Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You Can Dance If You Want To

Many of you have asked how my dance class went...Jimminy.

I walk in and it was just like the movies.  I wish I could remember the movie...seems like Antonio Banderas was in it...I don't know...but I walk in to wood floors with streamers hanging from the ceiling and these two elderly women taking a "group lesson."

My teacher is a young guy named James.  He does a great job and we quickly covered some basics and then moved on to the Argentine Tango.  He has some background in theater so that was good.  We covered 6 dances when he normally only covers 3 so I guess that's good.

I didn't feel like I knew what I was doing.  I couldn't even explain it to anyone but I was able to follow well so...there is that.

My audition is June 11 and if I get called back for a dance audition it will be June 14th?  I can't recall and quite frankly I don't want to.  I sweat every time I think of the dance audition.  I'm still not sure that I know what I'm doing with the singing aud.  I may be making a complete ass of myself but...Se la vie!

More dancing next week with a focus on the Argentine Tango.

I made my audition appointment yesterday.  I had to post which role I was auditioning for.  I sat for a long time with my head in my hands before finally typing out "Eva Peron."  It felt very presumptuous and scary! 

Conquering fears makes me feel high on life.

What I'm Loving Wednesday #2

Olivia and I in 2009
Olivia today!!!

O and Hannah


Ben with Lesley and I on the Brooklyn Bridge 2009

Olivia with Ben at the make-over show!

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"So why oh why oh why the hell can't I?"

The Evita auditions were finally officially posted.  The dates for rehearsals will interfere with our summer visit to Texas, cutting it short about a week.  I think I'm OK with that.  The kids won't be but...  Also means no Warrior Dash.  (Can't remember if I shared about that yet.  It's an amazing 7k obstacle course through mud and fire, I kid you not.  My team was going to be dressed like Wonder Woman!)  Even more devastating than that is that there will be a dance audition for the lead.  WHY GOD?!  WHY?!!!  WAAAAAGH!  *sniff*  It's OK.  I'm good. 

Last night I was out with all of my Mountain Women and they were all so confident that I would soon be Eva Peron.  I left feeling high from their encouragement and faith in me!  I felt like I was going to be able to really do it.  Amazing how quickly that balloon deflates when an obstacle is set in your way.  You feet.

I read the audition post this morning while getting the kids ready for school.  I was completely flipped.  I planned to drive the boys to the bus stop this so that I would go straight to the gym to train for the Warrior Dash.  Since I had only a chance to quickly read over the rehearsal dates I was not completely sure if the Dash was out or not.  I tossed the boys in the car and began to back out my driveway. 

My house is on a hill.  A huge mountain type hill.  There is a big dip on the drivers side of the driveway.  If one goes off the road they could roll down a pretty steep hill side into trees.  I normally have no problem backing down but, like I said, I was flipped.  So I back out and felt my back driver side tire go off the edge.  I turned my wheel all the way right and tried to move forward up out off of the ledge.  Nothing.  Darn this car!  Where is my four wheel drive?!!!  I ordered the kids out of the car and told them to start to walk to the bus stop.


"Because Mommy's car is hanging off of a cliff."

So...a small exaggeration but I wanted them to move it!  After they were out I said a quick prayer, turned the wheel all the way to the left and went in reverse.  Nothing. 



"PLEASE!!!"  I shouted to the Heavens.  I tried again, flooring the pedal and my will.  Finally, she gave it her all and popped up back onto the road again. 

I went on to the bus stop to bid my adieus.  Caren was there and I told her about the dance audition.

"And...I don't think I will get to do Warrior Dash."

"Well, you should still train like you are," Caren said.


But she's right.  I have been so excited to see my performance improve.  I've never ran a day in my life and in 4 runs I've shaved 4 min. off of my time.  A time that was really good to begin with!

I turned my car up the hill and headed to the gym.  The whole time I was arguing with myself as to why I was going to even run today.  I have a hard time running when I'm preoccupied.  My mind was racing. 

What were those dates again?  Will the boys understand cutting our trip short?  Will our friends?  If it comes down to Evita or the Warrior Dash I'm totally doing Evita.  *sigh* That means I don't get to wear my Wonder Woman costume...

I thought of turning the car around to go home and re-read the post again but then I realized I was already at the gym.  Reluctantly, I got out of my car and headed in.  With the Evita soundtrack blaring on my iPod, I ran.  I would love to tell you that I shaved another 2 minutes off of my time but the truth is I quit after 22 min. (1.7 miles). 

Once home I re-read the audition.  Yes, my trip will have to be cut short but even at that I will miss the first two rehearsals.  A trip planned in September will also have to go by the way-side.  Goodbye Warrior Dash/Wonder Woman costume.  And that "dance audition for leads" was still on there.  CURSES!

I went downstairs to catch up on Dancing with the Stars.  I boo-hooed during my favorite dances.  Oh and P.S.  Did ya'll see the Dove Challenge Dance?  It was during an extended commercial so you might have FF right through it.  It was so lame!  It didn't even look like they showed her whole dance!  I was so disappointed for her.  I would've been upset if I worked hard for a whole week and then a blip of what I did was shown.

When it was all over I sat on the couch a bit thinking....If for some hand-of-God-reason I get the part it would be like an accumulated event of all my dreams.  Sing, act AND dance!  Tonight, Olivia and of them is going to win the Biggest Loser.  Drake can walk at a heel.  Mom has lost nearly 30 lbs.  People are overcoming all around me.  I'm in total terror.  You know what that means....

"Finally, she gave it her all and popped up back onto the road again."

Begin video at 2:55...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Nice Little Weekend/Not the End of the World

I'm obsessed now with rehearsing for my Evita audition.  I had a phone "conference" with Christina this weekend.  I have been able to zero in on some things now after getting some direction from her.

Drake amazed us all on Saturday during training!  We were able to walk the whole loop (the one by my house not the three mile one) with the guidance of his trainer.  She was so thrilled with his progress.  We have found a weak link in Aaron though...  It seems I am the Enforcer and he is the Disney Dad.  Christine (the dog trainer.  Not to be confused with ChristinA, my musical mentor) had given Aaron homework last week. 

Drake likes to wrestle pretty rough with Aaron, which is fine, but Christine wanted Drake to stop when Aaron was done.  She asked Aaron to get Drake revved up and rough and then tell him "leave it" when he wanted Drake to let go of his arm, clothes or whatever he had his jaw clamped down on.  She also told us that growing up they had some sort of large breed dog that her dad always wrestled with.  He bought big leather gloves just for wrestling with that dog.   This week Aaron bought big leather gloves and wrestled with Drake every day.  He did not take anything else from Christine's instruction except the story of her dad's leather gloves.  Now when I put on leather work gloves to do yard work Drake freakin' attacks me!  Phooey.

