Monday, July 30, 2012


*Potential Kleenex alert.*

Today marks one week until Nickels and Hooman will complete their first kid's triathlon. I have acted as coach, with emphasis on the word acted, since the end of June.

I now understand why some parent-managers of athletes end up swindling money from their mega-wealthy kids:  they need it for the booze to calm their nerves.

It isn't easy finding the right words to move a child from bed to dressed to in the pool at 7am on a summer morning.  It isn't easy, when their muscles are telling them to stop, to find the words to remind them they have the ability to work through it.  It isn't easy, when they wonder why they thought they wanted to complete a triathlon to begin with but now desperately want to quit, to quiet the voices that say "you are a failure as a coach and, by proxy, as a Mom."

But, I have to.  I have to get them to the starting line.  I have to cheer them on, even if they are screaming or crying or yelling about stopping.  I have to help them move from pool to bike to run so they can see the victory tape and cross the finish line.  Even if they crawl through.

Because, in the completion, they will see it has all been worth it.  They will be so proud of themselves for finishing something so hard.  And they will see that this really was all about THEM and nothing about ME.  They will understand that they have it IN THEMSELVES to decide to do something and go out and accomplish it. 

All the early mornings, all the muscle aches, all the work.  It WILL be worth  They will have accomplished something that few kids even think about doing.  And they will forever be able to remember that they worked through so much to get to be able to say "Once upon a time, I dreamed of finishing a triathlon and...."

The parallels to parenting aren't lost on me.  No sir, not one bit.

It is a daily struggle to motivate our kids and help them work through the unsavory moments and teach them to beat back the negative messages that say "You aren't good enough."

And it is our job to provide the tiny victories along the way that will keep them going:  hugs and messages of praise and smiles, tears of happiness and shouts of joy and simply showing up and being there.  Those are the daily reminders that tell our kids they are important, that they matter.  No matter how ugly the day was.

Parenting oscillates between being a slow, uphill battle and a fast-paced, downhill thrill ride.  We have to figure out the best times and places to veer off course and sit awhile and talk through life lessons, and conversely, the times to dig deep, throw our head down, and silently suffer through the pain.  And sometimes it is really hard to know when to stop and breathe life in deep and just be and when to run like hell until our legs give out and we're sure our lungs are on fire.

But, that is our job, to determine when and to seize those moments and wring the life out of them.  Because, our earthly race will someday be over, and daily we are preparing our children for that eventuality by demonstrating when it is appropriate to laugh or cry or winch or stand proud or cower or scream or be silent. 

Come next Sunday, regardless of their place in the results, I am going to be one proud, happy Mom and coach.  I am going to live in the WHEN of this race with my boys.  I am going to let them learn the hard lessons of perseverance and determination and suffering.  I am going to cheer them forward and let them decide if they've had too much. 

I am going to be the first to hug their sweaty little bodies and tell them how well they did and remind them finishing is an amazing accomplishment.  And I am confident I will shed a tear or two as well.  Because I am an all-occasion crier.

And they will laugh at me.  Or ask me why I'm crying.  And I will be at a loss to explain the mixture of emotions running through me and down my face.

But, by dog, they will REMEMBER that their Mom, their coach, was there.  It will impress upon their memories a moment in time where they knew, to the cellular level, that someone cared. It will be another in a long, long line of tiny finish lines in their lives teaching them how much they are loved and adored and blessed.

And, at my life's end, I hope this will be one of the memories they talk about among themselves, starting with the phrase "Do you remember when Mom...".

What they couldn't possibly know, until they are parents themselves, is that I will also be cherishing this same memory from a different point-of-view.  I will forever be holding dear this day when they accomplished so much, learned about persevering through the trials of life, and, in the process, made their Mom so very happy to have shared the journey.

And you can guarantee, when I am an old woman, I will be starting conversations by saying "Back in 2012, my boys did the most amazing thing...."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

For Us

This past Sunday, Bishop Sutton mentioned that God loves us, cares for us, provides for us and blesses us.

