Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Champions For Change

So, I'm sending a mid-West shout out to my girl Angeline....who is featured in the new Statewide California ads to encourage healthy eating. I'm just thinking to myself, God has a sense of humor - yet again. Champions for Change didn't know that they were picking one of an elite group of women who have dealt with change in every which kinda way.

Get your notepad.
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables
2. Engage in physical activity
3. Speak up for healthy changes

Angeline may indeed be feeding the kidlets more fruits and veggies nowadays, but a champion for change she has always been. We were part of a small group of energetic Christians some years ago - when we met in each others homes and talked about life, love, God and everything in between. I was shocked and dismayed to learned she and her family were heading out to the west Coast. You may have read other posts where I clearly indicate that my relocation was, well, disturbing to say the least. I'm not a change girl - but I'm getting better.

Angeline has taken the West Coast by storm, hustling and bustling to find a new church home, a 2nd Degree and stardom with a purpose. When she auditioned for the ad spots she joked a bit with me about it - and now her kids get to count moms face at every trip to the market, every play date and every time they are out and about. I'm laughing out loud for so many reasons.

We always knew she'd be large and in charge - but we didn't know she'd have bill boards announcing it too.

I did more than just read about the latest success of my friend, I read the message. Somehow our cabinet has gotten more cheetos, fruitesque snacks, cookies, candies and the like since mom has gone off her health wagon. Save your scolding, I'm getting my mind in order slowly.

Yesterday the boys were out on the playground for 2 hours, and the princess is participating in field day today. We'll walk to the pond to feed the ducks and that ensures a 30 minute walk and some scooter time for the kids. I enjoy the fresh air.

As for the fruits and veggies - it is indeed Summer. Drowning life's disappointments in cupcakes and cookies has got to stop - and for mom that means refined sugar and carbs too. We're going to be a salad eating, veggie carrying, water guzzling and exercise getting little crew - and we are going to heed the suggestions of my buddy. Type 2 Diabetes is no joke - and we have a family history of diabetes, too. For any family that knows the complications of that condition - make better choices now.

I love pineapple - but our staples for the summer are melon, berries and apples. Oh, do we love apples. I will be on a salad and protein kick, but I've learned that I can eat any green vegetable in abundance, I simply have always known the grouch and I have so much in common. I like being green. Now that fruit juice choice - watch out for the sugar. I know a few folks that love smoothies and I may try my hand at it this summer. Yet, adding ice cream or refined sugar to those mixtures ladies....we're missing the boat. If you already have fruit or juice, you have reached your quota!

Champions for Change come in all shapes and sizes - but as women we are leading the charge. You know your family is relying on you to make some good decisions - so go ahead, make a fruit kabob. This isn't my first time posting about fruit ...and from time to time I post about candy too. (a hee)

My circle has always been pretty small. I have countless stories about not adding people to my circle because it was just too much work to have adult women friends that you hadn't known forever. That new friendship thing was wearing me out - I had so many false starts into the arena known as soccer mom he....hello friendship. That's what I meant!

So visit my buddy and her message for families, and make a difference in your own. Dear Angeline you keep this up - and the Arizona spa trip is on you! All two readers out there, post some comments about fruit fabulous recipes you have or an idea for something new to try. I know many moms out there that qualify both as a hero mom and a champion, too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

This is My Confession

Usher - an attractive R & B singer who is too young for me to really look at - but, my oh my .... has a song that discusses Confessions. While I will not admit the great appreciation I have for this young man - if I had a cool site his song would play in the background as you read this post. (His picture will disappear in a few days to save my dignity - but for now I have so few visitors - no harm, no harm.)

No, not my confession about some hot young man - my confessions about things I said I would never do and "mommy hacks" which was encouraged by the ladies at the carnival.

Well I Never. Oh, but I did, and I do.

1. Feed my children hot dogs as dinner food, and add fruit for a balanced "meal".

2. Justify cold pizza for breakfast to avoid getting a tardy at school, while telling the "gifted child" - look - you have protein, dairy, carbs and it is indeed a breakfast my dear.

3. Send my sons to retrieve sanitary products from a different bathroom in the house - by sending them on a search and find mission for peach plastic diaper pods. (Don't ask, I'm already ashamed.)

4. Eat off of my childrens plate. I will never consume half eaten food from someone else's plate said the woman I used to be. Until she encountered the woman that I am that cooked pot roast, green beans, tender baby carrots, cabbage and had 2/3 folks tell me that they would prefer something less spicy, less healthy, less vegetably, or some other word that doesn't sound like gratitude for my labor. (Refer to #1)

5. Play on the computer instead of engaging in some intellectual, esteem building activity with my children. A woman needs a break, okay.

