Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas

Our family had a wonderful Christmas celebration.  It began with a lovely Christmas Eve service surrounded by our extended family of neighbors and friends, followed by Christmas morning opening presents with three boys, three dogs and two cats--Santa was indeed very good to us.  A brunch of blueberrry pancakes with berries we picked over the summer was followed by a delicious turkey dinner.  The rest of our time has been spent napping, snacking, reading, playing wii, putting the dogs out, bringing the dogs in, shooing the cats off the counters, snacking some more, reading another book, and of course, napping.  I may soon get motivated enough to take the dogs for a walk.

Wishing all of you a restful and peaceful time.   

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm Going Public

I'm going public. 

I need some accountability.

I need to fit in my skin again! 

For more years than I care to count, I have been battling with my weight.  There was a time when I was running 3 miles a day, going to the gym regularly, and even competed in small triathlons. 

circa 1990
 Starting now, I am going to be in charge of my health and fitness. I flip through magazines with articles about weight loss and there appears to be two categories: 

1) a miracle plan that will shed 20 pounds by summer/Christmas/back to school/whenever by walking/pilates/eliminating entire food groups/taking a miracle pill, or

2) a discussion on over-eating to fill some unmet emotional issue.  I guess I shouldn't rule out the idea that I'm really not as happy and content as I feel and that somewhere buried deep in my subconscious is the reason I'm overweight.  And that Oprah/Dr. Phil/Gillian Michaels can help me uncover it all, I'll lose 100 pounds, get a makeover and make it on the cover of Prevention Magazine. 

But I guess I see it a bit differently.  I have mentioned in other posts that I'm not an overthinker so here's how I see my situation...

I take in more calories than I burn!

So, if I want to shed some weight, I have to change the balance:  I either need to take in fewer calories and excercise the same amount, consume the same amount of calories and exercise more, or, and here's where I get really radical, take in fewer calories and exercise more!

I really just want to feel comfortable in my body again.  And, I want to run with Corey and Christine(and any other fabuolous Mom) when we are in Orlando in March. 

There, I said it.  It is now out there in the Blogosphere.  I want to hang out with the cool kids.

I read on other blogs the C25K thing.  It's a 9 week interval training plan that takes you from couch  potato (C) to running a 5K.  I also have an iPhone App called Lose It! that allows you to set your weight loss goal, track the food you've eaten, log exercise--and it calculates how many calories you can eat for the day, subtracts what you've eaten, adds calories if you've exercied and even tracks nutritional information.  I can use both the C25K and Lose It! on my iPhone--exercise and technology--why, it's got my name written all over it.  Now to just add the missing ingredient...doing it.

So, I started back at the gym two weeks ago.  I haven't lost an ounce but I'm starting to feel better.  My muscles are remembering and my lungs are starting to come back.  YAY!  I have to remind myself that I didn't get out of shape or pack on all these extra pounds in two weeks so I can't expect to lose it overnight.  Plus, I'm perimenopausal and have hypothroidism...not excuses, just reasons to stay focused.

I begin Week 3 today. 

My Goals:
1.  Feel better physically
2.  Run a 5k with Corey and Christine  when we're in Florida
3.  Lose 20 pounds

So, I'll share my successes and frustrations.  I welcome any words of encouragement, ideas for sticking with it, your success stories, training tips, and suggestions for really good work out music.

Friday, December 10, 2010

This Morning's Commute

So, I’m sitting at a red light this morning, heading to the gym before work, listening to Chris Tomlin’s new Christmas CD—Glory in the Highest.  As I’m singing along to the title track, I inch forward and notice a person standing at the end of the divider.  He’s dressed rather shabbily with baggy pants an open overcoat, sporting a long beard.  He’s holding a sign that reads: “Homeless and Unemployed, Please Help.”

I’ve seen people doing this many times at many different locations—mostly off highways at the bottom of the ramps at the traffic light—and the conventional (cynical) wisdom is is that these aren’t really homeless people but regular average people with an interesting (read “lazy”) approach to earning money.  My first thought is, “Hmmm, another scammer taking advantage of the Holiday Season and everyone’s giving spirit.”  

But then I really look at the person and the sign he is holding is shaking because he is shivering so hard—it’s 7:30 am and 40 F!!  Then, I realize I’m singing “Glory in the Highest” and I’m wondering if I am giving glory to God right now.   And the thought challenges me. Jesus’ words, “whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do unto me” are echoing in my head. 

