Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Peaceful Warrior"

Last night I watched a truly exceptional movie that is still provoking thought and wonderment in my mind today. It is called Peaceful Warrior (2007 DVD).

The fact that it has moved me is not based solely on the content itself, but on the fact that it is a true story. It is Dan Millman's true story, he is the author of a couple of books--Way of the Warrior, and The Life You Were Born to Live. A phenomenal story to be certain. I recommend checking the movie out if you are curious as to what your purpose is, or even if you aren't because it is just that good.

How attached are you to your story? Who are you without it? What are you if not ruled by emotion? Can you be in the moment, in the HERE and NOW? What exactly does that mean? How do we release ourselves from the thoughts that rule us and drive our actions? Is it truly possible to love unconditionally those that need it the most?

These questions I ask myself today as I peruse Dan's book, The Life... and ponder different parts of his story.

"there is never nothing going on"
Just sit with that for a moment. How much do we really notice going on in the world outside of our own thoughts and stories?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sky-high with Fun

Apple picking is a traditional family outing/adventure for us every year in late September. However, due to the April frost we had this spring, the crop here this year is non-existent. At least the apples are non-existent, that is.

Turns out you can have just as much fun 'picking apples' even when there are NO apples to pick!
We walked around the orchard for almost an hour and retrieved TWO apples from the tip top of a couple of trees. Please take notice of cheerful children although thier little baskets are totally empty.
We had a blast, the weather was gorgeous on the mountain top, and we came home with just enough apples (which we retrieved from a trailor set up for pickers that was full of Gala, Fuji, Rome, and others--we assumed what may have been harvested from the far end of the orchard)
to make our favorite dessert--Apple Brown Betty. Scrumptious!
Of course, playing in the playhouse was enormously entertaining, as was drinking apple cider from the apple-shaped sippers that cost $2.50 PER SIPPER.
But all in good fun.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

In which my 9 year old beat me

In a race that is!
You know you are getting on up there when your 9 y.o. son can beat you in a foot race across a small parking lot!


"yes, Jacob?"

"Wanna race?"

"sure, buddy..." (thinking that I will run slowly and let him win)

Yeah, right. It didn't quite work out that way.

Not only did my son win the first race, in which I started off slowly and rapidly realized that I needed to actually RUN. But, he won by a LARGE distance the second race in which I ran as hard and fast as my thirty-something body would allow.

Puts things into perspective..I still hurt and that was two days ago...

Your age is marked by the way you feel and run!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I had to share this photo of myself and my brother taken last month at my graduation. I will probably hear him fussing at me for posting his picture, but give him a break, he is a conservative/atheist and knows not the sentiment with which I write.

He probably isn't aware, but my brother has been a great source of motivation for me through these past few years as I struggled through school while raising my children and working too. Periodically I received from him little cards that were such moments of encouragement that pushed me to keep on going. I still have the cards and reflect on them when I am frustrated, or feeling defeated and worn out. We have always been close, my brother and I.

Currently, my brother is in the middle of a tough decision, wrestling with deciding whether or not to better his career (in which he excels)by moving to a large, unfriendly city or remain in the city in which he presently lives, and wait for the next career jump-start, hoping that it will be closer and in a more attractive, alluring place to reside. You see, my brother is so good at his job that other firms desire his presence and contribution; he is only 28 and has been out of school for a mere three years. Like, wow. Can you tell I am a bit proud of my little brother?

What makes this a hard choice is the fact that much of his happiness lies in his favorite pasttime--running; a passion he has fervently followed for many years now, and to which he dedicates most if not all of his spare time. He runs marathons at the drop of a hat, facilitates running events, participates in a running training group, and is training for an ultra-marathon next month. If he chooses to move, this particular pasttime of his will undoubtedly suffer b/c of the locality. In the other city, it is hot and all you see for miles is concrete. There are few, if any, lush areas, no trails, and no familiar safe neighborhoods with overly-abundant trees and beauty like where he is now.

What should he do? Which is more important? Happiness, stability, and predictability? Money? The chance to move up the corporate ladder? Would the sacrifice be worth it? What would you do?

Hang in there little brother, things will pull together and the fog of indecisiveness will lift. Trust your judgement, you will not fail yourself.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Little One

Four days old
First few steps..walking to Mommy, away from Nana
First pig tails..stayed in for all of three minutes, while distracted searching for cheese puffs
Screaming at THE TOP of her lungs--these days a favorite activity
Devouring birthday cake with blue icing.
From tiny peanut, to Big Girl.

Happy Birthday Serenity.

Mommy's precious baby, I love you.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


FALL IS COMING! Inspired by some of the posts I have been reading concerning the upcoming autumn season, I must also rave a bit about this wonderful time of year. This picture was taken near our home last year, during one of the most vibrant leaf seasons we have ever experienced.