6. Use a marker for interior decorating purposes. Need to correct a dent, chip in a picture frame, cover up that oddity on the stairs .... scrapbook supplies 101, or a good Sharpie I tell ya.

7. Threaten to spank my children in front of their class as an effective mechanism for asserting my role as an effective parent. (By the way - it did work)

8. Achieve clean counter tops for guests by taking a laundry basket and using my hand as a shovel. Yup. I love flylady and I love order, and I love - Rubbermaid. The blue handled basket with flexible sides does wonder for one's temporary dignity.

9. Cuss. As a Christian and a work in progress, I strive to set an example that my children will appreciate later in life. I work to be an active member of my community, neighborhood, church and workforce. I strive to be the person who leads, motivates and inspires. I cuss from time to time. Ask my children:

Infant girl age 2 some years ago, "What the hell, what the hell?" After stumbling upon some mess of toys on the floor.

Toddler boy age 3 a year ago, after my mother used a choice word in her kitchen. "Ass hole, Ass hole." And after I scolded my mother, she clarified, " I said ass, he added hole, and he didn't learn it here."

4 year old boy during a summer game, "Oh Shit." After things didn't go quite right.

I'm telling you, I said I would never. My house is not a potty mouth house, and you might even enjoy my hospitality. But, if we are confessing - tell the truth, and shame the devil. God already heard it anyway.

10. Pick a bogger out of child's nose with my finger because he couldn't blow it out - and I was tired of dealing with it. Yep, I did it. And...I drove home with it on my finger until I cried at the steering wheel and realized that I really needed more time out as an adult. A grown woman with a bogger.

So, maybe later I'll tell you what new uses I have come up with for everyday products, but my dignity (or lack thereof )has made me cease my writing for today.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Magic of Fruit

A Little Tenderness between people
Can make life more bearable,
and a lot of tenderness....
my goodness.
~ Maya Angelou

In the fall my children began a new school and each day they have "fruit break." It should have come as no surprise then, when the school needed volunteers for the annual fruit party. I signed up to make fruit kabobs and fruit animals for second graders that I was pretty convinced wouldn't care. I still went all out because I just thought they would have a kick out of trying some new things. So, armed w/starfruit and tropical assortments I rarely buy...I made fruit assortments that delighted the children. I read Maya's quote about a little tenderness and I was reminded that we are called to do small things that make a huge difference for others. My minister said in the pulpit on Sunday - we are doing things in everyday life as if "unto God." I appreciated his reminder to go forth and labor in excellence.

Fast forward to Mother's Day. I had a pleasant Mother's Day on the heels of being sick and having been poked and tested 103 times for my anemia and then some. The day came and went and I thought about the family we are born with and the family we create, and everyone in between. I received an assortment of on-line cards that I often discredit that all touched my life. For some reason the technology of cards has always been a challenge for someone who loves the art of writing, but I have given in. Each communication touched my heart.

Yesterday, the day after Mother's Day, my doorbell rang. When my doorbell rings it traditionally isn't something to look forward to - certified mail, neighbor complaint, kidlet wanting to play, bill 4056B....but rarely a pure smile. My 3 year old hit the door before I could and was looking out the window when her proclaimed, "It is Mr. Fruit man."

As I opened the door the delivery man could hardly contain his own my children were contagious in their song, " we got fruit, we got fruit....yeah, we got fruit." He said with no apologies - " I think your mom got fruit, but you guys are awful happy about it." The boys broke out into a full dance for the fruit.

I brought this huge delivery made by Edible Arrangements into my kitchen in awe - and the singsong of the boys made it appropriate for a full celebration party. I wanted to find my camera and remembered that it was broken...and 2 minutes later it didn't matter. Within moments we were eating fruit skewers, also known as "grapies, flowers (pineapple w/melon centers) and stttttttrawberries." It was worth the rejoicing.

A very dear mom/friend/Godmother/spiritual mentor/teacher and then some, had sent me a bouquet for Mother's Day. The one line of script was succinct and to the point and my entire day was made brighter because of it. The joy of its arrival was repeated when my daughter came home from school and needed a snack, and when 15 minutes late this morning - it became the best breakfast I've had in weeks. I stopped long enough to create an assortment in my napkin and off I went.

