Friday, December 28, 2007

There's No Place Like Home...

We spent the past five days in Las Vegas, visiting friends and enjoying some family time. It is so good to be home!

I hope that everyone who observes Christmas had a beautiful celebration.

I will be writing more very soon, but until then, I wish you time with the people you love and many, many smiles.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Festival of Lights, or Chanukah as it is better known, ended about a week ago. Christmas is five days away. Tonight is the Winter Solstice, which means that we will be experiencing the darkest day of the year. During a period of so much darkness, it is important for us to be able to look towards the glimmers of light which help in leading us to brighter times. I think it is very interesting that all cultures and religions find ways to associate light with this time of year. We seem to have an innate need to brighten our darkest days. The holidays which fall at this time of the year provide us with so many ways to "turn on the lights", so to speak.

This time of year brings out both the very best and the very worst in people. It seems that the darkness that dominates our skies, also overwhelms the spirits of certain individuals who insist on rushing around, being rude and not caring for others who might get in their way. I have seen this in parking lots, grocery stores, and on the roads. The craziness tends to reach a crescendo as we get closer and closer to Christmas.

Thankfully, there are also individuals who are filled with light. They are helpful, calm and generous. They exemplify the brightness of the season through both their actions and their words. They are a pleasure to encounter, and they remind us that even the smallest gesture of kindness can be the light that brightens someone else's day.

Reflecting on the light and dark of this season, I felt the need to express my thanks to those of you who have consistently provided me with daily glimmers of luminosity, during even my blackest of days. Living with a chronic illness can be a very disempowering experience. I try to focus on the bright spots of life, but there are times when try as I might, I just cannot keep my mind from wandering into the darkness that overshadows the light. Distracting myself by reading your blogs, be it funny, touching, thought-provoking or just plain real, can sometimes provide the spark that I need to move myself out of the darkness, back into the light. The comments that you leave for me, here, in my little corner of the world, remind me that I am not alone. Your words of gratitude, encouragement and understanding allow me to remember that I am still strong, that I still have a voice, and that I can still give something back, even if it is in a different way than I am used to.

As we move through the twilight of the blackest day of the year, I wish for you, the flicker of radiance that can come from an act of kindness. I pray that you will see the reflection of joy that you bring to the hearts of others, mirrored back at you through their grateful eyes. And I hope that in times of darkness, you will always find even the smallest of lights with which to guide you back into the brightness of life.

Whatever your personal celebration is, during this time of year, may it be filled with light.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And the Winner is...

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the very first Four Angels Momma contest. Your heartfelt comments left me in awe of how deep the love is for our country and for our service men and women. You all make me proud to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world. Honoring people like Airman First Class CJ is my way of saying thank you for what they do, and what they sacrifice for our nation.

The photo at the top of this post is of my youngest angel baby and her sweet friend who is like one of my own angel daughters, doing the drawing. They humored me by writing all of the names that were left in my comment box, on slips of paper, and then drawing one out as the winner. They were all full of giggles and smiles as they shook the basket one last time, and carefully drew out one name. So, the winner is...Lizzy in the Burbs! Lizzy, I will be contacting you to find out what email address you would like me to send your $25.00 Amazon gift card to. Congratulations! I will also be sending both CJ and his younger brother, Conner, each a $25.00 gift card. I think that Conner should be recognized too, as he is sacrificing time with his big brother, in order for his brother to protect the freedoms of others. I will also be forwarding all of your wonderful comments to Hallie and John, CJ and Connor's mom and dad. I think that it will be helpful for them to know how many people truly care about and support them, during the rough spots of having a son in the Air Force.

I really appreciate each and every comment that was written to honor CJ and our other service men and women. There were so many great comments and stories about family members who serve our country. I loved reading each one and sharing them with my family. From Scarlett who talked about owning several bibles and who is grateful that she lives in a country where she isn't forced to hide them away, to Nicksafmom whose great response to the spitters out there is,"Next time,would you mind aiming for my boots? That'll help me look my best while I'm protecting the rights for you to have the freedom to speak out." Reading about KellyJean's grandfather who was a Cheif Petty Officer in the Navy during WWII, brought tears to my eyes. He was sent out on missions after battles took place to search for survivors and recover bodies. A "behind the scenes" hero, who brought other individuals home to their families. Grammie Hoffman in WA summed it up simply and beautifully by saying that "Fearless=Freedom", so true.

