My Life Lessons

If I could go back and meet myself at 19 there are a few pieces of advice I really wish I could give me.   Among them are; Do better in school, save your money, stay the hell away from THAT guy (exclamation points after that one), you’re not really going to become a veterinarian so study something you can actually use, and the list goes on.

However, as I was cleaning my garage today, I figured out the four major pieces of advice that I would pass on to every female:

First, never stop jumping rope.  Be it single jumping, group jumping, double dutch, hot pepper, or jump rope songs there is something about jumping rope that is fun, relaxing, companionable when done en masse, good exercise, and down right enjoyable.  You can sing to it, dance while doing it, daydream, laugh, get sunshine and fresh air.  It works up a sweat, gives you rhythm, flexibility, agility, synchronization in a group, and mobility when you learn how to skip while locomoting down the street (if there is no such word as locomoting, there should be and will be from now on)  It also helps with your ability to count by tens when doing Hot Pepper.   And the final cost is so minimal – a piece of your mother’s clothesline.  All those fancy shmancy weighted jump ropes are unnecessary to say the least.  A piece of good old fashioned rope.  That’s it.

Second, never stop riding your bicycle.  I spent so many happy days out pedaling frantically over to my friend Mary’s house or her to mine.  We would then ride around the neighborhood, ride to buy the latest Archie Comic books, ride to get a soda, ride to the playground, or to the field to pick wildflowers, play Follow the Leader on bicycle, or just coast the hills talking and laughing.   As I got older, I exchanged my two wheel transportation for four wheel transportation.  But I would still get my bicycle out on the weekend for “Bicycle Sunday” when parts of the local parkway would be closed to traffic and everyone would be out pedaling in the sunshine.   This was not only great exercise, but something of a social occasion as well.  Families were out, couples on tandems, the occasional unicycle, and the odd velocipede.  Nothing will ever feel quite as good as coasting over the gentle bumps in the road with hair blowing behind me (that was in the dark age before helmets arrived).

Third, never lose the ability to wear heels.  I remember my first pair of heels.  They were my pink satin Easter shoes the year I turned 13.  I could barely totter across the living floor when I first got them, and I practiced every day so I wouldn’t disgrace myself by wiping out on my way up to Communion at Easter mass.  In reality they were not very high – I think I’ve had sneakers with more of a heel.  But my thirteen year old self practically had a nose bleed from altitude and excitement.   After those pink gems, I loved heels.  When I went to work after college, I wore heels constantly and spent every day on my feet in a lab.  In a three story building, I used to run up and down the stairs in my heels, scorning the elevators ( actually I didn’t scorn the elevators.  I feared them.  It was a brand new building and the elevators occasionally went on the fritz.  I was stuck in one for what seemed like an eternity with a very strange, hygiene deficient guy from another department and another planet.  My fingernail marks are probably still on the inside of the elevator door).   Then I married someone shorter than me.  That in itself is not a problem, but it became a personal insult when I wore heels.  I was “young and in love” (read that as stupid)  so I began wearing flats.   Thirty three years later, I am no longer married, but I’ve lost the ability to wear heels.  Drat.

From number three comes what I will call 3A.  Avoid people who want you to change things about yourself.  Clothing choices, heels, hair color, whatever – you are beautiful just the way you are.

Fourth, never stop laughing.  Keep the ability to see the ridiculous in life….and sometimes even in yourself.  Not everything is funny…. not every day is funny.  But if you can’t laugh several times each week, there is something wrong.  The best feeling is when you laugh until the tears roll down your face.  I think 4A would be to surround yourself with people who know how to laugh.  I am very fortunate in having family, friends, and even pets who are side-splittingly funny.  I can’t imagine my life without them, and without the ability to laugh with them (and sometimes at them!)

I ran out of daylight while cleaning the garage and tying up the trash.  But I retained a nice piece of rope.  I have my eye on it for tomorrow…..

Fudge, Fudge, call the Judge!  Mama’s got a newborn baby!  Wrap him up in tissue paper, send him down the elevator, first floor MISS.  Second floor MISS.  Third floor, you better not miss ’cause H O T spells HOT!  10! 20! 30! 40!

(I should live so long I’ll get all the way through it, but with practice who knows!?  But I still remember the song! And at the very least, I am sure to get a laugh out of it!!)

