May 26, 2011

This Little Light of Mine

This morning, I'm relishing the beauty of my crazy life. Two of my nephews just drove away with my sister after spending 4 days and nights rockin' our household while their parents enjoyed a well-deserved vacation, alone. (something we parents need on occasion!) I'm just now sitting down for the first time this morning - to appreciate the fun it was.

Housing four kids, age 7 and under, is rather an amazing feat in a townhouse that's not set up for it. And not only did I have four kids for the last few days, I actually had some extras running around too. Monday, a our little two year old buddy (another girl) was over to play. That night we enjoyed an evening with our four - plus some dear friends (in from out of town!) who brought their three over as well. You can imagine the noise level with 7 kids in a small space. It was mostly happy noise. Tuesday, I packed us all up and headed to a friend's house to watch her 6 and a 4 year old while she headed to work. So, I got to try my hand at 6 kids. Whew! They played pretty well together. Outside play is the key!!

It would probably be easier to gradually build up to having four kids around all the time but I was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was. The biggest challenge was probably food prep. I found myself channeling my mom and my Grandma Verna - who had five and seven children respectively - and who cooked nearly everything from scratch. I remember my mom telling stories about growing up on their family stock-farm. The girls (mom and gram) woke up and started cooking for the boys. The boys would come in from chores, eat breakfast and head back out to the fields. Meanwhile, the girls would clean up the mess from breakfast and start cooking dinner (lunch). After lunch, they'd start all over again for supper! That's pretty much what it felt like for me the last few days!

After the boys left today, I surveyed the small explosions of toys, clothes, laundry and other remains of the experience around the house and decided to walk away and head out to my latest little garden experiment. As I worked on my new compost pile (more on that later!), I found my heart sort of swelling up with a sort of joyous glee.

Not only did I survive four days with four kids under seven - I enjoyed every minute! We laughed when the three and two year old had sweet little conversations with each other and shared their toys. I nearly cried when my oldest nephew fell and took it hard in the knee - and felt pride when he bravely soldiered through the cleaning and bandaging. We fed my nephew's pet tortoise and let him walk around in our yard, marveling at his tiny size and his perfect design. Watching a baby tortoise eat is an amazing thing! 

We weathered little arguments and temper tantrums between the youngest and erupted in laughter at the crazy giggles of joy that emerged from the two oldest as they stayed up late to play old school Nintendo with my husband. We ended our visit with a trip to In 'n' Out Burger last night (yes, even Organic Mama breaks down to eat fast food on occasion), and the kids were in heaven, laughing and making up ridiculous jokes while slurping down their hormone-filled chocolate shakes (see, I still think about it!). And...I managed not to freak out when my two year old decided to destroy her sister's tea party set because she liked the sound of porcelain smashing on the tile.

As my nephews drove away, we chatted with a few neighbors and a friend stopped by to bring me some kitchen scraps for my compost. She checked out my small garden and we visited for a few minutes before she left. Then, as I watered my garden after she left and touched a few of my lovely little plants, I thought back on this week and felt an almost overwhelming joy at the way my life is unfolding before me.

My life is nothing like I planned and yet - so much better than I imagined it. I haven't achieved the kind of career I intended. I am not living in the little (single family) house with a big yard I thought I needed. Instead we have a multi-family house with a big yard (more about our house here)! I still count every penny and sometimes worry about how we're going to meet our financial obligations - though we're super frugal and our only debt is our mortgage.

But, in all the ways that count, I think I just might be the richest person I know. The rooms of my small home, two upstairs and two down, echo with the sounds of real life, laughter and tears, fights and making up. The person I admire most in all the world loves me (me!) and thinks I'm beautiful and wonderful. The prettiest, sweetest and smartest little girls I've ever met are my little daughters and think I hang the moon (as long as I'm not telling them to pick up their toys). My four sisters - strong, brilliant, beautiful and opinionated - are amazing women who I'm proud to call family.  Some of the most incredible women (and men) I know - call me friend.

Lately, this gratefulness has become a regular thing with me and I believe I know why. I think my near death experience in February, when I said goodbye to the baby I was so longing to meet, served (for me, anyway) a medium that makes the blessings in my life stand our in brilliant relief against the pain. It reminded me - rather dramatically - that life is like a brilliant flash of light that can be extinguished far too easily. And, unlike when my mom, dad and brother died and I first faced my own mortality and responded with a kind of life-paralysis, this is different. While I miss that little baby with physical ache at times, I am grateful for the gift he gave me of living NOW.  

