Tis true my vocal stylings may be far from beautiful (as my best friend can attest) but I can still appreciate true talent when I hear it.

I will never have another best friend.  That is a lifetime position held only by one of the most special people in this world.  I am eternally grateful for her friendship and love.  I'm also grateful for the other people who come and go in my life and bless me, even if only for a short time, with their friendship too.  I pray that I am a blessing to them as well.

 
Today's good stuff?
Spending some one on one time with The Munchkin --- Something I need to make time for more often

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Ten

Remember that life is a process -- all of it. There are lots of finish lines, not just one. We get to start new climbs, new races, every day. Some days we are moving forward effortlessly, some days we are learning to work through life in other ways. It's all good, and it's all necessary. And you are doing a tremendous job. Reach for the gifts found in the setbacks and decide that tomorrow is a brand new day.
11.12.12

Writing is important to me.  Putting my thoughts into words is such a part of who I am,  I get a little on edge when I don't have the opportunity to write as much as I'd like.  That's been the case lately.  Taking care of dad prior to his death was just about a 24/7 job.  Now dealing with dad's passing and what I call the business of death -- the banking, the insurance and so many other odds and ends --- continues to keep me from doing what I love. 

Today, I got to get back in touch with the "writer within me."  My writing group met to share and critique samples of one another's work.  I used to fear sharing my stories with others, but now I welcome their views and suggestions.  I must admit though, I really love it when they like what I've writtern.  Most of what I do as a wife, mother and daughter goes without much recognition or kudos.  Hearing someone say "Good job!" is nice.

After the writing group meeting, I got to play hookie for a few more hours.  I attended a workshop for aspiring children's book authors.  I'm not sure if that's really my top aspiration, but it's one I'm considering.  After the workshop, I shared a writing sample with a woman from a now defunct writing group I used to be a part of.  She said she loved my story and had always admired my style of writing.  That felt good to hear, but she didn't stop there.  She went to say that she always felt that reading my writing was "like sitting down with a bowl of premium chocolate ice cream that had been taken out of the freezer and had softened to just the right consistency so that one could easily eat and savor each and every spoonful and that when it was all gone it left you longing for more."  Well, that was waaaaaay cool to hear I told her if I ever get published she is so writing something for the book jacket!!!


Today's good stuff?
Two words:  peppermint bark --- 'nuff said

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Nine

Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
unknown

Today was one of those days that I really regret giving up caffeine.  I had a billion and one errands to run, so I packed up the kiddies and Grandma and we drove from here to there and everywhere in between.  Let me tell ya, I am one whooped Mama Hen!

The Munchkin and Boy Wonder had well-child checkups.  Their pediatrician is awesome and really takes her time talking with her patients.  Our appointments ending up being two hours from start to finish!  Needless to say, the Little Prince was starting to get a little antsy by the time we pulled out of the parking lot.  Unfortunately we were only getting started with a very long to do list.

After some shopping and a long trip to the bank followed by even more shopping, we stopped home for a quick dinner and headed out to pick up a few groceries.  By the time we finally pulled into the driveway for the night, all three chicklets were driving this ol' bird to the nuthouse! 

 
Today's good stuff?
Finally a few moments of peace and quiet once all the little people got tucked in for the night.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Eight

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.
Norman B. Rice

Once  a week my mother and I go to a grief sharing group at a local church.  We went the first time because we were invited by an old friend.  Since we were in fact grieving,  we didn't think it could hurt.  We agreed to give it a try for at least a week or two.  It wasn't too bad.  I might even say it helped in some ways --- especially in normalizing some of the feelings we are experiencing --- but that's not the whole reason we continue to go.  The big reason we go is for the others in the group.  Mom and I have a pretty strong support system as we go through our grief journey.  Sadly, this is not the case for the others in the group.  I can't go into specifics about their losses, but I can say they majority of them are facing their grief alone and without the support of loved ones.  Our small group has become their lifeline as they brave the turbulent waters of grief.  Being able to provide something for them, has been the greatest gift to both Mom and I.  It's hard to see the good in losing and grieving someone you love, but being able to help others is definitely an unexpected blessing along the way.


Today's good stuff?
Reaching out to others and forgetting for a moment my own hurt as I help them deal with theirs.

The Good Stuff - Day Seven

I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.
I can choose which it shall be.
Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet.
I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it. 
Groucho Marx
The Essential Groucho: Writings For By And About Groucho Marx
 
There are a lot of disappointed voters out there today.  Things might not have gone according to your plan with yesterday's big hullabaloo, but as one of my favorite bloggers -- Courtney Walsh --- so eloquently put it --- "the results of this election weren't a surprise to God. He has a plan. We have to trust in that.  

