Mrshappiness’s Blog

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A Recipe for Life November 22, 2008

Filed under: Parenting,Uncategorized — mrshappiness @ 7:00 pm
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As some of you may have read in an earlier post, I have been off work lately. This rare freedom of being home with no actual schedule has taken some adjustment. Today I chose to take this opportunity to do one of those “mommy” activities. you know, the ones that so often when you think of them sound wonderful, by the time you begin them, feel overwhelming, and years later when you look back on them, are remembered as magical. Yes, one of “those” activities. 

 The activity that I chose to subject myself to was an afternoon of baking, so I invited my daughter and her seven year old friend to make cookies. Not cookies from a box, or an already prepared dough, nope, not for my kids. I thought it would be a truly wonderful experience a special bonding moment if the three of  us made cookies from scratch.

 Before the flour began to fly through the air and the eggs had cracked on the floor, the task seemed quite simple.  Each girl had her own work station,  each station with its own set of bowls, measuring spoons, bin of flour, box of sugar, butter, vanilla and secret ingredients (also known as salt and Baking soda). The only ingredient that the junior chef’s did not have, was the most crucial ingredient of all, the bag of chocolate chips.  Yes, these were under the control of the “chef-master” for fear if they were left unsupervised at the work stations, we may be having chocolate chip cookies, minus the chocolate chips, which are never quite as good.

It became clear to me even before the girls showed up to bake, that this entire project had become a little too organized. Perhaps a bit over managed would be a good term for it. Yes, I can say with confidence that the measuring spoons and measuring cups were too neatly and carefully placed on the counter, and that the placement of the baking soda, sugar and flour were perhaps a bit too carefully spaced. It is quite possible had anyone but the girls visited my kitchen, there may have been questions like “which cooking magazine is coming over to do a photo shoot” or “when will Emril be arriving”? Yes looking back on it I am a bit amused at my expectation of what was soon to be.

  Could it be that this medical leave had brought out this overly organized mother who had lost her zip and pizazz and traded it in for “work stations”? For anyone that knows me, overly organized is not exactly my “cup of tea”. I am a wing it kind of gal. A ride by the seat of her pants and hope it will all work out person. I am not a planner, certainly not a strategic organizer, and definitely not a chef that follows cooking rules. To be perfectly honest, I almost never use a measuring cup, had to search high and low for my measuring spoons and am so disorganized, that I had no idea I owned four bags of flour and multiples of every other ingredient required to bake such cookies.  Never the less, today was a new day and my cooking class had begun.

The girls arrived and I was ready to go. Assigning each one to a separate side of the kitchen, instructing them to “wait” until I had read the first ingredient from the recipe. Could it be that I had chosen to substitute these innocent second graders in place of my employees? Could I possibly miss my job so much, that I was turning my home into a place of business? How odd that for so many years I have joked about the desire to have a few weeks off, “if only I could break a bone” I believe were my exact words. Is this where the ” be careful for what you wish for” rule comes in? I hate to admit it, but I think it is true.

There is nothing I love more than the hustle and bustle of a busy day. The shorter the deadline, the better, as far as I am concerned. The more people I have to manage and the more clients that come through my door, the more stimulated I become. No pile too high no task too big, “bring it on”! yah, I hate to admit it, but I love my job. I love how it makes me feel and the satisfaction that it offers. Yes, this is true, so true at times I am ashamed to admit it, but never more so than today.

 When the first ingredient was read off the recipes, it became evident I was in for a different day than I had planned. I felt it, the feeling I had created in the room. The look in their eyes and the panic on their faces when that first puff of flower went dancing to the floor.  it was all this mother needed. My desire for a job well done did not have to be dismissed. It was the job that I had lost site of. What was I setting out to achieve? Did I really need five dozen chocolate chip cookies in my house? Was that my mission? No. My mission was to create a fun bonding experience for these two little girls, and what defines fun is whatever is fun to “them”.

 It only  took 45 seconds into this baking project for a couple of second graders to show this mother, manager, and organizer that no matter where she was, or who she was teaching, the same rules always apply, ‘know your audience”.  With no expectations, no need for organization, no real desire to even gain an edible cookie from the task at hand, I stood in my kitchen offering oodles of praise, little advise and a lot of encouragement. As these two little girls so cautiously wiped down every little spill, it was my lips that blurted “kitchens were made to get messy, just leave it and have some fun.”

The delight in their eyes and those cute giggles of glee were enough to satisfy any stirring I had within me. For the first time in years, I had the time to reflect and find my audience at home. The task was not overwhelming at all, it was a gift. A pure simple specifal gift that two seven year olds’ brought to me. To throw caution to the wind, or flour to the ceiling. To tear up the schedule and throw out the plan, to have no blueprint at all.  Sometimes that is what we need.

