Monday, January 31, 2011

Shortage of Sunshine

Today is a day that I would like to have hit the fast forward button on.  It was full of worry and anticipation and ended with unexpected news.

Granddad's health has taken a nose dive within a 24 hour time span.  I just spent the weekend with my family.  With my grandparents.  With my out of state family.  He had a rough week, but by Sunday he seemed to be somewhat better.  This afternoon I'm told he's incoherent has overly laborious breathing and has been catheterized.  Tomorrow he will likely be moved into the hospice floor of the hospital.

There are so many emotions I have, as does my family.  Too many to try to capture in this post.

My sunshine is scarce today.  My prayer for my family is that joy will come in the morning.

Psalm 30:5
...weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


This cradle is not your "Rock A Bye Baby" variety.  This one is much more interesting.  It's the lacrosse cradle.  A craft that must be mastered in order to effectively play the game of lacrosse.  A skill that is the most difficult to learn. 

Until Saturday, I had no idea what cradling was.  I learned quickly.  Sidney started her first day at lacrosse skills camp and this was one of the skills that was introduced.  Apparently its important.  The coach asked that the parents stay to watch a video on the art of cradling.  This is serious business. 

Cradling How-To

The kids were briefly shown how to hold their stick and then asked to mimic their coach's technique.  I can tell you that there were balls flying out of the nets, rolling across the floor and kids running like ants toward a pile of sugar.  It was crazy.  My daughter--the consummate perfectionist--was visibly agitated at her inability to master the cradle on the first shot.  My first instinct was to hop off the stage, on to the floor and give her the "what for" in light of her poor attitude.  I refrained. 

For a brief moment I was able to talk to her and all I could say was "stick with it, you're doing great."  It was obvious that my encouragement had fallen on deaf ears.  She could not see past her perceived shortcoming to see that every other child on the court was struggling with the same thing she was. 

After practice on our walk to the car I asked her if she enjoyed her first day at lacrosse.  Her simple response was "no."  When I asked her why her answer was "because I don't."  I didn't pursue it.  I knew why she didn't like it. 

My mission became to understand the cradle so I could teach her how to hone her skill.  I watched a video (that's right...I got on YouTube and watched a "how to"), consulted with Aaron and together we learned how to cradle.  We were able to teach her pretty quickly and rebuilt her confidence within a matter of minutes.

"Sidney, do you like lacrosse?"  "Yes, I love it.  It is so much fun!"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sucking Wind

There's no worse feeling than trying to keep up with your breathing while running.  I got to experience this yesterday when I decided to brave the "dreadmill" again. 

I took a week off while I was sick.  Good for my body and bad for my training. 

I'm back on the horse--hopefully I don't get bucked off!


Highly valued.  Important.  These are definitions of the word sacred. 

My quiet time is sacred.  It's also rare.  It's usually spent in my garden tub, lights dimmed, candles lit and bubbles abundant.  My children generally are not permitted to use my tub.  It's my highly valued place where I can be alone and shut out the world.
 Well, it was until yesterday.

Sidney took a bubble bath in my tub (initially unbeknownst to me) to relieve some of her post-op woes.  I'm sure it seemed like a good idea and a nice thing to do for her since she had a miserable evening, but that's a sacred place.  My sacred place.

As I was rinsing off this very soapy and limp child who resembelled a pathetic rag doll, her stomach started to erupt.  "Mommy, my stomach feels bad!"  This sentence was followed with  an all-out gut explosion...all over my sacred place. 

I guess this is why Clorox wipes are made.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


This is not something that I make a habit of doing.  But, I couldn't resist this morning.

As I was tip-toeing down the steps with anticipation of finding the kids tossing the remnants of their half-eaten breakfast in the trash, I was surprised to hear a conversation occurring in the kitchen.  Not a fight.  Not Sidney giving Ashton his daily marching orders.  A real conversation!

I stood in the hallway listening carefully to these two little people discussing Sidney's upcoming surgery.  The content of the conversation was as nearly as interesting to me as the fact that they were communicating without raising their voices.

Ashton is our resident expert (at the ripe old age of 4) of surgeries and procedures.  Sidney knows this.  And finally, Ashton finds himself in a position to be valued by his big sister...rather than ordered to do something. 

The tables have turned--as temporary as it might be.

