Friday, January 30, 2009
Ryann Hope Smith was the sweet little baby girl that recently passed away due to complications with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia , or otherwise known as CDH. You can visit Breath of Hope at http://breathofhopeinc.com/ to learn more about CDH or to make a donation. Ryann's parents, Dave and Jaime, and her little sister Reagan continue to journey through their grief, and although I pray for them every day, I know that in addition to prayers, getting the awareness out about CDH is really important to them, so without hesitation I absolutely will wear a t-shirt for Ryann Hope during my race to honor her and to raise awareness.
This morning on my way to work I was thinking about this gesture as well as saying my daily prayers for my dear friends that have lost their children and hoping that they were able to get through their day okay. And all of the sudden I thought to myself the importance of doing this.....and the words "breathing for Ryann" came into my head.
In the short time that Ryann was here on earth she showed such strength and such fight that there is no excuse for me to give up two weeks into my training for a race. The magnitude of 26.2 miles doesn't even equal the marathon that she ran while she was here with us. I am going to train and I am going to run for Ryann Hope and I only hope that her strength and her spirit will help me at mile 15 when I'm sure I going to be tired, or at mile 22 when I think that giving up is an option.
This reason, this purpose, is enough to inspire me to continue to train and run a race that I've talked about running forever. I have set this goal for myself and when I felt like maybe giving up a bit, I now have a purpose to continue, I am going to run my race in honor of Ryann Hope. And if you are at the race and you see the teal colored t-shirts and wrist bands, you'll know that many others were inspired by and are running for the sweet baby girl that made her way into all of our hearts while she was here.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I have been using recipes out of Deceptively Delicious cookbook for some time. Find the link here....http://www.amazon.com/Deceptively-Delicious-Simple-Secrets-Eating/dp/006176793X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233242732&sr=8-1. And I use the purees in other things as well...I sneak them into spaghetti, macaroni & cheese, etc. Well, my husband threw out the last of my purees and I hadn't had time to make anymore. Until last night!
I steamed and pureed sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli and they are in my freezer ready for use! Yeah.....more healthy things for my kids! (Again, I'm not going to get nutty about all the healthy stuff.....I promise!)
While I was at it, I mixed up some pancake batter for the next morning and added 1/2 c. sweet potato puree, some cinnamon, and this morning my oldest son ate two HUGE pancakes without even realizing what he was eating and he ate a whole green apple! Our youngest ate yogurt and blueberries....which was healthy and good for his tummy.
Tonight they're going to have pasta and I'll sneak in some broccoli into their sauce.....they never notice and until they get over their fear of vegetables, I feel like this is the only way I can get those important foods eaten. Is it horrible that I'm sneaking healthy things into their food without them knowing?
The one thing I didn't puree last night was spinach and I picked some up this morning when I ran to the store. There is a recipe for brownies that has pureed spinach in it and I'm telling you - my kids never know! I have fed them spinach numerous times and they never whined....because it was hidden in chocolate and sprinkled with a little powdered sugar! ha! ha!
Here is the recipe:
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Yield: 12 brownies
Nonstick cooking spray
3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup carrot puree (After peeling and trimming the ends, steam for 10-12 minutes and then puree in a food processor for 2 minutes)
1/2 cup spinach puree (Steam for 30 to seconds, then puree in a food processor for 2 minutes)1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup oat flour, or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or over a very low flame. In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, vegetable purees, sugar, cocoa powder, margarine, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.
Whisk in egg whites. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 bars.
These brownies are low in calories (only 133 per brownie) and saturated fat. They're also packed with 3 grams of fiber, while spinach and carrots provide two powerful antioxidants that help your kids' eyes stay healthy.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Really, I know.....I'm jumping on a bandwagon here that I'm not quite sure about. I mean, I feel like my family is healthy and that we eat the very best things we can and I look around at other families who are just like us and don't use natural shampoos, eat regular fruits/vegetables - and they are fine.....so why am I doing this.
Well, for awhile now I've been thinking about buying organic fruits/vegetables because I am concerned about pesticides on our foods. And while at the store I saw organic cereals on sale for the same price as regular cereals....so I thought "What the heck!". I also bought bread made with whole grains, no high fructose syrup, etc., and Randy actually liked it. So that's my reasoning for the food.