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Lazy Day

I didn’t get to exercise today.   As previously stated, I fear gym memberships for the twisted knees and strained tendons they bring down on me.   But I have been known to pop in the ole Sweatin’ to the Oldies DVD from time to time and bop around the living room….. (this is not a pretty sight and I make sure to pull down the blinds before this takes place….)

But today was not to be the day for that. I took the day off from work and it was a lazy day for me.   I woke up this morning and went out with the dogs before breakfast.  I picked up the yard after them, and moved the lawn furniture onto the deck.  I cleaned off the picnic table, and opened the umbrella.  On my way to open the gate, I noticed some dead roses, so I got out the pruners and a bag, and pruned all the roses .  I removed some dead branches on two trees and three bushes too.  Then I planted that Butterfly Bush that I had still in the pot.

Since it was still too early to rev up the mower to cut the crabgrass, I decided to put some laundry on.  On my way up to get the laundry I stopped to clean the rabbit cage and feed her.  Carrying the laundry back down to the basement, I noticed the light bulb was out on the staircase, so I went out back to get a replacement for it.  In the cabinet with the light bulbs I saw the clear bags and remembered I wanted to change the bag in the recycling bin in the kitchen.  When I carried the full bag out to the bin, I realized I needed to bring in the recycling can from the street.

On my way back up the driveway dragging the can I noticed the boxes of cat litter and the big sack of dog food in the back of my car and carried them into the house.  After carrying in the cat litter, I decided to clean the litter boxes on the second floor.    I went back to the first floor to get garbage bags for the old litter, and heard the washing machine stop in the basement so I went down to move the first load to the dryer and put in the second load.

Coming back up from the basement, I realized it was getting hot out and decided to cut the crabgrass before it got hotter.  I mowed the front and back lawns, bagged the clippings and dragged the bags to the curb.  When I finished I went back in for something cold to drink and noticed the water dish was empty.  I filled it and then fed the dogs and the cats their first meal of the day.

While they ate, I folded and put away the first load of laundry, moved the second to the dryer and started the third load in the washer.  Then it was time to go out with the dogs again.  After that I remembered the litter boxes and went back up to clean them and carry out the bags of old cat litter.

I wrote out a basic shopping list and made a trip to the local grocery store.   My few items became a cart full of groceries – paper towel bundle packs and Poland Springs gallon bottles were on sale.  Hurried home to put away the cold stuff first, then carried the rest into the house and found a place for everything.  Third load of laundry moved to the dryer and second put away.

Out in the garden again, I played a rousing game of fetch with two Golden boys.   Then it was dinner time for the boys.   Third load of laundry out of the dryer and put away.

Somewhere in there I had a yogurt for lunch, and my usual endive, cucumber, cottage cheese, cherry tomato “salad” for dinner.

I never did get to exercise today.  I just spent a nice leisurely day at home.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll work up the energy for it…..

Posted in Aging, Arthritis, Cat Lady, Cat Lover, Cats, Children, Daughters, Diet, Dieting, Dog, Dogs, Family, gardening, Golden Retriever, Life, Love, Maine Coon, Mom, Mom Eyes, moms, Mother, Oldage, Over50, Parenting, Physical therapy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


I inherited a lot of good qualities from my parents:  my sense of humor (such as it is), my love of animals, my green eyes, brown hair – back when it actually WAS a color (the tendency to go gray very early came right from my Dad, God love him).  I also inherited my long legs and arms, round face, high blood pressure, allergies, and arthritis (Thanks, Mom for that last one :)).

Thanks to the wonders of Osteoarthritis and degenerative discs, I have been introduced to the joys of Physical Therapy.  I have been assured that my aches and pains will end and new range of motion will be restored to my neck and shoulders.  Everyday I perform my exercises religiously in the privacy of my living room.  Twice a week, I leave after a full day of work and go directly to meet with my PHYSICAL THERAPIST.  Notice the italics.  Anyone who can cause that much agony in the name of good health deserves the italics.

Now don’t misunderstand me.  It’s not that I don’t have faith that it will ultimately work.  I am just hoping against hope that it doesn’t kill me in the meantime.

The office is lovely and very reassuring, with huge windows, soft music, plenty of tables with pillows to lay on, nice new equipment, and plenty of assistants in color coordinated Polo shirts.  Impressive to say the least!