As I think about all of your wonderful thoughts and comments, tonight, I will also think about CJ, who is home on leave, reconnecting with his family. I will think about all of the brave service men and women who are sometimes taken for granted, but who continue to do their jobs whether we recognize them, or we don't. As Michelle said in the comments, the one thing that she loves about this country is , "freedom". I think that we would all second that.

May you take a moment to think about and send some good thoughts and prayers to the individuals who serve our country. May you take a moment to thank the next person you see, who is wearing a uniform, for protecting your right to be free.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Contest to Say Thank You Now Closed

Only a few more hours to enter into my drawing for a $25.00 Amazon gift card, so be sure to leave me a comment about why you love our country and our service men and women!

Have a wonderful afternoon!

10 PM Tuesday, December 18, 2007- Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments! We will be placing all of the names of the people who entered into a basket. My daughter will then chose the name of the winner! There were so many inspirational comments that I decided this would be the best way to chose the winner. I will announce the name of the winner sometime tomorrow afternoon. Best of luck to all of you very special people! Hallie, I will need to get CJ's email address so that I can send him his gift card, and another email for Conner because he deserves to be recognized too!

Hugs to all!

Deb-Dub as I was just called!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Contest That Also Says Thank You

Today is a beautiful day. I am surrounded by the incredible bounty that my life as an American has enabled my family to obtain. I have a loving husband, four wonderful daughters, and a home that is filled with so much love, that it spills over to our furry and feathery family members. Looking into our nine year old dog, Becca's eyes, I can see all of the love and joy that life has provided, reflected back at me.

Last week, I was reading the blog of a blogging friend of mine. Hallie, from The Wonderful World of Wieners(you can find her link under my favorite places to visit). She has a son who just earned his position as an Airman First Class in our Air Force. CJ is a very smart and likable young man, who is using his life to serve our country. What sparked me to write this post about him, is that he was walking down the street with some of his Airman buddies, and somebody had the audacity to SPIT at them, and tell them that they should be dead! This happened on the streets of our country, by individuals who are being protected by the very same young men and women who this imbecile had the chutzpah to spit at! I was encouraged to read all of the enthusiastic posts that were left on Hallie's blog which honored CJ, her son, after she wrote about this incident. Apparently, there are many, many other people out there(including a ten year old girl who is making CJ one of her "projects"), who love and support our country. The love that they feel also spills over to the brave service men and women who use their own lives to protect our freedom. It is ironic how they also protect the rights of the SPITTERS to SPIT at them as they walk down the street minding their own business.

With my dear husband's help, I decided that I would like to do something to remind Airman First Class CJ, Hallie, her family, and others, how much people really do love this country. This is a win-win situation(Do you feel a contest coming on?) because everyone who leaves a comment on my blog citing one reason why they love this country AND our Service men and women, will be placed into a drawing to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card to purchase whatever little gift they would like for themselves. I will also be sending a $25.00 gift card to Airman First Class CJ in honor of his graduation from Flight school, and for being such a proud representation of what incredible young people our country produces! Hallie and John, you did good!

So, to wrap this little drawing announcement up: Post a comment as to why you LOVE this country, and our service men and women.

On the evening of Tuesday, December 18, I will chose a commenter who will then receive a $25.00 gift card for Amazon.

I will also forward all of the comments to The Wonderful World of Wieners.(Once you get there, you will see why my dog fit so nicely into this post.)

Sorry, only US residents will be able to win this contest, because, is your country. And no political banter, please. I only want to hear good things about this fine country and the individuals who serve. I am not interested in finding out if you believe in the war, or not. That has no bearing here.