The laundry detergent, soaps, etc. - well, I have skin issues that are a symptom of my lupus. My skin is actually very sensitive and dry and seems to get worse every year. Lately my scalp has been irritated as well. So in doing some research I decided to make the leap to more natural products, ones that are organic and don't contain chemicals in them that could increase my irritation. And the toothpaste....well, that was just an impulse organic purchase! ha! ha!
In addition to all of this organic madness, last night I made my kids cupcakes using pumpkin puree, flax seed, and yogurt AND I made my own applesauce with a bag of apples that were going to expire before we could eat them all!
Oh my! My husband was just shaking his head at me.....he probably thinks I've lost it!
#1. Homemade laundry detergent.....SUPER easy to make, smells like clean soap, and from the website I got the recipe from - apparently only costs $0.01 per load.
#2. Natural shampoo/conditioner.....my hair has body and shine after one wash and I will have to keep an eye on it to see if it gets healthier while I use these products.
#3. Organic body/face lotion....I already feel a difference in my skin - it feels soft and supple and the last time I used lotion was around 7:15 a.m. - normally it's already dried out.
#4. The cupcakes.....really yummy! It was a box cake mix, 1 can of pumpkin puree, 6 oz. of peach yogurt, 1/4 c. of flax seed, 2 tbl. vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1 large egg white, 1/4 c. water and you can either make a cake or cupcakes....so I made cupcakes. It made 24 cupcakes, baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Logan tested them right out of the oven and gave them a thumbs up!
#5. The applesauce.....always yummy! Noah and I put this in our oatmeal this morning and it was a great treat! Warm apples with cinnamon on a cold snowy day.....aahh!
I promise I won't get completely nutty about all of this natural stuff....I just think it's worth trying. If I see that it helps my family - absolutely it's worth doing - but I won't go overboard, I promise!
Have a happy day!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Recently on a blog I was reading, the mother discussed her quest to get all of the chemicals out of her children's lives....she had them eating organic foods, started making her own laundry detergent, and realized that there are chemicals in shampoos and soaps that aren't healthy. So she began making her own shampoo....I don't know that I would go that far, but I am going to switch to more natural toothpastes, soaps, and shampoos and see if that helps with one of my son's skin issues and Randy's dry scalp. We have always used Ivory soap - and that I feel like is healthy! I have kicked around the idea of making my own laundry detergent - I'll let you know if/when I decide to do it.
I do think I would like to start buying organic fruits and vegetables - I read somewhere that the chemicals on our fruits and vegetables cancel out the benefits of eating them in the first place. That scares me because I really am trying to do my best by getting my kids to eat their veggies, but feel guilty about possibly feeding them more carcinogens than anything!
Now - what would the uses for all of the items that I'm trying to replace. Rather than throw them away....how can I put them to good use?
1. Remove crayon marks. Squirt a small dab of non gel toothpaste on the wall where the mark is. Rub gently with a soft cloth, then rinse with warm water -- gone!
2. Deodorize hands - get rid of garlic or onion odor by washing your hands with a blob of toothpaste.
3. Buff a DVD. Get rid of light scratches by squeezing a little non gel toothpaste onto a cotton ball. Wipe over the DVD from the center out to the edge. Rinse with water and dry with a nonabrasive lint-free cloth - all gone.
4. Get rid of pimples. Zap your zit with a blob of non-gel toothpaste. Dab it on before bedtime, leave it overnight. Works wonders.
5. Whiten sneakers. Clean rubber soles by rubbing scuff marks with an old toothbrush and non gel toothpaste.
1. Mix Shampoo with baking soda to clean chrome and use conditioner to make it shine.
2. Mix with water to clean nylon panty hose and other hand wash delicates
3. Use it to wash hard grime or bird poop off your car or truck.
4. Use it as a spot cleaner. It will remove stains like the ring around the collar of your shirt or the exterior of your down jacket.
5. Use it to wash your paint/arts and crafts brushes.
6. Mix it with water to clean your hardwood floors
7. It works as great spot cleaner for your sofa or couch.
8. Rub a couple drops of shampoo on the inside of your diving mask. Then, rinse clean with
water. Your mask won't fog up when you're diving under the water!
9. Grab the shampoo and a clean rag to spot clean the outside of your refrigerator and stove. It
will remove greasy spots and food spills.