She was enlisting his input of what flavors of Gatorade he got to have before and after surgery so she could compare and contrast what she was choosing.  The most comical part of the conversation was when they were discussing what scent of gas she should get.  That's right, anesthesia.  He had the pink lemonade scent last month and she wanted to know if it was "good."  I had to cover my mouth and muffle my laughter as to not give away my position in the hallway.

These little minds at work simply amaze me.

But, all good things must come to an end.  A dispute ensued whether or not Ashton really had strawberry Gatorade. 

It was fun while it lasted.

Monday, January 24, 2011


There are so many quotes associated with the word life.  Life's a beach.  Life sucks.  If life gives your lemons, make lemonade.  ...I can go on & on.

What I know is that life is precious.

I have been reminded of this in various ways through various people--two of which who have impacted me.  One is a Sunday school friend, Tricia, from long ago.  The other is my Grandfather, hereto referred to as Granddad.

What I am not going to do here is go into a dissertation about their stories.  That defeats the purpose of a blog.  What I will do is tell you that their life experiences have influenced my outlook on life.  Indefinitely.

You can read about Tricia's story on her blog:  The month of January will break your heart.  Open your eyes.  Give you perspective.  She lost her husband suddenly just two days before Christmas with two children at home.  Life certainly doesn't seem fair.

My 90 year old Granddad fights for breath everyday.  You see, he has congestive heart failure and is in a terminal stage with it.  There is no getting better.  There is surviving this until it takes him.  That is the reality of the situation.  Assisting in my grandparents estate planning, helping organize Hospice care and watching my husband spend his free time helping them with home improvements to make his care easier are all blaring reminders of what life has become for him. 

Granddad on his 90th birthday along with his 3 great grandchildren

Life is a lot of things.  Mainly it is to be cherished.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sending My Little Man to "Kindergarten"

Notice how "Kindergarten" is in quotes.  That's because we are sending Ashton to practice Kindergarten in the Fall.

But, please, don't tell Ashton or the school.  The teacher would serve my head up on a platter if she knew that I am thinking this way. 

Ashton's birthday is at the end of August, so he misses the cut-off for entrance to attend public school.  I wish I could say that I was upset about this.  But, the truth be told, I'm not.  I am not ready to put my little blonde bombshell on a school bus and bid him farewell as he enters the school-age era.

He's my baby and certainly kindergarten cannot be a reality for him already.

The wrestling match of "what to do with him" next year came to an end this week.  We are enrolling Ashton in private school.  He needs to be challenged, but isn't ready for the public school experience...yet.  So, come August, my baby will be putting on a uniform and heading to the classroom as a big a Kindergartener.

It's likely he will repeat kindergarten in 2012 (real kindergarten), so for now, I am referring to this experience as practice kindergarten. 

It will be great practice for both of us!

Do As I Say, Not As I Do...

Famous last words, right?  Well, these words bit me in the butt this week. 

Apparently I am a lot better at taking care of other people than taking care of myself.  It's also abundantly clear that I am great at telling others to take care of themselves, but I do not heed my own advice. 

I have been battling "the crud" for almost four weeks now.  At some point you would think that I would slow down, take it easy,, take care of myself.  Not so.  I pushed through continuing on with my normal routine of work, kids, family, running, working out and ran myself right into the ground. 

It all came to a head this Thursday when my sinuses turned into Niagara Falls--I became the human Maid of the Midst, minus anything fun!  Friday was miserable, my colleagues can attest to this.  I had a vaporizer on my desk along with a nice sampling from the medicine cabinet, hell bent on making it through the day.  Well, I made it through the day...and guess what?  I didn't get a gold star for doing it.  Instead I struggled to stay awake on my drive home and when I made it home I said "hello" and "goodbye" to my family.  I disappeared to my bedroom for the next 14 hours.  I went into a coma.  The first part of which was in my vapor bath...I fell asleep.  I must say that's a first.  I slept for 14 hours and much of Saturday.  I was amazed at how exhausted I was. 

Equally, I am amazed at how healing the rest was.

The moral of the story here, is I am going to start practicing what I preach.  And, to all of you who I have lectured on taking care of yourselves...that is good advice.  Now I'm going to follow it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Difference of Opinion

"Mom, even though Nina says the roads are bad and it's snowing, can't we go to Dairy Queen for dinner?"  No, Sidney.  The roads are bad, I feel pretty crappy and Dad is going to be home late. "So, I want Dairy Queen."  And I just want to breathe with my mouth shut.  But neither are happening so let's just both understand that neither of us are getting what we want tonight. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hummus Eating Kitty

They (whoever they are!) say that pets take on personality traits of their owners.  I never really believed this until a few nights ago.  While I was enjoying some chipotle flavored hummus on pita, Alexa kept sticking her nose into my food.  I piled some of this spicy hummus on a pita chip and turned it over to her for inspection.  I was sure this 13 year old ball of fur would eject from this scenario rather quickly.