For those of us who spend more time at work and more energy on our job than our families, it is moments like these that we should not let slip away. Today, I was not overwhelmed, and it only took a few minutes to realize that this experience was magical. It is moments like these we should worry about “not” having in our busy schedules of appointments and tasks. These are the appointments we should not cancel, for these events will teach us the most important lessons of all, “life” lessons. It is times like these that we truly see what matters, and what will make a difference. These investments are those that will pay the highest dividends and produce the most  growth, not just for us but also for our children.  For to love our children is not just a  kiss before bedtime, or an I love you as we rush them off to school. It is not just providing of basic needs. It is the giving of ourselves. The time we offer, the tone in which we offer it, and the joy as we delight in it. 

It is this gift that I was given from my parents, and it is my hope and prayer that I will pass it along. For one day my children will be teaching my grandchildren and it will be then that my report card will come…. And I will see how successful in life I truly have been


Life, love and “boyfriends” November 17, 2008

Filed under: Life — mrshappiness @ 9:38 pm
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I must begin first by saying the “source” of my thoughts today, has given me her approval. Just by that alone, you are probably wondering what I could possibly write about that would require such a thing. It is not something bad, or embarrassing, or even illegal ( I don’t think).  To many of you it is a normal daily occurrence, one that has happened once, twice, or a dozen different times within your life. For me however, and my family, this is a first! A once in a lifetime first. One that never even crossed my mind An anomaly of sorts, an event so foreign to me, I am not even sure what to call “it”.

I grew up in a loving home. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s not. It was a home really and truly filled with love. There were just four of us, my mom, my dad, my sister and I. And it was great! The love that my parents had for each other was obvious. It was not that sickening sweet unnatural love, but the honest to goodness, “we like each other” kind. They loved spending time together and spending time with us. They would take us on trips, share us with their friends and include us in their life. They were always proud of us no matter how trivial the achievement, and not a day would go by that they did not tell us how much they loved us. They were fun, and delightful and a real treat to be with.

Several years ago my father was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. As there is no treatment for this horrible debilitating illness, this was a diagnosis that shook us to the core. There was no question of the outcome, no glimmer for a cure.  He would eventually loose his battle and we would lose this man we so dearly loved.

My dad was a fun-spirited, outgoing, loving, honest man. The wonderful thing about him, was,he was not just this way to those that he knew and loved, he was this way with everyone. Whether he had met you five minutes ago or had known you for years, he was your friend. He asked questions about your life, showed concern for your hardships, and valued your time.

The day of his memorial service, we were overwhelmed by the number of people that came to celebrate his life. There were close friends, and family, neighbors and ex- neighbors, co-workers and employees, little league players’ that had all grown up, parents of kids and friends of friends, and yes those that he met while standing in line or sitting in a restaurant.  The stories they told and the memories they shared, each one personal each one sweet and all forever precious.

The illness had been long and difficult. He was unable to walk or get out of bed. He did not have the use of his hands, arms or feet. He could not wipe his own tears, blow his own nose or feed himself a meal. His hugging days were over, his glee had disappeared and he had become a prisoner within his own body.

 Not only had this disease taken him prisoner, but it captured my mother as well. While facing the unthinkable fate that lie ahead, she faced each day with overwhelming tasks of feeding, bathing, and moving my dad. Her morning routine, which lasted for hours would require more physical strength than she ever thought she had and more intimate care than one should ever have to give. Her mornings would end and then her afternoons would begin and by nightfall it was all she could do to pull herself into bed. Day in and day out this was her life, not the life she had planned, not her dream of happily ever after, but her life still the same. She loved him and he loved her. There is nowhere else she would have been and nothing else she would have done. He was her best friend, her true love, her protector, and he was fading away and with a part of him, she went too, for there was nowhere else she could ever have imagined going.

It has been almost two years now and we have all had a bit of adjusting to do. My sister and I have watched while the pain and the loss of my fathers absence has taken its toll on my mom. When you have been so happy sharing your life with your”best friend” for so long, it is hard to find that joy again. Or is it?

A short while back my mom starting getting back into the swing of things. She began doing more with old friends, going to events that she may have avoided earlier on, and attending parties and get togethers. It was at one of these events that our lives became a bit more interesting.

It was an innocent call, one to an old friend. She was in the neighborhood “so to speak” and decided to call to see if he would like to join her and her friends for some dinner and and conversation. I am not sure exactly what happened after that, it is probably better that way, you know the “mystery” of it all. What I do know is this…. The sadness, that look of emptiness that revealed her loneliness, the absence of a twinkle in her eye, It’s gone. All gone! As if the grim reaper himself swooped down and recaptured all of his doom, she has been freed. Embraced by a friendship, empowered by its love, invigorated by its mystery, she now walks with a bounce, smiles with some mischief, and has that twinkle back in her eye. My sister and I could not be happier, my father would approve, and her choice could not be better.