Maybe something or someone you voted for didn't pass/win and now you are left feeling unhappy --- uneasy perhaps. Well fret no more my friend.  Just trust that God has your back, because it's true.  He's got you in the palm of His hand and He will take care of you.  That's not some flimsy campaign promise, that's His promise and it comes with an lifetime --- an eternal lifetime --- guarantee if you just believe.  That gets my vote any day!


Today's good stuff?
I gotta cool new tech toy --- my sweetie bought me an ipad!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Six

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
Napoleon Bonaparte

Today is election day.  Did you get out and vote The Geek and I packed up our brood and headed to the polls earlier this evening.  Can I just say how much I hate "running the gauntlet" of last minute campaigners outside the voting precinct.  I wish I could just go in and do my civic duty without having to avoid eye contact or be forced to graciously accept/deny a cheap nail file or a flyer from some candidate making a last minute desperate plea for my vote. 

I won't share my political views here (I am so not in the mood for a political debate thank. you. very. much.) but I will say I am glad the campaigning is over.  Both sides remind my of my chicklets with their constant bickering and finger pointing.  As far as I'm concerned, they could both benefit from a little time in the ol' time-out chair.   

Anyone else as happy as I am that tonite signals the end of the nonstop campaign and political ads?  Can I get a "woooo hooooo" ?  Those blasted commercials drive me nuts.  I don't know about you, but I shudder to think of how much money was wasted on the stupid things.  Gah!




Today's good stuff?
The return of silly commercials.
 
this one was always one of my favorites

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Five

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.
German Proverb

I hate going to the doctor.  Always have and I am pretty convinced at this point I always will.  I hate needles and it seems like every time I go they want to draw blood.  Add to that, I fear repeating what happened a few years ago when I had to be taken by ambulance to the ER after a routine check up thanks to extremely high blood pressure.  Irrational?  Perhaps, but still very real for me none the less.

I recently heard that fear can be seen as the acronym F.E.A.R. (feeling emotions appearing real) I don't know if hearing that helped me or not, but I tried telling it to my inner scaredy cat when I went in for my checkup today.  My mantra became, "You can do this Mama Hen --- put on your big girl panties and stop being a big baby!"  I gotta admit, it was very unsettling seeing an ambulance taking someone out of my doctor's office as I arrived, but I tried to tell myself it was going to be okay and in the end it was for the most part.  I almost didn't even mind giving blood --- almost.


Today's good stuff?
My blood pressure was within the normal range. Woo hoo!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Four

When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.
Joyce Brothers

Today my brood and I were invited to my niece's house to celebrate her birthday.  I cannot believe that little girl turned 36 today --- gah!  that can only mean that this Mama Hen is getting pretty old herself. 
I always enjoy spending time with these peeps.  We never seem to run out of things to laugh about and laughter is something that I really need right now in my life.  The little peeps get along just swell too and that is just the icing on the cake my friends.

 
Today's good stuff?
Spending time with family and laughing about life.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Three

While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what life is all about.
Angela Schwindt

I spent the day with the Little Prince running errands.  He is a awesome kid, but man that baby boy can talk.  I don't think he stopped yakking the entire time we were out and about. Those who know me, know I do my fair share of jabbering, but this guy turns it into an Olympic sport.  I know all too soon I will be given the silent treatment from him from time to time.  Until then, I'll just keep reminding myself that silence is sometimes overrated.



Today's good stuff?
Listening to this little man's commentary on life.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day Two

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you'll look back and realize they were big things.
Kurt Vonnegut

I've always liked that quote and try to remember it, especially when it comes to my chicklets.  It is so easy --- especially as an older parent --- to forget to savor each stage your little one is going through.  I try to make a conscious effort not to do this and today's "good stuff" captured one of those special moments.  It may not seem like a big deal in the great scheme of things, but it was a real treat being able to witness such pure unadulterated joy in my little man's eyes.  Yeah, this is the good stuff folks!


Today's good stuff?
Watching the Little Prince enjoy his first taste of cotton candy

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Good Stuff - Day One

The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! 
Henry Ward Beecher

A few years ago I adopted what I called an "attitude of gratitude" and posted each day for the month of November about something I was grateful for.  I have decided to do a similar thing once again.  Dealing with the loss of my dad and all it entails takes up most of my days as of late.  It's easy to get bogged down and lose sight of the "good stuff" right before my eyes.  I plan to spend the .next 30 days taking time to find at least one bright spot in each day.  I know they are there --- sometimes I just get so caught up in the craziness of life that I forget to look. 

