Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fireworks.

Hey, friends, how was your holiday?

We had a wonderful 4th of July.

We had a terrible 4th of July.

Lots of fireworks, of both the driveway pyrotechnic variety and the explosive mentally unstable teenager variety.

We had corn on the cob, burgers and dogs on the grill, baked beans, watermelon, fresh salad, bomb pops.

We had cops in the driveway, cops hightailin' it down the street in pursuit, handcuffs, neighbors staring.  Questions, decisions, but no answers.

We had colorful fireworks against a dark sky, we had giggling teenagers, we had 4 girls passed out in a tent.

We had colorful police lights against a twilight sky, we had an hysterical teenager, we had an exhausted teen passed out on my bed.



4th of Julys can be quite exhausting.....


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Road Trip Tip

Now that summer is upon us, many of you are likely about to embark on a family road trip.

And to that end, I thought I would share a little secret with you to keep those hours just a touch more sane.

Books on CD.

Here's why.  The story keeps the little buggers engaged (read, "quiet").  One could argue that a DVD would do the same, and one would be right.  But, call me old-fashioned, I like kids to be looking out the window on a road trip.  I want them to see how the country changes from one region to the next.  And when they're watching every movie Disney ever made, that ain't gonna happen.  Eyes get glued to the screen and become oblivious to the world around them.

With the books on CD, you get the same rapt attention, but a) it's to a story being read aloud, so they get to use their imaginations to provide the visuals for the characters, the scene, etc; b) as I said, they are getting to enjoy the scenery as you drive along; and c) I find that stories appeal to a wider age range than movies, so multiple age groups could enjoy the same story, something that does not generally happen with movies.

We've listened to Island of the Blue Dolphins, Rascal, Swiss Family Robinson, James and the Giant Peach, Shiloh, Incredible Journey, and more.  Our kids are 4 1/2 years from oldest to youngest, and include both boys and girls, and they've never really complained about a story being too girly, too boring, too babyish.  With DVDs, we've heard all those complaints.  And more.  Till they made my ears bleed.

Where can you find them?  Book stores carry them, but they tend to be expensive.  I was usually able find a decent selection at the library.  Amazon has the most to choose from, and they are reasonably priced.

A quick peek at Amazon and I saw Charlotte's Web, Anne of Green Gables, The Hobbit, Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer, The Borrowers, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan, Little House on the Prairie, and on and on.  LOTS of great choices.  Think of it: exposure to great literature, AND quiet kids in the car.  And of course the whole thing about seeing the mountains and rivers and whatnot along the way.  Trust me when I tell you this is a win-win-win.

Happy reading and road tripping!


Image source

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Shower

I recently had the blessing of spending the weekend with an old high school friend.

The sh** in my life was getting deeper than the manure pile outside the barn, so this old friend extended an invitation to get away from it all for a couple days at her place at the Jersey shore.

And you know what?  I took her up on it.

I had seven rides to arrange before I could depart, but that Friday morning the last of them materialized, so I threw some things in a bag and I got in my car and I LEFT.

Up the Jersey Turnpike I drove.  Window down, hair blowin'.  I might have even been playing some Bruce.

She babied me.  She grilled salmon and made Sangria.  She took me to the beach and we walked and we talked and we remembered and we shared.

She gave me a book to read.  The Art of Resilience.  It had helped her through some of life's low points,  she said, and she hoped it would help me.  It has.

You might be wondering, about now, why the title of this post is The Shower.

Well, I'll tell you.  And it does have much to do with the zen of this particular weekend.

On Friday night, Sarah was showing me around her home.  She took me to the darling guest room I would be staying in, with its powder blue walls and white bedspread and books lining the walls and covering the dresser.  Love.

She showed me the hall bathroom, pretty standard fare, but then she told me that I could shower in the outside shower in the morning.

What the...?

I looked at the bathroom again.  It looked to be in good working order.  She as not using the tub for storage, or for the litter box.  The shower head and faucets were where they should be.

Maybe she has a busted pipe that needs to be fixed, I thought.

But she went on to say I could shower in the bathroom if I wanted, but that I might prefer the outside shower.

OK, I've been in plenty of outside showers.  Anyone who has grown up at the shore has the outside shower experience woven into the fabric of their being.  It's as much a part of life as wiping the sand off your feet before swinging your legs into bed.

Outside showers, in my experience, are generally pretty nasty places.  They're usually built under the stairs or in some dark corner underneath a house raised on pilings.  They are dark and dank, cobwebby and slimy.  You never go in barefoot as you're sure to succumb to foot and mouth disease or thrush or some bacterial illness which has eluded the CDC for years.

So again, I thought, what the....?

But whatever.  I went to bed that night, slept like a baby, and woke in the morning refreshed as only a night with open windows and salt air can refresh you.

After coffee and a bite to eat, we went for a long bike ride on the beach road and around the lake.  Wonderful.

Back at her house, we put the bikes away and she said,

"I'm going to do a little mowing.  You can go ahead and get in the shower", gesturing towards  the shower like a too-excited Vanna White trying to play it cool.

WTF? I thought.  What if I don't WANT to shower in her gd outside bacteria bath?  Maybe I want to shower INSIDE like a civilized person!

But not wanting to be rude to this person who was saving my life one weekend at a time, I gathered my clothes, towel, and toiletries, and dutifully walked into the outside shower.

What's this? I thought.  It's white.  It's full of sunshine.  It's CLEAN.

Cautiously, I disrobed, arranged all my things in the ante room, turned on the water, and stepped in.