Does anything really matter except that this man is standing in the middle of traffic on the coldest morning of the season so far, asking for help?  I don’t need to know his circumstances or motivations—he’s asking for help.  He’s standing in the street hoping strangers--busy, distracted, strangers--take a moment to notice him, to look at him and see the person, a fellow human being.  I wonder at the pride and embarrassment he has to swallow to stand there for everyone to see—begging.

Yes, he’s a stranger, but at that moment he has entered my universe and he has become my responsibility.  As my car inches close enough to reach him, I hand him my lunch, my Dunkin Donuts coffee, and some money.  I receive a smile, a thank you, and a God Bless You.  As I drive to the gym I am praying that this man has a warm place to go to and I'm thanking God because He has already blessed me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 23: A Youtube Video

West Wing is my all-time favorite tv show and there are several scenes that I think are amazing.  Here are two of my favorites.

30 Day Challenge: Day 20: A Hobby of Yours

My favorite hobby is photography.  I love to photograph my kids and nature.  I got my first camera, a Pentax K1000, in 1977 (my freshman year in college) as a Christmas gift.  My younger brother had taken a photography class in high school and my Dad converted the basement bathroom into a darkroom.  I wasn't much into the developing end of phtotography but appreciated the cool stuff my brother did.  I tried his camera out and loved the ability to set the shutter speeds and apeture settings to get different effects and results.  I still have the camera and use it occasionally but mostly shoot with a Canon EOS SLR--still prefer using film.  Mama gave me a great Canon digital this year for Christmas and love the convenience and the quality. 

In keeping with the season, here are some fall foliage shots. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

30 Day Challenge: Day 18: Your Wedding

Here we are after, 18 years together, (and lots of political and religious ugliness), getting married.  It was a lovely, simple, rather impromptu ceremony and we were surrounded by love. 

30 Day Challenge: Day 17: An Art Piece (drawing, sculpture, painting, etc)

Back in the day when we actually has some free time, I took water color painting lessons at a local community college.  It is wonderfully relaxing and taps into an entirely different part of me--I've always been more sporty than artsy. 

Mama's Favorite

30 Day Challenge: Day 16: A Song That Makes You Cry (or nearly)

Tell Me Why, Will Smith (with Mary J. Blige)

Why, why, why, why, why. Why

I really wish I could explain it baby (why),

It's just the world is kinda crazy baby (why),

Ain't no pretty way to paint it baby (why),

Don't cry, dry your eyes

September 11th, I woke up about 7am, west coast time, French toast and my

Turkey bacon, taking my time, awakin', turning my TV on

To my surprise, saw what everybody in the world saw

Me & my children, images were chillin'

My son said, "Daddy were there people in that building?"

A cold sweat, frozen with a lump in my chest

I heard his question, couldn't bring my lips to say "Yes" to him

That night at my son's side, he cried & prayed

For the one's who died in the World Trade

His palms to God, seeds and qualms with God

He just kept on pressin' me, wanna know why

Then one week later our bombs were dropped

We seein' them on CNN, they just won't stop

The infrared images of brutal attack

He said, "Daddy now we killin' em back"; (right, right)

Mmmmm, souls are captured

Dreams are stolen, hearts are broken

Evil blatantly rewarded

Hate surrenders, Love exalted

Hope elated, negativity is shorted

Why is the bomb always getting the last word

& why did her uncle have to molest her

& why did all them cops have to be shootin' to kill

& why did all them priests have to act so ill

Tell me why did James Byrd Jr. have to be touched

Tell me why did Malcolm & Martin depart from us

Tell me why did that sniper make the little boy shoot

& why does human life always denied for loot

Tell me why did Mandela have to live in a cage

Why did my brother Sterling have to die at that age

Tell me why did Reginald Denny deserve his fate

& why the f*@k can't love seem to defeat hate

Tell me why is it so hard for all the children to eat

Why did Pac & Biggie Smalls have to fall in the street

Tell me why did Jam Master Jay have to go that way

Please what am I supposed to say to my kids when they say 'Why?'

Can't explain it baby, life is just really crazy

I mean if it's world wars or the life of a little baby

We got more stores than they got rice under Buddha lazy

You live four scores & still it be driving you crazy

But for me I try to see the bright side

Sometimes it'd be like the goodness be tryin' to hide

Then try to flee, but it can't it's deep inside

Sweetie, you be the light for the others, make 'em believe in God

30 Day Challenge: Day 15: Your Dream House

To put it simply, wherever Mama is, I'm home. 

But, there is this amazing house on a lake we like to hang out at.  It has a great back yard with its own beach, a loft, great light, an "apartment" over the garage and fabulous gardens.