 
Today's good stuff?
Raiding the chicklets Trick or Treat cache.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

a reminder

I recently read this quote and felt was just the gentle reminder I needed today.  

 
"Sometimes when we get overwhelmed, we forget how big God is."
 
The story behind the picture:   I took this picture (with my phone) the day before my father passed away.  It was a sunny evening --- no rain had fallen or was falling.  We had spent the day at the hospital and knew that very soon God would be taking my father home to heaven.  As we arrived home from the hospital this rainbow (actually a double rainbow but it doesn't show up well) appeared right by my house. I have never seen a rainbow as bright as this.   My mother and I can't help but feel it was a gift from God reminding us of His love for us and letting us know we were not facing our troubles alone. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

sleep tight, Daddy

My father passed away recently.  When I tell people this, I am often immediately asked, "was it expected?"  Daddy was 88 and had recently told me, "Don't by me anymore green bananas, I can't plan that far in advance." (ever wonder where i get my sense of humor?), but we didn't think we'd lose him so soon.  He had a lot of life "limiting" issues, but nothing that seemed to be life "threatening" --- or so we thought.  He got a simple infection that led to other issues and before we knew it, he was gone.

I've never lost a parent before, so I am new to this.  I have what I'd call "good" days and "bad" days.  What distinguishes one from the other right now is not whether I cry or not (crying, it seems, happens almost everyday) No, what distinguishes "good" from "bad" is the actual physical pain of grief.  I remember this hurt from when I lost my sister a few years ago.  I was surprised then, as I am now, by how much losing someone you love --- hurts.  I am sure that time will lessen the pain I'm feeling now --- it did with my sister. I know it doesn't go away entirely, it just gets easier to live with. But right now I'm smack dab in the middle of grieving and it hurts --- bad.

Below is a poem I wrote and shared at my father's funeral.  He always told me "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite," and "See ya' later alligator" at bed time when I was little.  When he moved here this spring, he started saying it to my little chicklets too.  Bedtime will never be the same without it.
i'm not ready to say goodbye.

not so long or see ya later alligator.

i'm not ready for life without you in it.

i always believed that you were indestructible.

that there was nothing you couldn't fix.

until this.

it isn't fair.

a girl needs her daddy.

to hold her hand.

to keep her safe from the boogeyman.

to hug her tight.

i know I shouldn't be selfish.

but I can't help it.

my faith tells me you are in a better place,

but my heart will always want you here with me.

i love you, daddy.

sleep tight ... don't let the bed bugs bite.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Senior Moment

Oops! In all the craziness that is life in these parts, I forgot to post a birthday wish to the love of my life.  It's ok though, 'cuz he has a "senior moment" every now and then too :)  Plus I made it up to him with an awesome birthday dessert --- hot fudge, warm brownies and vanilla ice cream.  Mmmmm


Happy Belated Birthday
to My Favorite Geek

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seven

Today my baby girl turned seven.  Seven? How can that be? 
It seems like only yesterday ---


  • I saw her in the ultrasound for the first time. 
  • I felt her doing gymnastics in my belly and I thought "Oh no, this one's a wild one!"
  • I heard the doctor saying, "Your baby girl is here!"
  • I looked into those big brown eyes and thought, "Wow, she's beautiful!"
  • I sang her a lullaby and rocked her to sleep.
  • I watched her learn to sit up, then crawl, take her first steps and dance for the very fist time.
  • I heard her first words followed shortly by her first song.


And now?
  • She IS a wild one and then some!
  • She's beautiful inside and out.
  • I still sing her a lullaby every evening only instead of "Rock-a-bye Baby" it's Adele's "Make You feel My Love"
  • She practically sings and dances from sun up to sun down
She really is more precious than rubies! 
 
 
Happy Birthday Baby Girl! 
I Love You to the moon --- and back!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Finding Fun

I am not the only one "suffering" from all the changes on the farm --- the chicklets feel it too.  Oh, they don't come right out and say, "Mama Hen, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and need to take a bit of a break to collect my thoughts."  No, their M.O. is more like temper tantrums of epic proportions, sassiness and grumpiness to the nth degree.  If I wasn't so wrapped up in trying to catch my own breath, I'd be a bit more patient and understanding I'm sure.  But this is real life folks, and this Mama Hen is anything but perfect.
 

