Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It’s The Wind Up

Christmas is almost here, in case you missed that little fact. Maybe you’re way more organized than I am and, by now, are sitting around your toasty fire (or swimming pool for my southern hemisphere friends) sipping a mocha latte. Not me. It’s more fudge making this morning, gift wrapping, house cleaning, and then fudge delivery (but I LOVE that part).

I don’t have a great deal in the way of family traditions passed down, especially from my father’s side of the family, but THE FUDGE is one thing I do have.

It was my great-grandmother’s recipe and is only handed down to the next generation when their complete discretion can be counted on. I didn’t qualify until I was in my 30’s which probably speak volumes about my character. That’s when my aunt took me aside and made me swear an oath never to reveal the secret except to my own children. It would seem it’s the original See’s recipe and I honestly cannot tell the difference between the two so I’m likely to believe it.

The fudge is requested each year with great anticipation by some of my friends and neighbors and my girlfriend’s nine-year-old son, Andrew, even requested the fudge – in a pan – for his birthday cake two years ago. I found out at the Christmas parade that he wanted it again this year but she wouldn’t let him ask me. DIANE. The child can have a pan of fudge ANYTIME he wants one! Andrew!! Don’t ask your mother! Call me directly! I’ll slip you my number later today.

And I’m back from my travels to Bakersfield to see dear, life-long friends, Jeannette and Jo Ann. We’ve known each other since I was three and those friendships are more like family……well, family you want to see. Jo Ann was here from Missoula, Montana so we had to grab the visit while we could, even amidst the Christmas rush.

Officially, I’m saying good-bye until after the New Year and will be taking some time off to have family time and maybe get a project or two done. I pray you all have a blessed experience celebrating in your own particular way and I want to thank you for all the gifts you’ve given me this year. Your sweet support and comments are gifts I can return to and they continue to bless me. I wish I could sit across from each one of you, hold your hands, look into your eyes and thank you for being my friends, walking with me through this year, and sharing your lives with me. I’ve learned so much from you.

I’d like to rerun my Christmas post from last year when I was just starting out in the blog world because it still warms my heart and I hope it does the same for you. Here it is:

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A Christmas Story – But Not The One With The Leg Lamp

I don't think I can top the Bumpkiss' dogs or the fish-net leg lamp. I can identify with Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" when he has to suck on a bar of Lifeboy soap. I became a regular connoisseur of the latest "on-sale" bar soap when I was a kid. Lux, Lifeboy, Dial, Ivory. Apparently getting cleaned from the inside out was the way to approach child rearing. Maybe it was a chaser for the bleach I accidentally drank from a Ball canning jar several years earlier. My heart may have its stains but my intestines are clean as a whistle.

It was during this same period my Christmas story takes place. It wasn't humorous but it was definitely happy. I remembered it today when the kids and I were part of the follow-up team for handing out Christmas food and gifts collected by the company Grizzly works for. We volunteered for the privilege because who doesn't want to be part of that kind of Christmas cheer? Of course, I groused about schedule logistics (note last blog) even though I truly, truly wanted to do it. I mean really, WHAT is my DEAL?!

We drove across town to the warehouse, picked up seven boxes of groceries and a few toys, and headed to the home of a single mother with lots of children. The neighborhood was down-trodden but several neighbors stood against the blight with cheery light displays and decorations.

The home sat on a quiet corner, surrounded by a chain link fence. A chewed rope hung limply from a metal pole advertising a dog no longer tethered there. I walked up and tapped lightly, feeling slightly awkward and apologetic. The door creaked open and out peeked little shining faces, obviously excited to see strangers bearing gifts. A teenage son arrived home just in time to help unload the car and serve as translator. His mother spoke only Spanish and I spoke only English. He stared at us through dark-lashed eyes that were guarded with a mixture of suspicion and embarrassment. He couldn't have been much older than Hunter. I wondered if my son wouldn't have felt much the same. I sensed his gratitude but also felt the sting that charity might bring to a young man. He quietly complied with my request to let his mother know I had been on the receiving end of a Christmas delivery when I was child. I suppose I wanted her to realize (and him to understand even more) that I knew how it felt on both sides and it was a blessing to give back. Her shy smile showed her appreciation, and discomfort as well. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

I wanted to share my own story with them but I couldn't invade their emotional space. He needed me to leave; she needed me to leave; and they couldn't have been more quietly gracious about it. I drove away remembering a Christmas that wouldn't have happened but for the intervention of friends and strangers.

I was ten and my sister and brother several years older. It had been a year of great upheaval. Well, come to think of it, I guess all of our years were years of great upheaval but this one came with even less money. My mother had just landed a good job but found out right before Christmas there would be no paycheck. It was a government job and the policy was to withhold the first check to be used for future severance pay.

The morning of Christmas Eve arrived but there was no sign of Christmas at our house. We had often gotten our tree on Christmas Eve because they were rock-bottom priced then. But on this day there was no discussion of a trip to the tree lot. The pantry was pretty bare and there hadn't been any talk of presents except to say there wouldn't be any. I don't remember being worried that we would eat beans for our Holiday dinner, but I do recall wondering afterwards what the menu would have been.

I think, on that day, I must have been in that beautiful place children live in their minds; the place that helps them believe everything will be alright somehow; the place where magical thinking rules and reality doesn't have a prayer. And it was in that moment that a knock came to the door. My sister and I opened it and saw our mother's friend, "Aunt" Fran. She had her husband with her and much more importantly, to our minds, the most beautiful white-flocked Christmas tree in tow. Now, our trees had been pretty much the bargain variety and we had never entertained the idea of a tree this grand. This was purview of the rich; the domain of the entitled. We were suddenly and at once part of this club of exclusivity. Aunt Fran was the prosperous owner of a nursery school that was much in demand. It was always immaculate and beautifully appointed. Each year, at the school, she prominently displayed her faith in God and her exquisite tree. It would normally have remained up through the New Year but this year she and "Uncle" Austin dismantled it and brought it to our house, along with the ornaments.

We had barely begun redecorating the tree when there was another sound at the door. Representatives of The Lions Club stood on our doorstep with arms full of boxes filled with ham, canned goods, and items far more tempting than beans. They left everything on our dining room table, wished us well and "Merry Christmas" and were gone. Here was food and here was a gorgeous tree. How could it get any better? In a matter of minutes it did. Another rapping at the door brought members of First Baptist Church bearing more food and wrapped presents. I can still see the white tissue paper and red ribbon wrapped around what I knew was a game. I couldn't wait to open it the next day. I don't know what the other gifts were that year but I was the happy recipient of "Sorry" and it's the game the kids and I still use after all these years.

Apparently, Aunt Fran had placed us on a few "needy family" lists and I'll be forever grateful that she did. It wasn't until years later I realized how close we were to having a very different Christmas experience. It was nothing short of a miracle to me and yet it lived up to my faith that all would be well. And for that time and for that day, it was. And that was enough.
I hope it will be the same for the dear family we met today. I pray a bright memory of Christmas miracles lives on in the hearts of the kiddos there and, if only for a short while, a burden is lifted for a weary mother. I hope a tentative young son feels compelled to drop his guard. I think that might be the case. I hugged his mother and then turned to him to pat his arm. He started to lean in for a hug, too, then caught himself. But it had happened, nonetheless, and in that moment, if only for a moment, I think all was well.

May you have the merriest of Christmases, my friends, and may God richly bless you.