Going through pain and loss only makes life's moments of wonder and joy that much more precious. I haven't always felt this way. It is a lesson that I'm still learning - after multiple opportunities. But, I'm determined to be IN LIFE. Messy and loud and crazy as it is (at least in our house!), I'm enjoying every minute. Every visit, every laugh and cry, every stinking diaper that my two year old takes off (yes, still doing that!), every dear friend (or potential new friend!), every challenge and moment of ease, every chance to house 4 kids in my small house - I'm going to take it and have fun doing it!

Funny that this post went a direction I didn't expect today. But, the truth is, it's what I've been thinking about lately. The light I have a chance to be. The light we all can be to those around us.

My flash of light will be something worth seeing. My goal is that I'll blaze so brightly that when I'm gone, those around me still glow with a residual light.

What about you?

May 18, 2011

Easy Plants for the Newbie Arizona Gardener

So, a few weeks ago, I talked about how gardening might just improve your sex life. If you missed that post, read it here. Today, I'd like to introduce you to some of my garden friends who just LOVE growing in the Arizona climate. Want to try your hand at edible/herbal gardening in AZ but don't know where to start? Here are some beautiful and fairly easy options for the newbie gardener.

Before you start, you two basic things to create a successful garden - good soil and regular water.

These plants all enjoy fairly fertile, well drained soil. Since Arizona soil is largely hard rock clay, I add compost and sometimes a little sand if the soil isn't draining well. You may have to wet your soil down to add these other components. When you're finished, the dirt should look rich, dark and fairly crumbly. These plants will grow well in the ground or in a pot. But if you plant in pots, don't use anything smaller than a 5 gallon pot. In the summer, plant roots will steam in anything smaller.

As for water, if you want to have healthy plants, it's better to water deeply (soak rather than sprinkle!) and infrequently (every 2-3 days) to develop a strong root system. I actually plant my plants in little ditches so I fill them with water and the water soaks about 6-8 inches down. While it seems like a lot of water at the time, since you water less frequently, it's a more water conservative option.

Ok, now that you know how to successfully prep for these garden stars, let me introduce them!

Aloe Vera
There are a couple hundred varieties of Aloe Vera. Aloe is an absolute essential in sunny Arizona. There is no substitute for it when dealing with a sunburn. Those bottles of gel in the store are not as effective. When I was growing up at my parents' house, my mom devoted a flower bed lucious green variety of aloe. The leaves were bright green with pretty white spots and they produced a flowering stalk every year. If I, or one of my sisters, managed to get a sunburn, we simply smoothed this on the burn and it minimized the damage considerably. I have also read that some people use it as a sunburn preventative.

While some people use aloe internally as a laxative or for other ailments, our family primarily uses it topically for sunburns or in lotion making. It is wise to consult an herbalist when considering using aloe internally. Pregnant women should not use aloe internally.

Aloe reproduces by means of a little shoot that creates another plant. If you don't want the shooters, give them away as gifts!

Spearmint, peppermint, applemint, chocolate mint! There are a ton of mint varieties. Mint is colorful and delicious in tea or salads and creates a bright spot in any garden. It is cooling for feverish babies and energizing for those who are a bit tired. This is a great plant for beginning gardeners because it's a weed and will survive almost any abuse and return year after year. I, myself, have left my mint to die by not watering it many times but it just keeps on going! Though, a friend swears she has killed 3 mint plants. I think this is more of a unique accomplishment than a typical mint experience.

Mint is one of those plants that reproduces pretty fast. Unless you have time to keep in check, plant it in a pot. On the other hand, if you have an area you need to cover, mint will take it over.

What a lovely smell this plant has! It loves the hot weather and is seriously hardy. I have always loved rosemary because when I was a young, romantic girl (as opposed to a grown, romantic girl), I remember reading a story about a young hero giving his lover rosemary so she would remember him as he embarked on an epic journey. Of course, as an adult, I have also learned to love rosemary for the fragrant flavor she adds to savory and sweet recipes. One of my family's favorites recipes is a rosemary shortbread I make on rare occasions - mostly because I want to eat the whole pan! Mmmm....

Full sun is just fine for this mediterranean herb.

Like rosemary, thyme is a hardy friend in an Arizona garden. Also a mediterranean herb, the hot climate agrees with it. However, thyme does seem to appreciate a little afternoon shade in the summer. One of my thyme plants is in a pot so I just move it when the temperatures rise.