Also, I tried to walk Drake home last night after a play date at Caren's.  Aaron was leading the way and I had Drake on the leash.  He was completely unmanageable because he wanted to be up where Daddy was.  He nearly pulled me down the stairs so I had to relinquish the leash to The Weak Link.

This afternoon Drake and I worked on all of his training homework, which included a walk.  He immediately went into a heel!  I didn't even have to get him into a start position.  He stayed in a heel the whole way around until...we got to Stormy and Trigger's corral.  The horses were right at the fence watching/taunting Drake.  He lunged so I threw the leash behind and around my waist and tried to just keep him moving.  I pulled him like this up the WORST part of the hill until he went back into a strained heel.  i.e. he was beside me but turning with some pull to look back at the horses.  When he would do this I would click-treat to get his attention back in a forward direction.  I did this about 4 times and then he was back to walking like a pro!  I was so proud of him!  I was pretty proud of myself too, I'm not gonna lie.

Once home I got back to rehearsing and cleaning house.  I have to say it is quite humorous to be belting anthems of glamour and power while folding socks and underwear....

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm Only A Simple Woman!

A month or two ago I got wind that the local theater was getting ready to post auditions for the Fall musical.  They were deciding between Jekyll and Hyde, Singing in the Rain, Evita and Gypsy.  Everyday I checked their website to see if a decision had been made and to get the audition details. 



I kept fretting about which show they would choose.  Could I audition if it was Gypsy?  I love that show but it's about the most famous stripper who never actually stripped.  Even though it's a clean program, the subject matter would keep my kids from being able to see the show.  Singing In The Rain is darn near a ballet and my dancing skills...well, you know.

The director of the program is the music teacher at my sons school.  Yesterday I was up there for the Recorder Recital (which was a lot less awful then I thought it would be) and she told me that they had chosen Evita and that auditions were to be held June 11th.  I was so thrilled to learn it was Evita!!!  I almost cried I was so pumped!

I have a friend from high school choir, Christina, that is an equity actor (i.e. professional live theatrical performer, gets paid) and has been living in New York doing her thing on local stages and even in tours.  I caught up with her on a trip to NY.  Seeing Chris and Olivia really working and pursuing their dreams on the stage woke something in me that I had kept dormant for years.  I am a wife and a mother.  I did not see how other dreams could fit in with my family.  But why not?  I'm never going to be a Broadway performer (I'll never even be on that stage to wipe up sweat) but I could perform locally and for fun! 

As soon as I heard there were auditions for White Christmas I got weepy and nervous and knew I had to pursue it.  I called Christina who took on the role of my mentor. 

"First things first: your goal is to audition.  Don't worry about getting a part.  If you audition you will have completed step one in becoming involved in local theater.  Then the next time there are auditions you will have that experience under your belt." 

Her wise words pulled my head out of the clouds a bit and gave me an attainable goal.  She helped me choose a song and taught me how to present myself as a professional and not as some housewife who had not been on any stage but that of her church's.  She took my endeavour as serious as hers and shared with me the details of her current auditions.  We were in cahoots.  I felt like I had someone in it with me even though she was under the flashing lights of Time Square and I was in a carpool line. 

Christina also explained to me that there is so much more that goes into a casting decision besides ones talent.  Are you the right age for the part?  Was there a guy who auditioned for the part opposite yours that would look right with you?  Women are often at the mercy of this factor because there are not many men who are in theater anymore.  (Stupid homo-phobes.  Come on guys!  Man up!)  In a small local theater it may be as basic as whether or not they already have costumes that would fit you. 

For me my boobs are a factor.  I'm not going to get the role of innocent Madame Librarian because the knockers kind of ruin the look of an ingenue.  That seems wrong and rude but it's the facts.  Picture Marilyn Monroe as...I don't know...Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  Not gonna work.  Like wise I will likely never be cast in a role that Audrey Hepburn, Debbie Reynolds or Natalie Wood were cast in.    Not that I would get Marilyn Monroe or Jane Russel roles either.  Being over 30 puts me in a funky class of people.  We are probably too old for the ingenue and to young to play their mama.  Though the mama role is more likely attainable.   Being 5'0" has it's effects in the casting decision as well.

I think I could look like Evita, don't you?
 So now I'm looking at this Evita audition not knowing how to portray myself.  More than likely I will be cast in the chorus.  I had a small part in White Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it!  You give it your all when you're on stage and then back stage...Whew!  So much to do!  It was great helping with the quick changes and props.

Of course what I'd really love is the lead role as Eva.  She was short...check, she was Hispanic....check, she's cast as 25-35....check with an "eek."  She was sort of frail due to poor health...wa-wa-wah.  I'm a bit too "healthy" looking.  I would love this role but I don't want to audition for the wrong part and look like I don't know the show.  However I just saw Billy Elliott with an Asian you just never know. 

Christina has again been "coaching" me via the Internet.  She has big things happening for her in all aspects of her life but she is still kindly and genuinely taking interest and helping me out. 

She closed her last message with:
"So, my friend, we rehearse and wait, hand in virtual hand. We can do it! It's the same game, no matter where we are playing it."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

What I'm Loving Wednesday is a fun idea I've seen on a couple of other blogs.  I don't think I will be doing it every week but I thought I'd do one today.  So here we go!

When Aaron and I first got married he told me that he did not want to feel like he was living in a woman's home.  No floral prints on the furniture, draperies or dishes.  So I've always kept that in mind while making our house a home.  I think the result is eclectic and warm.  But one of my favorite things is this little touch of femininity in the corner of the bathroom vanity:
And this one on my dresser:
I'm also loving Airborne Toxic Event.  Well...there is a lot of music I'm loving right now but let's just highlight this band today:
Also check out their song, "Does This Mean You're Moving On."

Drew is my carbon copy, personality wise.  One thing he and I both struggle with is holding our tongue.  Drew has developed a method that works well for him.  When he wants to tell mom and dad off (or anyone else for that matter) he does this:
Looks funny but really this is very wise of him and I'm trying to adopt it as well.  I don't know if I should laugh or fume when I see him do this to me because I know he is thinking all kinds of nasty things in his head about me but I have to applaud the self-control.  This is a friendly version of the look he gives.  Lower those eyebrows into a scowl and you'll have a better idea of The Look.

One of my favorite things to do is to browse through the amazing photography of my friend April.  I shared a link to her page in my Spring Cleaning blog but I'm linking you to her blog again because her pics are AMAZING!!  If you are lucky enough to live in the Houston area call her and get your family pics done!  Weddings, family photos, baby's first pics,Senior portraits, etc. Run don't walk HERE!!