May you look around and realize how damn lucky you are to be an American, and to live in the best country in the world.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Avoiding Toxicity, or How to Keep Your Wits About You

I have heard from so many others this week, that also have individuals in their lives who tend to complicate things. The world is definitely a smaller and less lonely place when you know that there are people out there who can identify with the situations which life presents. We are not responsible for the toxic family members who insist on trying to suck the life out of us. It is important to see them for who they are, and to deal with them on a level that is both comfortable and safe. At times, we must take a step back from these kinds of individuals. We must give ourselves time to heal and time to regroup. It has been my experience that these types of people need us much more than we need them. If we can keep this truth on the surface of our minds, it will be much easier to remain self-protective. It will be much easier for us to create the boundaries that are an absolute necessity in maintaining these sorts of relationships.

I am working very diligently to live by what I believe. I sometimes have to remind myself that I would not want my daughters to allow toxic people to stomp all over their boundaries. I should not want any less for myself. There are times in our lives when self-parenting becomes very important. Whether you have children or not, you must sometimes get to the point at which you should ask yourself if you would stand for the abuse that you are tolerating if the person being violated was somebody else who you care about. This is a question that should also apply to yourself. If you would not accept the behavior on behalf of somebody else, you should remember that you deserve that same amount of respect.

This is the time of year that can be both joyful and stressful. There are many individuals who are running around unaccompanied by a kind person, who will try very hard to add some extra aggravation to your day. Pay extra attention to your own needs, and how being around these people makes you feel. If you are tired, aggitated, hungry, or just plain overwhelmed, please, give yourself the time and attention that you need. Do not allow toxic individuals to suck the life-blood right out of your system. This includes family members and friends.

May you know your own breaking point, and put a stop to whatever is going on well before you find yourself there. May you be strong enough to limit your exposure to those who take too much out of your spirit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Yesterday began as a fine day. It really did. I haven't been feeling well, but I had to leave my house to pick up our holiday cards, and so I decided to run a few errands. My mother left me several messages over the weekend, so thinking that she just wanted to "chat" I decided that I would return her call on my way home. Big mistake. BIG MISTAKE! In the twenty minutes that it took for me to drive home, she never once even took a breath. She was having a tirade about my step-brother and his wife, and since I am her daughter, she is supposed to be able to vent to me(at least that is what she says). Now, my illness is exasperated terribly by stress, so I really try to avoid it. My mother knows this, because my husband has told her many times, but she does not want to get it. I won't go into what her tear was about, but it was childish, ridiculous, and mean-spirited. When I pulled up to my home, my 17 year old daughter was sitting on the front steps. She was on the phone dealing with her own teenage angst, and she hung up when she saw me. She came over to the garage and I rolled my eyes at her in disgust. She asked me who was on the phone, and since my mother still had not taken a breath to see if I was still there, I handed the phone to my daughter. She listened for a few moments, and then without saying a word, she hung up the phone. Yes, she just pressed the off button, and handed the phone back to me! In disbelief, I asked her what she had just done. She told me to just tell my mother that I got disconnected. Are you nuts? You just hung up the phone on your grandmother! Honestly, it felt really, really good. I had listened to my mother go on and on for over twenty minutes, and now, it was over, just like that. daughter began to complain to me about her father, and how he would not allow her to go someplace. OY! That is when I realized that I wanted to escape from my life for a while. I told my husband that Mexico is only a couple of hours away, and that I could call him when I got there. That is when I decided that I needed to go upstairs to my bed, to crawl under the covers.

This morning when I woke up, I found something sticking through the crack in my door that made me remember why I would never run away. Something that made me realize that although I do not have the kind of relationship with my mother that I have always craved, I AM creating that relationship with my angels. As my heart melted(and I unpacked my bags for that trip to Mexico), here is what I found. A note from my youngest angel. Please allow me to share.