The session begins with me comfortably reclining on a cushioned table, pillows under my head, bolster under my knees, facing one of those windows with a positively bucolic view – all designed to engender feelings of peace and tranquility.  A lovely heated wrap is placed around my neck, and the warmth lulls me into a false sense of relaxation…and depending on how trying the day was – euphoria.  I’m allowed to recline there cradled in warmth and soft music until I’m almost dozing… or comatose.

Once my defenses are down, the heated wrap comes off.  The announcement is made that I am about to be worked on.  (I think a better statement would be that I am about to be worked OVER, but it’s all semantics.)  The massaging begins….

In theory, it makes sense for probing fingers to seek out the knots in my neck and shoulders and attempt to unknot them.  The reality though, oh my.  I have to give this man credit.  He knows his business.  He unerringly finds the knottiest parts, and has the audacity to ask me if ” this hurts”.  Upon being assured that it does, he REALLY digs his fingers in.   Some part of my brain finds it interesting that as he prods deeply in the area of my clavicle , pain shoots up the side of my neck, past my ear, and over the top of my head.  Upon being informed of this surprising occurrence, he comments that’s a new one, usually the pain centers over the eye.

Seriously?   Is this the same set of rules as when the dentist tells you never to use sharp objects on your teeth, and then the next moment goes in with a grappling hook?   The same theory as you have to spend money to make money?   You have to cause pain to cure pain?  I’m already hurting…. somehow I’m not so sure I’m going to break even on this….

After an interminable amount of time, I have somehow survived the unknotting and can now move on to exercises on those shiny machines.  Everything is in three sets of ten….the magic number.  I’m afraid to lose count in fear that one extra or too few will ruin this path I am on to health and flexibility (or at least the ability to turn my head enough to look over my shoulder without losing consciousness).   I ignore the throbbing ache that has settled across my entire head, and settle into a smooth rhythm for the sets.  I’m pretty proud of myself on completing the first ten and begin the second with the end in sight.  Then one of those Polo-shirted youths hops over to tell me that I have to hold my elbows differently, my shoulders further down, and pull back with my arms more so that my back tightens and draws together.  He then stands there until I execute his directives to his satisfaction.   Fortunately I am able to do this.  Unfortunately this position aggravates my lower back and elbows where the arthritis and disc problems had been dozing in silence.

By the time I finish up and go confirm my next appointment, I am carrying my purse with my left arm while my right arm hangs uselessly at my side,  I am slightly stooped to alleviate the shooting daggers in my lower back, my neck is (still) sore, my head is still aching, and  I am squinting in the sun because the pain has finally reached the correct position over my eyes.

I’m sitting here now with a hot water bottle tucked at my back.  My neck feels like it can hardly hold my head up.  As soon as I can drag my sorry body out of this chair, I am going to take Advil.

I can’t wait for this Physical Therapy to take effect…..

Maybe if I do FOUR sets of ten……

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Lambert, the Sheepish Lion

Twas the hour before dawn and all through the house not a creature was stirring…. well maybe one or two.  It’s that time of night when I feel the need for a late night walk to the bathroom (one of the wonders of being female, taking a diuretic for blood pressure, or being over 50 – take your choice).  It’s not a bad thing, I actually enjoy the quiet and peace of this time of night – the stroll through the house, flipping on a light switch here and there…. I can really look around and appreciate my home and how much I love it. ( I also lost the ability to sleep through the night as soon as I was handed the first baby in the hospital. )

But I digress.

As I came out of the bathroom, one other creature was stirring in my house…. and it wasn’t a mouse.  Sitting right outside the door patiently awaiting my exit, was a fuzzy body and big sparkly eyes.  As I crossed the hall, he fell into step beside me and accompanied me on the rest of my journey.

One of the most companionable guys in my life is Lambert, my big orange Maine Coon.  He came into my life as a tiny kitten in a basket – beautiful orange and white perfect spirals on his sides like Fibonacci ( my daughter was student teaching at the time – the wonders of the Fibonacci sequence).  As he grew, his beauty and personality increased.  Lambert is big and gentle, with a  soft, long coat and a huge fluffy tail like a bottle brush that he carries proudly in the air.  The fur on his back legs makes him look like he is wearing pantaloons, and he trots gracefully through the house going about his self-appointed errands.