30 Day Challenge: Day 14: A Non Fictional Book: "The Faith Club"

WOW!  Be prepared to be challenged, enlightened and hopeful.  This is the story of three women of different faiths--Muslim, Jewish and Christian, who come together after 911, initially to write a story for children about how these faiths have more in common than not.  It lead to an exploration and strenghthening of their own faiths and a fuller understanding and respect for the others' faith.

30 Day Challenge: Day 13: A fictional book

A few years ago, Mama gave me the book, "The Shack" by Wm. Paul Young. The book has received very mixed reviews--some love it, some hate it. I found it fabulous in that it showed an entirely personal relationship with God and I loved the image of the Holy Spirit. The book deals with an intense subject matter--the violent loss of a child, and uses it to bring us to grace, forgiveness and slavation. Read it and you decide......

Thursday, September 16, 2010

30 Day Challenge: Day 12: Something You Are OCD About

I would have to go with being OCD about managing my photos.  I have at least 60 photo albums and would make sure that as soon as I got my photos processed, they'd go in an album--in chronological order, of course.  At one point I tried to start a little side busisness of hand-made cards, enlargements, custom calendars, etc., so would get double (or sometimes multiple) prints.  These extra "best" photos went into a separate album--organized by type--landscapes, flowers, w,ter, fall foliage, winter scenes--you get the idea.  I used to even keep my negatives in special plastic sleeves in a 3-ring binder--just in case I needed copies of one. 

I immediately embraced the technology of pictures in digital format and still have a box full of 3" floppy disks of pictures--do they even make computers with an "A" Drive anymore???  Even though I have a digital camera and many of my photos are now on my computer, I still like shooting with a film camera and putting them in photo albums.  I am desperately behind but that may be a winer project.  That and scanning all the pictures taken before the option of digital format. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

30 Day Challenge: Day 11: A Photo of You Recently

This was taken when Mama and I had our child-free time this summer.  We "discovered" this great pond after we went blueberry picking with our friends.  It is tucked away and is mostly untouched--only one house on the whole lake.  Mama and I spent a gloriously quiet afternoon paddling along, looking at trees and loons, watching the sun sparkling on the water, and listening to the wind.

30 Day Challenge: Day 10: A Photo Taken Over Ten Years Ago of You

This is picture of me and Alex taken about 16 years ago--he looks to be about 4.  Sometimes it's hard to believe that Mama and I have been together nearly 20 years!  It isn't until we look at old photos or remember a time that we realize that we have had quite a full and rich life -- with much more to come.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

30 Day Challenge: Day 9: A Photo You Took

Asking someone who has more than 50 photo albums--not counting what's on my computer or those obsolete 3" floppy disks--to choose one photo is nothing short of cruel.  This is a recent shot of the sunset over the Lake in Northern Vermont taken from our friends' deck. 

30 Day Challenge: Day 8: A Photo That Makes You Angry or Sad

This was a tough one.  Mama spoke about the rift with my family which is still an open, weeping wound two years later.  So, in an attempt for some independent thought and instead of angry, I went with sad.

This is a picture taken the weekend before we brought Baby D back to her Bio-Mom.  We brought her to the beach and let her play in the sand.  She was sitting up by herself--a new milestone, played with the sand and picked up shells and sticks.  It makes me sad.   Sad because I worry about her and her Mom's ability to meet her needs.  Sad because I know we could have been so good for her, that we would have been able to manage her medical and developmental needs and capitalize on her strengths.  Sad because I miss her.

30 Day Challenge: Day 7: A Photo That Makes You Happy

This picture was taken when Mama, Alex and I went to Disney in 1993. It was the first time the three of us went away as family and it was a wonderful adventure. In this picture Alex and I are getting ready for a snack--it's important to keep your blood sugar levels stable when your busy having fun!  Alex was obsessed with popcorn and the Saving Elroy ride.  He would have been just as content to stay at the hotel pool and, in fact, invited everyone he met in all the parks to come to his hotel to swim.  He sang the ABC song non-stop and would only eat clam chowder. Mama and I discovered coffee with hazelnut creamer, and, two hearts with one dream.

Catching Up on the 30 Day Challenge

I guess everybody's doing it so.....I'll try to catch up with this 30 Day Challenge.

Day 1-Favorite Song: "O Holy Night"   Depending on my mood, I love it performed classically--Barbara Streisand, Celtic Women or Andrea Bocceli, non-traditionally--Stephen Curtis Chapman, or instrumentally--John Fahey (guitar).

