I am away from home on Mother’s Day, but my heart is satisfied because part of home is here with me; my eldest daughter and grandson. I should more rightly say that I’m here with them. My daughter has nearly finished her intern year as a physician and is rotating for two months at a major state hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit because our local medical center doesn’t have one. I’m along as Nana, caring for “Li’l C”, as my daughter works grueling hours caring for children not as healthy as her little one.
Today, my thoughts are on the sacrifice that all that moms and their “villages” endure to make sure their precious offspring are healthy, happy, and sound. My other thoughts are of my own mom, who died at 48. Few days go by that this 52-year-old doesn’t think of the special moments that she failed to experience. Though they never met her, my own children share so many of her characteristics; perseverance, strength, kindness, and the desire to help others. I may not have parented exactly like her, but my goals were the same; to raise people worth knowing. Despite odds and obstacles, I know I’ve done just that.
Happy Mother’s Day to moms and their villages everywhere!
Last year, on December 16th, I attended an informational meeting about Optifast at our hospital’s bariatric center. I was nearly 230 pounds and physically miserable. My health was on a downward spiral of pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, depression, and limited mobility. My spirit was in even worse shape. In fact, shortly before my first bariatric visit, a silly family conversation about the Zombie Apocalypse* turned pretty serious as each family member was discussing their special skill in defeating the undead. My husband’s years in the Army have given him amazing survival skills, coupled with a sniper-like aim with any weapon available. My younger daughter is super fast, fearless, and strong. Her fiancé is resourceful and also an expert in survival and weaponry. My oldest daughter is cunning, has expert medical skills, and extremely resilient, and her husband is wily, quick and strong. After talking out a few scenarios that slayed more than a slew of zombies, my family turned to me,
“What would you do Mom?” my oldest asked.
“I’m fat,” I replied, “I’d be your diversion.”
With that, their happy conversation ceased and I spent the next hour, promising them that I would get healthy.
Fast forward to yesterday. My oldest I were happily dancing around the kitchen to holiday music with a few twerking songs thrown in, when she reminded me of last year’s Zombie Apocalypse conversation.
“What would you do now, Mom?” she questioned **
I answered with a high, karate-style kick that finished just inches from her head.
“I’d kick their asses!,” I replied with a smile.
With just one year of extremely hard work, I’ve gone from a Zombie’s holiday meal, to the undead’s worst enemy. I’m nearly 100 pounds lighter, am no longer pre-diabetic, no longer have sleep apnea, depression, or high blood pressure. My asthma medication has been cut in half, and I’m physically fit. I’ve met new, wonderful people through my gym and this blog. I don’t fear life anymore, and I’m certainly not afraid of a few zombies!
I feel so immensely blessed this wonderful holiday season. I’m thankful for the love of my friends and family, for my health, and for all of the caring, sweet people that I’ve met here on WordPress. I feel like I know all of you as friends and wish you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays! ❤ ❤ ❤
*Something that people who have years of advanced education tend to do, along with lengthy discussions of Star Wars, Star Trek, and other various super cool subjects!
Lucky me! I just found out that I’ve won a gorgeous Lifeventure SoftFibre Trek Towel from the wonderful Le and David at their fabulous blog Wise Monkeys Abroad. I encourage you to check out their blog; they’ve traveled to so many wonderful places and share amazing pictures and stories from their trips.
It’s funny, earlier today, my eldest daughter and I were discussing our annual trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The beaches there hold so many special memories for our family. It’s a nifty coincidence that I would win a beach towel on the same day that I was so reminiscing about the sunny shore! I can’t wait to take some great pictures of my new towel on the beach this summer.
To say that I had nice Thanksgiving would be an understatement. This holiday was probably one of the most splendid that I’ve had as an adult. My husband will insist that I say this after every holiday, but this Thanksgiving truly upped the bar for my love of planning, cleaning, cooking and entertaining for family and friends.
We had a total of ten people between immediate family and friends. I did the majority of the cooking prep the day before, in order to have time to be a proper hostess on the actual day. My only holiday challenges were seating and table arranging in my small house, and figuring out how to prepare my first organic, pastured turkey. I decided that rather than worrying about my tiny home, I would imagine that it was placed somewhere in Japan, where it’s size would certainly upgrade it to mansion status. This gave me a much more positive outlook. I consulted the Food Network, and used The Pioneer Woman’s instructions and brining recipe to make sure my turkey was juicy and delicious (and it REALLY was).