10. Use it remove a stubborn ring off your finger
11. It works well for cleaning the cork handles on old fishing poles.
1. Work hair conditioner onto hands before changing the oil in your car. Makes cleanup easy and skin nice and soft.
2. Apply hair conditioner to garden tools to prevent rusting
3. Rinse nylons with hair conditioner to zap static cling.
4. Make your own fabric softener -
2 cups of water
1 cup of vinegar
2/3 cups of any hair conditioner
Mix in spray bottle and stir. Don’t shake, this will cause foaming. Soak a cloth rag and ring it out until slightly damp. Then throw it into the dryer with your load of clothes.
This can also be used as a liquid fabric softener in the rinse cycle.
I think that some people might get a tad nutty about going natural (i.e., making your own shampoo with baking soda and water, using cider vinegar as a rinse, and oil for dry hair) - I am going to research actual products that are healthier to use and see how that goes.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy life!Angela
Monday, January 26, 2009
Dear fellow patrons of our small town bar,
I first would like to say that I am sorry that you felt it was your job to secure the bar on Saturday night. I didn't realize that our group of 6 girls were causing trouble by dancing, laughing, talking, and having fun. I wish so much that you would have joined in and done the same so the atmosphere did not take the turn it did.
Secondly, to the female that told me that my shoes were trashy, the next time you critique my outfit I will say the following to you "Oh, I forgot to call you and get your opinion about my outfit.....oh, wait, I just remembered - I don't give a crap what you think".
The third thing I would like to say, the girl who cried when she thought she was going to jail for telling us she was going to kick our butt. Maybe next time you will think about what your saying before opening your mouth, there are consequences to your actions and in this day and age, you can't take threats lightly.
Finally, our lives are stressful enough as wives and mothers. Why would you create unnecessary drama in the lives of others simply because you think you can. We are all about everyone having fun and there is no hatefulness when we are out - we know how difficult it is day to day and we LOVE letting our hair down and having fun and we love seeing others do the same thing. When we go out we like to slip out of our mommy clothes and wear things that remind us that we are girls. My group of friends is the most amazing group of women I know and occasionally we like to go out and dance to good music, laugh, talk, and have a great time. Maybe you have learned from this and will do the same the next time you go out with your friends.
All the best,
The next letter is to the owner of the bar.....we feel horrible that this happened!
Dear sweet owner of the bar,
My group and I were so honored that you placed a special call on Saturday to make sure that we were coming out to support you and your attempt to expand your business a little bit. We had it on our calendars to come out and support you and really looked forward to it.
We are so sorry that a small handful of patrons created the issues that they did and that the situation escalated to the point that it did. We were having so much fun and we hope you know that the behaviors of others will not deter us from patronizing you in the future. You're the best.
All the best,
Friday, January 23, 2009
Tonight I organized a fun family night with our friends and their children. Our local library has a free movie with popcorn and lemonade and then we have invited everyone back to our house for pizza. All of us have goals to save money this year and this is an inexpensive get together that will be lots of fun - I can't wait!
Saturday is a busy day......I have to get 7 miles in for my training and I intend to get that in first thing in the morning. Then we have the Illini game and later that night my girlfriends and I are going to go out in our town to a small neighborhood bar - the owner excitedly announced to us that he is having a DJ for the first time and would love for us to come out. Our town has several bars and there is one that we like to go to because we love the DJ and it's just a good local place, the other one that we like to go to is small and the owner is the sweetest guy and we love to give him business. Usually it's more of a social thing where we take over a table, talk, play our favorite songs on the jukebox, and eat Butch's pizza of course! ha!
Sunday there is nothing on the calendar! WOO HOO! There is an Illini Women's Basketball game at 3:00 p.m. and we might take the boys to that just to get them out of the house. But until then - it will be church, a big breakfast, and lounging......aaaahhhh!
Hope you have lots of fun things planned for the weekend.....be safe, enjoy your family and friends, and we'll see you on Monday!
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The boys woke up and were excited when I detailed the adventure beginning with lunch in Arcola and then all of the neat things we would see. The deal was that they had to help me clean the house before we left and they did - it was great!
Our first stop was at a restaurant in Arcola with delicious homemade food - the boys loved it and ate really well. I had homemade vegetable beef soup.....it was really good and warmed my belly! After that we spotted the first of many horse and buggies.....Logan said at the end of the day that the next time we go he is going to keep count.