With Love,
Robynn

© Copyright 2008/2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trouble With My Vowels

If you’re a gal who pulls all vowels and one weird consonant when playing Scrabble, then you have to marry a guy who pulls all consonants and one weird vowel.

It says so in the marriage handbook.

On Thanksgiving, this was how it shaped up. After 23 years we finally figured out why we’re together.

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On a fundamental level we understand each other. My vowels are a problem and he’s consonated.

And you know what that spells: romance.



© Copyright 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goofballs Keep Me Sane

This guy on the left keeps me crackin’ up. That’s my Wild Man. (Blurry photo as I try to sneak up on them.)

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The guy on the right keeps me crackin’ up. That’s his sidekick, Mr. Drama.

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They have a ball together and could talk all the legs off a centipede. They could power a small country with jaw movement alone. They regularly injure one another in wrestling matches trying to establish who is dumb and who is dumber. Right now, it’s a tie.

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They’re killin’ time here between performances in a production.

At least they weren’t killing each other.

The Wild Man has one wrist in a brace and an injured thumb on the other side after the smack down a few days ago.

Yep, it’s good to be fourteen, heavy on testosterone and energy, light on gray matter. Hopefully, this will balance out when he gets older.

Probably around 75.

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© Copyright 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like HOLIDAY?

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Okay. So I was watching a commercial on television with my nearly grown children (who undoubtedly were basking in the glow of my presence) when onto the screen loomed a mother, Christmas shopping with her teenage son. Said son whipped out a gift he bought to give to a sibling and mom replied to him in surprised tones, “You bought a holiday present for your brother?!”

“A holiday present?” my children and I replied in unison.

And this would go under the holiday tree? What holiday would that be exactly? I don’t know……Christmas?

I know retailers, in an effort to be financially correct and carve out any possible green from all wallets of any persuasion, have assumed the position of neutrality. “Holiday” and “Holiday Tree” are the new correct terms. But there IS no neutral and there is no need for correction. Guess what? It’s Christmas! It’s about Christ. Being born. For us. In a manger. In Bethlehem. Around this time of year.

When Meredith Wilson penned the now famous words “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” she had an opportunity to use the term “holiday.” She didn’t. And there’s something about, “I’m dreaming of a white holiday,” that just doesn’t have the same warm, fuzzy glow to it. Irvin Berlin knew what worked and called it "the best song he, or anyone, ever wrote." And he was proudly Jewish.

But if the word “Christmas” isn’t safe, what other words might become fiscally or politically offensive to those who want our dollars or would seek to control our beliefs?

What will we do with the song, “O Christmas Tree?”

O holiday tree, O holiday tree,

Thy leaves are so unchanging (well, except of course we understand that nothing is cast in stone and if you want to change we will support your decision),

Not only green when summer’s here (or rather, we mean that time of year when the position of the earth – be it northern or southern hemispheres – is closer to the sun….it is not our intention to limit you to the term ‘summer’),

But also when ‘tis cold and drear (understand that we are not attempting to cast judgment by intimating the positional rotation away from the sun is in any way negative),

O holiday tree, O holiday tree,

Let’s just forget we sang of thee.”

And can “A Charlie Brown Christmas” ever be the same if we must now call it “A Charlie Brown Holiday?” What will we sing when we hear the theme song? This?

Holiday time is here……”

Perhaps we should change ALL special days to reflect greater inclusion of every possibility and build in apologies as well. Maybe New Year’s Day could be “Culturally and Historically Egocentric Day of Western Civilization Time Marking.” Definitely makes you feel like popping a cork on the bubbly.

We in America err gravely I’m sure to celebrate Independence Day each July Fourth. Far less divisive to call it, “Lack of Cultural Sensitivity Day Wherein We Did Not Strive to Be Good Citizens by Working in Unison With A Somewhat Oppressive, Albeit Temporarily Misguided, Overseas Monarchy That Seemed Unwilling, Or Perhaps Unable, to Represent Our Interests.” Pack that in your fireworks and explode ‘em.

And in celebration, as we raise aloft our sparklers, let us not hail that Star Spangled Banner over the “land of the free.” Let us sew a picture of the whole world onto one flag so as not to celebrate that we in America, with our stars and stripes, are the home of the brave. We may be sending a message that “you, over there, are not.”

So, lift your spiced egg milk product, throw a cement log on the gas jet, let Jack or Jane Frost nip (no, that sounds distinctly like drinking and could be misconstrued as an alcohol endorsement), er, touch you on the nose (if that’s agreeable to you and you do not feel it creates a hostile holiday environment), and sing your non-descript carols. And have yourself a happy little holiday now.

Wow. I feel sort of tingly and sentimental. Don’t you?

© Copyright 2009

Photo Courtesy of: FreeChristmasWallpapers.net

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I’m Such A Child

Does marching up and down the street pretending you’re actually IN the parade and embarrassing your children count for anything? I believe this type of activity is important to desensitize my progeny. This way, when they walk out of the bathroom with toilet paper trailing behind them or they accidentally spit food on their date, it will be child’s play. They will say, “We survived our mother. Humiliation has no power over us.” And they will have me to thank.

You're welcome.

Aren’t you obligated to march around and be filled with wonderment and joy when you hear music, see twinkling Christmas lights, and have a party of twenty five friends all determined to have a merry time in the nippy, windy cold?

And the first thing down the street was my FAVORITE entry each year. I have no idea what it’s called but I want one. These photo effects could call my sobriety into question…….

(click to embiggen – good luck)

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image See?

The people ride in the center and I wanna be one of those people.

The drought’s been so bad here we have to put our boats to use on land.imageAnd hey, it’s Clovis…….we’re a rodeo town….we gotta have our horses…..

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image……and country music. Advice to KISS Country - Allison Krause should be on the side of that bus.

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And Jeeps……being a Jeep gal myself I think this is a vital part of the parade.

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This one had so many lights he ran with a generator on top. Bo spotted that. I could see her making plans for our Jeep and generator.

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And then other 4x4’s got in the show……

image This one was a favorite. I’d use it for my Christmas tree and shove the presents under the differential.

imageAnd no self respecting cowboy town would be complete without its semi trucks (this was AWEsome)…..imageAnd the really old cars….

image And the rare cars…..like this Kaiser Traveler.

imageIt’s older than I am and I appreciate that about a car. I ran down the road after it just to keep getting photos. My son was hollering after me, “What are you DOING?” Gee whiz. Doesn’t he know by now?

imageThe marching band has to get in there and if you’re having Irish Coffee while you’re staring at this it should look just perfect to you.

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This one as well. But check out the light trails on the drumsticks. Whoa. Dude.

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Here come the sweet ones with the kiddos.

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image And finally, the float that sums up the season. The one about CHRISTmas. Love this.

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So there you have it. Proof (on the banner over the street) that you’re supposed to be a child to attend. I qualified. And I’m proud to be a Clovisite, or Clovisian, or a Clovisonian…..whatever it is we’re called. We have an identity crisis around here. We used to be a little bitty town. Now we have over 100,000 people and no one’s ever heard of us. They never give the weather for Clovis, only Fresno. We aren’t on the maps on the local news. Shoot, we can’t even elect our mayor. It’s an appointed position that harkens back to the time when we only had three people in the town and they had shoot-outs over who got to be mayor and wear the three piece suit. (I'm sure I'm next in line to be town historian.) We have one guy whose been mayor about 48 times. Hi Harry.