I recently planted some creeping thyme and I'm really pleased with how beautiful it looks. I am hoping to do a project on my patio soon which involves planting it in between paving stones. I'll post it when I find it.

Not only does lavender produce lovely blooms, it smells amazing in the garden all year 'round. I have this planted on my back patio and in my front flowerbed. I love how its gentle fragrance just wafts through the air as I'm watering it. It's surprisingly hardy as well. The back porch version gets full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon and it is just thriving.

The best thing about these plants is that they are also great companion plants for the veggies you're wanting to grow in the garden. These herbs all repel pests and seem fairly resistant to disease so you may find you success with these plants that you haven't previously enjoyed.

Another plus is that you don't need a big plant to start. Just buy a small plant from a nursery - or better yet scavenge from a friend's garden and get going! If you do go to a nursery, try a locally owned one like Baker's, The Style Nursery or Whitfill. They will know more about Arizona gardening than big box store employees and you'll feel good that you've supported your local economy.
Ok - Get out in that garden!!

May 16, 2011

A Novel Approach to Life

The morning sun cast its first rays across the floor as she crept down the hall. A tingle pricked her forearms and slithered up her shoulders to her neck, turning into a full blown shudder as she gripped her weapon more tightly and placed her finger square on the trigger. As she reached the end of the hall, she paused, fearful of what she might find if she continued. But, she had no choice. This was the only way out. Taking a slow, silent breath, she gathered her courage and, weapon firmly clasped in her hands, rounded the corner. Just as she feared, he was there, waiting for her.

And, although she abhorred violence, she did not hesitate. She pulled the trigger, not once, not twice but over and over, shouting, "DIE! DIE! DIE!!!!" as she shot him - as though it would somehow make the end come more quickly. Confused by his sudden fall from power, he crawled toward her, thinking escape was possible. He was gone within seconds while she was left, panting and shaken, horrified by the thought that this wasn't the first time she'd lived this nightmare and that it wasn't likely to be the last.

This, my friends, is not, as you might imagine, a fiction. It is, in fact, a true story.

The heroine is - of course - me.

The target, is - a


Yes. That's right. I've interrupted our regularly scheduled Monday programming to bring you the saga of my personal battle against a cockroach (and his d*** friends) - and how that battle against these creatures of the night has changed my life and caused me to face some personal demons as well.

It all started a few months ago, when I was working downstairs late in the evening  - and discovered the biggest FR**king roach I've ever seen in my life. I stood, frozen and horrified as I watched it run at lightening speed around my freshly cleaned kitchen and spread it's nastiness everywhere.

"What do I do? What do I do?!" I thought as I stood there, unable to move. The thing had too many places to go for me to hit it successfully, not to mention that it was too darned fast! I did the only respectable thing a smart woman can do. I called my husband (who was soundly sleeping) - and let him play the hero. And, after he stumbled out of bed and miraculously managed to hit the thing with the first swat, even he was freaked out by it's size!

Now, in Arizona, we are lucky not to have many natural disasters. Nope. Instead we have flying roaches. My fear of these creepers dates back to childhood - and the encounters I had with them that emotionally scarred me. Now, I am not going to describe those events because I fear that even you might be unable to sleep tonight if you were to recall them before bed. You can see from this previous post how cool I am about handling them.

Suffice it to say that when I discovered this sewer roach who'd visited my house via a drain pipe had encouraged his friends to visit, horror does not begin to describe my response.

I embarked on a mission to make my house so perfectly clean that not a crumb, a drop of water or a smear of jelly remained anywhere as a repast for unwelcome guests. No toy could be left on the floor, no towel left damp, no wet clothing unwashed. EVERYTHING had a place and EVERYONE had to honor it - FROM NOW ON - NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!

If you're wondering why it seems like I am yelling, it's just so you get an idea of how lovely it was to live with me for the first month I spent shoring up every mess in my house and informing everyone when they failed to live up to my new standard of clean. I was a woman obsessed, terrorized by the possible and likely presence of these horrid creatures of the night who'd never visited before in the 10 years I'd lived here, though we'd never sprayed for bugs.