True to his name (Lambert, the Sheepish Lion), Lambert is very placid and a little on the shy side with strangers, which is only the more endearing.  He sits off to the side and assesses new arrivals with a slight frown on his brow.  He is a peacemaker with the other cats, and plays very gently with the tiniest cat of the bunch.

Lambert is a good conversationalist, and can be quite vocal with a distinct sequence of chirps and meows that is recognizable from a distance.  He has quite a bit to say at mealtimes, as he snakes around my feet and stretch his paws up for his dish (meals are very important to this guy).   Lambert is only too happy to lay on the table during my meals, pretending indifference to my food.  He lays down in the vicinity of my dish, and then gives a very nonchalant ssssttttrrrretttccchhh with both front paws – which, if I’m not observant, will land very cleverly in my plate.  He also likes to play with water, and will bat at a faucet drip, or play in and with his water dish.

One of my favorite “Lambert moments” comes when he is cuddling in my arms or lounging in my lap watching television (his favorite movie is “Mulan”).   He stretches out, settles in, and gets his motor running…. a nice low hum of a purrrrrr that is so soothing – the sound of happiness – guaranteed to lower my heart rate and make any day better.

I can whole-heartedly say that Maine Coons are an extremely special breed of cat – companionable, loving, truly a gentle giant.  And my Lambert, my sweet buddy, fellow night owl, is truly everything wonderful that one cat can be.

I have to go now….. I’m being chirped at, and I just happen to have “Mulan” on DVR…..

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We are dog people.  As a  child I envied friends with cats – those mysterious creatures who passed silently through the room assessing us from afar, and gave birth to precious things called “kittens” in closets and under beds.  They looked really cute and seemed like interesting, if aloof, creatures.  But it didn’t seem to be an option, and it wasn’t a boat I cared to rock as a child.  I just knew that when I grew up and got married, I could “do what I wanted”.

Hah!  The reality of that was a husband who was okay with a dog, but completely intolerant of any association with cats.  Curses!  Foiled again!

My catless existence came to a screeching halt seven years ago.  During a difficult period of life, my daughters and I were in the process of moving into our home, and the girls broached the subject of getting a kitten.  Seemed like a small request, and I still harbored a hidden curiosity about those creatures of my youth.  So I assured them we would do so, as soon as we were all settled in the new house.

Then we attended a “Pet Expo” at a local convention hall just for fun.  It was made up of all shelter pets, and I felt safe in the surety that we had enough dogs (is there ever enough?), and wanted our first feline to be a KITTEN, not a cat.  In theory, we should be able to make it in and out without a hitch.  I should live so long.

We left that day with two tiny black kittens, and joined the mysterious world of “litter boxes” and “scratching posts” .

Having a big heart, and no brains, I quickly added another kitten – a transaction that was like a drug deal out of a bad movie.   After an email exchange with a representative of a shelter, I waited in front of a Pet supply store in a strip mall.  A car pulled up, and I got in the back seat.  The adoption fee changed hands, and I got back out with a container carrying “the goods” – a
tortoiseshell’ kitten with ears like a cartoon alien (think Stitch) and an outgoing personality.  Luna eventually grew into those ears, but her happy, outgoing disposition remained the same.

After that, it was easy to add Esmerelda (part Maine Coon, part princess) from the same mysterious strip mall meeting source.  This time the girls were with me for the pet adoption, and my car broke down on the way home thus proving the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished”.

I never realized that cats had breeds, and began learning more about Maine Coons (did I mention that I’m an idiot?).  Lambert, a big red Maine Coon and our only non-rescue kitten, arrived for my birthday one year courtesy of my daughters.  He is the man of the feline family – and as big and gentle as he could be.

Cinderella joined us last, a tiny little kitten with a little busy face and such a cuddly disposition, from another pet adoption.  Had we known how tiny she’d stay, we’d have named her Thumbelina instead.

I don’t know who said that cats are aloof.  I have three cats in my lap and I am writing this with the laptop balanced precariously between the arm of the chair and Lambert’s rear.  The same person must have said that as wrote the theory that dogs and cats don’t get along.   My crew don’t subscribe to that theory either.  In fact, one of the cats gives backrubs to our old timer of a Basset Hound, and two others like to cuddle with him on his bed.