I've looked at those characteristics of God over and over again this week.  It struck me that there are probably way more than those four if I would take the time to read my Bible. But, even if I never again crack a Bible open, aren't those four enough???

Today, when I looked at this list for the umpteenth time, I thought about the Lord's Prayer.  And I made the following connection:  Christ tells us to pray this way.  And, when we pray the way He asks, we are doing the following:

*Acknowledging God as our Heavenly Father, who resides in Heaven, whose name is above all others in importance
*Asking for a future Heaven on Earth
*Requesting our fill for the day, not just the bread of food stuffs but the bread of His word to speak to and through us
*Acknowledging that He forgives, but not without the caveat that we will only be forgiven to the extent that we choose to forgive our fellow brothers and sisters in the here and now
*Asking for help to resist temptation and protection from Satan
*Acknowledging that everything is His, forever (and ever)
*Praying "Amen" so that all that we have just said is given a hearty "SO BE IT!"

So, I compared what Bishop Sutton said against what Jesus said and watch THIS!

God loves us enough to call us His children.  He is my Daddy and your Daddy and Daddy to everyone who ever has been and ever will be.

He cares so much for us that He prepared a special place for us called Earth and another place we will dwell directly with Him called Heaven.

He provides everything we need to fill our bodies## and spirits with the Him.

He blesses us with forgiveness from Him, the ability to be forgiven by others and the privilege of asking others to forgive us.

He cares enough for us that He protects us from evil and helps us resist temptations.

Wow.  In just a few, short sentences, everything that Bishop said was tied up in a nice, neat little bow by Jesus' words!

God cares, loves, provides and blesses all of us.  He doesn't forsake us.  He wants to be in relationship.  He wants us to know that He is all powerful and that prayer is a lifeline for us.

And, no.  I can't answer all the questions about all the problems but I worship a God who can.  And I trust that in instances where I wish He would swoop down and save the world that He knows better than I do.

That, my friends, is called faith.

Are you believing Him today?  Are you trusting that He has your best interests in mind?  Are you looking to Him to provide instead of trying to do it all yourself?

Are you? 

If not, stop right now and say the Lord's Prayer.  Say it slowly.  Take in every line and chew on it until it means something to you.  Truly MEAN IT.  And see if it doesn't sink into your marrow and stay awhile.


##As I was making those comparisons, it dawned on me that there are people, through no fault of their own, that are born into abject poverty.  There are toddlers walking this planet with distended bellies due to malnutrition and poor water supplies.

But, do I think God doesn't see them?  Do I think God isn't providing for them?  Do I think God doesn't care?  No, no, no.

For reasons I only partially understand, this Earth is filled with opportunities to help others, others that God, in the blink of an eye or the snap of a finger, could take care of.  I don't think God is withholding from them;  I think he has a bigger plan.  I don't completely get the plan.  But, I'm sure it is there.  And I'm sure it involves people helping people, creating lasting love between peoples that wouldn't normally be in contact with one another.

Ditto for the Cats!

So I just really couldn't resist feeding you all the counterpart to Friday's awkward dog sleeping positions.

I laughed at the captioning on this one until I was crying like a baby.  Or, maybe, that was me bawling because I had just wasted four dang hours watching the opening ceremony when I could've done something productive.

Either way, enjoy.  And check out The Ruler, cousin to my fav dog position, The Torpedo.  A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Things that would have made the Olympic-length opening ceremony better...

1.  if someone running the torch would have face planted.

2.  if Joan Rivers had critiqued the athlete's uniforms.

3.  if someone had jerry-rigged the fancy seat lighting to announce "THIS IS SO BORING!"

4.  if there had just been one streaker.

5.  if anyone being interviewed by Ryan Seacrest would have asked "What the hell do you know about sports?"

6.  if The Guiness Book of World Records had thought to have everyone in the audience make the world's biggest s'more off the very, very scary looking "petal" torch.

7.  if we could have gotten a lip-synced "Hey Jude" instead of the warbling, live, karaoke, "now the LADIES!" version.

8.  if we could have received a real-time update on climate change as a result of the fireworks display.

