Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think if you only try !

- Dr. Seuss

Friday, December 3, 2010

New York, New York

My 18 year old daughter was lucky enough to go on a "New York experience" school trip this past week with her DECA group.  DECA is made up of kids who want to go into business and marketing related fields for their careers, which is what she is currently thinking about.  I thought this would be a great experience for her, so even though I myself have never been to New York City (I don't think it counts that I flew in to JFK once, saw the Statue of Liberty from the air, and after landing was whisked off on a bus to Long Island, never to set foot in the actual city), I gathered up my money and paid for her to go.  She is a young woman with stars in her eyes when it comes to big cities and nightlife. 

The morning she left I was moody and cried a lot.  At first I couldn't put my finger on it.   It wasn't because I would miss her horribly or was sad to see her go.  As a child of divorce, she has spent many days away from me, so the separation was not bothering me.   In fact, I was looking forward to the welcome break from the loud music she blares from her room, the food she picks at in the fridge,  and the messes she leaves around the house.  As the morning went on I went to the bookstore to try to cheer myself up.  What is this funk about?  I figured it out in the aisles of the bookstore.   I was feeling the reality that once she tastes the Big Apple, our small town in Colorado willl never be enough for her again. I know that she will come back with grandiose plans about living in New York.  I just know it. 

I haven't received a lot of texts from her.  The first day when I  texted her one too many times I guess, she sent me a text that said "Mom, I'm in NY, Stop texting me".  So I stopped.  A day went by with no communication.  I refrained from contacting her and being the hovering mom.   Then this morning I looked at my phone and saw that I missed a call from her.  If you could see my face at the time, you would have seen my frown of disappointment that she had actually initiated contact and I missed it.   So I sent a text, very nonchalant and non-demanding:  "I saw I missed your call.  Hope you are having a great time.  Call when you get a chance."  No mom verbage in it and very casual in a "not a big deal" sort of way.  

A few minutes go by and I get a text from her with a picture message. It's the New York skyline and a caption that they are touring an advertising agency and this is the view she is looking at.  Big buildings and grey sky. The view from my house is the Rocky Mountains and blue sky as far as the eye can see.  Couldn't be further away from each other.   

I send another text, just a little question.  "Do you love New York?"  I still manage to stay away from any demanding mother questions.  Still staying nonchalant. 

The text comes from her:  "I am madly in love with this town.  I'm looking at living in a loft in Times Square with a hot tub on the roof."

Do I know my daughter or what?

My reply:  "Ok, just find Derek Jeter to marry you and pay for it."

Her reply to that: "Already done.  Going to Vegas with him next weekend."

Looking forward to seeing her Sunday and hearing her amazing stories.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Should Have Been A Cowboy

I just heard this song on the radio - "I should have been a cowboy, I should have learned to rope and ride, wearing my six shooter, riding by pony on a cattle drive."  This song really speaks to me.  I'm not saying that I should have been a cowboy, or even a cowgirl (although I really could see myself as one), but this song reminds me of all of the "would have, could have, should have" thoughts that enter my mind from time to time.  Whenever I hear it, the feeling I get from it is one of pure freedom.  It makes me wish that I was running though a meadow barefoot instead of sitting at a desk, or wading in a mountain lake instead of wasting time behind the wheel of my car stuck in traffic.

I try to banish the "would have, could have, should have" thoughts from my brain.  I try not to live with regrets, but there have certainly been times in my past when I could have maximized my experience rather than rush through everything, just to jump to the next item on the list.  I look back on those times and realize all of the "should haves". I am focusing on turning these thoughts into "I can, I will, I am". If I want to be a cowgirl, no one can stop me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holy Corks!

I got this wild idea to make a wine cork corkboard about a year ago at Thanksgiving when one of my friends told me to save corks for her because she was making one.  Being a semi-hoarder of useless items (boxes, bags, etc.),  I had been saving corks "just because" - maybe one day I would figure out a use for them.  I gave her my entire bag. 

Oops.  I shouldn't have done that because this cork idea had bubbled around my head all year and I decided to try to make one too.  I had done my part in drinking a lot of wine during the year, but when I started constructing my corkboard I realized I was way short on building supplies, namely the corks.  I pondered placing an ad for corks on Craigslist.  Then I thought to myself, "who else in the world besides me would have possibly been saving corks for a future unknown reason?"  Bingo!  I knew just who to call.  If there was anyone in the world I knew who drank a lot of wine and loved crafting, and might possibly have hoarded corks, it would be an old friend of mine from Seattle.  For this purpose and not to embarass her for all of the wine she drinks, I will refer to her as "wine diva". I texted "wine diva" to ask about corks.  Within seconds I had my answer.  I had hit the motherlode of corks! She had always saved them (just like me), waiting for that moment when someone needed them.  Within a couple of days she had shipped me a package of what looked like a bazillion corks.  Corks of all shapes and sizes, matched in twos per my request (God bless you "wine diva"), and from all different vineyards.  She actually said it was fun to put together the box carefully arranged in layers of twos, with paper separating the layers.  Now that is a true wine lover (or geek) for you. 