Something I have learned about cats is that these suckers are AGILE!  They leap through the air like the Flying Wallendas, run nimbly across curtain rods, and tap my head from the top of bookcases.  They have brought a new dimension to my life with their ability to get on any piece of furniture they choose – the only animals that can cross an entire room without once touching the floor.

I have added cats to the list of pets I never want to be without, and I regret those years that I missed out on cuddly kittens and purring, warm bodies.  Five cats twine around my feet, and purr contentedly in my lap.  (There is a special place in heaven for me – but I probably have to clean the litter boxes when I get there)  I can call them by name and they all come running.  Aloof, my foot.

However, I have been told that my cat quota is full for now.  These five keep me very busy…… and my daughters (the instigators of this whole thing!) have banned me from any and all pet adoptions…..

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Thoughts on Diet – MESS

I’ve been dieting most of my life…. probably off and on since birth. (I have dim memories of turning away a bottle of Similac in the nursery because my diaper was a little snug)  Over the years, I’ve lost a total of 17,648.26 pounds.  By all rights, I should be able to fit in my Hummel cabinet or hang myself on the top of the Christmas tree.  However, I regained all 17,648.26 pounds plus a few friends they brought along for the ride.  (I may have extra pounds, but at least they are friendly pounds!)

I’ve tried lots of diets, and been somewhat successful at most. But then the diet goes south and my hips go with it.  I recognize what the problem is.  It’s not the diets, it’s me!  I get bored.  Shocker, I know.  Bored and discouraged.  And then frustrated.  It’s a vicious cycle.

I need to see results…. I need to feel results….. instant gratification.  For a woman with a legendary amount of tolerance and a strong sense of the ridiculous, my dieting is frustrating business.  It’s not that I don’t want to look good and feel good.  It’s not that I am not willing to put in the sacrifice and the time.  I just think that I should get pound credit for good intentions!

For example, in the supermarket the other day, I virtuously stocked up on cucumbers, endive, carrots, cherry tomatoes, low fat cottage cheese, and yogurt.  Now just buying that should be good for about 8 pounds (per hip).  THEN I walked right past the ice cream aisle which was easy so I only want two pounds credit for that.  However, in the end freezer case there was a Friendly’s Wattamelon Roll – my favorite summertime dessert!!  I stood in front of that thing for a good five minutes opening and closing the freezer door and bargaining with myself….I would just eat one small slice per night (bull****)…I would walk one mile for each piece I ate (deeper bull****)…..I would have one piece and then throw the rest out (maximum bull****)….I was buying it for my girls and there was no need to deprive them just because I was overweight (biggest bull**** of all since they don’t even like it!)

By the third time some young mother pulled her small child away from the strange lady talking to her shopping cart, I had successfully slammed that damn freezer door for the last time….Wattamelon roll still safely on the shelf!!  Victory!!!!

And what did I have to show for all that willpower and virtuousity???  A dinner of cucumber, endive, carrots, tomatoes and cottage cheese!   Where is the justice??   All that willpower should have caused 25 pounds to miraculously disappear off the lower half of my torso!!  But nooooo!   I still had to expend the same effort to heft myself out of the car when I got home with the dinner I would share with my rabbit.

Well, I ate that rabbit food three days in a row.  I had yogurt for lunch.  For breakfast I had my usual meal of three blood pressure pills, low dose aspirin, and allergy medication.  (I may have to start washing that breakfast down with a Mimosa).  I supplemented dinner a couple of nights with grilled chicken a la my eldest daughter who has discovered an amazing knack for the barbecue grill.   I didn’t exercise, but I weeded and mulched all my flower beds, mowed the crabgrass that doubles as my lawn, pruned rose bushes, played with dogs, cleaned litter boxes, did laundry.

Yesterday morning I got on the scale….. down 11.5 pounds!!!!!!   YAY!!!!!  I thought I had been feeling a little thinner – my bra was loose and my rings were turning on my fingers – always the first places I lose weight. My hips stay intact until I’ve gone from a B cup to an A.  (Unfortunately the reverse is not true – I never gain weight on my chest…. it all settles somewhat south of the equator.)

But 11.5 pounds and I hadn’t really dedicated all my efforts to this diet!  It was something I was putting together for myself!   And it was WORKING….so far….. 🙂

I’m sticking with this one….it’s a win win – no personal trainer which I can’t afford anyway.  No expensive diet foods which I won’t actually eat.  No gym membership which has never worked out for me – as soon as I put the pen down from signing the membership agreement, I am sure to pop a tendon on the walk to the car.  All those things work really well for most people.  Don’t get me wrong.   They are just not for me.