But we are who we are and you can see we don’t let it stop us. If you’re ever in central California, slow down, turn east, and you’ll find us at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Our official town motto? “Clovis Is A Way of Life.” And all I can say is, “Boy Howdy!”

Thanks for coming to the parade with me. :-)

© Copyright 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Small Town Christmas Fun

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No, it’s not a float but doesn’t it look like it could be? This is some hearty soul’s house and I wish he lived next door to me. I don’t have one light hung, no tree, well, it’s leaned against the shed out back being hosed down with water as I write. (Gets rid of dead needles and spider hitch-hikers who FREAK me out when I reach into the tree and they reach back.) Shudder.

Back to floats…….Tonight we’ll be seeing lots of them and some will probably look like this. Downtown Clovis always has an electric light parade the first weekend in December and we try never to miss it because it’s so homespun. There’ll be semi-trucks, Jeeps, horses, marching bands, decorated dogs, and kids wrapped up like presents.

Usually a few friends join us and we huddle up and drink hot chocolate or Starbucks and munch cookies and popcorn while we talk about how we’re freezing. However, this is California – low level elevation California. Freezing is relative. It’ll probably be clear down in the 40’s for those of you in snow country who would probably be in swimsuits here. But we’ll shiver anyway and bring blankets and coats and love every minute of it. And I’m breaking with tradition and making iced cranberry and orange scones. For the moms. And LOTS of friends are coming this year so it should be a blast. All I can say is…..

Wish YOU were here!

Oh yeah, and I also wish Santa would visit while I’m gone tonight and decorate my house but not before cleaning it and doing all my laundry. Why can’t a girl get what she REALLY wants?

© Copyright 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Why, It Was Only Yesterday

Well, and the 364 other yesterdays.


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That’s when I pushed my pin into the blogosphere map and marked out my territory….my little spot in the blog world.

This was my original post (obviously the blog name changed but my sentiments remain identical):



I'm Finally Here!


For all who have waited breathlessly for my opinions, reflections, and life-changing insights,(both of you), I have arrived.I named my blog "Laugh Til You Die" because I can't handle life without finding something to laugh about on a nearly daily basis. While it's true there are experiences in our lives which come without any humor, most of the time we can find a chuckle even in the dark. For me, the laughing lights a light so I can navigate. If I must face all difficulties with intense sobriety and "appropriate" seriousness, I forfeit joy. And joy is God's gift to me. I hope to use it until I leave for heaven and then I hope to get new material.



What was I hoping for and what did I expect?

I hoped for readers and just maybe followers as well.

I expected myself to write. I wasn’t worried about subject matter because I’ve always been able to make much ado about nothing. That didn’t offer my reader the promise of anything substantial but I figured I could fill a page.

I had no idea how time consuming it would be.

I had no idea how important it would feel…..the sense of responsibility I would develop toward it.

(All my sentences are beginning with “I.” It’s the mark of a superior writer.)

I wanted a place to be accountable for consistent writing. A book felt a tad overwhelming back then but a post every day or two or three? Doable. Most of the time.

What I didn’t expect was actual friends.

I figured a few hearty souls would belly up to my bombastic bar, drop a comment or two in the tip jar, and be on their way to partake of finer fare available at the more posh blog houses in the village run by professional proprietors. Finding out I had regular patrons who actually made my humble establishment their destination of choice was heady stuff. And I let it fuel my desire to write and connect. It made me feel as though I had something to say. (Not sure if that's true but I said it anyway.) Maybe I couldn’t consider it my magnum opus but I decided to carpe diem even if it meant the occasional mea culpa. After all, caveat emptor.

(I have wanted to trail out my Latin for awhile but will now cease before I hurt myself. All I have left in the arsenal anyway are my conjugated verbs about love and I get those mixed up with my Spanglish.)

But you and I became friends. And miles and face-to-face visits weren’t necessary to find myself invested in your lives, your health, your relationships, and your hearts. And, likewise, you took me in. I began to speak of my friends on the east coast, or in the Midwest, or Canada, or Sweden, the U.K., or Australia. A few came in from African countries and sometimes Russia would drop by, or China, or India, and other places. And my world expanded and I had NO IDEA what it was I could possibly say that brought any of you here in the first place. But you came. And I thank you for your faithful visits and time and words and words and WORDS of encouragement. I could stop right now and have enough loving words to drag me out of any depression for the rest of my life. You are TOO good to me and that isn’t humility on my part – it’s fact. I’m not nearly as terrific as you all make me sound.

I’ve always told Grizzly I want to have my funeral while I’m alive so if anyone has anything good to say, I’ll be able to hear it, and look here – I have. (He likes to remind me that in my regular life people will like me a lot better when I’m dead and will be inclined to be more generous then. He's such a riot.)

So yahoo! I made it. I read statistics somewhere – unverified though they may be – that 70% of all bloggers wash out before a year is up, or at least quit posting. Do you think that’s true? Who knows but I’m happy to look back at 250 posts (including both blogs) and think, “I’m still at it.”

Life happens. Breaks happen. If you’re really lucky, vacations happen. And I have GOT to write my books so I know that will take me away sometimes. (I’m sure I could sell at least 14 copies if four of you would be willing to buy one and I buy the other ten.) But I don’t want to say goodbye. I am a citizen of this place now and we’re walking through life together – messy, lovely, funny…..you name it.

Who knew all this was waiting on the other side of that little door I peeked through?


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© Copyright 2009


Photos courtesy of flikr.com

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Contemplating My Navel

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My belly button should cooperate so much when I’m done. Wouldn’t that be great if our navels just popped out and let us know when we’ve had enough to eat? Why does it take my WHOLE stomach, rear end, thighs, and fat face popping out to sound the alarm? And it would seem I don’t even wake up then. I hit the snooze way too much.

I know what you’re thinking right now….."How have I lived without all this deep wisdom?” It’s truly a miracle you’ve made it through.

I offer up my paltry excuses for bad eating today on the 30 Day Throw Down! blog. You might be able to use some of them so please drop in and read up while you are baking pies, working, changing diapers, planning for relatives and guests, getting the kids off the furniture, shaving one leg (let’s face it – you’ll never have time for two), grocery shopping, answering your email, phone, Twitter, Facebook, and cell while simultaneously reshuffling your IPod to play only Christmas music, and smiling graciously to your dearly beloveds who grace your table tomorrow, and those not so dearly beloved (which will take more muscles to produce the smile – believe me I know – my face could compete in weight lifting trials right about now).

You ARE all that. And I know it. And I am ever more and more grateful that you choose to drop in and check on me and read my drivel. Have a lovely day. May you be hugged and appreciated for the hard work you do and especially for all the things that make life move along but are unseen by any but God. I don’t know what you have to do or face but I know there is much that is unspeakable. Still, you do it. Still, you persevere. And still you take time for others. I’m one of them.

And I humbly offer my Thanksgiving. Many blessings to you my friends. I hope you have a lovely day tomorrow filled with yet more reasons to give thanks. (Hey! Maybe the rotten relative will call and tell you they can't come. This is my sweet and gentle Thanksgiving wish for you.) Enjoy!

© 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kryptonite

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Humor is my super power.

It’s not that I claim to be so hysterically entertaining or funny. It’s that humor is the “S” on my chest. It gets me through the toughest times and keeps me seeing the upside, or the irony, while it fuels my optimism. I rely on it heavily to diffuse nearly every difficult situation of my life.