Not so.  She devoured the hummus and the pita chip and came back for more. 

Hmmmm....maybe there is hope for her to take on my OCD cleaning traits and join me in that fun.

Pink Eye

A watery, pastel pink, semi-gooey eye all points to one thing.  Pink eye.

Pink eye is something that is not unfamiliar to this house.  We have been through it many times.  The first time Sidney contracted it I was immediately on the phone to the doctor describing the horror of the goop that had taken over my daughter's eye.  The remedy is a tiny bottle of magic liquid that makes the contagious plague go away.  4 drops, 3 times a day keeps the ooze away!

This week Ashton fell victim to itchy eyes.  The daycare "bylaws" state that the child needs to stay out of daycare for 24 hours after the onset of any contagious health issue.

That whole 24 hour thing has to be a suggestion, right?  Not really a rule.  I mean, he probably got it from the pink eye pool in the first place so what's the harm in sending him?  It's not the Bubonic Plague.

So I sent him.  I had a bottle of miracle drops, plopped four in each eye and sent him on his way.

Who's nominating me for mother of the year?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

It's always nice to receive a gift for a birthday, holiday or anniversary.  But, it's very exciting to receive something unexpected "just because." 

I was the recipient of "the unexpected" not once, but twice in less than a week. 

The first slice of sunshine came along on Saturday in the form of a lasagna.  That's right--a tasty pile of noodles, sauce, meat & cheese--pure bliss.

I had made arrangements with my friend, Holly, to spend the day running errands together with the promise of building in a lunch at a hibachi style restaurant.  Little did I know that it would have an added bonus at the end of the day.  I arrived at the home Holly grew up in to whisk her away for a day of glorified domesticity.  When I entered the family room where Holly and I have had many laughs over the past couple of decades, I was greeted by her parents.  After we exchanged some lighthearted jabbing, Gail (Holly's mom) told me that they were having lasagna for dinner.  Gail's lasagna is the best around, bar none.  Jokingly, I asked her to save me a piece so I could enjoy the grub as well.  And then Holly & I were off on our day-long adventure.

At the end of day, we returned to her parents home to find a pan of lasagna with a note that instructed me how long to cook the pan of carbohydrate happiness. 

...she made me an entire pan of lasagna.  She knew it would be appreciated.  I would enjoy it.  Perhaps hoard it.  If my family was lucky, I would share it.

Upon my arrival home from work this evening, I was presented with a package that I received via the USPS.  The return address was from Walt & Peggy Pleban, the innkeepers at The Cabin in the Woods which I have referenced in my "Wine Time" post.  The first question Aaron asked me as I looked at is was, "what did we forget from our last visit?"  I tried to recall the email that Peggy had sent me that detailed the items that we left behind at New Years.  They were all consumables. 

I opened the package with anticipation of finding an "unmentionable" that perhaps she was too embarrassed to mention in an email.  As I unwrapped the contents of the box, I was astonished to see that it was a reflective running vest. 

Peggy & I had talked about an upcoming trip out West and their planned treks which would require them to wear reflective gear for safety purposes.  I, in turn, shared my experience with a near miss while running at night.  I spoke of the need to suit up in reflective clothing when I resume running outdoors.  That was the end of the conversation.  I never gave it another thought.  But, she did.  Her hand-written note told me to "be safe."

...she sent me a reflective vest.  She was concerned for my safety.  She knew she would get around to ordering it sooner than I would. 

I'm touched by the actions of Gail & Peggy. 

All too often I say, "I am amazed by people."  My awe & wonder of people usually points to the stupidity or complete disregard that people show. 

In this case, I am in awe & wonder of the kindness of these two generous women who thought enough of me to sprinkle some kindness on my day. 

Monday, January 17, 2011


Math is certainly not an area of study or practice that I ever cared for.  Nor do I now.  It's not that I can't do it, or I don't get it.  It's that I don't want to do it.  Now, we're not talking adding and subtracting here or multiplication and division.  Proofs, theorems, algebra, calculus...not my cup of tea.  So much so that I took Logic & Philosophy in college to fulfill my math requirements. 