I’m calling it Mom’s Efforts to Self Success …. MESS.   My own personal invention.  There are no must haves, no must buys, no must do’s.   I can adapt to wherever I am and whatever I am doing.  This is IT – the one that’s going to do the job.  I can feel it. I’m going to see it through!  ( I did feel a pang as I turned my back on the box of Apple Newtons beckoning to me in the cookie aisle, but maybe I’ll get three pounds credit for that.  A girl can dream….)

Granted, when I am done I’ll need to buy myself a few training bras, and have my rings resized.  But I’ll have the shortest crabgrass, nicest flower beds, and cleanest litter boxes in town!

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The Wonder of Fred

“Everything in moderation” is a good way to live.  I follow this credo in most areas of life, but not pets.   There I throw caution to the wind and  let my heart lead the way!  Consequently I can’t get up from a chair without someone jumping up on it behind me, can’t leave the room without an honor guard of at least two or three tripping me up,  a posse accompanies me to the bathroom, and I eat every meal with the knowledge that I am being watched intensely (by several pairs of eyes!).. but my home is filled with love….and hairballs.

I’ve been a dog lover all my life.  As a child, we had small dogs – “toys”.  Very cute and very loving… but I yearned for a St Bernard.  I asked Santa for one every year; a dog I could play with and wrestle with, walk with and HUG.  (Yes you can do all those things with toy dogs….but you have to watch the big hugs when the dog weighs under 5 pounds.  You hug with your fingertips)  Santa had other ideas though.  I suspect my Dad had a hotline to the North Pole on this one.

As a wife and hopeful mother to be, I was told that Golden Retrievers were great with children.  I did a little research and, indeed, they sounded like great family dogs.  Lovely to look at, even tempered, ideal with little ones.  Perfect.  This would be our family pet.

Then Fred entered my life.  Fred was a 12 week old Golden puppy when he wiggled his little furry way into my heart.  As the previous owner of dogs that could fit in snack bags, Fred was a totally new experience.  Here was a pup that you could really hug, and he hugged back!  He loved to cuddle and lay in my lap, yet frequently got the zoomies and tore through our home sending carpets flying!   He was my best friend, and as the babies arrived, he became their best friend and Nanny too.  He slept next to bassinets, cribs, youth beds.  Small fingers entwined in his fur and tiny arms hugged him tightly.  He shared meals, played games, attended bath times, said bedtime prayers.    Fred had his own stocking on the mantle at Christmas, his own basket at Easter.  No trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house was complete without Fred – and he was welcomed with open arms.

Fred was not a family pet.  Fred was FAMILY.

Having Fred was the best experience of my life  Loving him opened the way to my obsession with Goldens.  For me, they are not the perfect family pet – they are, in fact, the perfect FAMILY MEMBER.

As I am writing this, I have my feet on Goldens Number 4 and 5 in my life.  (Fred and Goldens 2 and 3 are in urns in the bookcase)   They have all had their own individual personalities, their own obsessions, their own idiosyncrasies.  But they are all a tribute to that first wiggle-butt of a pup.  That happy, loving ball of Gold fluff who filled my life for twelve years and my heart forever, and taught my children the meaning of friendship, devotion, compassion, and unconditional love. As a family, we have other breeds of pup, but the one I keep returning to is the Golden.  I can’t get enough of them, and I never plan on being without at least one in my life.  Everyone one of them has completely owned my heart.

I still haven’t gotten that St. Bernard.  But you know what?  I haven’t missed him so far….. and I’m sure my Goldens would love to have one someday…….

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To Wrinkle or Not to Wrinkle……

In this time of youth, health, and Botox, let me make a startling confession.   I have wrinkles.  There, I’ve said it.  They say the first step is admitting it, so I’ll say it again.  I have wrinkles.  Phew.  I’m glad that’s out in the open.

As a child, when you picture the wrinkles that come with time and age, you envision something along the lines of the Crypt Keeper.  The entire face (and probably body too) covered in crags and crevices.  Well the reality is a little different, thank goodness.