The Geek had a business trip this week and the chicklets and I tagged along for a little R & R.  I wish I could say that all the whining and attitudes stayed back on the farm, but I'd be lying.  I can say that there has been a bit more laughter and quite a few more hugs and kisses and those are ALWAYS good things. 
Yesterday the littles and I took a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo.  I think it is safe to say that everyone had a great time.  The Munchkin made the comment that "It was the best day ever!"  I don't think I would go that far, but it was nice to just go and have fun with my three youngins' for the day.  Everyone had their favorite part about the visit.  Boy Wonder says it's hard to choose, but he really liked seeing the penguins and the elephants.  We could have watched those silly penguins for hours and the zoo has a baby elephant that was cuter than cute.  Besides the elephants, The Little Prince loved riding on the train and the tram all around the park.  Gotta say I loved that tram too --- 85-plus degrees and humidity made trekking around a bit uncomfortable.  Have you ever been to the Pittsburgh Zoo?  It is a bit hilly.  Throw in those high temps and trams would be pretty high on most people's' list, I bet!  What about the the Munchkin?  Well, she tells me riding the escalator up the steep hillside was her favorite --- go figure!  I guess I need to get that chickie to the mall more --- NOT!  As for me, I liked just about everything too, but I'm gonna go with the giraffes as my top pick.  Something about those gangly creatures always makes me smile.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Finding Peace


There are times where I will hear a certain message (for lack of a better word) over and over.  I'll read a quote and think I like that.  Before I know it, I'm hearing a story driving home the same thing once again and I find myself thinking, "Hmmm, I wonder if the Big Guy upstairs is trying to tell me something?" 

Serenity isn’t freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm.

This very thing has been happening to me lately.  I keep hearing quotes and reading inspiring emails and blog posts that are all driving home a point near and dear to me --- the importance of finding a place of peace.  A place to slow down, breath and just be.

None is richer than he who simply has peace of mind.

I gotta admit, such a place is not easy for me to find right now.  And if ever I needed such a place, now would be the time.  The stress of being a caretaker of five people plus myself  ---  and occasionally the Geek if he's acting especially childish;) --- is taking it's toll.   No doubt about it folks,  I need me some peace and I need it now!

Serenity Now! Serenity Now!
Frank Costanza from the show 'Seinfeld'

So the question is where does one find such a place?  What about you?  Where to you go to catch your breath and be still?  What do you do that helps you quiet your soul?

Sadly, I have been putting finding peace at the bottom of my mile long to-do list.  As much as I need it, I just can't seem to make the time or place for it as much as I should.  If I'm lucky, I get a few moments to myself every evening after everyone has fallen asleep and I take a shower.  It's easy to spend the time going over all that didn't get done and all that needs my attention the next day.  There are sometimes, however, I am able to let my mind drift and when I do, I picture my ideal place of peace.  A place I don't get to very often in reality --- a rocky bluff overlooking the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.   On those rare occasions I can shut off my racing mind,  I close my eyes and I can hear the waves crashing.  I breath deeply and I feel the tension lifting.  For a few moments I allow myself to just "be".

Empty your mind of all thoughts. Let your heart be at peace.
Lao Tzu

I  am also trying to make a habit of finding little moments of joy throughout my day.  A while ago I started a photo project where I challenged myself to take at least one photo every day of something that brings me happiness.  I even started a blog about it here.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to post as much as I had planned, but I have continued to take photos of the happy minutia in my life.  Taking snapshots like this force me to slow down, focus on living for a moment and maybe, just maybe. bring a little peace to my weary soul.



 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Zzzzz

No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.
Carrie Snow

I think this guy has the right idea, don't you?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Finding Strength

Sometimes I think my life would make a great TV movie. 
It even has the part where they say, "Stand by. We are experiencing temporary difficulties." 
Robert Brault

Life on the farm is anything but easy going right now.  Taking care of my parents has proven to be a full time job, which is unfortunate since I already had a full-time job as wife and Mama Hen to my three chicks.  Sometimes I feel like a juice box that has been sucked dry.  "They" say that one must eliminate stress from one's life, but what does one do when stress has moved in and has no intention of leaving anytime soon? 