But then there’s kryptonite. And existing within inches of it for several weeks or having it force fed to me has had crippling effects.

It’s not the death of my stepfather. We had an amiable (though complicated) relationship, but he wasn’t ever a father figure to me. He married my mother when I’d been gone from home for four years and he never had children of his own. He didn’t have fatherly ways. He enjoyed limited time with my kiddos, in small doses, but he and my mother built a very tight little world for themselves that didn’t really have room for others. And that was okay because my mom and I do best with one another when we visit only occasionally. We have far too much traumatizing history and, because it’s truly pointless to confront or try to change anything (I know – I tried for years), I simply move forward when history is continually revised and regurgitated in my presence. And I suck on my kryptonite tablet while moving closer to the precipice.

And I nearly fell over it and crashed to the bottom.

Thank God for trees that grow close to craggy cliff sides and insist on pushing roots out into thin air. As I began to tumble, one of those tree roots caught me and that’s where I’ve been hanging, but it's also what saved me.

Strangely enough, my tree root was my kids getting majorly sick. High temps, deep coughs, too sick to read or even play a computer game. They came down with what Grizzly and I had two months ago. I had hoped, back then, that The Wild Man had the same thing we had even though his symptoms were different, but I was wrong. And Bo never did get sick during that siege. They both made up for it. Grizzly and I were immune because we had already had it. Quite sure it was H1N1. The university where Bo is attending has had a clinic just to test for it, it’s been so prolific. But she was too sick to get there.

I was called back to fulltime, hands-on mothering, because being younger, they were hit even harder than we were.

And all the tending and nighttime vigils and forehead mopping and praying brought me back to reality. And it gave me space to spit out the kryptonite and a legitimate reason to be away from the source. In so doing, I began to recover. And friends provided food and support and cards and conversation - and the thing I was lowest on - humor.

And I’ve received the sweetest comments and emails from you all. You’ve taken the time to pray for me, for us, to check in – to drop another note. And I began to remember why writing was important to me, even if I couldn’t find any words worth jotting down. I’m not sure these qualify but it’s a start.

So, hello. I’m back. Not fully there but on the road. I know you understand. I’ll be by to visit soon and hopefully, not from the computer in the solarium at the insane asylum.

I’m limiting my time with Lex Luthor.

© 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Almost There....

Hi Everyone.....

A quick note with an update. Today's is the funeral.

What a whirlwind dying is. I had no idea and have signed a contract promising never to do it.

A. It's unbelieveably expensive

B. It's incredibly involved

C. We will have to revert to a funeral pyre for me because we would never be able to afford all the costs. (But that's only if I break my contract. Otherwise, I would be very irritated about being put on pyre.)

Like hospitals, funerals bring out the best and the worst. The worst has been minimal and the best has been abundant. God sent me a family friend to help out with everything. He's on leave from Okinawa and when there is time, I will tell you about him. But truly, he was a Godsend. Between his computer skills and Bo's, they have provided what ten people would normally do. I have wonderful, loving friends who are cooking for the luncheon today. They've also made us dinner and insured my kids are supported with overnights and distractions. Our own dear pastor and family are singing today for the services, even though my mother and stepdad weren't part of our congregation. My pastor has gone to the hospital to counsel with my mother and pray with my stepfather and was there just a few hours before he passed.

And you. You have sent me notes of support and blessings and love. And you've prayed for me. And those prayers have been answered in ways I could have NEVER forseen. Thank you seems so inadequate but it's from my heart.

There are still a few days of wrapping up but I expect to return here Monday. I know your lives are moving forward and I'm missing so much but I also appreciate your generous grace. You are in my prayers as well.

With Love,

Robynn

Friday, November 6, 2009

Passages.......

Hi My Caring Friends.........

This is to let you know that my stepdad passed away last night just before 8pm. It was peaceful, he knew us up until the end, and when I asked him if he knew I loved him he squeezed my hand. He was with my mom and other people he loved as he drew his last breath.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your outpouring of love and prayers. Sometime I'll be able to tell you how very much I felt those prayers and how they were answered. For now, I will be helping my mother to move into this new place of her life. There is much to take care of and I will be absent for a bit but will return as soon as I can.

Blessings to you all.

With Love,

Robynn

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Your Life Is Important to Me

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Keeping Robynn's Ravings separate from 30 Day Throw Down! is my way of addressing two very important aspects of my life: humor and eating to optimize health and weight. The second of these isn't always funny. Well, the first isn't either. I have no idea what I'm talking about. Nevertheless, today my blogs must intersect.

Like all areas of our lives, things cross over sometimes. Your talk-til-you-drop pesky neighbor starts shopping at the same grocery store you do so you drive 40 miles to the next town to avoid hour-long conversations about her colonoscopy, with photos. Oh wait, maybe that's just me.

Today's info on 30 Day is SO VITAL to your well being that I have to send you there. PLEASE go. Never come by again if you don't want to but know I care about you and want you to thrive. Besides, who will comment if something happens to you? See? Altruism positively drips from me.

It will take about 10 minutes. And you can sit down and have a cup of coffee. Call it a prescription from the Village Medicine Woman. But please take this SHORT ten minutes, including the video, for yourself. If you have or know anyone who has suffered from heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, or asthma it may be the best ten minutes you'll spend in the blogosphere. AND NO, I'm not selling ANYTHING because I don't have anything to sell. Except my old gym suit from junior high school. But I can't even sell that because it's my proof I was once skinny. So there you go.

And speaking of health.......

I wanted to give you all an update on my stepfather.
I have been spending most of my time at the hospital and must apologize again for not visiting you all. I miss our visits. They brighten my day. But there are only so many hours. We spent about five of them yesterday in two meetings with the funeral home.

He is down to his final hours, maybe days, and plans must be in place. Very surreal and macabre to sit with a funeral director in a convalescent hospital while your loved one is just down the hall. I almost threw up. But that wouldn't be fair to my mother who has to do this AND lose her spouse. So I perspired profusely instead. And twisted my hands. And sighed way too often, though involuntarily.

My blogs keep me connected to something other than death and difficulty right now, though finding the time to be here is hard. THANK YOU for caring and dropping in. Watching end-of-life issues makes a person even more committed to caring about health while we still have choices. Please eat well, visit 30 Day, and take care of yourselves.

With Love,

Robynn

Photo source: Internet Images

© 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Observational Twitter 22

Famous Quote:

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” ~ Tennyson

Obscure Quote:

“Tis better to have loved, had love requited, harkened to volumes written about your charms, fair heart, and abounding beauty, and be positively ill from the number of chocolates you are continually proffered and encouraged to enjoy. But feel free to form your own opinion.” ~ Robynn

© 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Little Doghouse on The Prairie

It’s Halloween, children. Time for a story.

A long, long time ago, there was a dog named JoJo who was very happy being an only dog. However, she was unable to convey this to her loopy owners. They were convinced that JoJo’s life would be enriched by a canine companion. They talked about getting another dog but no one did anything, which was fine with Jo. Then one day, JoJo’s Great Aunt Sandy decided they needed a little Chihuahua puppy who was looking for a home. For a small fee they could own a nearly invisible dog who was so tiny JoJo might actually think she had a flea instead of a friend.

The children thought it would be fun to name her Lassie because she looked nothing like a famous dog with this name. The children of this family were as strange as the parents. So Lassie came home one evening to the delight of the children. But not JoJo.