The box of corks has been waiting in my workroom for today, the day that I attempted this project.  Assembling the corks into a logical pattern was harder than it looks and it was somewhat like working on a difficult jigsaw puzzle.  Certain corks were too fat, skinny, whatever, to fit into certain places.  Maybe it would be easier if I had been drinking wine at the same time, but it was before noon, so not really happy hour yet.  Halfway through, I texted "wine diva" to let her know that I was working on it.  I thanked her for the sacrifices of wine drinking she had done on my behalf.  Her answer : "I try to be a team player and help where I can ! " 

Here it is.  The final project.  I love it.

I have enough corks left to start another one.  In order to finish it though, I am going to have to drink some more wine and put "wine diva" on alert that I need more corks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


My scrapbooks sit half-completed.  When my kids were little, I worked on the scrapbooks diligently, and my two daughters have several completed books.  Then my son came.  I still worked on them, but my time was spent on feedings, diaper changes, refereeing fights, playing games, toting kids here and there.  Three kids left little time for devoting my day to deluxe scrapbook pages with creative layouts and colorful labels.  Then divorce entered our lives.  For years I could not even bear to work on them.  I just didn't have the scrapbook karma.  My family was broken and I didn't know how to scrapbook those painful memories or journal thoughtful phrases of inspiration on their pages.

Years have gone by.  My kids are now 20, 18, and 13.  I pick up the boxes of pictures, school awards, varsity letters, and look through them.  Before I know it, I am lost in years and years of memories.  Sometimes I see events that I had forgot about it.  I see friends that had come and gone in my kids' lives that I wonder about now. 

These years went way too fast.  I know that everyone always tells you that when your kids are little.  "You're gonna miss this when it's gone".   It is true.  Before I could blink, my oldest daughter had gone to college.  My second one is ready to go next year.  I know this is my last school year to have her at home, and I know nothing will ever be the same.  My son will be an "only" child by the time school rolls around next year.   For all of the times that I wanted to scream because of the chaos and clutter in my home, I am now faced with the reality that the house is getting quieter with each passing day. 

My workbench is filled with the kids' childhood memories, waiting for me to start again filling their books.  I have sorted through the piles a few times, getting everything in chronological order.  It is hard, letting go of their childhoods.  Each time I peruse my stacks of memories I am stopped by the tears streaming down my cheeks. When I look at the pictures it takes me back to another place and time.  It wasn't always easy.  There were some tough times amidst the good times,  and there were times when I was bursting with pride for my kids and their accomplishments.   My most important job in the world was to be mom to these kids. These books are our lives together in words and pictures. 

I love the expression that author Anne Lamott uses:  "Bird by Bird."  I will tackle this project "Bird by Bird", one page at a time.  I will journey through infancy, preschool, grade school, middle school, and high school with my kids again. The only difference is that their faces will be looking at me and speaking to me from photos. 

I'll make sure I have the kleenex box handy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Here I Go Again

Once again I have dropped my blog writing for weeks on end.  It sounds better to say "weeks" when in reality it is actually almost two months since I have written.  What has been going on?

Not to make excuses, but here is a start of the list of things that have happened since I last wrote:

  • I have attended approximately 24 girls' high school softball games and 3 club softball games
  • I have attended eight 13 year old boys' baseball games
  • I have taken my annual anniversary trip to Steamboat Springs and fished for the second time all year
  • I have given up on my vegetable garden and left it to die
  • I have planted 150-200 tulips and daffodils with hopes of seeing them sprout in the spring

Not to mention, the usual: try to work enough to make a living, pay the bills, keep the house moderately clean, wash the clothes, feed the dogs, cats, snake, and family, try to make sure everyone gets to where they need to be on time with the right things on the right get the picture.  

I tell myself not to beat myself up over this.   I got de-railed again.  I write in my head all of the time, but I don't sit down long enough to put the words on paper. 

How do you write about life when life gets in the way of your writing?  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Snake, The Barbecue Tongs and Me

Let me start by saying that I hate snakes.  The only thing I fear more than snakes are spiders.  Both are equally terrifying but the spiders' creepy legs place them just a little higher on the hate meter for me.  The funny thing about this is that I inherited a snake from my daughter when she went off to college.  It is a corn snake and I guess at one time when she (the snake) lived at my ex's house, she was just a wee little baby snake.  Now she lives in my office in an aquarium and she is at least three feet long.  No, she is not cute no matter what my daughter says.  I don't even know if she is female, but it seems to help me deal with the situation better, knowing that surely a female snake is more loving and less likely to kill me than a male snake.   I have never touched her.  When it comes time for her weekly feeding of a thawed out previously frozen little white mouse, I have come up with a system.   