And the thing that really has me pumped this Wednesday is that my two childhood friends, Olivia Ward and Hannah Curlee have made it to the FINALS of this season's Biggest Loser!!!!!
They have always been beautiful and now they are GORGEOUS!  Even better than how they have toned and shaped their bodies is the way their already powerful inner strength has been chiseled and polished into something mighty, mighty!!!  Love you girls.  Miss you O!  Hopefully I can get back to NY again sometime soon...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chef Boy-R-We

My six year old has said since he was 4 that he wants to be a chef when he grows up.  He has never swayed from this idea.  I believe he may be one of the rare few who has already found his purpose in life.  The boy has always been passionate about food.  It isn't just about eating it.  He is interested in all aspects of food.

"Is this healthy for me mom?"  he often asks before dipping a nugget into ketchup.


"What about this?" he'll ask wielding a carrot like a sword.

When we cook together he likes to smell each spice before adding it in.  He of course likes to taste along the way.  He recently asked me if he and I could take a trip to Paris, France one day.  He wants to see where the great chefs are.

We once had a pet Rosy Wolf Snail named Gary.  Rosy Wolves are unique in that they eat other snails.  About this time the boys were also really into the show Man vs. Wild.  Drew was most fascinated that the host of the show, Bear Grylls, would often eat various bugs.

"Mom, do people really eat bugs?"

"Yes, they do.  In some places it's considered a delicacy."

"What's a delicacy?"

"Something very special.  In fact some people even eat snails!"  I said tapping Gary's bowl.

"Ew!  Are you SERIOUS?!"

"Yep.  It's called escargot."

"Can I have escargot?"

I did not want to pay high dollar for my 5 year old to have escargot but seeing how most kids won't even try a floret of broccoli I was not going to deny his request.  I decided the cheapest way to meet the needs of his adventurous palette was to make it ourselves. 

After Pre-School one day we took a field trip to Hubble and Hudson; a local gourmet grocery store.  Up stairs in the grocery is a culinary school.  Drew always liked to walk by it and talk about when he will take classes there one day.  Down in the grocery there were ready made meals in the deli section.  Behind the counter were chefs preparing food. 

"Excuse me," I called to them.

"Excuse me!"  Drew called in his booming voice.  A gentleman approached.

"How can we help you?"

"My name is Drew and I'm 5 years old," he said holding up a pudgy hand with all five fingers splayed.  "I'm going to be a chef when I grow up and today I want to make escargot.  Escargot is snails."

The man's eyes grew wide in surprise and an amused grin fanned across his face.

"Do you know there is a school for chefs here in this store?" he asked Drew.

"Yep.  I'm going to go there one day."

"Would you like to meet the head chef?" 

Now it was Drew's eyes that grew wide.  "Oh yes please!" 

The kind man called the head chef over and told him all that Drew had said.  He then came around the counter to lift Drew up to watch the head chef prepare something.  (I wish I could remember what it was.  Something I had never heard of or had.)  Drew and I sampled it.  We thanked him for the sample and demonstration.  He did not stay long.  Head chefs are very busy. 

The other fellow though took us to where we could find escargot.  He agreed with me that making it ourselves would be far cheaper then buying it at a restaurant.  He then explained to us how to prepare it.  I was not too thrilled to learn that the snails came separate from the shells.  Ug-oh.  He suggested that we buy pre-seasoned garlic butter to cook the snails in.

Drew and I thanked him and the head chef again, promising to return to share how our experiment went.  We then headed to Drew's other favorite store Sur la Table.  Sur la Table is a cooking supply store much like Williams Sanoma.  Drew loves to look at all of the different tools.  On this trip he decided he wanted a pasta maker and a manual mixer.  However this visit we were only there to get the scoop for the butter.  (We were told to scoop out a knob of butter.)

At home Drew had a fabulous time!  The snails came canned so the first job was to rinse them.  Next we rinsed all of the shells.  Then Drew put a knob of garlic butter into the shell followed by the snail.  He had to kind of stuff it in.  (So glad I did not have to do that!  *gag*)  He sealed off each shell with a second knob of garlic butter.  The stuffed shells were put into a pan and baked.  I don't recall the temperature or for how long.  We served the escargot along with pizza from our freezer and a salad.

Here's how that went:

Drew eats escargot!! (My apologies that it's sideways.  For some reason Facebook can't fix it...)
Drew has accumulated quite a few cooking supplies over the past few years.  He finally got his manual mixer for Valentines this year and especially loves to make pancakes with it.  We have also decided that every Sunday night he would make dinner.  This past Sunday Drew made spaghetti.  After dinner he wanted to watch cooking videos on YouTube while I cleared the table.  He watched one show on Creme Brule, something he's had an interest in since seeing the torch at Sur la Table.  Drew followed that up with two different videos on Tiramisu. 

One morning he made this with my  neighbor, Caren, a former Personal Chef.  He watched two videos because one of them the guy did not make it quite like Caren.  When he found the one that did he said, "Mom, write this down on your grocery list:  I need mascarpone cheese, lady fingers and cocoa powder. we have cocoa powder?"

In two of the videos we watched the men had accents, one French and one Italian.  Drew would laugh and try to mimic them.

"Mom, what countries have the best chefs?"

"Well, probably France and Italy, like these guys.  Though, I know there are great chefs in New York as well."

"Yeah...I still want to go to France with you."

While running errands with Caren today I told her about Drew's YouTube quest for her tiramisu recipe.  She took me to where she buys the lady fingers and mascarpone.  When Drew got off the bus I told him what we had bought.

"Ms. Caren!  Can I please come and make tiramisu?" 

"Use this for your motivation to get him to finish his biography project..." Caren whispered to me.  Genius. 

As soon as Drew finished he gathered his ingredients and ran over to Caren's for another tiramisu lesson.  I stopped by half way through and watched as Drew and Caren's daughter dipped each lady finger into a bowl of coffee and then layer a glass dish with the soaked cookies.  Then they spread a cream, that they made before I got there, over the top.  Using a Parmesan cheese grater, they shaved chocolate over the cream and then repeated the process a second time right over the top of it all. 

"Thank you for teaching me to make tiramisu, Ms. Caren."  Drew said as he gave her a hug.

"Wait Drew.  You have to pay me."


"You have to let me have a little pinch of each of your earlobes," Caren said.   (Drew has these amazing thick, floppy earlobes.)  Drew obediently stood still for Caren and allowed her to get a squeeze of those fabulous lobes!

The dessert was a great motivator tonight to get everyone to finish all of their salads.  Drew was so proud of it!

"Will it be good?"  Gabriel tentatively asked.

"Yee-eah!" Drew exclaimed sounding like Gabriel was absurd to even ask.  "Who doesn't like tiramisu?!" 

(Click on my Recipe tab for the escargot and tiramisu recipes.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Who's Training Who?