Now, you know, I am an organic mama and I didn't want to expose my kids to any nasty chemicals like bug foggers. So, I chose the natural route, diatomaceous earth and a clean house. Every day, I spent scouring the house like a possessed person, thinking if I just got it clean enough, they would more on because there was not food and no place to hide. I was embarrassed because I thought these creatures only visited dirty houses and so stressed I was jumpy for weeks and imagined them everywhere I looked. Talk about crazy!

Of course, after quite a bit of research on the subject, I discovered that sewer roaches can actually come up the drains (in any house!) or creep in through cracks in doors and other little spots. So, we covered our drains, filled in any holes, spread diatomaceous earth and learned how to kill them with a spray bottle of super-soapy water (no raid required!). That last is way easier than trying to catch them with a giant shoe because you can hit them before they even know you've detected their presence.

But more importantly than learning about how to eliminate a roach invasion in my house, I learned some important things about myself.

First, I re-discovered my inborn desire to keep my house just as clean as I want it to be (even with preschoolers) - something I inherited from my mother and my grandma. Before kids, I was a little bit nuts about things being orderly and living in a structured schedule. Around the time I had kids, a lot of other things were going on in my life with family and I felt completely overwhelmed by the influx of stuff that the birth of our children introduced into our townhouse. While I kept the house clean, it has never quite met my standard of organized.

Since the "guests" visited, I found new determination to get back to a house I feel good about inviting actual friends to visit. While I definitely went overboard at first in my crazy, exhausted state - snarling at everyone to follow the new rules, I am learning to follow a regular routine that allows me to maintain order and still have time with my kids. I haven't reached any kind of perfection but at least I'm heading toward a goal. It helps that my youngest is old enough to play with her big sister safely now and follow instructions fairly well.

The second lesson I learned through this is that being stressed about getting everything right isn't going to make this or any other challenge easier. One of life's more important lessons is how to move gracefully from one challenge to the next. Somehow, in the last few years, as I experienced significant loss in the death of my brother, mom and dad, I lost my ability to do this.

There was so much loss in such a short time that I was so helpless to affect, I became afraid of change. It definitely seemed like the changes weren't great ones. Anxiety and fear sort of shoved their way into my heart and I didn't feel I had the strength to fight them at first. I tried to cope with them by micro-managing the little things that I could control. I think part of me believed that if I could just get everything else just right in my life, I would be able to deal with the painful parts more efficiently. But this attitude only stressed me out and made my family miserable.

Who knew a simple cockroach could teach me such a valuable lesson about meeting change differently?  Experiences - from love and joy to pain and loss - are supposed to be messy, unmanageable and change the way we see life. Freeing myself from the idea that I have control over anything other than my attitude has given me freedom and flexibility to enjoy life again in a way I'd forgotten was possible.

Worrying about what might happen only causes me to miss out on the good stuff right in front of me. To help me remember, I wrote a note to myself on my kitchen cabinet that says, "You have an amazing life! Enjoy it now!!" I look at it when I doubt it - which usually happens about three in the afternoon when I'm tired, need to get dinner started and my two year old is pitching a fit.

Thanks Cockroach. - R.I.P. -  I owe a big debt of gratitude to you.

Don't worry. If your friends visit, I'll send them your way.

May 11, 2011

Caught in Another Car Parade - More Cool Stuff to Do in Phoenix

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activities for our family. It seems like every year, we have all these plans to get to some of the great local events that are happening in Phoenix during the beautiful spring weather. But, we have so many family birthday parties and kids parties and events that we are booked up almost every weekend.

Last week, we did attend a local event as a family on accident. On our way home from the Macayo's on Central where we'd attended the third party of the weekend, this one a family member's, my daughters noticed classic cars passing us on the road. My 2 year old kept shouting, "Look, Mom!!! Old fashioned cars!!!" We realized there was a classic car event going on as car after car cruised past us.

Dad would have loved this one!
I know it's not very organic of this mama to love old fashioned, gas-guzzling cars, but it's in my blood. My car-loving dad was born in 1929 and he could recite a list of every car he'd ever driven - along with all the options like the white walled tires, interior and exterior colors, leather/cloth, engine type and horsepower. He knew when car models changed style and what had been changed. He and his brother memorized these kinds of things as a game when they were kids and he never lost his love for it. So, my girls are used to me shouting out - "Woohoo!! Look at that car!" when we see something older than 40 years go by us.