The combination of food, friends, and family was stellar and our day lasted well into the night, with games and chatter. Though I sent people home with tons of leftovers, there were still quite a few high calorie treats left at my house. (Did you know that a slice of pecan pie has 540 calories?) I’m not sure of the caloric content of pumpkin pie, but I know that from Wednesday through Saturday, it was a part of my “healthy” breakfast, as were dark chocolate walnut brownies.
Today, I’ll begin damage control. My short foray with sugar ended last night when I microwaved a piece of pecan pie and adorned it with three ample scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. This morning, I had my usual Fiber One cereal with a half cup of almond milk. I’m drinking tons of water, and soon as I hit publish, I’m scurrying off to the gym. I may have overindulged, but I’m not afraid. I know my winning formula of eating properly and exercising, will have me back on track before the week is over!
Did you overindulge during the Thanksgiving holiday? Do you have a clear plan for getting back on track after going food crazy?
Yesterday, I overheard two ladies in the checkout line at Target lamenting their holiday to-do list. With Thanksgiving Day fast approaching, I’ve been up with the roosters (not that I actually have roosters in my suburban sprawl) cleaning like a little maniac today. Am I complaining? Heck, no! This is my favorite time of year. Not only do I adore the actual holiday of sitting down to drink wine and pig out with friends and family, I thoroughly enjoy the days leading up to the actual holiday. I’m a planner, a list maker, and a checker-offer. Placing a well-deserved check-mark next to “launder kitchen and bathroom rugs,” or “scrub living room floor,” is almost as satisfying as taking that first bite of perfectly roasted turkey.
So today, I’ll be up to my elbows in the lemony scent of Mr. Clean, enjoying the smell of freshly washed throw rugs, and savoring the sight of a spotless home. Tomorrow, I’ll be shopping and Wednesday, I’ll be ironing table clothes, baking, and prepping everything that I can, so I can best spend time with my guests on Thursday.
I promise, as I turn up my speakers, so I can hear every mellow note of Bing Crosby’s Christmas album, that there’s a smile on my face and not a single grumble in my heart. I’m truly thankful for the process and the busy moments that lead up to our holiday celebrations. I could go on and on about it, but my old buddy, Mr. Clean is reminding me that my coffee break is over!
Are you like me and enjoy the preparation as much as the event? If you celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday, what are your plans?
I was given a series of sweet gifts this past Friday. I’d gladly show you a picture, but it’s absolutely impossible for an amateur like me to photograph the collection of intangible, heart-brimming experiences that I had. I can only paint a picture with my words, and even they may not be bright enough to express my feelings.
Friday afternoon, I went shoe shopping. Now, before you roll your eyes and think that this flat-footed fifty-year-old is going to share with you a shallow tale of Manolo Blahnik’s or Louboutin’s ripe for the picking, think again. It wasn’t what I found in the store that made my heart sing and my eyes well with tears, it was who I was with and the circumstances of our shopping. I helped my best friend take her elderly mother shopping for winter shoes. While that may sound tedious to some, it was a new experience for me and I held it with an elevated wonder.
I’ve known my best friend’s mom, “Carole*,” since I was 18. She was once a very independent widow who raised five children on her own while serving tirelessly in her profession as an obstetric nurse. She’s now in her late 70s and suffers from dementia. Though this dysfunction has robbed her of her short term memory, and causes her to be easily confused, it hasn’t taken away the essence of her personality. Her keen sense of humor is boldly intact, as is her kind and grateful nature.
I was a bit anxious taking the both of them. Between my best friend’s traumatic brain injury, her mom’s dementia, and my terrible sense of direction when it comes to navigating in the city, things could have easily gotten chaotic. I called the shoe store ahead of time to inquire about parking (I didn’t want Carole to have to walk far in the cold) and restrooms (essential for young and old). I also consulted Siri to guide me on the best route. My fears were quickly put to rest, as our drive was smooth, with even the serendipitous occasion of a truck blocking oncoming traffic as I helped Carole out of the car and onto a safe sidewalk. A dear associate named Dana carefully measured Carole’s feet and patiently guided her in finding everyday leather shoes, sneakers, snow boots and slippers. All the while it was evident by her wide smile and glistening eyes that Carole was thoroughly enjoying being pampered and fussed over. Repeatedly she told us all, “You all are really spoiling me!”