Much to my excitement and amazement, my daughter is nothing like me in this area.  She's likes math.  She really does!

She recently passed Principal's Math Club, Division.  This is the last portion of Principal's Math Club that she has to pass in order to be invited to the end of the year "smart kids" party.  She did it.  She did it quickly.  She did it with determination. 

Sidney is a perfectionist--a trait I had hoped to not pass along to my children.  Unfortunately for her, she inherited the perfect gene. 

Principal's Math Club is something that we have heard about day in and day out for months.  It's a timed math test on the internet.  Frankly, that all sounds like a bad idea to me.  Luckily my 7 year old embraces the challenge.  With every section of this second grader's rite of passage achieved, we celebrate.  Whether its a pack of gum or a trip to Dairy Queen it's celebrated.

So whether its the anticipated celebration that comes with these feats or the thrill of the chase, she's mastered math.  For that I am thankful.  And, even though she likes to think that her Dad is from another planet (which I tend to agree with) she's an awful lot like him. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Gotta Have Faith

A popular 80's song by George Michael...Faith.  I always loved that song.  Still do.  But, the words "I gotta have faith" have a different meaning to me than perhaps they did to George Michael.

Sundays are always a great day in our house.  We get up in the morning, rush around for about a half hour and then head to church.  I love my church.  The Chapel in Green has been such a positive influence on me & my family.  From the time I was born I was in church Sunday after Sunday.  But, it wasn't until we started attending The Chapel that I found my life profoundly impacted by what used to be a Sunday ritual. 

I grew up in church.  I went to a private parochial school.  Religion & church were not new to me.

In my formative years, church was okay for me--although a little too cliquish for my liking.  School, well that's another story.  My school was very legalistic and if you didn't follow the (completely insane) rules, you were pretty much out on your butt.  Or at least you were made to feel that way. 

Should church, faith, religion, Christians be this way?  Was this just simply the way it was and you either accepted it or moved away from it?  Nah, I don't think so.

My faith, my belief teaches grace.  Grace & forgiveness.  Not fire & brimstone.  Compassion toward others, encouraging others, serving others.  This I believe.  This is what faith is all about. 

While I'm not much for waving a flag that says "I'm a believer.  I have faith in God."  I do believe in the demonstration of faith.  While I am far from perfect, I strive to make an impact where I can, when I can. 

So, while I may not be hopping around on a stage singing "I Gotta Have Faith," I hope you can see my faith through how I live my life.  How I treat others.  And, how I serve others.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Forrest Gump

When Forrest Gump hit the theaters, I was all over it.  I loved the movie.  When it came out on VHS (yes, that's right, VHS) I bought it.  Couldn't get enough of it.

Run Forrest Run! One of my favorite movie lines...have used it over and over again.  Usually in jest.

Every time I hit the pavement or the treadmill I think to myself "Run Forrest Run."  I was not always a runner.  In fact I loathed running.  Sprints, suicides, laps--I detested it all.  I was an athlete, a jock, but not a runner.  Now I find it to be therapeutic.  A stress release.  A way to stay nimble.

The inspiration for my running was my friend Shannon.  As we were chatting at work about an upcoming 10k race, she suggested that I run it.  At first I had my reservations--fear really--that I wouldn't be able to do it.  But, I like a challenge more than I like perfection (or so I thought) so I accepted.  To ensure that I would go through with it I registered us.  Now we were locked in.

The mystery for me was training.  How would I (the non-runner) train for this 6.2 mile race?  I hopped online and found a host of training regimens at my fingertips.  I bookmarked the one that I liked best and set my course.

In short, I ran it.  I finished it.  It was hard.  My time sucked.

I'm a perfectionist.  As much as I wish it weren't so, it's true.  While I kept telling myself (and everyone else) that my goal was only to finish, I really wanted to finish at or under 10 minutes / mile.  When it was all said and done my time was 11 minutes / mile and I was less than thrilled.  To console my ego, I told myself, "it was a grueling course" (and trust me, it was!) "it was my first race," "I only trained for 5 weeks prior to the race."  All of these things were true.  So, why couldn't I just be happy that I finished?  I let my obsession with perfection get in the way of the satisfaction of conquering something that I never dreamed of doing.

I no longer run against myself.  I run for myself.  For the satisfaction of knowing that I run because I can.  For all of the same reasons that Forrest Gump liked running.