The day of our Spring Cleaning Party it was snowing.  We need the precipitation badly but I was really bummed that it was snowing on the day we were to welcome in Spring!  Phooey.  The bad weather kept a few guests away but the rest of us had a great time "cleaning" and playing board games.  We wrapped things up about 11 p.m. and then this morning Drake had a training appointment.

I am so thrilled with Drake's trainer Christine, and with him!  He is such a fast learner that we are convinced that he's had previous training.  So now we are giving him a refresher, letting him know that the rules still apply and how to deal with the new distractions that are unique to our home, i.e. cats, deer, etc.

The first training appt. we reviewed the basics: sit, down, stay, come.  She also taught him how to "leave it."  This is a fun game that we can build on to manage bigger issues.  We do this by putting super yummy treats in my hand.  With my hand closed in front of him I tell Drake, "leave it" and then slowly open my hand to reveal the treats.  If Drake tries to eat them I quickly close my hand saying "uh-oh!  Leave it."  Then repeat until he can sit with the treats presented in his face with out him even nosing them.  He mastered this after about 4 tries. 

We also learned some signs/commands to help him calm down when overly excited which lead to calmly "getting dressed" (leashed up) for a walk.  His biggest obstacle to overcome this week was after being leashed, staying in a "sit-stay" even when the door was open, until I released him.  We almost got that one.

Today our trainer ('cause let's face it, Drake is not the only one being trained...) wanted to up the ante on "leave it" by seeing if Drake, when laying down, could ignore the food when it was placed on the floor right between his front paws.  We also addressed his rough play.  Drake sometimes grabs our sleeves or the edge of our shirts when playing with the kids.  This is reinforced by the Super Wrestling time he has with Aaron.  When he wrestles with Aaron he grabs Aaron's arm.  Realistically, Drake could rip that arm off but he knows his limits with Aaron, tones down his play with the boys and even more so with me.  Drake needs to learn to stop the play when we are finished.  So this will be Aaron's homework this week.  It's kind of fun homework!  Wrestle with Drake and then use "leave it" to have him release your arm and then "sit-stay" followed by lots of praise to signal that play time is over.  We also practiced getting up and off of the couch.  Drake is allowed on the furniture downstairs only upon INVITATION.  He loved this game!

Drake playing "lap-dog" with Aaron prior to training.
 Today's biggest achievement was taking Drake on an actual walk!  Our previous walks have been wrought with adventure, to put a positive spin on it.  Christine was undaunted by my tale of being dragged down a gravel road while Drake danced around the hooves of an agitated horse.  The weather was cold and foggy.  Perfect weather for deer.  After working hard with Drake to wait before plowing through the door or gate we ventured out down the driveway.  Right away we spotted deer up behind one of my neighbors house.  Drake did not seem to notice as they were heavily veiled by the fog.  The walk down the drive was spent getting him to "heel."  He got this pretty quickly, even before we got all the way down the driveway.  This further confirmed to us that he has had previous training.  She said that she's had Service Dogs that she's trained that have spent weeks on "heel" and Drake nearly had it perfected in minutes.

We kept the walk between the two house on our road that have horses.  Christine demonstrated to me how to distract Drake when he became excited or anxious about the horses and then had me walk him at a "heel" and practice redirecting him from the distractions on our walk.  Then came the deer....

Christine had Drake at this point (thank God!)  Drake was not as easy to refocus once the deer were in his sight and took Christine on a little ski-pull down the hill but it was short lived.  She has fabulous composure and control of the dog.  It shook her up a bit though as this was her first taste/demo of Drake's strength and determination.  She walked him up the hill and away from the deer to practice redirection with something less intriguing like the horses.  Then we went back down for more teasing with the deer.  Again, he took her down the road a bit but not as much as the first time.

She had me practice walking him some more and then we took him back up to the house.  The deer were very close to the house at this point so Christine took the leash again.  This time the deer were probably less then 20 feet away.  Drake was very interested, cried and quivered a bit but demonstrated amazing self-control by not even pulling toward them.  He stayed at a "heel" all the way up the hill.  Even after we got in the fenced yard, Christine would not let him off the hook.  She made Drake wait and wait before letting him go.  He had to do several focus tricks before she finally let him go and then....

"Jesus!" gasped Christine at the sight of Drake tearing down the hill to the deer on the other side of our fence.  Mud flew, muscles rippled as he kicked up his haunches at full speed and the deer scattered! 

"Well, I have a much better idea of what you are contending with now.  That dog's a machine!"  I think it speaks volumes that Drake's intense power and physique impresses people like vets and trainers; people who work with dogs all the time.

After Drake got the run out of him we brought him in and I cleaned all of the wet mud from him.  I tried not to cry.  At the start of the walk I was fine but every time the leash came into my hands I felt my anxiety rise.  With each encounter with the deer in the horses I got more and more nervous.  Christine went on and on about how amazing Drake was.  He will succeed but the work is only about 20% Drake's.  The rest is on me.  She gave me so much information and instruction...I'm trying not to feel overwhelmed but I realize how much of the responsibility is mine.  I have to train my emotions and tell my spirit to release it's grip on those nerves.  Leave it.

After we got Drake cleaned up, Christine and I spent some time reviewing everything she had showed me today.  She wrote some things down for me to help me with recall during the week.  She assured me that I was doing great and that if I ever get frustrated while working with him during the week, to take a break and come back to it later.  I love her!

Drake has been sleeping on the floor since she left about 2 hours ago.  In fact he's laying next to me right now, softly snoring.  Good job Pony Boy!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring Cleaning Party

It's that time of year!  Spring Cleaning Time!!  Now I have never claimed to be a good house keeper but Spring Cleaning is so....satisfying!

When we lived in Missouri we had a neighbor who showed me how to really enjoy a good Spring Cleaning.  She started in the liquor cabinet.  Yes she did.  The whole neighborhood was invited over and everyone was asked to bring a dish to share and a bottle of whatever liquor they had that was nearly empty.  Then the 'hood polished it all off together! 

When hosting a Spring Cleaning Party one must be careful because they can easily get out of hand...I'm not mentioning names.  Ya'll know who you are...Tracy.  Amy.  What? is how I am setting the tone:

Next I made a banner using scrapbook papers that I have.  I cut them into circles with a template and then painted the letters in the middle.  I tacked string across that I hung the letters from with clothespins.

I then made coffee filter flowers.  First you put a little water in a bowl and dye it with food coloring.  Next crumple a coffee filter into a wad and drop it into the dye.
Keep adding wads of coffee filters.
Turn them so they get covered in the dyed water.  Next remove the filters, ringing them out as you do, and setting them aside.
To dry them I just tossed them into the dryer for about 10 minutes, periodically checking on them.
To make the flowers you need toothpicks, tape and your dry and dyed coffee filters.
Stick the toothpick in the center (does not need to be exact center) and tape it to the toothpick.  Repeat sticking the same toothpick through the centers of coffee filters and taping them until you have the size flower you desire.