Wrinkles are not just generic markings.  There are degrees and categories of wrinkles.   I began early on with that ever so slight furrowing of the brow – only a few degrees at most.  I wasn’t concerned – barely noticeable!   I would just make an effort not to frown or squint in the sun, and I was good to go!

Then life took over and the degrees mounted.  I married, gave birth, raised children, took care of aging parents.  I wiped away tears at first steps and first words.  I glowed with pride at school plays, talent shows, dance recitals.  I grimaced and grinned through basketball games (my daughter’s grammar school team had a perfect record – they lost every game!)   I ground my teeth in anger and frustration during painful times, and smiled till my face hurt at the joys of my life.  I cried when I held my dogs in my arms as they breathed their last.  I sobbed when I lost first my Mom and then ten years later, my Dad.

All these things left their marks on my face…and my blood pressure.  My forehead is criss-crossed with the times my daughters had Scarlet Fever and Pneumonia.   Around my mouth are the etchings from pursing my lips rather tightly when the principal of the elementary school asked me in semi-annoyance why my daughter was always smiling (this is a problem??)   I have a matched set of luggage under my eyes from the sleepless nights of having teenagers and young adults out on the town.  Best of all, are the laugh lines that crease my eyes – from the little jokes, the new puppies, the silly laughter, the tiny kittens, the overwhelming love, and a million and one laughs over the course of my life.

I have been asked if I would ever consider plastic surgery.  The answer is a most emphatic NO.  These wrinkles are a badge of honor of a life well lead and well loved!  To remove them would be to negate the hard times and the happy times – the effort I put into living every day.  I earned every one of them and I wear them with pride.  I look forward to many more years of wrinkling ahead of me through happy times as well as sad.  That is Life.  My Life.

I have decided that as long as the laugh lines exceed the rest, I have nothing to complain about.

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The Wonderful Reality of “Mother”

“Mother” is a wonderful word in all its many forms.   That first “Mamamama” is music to your ears.   “Mommy”, accompanied by two little arms wrapping themselves around your legs and a little face shining up at you, brings a swell of love to your heart that threatens to choke you.  “Mommmmmeeeeeee”  shrieked at the top of little lungs and accompanied by tears and stamping feet is still precious in its own little way – unless you’re in the middle of a restaurant, store, or church, in which case you’re wondering why you didn’t just get a goldfish and call it a day.

The first thing to learn about me is that I LOVE my children – in capital letters!  I always wanted a big family – lots of happy, smiling faces around the dinner table; lots of love; lots of laughter.  My children would run home from school to tell me about their day…. they would sit in our warm, homey kitchen while I dispensed love, motherly advice, and chicken soup.   There would be nothing I didn’t know… nothing I couldn’t handle…. Mother Earth personified!  From that first bout of morning sickness that lasted seven months, I eagerly awaited the magic arrival.

Well I didn’t get the big family, but as I always tell my children, since I was only going to have two children it’s great that my two are so perfect 🙂  And we certainly do have lots of laughter!   But I discovered there was plenty I didn’t know, and my motherly advice was sometimes as welcome as my chicken soup – that is to say, not at all.

Somewhere along the way from “Mamama”, a mother goes from best hugger/cuddler/ story teller to public enemy number one.  We not only makes the rules, we must enforce them.  We are in charge of homework, discipline, dentist visits, doctor appointments.  We must be strictly accurate in what we say, because at some point we will be called out on any discrepancies.  I once made the mistake of telling my daughter she would NOT need a throat culture at the doctor’s office.  I never did that again.  The look of hate she gave me over the doctor’s shoulder as the swab was stuck in her mouth seared me to my soul, and caused the wall behind me to burst into flames.

You love them, you worry about them, you embarrass them, you are embarrassed by them.  No one has the power to hurt you like your child, and yet you would kill to shield them from all hurt.  You adore everything about them, even during those moments when you wonder why you didn’t take a vow of celibacy and join a convent.  You worry more than you ever thought possible, and you develop  detective skills that would be the envy of the FBI.

And you know what?  It’s all worth every second of it – every sleepless night (pretty much from the moment you are handed the baby in the hospital till the present day), every gray hair, every tear, every feeling of complete inadequacy.  My life was changed by the word “Mom” – into something wonderful, heartbreaking, love-filled, painful.

And you forever see the world as a beautiful burst of color, bathed in sunshine, filled with laughter and tears when you see it through Mom Eyes.

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