9.  if we could have texted in our bets for the number of groin injuries, steroid disqualifications and hook-ups that will take place during the Olympics.

10.  And, finally...if we could have seen Meredith Viera's backstage reaction to the fact that she used the phrase "Money Shot" in the same sentence as "The Queen". 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Some mornings I just jog around blogville and see who has posted something awesome/crazy that I can share.  Those are the same mornings Life has decided it needs caffeine to help Body become vertical (and stay that way).

So, here's is something adorable, cute, funny, and sweet to add to your day since Brain isn't reacting to caffeine and Life has decided to withhold worthy writing topics.

My favorite?  The torpedo.  I could just eat that little guy up!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Morning Routines

My brain, this morning, surveying the lay of the land as the day began:

"It really doesn't irritate me that Mr. Puberty wants to sleep in until noon.  It irritates me that the other boys get out of bed at the crack of dawn, thereby ruining my chances of acting like a teenager and sleeping in, too."

Am I the only one who feels this way?

I doubt it.  I count among my family two matriarchs who are married to roosters.  Roosters who love to brew coffee and get the day started when the sun rises just above the shore on Maine's coast and there is the faintest sliver of sunlight hitting North America.

I used to be more the rooster, until I realized that my body likes to stay up late and sleep in late.  And if I am going to oblige my body, what better time than Summer?

Except for those tweenish-aged kids of mine.  Who, at the slightest hint of a hamster farting, jump out of bed as if to conquer the day by attacking it early and often.  The elder, Hooman, will get out of bed, only to flop down on another piece of furniture and kind of blow off life, all slouchy and half-eyes-open.

I looked at him this morning and thought "Are you just lying there on the couch for the social interaction of being near me cleaning?  Cause if I were you?  I'd go right back to bed and stay there another hour or two."

But, I guess there is something about being around at an hour when I poop-scoop the litter box, change the animal's water dispenser, dole out cat and dog food, and rearrange dishes from the dishwasher to the cabinet and from the sink to the dishwasher that is either uber-interesting or uber-loud, thereby rendering a half-dead looking position on the couch as common sense.

Fortunately this morning, as opposed to any morning where we are on a schedule, The Babe woke happy and rearing to dive into his favorite creative activity, building Legos.

If I had a dollar for every Lego on the floor of the TV room right now, Mike and I would be retiring tomorrow, after selling every single last one of those little buggars.  But, Babe is happy.  Super happy.  And that makes me happy, too.

While I was busy typing this, Hoo decided his big brother should join the fray.  Brave lad.  I hope he has insurance for what is about to be exacted on him.

Fast forward about 10 minutes.  I discover that brother waking brother didn't cause bodily injury to either of them.  In fact, they are laughing and joking and moving toward doing something that involves the TV when I remind them of the "No TV until we've 1) eaten breakfast 2) brought clothes to the laundry room 3) read our lot for the day 4) dressed and brushed teeth".  I get a smouldering look of disgust from Nickels and a rocket blast toward his book for the summer by Hoo.

The boys have been up about 20 minutes, save Mr. Puberty, who has only seen daylight for about three hundred seconds.  Brains are firing.  Hands are building.  One is reading.  Another is walking aimlessly, still trying to awaken to read.  I am typing and about to make breakfast for the crew. 

I am almost awake, after being vertical for just under an hour.  I am trying to decide if coffee on a day that will approach 100 degrees is a foolish way to start the day or the ONLY sane way to begin.

As I move toward the coffee pot, I realize Puberty has acted in normal fashion:  it has re-realized a position in bed.

And me?  Well, I am just awake enough not to be jealous, but to realize that this is a snapshot of things to come.  Growth to be had, a voice that will be changing, moods that will make me feel like popping him back into my uterus to become a baby again so I can recapture that sweet little boy who is disappearing on me daily.

Mind you, that little guy is being replaced by a young man that God has big plans for.  And I guess that takes a lot of sleep.