This is how it typically goes:  I remove one of the gross little white mice from its' box in our freezer, wondering to myself, how do they manufacture these little dead mice?  I also wonder, what if we have guests over and they see the little box of frozen dead mice in our freezer?  Will they think that we eat them?  Anyway, I put it in a cup of warm water to thaw it out to just the right temperature so the snake won't choke to death on it.  I approach the aquarium oh so quietly and sneakily.  If I see the snake is laying in the aquarium with its' head pointed the other direction I quickly remove the cover, dangle and then drop the mouse in, and slap the cover shut.  Then I tap my fingers on the glass near the mouse air drop location so that the snake, who seems to be incredibly stupid and blind, realizes that there is a mouse there.  Sometimes it takes the snake half an hour to realize it.   I think if this particular snake had to fend for itself in the wild, she would have been dead long ago.  

Today the snake threw a kink into my whole system.   First of all, she was very active, which scares the crap out of me.  She was obviously hungry and waiting to strike her prey.  Since she is blind and not the brightest snake in the jungle, this meant that if I stuck my hand in there even for a moment to drop the mouse, she might leap at it in error and cause me to have a heart attack.  I've actually been told that she doesn't have much in the way of teeth and is nonpoisonous, but that doesn't help calm me.    Anything leaping towards me in the form of a serpent is going to be traumatic and a life-changing event for me. 

So, I get the bright idea to get the barbecue tongs from the kitchen and dangle the mouse into the aquarium with them.  I strategically line the little mouse tail up in the grasp of the tongs.  Then I realize that it's very difficult to remove the cover of the aquarium with one hand... in fact, it's impossible.  So, I set the tongs down momentarily to get the cover off.   As soon as the snake hears the cover move, she starts lifting her head towards the top.   I freak out of course, and slam the cover shut.  Just about the same time, I bump the tongs with my arm and the mouse drops onto my yellow lab, who is laying underfoot because he has to be in the middle of all of the action.  The mouse lands on the dog's back.  As he reaches around to grab it in his mouth, I scream at him, 'DON'T EAT THAT!"  As he scrurries away from me and looks at me with that dog look of "What's wrong with her and what did I do wrong?"  I pick the mouse up by the tail.  I look at it.  The mouse is now covered in yellow dog hair. 

Even I know that dog hair is probably not good for a snake's diet, so now I have to go to the sink and rinse the little mouse off.  I feel like I am torturing it, even though it's been dead for quite awhile.  I start thinking about poor little Mickey Mouse and what I am doing to his relative all for the sake of this damn snake that I don't even like.  

I run back up the stairs holding the mouse by the tail, eager to get this escapade over with.  I look at where the snake is, and she is facing one side of the aquarium.  I whip the cover off of the tank, drop little Mickey's cousin in, and manage to get the cover shut in one fluid motion.   She slinks her way over to the site of the mouse drop and she devours him.  I think she imagines that she is one tough snake and an expert hunter.  She eats the poor little mouse that I have done all the work to provide her with, and curls up under her warm snake light.  She is pretty proud of herself I believe.

I'm off to clean the barbecue tongs.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tucker or Hamilton?

My poor dog.  He seems to have a split personality, which my family is actively reinforcing.

His real name is Tucker.  Actually, to be entirely correct, his AKC name is Sir Tucker of Berthoud.  I never had an AKC registered dog in my life, so when it came time to name him it only seemed fun to give him a regal name with a title.  That's what all the dogs in the the Westminster Kennel Club show seem to have, so we went with it.  Usually we simply call him Tuck.  Sometimes my husband wants to call him a bad word that rhymes with Tucker, but he usually refrains from yelling that word in the backyard.  Usually, I say.

I, of course, love everything about him and can hardly raise my voice to him.  He has me wrapped around his big paw.  

He is an eight month old destructive chewing machine.  He is also unbelievably cute, loyal, and my constant companion.  He still has that long and lanky puppy gallop where his feet and body don't always match up perfectly.  He has an enormous head and gigantic paws and a goofy smile.   

One day I noticed that the brand name of his collar is "Hamilton".   I thought to myself, "what a great dog name that would be."  Somehow this idea morphed into my dog's evil twin name.  Before I knew it, we all ran with it.  Whenever he is bad, we call him Hamilton in the same manner in which all of Seinfeld's characters yelled "Newman!". When he's being a well-behaved dog, we call him Tucker.   

A week or so ago when we went camping and left him in the backyard with minimal supervision (the two older dogs didn't keep him in line) he literally ate the label off of our propane tank on our grill and the igniter switch for the grill.  Now, we could have covered the grill with the grill cover and tried to keep him out of it, but he ate that a couple months ago.  Hamilton! We can no longer sit on our patio furniture because he has systematically removed all of the stuffing from all of the chairs. 

Earlier this morning, Hamilton made an appearance.  He pillaged the trash can in the bathroom and when I heard the familiar wet chewing sound coming from the other room and apprehended him, he was gnawing on used Q-tips and make-up remover pads.

But, a couple hours later, as I write this, sweet Tucker is sleeping at my feet.  His face is angelic and his sleepy expression is calm and peaceful.   Life is good with a puppy head lying on my foot while I sit at the computer. 