Lassie was very afraid and everyone did all they could to make her comfortable. They kissed her, held her, fed her, and babied her. She seemed to relax, though she always shook as if there were a gale force wind in the living room.

Lassie’s favorite pastime was peeing and pooping on the carpet. This made her owners very unhappy. It made JoJo disgusted. It made the children and the father blind for they could not see little tootsie rolls laying right in their path. It was like a Christmas Miracle that only the mother could see them.

No matter what they did, they could not train Lassie to go potty outside. JoJo tried to show her but Lassie, like the children and father, pretended she couldn’t see things right in front of her such as the pet door that led to the outside world. She felt the indoor bathroom was much more convenient and warm and did not feel an outhouse was necessary.

The mother got very annoyed with this position and would give the wee dog scathing looks which caused her to shake and look decidedly guilty. But it did not cause her to poop elsewhere. That’s when the mother got a brilliant idea. She would return this dog to her dear Aunt who had two more dogs exactly like Lassie. The mother thought that Lassie might learn from dogs her own size and the Aunt thought it was a marvelous idea, though she had to convince her husband, The Ogre.

The Ogre was not happy but the switch was made. Lassie did learn to go to the bathroom where dogs should go (or so it was presumed) and she was thrilled to have dogs around her who were also the same size as fleas. They played and ran and soon she became queen of the castle. She also made the Ogre love her and fuss over her as if she were a real princess daughter and not simply a dog. And they all lived, and are still living, happily ever after.

You may think this is the end of the story, but it’s not. JoJo went back to being an only dog and was very happy with this arrangement until her parents decided she should have another companion. That’s when Minky came to live with them, which is another story altogether. JoJo was just as thrilled as before.

And while Lassie was still living with JoJo and her family, the children who were completely unable to see little dog tootsie rolls laying about on the carpet, could see the possibilities in dressing up this tiny dog in doll clothes. The little girl who lived there even made a miniature prop background to feature the wee dog in photos. And JoJo was also arrayed for the occasion which made her all the more thrilled to see the little dog go. It became apparent to Jo that Lassie’s influence over the children was horrid.

And now, this is the end. Except for the pictures. And we all know those are worth a thousand words, though that never stops the author from using a thousand words and many more besides, even long after they have ceased to mean anything.

Now, go and have a very fun night and try to dress up as perfectly as our models. They have a story of their own they tell other dogs when they attempt to explain these incriminating photos.

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“Life on the prairie was hard. We had to do everything in long dresses. Going to the bathroom was nearly impossible. Stories of my indiscretions often leave out the fact that I was hobbled by outfits such as this.”

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“You can see how the bitter years took their toll on my mother, JoJo, here. She looks crabby and disgusted. She was.”

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“This view shows you just how much dress I had to endure. It made me tough, though. And lean. And shaky. I think it weighed more than I did.”

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“Here I am as that prairie wind began to whip up and threaten my very existence.”

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“Some say I look like Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies in this photo. I have no idea who that is but she must be seriously good looking.”

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“As Jo is my witness, I will never go to the bathroom outdoors again!”

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“And thus ends my tail. Happy Howloween.”

© 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rich Text

And not the html kind.

Scold me if you want to but I have to tell you something.

I live in California.

We aren’t supposed to talk on our cell phones without a Bluetooth device while we are driving. That doesn’t work too well for me as is evidenced by THIS post.

We aren’t supposed to text and drive.


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I think both rules are good ones.

And I also think rules are made to be broken occasionally, otherwise, we wouldn’t have gravity. Is that clear now?

I broke a rule. I checked a text and I sent a text. While in a car. As the driver. In my own defense, I was on private property – the church where my son has choir - and hadn’t yet entered the “no phone zone.” I was sitting at a stoplight ready to exit the church property when a text came in. Much is going on right now with my stepfather’s issues and so I looked. It was a dear friend and I could have decided to look later, but I didn’t. I flipped open my phone, read a kind and supportive message, and typed a two word reply. I was on the last two letters of my reply when my son said, “The light is green.”

Instead of beginning my entrance into the intersection, I finished those letters (because no one was behind me), pressed ‘send,’ and then looked up to proceed – these three actions took three seconds.

Just at that moment as I was removing my foot from the brake, a car came careening through the intersection at 50 mph running a red light. It came from around a curve to my left and I would have never seen it. Very likely it would have killed me and possibly my son. I almost always look left and right before I proceed because this is THE craziest state for people who push to make it through the yellow light. The guy couldn’t have been pushing. It had been red too long. He never saw it, would be my take. And my looking left and right wouldn’t have revealed him to me because of the angle of the road.

My son’s jaw dropped and he said, “Do you realize that text message just saved our lives?!” And I got chills, and then tears. He was exactly right. I proceeded through the intersection and then had to pull over. It wasn’t my day, our day, to die. It wasn’t the other driver’s day to die.

I’m not advocating the flagrant flaunting of rules. These two are especially good. It’s just that all our actions fall under a higher set of rules and our days and times are ordered.

While I was pulled over, I called my friend and told her, tearfully, what had just transpired. She got chills because she almost didn’t send the message. She had sent one about ten minutes earlier and then got busy with the house, the dogs, etc. But something kept working at the back of her mind to send the second text. And that was the one.

It could be argued that had I not responded to the text I may have been more aware. And that is a possibility. But I don’t think so. My head has been elsewhere with all that’s going on and I’m not at the top of my highly attenuated driving game. I think I needed something to stop me for a few life-changing moments.

Don’t worry, though. I will presume this was a once-in-a-lifetime event where the phone is concerned and won’t be driving while under the influence of texting. I think the real text message from the One who cares about us the most was, “Wake up!” And that one, I’m answering.



© 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Narrow Passages

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And so we come to the crossroads.

Many of you know my stepfather broke his hip last week. Surgery happened Saturday and it went well but with his other health problems, complications are mounting. Last night he had a heart attack in the hospital. Today, three doctors told us there is no chance of recovery. He also hasn't eaten, and really hasn't wanted to for weeks. The palliative doctor said that's part of the process when we head to those last days. And the last days could be hours or a few months. We don't know.

And so I spent the day at the hospital with my mother and will head back tonight. Tomorrow she will make some final determinations and I will attempt to help her through the narrow passages. I don't know the way and we are mismatched traveling companions. But for all intents and purposes, I am an only child. I lost my sister years ago and my brother, who is still wounded and embittered by our childhood, hasn't been in anyone's life for years and years. What does that mean? It means I have been pressed into service where, very often, pain abounds. But God is sufficient and nobody knows the ins and outs of all of this like He does. So, I'm not alone. And having been shown mercy by Him, I have to offer it as well.

Thank you, my friends, for your loving comments and emails to me over the last several days. Your support and prayers are much appreciated. Please pray that I walk well and that my stepfather's passing is as painless for him as possible.

___________________________________________________

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

© 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Artlessness of The Nut House

Today I was on the Jerry Springer show. I didn’t even know I was scheduled. I accidentally walked on stage and a chair flew by.

Apparently, it was being taped at the hospital where my stepdad had surgery to repair a broken hip this morning. He had a mini-stroke several weeks back (TIA), then developed pneumonia and other complications. That landed him in the convalescent hospital but my mom was able to bring him home about ten days ago. However, he’s old and stubborn – like I'll probably be – and he didn’t use his walker a few days ago and fell. Broke his hip. And who did my mom call first? Not 911. If any of you have parents this age you may know what I’m talking about. They tend to call us first.