So, for today, I'm going to cherish this moment when he sleeps in and grows up and jets toward manhood.  I will drink my coffee and be glad to get out of bed earlier than I wish I had to, just so I can spend a bit of time with my younger brood.

In other words, I will be rejoice that the world is spinning on its axis, just the way God arranged it.

Even if I wish that the sun would have been gracious enough to rise a bit later this morning.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Crazy gunman aside, we decided to brave the theater for my birthday and take our chances that our children are, indeed, old enough to be home by themselves for a couple of hours without destroying each other or the house.

We didn't get injured at the theater AND we came home to happy kids and an intact house.

The movie?  Not my favorite of the trilogy.  But, here are some thoughts:

1.  Christian Bale is still hot.
But I think Anne Hathaway smoked him on screen in the hotness category (gentlemen from the audience, do I get a HELLS YA on that point?).  That chick can wear red lipstick like no body's business.

2.  The story line smacked of "current headlines", ala 99% vs. 1%.
An open comment on that:  IF I pay money to attend a movie that I KNOW has political undertones* then I won't feel irritated by said political nonsense because I got what I paid to watch.

HOWEVER, if I am coming to a movie featuring a fictional, comic book hero as the lead character, I want the following:  serious butt whooping, actors/actresses so fit in their costumes that I feel the urge to leave the theater and exercise until my legs fall off, and an ending where the bad guys fall/good guy wins.  I DON'T want a lecture on the political viewpoint of the writers/producer/director woven into the script because that's NOT why I came to the movie.

Just a minor hint for the next wave of superhero movies...and for comic book writers everywhere.

3.  Where, oh where, was my trailer for the next superhero movie?
The movie clocked in at almost three hours.  It was Titanic in nature.  And then we sat in the theater an additional 5 minutes, through every, single credit, waiting for what's next.

I mean, come on Hollywood.  You've created Pavlovian dogs of us.  We get sneaks at the end of just about every single movie that features a comic book hero.  But not at the end of the trilogy?  HUH?
This is tantamount to reading an entire book, the author alluding to a future adventure for one of the characters, and realizing the last page is ripped out, the very page where you find out what is going to happen.  So.not.right. 

Clearly there is a spin off to another movie (spoiler:  ROBIN, where art thou?) but I guess they haven't started filming it yet.
Spoiler #2:  Will Christian Bale return to mentor Robin?  (Please, please, please?!?!?!)  Will it hit theaters in 2013?  Who else might be starring?  What other comic characters will be resurrected?  THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME.

So, overall, 8 out of 10 pinkies up. 
Great action.
Overall great story, less the political junk.
Amazing CGI and action.
Bane is the new Vader.

*or, in this case, overtones.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Anger Management

I'm sorry.  If you are here to read about Charlie Sheen's most recent foray into acting out his life in the public eye, this is the wrong place.  However, I am going to tell you a FAR SADDER story about how anger can get the best of you, so you might just want to read on.

See, today is my birthday.  Forty-six, since you asked.  Yes, knocking on 50, when I am going to act out the "I"m FIFTY!" skit made famous by Molly Shannon in some enormously famous place, just to see if I can do it and crack people up.

If you don't believe me, ask my brother's family (or mine, for that matter), what I do when stuck in the longest line in America, waiting to park to go to Disney World.  There's no shame here.  None.  Because everyone was laughing and totally forgot they were in the grip of the world's most annoying situation.

My birthday started with coffee Mike brewed and poured into a cup that Nickels found and convinced him to buy, a Wizard of Oz mug that says "Oh.  You are the best friends anybody every had!" with a picture of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Lion, and the Tin Man.

And, if you know my love of that movie, you know that made my heart smile.

The Facebook post wishes were coming strong and so were the texts and phone calls.  It was, in a nutshell, the beginning of the perfect day.  I was happy, life was good, I felt blessed.

So, in this state of mind, I left for the few errands I had to run.  The last landed me at the gas pump at Costco.  I had been on the phone with my uncle, catching up on the comings and goings in his world, when I found myself in an intense part of the conversation that I didn't feel I could interrupt.