As he gets older, we hope that little by little the Tucker side of the personality takes over and we can bid Hamilton farewell.

Of course, he's a lab, so this could take years. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Campers

The last weekend before school started and we finally had time to take a short camping trip. We ventured up to North Michigan Reservoir, which is one of our favorite places.  It is just past Gould on the west side of Cameron Pass.  The drive is breathtaking and one of my favorite parts of the trip is keeping an eye out for the elusive moose which live in the area.  No matter how many times I see them, each time is a thrill to me.   They are magnificent creatures. 

What I love about camping is that it reduces our busy lives back down to the basics:  food, water, shelter. There really isn't anything else that is needed, although beer and wine make the whole trip a lot more fun.   It feels good to wake up to the sunrise and anxiously wait for that first pot of campfire coffee to brew.  That single cup of coffee tastes so much better than anything ordered from a barista, especially when there is frost on the outside of the tents in the morning and your hands are freezing from the cold.

The first rays of the sun start to hit the campsite and we realize how fortunate we are for great weather.  By 10 am we were sweating from the heat.  Hours ago we had been freezing.  We are at the mercy of mother nature for our comfort.

We cooked some fabulous food on the grill and enjoyed smores made with Reese's peanut butter cups (our family secret).  For some reason whenever we go camping, salsa becomes our condiment of choice for everything.  As usual, we ran out and had to get more salsa delivered (thanks Nick and Rachel).

We were all thoroughly grimy and dirty at the end of the weekend.  We let loose on some ATV trails, and my daughter took insane pleasure in crashing me through mud puddles.  After the first day, no one really cares what anyone else looks like.  We are covered with mud.  We all still love each other, even if we all look like crap.   Isn't that what it's all about?

Thanks to all of my kids for going on this trip.  We hadn't all been together for awhile, and it was a wonderful way to say goodbye to summer and hello to the changing of the seasons.   A time to pause and take a deep breath before the insanity of our lives starts again with the new school year.   I wish we could do it more often.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not to be bragging about my artichoke, BUT...

The monster plant
My artichoke plant is now about four feet high and has a dozen or more artichokes on it.   I like to play artichoke games with it... I give it a couple days and not look at it, and then when I venture out to the back side of the garden to have a look, it surprises me by growing larger.  Yes, it is crazy, and many will call me strange, but I believe I am the artichoke goddess.  I have mastered the art of growing artichokes.  Next year I am planting a few more of these for decoration, as they are gorgeous huge plants and so far I haven't killed them.  They would add a bit of green to the front of my house, where plants and grass have a tendency to turn brown in July and August.  

I also have three watermelons and one cantaloupe, also new items for me this year.  I'm not sure how they will taste, and I really don't know when they should be harvested, but one of these days I'll pick one of the watermelons.  

Close up of the "buds"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Envisioning a Vision

A couple of years ago a co-worker introduced the idea to me of creating a vision board, or vision journal.  What is a vision journal, I asked of her? She said that it is a notebook that she keeps where she does nothing other than paste pictures and words and thoughts that appeal to her in some way.  It is sort of a visual reminder of images that resonate with each of us, and the concept is that if you surround yourself with these images, some of them will help you move in the direction of achieving your dreams.  For the past two years this idea has continued to swirl around in my head, although I have never actually started the project.  It has been on my "to-do" list for too long, and this fall I intend to begin.  

Today I searched "creating a vision board" on the internet.  Isn't that the clear indication that I need one? I thought that my first step would be to get instruction on how to do it. As I searched for how other people had done it, I realized that that was the logical, organized side of me getting in the way.  My creative side told me that this is not the way to approach the project. Who cares how others have done it?  This is about me, and I should do it the way that appeals to ME.   

So this morning I intend to dig through some magazines and tear out pictures and colors and words that speak to me.  I may not even know why they appeal to me and that's ok for now.

The journey of my vision board will start with the single ripping of a page. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Artichoke Frenzy

When I was sauntering through the nursery this past spring, I came upon an interesting artichoke plant.  It was only a few inches tall and I thought I'd give it a try.  I asked the nursery employee about growing artichokes and if I could ever expect to actually harvest one and she said that some people have luck with them the first year and some don't, and that if I covered it up for the winter and protected it, it might come back next year and produce an artichoke in it's second season.  I loved the look of it, so I took my chances, figuring the $1.79 was worth a try. 

I wish I had taken a "before" picture.  A few days after planting it, it looked sick and it's branches were laying on the ground looking fairly lifeless.  I kept watering it every day and it still didn't look like it had when I bought it.  Ok, so I figured I was killing it.

Then, a miracle happened.  It was like the little artichoke plant that could.  It started growing and growing, and it went from near death to thriving in a matter of weeks.  It must like our bright Colorado sunshine and the water I was dousing it with daily, and it zoomed up to a couple feet tall.   I was happy with the progress it had made and it became a large ornamental fixture in the corner of the garden. If it never produced an artichoke I was happy because it was a huge commanding presence of a plant and looked really cool.  Then disaster struck.  Ants moved in.  For some reason they loved the artichoke and were using it as a high-rise condominium. Normally I wouldn't use pesticides in my garden, but I couldn't help it.  They were taking over my gorgeous plant and I nuked them all. It was chemical warfare.  I sprayed and sprayed until they were banished from the artichoke village they had created.