It's no surprise then that when we saw all these beauts passing by us, we turned the car around and followed them. It reminded me of the time I got caught in another kind of motor procession - though this one was not for a serious occasion. As we traveled, we got caught up in the excitement of the moment and exclaimed at all the colors and models we liked best as well as the thousands of people lining central. People cheered and aahhhed as the cars went past. In fact, we got so caught up, we failed to realize we were one of the few modern cars on the road. Haha!! The car aficionados got a real treat as we cruised next to a James Bond car in our 2000 Toyota Camry with two little girls practicing their princess wave out the windows!

Just one more cool thing available in Phoenix if you're looking for an activity. When I googled to find the event, I found quite a few classic car shows going on in the next few months. So, if you missed it, just look around, you'll find another.

I think this black and red one is just my style!

 I know my dad would have had fun with us this weekend. Who knows, maybe he was calling out the car models with us as we drove!

May 10, 2011

Multi-family Housing & Creating Community

A while back, Taz Loomans at Blooming Rock Blog wrote a post about multi-family housing and how while it's taking off in some parts of the country, it's not viewed so highly here in Phoenix - yet. I've been thinking about it ever since. Robert and I have lived in a small multifamily housing community for about 10 years. While there are certainly pros and cons and I sometimes still want a single family house (mainly because I need the garden space), overall, we've loved it.

These are some of the benefits of a multi-family community.

1. It's cost effective. Our mortgage is within our budget and we share the cost of major repairs with our neighbors. We save money by buying less "stuff" because a smaller space requires efficient organization. And, in a compact space, we can afford high quality, green remodeling while staying within our budget.

2. Less work for us. We hire landscapers, plumbers, overall maintenance people - at a reasonable cost, also shared with neighbors. Perfect for artists like us - who work all week and perform on nights and weekends. There's not much of time left for yard work.

3. Less to clean. A larger house doesn't even appeal to me anymore - for this reason.

4. We can live in the heart of the city. Because we chose a townhouse, we can live in a neighborhood (that would otherwise be out of our budget) near everything we love - like hiking, work, church, urban culture, Grandma & Grandpa *smile*.

5. Affordability allows us to pursue our gifts and passions as careers. Living simply in a multi-family house means we can do what we love - for a living. We have fun all week, not just on the weekend. Don't get me wrong...we work our booties off and we live more simply...but it's worth it.

6. More fresh air. Small space - small children? Sanity requires me to get off my duff and get out of the house frequently - to visit local businesses, the library, the park, our garden at Grandma's house...

7. Community. We know our neighbors. And, they're amazing. From teachers to engineers, business professionals to a hard core biker-hairdresser, they are an eclectic mix - quirky, kind and always interesting!

 This last point is the most important to me.

The people in our community are great people. Financial decisions regarding the functionality, appearance and value of our property are not the only things that tie us together. We know each other and are invested in each other's lives. It's typical for me to go out front to pick rosemary for dinner and find myself in a conversation with two or three neighbors. We look out for each other. If a neighbor goes to the hospital, people in our community often visit - depending on whether or not the person has family.  Rides to the doctor, babysitting and cards to those who have suffered a loss (even a dog!) are the norm here.

Those of you who are into gaming will appreciate the roles played by members of our community. We are a little town unto ourselves. We have the grumpy old man, the healer, the gatekeeper (nobody gets by him!), the resident drunk (position currently open), and the crazy lady who hollars at her kids across the yard (that would be me, oops). There is something refreshing and powerful about discovering it's possible for such different people to live together peacefully.

These past ten years, we've learned important lessons about acceptance (read: love, not tolerance) and community that we might not have learned if we'd been able to drive straight into a garage every night. Our home choice has forced us to recognize our connection to each other and to be more careful of the relationships we need to build and maintain with the people who share our larger space. And our lessons give us a picture of how we should be living in our larger community in Phoenix, in Arizona, the USA, the rest of the world. Our individual choices, financial and social, don't just change our lives, they change the world for those around us too.

My relationships with my neighbors change me in unexpected ways. They have opened my eyes to seeing the world in ways I might have otherwise missed. And, while our financial fates initially tied us together, we have found true friendships here. As I write this, I'm filled with gratefulness for these neighbors who have become my friends. They have shown us love and kindness, compassion and wisdom in the times we've most needed it. If we ever do move, we'll stay in the heart of the city where we can keep learning and keep building these relationships that make us better people. It's something Robert and I believe in and it is what we want our children to learn about our city and the world.

We're doing more than just sharing space. We're creating community.

May 9, 2011

Wake Up! It's Monday Already...