“What should I do? He says he can’t get up. Can you come out here?” (They live in the country.)

“Yes, mom, I can but if he can’t get up you’ll need to call 911. Something’s wrong.”

“But which hospital should I take him to? We can’t decide and you know we’re gonna sit there all night long.”

“Mom? Mom. Call 911. I’ll be right there.”

And so it goes. They are casual about the emergency room. They practically live there. And yes, it was broken and the surgery took place this morning. He now has a plate and will be in recovery until tonight because there are no rooms at the inn. Recovery means no visitors. I sent my mom home for a nap. And then I escaped the nut house myself.

Hospitals bring out the best or the worst in people. I experienced the latter today. My mother was surrounded by dubious comforters, from a caustic pastor (forgive me, Lord, but I’m used to the kind and gentle heart of MY pastor and can forget how blessed I am), to one of the guests on the Jerry Springer show who was actually a friend of my mother's. This woman engaged the rest of the nut house strangers in the waiting room who, only moments before, had treated us to a raging, screaming blow out over who ought to see the patient in question and who shouldn’t and who was a liar and who was a drug user and all the while young children were caught in the crossfire. From the nonchalant expressions on their faces this wasn’t anything new.

And that was the highlight.

It went downhill from there. The ring leader we had never seen before marched over to us to explain her case and cause. I said nothing because she made no sense. Mom’s friend saw it as a great opportunity to continue the interaction. The argument was on and people stormed in and out as they shared their drama with the rest of the hospital victims.

Meanwhile, back on the front, to stop my mother’s friend from interacting, I asked questions of her. If you can get people talking about themselves – and that isn’t hard to do – it can keep them, and you, out of trouble. So I asked away. And she talked away. Loudly. And then one of my stepdad’s relatives came in. And I asked more questions. And she talked away. And I kept asking because while people are focused on themselves, they never see you, and that can be a good thing. I smiled, nodded, asked a few questions, and verbally applauded. It's like wearing Kevlar body armor - it can keep you from taking a bullet.

I interacted with no less than ten people and never answered a question, because no one ever really saw me. No one inquired about my children, my life, my husband. Everyone there wanted an audience. It was a room full of people all vying for top dog position while no one listened to anyone else. Everybody was interested in ME FIRST. Understand ME, hear ME……ignorance abounding, and pain and/or selfishness - or both - underneath it all.

I harkened back to my childhood where I grew up in the midst of this kind of drama. People went for the jugular, patty wagons were called, juvenile hall was involved, items were thrown, dishes were smashed, belts snapped, fists flew, and lives were ruined. The quieter sins were worse.

Trauma. I have worked hard to remove myself from it, and, by God's grace and only His grace, I have. I have labored to keep it out of my children's lives. It’s bottom-feeder behavior. I don’t want to feed off the bottom because there is nothing but the most unsavory of items to be had there. The people engaging in it cannot see how transparent they are. They believe themselves to be presenting a compelling case but everyone witnessing their behavior sees them for who they really are.

I watched a couple of the men in the group try and distract the kids and talk about other things, and I admired them for it. But the women continued their Springer-esque diatribe. No one could stop them, short of the police. It had to play itself out. Not one word could have been uttered that would have made a difference. It was a runaway train and anyone who tried to throw themselves in front of it was mowed down.

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This isn’t a funny post, I realize. Maybe I could’ve put that spin on it but violence and utter self focus lack humor and it would have minimized disturbing behavior.

Please go kiss your spouse, hug your kids, smile at the grumpy neighbor, and when we have to stand up for something, for what’s right, let’s bring bravery, intelligence, and wisdom into the situation. And just for a thrill, let’s actually consider the other people involved and listen, carefully and prayerfully, realizing we can be wrong, too. Because it doesn't have to be like this. There is a better way.

If you approach people on these terms you may be a party of one, but yours is the party people will want to be invited to.

If

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

(or a true woman, my daughter.)

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 (Geneva Study Bible)

© 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Things We Can’t Do at Our House

48 seconds to realize I need to have a serious talk with Minky and JoJo.

And I was excited when I ran my finger around the glass rim and made a sound. I may be an underachiever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Interview With Our Winner – Joolzmac!

Unbelieveable soup recipe currently up on the 30 Day Throw Down blog. I call it Magic Soup. Feel free to kiss me for it the next time you see me. I kissed myself in the mirror just this morning. But it was after I brushed my teeth.

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As many of you know, I started the 30 Day Throw Down blog on September 1st of this year. The purpose was to change habits that might be leading to less than optimum health, or at least the best health we can attain. We did that by eliminating fast food and highly processed foods for the first 30 days, and then continuing on as we added exercise beginning October 1st. We will continue in these 30 day increments keeping the new habits going and adding others each month. There are no hard and fast rules. Everyone works at his or her own pace and does the best they can. Mostly it’s about learning to eat REAL FOOD and keeping an awareness that food is fuel and you can feed or harm yourself through your choices. And when it has been chemically treated, adulterated and refined, changed through genetic modification (GMO), or sourced from animals living in unnatural conditions and fed a diet far removed from what God intended, it can have seriously detrimental affects on our health.

So we strive to eat REAL FOOD. That means food like your grandparents ate. Some are watching portions to lose weight, others strive to optimize health or recover from illness. But none of us do it perfectly. We are simply working at positive changes, knowing each one makes a difference. You can jump in and join anytime. Simply start with the first 30 Day focus of eliminating fast food and highly processed food. We will all learn together as we go along and encourage each other. Next month we’ll be looking at labels and what they mean, along with more info on food, recipes, and exercise.

And trust me, the exercise one is the toughest for me by far. I’m having a rough time fitting it in to what feels like a very packed schedule. I’m TRYING. And that’s what this is about. DO NOT THINK you have to work this perfectly to hang out with us. But come and be encouraged to feed and care for the only body you have.

And as a kickoff last month, I ran a contest for a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Our winner was Joolzmac at Simply Joolz, from the land down under. She brought the goodness of Australia to us with her delicious menus and beautiful presentations. I also promised the winner an interview here and I’m glad you get to meet her. I hope you’ll drop in to her blog and say hello!

So without further ado, I’ll let Joolz speak for herself.

1. How did you hear about the 30 Day Throw Down?

I think you commented on one of my posts or on another blog and then I went to Robynn’s Ravings for a look-see. I was hooked!


2. What made you want to jump in with us?

I think because it was going to be the first day of Spring on Sept 1, (Joolz is in Australia) and it seemed like the ideal time to start a healthy eating plan. I referred to it as my LIVEit not my DIEt. Everything that you said made perfect sense to me and it was empowering and encouraging. I chose to go the low fat/sugar healthy eating road where others may have just embraced eating whole foods, grains, nuts, organic vegetables. Market fresh produce is not hugely available in our area so I had to rely on our stupid-markets. Don’t get me wrong, we still have fresh fruit and veg but the apples may have been picked 6 months ago and have been in cold storage and the carrots, well they probably can’t remember that dirty brown stuff they grew in. We have always used low fat, skim milk and low fat cheese so I didn’t start eating whole milk and full fat cheese. I ‘threw down’ cheese that was processed and wrapped in single plastic wrappers, stuff like that.


3. How did the first phase - leaving fast food and highly processed food behind - work for you?

We are not huge junk food eaters in our house anyway. Living in a small town of 5,000 people, we have a Red Rooster chicken takeaway (blech! don't go there, girlfriend!), a locally owned Chicken takeaway (hmmm, yep, yummy!), 2 pizza bars and a Chinese/Thai take-way and a couple of fish and chip shops but we don’t have McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc. etc. McDonalds, KFC and Hungry Jacks are 50kms away.