Last week we were out of town.  One of the best parts about coming home after a week away in the summer is coming home to see what changes have happened in the garden.  That is, if you are lucky enough to have a house sitter that watered it, which I was.  In the past I have come home to a dried up garden, but not this time.  When I went to the artichoke corner of the garden, what an amazing sight !  My artichoke had actually sprouted an artichoke!   

One of the most rewarding parts of gardening for me is when these unexpected successes happen.  I always know that when I plant zucchini I will end up with a gazillion of them, in fact you can't really kill them off.  But, the artichoke was a victory for me!  

I can't wait for the day that I lovingly pick the artichoke, prepare it with butter and lemon and savor every last bite of it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Good Morning Sunflowers

Living in a rural area, I get to experience views on a daily basis that I often take for granted.  As I was driving down one of the country roads near my house yesterday morning I was greeted by this awe-inspiring field of sunflowers.  All of their heads were turned to the east to salute the morning sun.  They beckoned me to visit with them for awhile before I headed further down the road.   What a relaxing start to my morning task of running errands.  While I didn't "stop and smell the roses" I did "stop and smile at the sunflowers".  I am truly blessed to live in the sticks. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

His and her movies

I really hate action movies.  I am talking about the Schwarzenegger Terminator-type movies which are limited to about ten words of dialogue, however include over a thousand guns, bombs, and explosions.  For the life of me, I really can't understand what men see in these.  I don't even have an appreciation for the special effects.  In my opinion, the way that men think these movies are artistic masterpieces just shows that they are mentally inferior to women.

My husband and I have come up with a flip-flop type of arrangement.  If I see one of his movies, he will see one of mine.  This has led me to watching some Star Wars type movies that I hated and barely could keep my eyes open for.  Occasionally I can stomach sitting through one of these blockbuster movies, if the actors involved are good looking.  Most often, however, I would prefer to bring an itty bitty book light to the theatre and read a book while the movie is playing.  I am not impressed with brawny men with no brains.

Sometimes movies come along that we both can enjoy.  Yesterday we saw "Inception", a movie for both men and women.  I crave plot and story line, twists and turns in the story, and using my brain to figure it all out.  I certainly got my money's worth - in fact, my brain was tired at the end with the focus required to keep the story straight.  My husband loved it for the same reasons, as well as it had enough action, guns and explosions to increase it to a "10" on the male scale for action.  Leonardo di Caprio is one of my favorite actors, which added points to the female scale from the beginning.  I recommend this movie for couples.  It is one of those rare movies that appeals to both genders. 

Ironically, the previews which played before the movie highlighted the difference in our viewpoints of what is good.  First, we saw a preview for a movie which involved a lesbian couple with two teenagers, who end up meeting their sperm donor father, resulting in a complex and comedic family situation.  It looked awesome in my book.  I leaned over to my husband and said, "I want to see that."  Then came the preview for a new Stallone/Schwarzenegger reunion movie.  My husband actually sat up straighter in his seat, eyes fixed on the explosions on the screen and said to me, "We have to see that."  We??

Here we go again.  Maybe I can learn to sleep with my eyes open.   The things we do for love.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New life ?

I spent this morning redesigning my blog page. Judging from my last blog entry, anyone reading my blog will notice that I haven't posted for a couple months. Life got in the way. It shouldn't be that way, but I let it happen. Baseball games, softball games, kids, work, clients, pets....just a few of the distractions I was dealing with over the last few months that seemed to get the better of me. I always put my own need to write second behind these and a hundred other things.

Not that I wasn't writing things in my head. Words were forming constantly as if my brain was telling me, "put this down on paper". Everywhere I went this pesky voice was stringing words together into sentences, begging me to write. I ignored that that voice because there was always something else to do or some other item to check off the to-do list. I am really ashamed. Around the beginning of June, my son and I sat down and made a goal list for the summer - tops on my list was to post on my blog three times a week. I didn't even do it once!

So this morning, my son told me I should blog. I was a bit testy and told him "I don't feel like it". But you know what? I really did feel like it, and my little bit of anger was misdirected at him, as he was pointing out what I already knew. I had not followed through with goal #1 that I set for myself. Instead of thinking about the laundry that needed to be folded and the floor that needed to be swept, I needed to blog. He was right and I knew it. I am happier when I am writing. Why does it always take a 12 year old to point out the obvious?

My first step was to play around with my blog a little bit and give myself an updated look for it. I'm breathing new life into it and I wanted a fresh page to work on. I am a cool color person, so the blue is more inspirational to me that the old colors that I had. I also decided that I want the writing to be the focus, so I aimed for a simplified background that lets the writing be the art.

I'm jazzed to start up again. Let the writing begin!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Becoming A Mother is Like...