Ok, friends. It's Monday. Don't shoot the messenger. Hopefully these will help you wake in time to drive home from work.

Considering my complete OBSESSION with grapefruit, it's no wonder I'd be interested in these. They look delicious and also gluten free for those of you who need such recipes.

Looking at beautiful art is a great way to perk up your mind on a Monday. Some friends and I had the pleasure of meeting this local artist over the weekend. He has a wonderful presence and his spirit shines through his work. Hugo Medina

As much as I've made fun of Gibson's new talking beaver puppet movie (because let's be honest, there's so much to laugh at in that description -- where does one start?), these comments by his co-star are rather incredible. We should each have a friend like this! A true friend.
If my first post reminded you that you forgot to eat breakfast and you're looking for something a little healthier, check out this delicious, fresh option! If you can't make it, you can always just coast over to Barrio and let them make it for you. Fresh Guacamole - Silvana Style

 Can't get her voice out of my head. Incredible!

May 7, 2011

Mother's Day: Celebrating the Imperfect Mom

This year, like every year, I think a lot about motherhood with regard to my mom and the kind of mom I want to be. So many of my ideas of motherhood and being a woman come from the woman who gave birth to me and spent her life loving me and doing her best to raise me according to her conscience.

But, let me tell you, my mom was so not the perfect mother. As I was growing up, she was often bossy and temperamental. It was her way or the highway and frequently she was unable to see life from the other person's point of view. She also tended to call me at the most ridiculous hours of the morning - before my alarm clock rang. Grrrrr...!! Talk about annoying! Then, there were the times she really let me down when I thought I needed her most.

In short, my mom was not perfect! 'Cause, you know, no mother is. There is no "Complete Guide to Perfect Mothering" that we can follow. Not only do I make many of the same mistakes my mom made, I have a whole set of my own that I'm sure my girls will call up someday when they're sitting in their therapist's office, wondering at the miracle that they made it through childhood with me as a mother. I definitely find myself losing my cool much too frequently - but it's hard not to when you find that your two year old has taken off her poopy diaper (AGAIN!) and is running around without one. Ugh. Sorry for the visual but it's just where I am right now.

On the flip side, my mom also spent her whole life learning how to love me and my sisters and really, everyone who crossed her path.

She became an expert on me and every one of my four sisters. And, like it or not, she was right a majority of the time. No wonder she felt she could give us unsolicited advice 24 hours a day! She constantly told my sisters and I that she loved us completely and that we could do anything we determined to do. She and my dad loved each other and stayed together for over thirty years. Mom was a true friend - the kind you can call in the middle of the night and know she'd answer and come.

To contribute to the household income, mom worked more than full time as a music teacher. Teaching wasn't just her job, it was her passion. She loved her students and as she did with us, strove to teach them character and commitment along with musicality. When she did anything, she threw herself into it completely. She believed that a life of service to others was a life well-lived.

Her life was definitely well lived. Mistakes and all, she was a person of good intentions and she exceeded the mark more often than not. Her life often gives me food for thought as I travel my own path through life. And, as an adult and a mom myself, I love and appreciate her more and more each day.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to tell my mom "Happy Mother's Day!" face to face this year because she died of cancer 5 years ago. While I believe we don't just end after death and that she can still see and hear me, there are really no words to describe the ache that her physical absence creates in my heart. I thought my mom would be around a lot longer, both to love me and to drive me crazy when she became an old lady.

But this post isn't something I'm writing so you'll feel sorry for me. Nope. So - don't. I had a full life of memories with my mom. But, I do wish that I had appreciated her more when she was still here. I wish I'd made more time for her. I wish I'd been more understanding about what she'd sacrificed for us and how she loved us. She was just like me - doing her best to love and care for her family and live a meaningful life of service.

This weekend I hope, if you haven't already, you'll see your mom with new eyes. Because while some have mothers who don't deserve respect or honor, most moms are just human and need our love and friendship. This weekend, put yourself in your mom's shoes. Don't just see her as your mom. See her as a woman, a young lover, a young mom trying to figure out how to balance life and parenthood. See her in her career and as a friend.

Start to realize your mom is pretty stinkin' awesome. Then, remind yourself that with everything else she does, she's your mom. Love her for it and learn to be her friend. Don't just celebrate her on Sunday but cherish every moment you have with her. Realizing she won't always be there might just give you a new ability to love her just as she is.