Dear Sunshine. Dear Mommy,

I know this time of year for you is very crazy. You and dad work so hard to get us our presents and make sure we're happy with what we get. But this year, I'm realizing how much effort & work you really do put into making us happy. With whatever gifts I get, I am going to appreciate every little part of it. Thinking of how much I ask for and how much I get, in a way upsets me because thinking of all of the kids who can't ask for anything and don't get anything. I have been feeling so so close to you the past couple of years, not saying that we weren't always close, but you understand me and I feel that I can talk to you about a lot more stuff. I love you beyond the moon and back.

Love always and forever,
Your Sunshine

Through the words of my thirteen year old angel, my heart was instantly mended. I was reminded right then and there, that the promise that I made to myself at around her age, to never be the kind of person that my mother was(is), was definitely not made in vain. I am not a perfect mother, but I am a good mother. That is something that is reflected back to me through the words, actions, and compassionate hearts of my daughters. I thank God that He provided me with a strong enough spirit to keep the promise that I made to myself all those years ago.

Sometimes, we have to be the change that we wish to have in our own lives. Like the great leader Ghandi once said, "We must be the change that we wish to see in the world." We might not have been born into the perfect families, have found the perfect mates or friends, or have the ideal lives that we had longed for. It is our job to improve upon the things that we are not satisfied with. It is our responsibility to be the change that we wish to have in our own lives. We have to begin someplace. Our own worlds are the only places to start, because once we begin there, the goodness tends to radiate outwards, like the ripples in a pond.

The photo at the top of this page shows the feet of my daughter. The one who wrote me this note. She was having a very bad day, and I found her buried underneath her covers, with the blanket covering her head. She does not have many bad days, but being her mom, I had to seize the opportunity to take a picture of her cute, little, albeit upset feet. She was less than amused, but I made her laugh, and she recovered fairly quickly. I am glad that I can make my angels laugh. I sometimes act like the world's biggest dork, just to get them to laugh at me. It makes me feel good that I can bring smiles to their faces at times when they really need it. It makes me grateful that they can do the same for me.

And so, as I contemplate what it is that I would wish for you, what comes to mind is something or someone who can reflect back to you validation. Validation that you are accomplishing the things that you set out to do within your own life. Validation that you CAN be the change, and validation that you are responsible for many, many smiles. May you be reminded of how truly important you are in this world, and may the feeling which that reminder generates, ripple outwards to remind others of the same thing.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


As I sat here recovering from the Chanukah celebration that I hosted in my home last night, I wondered out loud what I should write about. Jewish people around the world are in the midst of celebrating "The Festival of Light", and so my mind is somewhat focused on the concept of "light vs. dark" right now. Interestingly enough, my angel daughter number three was sitting here with me, on my bed, and when I asked the rhetorical question, "What should I write about?", she replied, "Write about me!" The reason that I find this interesting is because out of my four daughters, AD3 is the only one who has lighter hair, and very, very blue eyes. She is kind of like the "light" spot in our gene pool! All four of our daughters are bright spots in our lives, but angel daughter number three is a little bit different. So, here I sit contemplating how AD3 stands out amongst our girls, and in a moment of brightness, it struck me...She is the only one who did not come easily into our lives. She is a soul who came to us in her own time. A bit of a princess from even before conception.

Conceiving babies is something that came easily to my husband and I. It seems like the moment we decided to have our first baby, I became pregnant. It didn't stop there, daughter number two was also conceived with ease, and so when we decided that it was time to have a third, something happened that we were not prepared for. I knew that I was pregnant, because I could always sense when I conceived. I took an early pregnancy test when I felt AD3 take hold. The test turned positive and we were absolutely overjoyed. I knew that it was early, but I didn't really feel any need to worry. A few days later, I began to bleed, and I panicked. Although it was nighttime on a Sunday, my OB told me to meet him at the office for an ultrasound. I rushed over there, leaving my husband home with our two small daughters. I remember the office was dark. I remember that my doctor was wearing blue jeans. I remember looking at the ultrasound screen, and searching for a tiny heartbeat. And then, I remember my doctor's words,"I'm sorry.", and I knew that I was no longer carrying a baby. Although it was very early, the feeling of loss rushed over me. I cried all of the way home. I cried in the shower for the next couple of weeks. I had two healthy girls, but I wanted more children. What if I was not able to conceive again?