Being sensitive to the potential nature of sitting and finishing the conversation vs. holding up a line, I checked my rear view mirror.  The person behind me was finishing up and someone had just pulled up behind him.  I was good to go for a moment.

At least I THOUGHT I was.

The instant the person in the car pulled to the gas pump he started griping at the person attending the pumps.  Literally, I could see this guy gesticulating toward my car and yelling.  Instead of continuing to be screamed at from 10 feet, the attendant choose to come stand on one side of my car and look in my window.

At this point, I was clearly confused.  I wasn't blocking anyone from getting gas.  There were open pumps all around me.  I wasn't playing loud music.  I was simply finishing a conversation.  I shrugged my shoulders and gave him a "What's the problem look?" and he walked away.

Once I hung up, I realized that the ranting had not stopped.  I exited my car and the yelling at me started.

The beef?  I was talking on my cell phone sitting at the pump.  Now, mind you, not blocking any one, not getting in any body's way, just sitting there not hurting a fly.

I felt my blood pressure rise through the top of my head.  And then he crossed a line:  he had the gall to say "YOU ALWAYS sit there and use that phone and don't care about other people."

What issued from my mouth next was nothing better than an angry tirade, meant to shut him up with my volume.

It was my birthday and my 70+ uncle had called and I felt bad cutting him off.  And, oh yeah, shame on you for judging me.  You don't know ANYTHING about me.

And there you have it folks.  The point of the lesson.  He didn't know a damn thing about me and I didn't know a damn thing about him.  And we were standing there yelling at each other in public over a situation that was stupid.  And, trust me, other people were looking at us.

When I shamed him, he turned away and started pumping his gas.  I don't know about the state of his body, but mine was shaking all over.  I was furious.

I take pride in being courteous to people.  I especially do my best to go out of my way for my elders and the elderly.  I try to be consistently aware of my surroundings and try my hardest to be accommodating, even to people who don't really deserve it.  And here I am, being JUDGED FOR BEING RUDE?  On my birthday, for crying out loud?

It didn't take five seconds for me to remember the sermon last Sunday was on anger.
It took another second to realize I needed to apologize.

And, thanks to the fact that I was driving the Prius and he was driving a Lexus, I finished pumping my gas well before he did.

And I walked straight over to him, pulled my sunglasses off, looked him straight in the eyes and apologized for being in his way and yelling at him. His response about blew me out of the water:  "That's OK.  You weren't in my way."*

I realized, as I looked at him, that he had these amazing blue eyes.  Really dark pupils surrounded by light blue.  He looked like he had borrowed those eyes from an Alaskan Malamute.  They were simply beautiful.

I explained it was my birthday and I was on the phone with my uncle who I hadn't spoken to in awhile.  He smiled a huge smile and wished me a happy birthday.  Dentures have never looked so good to me, all pearly-white and perfect.

And, in that moment, I just felt he needed a hug.  Or maybe I needed one.  I don't know.  But, I bent over and gave him a good hug and said "God Bless You".

I don't know if he even responded because, in that moment, I just felt this huge sense of relief that I had accomplished what was supposed to be done in that space of time.  I had learned the lesson on my proverbial knees.  Sure, I had sinned.  But, I at least had the correct response in fixing the sin on the spot.

Hopefully, next time, the anger won't even come out of me.

If I could return to the scene, I'd spend a few more minutes with that man.
I'd ask him why he had such a negative response to my cell phone.
I'd ask him about his family.
I'd ask him to join me inside to share a piece of pizza for my birthday.

But, I think my shame caused me to move away from the situation too quickly.  After all, I had never, in my life, responded so negatively to an elderly person.

In the car, I broke down.  I asked God to forgive me and help me overcome my tendency toward anger.  I asked him to heal the parts of me that want to explode.

I'm a work in progress.  Forty-six years in I still have lessons to learn.  And, I expect, forty-six more years from now there will still be hurdles to overcome.

But, for today, I am grateful that I was blessed to be part of that man's day, as strange as that may seem.