Our second stop was the store that I had wanted to go to so I could check out their homemade mixes, seasonings, etc. They had lots of neat things and I bought some hot cocoa, a huge bag of the mini marshmallows that you find in the packets of cocoa for $0.92, a container of powdered cheese mix that is just like the Kraft macaroni and cheese mix and I intend to use it with my whole grain pasta for the kids......not totally healthy, but it's something, I bought taco seasoning, a season salt, some homemade rolls to take to a baptism celebration the next day, a container of blueberries for $0.99, farm fresh eggs, and a few other things that I have already forgotten. I spent around $25 and just had fun looking at the neat things they had there.
Our third stop was at our first actual salvage grocery store. I will not judge those who have to shop there, but I bought the things that I needed on my list - toilet paper, paper towels, and dishwashing detergent and we hit the road. I couldn't bring myself to purchase salad dressing for $0.99 when it had expired 6 months ago. I looked for good deals that were quality items and I just didn't find them there. The things I did buy I thought might be a bit of a deal - but in researching it a bit, I realized that I probably saved a total of $0.63 and that doesn't include the gas it took to drive there.
Our fourth stop was at the soda fountain in downtown Arthur - the boys were excited to have ice cream in the winter and it was a cute little place and we enjoyed just sitting and chatting about the things they had seen. We then ventured down the street to the little shops and I ended up buying them stuffed animals that were not discount......OOPS! - but it was fun and they were happy!
Our fifth and final stop of the day was by accident. I was leaving Arthur and spotted a sign for another grocery salvage and despite my experience at the first one - I thought to myself "While I'm here......" - so I quickly turned and traveled down the road to a farm where the grocery salvage was. This one was similar to the other, but much cleaner, and I still didn't see any huge deals. But overall - it was fun because the children saw the farm up close.
Our day was good and I definitely think our first stop was a place that I will visit again for their unique items - not necessarily because they had awesome deals. The grocery salvages were not for me - I am trying to save money this year - however, I have found that by searching the ads, using coupons, buying fruits and vegetables that are in season, and making things from scratch save more than I could save at these places.
It was quite an adventure and I had fun with the boys and I learned a lot! I excitedly made them macaroni and cheese with the new cheese mix and whole grain pasta - and they loved it! They have had hot cocoa with mini marshmallows every morning since Saturday. And the homemade rolls were a hit at the baptism celebration.
The boys of course thought the salvage store was AWESOME because they had a huge toy area and I did agree to buy them coloring books for $0.25 - and they loved the horse and buggies. Noah tried to strike up a conversation with a small Amish boy, but the boy didn't respond so Noah gave up saying "Mom, I don't think he speaks English".
Look around your area and see if there are adventures you can take your children on that are off the beaten path......they learn about other cultures, get to experience things first hand, and it is a break from the norm.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
#2 I am right on target for my marathon training.....I ran 6 miles on Saturday and didn't die - so that's a plus! ha! I am consistently at a 13 minute mile, which isn't that bad I don't think. For not being an avid runner - I think I'm doing well. I ran 3 miles yesterday morning without any issues and am only allowing myself to take it one mile at a time.....I don't want to think about the magnitude of 26.2 miles or else I might run the other way! ha! Tonight is a challenge - there is an Illini game at 6:00 p.m. and I won't get home until 8:30 p.m. or so and need to get 5 miles in.....not a problem - my treadmill and shoes are waiting for me and I will get my run and a shower in and be in bed by 9:45 p.m.
#3 Motherhood is tough and my oldest son challenges me so often......often times he and I are both brought to tears before he gives in and sees that I am doing things for his own good and not because I'm an evil mother. I continue to pray for patience in both he and I and while I do have my breaking points - I know that while his actions are challenging - they aren't anything that I can't handle and I have to remember the mothers around me that pray even for one more day with their child - even the worst day - they just want one more chance to see, hold, touch, talk to, etc. I am blessed.
#4 We adopted a new soldier! I have been volunteering with the organization Adopt-A-Platoon for a little over a year now and you have the option of sending a letter a week to a soldier or you can also send a monthly package. We had a soldier for about 8 months and then he was able to go home - which made us very happy, but we missed staying in contact with him and sending packages to him. Yesterday they sent us our new soldier and included a few items that he would like - which are very modest - toothbrush, razor, toothpaste, nail clippers, etc. - so I filled his list and then some.......I will be excited to buy some movies and video games tomorrow and then send it out to him and I pray that he is as excited about opening it as I have been about buying each item. If you have time, this is a great family activity - my boys colored him pictures yesterday and we have been talking about him and the things he wanted on his list.
I hope you have a great day!