4. Did your family join you or did you do it on your own?

Neither Angus or Brianna need to lose weight but they certainly ate what I cooked. Angus likes to eat healthy anyway and Brianna has to have what we have or she doesn’t get fed. Breakfast is a personal choice and Angus always has cereal and fruit, juice, tea and toast. Always! Bri is more likely to eat a muffin heated up, or a …. chocolate cup cake heated up…. or a chocolate fudge brownie heated up…there’s a bit of work for me to do there! I always make/take Angus his lunch so usually it is a bread roll with meat (ham, beef, or turkey) and salad in it, a tub of yoghurt and an apple or banana. He is a healthy boy and only drinks water, no soft drinks (soda). In Australia we have things called meat pies and meat and vegetable pasties – very convenient food that you buy at the bakery in a paper bag. You push it to the top of the paper bag (hopefully it has tomato sauce (ketchup) on it and you can eat it – while walking, driving your car, watching the footy etc. Angus would not consider having a pie or pasty for lunch. I, on the other hand, love to do this. I also love small goods – salami, hot dogs, cabanossi, pepperoni. Junk food alert!! Please pass the carrot sticks! Where are my prunes?


5. What were your challenges?

The biggest challenge was being prepared and organized all the time. It’s easy to make a healthy lunch if there is the right food in the fridge. If there isn’t, that’s where bad alternatives sneak in. Into the 3rd week, I started to forget to cut up my fruit for fruit salad(melons, strawberries, apples, banana) so by the fourth week, I was only eating 1 banana a day instead of about 3 serves of fruit. I still haven’t had any real junk food (purchased) but I did have some ‘naughty’ food at the engagement party we went to. Not much, but some.

6. Do you think this has made you think more about caring for your body and your health?

Definitely! I am 45 years old and the kilos are creeping on and I have proved that they are very hard to budge at this age. Low fat, simple whole food is almost a necessity to maintain good health at this age. Exercise is harder because we are not as nimble as those 20 year olds, bouncing around at the gym. My joints creak and ache now so I probably have arthritis to look forward to later in life – I need to keep the weight off and keep my body moving to help in that area. I walk 5 kms, 5 days a week, rain, hail or shine and this definitely keeps my knees joints strong (I wear elastic knee braces on both for support) plus it’s good to get some fresh air in your lungs, feel the rain on your face (?) and feel the sun on your back (at 6am....pffft!). I have just bought a pedometer and some hand weights to strengthen my upper body.

7. Did you feel any better or are you noticing differences?

I do feel better. Although the scales said I only lost 1.5 kgs in the 30 days, I could notice a difference around my under-arms, my thighs and I lost a bit of my double-chin...I think! I need to do some tummy tightening exercises to tone up but, yup, I hate doing crunches etc. But I NEED to!

8. What tips would you offer that were helpful to you?

Planning is key – have good food on hand otherwise it is too easy to grab takeaway. At the same time, make sure you have a variety of options for lunches – I found salad rolls etc get very boring after about 2 weeks. Look for other things to have as a light meal. Take healthy snacks with you – a small zip-lock bag of pretzels or 10 rice crackers to munch on while your waiting to pick the kids up (better than a chocolate bar), bananas and apples are very portable for snacking, keep a bottle of water always on hand. Find time to think about and prepare your food – I let half a pineapple and half a watermelon go to waste in the fridge because I couldn’t be bothered cutting them up, but I ate bananas because they are convenient and ready to go. Find recipes that you know you will like. Don’t try and eat foods you don’t like, just because they are healthy. I will not touch cottage cheese even if you tell me it is good for me! Yuck! The internet is a fantastic resource for low fat recipes, go buy some cook books and ask you friends what they like to eat when they are weight watching. Try to modify your favourite recipes by cutting down on the fat and sugar content. You can do a stir fry in a wok with 2 teaspoons of oil instead of 2 tablespoons – you won’t notice the difference when you are eating it. If a cake says to use 1 cup of sugar, try using ½ or ¾ of a cup instead. The kids will never know! Get into a routine that suits you and your family. I usually walk at 6am, home at 7am, pack Bri’s lunch box then Brianna is on the bus at 7.30am. I do a bit of housework then eat my breakfast at 8.30 and read the paper, after Angus has gone to work. My morning is then my own for other chores, then I shower and get ready for work by 10.30am. Any variation to this and I find I don’t eat breakfast then I’m hungry mid morning etc. It’s okay to use some processed foods – tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock powder.


9. Would you mind sharing a few recipes or meal ideas?

I think there are quite a few recipes in my Throw Down posts. I really liked the cannelloni and Rippa Rissoles are good. I have a low fat Bolognese recipe that I will post later in the coming week.
You have a phenomenal talent for making your food look delicious. I wanted to eat at your house many times during that first 30 days! What makes that important to you? Thank you! None of my photos are really staged, I just have it in my head that I will photograph what I am cooking and I always try to plate up a meal nicely. Angus and I love watching cooking shows (probably too much!) and we have lots of cook books so I guess it just sticks in your mind how things should/could look when plated up.
What would you like to see covered in a 30 day period? I think you are on the right track with Eating Healthy and Move It! Perhaps we could discuss family hobbies and things to do together as a couple or family (although my chickens have basically flown the coop), grief and coping with death (why is it such a taboo subject when it happens to all of us eventually?), women’s health in general, coping with stress, PMT etc.


10. Any advice for someone just starting to think about healthy changes?

Say NO to HI (Human Interference) and say YES to FRESH! I didn’t really touch much on this during my 30 days but it is a good philosophy. If a human has interfered with a product to change it from it’s natural form – don’t touch it. Eg. Say NO to cheese wrapped in individual plastic portions – say YES and choose to eat a chunk of cheese of a bigger chunk of cheese (you can still choose low fat). Say no to chicken nuggets that have been minced with fat and cereal and extenders and preservatives then deep fried – say YES to a whole free range chicken breast, cut into chunks, dipped in egg, flour and bread crumbs then oven baked. Yum! Fresh squeezed juices have so many more benefits than fake reconstituted, concentrated fruit juice ‘drinks’ – cut up 2-3 chilled oranges and squeeze the juice and try for yourself. Hey, that's what orange juice should taste like! Buy a juicer and give my 2 Fruit/3 veg drink a go. Your kids will thank you!

11. Did you ever swear at me during that first month?

No, how could I swear at someone with such a sweet, smiley face....though I thought about bludgeoning you in your sleep, maybe! Just kidding! Lol! No, you really did inspire me and perhaps I’ve relaxed my eating a bit in the last week or so – but I am still not eating processed foods, my snacks are healthy (like carrot sticks and salsa, prunes, cranberry ‘craisins’, etc)and drinking water too.

Lastly, Joolz adds:

Something to think about - Why are we being forced to read ridiculous labels that nobody can understand, when the best foods in the world don’t have any labels? – Dr. John Tickell, author of The Great Australian Diet…the Atkins Alternative.

Thank you so much Robynn, it’s been fun and rewarding to do the September 30 Day Throw Down and I look forward to new, fun and interesting topics to discuss in the coming months.

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Didn’t Joolz provide great information? And I LOVE her LIVEit, not DIEt. Inspired!