I had that moment of feeling like I was solving quadratic equations at the blackboard naked in front of 30 10th graders like you always do when you find yourself outside and naked, but after a minute or two it passed and I was left revelling in the glory, without a care of my nakedness.

I looked up and out at the blue sky, and the green of the tree to my left,  and marveled as the warmth of the sun mingled with the warmth of the water washing over me.

In short, I had a Clairol Herbal Essences moment.  Mixed with a good portion of a Calgon take me away.

It was a religious experience.

When I emerged from the temple clean and fresh, Sarah was just putting her mower away.  I strode toward her and reached out to hug her.  She began her objections of "I'm all sweaty", but then just "OK..." as I embraced her and said quietly,

"Thank you.  Now I know....."




Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Solstice

As any Mom worth her salt knows, summer has little to do with the date on the calendar marked as "first day of summer".  It's all about the date the school shuts and locks its doors.

Since my kids attend two schools, that means two first days of summer in our household.  The first was yesterday, as my youngest walked out of his school doors for the last time as a freshman.

The others will finish up next week, so they still had to trudge off to the bus this morning with heads hung low.

Summer with school-aged children is a funny thing, isn't it?  When we Moms make it to the final stretch, we're nearly as giddy with anticipation as our kids.  We cannot WAIT for school to be over with.  No more begging/pleading/cajoling/demanding on issues of homework, studying, books, papers, projects.  No more dance recitals, play practice, after-school activities.  No more lunch money, lunch-packing, permission slips, field trips, field days, teacher conferences.  We think of long lazy days and watermelon and beaches and pools and the smell of sunblock and the warmth of the sun and good books and roadside stands overflowing with fresh goodies.  Like our kids, we feel FREE.

But then by the end of the summer?  We become just as giddy over the thought of them returning to school.  No more sun-up to sun-down bickering, boredom.  No more messes.  Well, scratch that.  Still plenty of mess, just seven hours less in the day for them to create those messes.  Seven hours less in the day for them to suck every crumb out of your cabinets and yell "There's nothing to eeeeeeeeatt!!!"    We dream of quiet houses, changing the radio station from pop to classic rock, fall leaves, cool weather, sweatshirts and jeans, quiet...

So for me, and probably for most parents, the summer solstice is not about the point at which days go from getting longer to getting shorter or about the beginning of the summer season.  Rather, it is the tipping point of summer break when we go from being glad school is over to counting down the days till it starts back up again.  My solstice typically arrives sometime in late July, but of course that depends very much on how my little angels are behaving.  If they act more like the young adults most of them are, my solstice may never come.  If they carry on like over-sugared 3rd graders at a birthday party, my solstice may very well arrive before summer truly begins.

Here's hoping for a late solstice.

Happy summer, everyone!





























Image source

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Six Ingredients or Less

Hello friends.  I've missed you.

And I have a treat to share with you.

A woman named Linda Hazen approached me via email, asking if I would have a look-see at her website Six Ingredients or Less.com.


Well I did, and I love it!

On this site you can find all of her cookbooks, as well as a wide range of nutrition (and dare I say weight loss) tips that focus on eating healthy, whole, unprocessed foods.  In less than five minutes I learned new information that seems very appropro to my own situation, and learned several tips, AND found a couple of recipes that I'd like to try.

Linda was kind enough to not only offer me a free download of her cookbook Six Ingredients or Less, but to offer a 50% discount to all my readers, as well!  Isn't she the bomb?

Here are Linda's instructions:

To redeem you free ebook simply go to sixingredientsorless.com and select the Six Ingredients or Less 4th edition e-cookbook and place it in your shopping cart. Continue through the cart process.  If you would like to offer your readers 50% off their entire purchase they may use coupon code: R-127.

This coupon offer expires 6/20/14, so go click on over now while you're thinking about it!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dolphin Tale Poster

How much did everyone love Dolphin Tale?

Well good news, Dolphin Tale 2 will soon be released!

And I have the official movie poster to give away.

Want it?  Let me know.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

I had a rare treat a couple days ago.

My friend Dee and I were able to arrange a halfway meet for an overnight visit.

Dee is a fellow "Trauma Mama".

She and I have both adopted.

Both adopted older kids.

Both older kids from the other side of the world.  Older kids from the other side of the world who have trauma backgrounds.

And we have been through it.

So a few weeks ago we had arranged to run away together.

We decided to meet this past Friday night halfway between her home and mine.

We almost weren't able to pull it off, because earlier in the week she had an episode with one of her kids where it nearly ended in a 911 call.  Then the day before our planned getaway I had an episode with one of my kids that did result in a 911 call.

And I was in the ER and then the adolescent mental health facility for just shy of 24 hours.

(My child will be OK and is getting some much needed help)

Of course as all these events were unfolding and then settling down, I figured I would need to scrap the plans to get away.  But as Fred said, I would need this now more than ever.  So he scrambled to get things in place to enable me to head off to CT.

And I did.  Up the Jersey Turnpike I went, over the GW, crawling down the Cross Bronx Expressway and finally checking into the Hilton.

And it was Won. Der. Ful.

We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we shared stories.

We even indulged in a spa treatment, if you count cutting my toenails on the bed a spa treatment.

I showed her my recent bruises and she showed me hers.  It was like the scene from Jaws where they're revealing all their scars.

Including the broken heart scars.

But now our batteries are recharged.  And we have returned to our respective broods better prepared to handle the next crisis.

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