I love fall for many reasons, but today I am focusing on one of the things I look forward to most about this time of year.


Today we are going to the fair! I think I may be more excited than the kids. I love the sounds of the rides, the aromas coming from the vendors all cooking their specialty--everything from pronto pups to funnel cakes, the excited voices and shrieks from those daring enough to climb aboard sky-high rides, my children jumping up and down wanting to do everything all at one time.

Our fair comes around this time every year and it ushers in the season for us. We spend a day walking around the fairgrounds, visiting the petting zoo, eating, riding, and generally just enjoying being together. The weather is usually beautiful, around mid 70's, and by now a nice breeze is blowing.

The leaves have not yet begun to turn, but it always seems like, when the fair leaves town, the trees take their cue to begin that beautiful process. And here, in the Smokies, autumn is so breathtaking.

Next autumn post--Apple Picking at Sky Top Apple Orchard, complete with pictures--another of our traditional autumn adventures.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Inner Child

Ever notice how easy it is to voice your opinion about something, like kicking dirt off your shoe, and going forward like nothing happened, not wondering the impact of your statement may have left with the other person?

"yes, I totally agree with that" or

"no way. that is SO wrong. I can't believe anyone would ever choose that".

People speak all day long in reference to things they probably have no idea about. Make remarks against situations with which they have never been confronted. I used to be one of these people, until two and a half years ago. I would drop my comments here and there, not really giving my beliefs a second thought. Never asking myself why I felt a certain way towards something, just usually going with the majority. Judgemental? Hell, yeah.

It seems like we can so easily speak for or against something before or without ever having any exposure to what it feels like to be in the position/situation we are attempting to speak for or against. Mostly, I have noticed, that the people offering the advice are the people that have no right to be speaking. They aren't asked for their opinion--they offer it freely and loudly. On the contrary, a person who actually might have something worthwhile to offer, usually doesn't just offer their thoughts forward; they wait until asked or prompted. They exude a certain comforting wisdom when they speak of their experience.

Take abortion for example. SO many people stand either vehemently for or steadfastly against abortion, without even really understanding what a woman feels like to be in the position to have to make such a heavy decision. A decision that has no 'takeback' backroad. A decision that a woman must forever live with, no matter what.

As my youngest child nears her second birthday, I am and will always be reminded of the fact that I almost did not have her. By my own choice. I struggled for the better part of 12 weeks with the decision of whether or not I wanted to bring another child into the world with a man who had proven himself unworthy of being a father. We were already separated and the fact that the opportunity came and passed during which I conceived her weighed heavily on my mind as immoral and a bad choice on my part.

I struggled with decisions like whether or not it was fair to a new baby to be brought into the world and into a home with three siblings and a single parent, because in my heart I knew that although he was telling me with his words that things would change, he would not step up to the plate any more for this child than the others he could so conveniently forget about. I knew that I was taking it on alone, and I was scared. I was ashamed. I wondered how fair it was to ask my other three children to share yet another slice of the pie- so to speak. Could I have enough Love, patience, and mothering to spread to another little person? Was I capable? I was just getting started in school, was barely making ends meet as it was, I couldn't even imagine another child to care for.

Before I realized it I was sitting in the parking lot of the abortion clinic, my $500.00 in hand, my i.d, and beside me was sitting my mother (I know, she is a true saint--the most non-judgemental, supportive person you will EVER meet). I sat there wondering what I was doing, but still feeling like I had no choice but to abort this new life growing inside me. I was in tears on the inside, some on the outside, having read what lies ahead and not knowing if I could handle this choice either. I wanted a third choice. Where everything would work out perfectly.

My car was surrounded by the protesters with their obnoxious signs, chanting something I thought I would never forget. But have. We probably sat there for almost an hour, mostly in silence. I stared at the white doors and could almost imagine the sterile, cold feeling of the rooms on the other side of those doors. As I sat in my car, I felt a kind of peace drape over me, like a warm feeling. In that moment, my mother asked me quietly, "would you do this if God was walking in beside you?". It was as if I did not even need to think about it. I simply said "no" and we drove away--my sweet baby still inside my belly. It grounds me now to realize how close I was that day to altering my life and the lives of my children forever, irreversibly.

I am not a religious person, but I do consider myself to be a spiritual person. I feel like there is a higher power out there, and religions attempt to encompass it into their own respecive denominations and name it accordingly--Buddha, Alla, Jesus, etc. But the feeling is still the same.

I will forever and always know that if I haven't walked through the pain myself, I have nothing to say. Nothing to offer but a prayer of peace to the person struggling. I do not walk around protesting this or that, but remain constant in what I believe and practice it each day by example.

I look in my sweet, precious baby's face and ask myself, what would I have ever done without her to teach me, to allow me to walk through such a learning experience, to grow as a is part of her purpose and I can't wait to see her fullfill that on a grand scale.