After shoe shopping, there was lunch. An offer was made for a fancy Italian place, but Carole insisted that she wanted a chicken sandwich from a fast food establishment. Fortunately, there were healthy salads for my friend and I. After lunch, we drove back to my friend’s house for some cozy fire-side viewing of old episodes of “Murder She Wrote.” When it was evident that Carole was getting sleepy, we headed back to her house. My friend prepared her dinner and we sat with her as she ate and waited for her evening caregiver to arrive.
As I drove back to my house in the early twilight, tears welled in my eyes as I mentally listed all of the little blessings that I’d encountered. while shoe shopping.
The store we visited was where my own mother and I had shopped throughout my childhood, Everything from my first pair of baby shoes to the Bass penny loafers that I went off to college in, were purchased there.
The gift of the truck that held up traffic long enough for me to get Carole out of the car safely.
A dog named Molly who greeted me as we exited the shoe store (Molly was the name of the last dog we had when I still lived at home.)
My best friend’s face bright with love and contentment as she cared for her mother.
Carole enjoying being “spoiled” and listening to her gratefully praise my best friend throughout the day.
The sleepy warmth of the fireplace and the nostalgia of an old TV show that I’d long ago watched with my own mother.
My best friend sharing her mother with me for the day; giving me a glimpse of the pleasure associated with caring for the person who had once so tirelessly cared for her.
Feeling the glow of my own mom’s spirit so near to mine.
All in all it was a perfect day; a shoe shopping trip that was a little less about the fabulous finds on the store shelves and a lot more about the awesome discoveries in my heart.
When have you found unexpected joy in a simple event? Tell me about it! 🙂
There’s an old Yiddish folktale about a man who goes to his Rabbi for advice about the crowded condition of his small home. Instead of encouraging him to reorganize, the Rabbi insists that he brings several groups of farm animals inside to live with his already bustling family. When the man can no longer take the chaos brought on by his home’s new occupants, the Rabbi instructs him to remove the animals. Predictably, the man and his family realize just how much space they have in their home, and begin to better appreciate what they have.
For nearly two years, my home has been joyfully crowded; stuffed to the shutters with the people I love and their plethora of possessions. This weekend, my wonderful daughter and son-in-law will be moving into their own home. While I will certainly miss their daily presence, it makes my heart smile that they’ve found a beautiful house, less than two miles away from mine. It’s a win-win situation for all of us. We’ll still be close by to one another, but we’ll all have more space.
This new space will allow my younger daughter to finally move into her sister’s room. She and her fiancé are planning to move into their own place in the Spring. She’s been accumulating quite a bit of household things for her future home and claiming her sister’s room will solve her storage woes.
Happily, this leaves my younger daughter’s room for me to finally create a craft room of my very own. Currently, my crafting storage takes up a bit of space in several rooms of our house. It’s going to be fabulous to finally see everything have its own space. It’s also going to take some work.
Fourteen years ago, after a visit to Monticello, my daughter had the bright idea that a built-in bed, similar to the one in Thomas Jefferson’s home, would be the solution to having the world’s smallest bedroom.
My husband took on the challenge and after several days of work, and a trip to the emergency room for nearly cutting off a finger with the circular saw, he completed something similar by converting her ample closet into a cove for a platform bed with drawers. (Unfortunately, her room is too messy right now to take a pic of it–I’ll take some good ones before we demo) To create my craft room, we’re going to have to remove the platform bed, amend the floor underneath it and do some drywall repair, trim replacement, and painting. Hopefully, no ER visits will be required!
I found an adorably colorful rag rug for the floor for only $12 at Kohl’s (Hooray for Kohl’s cash and a 30% off coupon). I’ve also found a fantastic 72″x 20″ unfinished workbench at Home Depot for $69. I plan to sand and paint it a sunny yellow, which should look lovely with the light teal walls. Fortunately, there’s already tons of shelving in the room that my husband installed when he built the bed. Hopefully here in the next few weeks, I’ll have pictures to post, providing that I still have fingers to post with!
So this weekend, my small, crowded house will become a bit more spacious, as my eldest departs the nest for a second time. The closeness of her new home quells my sadness. I’m excited for her to enjoy the fun of setting up her own household with her own unique style, and I know we’ll still be in daily contact. With no weepy eyes on board, I’m thrilled to reorganize my newly acquired space. Unlike the man in the Yiddish fable, I’ve been quite happy having a crowded bustling household; I’ve appreciated the craziness all along. The extra space that my daughter will leave behind is just a little bonus to an already joyful life.
Do you live in a crowded house? If you’re an empty-nester, how did you feel when your adult “birdies” flew the coop? Do you enjoy organizing and remodeling like I do? What’s the niftiest home improvement project you’ve completed?