No one has been more surprised than they of this relationship that has occurred. no one perhaps but all of us kids! There are four of us, my sister and I and his daughter and son. Each of us married with kids of our own. Who would have thought? Who knew? How did it happen? Those are all questions that I am sure hit a few of us here and there, but my biggest question of all is this. What do we call him? What do you call a man your mom is dating when they are over 60? Is he a boyfriend? It sounds a bit adolescent really. When you say “friend” then it sounds ominous, her man sounds, just wrong. So what do men and woman call each other when they are members of the AARP and get a senior discount at the movies?

Perhaps it is me. Perhaps it is my faze of denial, not wanting to admit that my mom, that woman that was married to my dad for what seemed like forever, that she is someones girlfriend. That she is throwing caution to the wind and letting down her hair and thinking dreamy thoughts she has not had in years. Perhaps it is that child in me that cannot give up the idea of mom and dad to exchange it for mom and her boyfriend. Perhaps…… But I would guess not. For I am certain that I would rather see this, a mom with a boyfriend, his motorcycle, and her hair in the wind. Yes, this is the face I have missed, the excitement that I love and the mother that I desire. I could not be happier seeing her this way well perhaps a bit if I just knew what to call him.


Just a little white lie November 14, 2008

Filed under: Life — mrshappiness @ 7:13 pm
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The dictionary defines a white lie as: A minor, polite, or harmless lie. An often trivial, diplomatic or well-intentioned untruth. An unimportant lie (especially one told to be tactful or polite). And my favorite definition of all: An untruth told to spare feelings or from politeness.

No matter how it is said or what the definition, a white lie is simply what it says, it is a lie. What is it that throws us into that dark hole of denial that makes us believe to lie is better than enduring ones pain of hearing the truth? Is it really the pain of others that keeps us from the truth or is it our own discomfort?  Is it the thought of watching loved ones suffer, squirm, or anger due to something we have said? No matter the reason, truth be told a lie is a lie.

For many weeks now I have been telling a white lie.  Each time I did, it was minor, and well-intentioned; yet each time I did, it did not feel harmless or polite. Most would argue that my reasoning was good. That my well-intentioned, untruth, was necessary. But today something happened, something that left me feeling empty and disturbed.  Today in the midst of a trivial conversation, as these foreign words poured out of my mouth, each one filled with lies and untruths, each word to protect, to shield and to prevent harm. I realized how important my words truly were.

 For years I have taught my children about truth, honesty and facing consequences no matter the outcome. I have preached day in and day out about out how the very act of lying can break down trust. How what we say and what we do defines who we are as individuals, and that being true to ourselves and others is the greatest gift we can offer ourselves.

There is an ironic twist to my confession, the part of the story that cuts deep into my heart and makes my stomach ache and churn. The stories that I shared, the lies that I told, those simple and trivial tales that I spun in my web and tangled myself in. Each one with words carefully chosen, all in the name of love,  were told to my daughter. Yes this child that I have taught, preached and lectured to about the telling of truths, about it defining us as individuals, and being a sign of respect. All of my years of preaching and teaching I washed away with just a few words. 

I really think I should explain. Not that there is any explanation that justifies, or excuses a  lie, but in an attempt to save face, I will share with you just the same.

Eight years ago my husband and I adopted three children. There were two girls and a boy. They were  4months, 5 years and 8 years old and they were ours!

 The day they all came home was the beginning of a life I could never predict. It has taken many turns, traveled hills and valleys and survived many floods, but overall, we have made it. However along the way  there were casualties, our eldest became lost. Due to issues too horrible to discuss and too private to mention, she came to us with a broken heart, a wounded spirit and a hopeless soul. Her pain overwhelmed us and her. As she struggled to make sense of it in her young teenage mind, eventually her acts of self destruct and her outbursts of anger forced us to do the unthinkable. On March 30, 2006 she was placed in a lock down facility for minors.

I can not put into words what this does to a parent. Some day I will try for I think it is a story worthy of being told. But today I will hold those memories deep in my heart, waiting to see how it all will end. Which is where my white lie has begun. She is coming home! Yes, that’s right 2 years and 8 months and finally she will be coming home. Whether this is a good thing or not, we do not know. It feels right and that is all that matters. She needs a family and to be loved and we will take it from there. So where is the lie you ask? Well, she does not know. We have worked so long to try and get her to follow through at her school. (She is in no position to graduate or follow their program, she is really not capable). Her deepest desire is to be home. It is all she asks and all she hopes for.

Several times we have almost “made it”. Gotten to a point where she was stable enough to start planning her return home. Each and every time, her mind got the best of her and she would sabotage herself, leaving a young girl and her family devastated and a mother and father picking up the pieces.

Maybe this mother was too tired. Too tired to face the truth due to the aftermath that might come once it is told. Too sad for her daughter, knowing how much she needs her family and afraid in one quick second, she would throw it all away.

Today I have decided to tell my daughter. I can no longer talk with her about the future as if she were not “in” it. Today I will risk trusting her with the truth, knowing whatever that truth brings, is what life had intended. I am excited of the possibilities and afraid just the same but I am confident in my decision. For the truth no matter the risk, is, as it is defined; good, reality, actuality and a sign of integrity