Becoming a mother is like beginning to work on a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle without the benefit of seeing the picture on the lid of the box.

At first it is new and start building the border because it is the easiest part. Those are the early years when you are laying the framework and you are actually in control of your life and your child. You may not know how the puzzle will turn out, but decisions on where pieces should go are easy.

Then comes the middle part, the 4,699 remaining pieces, the unknown, the difficult preteen and teenage years. They are a jumbled up mess and you aren't sure how the pieces will fit together. You only hope that once in awhile they do indeed interlock, and that progress is being made. Sometimes the progress is hard to see and occasionally you feel like sweeping the entire puzzle off the table and starting over, but as a mother you can't do that with your kids.

Finally, many years later, the pieces form into an amazing picture. Without knowing where you were going, somehow you got there. You realize how proud you are of the finished product and that the years of putting the pieces together were worth it.

This is for all the mothers who put the pieces together every day.

On Mother's Day, go to for a special message about becoming a mother from editor Heather Janssen AND be entered for free, fabulous schwag to splurge your fabulous self from participating get born advertisers.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Today I would like to post something from my guest blogger, Colton. He is my 12 year old dynamo. His school assignment was to write descriptive lines about the color orange. Being the child of the earth that he is, he would rather have written about his favorite color which is green, but he didn't have a choice. So, I am happy to present his beautifully written description of orange.

Orange is… A radiant sunset piercing the deep blue sky. A wildfire mightily raging through a greenery of trees. Macaroni and Cheese patiently waiting to be consumed. Heat on a dry, summer day. A candle flame bravely shining light into the pitch black darkness. Explosions relentlessly sending startling noises all over. A tiger stalking its prey in a lush overgrowth of tall grass. A creamsicle, luring all to come chow on it. A fresh peach plucked from its mothering tree. The elegant changes in the leaves every fall. Sand dunes captive to the fierce blowing winds. A safety vest, alerting passersby because of its bright defiance of all surrounding colors. Strength and persistence, both in physical and mental aspects.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Walking and Talking

I took a walk with my 12 year old son a couple days ago. Walking with him is not like a spectator sport, in which you just walk and take in nature in silence. Walking with him is an event that you have to fully participate in. He talks and talks and thinks that if I don't talk it means that I am not enjoying his company, which is certainly not true. I usually just tend to walk silently and use it as mental down time.

Not the case with our walks together. He begins by asking simple questions, "what is your favorite movie?", "what is your favorite color?" I think he uses these to draw me into further conversation. We continue to plod along the dirt road.

Then the questions become more deep and soon he is asking me, "what were your dreams and passions?", "what was your worst childhood memory?, "how did you pick your friends when you were my age?" I realize that in asking these questions, he is asking for guidance in his life. He is struggling at this awkward middle school age with these very issues, and it is easiest for him to ask them while we are walking side-by-side on the road. We discuss so many topics that it is more of a mental workout than a physical workout. I'm just grateful that he is talking to me at this age and that he cares about what I have to say.

Before I know it, he is giving me advice. He tells me that I get stressed too easily, and that instead of getting myself overwhelmed and freaking out, that I need to keep it all in perspective and think about the positive aspects of tasks that I am working on. He says this works for him when he has a lot of homework. In all of his 12 year old wisdom, he tells me what to do to be happier. He also recognizes that I put everyone else's needs before my own, and he tells me it's all right to take care of myself first. Easier said than done for me. Sad when my son has to remind me of this.

When we head back into our house, I realize he has probably taught me more during the walk than I have taught him. He is wise beyond his years. He is simply amazing.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I'm looking forward to many more walks with him. If you see us on the road, we will be the ones walking with our mouths wide open, sharing dreams and memories. He taught me that I do have the talent to walk and talk at the same time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Scattered brilliant thoughts

Days started going by, and then a couple weeks passed. I realize as I look at my blog title that to the outside world it looks like my lack of writing recently has been due to having no brilliant thoughts, not even occasional ones. Au contraire! I have had multiple brilliant thoughts but they have been hitting me like shooting stars in the night time sky. A fantastic thought comes to mind, I get really excited about it, and then I look away and I lose the ability to concentrate on writing it down. I simply haven't made the time in my life recently to focus on what I want to do with my writing.

It has been so easy to watch everything else happen around me to everyone else. My work has been crazy busy lately which happens to finance and accounting type people this time of year. In my spare time, I watch baseball games and softball games, run animals to the vet, wash clothes, clean house, feed all living things in my house, plant gardens, and so on. While I enjoy doing many of these things (maybe not the housework part), I am falling back into the rut of letting everyone else live their lives while I observe and play cheerleader. I know this is often my role as a mom, but it should not mean that I sacrifice my writing for everything else. I need my own personal cheerleader to keep me on track.