Here's just a sample of the mayhem going on in this neck of the woods ---

My daddy has a bone spur in his spine and is in an intense amount of pain which has yet to be managed properly by his doctor.  He has also lost his appetite and refuses to eat just about everything.  This has been extremely upsetting to my mama and has made her just about impossible to talk to about anything.  Add to that, her hearing has really gotten bad so she misses have of what is said to her and fills in the blanks with some pretty crazy $#@%.  Boy Wonder is totally embracing the "teenage pain in the butt" persona at the moment and is so not pleasant to be around.  Every request is met with a grunt or worse and I am just about ready to ship him off to Siberia.  The Little Prince has croup and as is the nature of croup, it's keeping him up at night.  This of course means I am up at night too :(  The Munchkin not only has croup as well, somehow she managed to pick up another lovely virus --- Hand, Foot and Mouth disease.  As you may have guessed, she is not sleeping so wonderfully either.  With everyone short on sleep, there is a whole lotta crankiness going on in the ol' farmhouse.  Add to that, the Geek was out of town last week and I had to face all this craziness solo.  No surprise, I seem to have picked up a virus of some sort myself and now have a sore throat and a nasty migraine to boot.


Right now, all I feel like doing is curling up in the fetal position and just hiding out under my comforter for a day or two.  Can you blame me?  Of course that would only last all of five minutes until someone needed feeding, or changing or some other demand of my time.  

To be honest, lately I don't feel strong enough to face all the crap stuff life is dealing me right now.  I mean how much can a poor girl take before she breaks?  Lucky for me (I guess) the Geek won't let me hang out at my pity party for very long.  He insists that I am stronger than I think I am.  I know he's probably right, but I there are times I have my doubts.  I just gotta remind myself I am not in this alone. God's got my back and He will give me strength to make it through this season of my life.

"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."
Friedrich Nietzsche

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fair Week 2012 - Saturday


We came. We saw. We had fun.

Another Fair Week has come and gone.  I'd be lying if I didn't say I was ready for it all to be over, but I'd also be lying if I didn't say in some ways I hate to see it end. It is fun to see the animals, watch the chicklets do their projects, eat fair food and just soak up all the excitement that is fair.  It's also very tiring and stressful to be away from home so much, especially now that Lady Bird and the Piano Man are living with us full time. 
I know the cousins are sad to see it all end too.  They are already making plans to return next year and I pray things work out that they can.  I must admit I envy them and the memories they will have of this time of their lives.

The Last Day of Fair Week 2012 ---Saturday, July 28th:
  • Today was the big awards ceremony in the Show Arena.  Boy Wonder was awarded trophies for his Reserve Grand Champion honors in both Photography and Public Speaking.  That's a grand total of 4 trophies and 16 ribbons for him.  6 ribbons for the Munchkin.  1 ribbon for the Geek and 5 ribbons for Mama Hen --- not too shabby, eh?
  • Our fair has the usual fair food offerings most county fairs do --- corn dogs, nachos, cotton candy and overpriced soda, but it also has something more.  A local catering company offers an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet in the main fair building.  We have eaten dinner every night this week and have only good things to say.  The cost is reasonable and the food is awesome.  The all-you-can-eat part was really great considering we were caring and feeding two teenage boys this week.
  • Tonight's entertainment was watching the Motocross event at the Crater.  Boy Wonder has a friend that competes in it and I always hold me breath when he's on the course.  Unfortunately, he had a bit of a crash early on in his race and was run over by a another competitor.  He was able to walk away, but by the time we saw him the adrenaline was wearing off and he was starting to feel a lot of hurt. 
  • Earlier in the day, the Munchkin and I were hanging out in the 4H activities tent playing checkers to pass the time.  A group of young boys came in and one of them struck up a conversation with us.  The most talkative one (who looked to be about 6 just like the Munchkin) said he was "with the carnival" and could get the Munchkin on the rides for free if she wanted.  I thanked him for his offer and quickly got us outta there before the Munchkin had time to set up a rendezvous.  My baby girl is so not hanging with a "carny" if I have anything to say about it.  What's that saying, "Never say never" ??? Well, fast forward several hours later, and the teens were taking her on a few carnival rides.  The Munchkin spots the young man and his posse from earlier in the day and says "Hey I know that kid --- he can get us free rides!" At that point, according to the teens, he recognized her and offered the free rides as promised.   The Munchkin accepted his offer without hesitation and he flashed his ID badge to the ride attendant and he and the Munchkin went on a  free ride on the Twister (with the teens chaperoning we were assured.)   Can I just take a moment and say, "Heaven help me! My 6 year old daughter is getting free carnival rides from a 6 year old carny-in-training.  OMG!"  The Geek and I are still trying to come to grips with this development and all that it foretells of the future ahead of us.  We are in for a rough ride with that one, folks.  A veeeeeeeeeeeeery rough ride.  Pray for us. Please. We need it :)
A Look Ahead to Tomorrow:
  • The boys are all getting up at the crack of dawn to head back to the fairgrounds to pick up the birds and help clean up.  The girls and I will be sleeping in thank.you.very.much.