I am loving all of the decorations you can make with coffee filters!  Check this out from my friend April's photography blog.  April's design was featured in SeaShine magazine:
If you go to April Mae Creative then scroll down to SeaShine Magazine feature, there is a link to the article that has directions on how to make those lovely garlands!
I absolutely love this garland:

My mom called and asked what I was up to.  When I told her about the decorations I made she said, "It sounds like you have too much time on your hands."  Truth is though it took me just a little over an hour to make the scrapbook garland and the filter flowers!  The only thing that had to be purchased were the coffee filters because my coffee maker does not use the pretty ruffly kind.  Otherwise free and easy.  That's how I like it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Couch Potato Work Out

After watching my girls, Olivia and Hannah, kick butt on Biggest Loser last night (and after seeing my scale creep up to the No-No Number) I decided that I would be hitting the gym first thing in the morning.

I woke up and suited up in my work out clothes.  Hello Yoga pants.  Haven't seen you in awhile.  I thought that I would drive the kids down to the bus stop and leave straight from there that way I would not come home and dream up some excuse not to go.

Spring time snow is different then winter snow.  Winter snow is dry, light and packs on the road.  Spring snow is wet, heavy and melts on the ground as soon as it hits.  Sometimes it completely melts away but other times you are left with slush.  On dirt roads it's a muddy slush! 

Despite this, I drove fearlessly down to the bus stop.  I saw my neighbor Kevin's car at the stop as well.  I put the car in neutral and gave a slow break.  I began to slide. Oh.  Remember what to do...Don't panic.  Another slow break.  I did.  I gave it another slow break and the car obeyed and stopped with still another cars width of room between Kevin and I.  The bus pulled up and I got the kids out for hugs and kisses.

"I almost hit you Kevin!"  I called out to him.

"I know.  I was getting ready to pull forward a bit."

"Nah.  Your wife taught me well."

"Where is your coat crazy woman?"

"In the house.  I'm just running down to the gym and the grocery store."

"No you're not.  Not on these roads.  They're too slushy.  Follow me home."

"But not too closely!"  Caren called out from the car.

If the Mountain People tell you not to drive then you don't.  I obediently followed them home with no incident.  Kevin parked down in front of his house.  I pulled up next to him and rolled down my window.

"I did it!"

"Yeah you did!  You did great!"

"Thanks.  Now we'll see if I can get up my drive way."

"I'm not even gonna try."

Hm...if Kevin doesn't think his car can get up the drive I probably shouldn't try either.

I tried anyway.  She only made it about 1/3 of the way up so I slipped and slided her into a parking spot down by the wood pile.  Boo.  I was just thinking yesterday how it's been a long time since I've heard anyone tease me about being One Step Closer to being a Mountain Woman.  I thought maybe I had graduated to that.  Not quite.  When I have a 4X4 then I'll be a Mountain Woman.

If I've learned anything from the Biggest Loser this season it's that there can be no excuses.  If you have an excuse you have to counter it with a solution.  Since I watched the BL last night I did not get to watch the result show for Dancing with the Stars.  I let Drake in and watched the result show I had DVR'd, running up and down my stairs during the commercial breaks.  This was a great work out and it's my understanding that stopping and going like that is great for burning calories.  It was also a nice little work out for Drake.

At first he kept trying to do the stairs with me but this was scaring me because he's such a Hulk and he could accidentally knock me down the stairs.  I put him in a sit-stay at the bottom of the stairs and kept going.  Up, down, up, down, up, down.  I think I counted going up and down about 12 times until the commercial break ended.  I didn't keep count well though because my mind was wandering.  Can never turn this brain off.

"All done," I said to Drake, his cue to break from his sit-stay.  I rewarded him with a bit of hot dog and cheese.  (Can you believe his progress with just one meet up with a trainer?  He's amazing!)  We did this during every break and I think there were 6 of them.  I lost count.  I worked up a sweat and everything.  I'm going to start a new program: The Couch Potato Work Out.  You can still sit and enjoy your shows but you have to do some sort of work out during all of the commercials. 

I did a little of this during Biggest Loser.  I did it more like a drinking game though.  Every time they showed Olivia and Hannah in a "confessional" type interview then I would have to do 25 push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks or the like.  Those two talk so much though that I was only able to do it for the first hour of the show.  Then I gave up.  I know...not very Biggest Loser of me. 

For Grey's Anatomy one could do a work out every time one of them says "Seriously."  Ha!  Or every time there is a trauma or something.  Probably the most consistent thing though would be to work out during the commercials.  I think this could catch on.  You still get to curl up on the couch and watch your shows but you sneak in a little extra for your body at the same time.  I think this is genius!  Seriously. 

Drop and give me 25.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Baked Crap

There are some parts of my life that I just can't blog about. 

Tuesday's are always Baking Days and I can blog about that.  I have not been very motivated on Baking Day of late.  The most successful Baking Days are when you plan several days ahead so that you are sure to have all the ingredients as well as allow the other bakers to gather what they need.  The last...month or so...I have not been planning ahead.  I typically arrive, sit at the island with a cookbook and see what I can whip up. 

For this week I did plan ahead...sort of.  I have had two acorn squashes sitting on my counter for I don't know how long.  I found a recipe on-line for acorn squash bread.  It sounded really yummy!  Spice Cake-like.  I forgot, however, to let the rest of the group know so I was the only one with acorn squash.

Patti made a wheat berry salad.  Wheat berries are wheat kernels.  Laurel of course made the bread.  Ezekiel bread this week!  Stacy and Caren made a high protein granola. 

My acorn squash recipe began by baking the squash for 45 min.  This was disappointing to me.  I mean, did I not read the directions before deciding to make this?  After they were baked I had to let them cool.  More time wasted.  Boo.  Finally I could begin.  There was enough squash that I could double my recipe.  I doubled the sugar, the spices, the oil, and the eggs.  I paused at the baking soda and baking powder.

"Um...when you guys double a recipe do you double the baking powder and soda as well?"

Laurel laughed as she went to the pantry to mill grain.

"I always double it," someone said.

"I do like 1 and a 1/2," said another.

I glared into my bowl trying to decide what to do.

"I laughed, Michal, because I knew you would get all different answers," Laurel said.

"Oh.  I figured you laughed because most of what I bake tastes like baking soda or powder."

I went with the one and half idea.  Not quite doubling but still an increase.  After all ingredients had been added and mixed, I poured it into two greased and floured bread pans and placed it in the oven to bake for...