Because if I've learned anything in the past few years, it is that out of the most painful situations come the best lessons.  And, I learned that I am capable of admitting fault to perfect strangers and extending the hand of friendship to the unlovely.

What a beautiful birthday gift, if I do say so myself.

*In retrospect, I wish I would have asked why he felt the need to yell then.  I might have heard a very interesting or sad or inspiring story.  Who knows.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lost Teeth

With three kids yet to reach their teenage years, someone around here always has a loose tooth or a tooth that is becoming loose or a tooth that is bothering them because they are eating something a) too cold b) too hot c) lukewarm.

Generally, bothersome teeth are responding to a food that they don't particularly care for.  They are picky that way, don't you know?

But, yesterday was the tip top day for teeth around here.  We had not one but TWO teeth on the verge of falling out.  Needless to say, the Tooth Fairy was on HIGH alert. 

Now, I ascribe to the theory that kids fall into one of two categories when it comes to loose teeth:
1)  "I have a loose tooth.  It is bleeding a bit and hurting.  But, by God, no one is going to TOUCH this thing."
2)  "I have a loose tooth.  If I twist and probe with my tongue, maybe I can have that sucker out by bedtime and score some cash!"

Back in the day, both Mike and I fell hard on the side of #2.  Our kids, on the other hand, are a split bunch.  Sometimes they want Mom to make a "floss lasso" and try to yank that bad boy out.  Sometimes they won't let me do much more than observe the tooth with my eyes.  But, regardless about how they are feeling about me touching their chompers, they NEVER want Mike to touch their mouths;  he has this little issue with taking teeth out when no one has made a request. That has garnered him a bad reputation when it comes to what they all consider "unwarranted teeth extraction".

For most of his life, The Babe has fallen on the cash on the barrel head side of the great tooth debate.  But, for the first of his front, top teeth he decided to become a let's wait this out boy.  That darn tooth stood slightly sideways, making him look like a hillbilly-in-training, for about two weeks.  Anyone who got near it was slapped down.  This tooth, he declared, was going to fall out by itself, thank you very much!

Yesterday, though, this became an issue for two reasons:
1.  he discovered the Froyo he earned by being diligent with his reading program was really making his front tooth feel funky.  And not funky as in "get down, get down, get down, get down, get down tonight, baby".  Funky as in "I don't think I can finish my treat because my tooth is sensitive to the cold and that is not only abnormal and unnatural but that might mean Mom would give the rest to one of my brothers and that just ain't happening on my shift".*

2.  peer pressure finally got the best of him.  When a slightly older friend questioned his logic, The Babe had no choice but to fake a small tug (no more than a baby's breath, I assure you) and that thing popped clean out.

Hooman, on the other hand, has had a molar giving him grief for a few weeks now.  Try as he might, that thing wanted to be a permanent resident of his mouth.  Finally, last night, he had had enough.  It was time to evict that pesky resident once and for all.

Honestly, I think this move was courtesy of this little thing called competition, because as soon as little brother came through the door flashing a smile with a gaping hole in it, it was on.  Like Donkey Kong.

But, a few tongue wiggles, a few finger probes and one floss lasso later, he was holding a molar in his hand.  Aloud he reminded the Tooth Fairy that she was broke for his first lost molar and only left $1 and that this tooth was worth $5.

I'm not sure WHO he thought he was talking to because I didn't see anyone who resembled a fairy in this house, but it apparently worked because he was five smackers richer this morning.

Mike and I are purposely willing Nickels' teeth to stay in his mouth.  We're doing teeth dances at night, after the rest of the house is quietly asleep, strengthening the roots by proxy and magic.  See, once he loses the last molar?  Time for his orthodontic appointment.

Cha-ching.  That's the only sound I hear when I use the word "braces".  And, when the word "INVISALIGN" is added to the mix, I contemplate whether retirement is really a reality for our future.

But, for all the fun we are having with teeth around here, we sure are glad we have them.  After all, we'd be an ugly bunch with nothing but gums, I can assure you that. 

*He finished the whole thing by shifting all the yogurt to one side of his mouth.  Smartypants.