Joyfully, angel daughter number three was conceived a few weeks later. I must admit that the fear of what had occurred between my second and third pregnancies really stuck with me. I could not relax into the reality of this baby until at least the third month. She entered the world on the first day of Spring. A light in the darkness at the end of Winter. A fair-haired little angel with ice-blue eyes. She was one of the happiest babies I had ever seen. My gratitude for this baby was even greater than ever, because she had been conceived at a time in which I needed an answer which nobody else could give me. She was my answer.

We went on to have angel daughter number four, who also came to us in her own time. Unlike AD3, she decided to come to us a bit earlier than we might have planned, but absolutely celebrated, none the less.

When I asked, "What should I write about, today?", the answer was clearer than I even thought it would be. My angel daughter somehow knew that she was supposed to prompt me. During this season of light, AD3 reminded me to look at the brightness that shines through the dark. It was daylight when I began writing this, and now, it is night. The "light spot in my gene pool" is asking me what is for dinner, and when we are going to light the Chanukah candles. As I look into her ice-blue eyes, I am reminded of how she came as a radiant light into our lives. I think about light versus dark, day versus night, Winter versus Spring, and joy versus sadness. I remind myself that if I am feeling sad about something, that times will get better. There will always be a brighter day. Angel daughter three's middle name is Hope. How many more reminders can one person provide in order to prove to us that there will always be a better day?

May your life always provide reminders of light, even on the darkest and coldest of days. May you always remember that YOU are a bright spot in someone else's life.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We Are Family...

These are my angels. When they were little, I dressed them all alike because I thought it was adorable, and frankly, it was much easier to keep my eye on them. I found that with four little girls running around, if I could just look for a hot pink flash going by, and then count to four, I always knew where my children were. After a while, I realized that there were some other benefits to having them all dress alike. It fostered a sense of cooperation by having them put their cute, little heads together to decide what outfit they would wear that day. It also created a solidarity that allowed them to feel confident in knowing that they were part of a "team". It created a sense of "us", and my girls always knew that they had each other's backs.

One of my goals as a parent, is to create a family unit that works together as a team. We support each other's growth and achievements. We attend as many of each other's events and competitions as possible. When one of my daughters has a game, or a play, or any type of competition, one or all of us are there in the stands cheering them on. I understand how important it is to look up into the crowd, and see the people who love you, supporting you, and encouraging you to do your very best. My girls all have very different talents and diverse interests. My husband and I have always supported them in their endeavors. We have taught them, through our example, to be there for each other, to serve as each other's safety nets.

Family should always serve as a soft place to fall, if things don't always go well. Family should be a place where you feel safe, and loved, and important. This is not something that I grew up knowing, so I created it for my girls, and in doing so, I also created it for myself. You see, we CAN have the families we always wanted, even if the one that we grew up in was not the ideal. Regardless of how small, or large your family is, it can be a team. It's not how big or small your cheering section is, it is how LOUD they cheer for you, that matters. It's the pats on the back, and the hugs that really mean something. It is knowing that there is ALWAYS somebody there to take your hand.

I am so grateful for my husband and for our girls, our angels. I feel absolutely connected to the greatest team that I could ever dream of. Although they no longer wear the same outfits(at the same time anyway), the spirit of our team runs through each one of them. I can see it in their laughter and their pride for one another. I can see it in my husband's eyes as he beams with joy for each of their accomplishments. I can feel it in my soul, the soul that each one of them owns a part of.

May you always have a team, however large or small, to back you up in life. May the support of your loved ones carry you through even the most challenging of days.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Don't Allow Your Physical Boundaries to Limit Your Creativity...

There is always room, in life, to think outside of the box. You are an unlimited, remarkable human being with resources beyond your own imagination. Close your eyes, and imagine what you would do if you could allow yourself to break out of that box! Oh the possibilities....