"Another 45 minutes?!  Ug!  This takes forever."

During the wait I ate lunch, did a few dishes and chatted with the other ladies.  Finally my bread was ready.  I opened the oven to find that the loaves had fallen.  My countenance went with it.

"Poop,"  I said as I took one loaf out and plopped it onto the island.  The man-handling caused the bread to fall in even more.  It just deflated.

"Grrrr.  What the heck?"

"You can't throw it around," Caren said, "You have to handle bread gently."

"Yeah, but it fell before I even took it out.  Look!" I said pulling the other loaf out for proof.

"Oooo smells good!  What's that?"  Stacy asked.

"Crap.  Baked Crap."  I replied.

"You used too much leavening product," added Stacy.  "I never double the baking powder or soda.  I didn't say anything since you were already getting all kinds of different answers."

"Did you increase the flour?" Caren asked.


"You have to increase the flour for the higher altitude."  I've been coming to Baking Day for about 8 months now.  Why can I not remember to do that?

"Just make it seem on purpose," suggested Caren.  "Fill it with something."

"Like cream cheese frosting..." I thought.

I sliced the loaves in half to share with the other bakers.

"It's not cooked through.  It's all gooey inside!  Damn."

"Well, maybe that's why it fell."  (Caren trying to make me feel better again.) "Let's try baking it a little longer."

So we did.  Still gooey.  I stared at the bread with my nastiest pout but it still refused to change.

"They look like slippers," I said.

"It doesn't matter how it looks," encouraged Caren.  "How does it taste?"

We cut off a slice.  It's good!

"It's good but it's still gooey.  We need to just throw it away."
"No, no.  It's nothing a toaster can't fix."  exclaimed Caren/Polly Anna.

"You could pour some sort of cream sauce over it," suggested Stacy, probably because the gooey-ness reminded her of bread pudding.

Both good ideas.  I think mine is better though and I plan to trash it.

Aaron just got home and asked about Baking Day.


"What'd you bake?"


"What do you mean?" he says through laughter.  I showed him the bread.  "Looks to me like someone is doing too much talking and not paying enough attention to the baking..." he said turning his hand into a puppet.  A mocking puppet.

"Shut up.  You don't know.  It's either because I used to much baking powder and soda or because I didn't increase the flour for altitude."

"How long have you been baking at this altitude?"

"I know."

"After about one or two times of that happening one would think that..."

"Shut up." 

He cuts a slice.  "Kind of gooey...It does taste good though."

Trashing it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Blue Haired Lady Tour #1

A few months back my Grandma called me.  She loves to travel!  Now that she's older she takes trips with a group called Sun Tours.  Sun Tours is basically a Senior Travel group.  They plan the whole trip for you.  They travel all over the country.  You fly to your destination and then Sun Tours drives the group about in buses (that they insist on calling "coaches.")  They plan your meals, activities, everything!  You can even take mystery trips!  They tell you how long you will be gone and what sort of weather to pack for, show up and go.

So Grandma calls me because she and her best friend, Margaret were going on a Sun Tours trip to Phoenix.  My Aunt Cathy planned to go with them (chaperon) but needed a room mate.  They thought I might like to join them.  The trip was to Phoenix for a performance of Billy Elliott!  After planning the trip my Aunt Cathy (who we have always called Auntie Cutie) was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had her third round of chemo-therapy the week of the trip.

I flew in from Denver an hour early.  I waited in baggage claim for everyone to arrive.  While waiting I read a book, periodically checking the time.  Finally, a herd of Cotton Tops started heading toward me and a lone bright scarfed wrapped scalp.  I ran up to hug and kiss my Grandma, Aunt and friend.

I have traveled with Grandma and Margaret before.  It was way back when I was eleven!  I see Margaret nearly every time I visit my Grandma.  She is 10 years older then my Grandma and does Jazzercise 3-4 times a week!  She moves great!  Her only sign of aging are her white curls and her lack of hearing.

Grandma is in pretty good shape too!  She moves slower but I don't think it's so much do to lack of agility but more because her vision is  very poor.  Since she's not sure what lies ahead she moves a bit slower.  Both ladies are quick witted and fun!

Auntie Cutie looked great!  The lack of hair make her eyes really stand out.  She's nothing but a smile and fluttering eye lashes!  Each time she has a treatment she is a little more tired a little longer but then she is fine.  She even feels a little guilty about how well she feels.  The only thing I did notice was that she moved a little different.  She confessed to me that the white cell booster they give her make her muscles very stiff.  Aspirin seemed to help and I gave her massages from time to time.  Mostly though she has a great attitude and even praised some of the conveniences of the chemo.

"I don't have to do my hair or shave!"

After meeting up with the Senior Group we all boarded the  Cathy and I sat together and Grandma and Margaret were across the aisle. 

"Doot, doot, doot, doot, doot...."  said the tour guide in rapid fire.  "I do that to test the intercom.  It may get annoying..." 


She proceeded to give us info on the trip.  Our first stop would be the capital where we could have a tour or lunch and then the mall.  Dinner would be at The Keg...

"That sounds promising!" my Aunt cheered to me.

...followed by Billy Elliott.  In the morning breakfast would be served in the Vista Verde room.

"That's the name of my cemetery!"  a passenger behind Cathy and I happily exclaimed.

Cathy and I busted up laughing!

"Shhh!" Grandma scolded, "You girls are too loud!"

This of course made us laugh more.  Getting in trouble at our age was just too fun!

The resort we stayed at was absolutely beautiful!  As soon as we got in our room I jumped on the beds.  Aunt Cathy tsk, tsked me. 

"Do you always do that?"


"You are a bad influence on your sons."


Dinner was nice as well.  Grandma and Margaret were a little annoyed with how fast the waiter talked, how dark the restaurant was and how loud it was.  Aside from was great!  I was glad to be there to help the ladies find their way about the place and to communicate for the waiter. 

Next was Billy Elliott!  The show was fabulous!  I cried numerous times and all at inappropriate times.  Stage performances just always get me.  I sat there thinking, I missed it!  I missed what little chance I had!

After the show we returned to the coach and waited....and waited....  There were a couple of ladies that require the aid of a walker.  This drove my Grandmother crazy because they always held up the group.  Cathy and I found this pretty funny since my Grandma is no Speedy Gonzalez. 

"Well, once I start bitching I can't stop!"  Grandma said, sending Cathy and I into more fits of laughter.

The next day we took a tour of a mansion.  It was owned by the guy who invented Wrigley Chewing Gum.  Let me tell you, it paid off!  He had one room that was wall papered in the silver wrappers of his gum.  It was beautiful.  Also the bathrooms were all uniquely tiled. 