Maya Angelou is right, a little tenderness goes a tremendous way in making life more bearable. This unexpected surprise put a lasting smile in my heart and delighted my children as it blessed us all. Today, a mom offered to bring my son home after pre-school - kindness. My husband stayed home w/our toddler so I could go to 90 minutes of kidlet Olympics - kindness. A friend found webkinz on the eve of her comprehensive finals for her PhD - kindness. My kids are going on a playdate on Friday that gives me one full day to spend with my toddler instead of driving back and forth and working on the computer, again - kindness.

Who knows what makes you smile on any given day...but I am reminded of the little tenderness that goes a very long way. And can I tell you, freshly skewered fruit on a hot and emotionally exhausting day - priceless.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Husband's Tribute

Many years ago now before Alaine and I had children, someone said to me "Alaine will make a damn good mother to your children". I had no idea how accurate this prediction would ultimately be, but time has shown it to be utterly true. If children are in part of reflection of the love and caring that is poured into their lives by a loving mom, you only have to take one look at our babies to know that their mother is awesome.

When you get married, you don't really think about what the woman in your life will be as a mother. You're mostly thinking about yourself and the life you will have together. Its really about you, about how you can't be without her. You don't really find out what kind of mother they will be until you are in the moment.

The accuracy of that prediction from so long ago began when our 1st child was born. Alaine labored for 70+ hours to deliver her, until a doctor convinced us that a c-section was the prudent course of action. It was a lot of pain and work and she stayed with it until she couldn't and then some. She nursed our first and all of our children, and let me tell you, that is not all its cracked up to be. Far from simply coming naturally, breastfeeding is a bit of work and learning. As our breastfeeding consultant told us once "the majority of women I have worked with are too lazy to stick with it". My wife stayed with it until she was a pro.

All three of our children have had these wonderful, customized birthday celebrations. I've come to realize that the celebrations are not just for them now, but they are also intentional memory making exercises that create a movie in their heads that they will play for years to come. Alaine is attentive to so many things about our children that often escape me. How they are behaving, what they are talking about, how they eat. She is a student of our children. There are so many nuances in their development, in their learning. I'll come home and she'll tell me something that they have done or said that illustrates the wonderful human beings they are becoming. Those little vignettes and anecdotes are like little secrets she would share with me. Part of the specialness of being parents together are the million wonderful things that your children do which bring total joy to you, but would mean nothing to most anyone else. Alaine loves our children fiercely. I know she would give her life for them. I know that she would annihilate anyone who tried to harm them. I know and even more importantly, they know, that their momma loves them and always will. I watch them be bathed in that love everyday, growing stronger and more wonderful every day under Alaine's nurturing hand.

On any given day, there is a very long list of things I didn't get right. Things I despair of ever getting right. But if there is one thing I know I got right the first time, it was picking the mother of my children.

Happy Mother's Day

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Lessons From Mom - Intro

"Can you be a secret agent?" my mother asked an elementary school friend. She had barely entered our apartment when I was considering eternal embarrassment. My mother would risk all dignity to creatively engage tween girls so I wouldn't be embarrassed that we couldn’t afford movie snacks. All anyone remembers is that my mom was/is "extremely cool."

We didn't fit the model of the other families. I was growing up in a single-parent household when the nightly news highlighted "those poor children" who are raised without guidance, support and love. They didn't know my mother. She protected her children with everything but excuses.

As we carried our peanut butter sandwiches, chips and juice boxes in our purses, I had little understanding that our budget could barely afford movie tickets. I only knew the movie performances came in second to those of my mom. When I would hear about single-parent families, my mother insisted, "They aren't talking about you." In that belief, I learned about setting individual standards. I have spent a lifetime setting and achieving goals because she believed that circumstances don’t define you – and still today creativity goes a very long way.

This excerpt about my mom was recently published in Indianapolis Woman magazine. I got an email from a friend indicating that she had read it and I was just thrilled. With Mother's Day quickly approaching, there is a lot to be said for treasuring the wonderful lessons that our mothers instilled in us. Equally important, as mothers, we have the opportunity and challenge to reach and teach our children each day, with lessons that truly matter. I'm just about as tickled as can be! Thank you Indianapolis Woman, thank you mom.

Over at crazyhipblogmamas they asked us to indicate what lesson do we wish our moms had taught us...and I thought this post should qualify. It really wasn't what she needed to teach me at all - it is a host of lessons that I wish I had fully learned a lot sooner. I wish she had taught me to take in every lesson that she taught and the way that she taught it - so that I might be so clever in fighting monsters and tween girls, as a mom myself. I have much love for creativity in all aspects of my life!