Day 2- Favorite Movie: Hmmmm, too many to choose just my top 5: "12 Angry Men" (the original), "I Confess" (basically anything by Alfred Hitchcock), "Gone With the Wind," "A League of Their Own," and "Wizard of Oz"

Day 3-Favorite TV show: "West Wing" The last truly intelligent TV show ever made.

Day 4-Favorite Book: "The Chosen" and "My Name is Asher Lev" both by Chaim Potok. Read them years ago when I was in high school and found them amazing! The Chosen tells the story of the friendship between two Jewish boys growing up in 1940’s Brooklyn, New York. They meet for the first time as rivals in a softball game between their school teams that turns into a spiritual war.

Asher Lev, is about a boy born with a prodigious artistic ability into a Hasidic Jewish family, set in the 1950’s in the time of Joseph Stalin and the persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union. During Asher's childhood, his artistic gift brings him into conflict with the members of his devoutly religious sect, who value things primarily as they relate to their faith and who consider art not related to Judaism to be at best a waste of time and possibly a sacrilege. (Summaries are from Wikipedia)

Day 5-Favorite Quote: "There's no crying in baseball!"  It's from "A League of their Own."  I can make it fit most situations.  When I found out--after the fact of course--that there had been tryouts for the extras in the movie--all the players--that I hadn't heard about, I was very sad.  When I was younger, I really wanted to play baseball but couldn't 'cause I'm a girl.  I'm so glad girls have the opportunity to participate in sports today.

Day 6-20 of your Favorite Things:
1. Mama
2. Spending alone time with Mama
3. A really good workout
4. Taking Pictures
5. Music
6. A really good book--historical fiction
7. Swimming--especially open-water swimming
8. Vermont
9. Watermelon
10. Old musicals--Fred Astaire, Judy Garland
11. Singing in a choir
12. The ocean
13. Watching the sun set on the beach
14. Hiking on a crisp fall morning
15. Warm beet salad from our favorite restaurant
16. Playing catch
17. Coffee on the front porch in the quiet of the morning
18. Traveling
19. A soak in a hot tub on a cold night
20. A cup of tea in the evening

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

Everyone is back to school, football is in full swing, soccer begins next week and summer seems like a distant memory.  Summer 2010 was filled with s'mores, camp fires, kayaking, child-free alone time, cool camps for the kids, fireworks, parades, sunsets, ice cream, swimming holes, blueberry picking, picture taking, and county fairs with mechanical bull rides.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Milestone Moment

The other day, Mama and 2 of the 3 little guys who joined our home last weekend brought Bobby to the meeting spot for his week at Sibling Camp. The Baby and James stayed behind with the sitter. I was at work.

I got a call from James asking if he could go for a jog.

After the usual discussion of safety and routes, I wished him a good run, and he said.......

are you ready for this........

are you sitting down.......

this doesn't happen every day.......

"Thanks. Love you."

Did you hear that?

Now, I don't know if he even realized he said it, but I am going with it! In fact, after I hung up I shared it with my co-workers!

Wait, it gets better.

He called me after his run to tell me all about it. Feeling pretty good about that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The $600 Billion Challenge

If you follow Mama Drama Time Two you may have read that I had the honor of being the guest "preacher" at our church in VT last weekend. I'll be starting my third and final year of my lay-ministry program and I'm trying to get a sense of the direction my "calling" will take me. I enjoyed doing the Sunday service and have been asked to consider being the Chaplain to the Fire Department, but social justice is a passion of mine. So, I'll keep my ears and heart open for signs. Here is the sermon I gave last weekend (Mama Drama suggested I post it.)

“Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett are asking the nation's billionaires to pledge to give at least half their net worth to charity, in their lifetimes or at death. If their campaign succeeds, it could change the face of philanthropy.”

So reads the headlines of the June 16, 2010 on-line Fortune Magazine.

In the August 4 news cycles it was reported that they and 38 (of the estimated 400) billionaires vowed to give away half their fortunes.

Imagine the change this could make in our society if they are as successful as they hope--$600 billion given to charity! It has the potential to dramatically change the charitable behavior of Americans. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a direct line to one of them?

But, I imagine the billionaires are feeling a bit anxious about the whole thing--What does going public with big gifts do to the peace in your life? Won't pleas from charities be unending?

Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet wanted that “a small group of dedicated philanthropists be somehow assembled to discuss strategies for spreading the gospel to others.”