Friday, January 16, 2009
So far many women have said to me about running the marathon "Go for it", "You can do it", and "I'll be on the sidelines cheering you on"......my response from men "NO WAY!", "You can't train for that in 4 months", "You are going to die". And my response to that is "Girls, I love you and thank you for your support. Guys, eat my dust." - as well as "It's on like Donkey Kong", "Girls rule and Boys drool" and "Go big or go home"......you know, very mature, lady-like responses.
I am challenged now - I am determined - I am focused - I am a little crazy, but don't you have to be to be excited about running 26.2 miles?!
Yesterday I logged 5 miles - I set my iPod up with some kick-butt music - a mix of angry rock (Breathe by Prodigy.....a very important reminder for running), classic rock (Thunderstruck by ACDC.....makes me want to run out onto the football field and tackle someone), pop (Womanizer by Britney Spears......need I say more?), and rap (Drop by the Ying Yang Twins.....not only does this song make me want to dance, it's also effective for sprinting as well). I hopped on my treadmill after doing lots of mommy things - dinner, baths, bedtime......and the stress of the day melted away and I just ran. I also had the Discovery Channel on and watched something about scientists trying to find a sunken ship in the English Chanel.....very eye catching and interesting to watch while running.
Also, because I've been eating right and exercising since the beginning of the year....I have also dropped the 9 lbs. I gained from the holidays. Not bad in my opinion.....I have 10 lbs. to go to get to my first goal and then we'll see what I feel like at that point.
I hope that you have a great weekend and that you take some time for yourself.
Love ya - Angela
Thursday, January 15, 2009
So this morning I was on my way to work and there was an ad for the local races coming up in April.....and a little voice inside my head said "Just Do It"! Of course I e-mailed my sister and she had been thinking about it too.....and both of us said we would want to do the whole thing. If you are going to do it, you might as well go all out right?
So I am going to get signed up, lace up my running shoes, set up my iPod with some kick a$$ music and get into gear. Of course I chose a day to start doing this when it's minus 35 degrees outside with the wind chill factored in! ha! I have 12-weeks to get myself in shape and I am up for the challenge. I have a goal and that is to complete my first marathon and it's so fitting that the finish line is at the 50-yard line of the place I work. I love it....and I'm also planning my orange and blue outfit for the race.....I have to look cute right?
Your goal might be something completely different than mine, but there is no better day than today to set your sights on it and start. We are officially two weeks into the new year and if you haven't started on your goals, resolutions, or whatever you call them.....now is the time. You have to visualize yourself reaching your goal and walk yourself (or in my case, run yourself - ha!) through the steps that it will take to get there.
Today is the day and know that I'll be on the sidelines cheering you on as you cross the finish line of your goal!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I keep reminding myself "I am building cathedrals, I am building cathedrals......"
Motherhood is not an easy job - but I wouldn't change a thing.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Major bargain.....$32.00 worth of Chex Mix Bars for $3.96 - my husband and I eat bars every day and I send them with my kids in their lunches and we use them with yogurt as healthy snacks - so an item that we would definitely use!
How I did it.....I belong to Vocalpoint - a website where I am able to receive free samples of products as well as coupons. I received a free box of the Chex Mix bars and then 10 coupons for $1.50 off per box. They are a little pricey for me - in the $3.50 per box range and even with the $1.50 off, it never seemed like a better deal than any other bar.
At Walgreens the bars were on sale for $2.00 a box....so I was able to get 8 boxes with my coupons at $0.50 each and one box free using a $2.00 off Walgreens coupon. We are set for some time!
Good bargain......Venus Embrace razors. Aaahhh.....we all know the feeling of having a great razor that gives you smooth skin! I typically use the Bic pink lady razor that is just okay....it's cheap and it does an okay job. Through Vocalpoint I received a free sample of the Venus Embrace razor and 5 coupons for $4 off. The razor was wonderful and I was sad when I realized it was no longer useful and had to throw it away....I thought about buying replacement blades for it, however at $25 a pop - thought NO WAY!
Venus Embrace razors run about $9 - $10 a piece and even with my coupons, I still couldn't see paying that much for them, knowing that the replacement blades were so much.
Yesterday I found them on sale at Wal-Mart for $7.96 - and they each had two replacement blades with them.....so I bought 15 GOOD razors essentially for under $20.00 by using my coupons. I will cherish them and make them last as loooong as possible! Next time you see me, just ask to feel my legs, they will be sure to please! ha! ha!