We followed this up with a tour of an Anne Taylor collection at the Phoenix Art Museum.  This was right up my alley!  Her clothes and life were so amazing!  The tour ended there and we headed back the airport.

"Doot, doot, doot, doot, doot...." began the tour guide.  She wanted to pass out some awards.  My Grandma and a few others got certificates for $50 off their next Sun Tours purchase for introducing someone new to the company, i.e. me.

"Grandma!  You should rip that up!  What an insult!  An introduction to your Granddaughter is worth way more than $50!" She agreed but then thought better of ripping it up.

"We can use it on another trip and you can come again!"

My Grandma has been on 36 Sun Tours trips and has her name on a plaque in her office for it!  Her Bestie, Margaret has been on 40 tours.

"Margaret, they should put your name on a coach!"  My aunt and I suggested.

This was my aunt's 3rd trip and so she got a special pin for it.  I wondered if there were going to be pins in my future....oh my!

On the flight home I felt...nervous?  Excited?  I couldn't pin point it.  Was I sad to leave Grandma?  Well...some what but that wasn't it.  Was I nervous about the flight?  No.  I love to fly.  I think that after finally stopping I was able to feel that I was missing my family.  It was time to come home.

I don't like flying late at night nearly as much as in the day.  Walking through an airport at night is...creepy.  There is no one excited for their next adventure and or high on returning from one.  Everyone there is weary and the very large building is desolate.  I got to the parking garage.  I nervously walked back to my car.  (I can't wait to start taking martial arts.)  It was completely dark, there were no people around to witness or help if anything ominous were to happen.  I recalled how near God seemed to be this week and wondered why I could not feel that now.

I know you are there.  Protect me.

There was this one guy who was waiting outside the doors when I first walked out.  Now he seemed to be following me.  I kept looking alert and bold.  When I got to my car.  I practically dove in and locked the doors.  Ug.  Time for home!

I don't like to drive at night.  I was tired on top of it so it did not calm my nerves.  The guy  in front of me was either tired or drunk and swerved about the road.  Was it better to be in front or behind this guy?  I sped up, went around him and put a lot of distance between us.

Good Lord woman.  You have been around old ladies too long this weekend! 

Granted, "Mildred" has always been there but she was out in full force last night.  I hate when my old lady persona takes over.  Where is the Lola?  I put on my iPod and sang show tunes at top volume the rest of the way home.
It was 11:00 p.m. when I got home.  The house was full of flowers.  There were calla lilies that I assumed were from Aaron and then very bright mixed arrangements that could be from none other than the boys.  I went into their rooms to kiss their foreheads.  Drew woke up and sat up in bed.

"Mamma's home," I whispered, "lay down and sleep."  He held my face in his hands as if trying to clearly see that this was true, then laid back down and slept.  Gabriel never budged.  The boy was out like a rock.

In the morning there was breakfast in bed, home made cards, and a Mother's Day song.  The boys played in my bed while I read.  It was a perfect weekend!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just Take a Deep Breath!

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

I was recently sharing with a friend about the ease of having a relationship with Christ.  It took me years to get this but considering that I am still relatively young, I'm thankful I've come to this realization now rather than later.  I've said it before but Christ did not come to create a religion but to forge relationship.  When one is in a genuine relationship there are not all of these silly formalities. 

When I first met Caren I would come over and knock at her door.  She would come to the door, open it and invite me in.  It quickly went from that to knocking and then a shout from inside to "come in!"  Now I hardly give a courtesy knock before just letting myself in with a "Hey!  It's me!"  A relationship with Christ should be more like that and less of the standing outside the door of His chambers waiting for the door to open and a personal invite in.

I remember when I was in like 8th grade...I think...and I was touring in a youth musical with my church youth group (or was it on a ski trip...?)  Anywhoo...I was rooming with a gal named Shari.  I think she was like 20 years old at the time (so maybe I wasn't in Jr.High but I was young.)  We were talking about prayer times and relating to God and I said, "I love how Tevye, in Fiddler on the Roof, just talks to God like He's there.  He's just walking about doing his job and then he's like, 'God, could you help my horse?  His leg hurts.  And what about this God?  I'm just wondering what You are thinking about that and Hey, why aren't I rich?' and then he shimmies and stomps and breaks into song.  Why can't I just talk to God like that?" 

To which Shari said, "You can."

Well that sounds pretty simple.  And it is.  It still took years of me getting frustrated with myself because I did not spend an hour each morning "before God" in prayer or meditation.  I wasn't combing through the pages of the Bible everyday like I "should."  I had to be the worst Christian ever.  So I thought.  Then one day I was frustratedly praying and I accidentally cussed.

"Oh my gosh!  I'm so sorry!  It's just that I am beside myself with this and I don't even know why I'm freaking out about that... *light bulb* You knew I was going to say that and You know my heart.  You know every disgusting bit of darkness in me so why do I even bother to try and shield that part of me from You?" 

I suddenly realized that there was no trick to this.  I did not need to stand on one leg, pat my head and rub my stomach in order to talk to God.  There is no special posture I need to take or a correct lingo I need to use.  So I stopped doing that and just started having conversation with God.

"Just like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof," I told Shalah once.

"You do realize that your life really isn't a musical, right?" she asked.

I'm honestly not ready to accept that notion but seriously Tevye was doing it right. 

And now I'm going to say something a little shocking: I don't believe you even really need the Bible to have a relationship with Christ.  I have never read the full Bible cover to cover.  (Breathe in.  Breathe out.  You OK reader?  Good.)  I have my favorite parts that I like to go back over from time to time but a good chunk of it is a total Snoozapalooza.  The New Testament is the best part for me because of A. the good news of redemption in Christ and B. it's much less cryptic then the Old Testament.  The Old is more ancient and is harder to read.  I mean if you really want to "get" that part you need to do research so you can consider the context it was written in, the culture, the language. 

I really loved a series Matthew Hoffman preached on the Old Testament (he covered one book a week) because he did all of that research and work for me.  It's also why I like Bible studies because then I have some direction on how to research it. 

Mostly though my Bible is a resource book for me.  When I am wondering what God's heart is on a matter I open my Bible and hunt down an answer.  He is always faithful to direct me to just the right verse.  I'm not saying that the Bible is not important but look at all of the example with in the Bible of people who had personal relationship with God and were used by God and the Bible had not even been written yet.  Don't you think that God can reach anybody anywhere?  You don't have to have a Bible to hear from Him.  In fact many people obtain a Bible after the fact.

For me the Bible is like looking into a house through a window.  If you look into the window of my house you will see the living room and dining room.  You will see a touch of the kitchen.  You will be able to ascertain a bit about my style through my decor.  You won't be able to see down the hall. You won't see the bathroom, the bedrooms or any of the rooms down in the basement.  The Bible gives me a pretty good view of who God is and a sense of His "style" (i.e. heart) but there are corridors and room after room after room and basement below basement below basements of God that I will never get just from looking in that window.  I will only see those rooms when I just open the door and walk in with a "Hey!  It's me!"