God Bless.

Oh, the ultrasound is of Serenity (now you know some of the meaning behind her name) in my third trimester and if you look at the first one, you can vividly see her eye peering out as if to say Hi! Here I come!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Lets play 'cards'

We all are aware of the 'growing' problem of childhood obesity in our country. America--The land of the free as well as the Supersize Me way of thinking when it comes to food (if you have not watched that documentary, I recommend it). And, the faster the food the better, fits into our speedracer way of life.

About a year and a half ago I began to combat this way of eating and thinking in my home with my children. As I read and heard more about the trend of children being inactive and overweight, and began to learn more about the recommended true portion sizes for different foods (deck of cards, baseball, ping-pong ball, etc.). I decided to try to integrate this into our daily meals/snacks both in and out of home, whenever possible.
At first I was met with some whining and begging for more food, but standing firm in what I knew was enough and that they had really eaten enough for that sitting, I didn't budge. Over time, we began to eat our meals more slowly, talking and interacting at the table (a time of day I now cherish and look forward to with my kids), and no one usually asks for a second helping. They have become accustomed to eating the right amount of food and realizing that they are satisfied and their body doesn't actually feel hungry anymore (we all have heard of the 20 minute rule before going back for seconds).
Perhaps, if I get the kids used to realizing what true portion size is while they are young, it will be natural to them as they grow older and begin to eat more frequently away from home.

So often I see children consuming more food that most adults require at a meal. When I visit the school lunchroom of either of my boys or work in the daycare, I see it everyday and I see how overeating as well as eating inappropriate foods is promoted at an early age.

Look at the typical school menu at a public school, or a childcare center. As far as menu choices, in which a 5- year -old Kindergartener is offered the same amount of food as an 11 -year- old Fifth grader, it consists mostly of fast food, food high in saturated fat and calories; chicken nuggets, french fries, pizza, tacos, cheeseburgers (of the frozen, greasy variety) get the idea.
When the schools do offer a healthy veggie option, they either couple it with a somewhat unhealthy choice that kids opt more for, or they drown it in butter and boil it to death so that all the minerals are long gone. The only drink option is milk, which is unfortunate for the growing number of people who are realizing the unhealthy benefits of milk and do not want their children drinking it (see my recent post entitled Don't Drink your Milk ).

At home , my kids are served a healthy portion of their meal--which is balanced out to focus on most of the food groups--and if they are still hungry they can have seconds on the more healthy aspect of the meal such as the veggie or some fresh fruit. Same thing goes for evening snacking, which is kept to a minimum, but because of the outside activity my boys engage in, I realize they are using up a bit more energy and require more to be satisfied in the evenings. However, this "more" is not three slices of pizza or a few cupcakes, poptarts, or cookies--it is a protein snack of some kind, or a bowl of low-sugar cereal. We also keep fresh fruit in the house and have cut/sliced veggie options in the fridge for easy grabbing. Also worth mentioning is what kids drink--sodas, koolaid, energy drinks such as gatorade--children are getting a lot more calories than they need from drinking also. My rule is--they can have a soda when we eat out, they get a Gatorade if we are going to be outside most of the day (pool, hiking, park), and they never have Koolaid.
I also try to portion things out according to the amount of calories each child needs on a daily basis--from oldest to youngest. Around here, my kids are aware of portion sizes, what makes a correct portion, and they realize that the older ones get more than the younger because of caloric requirements. (Of course, it is explained to them in a MUCH simpler way).

Some of my friends support my view on the importance of food portions/selections, others frown and disagree stating that their children will burn off whatever they eat and are already thin so it doesn't matter. To this I respond with the fact that cholesterol and trans fat is still an issue in good health--even in kids that are thin already. America also is dealing with heart diease, diabetes, and other diet-related issues besides obesity. Let's just be honest: It starts at home.

Here is a list of some of the healthy foods that I keep in the home for easy grabbing:
  • Carrot/celery
  • Peanut butter balls (PB, honey, evap. milk, rice krispies--add and mix together until firm enough to make balls--refrigerate)
  • apples, peaches, pears,
  • berries
  • soy yogurts,
  • rice milk ice cream bars
  • all fruit popsicles
  • granola bars

You get the idea...portions AS well as food choices are important, not just for the kids, but for us as well.

Edited to add: I don't mean to sound like we don't occassionally eat fast food, or have unhealthy days, b/c we do of course! The road to health eating begins with awareness and that is my point with this post.

Also remember, when eating out, portion sizes are usually three to four times larger than the recommended serving size (!!). Try sharing meals or packing half of the meal in a to-go box before even beginning to eat.

While at home, practice letting your child serve himself the appropriate portion size so he becomes aware of how much is enough.

For additional and helpful info on children's as well as adult portion sizes, check out