Luke tells us in today’s reading:

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”

I don’t know if Bill, Melinda and Warren had this passage in mind when they started the $600 Billion Challenge but it does make me go hmmmmm.

What I do know is that I’m not a billionaire but I do have a very rich life. So what is the message here?

Luke tells us that it is God's good pleasure to give us the kingdom. So, maybe He’s challenging us to give in response to God's gift: sell your possessions and give alms--give to those who are poor.

Some very smart Biblical Scholars tell us that almsgiving, along with prayer and fasting, make up the foundation of Jewish devotion. And this important tradition of almsgiving and praying and fasting continued in the early Christian communities. The giving they did was directed to those who did not have what they needed. Giving had a certain priority, and that priority was concern for the poor. Almsgiving was a way of doing justice.

I don’t believe Jesus is telling us to literally sell everything and give away the proceeds. I think he’s saying to look at our lives and what’s keeping us from His Kingdom. What are we holding onto in this world–stuff that won’t last anyway. Are we good stewards of our gifts? Isn’t the kind of life Jesus is talking about more about choosing to live more simply, choosing to intentionally have less stuff, choosing to cease from amassing more stuff? Isn’t it about choosing to discover our sense of well-being in a just sharing of material possessions?

Be generous in giving to those in need.

If we do this, God will reward us with lasting riches in heaven.

“Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

If we read the last verse closely, we see that Jesus tells us that our heart will follow our treasure. Jesus knows that our hearts are quite often not where our stated priorities are -- the heart does not follow the head. Our hearts follow our treasure—our stuff.

Throughout much of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus talks to His disciples about their fears and worries and each time reminds them that God knows where they are and what they need. Jesus also calls His disciples to responsibility—to focus on seeking God's kingdom.

Jesus is teaching us what really matters in life. He is reminding us life is about more than making the next appointment, retrieving all the E-mail, aiming for the next promotion, or taking the dream vacation.

So, whether you’re a billionaire or a farmer, Jesus reminds us of what really matters. He understands our tendency to get wrapped up in the things of this life. Many of these may be good things, but they become a higher priority than knowing God. They become the focus of our lives . . .

Jesus makes it very clear that He wants our treasure to be in heaven.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Time Warp?

We picked Bobby up from his summer camp this past weekend. It's the same camp our oldest, Alex, now 20, attended when he was Bobby's age. I take a lot of pictures but can usually remember where and when the pictures were taken. I can also see in my mind the images I've taken. So, when I looked at the photos from Bobby's camp drop-off, it jogged my memory. So, I dug through my 50 or so photo albums and found the pictures from our Alex's drop-off. A little compare and contrast ... notice the same color shirts on the boys? the same color outfit on Mamma? the same poses?

I'm not sure what all this means but I give us points for consistency.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Day with Kids

I had a series of interesting interactions with kids today. My first was with James this morning when I had to point out the pile of old (and I do mean old) ice pop wrappers hidden between the front flap of the couch in the family room. Yes, you read that right. The front bottom "fringe" of the couch had apparantly split, creating a pocket. This became the repository for the empty wrappers. Now this would not be a big deal if not for the fact that I filled a plastic grocery bag with empty ice pop wrappers last Friday--from behind the video game console, under the computer table, on top of the computer table, under the table cloth of the end table, between the cushions of the love seat, under the get the idea. Imagine my surprise when I stepped to pick up the remote from the floor and stepped on another pile of wrappers! Of course, the best part was when I asked him what why he thought that was a good place to discard his wrappers. His response: (insert silence here). Yup, nothing. It was going to be a long day.

Then, at the youth service agency I run, I overheard one of the kids calling someone else a homo. Oh boy. After we got through the denial and evasiveness, and a discussion on the 2 definitions for the word "gay," he agreed that he used the word in a hurtful way. When I told him that I'm gay and that what he said hurt my feelings, he seemd genuinely bothered.

Next, one of the 6 girls we chose to attend a week-long basketball camp for girls run by a former professional women's basketball player and olympic gold medalist came in to see me. She wanted to me she had been chosen MVP for her team at camp, show me her basketball shoes that were signed by former and current professional women's basketball players, and to thank me for picking her.

And, finally, when James and I went to pick up his uniform, there was a female classmate of his also getting her equipment--that's right--a GIRL is playing on his team. As a pre-Title IX-er, this is very cool. And, it's pretty gutsy for a middle school girl to put herself out there like that. I told her I want to be her when I grow up.

I also got lots of high fives, fist pounds, hugs, smiles, invitations to share snacks, requests for tape and markers, and a sneak peak at the Drama Club's performance.