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The "Happy" Gene, and Saying Thank You

Angel daughter number four was born with what I would call, a joyful spirit.  She is the kind of child, or I should say, teenager now, who can walk into a room and make everybody smile. She exudes a kind of happiness that can only be described as genetic, because it is so natural and pure.  Yes, she is a teenager now, and yes, she does have her hormonal breakdowns and teenage alien fits that cause me to think, "Where has my sweet baby gone?"; but for the most part, she loves life.  Having a conversation with her is almost like speaking with an adult at times, because she is wise beyond her own years.  She appreciates being alive and her gratitude is contagious.  Even strangers find her very engaging.  She can brighten the dullest day with her smile.

This morning I was thinking about AD4, and contemplating what it is that I could learn from her.  This is something that I often do when it comes to the people who are in my life, but for some reason I was particularly zoned in on her this morning.  Maybe it is because I woke up with a lot of pain, and as I was scanning my body for particular points of tension, I needed something special to focus on.  Maybe it was because I was breathing my prayers into the Universe and something made me stop and contemplate AD4's approach to life.  Whatever it was, I came up with some things that I wanted to share.

We are all here for a purpose.  Regardless of someone's belief system, there is no denying that the gifts that we are given should be shared freely with others, because if they are not shared they are wasted.  Everyone, absolutely everyone who is, or ever has, breathed in life from this planet, has something important to contribute to the world.  There are times when we might feel like we want to isolate ourselves from others.  We all have those days in our lives when we feel like hiding under the covers and never coming out, and that is okay.  But we must always try to remind ourselves that no purposeful, joyous, fulfilled life can be lived aside from other people.  We must balance our need for solitude, with our need to be around others.  We must enjoy our unique abilities, while using those abilities to teach others that which we inherently understand.

As I thought about my daughter's happy spirit, I also began to think about other people who I know that are not quite as jubilant, and what it might take in order to cultivate a more joyous attitude.  Angel daughter four really appreciates life.  She is gracious and thankful much of the time.  So, I decided to isolate the gratitude trait, to see where that would lead.  This is what I came up with.

In order to be happier in our lives, I think it is very important to cultivate gratitude. Sometimes, I tend to take things for granted and I forget to be grateful.  So, I decided to do an exercise that I heard about someplace.  Tomorrow, I am going to say,"Thank you", each time something happens that makes me happy.  It could be something as simple as having another driver allow me to safely make a lane-change, or being able to open up my fully stocked refrigerator when I am hungry.  Things that I really do appreciate, but often take for granted.  

The next day, I am going to say, "Thank you", each time that something does not exactly go the way that I would like for it to.  Maybe not getting out of my house on time to make an appointment, or having somebody cut me off, causing me to miss a green light, and making me wait for another light cycle.  All of the little mishaps, and annoyances that occur each and every day.  You know, the ones that seem to effect our moods the most.  The ones that make us "perceive" that we are having a bad day.

I am going to continue this exercise for the next few days, gently reminding myself to show more gratitude for all of the events that happen throughout my days.  I am not exactly sure where all of this focus will take me.  I do know that when I expect a certain result when doing something, I often come up with something that was completely different from what I had expected.  I am going to write down my observations at the end of each day.  After I complete this exercise, I will write about the things that I learned here.  I would really enjoy hearing from anyone else who would also like to take this challenge along with me.  I would love it if you would share your experiences after doing this for a few days with me.  No pressure at all!

This is the time of the year when we are all feeling a bit more frazzled.  Our To-Do lists are longer than ever, and all of the crazies have been let out of their homes for the month.  Maybe doing an exercise like this one will turn out to be a gift that you can not only share with others, but something that you can give to yourself...something that will bring more joy into your life.

As I look at the picture of my Angel daughter number four, and our adorable Cornish Rex kitty, Callie, my heart swells with the joy of knowing that they both make the world a happier place. Even if we are not born with the "happy gene", I do think that it is something that we can cultivate over time.  There are so many things to be grateful for in our lives.  Sometimes, we just have to take a little time to remind ourselves to stop and notice all that is good.

Please remember to stop back, and let me know how this works out for you.  And may you always find SOMETHING to smile about, even on the hardest of days.
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