By the way, I won't be alone this weekend. Along with my sweet little girls and handsome love, I'll be celebrating the good friend and amazing grandparent I am blessed to have in my mother-in-law. There will be a lot of laughter and fun as all the kids race around screaming joyfully. And somewhere in the chaos, I'll find a quiet moment to whisper a Happy Mother's Day to someone who I know is still listening.

Today I linked with A Wise Woman Builds her House A-Wise-Woman-Builds-Her-Home

May 4, 2011

Hey Sexy, Leave the Gloves ON...

So, you thought this was going to be a post about sex, huh? You should know me well enough by now to know I don't kiss and tell! But, don't be too disappointed yet. The habits I'm suggesting might just help you in that department - if in a roundabout way. Haha!!

This IS kind of a dirty post about something I think everyone should be doing - outdoors. And it's actually about sticking your hands - in the dirt - and trying to pull forth food or beauty. I have a few reasons for feeling this way. Here they are.

Gardening will relax you and bring life into perspective.
If there's one thing I've learned from parenting preschoolers, it's that they behave best when they spend lots of time out of doors daily. Not only does this get them away from the TV and produce a happier playing experience, they eat whatever I serve without complaint ('cause, as my oldest claims, they're "starving") and they sleep restfully.

Guess what? This goes for adults too! There is something magical about sticking bare toes in the dirt and taking deep breaths of that fresh outdoor scent as you gently tuck dirt around a new plant or pull weeds so another can grow. Suddenly, whatever is stressing you out won't seem so bad. When you come inside, you'll feel relaxed, re-focused and tired in the best way. If you have such a brown thumb that you kill everything you touch, just get a shovel and dig in the dirt like a kid. If you listen hard, you just might hear a plant calling your name and promising to grow for you.

Gardening can save you money and reduce garbage waste if you do it right. Veggie scraps from kitchen cuttings, dead leaves and branches, egg shells and banana peels make free compost/natural fertilizer and minimize garbage waste. All that yucky decaying matter turns into rich, fertile soil capable of creating the best veggies you've ever tasted. When you find success at gardening - even if it's just one crop - you can save the money you would have spent on buying that product in the store. And, you can produce it organically! My grandmother and other moms I know will affirm they wouldn't have been able to feed their families nearly so healthily without gardening.

Gardening will allow you to eat organically on a budget and help your kids to like strong food. Growing your own food will allow you to avoid all those nasty chemicals on conventionally grown foods without breaking the bank. And, I can guarantee your kid will be a lot more interested in eating her vegetables if she grew them herself!

Gardening will help YOU love real food! Instead of produce that wasn't picked ripe, was transported in cold (almost frozen) storage and therefore lacks the flavor it's supposed to have, you'll eat the tastiest version of whatever you grow!. No wonder it's so hard to love veggies when we're eating tomatoes that taste flat and flavorless or strawberries that don't smell sweet or strawberry-ish! Eating fresh stuff from your own garden will turn you into a true foodie.

Gardening will bring your family together over the dinner table. Although you can make a very quick meal from the garden, it's one that will require a little chopping and thought. Enjoy a refreshing drink and conversation with your lover or kids while you're chopping away! You'll be surprised at the conversations you've been missing.

Gardening can help you get into shape. Fresh air, aerobic exercise and real food is a recipe for a strong body! Unhealthy processed foods lose their appeal once you've tasted real food flavored with fresh herbs. 

And the point we've all been waiting for...Gardening just might get you some. Ever heard the phrase, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach?" That goes both ways, baby! Who doesn't think a strong and relaxed urban farmer with a slightly sweaty, rosy glow is sexy? What man doesn't think the aroma of good food is the best perfume? Duh.

To your newly fresh, confident demeanor, add the sensually delicious aroma of a fresh tomato and basil salad straight from the garden and you may find you've found an irresistible aphrodisiac!

Here's to love and gardening!

May 2, 2011

Wake Up! It's Monday Already...

A great combination of beauty and laughter for today.

Wouldn't this be an incredible site to see on the road? Beautiful

A funny Canadian girl's take on the British Royalty. So, like, do we have a queen?

Ok, ya'all...I'm no hater. I love me some Paula Deen. But this is - well, Wow. Be sure you turn it up enough to hear the music.

Gorgeous images by Frank Serafini. Be sure to check out his portfolio and blog which are links on this page. He captures life in a beautiful way.

My daughter loves this song. I can't think of a better song for her, and for you, to hear today. Believe it!!

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