Here's the other great thing about starting a relationship with Christ.  You don't have to change a thing about yourself.  (Take a deep breath in again.....and shhhhhhhhhh let it all out.  Very good.)  One thing you can learn from reading the Old Testament is that God used pretty messed up people to do His will.  Not only that but He blessed those people and moved for those people when called upon.  Samson was a a drunkard and whored around and God would empower him when he called upon Him.  He did not wait for Samson to first get his act together either.  I mean the guy literally was sweating gin out of his pores and had just rolled out of a whore's bed when he asked God to help him and the Lord did.  I love the verse in U2's City of Blinding Lights that says, "blessings are not just for those who kneel, luckily." 

There have been times where my children have come to me needing my comfort and they reek of boy-ness.  I embrace my weeping child and kiss his head and the whole time I'm thinking "Damn boy!  You smell like a toilet!"  I kid you not, I have gagged from their stench during just such a time before.  But I did not push my son away and order him to clean up first and then I'll wrap you in my arms and soothe your sorrow.  No!  I just held him, rocked him *GAG* kissed his head *HEAVE* and as soon as freakin' possible got his dirty ass in the tub!  God is the same with us.  We are just one big hot beautiful mess! 

So you don't have to change a thing but you might find that it happens anyway.  Ever notice someone saying something that you do?  One day a friend of mine said that she heard her daughter exclaim "Oh my lands!"  That's a Michalism.  I also refer to the children as "The Littles."  And if there are young kids and older kids I use that to differentiate.  For example: "The Littles will ride with us and The Bigs can ride with the dads."  That has become a part of many of my friends vocabulary.

I have picked up on other people's vocab myself.  Or behaviors.  After becoming friends with Caren I have repeatedly found myself baking.  From scratch!  What the....?  Yeah.  I do.  Because my friend Caren does and she's made me realize that it's not an impossible thing to do.  In fact it's kind of fun and quite rewarding!  She's also taught me a lot about how to be a Mountain Woman.  Yesterday I had to go to my sons school and it was snowing.  It was snowing hard enough that I needed to drive with my lights on and it was noon.  Half way to the school I realized that just a few months ago I would've been freaked out to do this and probably would've called Caren and ask her to drive me! 

I did not change before moving here.  I changed after I got here.  I find things about people that I just really love and I emulate it.  I don't even do it on purpose.   (In fact when people do emulate or copy someone on purpose it is weird and annoying.  It's just as annoying when people are forcibly trying to be Holy.  Gross.)  It just happens because we spend time together.  It doesn't mean that I stop singing musicals because that is just who I am.  I have tweaked other things (like my baking habits) because my friend has revealed things to me about it that are good.  I am not afraid to drive in the snow anymore because this gal I have a relationship with taught me there was nothing to fear.  People adopt my Michalisms because it's how I talk and they are talking to me.

So you don't need to change to have a relationship with God.  Having a relationship with God will change you.  He will teach you things, reveal things to you, and you will find yourself spouting scripture and speaking Truths because you spend time a lot of time with Him and He kind of rubs off on people.

You often hear people/pastors pray and say things like "we are going to wait on the Lord's presence right now."  Or "Jesus, we invite you into this place of worship."  I find this kind of funny.  God is omnipresent.  He's everywhere.  He's already here.  You don't have to wait for Him to show up or invite Him.  He walked in the door a long time ago and is practically sitting in your lap.  It's US that need to tap into His presence and there is no special formula for that.  His presence is like oxygen.  It's all over the place.  If you hold your breath the oxygen is not going to seep into your nose and fill your lungs.  You have to inhale and breathe it in.  It's really is as simple as breathing to tap into God's presence!  Stop holding your breath waiting for Him to give you mouth-to-mouth or for some spiritual snorkel to allow you to take in His presence.  Just breathe.

Do it with me:  Breathe in.  Breathe out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bin Laden is Dead. Bin Laden is Dead.

A few days before 9/11 I discovered that I was pregnant with my First.  It was the day before Aaron and I were to travel to Missouri to visit family and friends in various places.  The day of the attacks we were in Chicago with friends.  The day was horrific, sad and surreal.  I remember the uncertainty I felt for the world I was bringing a child into.

Tonight, the day before my First is to turn 9, it has been announced that Osama Bin Laden is dead.  So unfortunate was it that I had to hear the news from freaking Geraldo Rivera.  He lucked into the breaking news during his show.  Fox News totally scooped the story a good 5 min. ahead of CNN.  Geraldo was giddy and high fiving his co-anchor. 


I would like to assume that his giddiness was due to his personal luck to be the one to make this HUGE announcement.  I really hope it was that and not that he was applauding the death of another human being. 

As a mother, I know how ferocious the desire for justice can be, especially in regards to my children.  It's kind of scary how fast rage can ignite on their behalf.  I was pissed when the towers fell.  Scared when the Pentagon burned and so, so proud of the passengers of the flight that was brought down in the middle of a field, saving other lives.  Very likely the life of our President.  I am happy for the peace and closure this news brings but I am not excited in the least.

This is sad because a soul is lost.  Permanently.  And it is scary because there will very likely be retaliation. 

I have recently been pondering the empathy of God.  A dear friend recently lost her father.  She happened to be in my kitchen when her mother called and told her.  I never met her father, though I've heard scads of stories.  Regardless, there has been a gaping whole in my heart ever since.  I have a very physical ache for my friend. 

I was reminded of Psalm 56:8 saying that God is aware of our hurts and collects our tears.  He mourns with us.  But just as He is counting my friends tears He is rejoicing in the arrival of her father into His Kingdom!

After the news tonight there were a lot of Facebook posts regarding it.  There were even retaliating scripture verses of God's vengeance and justice vs His mercy and empathy.  Guess what?  Both are right!  God is so much bigger than anything we can fathom!  He is not just black and white!  He explodes from between the covers of the Bible!  He is beyond anything we can imagine. And if I, a mere pion human can have multiple feelings of both justice, relief, sadness and pity how much much MORE does our Savior?!!

I cried through all of the broadcasting.  I cried at the memory of 9/11 and for the families of the victims.  I cried at thought of people cheering when I died.  I cried for the loss of a soul.  I cried fearfully for what is to come. 

Lord Jesus give me peace.  Protect our country.  Give our President wisdom.  Cover us all with Your Grace, Mercy and Love.

"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles." ~Proverbs 24:17

(Thanks Anna for posting that verse and thanks to King Solomon.  He wrote that, right?)