The ironic part of thinking that I don't have time to write is that I really do have the time if I take advantage of snippets of time. For instance, this weekend my baseball player needs to be at the fields at 9 am to warm up before a 10 am game. Instead of sitting idly for this hour chatting with the other moms, I will take my pen and paper and write for awhile. I'm realizing that if I just wait until I can sit at the computer and have the perfect words come out, I will be waiting a long time. All of the brilliant thoughts I have during the day are getting lost because they don't get down on paper.

So, coming soon, hopefully, will be more than just occasional brilliant thoughts. I would be happy writing regular thoughts much more often with moments of brilliance scattered within.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Three Weekend Wishes

Here are my three wishes for the weekend:
1. No one in my family will get injured and Alicia will start healing from her concussion. No new injuries or illnesses allowed. No one will get even a scratch or a runny nose.

2. My puppy won't chew up any unauthorized, non-puppy approved items, including, but not limited to: TV remote, phone, shoes, bras, or carpeting. He will be as well-behaved as the puppies on wall calendars.

3. I will get to sleep in on Sunday, have coffee and the newspaper in bed, and I will have to make no decisions more stressful than figuring out which type of wine to have for dinner and what book to read.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I want to hug my little girl

My 17 year old daughter and I have had an up and down relationship over the last couple years, but we have come to understand each other better in the past few months and I think we are finally learning to coexist. She has a a completely different personality than me, which I have learned is ok. I remind myself daily to "celebrate the differences" and try to understand her way of doing things and not try to control every situation. In turn, I think she is finally learning that I'm not the enemy and in fact, we enjoy each other.

It was her idea for us to take a yoga class together. Last night we went to yoga and being in the yoga-ish environment together was a unique and beautiful experience for this mother and daughter team who have fought so often. It felt like our hearts were opening up to each other by sharing this hour of tranquility and calm side by side in our poses. I knew this was something we could share together that would do us both good, mind and body. We bounded out of class with renewed energy and a sense of peace that we are on the right path together.

Today I let her skip school and go snowboarding with a friend. The call came mid-morning from a phone number I didn't recognize. Alicia has been hurt and the ski patrol is attending to her. She has crashed and lost consciousness. My heart begins pounding and my hands begin shaking uncontrollably. I can't even think straight. The image of her peacefully holding her yoga pose less than 24 hours ago is replaced by an image of her crumpled up and twisted in the snow. All I want to do is get to her and hold her but she is two hours away.

I am in absolute panic mode. They are transporting her to the hospital. The doctor calls me and tells me that she will call me back as soon as they can assess her. I spend an hour pacing my kitchen, loading my dishwasher but forgetting to turn it on, opening and closing the fridge not knowing what I'm doing, wiping the kitchen counters. Anything that keeps my hands busy and my mind calm. Any peacefulness that the yoga infused into me yesterday is gone, replaced by terror and worry.

I finally get the call saying that she will be all right but she definitely has injuries. She has a concussion, headache, and nausea, and abrasions on her face, a fat lip, and a bump on her head. She has no memory of the fall that she took. Thank God for the people who stopped on the mountain to help her and for the ski patrol who took care of her. I get to speak to her on the phone and her voice sounds so faint and so young. I just want to hug her. I want to be there with her but she is in the hands of strangers taking care of her. For the first time in her life, I'm not the one with her and I can only listen from afar. I can't stop crying, mainly due to the relief of knowing that she will be ok, and realizing how much worse it could have been.

Her friend is driving her back down from the mountain, and she will be home later today. I can't wait to see her beautiful face. Only a mom can understand.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Our Family's Earth Hour

Imagine two adults, two teenage girls, and one 12 year old boy sitting around the dining room table in the dark playing cards by candlelight. This was the scene last year at my house on Earth Hour, the hour designated by some environmental group (I'm not sure of the origin) to turn off all electrical devices. We were pushed into doing this by our 12 year old environmental activist. As the highly anticipated hour approached, we ran around the house turning off lights and computers, and my husband attached a headlamp to his hat, which created the effect of a cave spelunker running around room by room. Our dogs looked at us like, "why are all of you sitting in the dark?"

Well, once we got used to reading our cards by our candles, we spent not only one hour in the dark, but two or three more, because we were having so much fun and frivolity. The wine and beer helped set the mood, at least for those of us adults. The laughs were plentiful and we all had a grand time.

I write about this because we are now approaching 2010's Earth Hour. It will be March 27 at 8:30 pm. Along with our recycling efforts and hoarding skills (I don't throw anything away that can be reused), we will be doing our little part in reducing climate change and saving the planet. My son feels so strongly about this that he edited my blog yesterday and added an Earth Hour graphic to the right-hand side if you scroll down a bit. He continually pushes us on this issue, which is good, because you need a little kick in the butt once in awhile. If it weren't for him, it would be easy to just let that hour go by and take no action. He demands more from us, and I admire his passion and drive.

So, if you aren't doing anything on March 27 at 8:30 pm, or even if you are, turn off your lights and sit in the dark for the hour. My son and the world will thank you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Loving a labrador

We have had our yellow lab puppy Tucker for almost five weeks now. He is the third labrador retriever in our household, and he has added a whole new element of chaos to our lives. He looks like a polar bear cub with a long tail. He is of course as cute as can be, and then some. I think puppies are made this adorable so that you can't get mad at them when they chew up your shoes and pee on your floor.