“I always loved running…it was something that you do by yourself, and under your own power.  You could go in any direction,  as fast or slow as you wanted, fighting if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” Jesse Owens

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wine Time

As I sit here nursing a glass of wine, I am inspired to write about our latest wine escapade.

One of the largely unknown benefits to living in NE Ohio is the Ohio Wine Trail.  Yes, I said "benefit" and "NE Ohio" in the same sentence.  If you like wine, its definitely worth the jaunt to check some of these local wineries out.

We discovered the "West End" wine trail during an excursion in July--an anniversary trip.  While we weren't sure what was in store for our palettes, we were positive that we had chosen the best bed & breakfast we had ever stayed in.  We have stayed in a number of B&B's over nearly 12 years of our marriage--both locally and internationally.  This by far is the best.

Peggy & Walt Pleban are the innkeepers at the Cabin in the Woods B&B.  They truly open their home and hearts to their guests.  We have come to think of them as family--which if you know our family that could be scary for them!  The home is a beautiful four bedroom log cabin which boasts many fine details and extraordinary craftsmanship.
The Cabin in the Woods

The home is beautiful, yes.  But the hospitality is second to none.


The Plebans have thought of everything!  From the nicely appointed guest rooms to the delectable breakfast and everything in between they have it covered.

We were fortunate enough to return to their home over New Years for a wonderfully relaxing escape.  How lucky we are to have met them and to be considered their"special guests." 

But, this post is about the wine, right?

I assure you the wine was good.  So good in fact we came home with two cases.  But, the time we spent at the Cabin in the Woods was far more memorable than our tour of Ohio's West Side Wine Trail.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


My favorite smell is that of the beach.  The ocean and air come together to make a magical fragrance that instantaneously puts me at ease.  It's like crack, only legal!  There's nothing like it.

Since it's the dead of winter, I certainly miss the beach now more than ever.

I am a beachaholic.  Lover of the sun, sand and surf.  It's the place I can go and completely unwind.  Living in NE Ohio isn't exactly conducive to my addiction, but that doesn't stop me from planning my next trip.

We are heading back to Sanibel Island, Florida this summer.  Lucky for me my dad lives there and I have a mandatory trip to the beach as a result.  ...have to visit Dad, right?  The planning has started, the reminiscing and the fantasizing.  Oh, to have a day at the beach right right now.  Ashton is ready to catch his next fish.  Sidney is ready to spend a week in the water.  Aaron & I are ready to kick back, enjoy my family and take advantage of island time. 

Dad teaching Ashton how to use the cast net  

Catching her breath before she disappears under the water

The shelling on Sanibel is incredible also.  I've never seen such a variety of shells in one place.  Lucky for me, I have the benefit of a local "shell-master" (also known as Renee) to show me the ropes of shelling and fill me in on exactly what it is I am finding. 

 Sanibel Shell Guide

Enjoy this little piece of paradise...for me it is truly my ultimate Sunshine & Lollipops. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday Evening Dinner Conversation

Dinner time in our household is always an adventure.  Be it the kids telling us about their day, or Ashton refusing to eat at a normal pace or Sidney starting the "what"'s always eventful.

Last night we went through the usual rounds of the "how's,"what's" and "why's" of the day.  When it was Aaron's 'turn' to speak (it's rare that he & I ever get to engage in actual conversation at dinner) he told us that he was nominated for an Expy Award and was one of five finalist.  The announcement came out of nowhere--this was the first I had ever heard of it.  Aaron is great for holding on to information and releasing it at his leisure.  He explained to us that he had been nominated for the "Best Mentor" award and would be featured in CBC Magazine as a result.  On March 30th the winner will be selected at a luncheon where "if I am free I can attend."  Thanks for the invite and the insight!  I have become very accustomed to uncovering information this way so while I was surprised and delighted at his news, I was not surprised that this is how he broke it.

After all of the congratulatory rhetoric was offered, Sidney spoke up and said, "Do you think that you can get them to give you $4,000 for this award?"

Hmmm...looks like the mentoring is as effective at home as it is at work.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Everything is Sunshine & Lollipops

For those of you who know me well, you know that I have just a "hint" of sarcasm attached to nearly everything that is uttered from my mouth.  Often, when people ask "how are you doing" I respond by saying everything is sunshine & lollipops.

Maybe about 50% of the time that is true, 25% of the time it is close to true, and 25% of the time it couldn't be further from the truth.  It is my standard response, nonetheless.

Now you know why my blog is named Sunshine & Lollipops, I hope that I can get that 50% closer to 75%.