By using coupons, checking the ads, comparing prices, etc. - yesterday I bought the following items all for under $200.00 -
2 lb. bag baby carrots
1 stalk celery
2 bags of salad
1 English cucumber
1 bunch of bananas
1 gallon milk
1 lb. bag Shredded cheddar cheese
3 lb. bag Tyson boneless skinless chicken breast
9 boxes Chex Mix bars
5 Venus Embrace razors
6 containers Grands Biscuits
2 containers Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
10 Yoplait Yogurts
2 containers of Yoplait Yogurt for kids
3 Green Giant Frozen vegetables
4 Meijer Pasta Sauce
1 loaf Healthy Life bread
4 Healthy Life containers of lunchmeat
Container of 18 eggs
Oscar Meyer Turkey Hot Dogs
Container of Blueberries
Container of Blackberries
2 packages of Turkey Sausage Breakfast Links
Suave shampoo for children
Box of 80 trash bags
Scrubbing Bubble Foam Cleaner
Scrubbing Bubble Wipes
Windex Antibacterial Cleaner
4 Campbell's Cream of - soups
2 containers Grape Tomatoes
5 lbs. split Chicken Breasts
5 containers Quick Cooking Oatmeal
1 box saltine crackers
5 bottles of ketchup
2 boxes of children's valentines
1 child's coat
2 pair of children's pajamas
Lunch for two at McDonald's
Two slushes at Sonic
I still have $2.00 left and I plan on treating myself to a latte tomorrow at a local coffee shop that has $2 Lattes any size on Wednesday! woo hoo!
In addition to that I earned $8.00 in bonus Box Tops from Meijer and Walgreen's for my purchase of certain items. Another woo hoo!
I love getting bargains and I am kind of a stickler about having our pantry stocked full of stuff - I think it's a trait I get from my grandma who could feed an army at any given moment. I think we are good for some time.....although I say that after every shopping trip! ha! ha!
Happy bargain hunting!
Friday, January 9, 2009
"It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, “Can’t you see I’m on the phone?” Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, “What time is it?” I’m a satellite guide to answer, “What number is the Disney Channel?” I’m a car to order, “At 5:30, please.”
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going … she’s going … she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.
I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths:1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.2. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.3. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.4. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, “Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.” And the workman replied, “Because God sees.” I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.”
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours.” That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, “You’re gonna love it there.”
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women."
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
And talking about looking at the situation as a parent - I realized that I really cannot imagine how I would react, feel, continue living. I really can't relate to what my friends who have lost children have felt and continue to feel day to day. Watching the situation from the outside looking in is painful because you feel for the ones you love, but I think that unless you have experienced that great of a loss - you really don't know what that person is feeling.
Grief is something that each person does differently and I learned so much from my friends Joe and Amy as they grieved and continue to grieve the loss of their son - Amy told me that each person grieves different moments, different times of day, different everything. And because of that she and her husband had to allow one another those times when you simply lose it and just know that they were consumed by grief at that moment.
When I first talk to people who have experienced loss - I am so reserved and scared that I will say something upsetting.....I let them talk first, laugh first, cry first. I know walking up to Jaime and Dave on Friday I will give them hugs and tell them that I am sorry for the loss of their beautiful little girl and from there I will just observe and allow them to grieve and pray that their journey through that grief is one that they can find strength in one another and that they will turn the negative situation into a positive one and that they bring light to CDH and honor Ryann Hope's spirit and strength in doing so.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
May you hug your babies a little tighter tonight and feel blessed to have today, because tomorrow might not always be there.
Monday, January 5, 2009
With the new year brings new promises to myself, to others, and there is a renewal, almost a second chance feeling, with a new year.
I have many goals that I would like to achieve - diet and exercise off these 15/20 pounds nagging me, get my children to eat better, date my husband again, spend less/save more/pay off debt, and to just be the best self I can possibly be. I'm allowing myself to have bad days, not to feel as though I have to achieve perfection, and I have to learn to enjoy every moment I have on Earth. I get so caught up in "Just a sec, I have to do the dishes" or "Just a sec, there is a load of laundry in the dryer that I need to check" - all of those things can wait - I might not hear Logan say "Mom, look at how far I got on Guitar Hero" again, or Noah might never ask me to play Hide & Seek again.....I am setting my priorities up for this year to include "Never tell my children that something comes before them or their requests because nothing is more important than my time with them".
I hope that this new year brings renewal for all of us in a good way. Sending many blessings out to you today!