He has made me realize how much I love the "labradorian" way of life. In their minds, each day is greeted with a zest for adventure, every person is viewed as not only a friend, but a cherished soul, and there is not much that can dampen their enthusiasm.

I wake up to those little black eyes peering into mine, that mouth licking and biting my feet, and I just can't resist placing my lips on his velvety soft little nose for a kiss, which usually leads to biting and chewing on me. He is a pain in the ass sometimes, but I love the little guy and I know he loves me. I'm pretty sure he loves just about everybody he meets, so while I want to feel special, I think I'm just one of his pack. I'm the one who feeds him, so my value to him is just a notch above everyone else in our house.

He has gained an average of 3.5 pounds each week that we've had him, and he is now topping thirty pounds. Soon he won't be able to sit on my lap on the couch and he'll be relegated to the floor with the other two dogs.

So for now I let him jump on the couch and sleep on my lap, and it is like puppy nirvana. These days won't last for long.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I want spring

I really want spring to arrive. This year more than ever. The arctic tundra in my backyard is depressing me. I feel like I am living on a glacier that will never melt. The bad part is that when it actually gets warm enough to melt, then it just turns into a mud-snow mix which cakes onto shoes and dog feet (all twelve of the feet), and is tracked into the house one piece of mud at a time. Then it freezes again as soon as the sun goes down, and it repeats the pattern each day. Living in Colorado, I should be accustomed to the winter, but this winter seems longer than all the rest, or else I have just grown weary of it this year.

I want to wake up one morning and be able to walk outside into the warm sunshine without bundling up into sweats and shoes just to retrieve the morning newspaper. I want to feel sweat dripping down my back again as I weed my garden. I want to feel like drinking a cold beer because they taste so great on a hot summer day. I want to grill outside and actually be able to sit on the patio while the food cooks, rather than run from inside the house to the grill every few moments, checking on the food, only to return to the heated house for some comfort before venturing out again. I want baseball season to start and I want to eat hot dogs at the ballpark and I want to sing "take me out to the ballgame" at the top of my lungs during the seventh inning stretch. I want to go fishing and sit in my lawn chair and look at the trees and the birds and the sky with nothing more than shorts and a T-shirt on.

I think Puxatawney Phil should be replaced. I really hate his prediction each year because he never makes it happen for us.

Please, spring, make your presence known soon. Just pop one little tulip or daffodil through the surface of the frozen muck. I need you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Put on TO DO list: Waste time

Why do I always feel like I need to accomplish something every moment of the day? If I sit down for a few minutes with the good intentions of reading a book, which I love to do, I read for about ten minutes before feeling guilty of relaxing. Something in my personality or lifestyle makes me think that I have to jump up, empty the dishwasher, put a load of laundry in, or wipe the kitchen counters. I'm not a neat freak, but I do like things to be in order. I have found I can't stop and smell the proverbial roses.

I am not able to "do nothing". I can try and try to "do nothing" and I still do something. Even if I physically don't get up and move, my mind is still concocting mental "to do" lists of things I need to do tomorrow and the next day. I think part of my problem is that I have become such a supreme multi-tasker, that I can't stop. I consider doing two, three, or four things at once to be the norm.

I recently read a quote by Bertrand Russell (1872-1970 philospher and mathematician). He said, "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." Wow, this struck me as profound. I cut it out and posted it in large type on the wall in my home office. I think this was a sign sent to me from above. I find myself looking at that quote more and more often, as if I will finally believe it if I read it and force it into my mind, like a mantra.

Maybe it is ok to waste time, I tell myself. Maybe sitting and pondering life and looking at the sunset over the mountains is something I can do without fidgeting.

While everyone in the world tries to be more and more productive, each day I am going to try to waste some time. It will be good for me. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Girl from Mars

When my daughters were 7 and 5, my son Colton was born. I took my 5 year old daughter Alicia with me to my 6 week ob/gyn check-up and while we were in the exam room waiting for the doctor to arrive, my daughter asked the all important question: "Mom, where did I come from?" Here I was, in the exam robe with my breasts leaking milk, my six week old son sleeping in his car seat, hoping that the doctor would enter the room soon so that my agony with milk streaming down my body would end and that the baby would stay asleep long enough for my exam to be over, and she asks the question that all moms dread.

Thinking quickly, I answered, "Well, do you remember that Colton was just in my tummy? That is where you came from also." It was the quickest response I could think of.

She looked at me and said with a confused and impatient expression on her face, "No, mom, I mean what planet did I come from?" I realized that I had overreacted to her question. Without flinching, I said, "Oh, you came from Mars." To which she nodded her head and smiled, satisfied with my answer. Maybe I should have told the truth, but for that day and at that time, Mars was the perfect answer for her to hear.

Now that she's a teenager, I have discovered that there is probably some truth to Mars as her planet of origin.