Want to join us? Want to be in the current month’s drawing for dinner for two to Chipotle or win one of Nina Planck’s books: REAL FOOD, or her brand new release, REAL FOOD FOR MOTHER AND BABY? Then jump in, sign up to follow the 30 Day Throw Down blog, and leave a comment saying you’re now one of us. “One of us” means you’re on a journey to health, 30 days at a time. And I’m not your skinny-mini fearless leader in any way, shape, or form. I started this because I need to do it. I’m learning and working right alongside you.

My sincere THANKS to Joolzmac!

(Photography by Bo….)

© 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Absentia Is Underrated

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I will now move my seat to its full and upright position as I come in for a landing. I’m back. The details of exactly what happened between Microsoft and Comcast and/or the rest of the world (excluding you LUCKY Mac users), are vague to me and I wish them to remain so. Each time someone tries to explain it I find myself in danger of slipping into a coma. THE INTERNET WORKS. Even that three word sentence contains one word I find offensive if I linger too long. And the word “internet” bothers me as well.

There was no down time (however much I tried to wring it out) and I must say I cooked up a storm and have recipes to post to the 30 Day Throw Down. I only wish I could have fed you all personally, especially considering your encouraging comments in my hour of distress.

Perhaps I should announce my departure more often. Twenty-six comments on a post informing you I will not be writing. That’s more than I sometimes receive when I actually believe I have said something. Should I be offended or desperately flattered? I choose desperately flattered. I felt missed in that warm and fuzzy way (minus the fur the dogs always leave).

Posting will resume now and I will be showing up at your place, too. Let’s have tea or coffee. I made the scones – orange and cranberry to be precise - and will bring them along. We could make it a pajama party and sink into the sofa all tucked up together. I’ll really stretch and wear my old grubbies if you will. The lack of my usual pearls, stilettos, and makeup will make me a tad discomfited but the sacrifice cannot be too great. I’m here for you.

© 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm Stranded!

A quick note to say California and maybe some other areas are being tromped by our internet server, Comcast. I'm on a borrowed computer and service is hit and miss. Apparently Microsoft updated something yesterday and it has caused wide spread problems. The national news reports that all of Sweden lost internet connection today. So far, so good, Microsoft! And we thought Vista had problems. I don't know when I'll be back on but surely soon. Until then, maybe I'll get laundry done! I feel like I'm back in the dark ages. Maybe I'll light a candle and start chiseling out my next post.

How will I live without you?!

Goodbye! Hopefully not forever!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For You, Janine

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Well, we all had a grand time at the party and I thank you for stopping by. We ended up having a great let-your-hair down time at the end and, really, that’s who I am so it couldn’t have been more perfect.

Today, however, I am thinking of a blogging friend who has also become a real-life friend: Janine, at Sniffles And Smiles. If you haven’t been to her blog, I encourage you to go and be blessed and maybe drop her a word of encouragement. She is a professional journalist and teacher who writes from a the perspective of a woman, a mother and wife, and a Christian. Her writing is polished and inspiring. Janine is having surgery today to see if a spot on her rib could be a reoccurrence of the cancer she has so bravely battled. Some of you may know she has fought breast cancer in a bitter battle and yet maintains her wit, charm, and beauty. She graces us with her words in her regular Saturday post and amazes us with her paintings as well. (Some of her work appears on her blog.) Homeschooling her teenage son has remained a number one priority in spite of all these challenges.

Would you lift up a prayer today on her behalf and that of her family?

Nancy, at Life In The Second Half shared this picture of hope and it was started by others who love Janine. Thank you, Nancy, and my thanks to your sweet, caring friends.

Copyright 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Welcome to The Ball!

We have been invited to the GRAND ball at Willow Manor. Willow is throwing quite the fete and has encouraged her readers to do the same. I could never entertain with her panache what with wild cats sticking to the top of my head and rabies shots and crazy happenings. Perhaps I’m better suited to a hoedown. And frankly, I think that’s how the evening will end up. But here I stand chatting! Come in! Come in! You will be guided to your overnight accommodations and, once refreshed and dressed, do have a lovely glass of wine, and mix and mingle. I was so pleased to have the Nat King Cole Trio providing a sultry backdrop to our festivities. Here they are now with their rendition of “Moonlight in Vermont.” Don’t be intimidated by all the glitz and glamour. This is MY place. You know we’ll have our shoes off and be singing along before the evening’s done. Off you go. I’ll be along shortly.

I had no idea what to wear. I did manage to lose several thousand pounds in preparation since Willow announced this last week. And my gown with the ermine collar seemed to work so well I dared to trail it out again. I hope no one recognizes it but, at great risk to my reputation, here I am in it having only just made my appearance. (Do you think the crown is too much?) You’ll notice me dancing with Grizzly, my prince charming. I refer to him as “Your Highness.” It elevates him so. Besides, what a little thing it is and I condescend to amuse him along with pretending we've never met. I'm thrilled he finds me continually new and surprising.

You all look so perplexed there in the dining hall and I have no idea why my wine stewardess finds it necessary to adjust her pants in such an unseemly fashion. My sincere apologies that things don’t seem entirely prepared yet, but do hurry along to your rooms and change out of your traveling clothes. You’ll find everything laid out for you with evening clothes to accentuate only your very best attributes. We’ve been expecting you….for years. Just like at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

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I hope you won’t be detained too long. There is a delightful performance scheduled in just a moment. Oh! Here come the first of you to arrive and aren’t you enchanting?! Camilla! Really, had I known you were wearing that I would never have worried over MY gown. No, TRULY darling, it’s simply flowing isn’t it? Panty lines? What panty lines?

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Oh, I hope you’ll all love this next presentation as much as I did. I had SO hoped k d lang, Tony Bennett, and Chris Bodie could have been here but alas, they had prior engagements. However, they sent over this special song recorded just for us. I will beg your pardon while I am swept away for a moment and daintily dab at my tears whilst swooning. We have catchers nearby for all the ladies if you care to join me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really don’t know what to say after that except….this should be followed by the finest wine. May I pour? I have absolutely no faith in the stewards anymore.

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And now to dine! It would seem the tables are prepared and await only you.

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For your dining pleasure we will be serving Boeuf Bourguignon so recently popularized in the movie Julie & Julia. I have even written the name into the gravy. If you find yourself suddenly stricken with a senior moment and cannot recall what you are eating or why, it is there to gently and subtly remind you.

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And of course, only a gold-plated sundae could round out our evening, and our evening wear.

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I’ve saved one of my very favorite guests for last. She wants to sing for you the theme song to my blog. She worked this up especially for me and it is my love song to all of you. It explains why I’m so attached to you and why we simply must stick together even when you find yourself wanting to run away screaming. Allison, this was so dear of you. I can’t thank you enough. You sing from my heart.

I’m sure Allison would join us if we wanted to kick off our shoes, grab the nearest musical instrument, and join her for a little jam session. I know my evening won’t be complete without it. And while we play and sing, let’s dip our toes into my modest pool.

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I thank you all for coming. None of this would have been possible without you. I trust you’ll enjoy the rest of your stay and I will do my level best to continue to accommodate you. If you are still in the mood for a party, I encourage you to join the party circuit in full swing at Willow Manor with her Enchanted Evening. Willow will be happy to facilitate your continued merry-making by teleporting you to any of the other parties. Just click Here.

Ahhhhhh. It feels SO good to get out of those Spanx. Oh! Did I say that out loud?

Copyright 2009