All of this Life

My daughter’s birthday was over the weekend, sandwiched in between two separate family funerals (and a soccer lesson). It’s one of those delicate parenting moments. Of course you want your children to feel they are safe and secure while acknowledging the reality of loss… You still want your child to feel special on their birthday. So as life goes on, you are pressing dress shirts for your sons to wear to a showing, and explaining to your 4 year old how we are related to those who have passed. You need to make sure your daughter has her 22 snacks to bring on her appointed day to her kindergarten class. It’s important that your 5th grader still gets his homework done. And when you realize on one of the evenings you are too exhausted to stay up with him, you have to make sure you write the teacher a note explaining you’ve been to a funeral and ask for another day to make it up. (Then, if you’re like me, you judge yourself for not planning your timing better.) I am in remembrance that it was about this time last year that I lost one of my best friends, Barbara. I miss her. And sometimes all of this life feels like it’s coming and going so fast.

You try to keep it in perspective, right? It’s a balancing act. I have so much to be thankful for: My children are healthy. My two year old is having the longest period ever of clear skin on his face, and we haven’t been to ER in over a month. We made it through the last asthmatic attack right at home! We are warm, even though it is snowing outside… because I managed to locate two AA batteries to put in our digital thermostat that stopped working. We have food on our table… Which reminds me someone still needs to pick up the birthday cake…

What would I do without my support group?

My husband? Who takes the day off of work to attend my great-aunt’s funeral with me. And exits with my 2 year old when he claimed to have pooped during the service. Diapers still need to be changed.

My parents? …Who offer to pick up the cake and bring it to the party. Who say, “Do you and the kids have something to wear to the funeral? Do you need us to come watch the kids so you can go shopping?” I still have to get dressed.

And I realize that I have loved ones who just lost a mother, an aunt, a sister, a grandmother… It’s a time of reflection, grief, appreciation… But you can’t just stop. There are still wishes to be made.

Through all of the uncertainty that’s going on in our country, in the media, in our families, in our homes… You realize the significance of family and the strength in love. And sharing that love.

Hugs help.

At times, I know we all feel like we are in a wind tunnel… a storm with things coming at us from every direction. Sometimes, it’s really hard to navigate. My advice? To myself? Remember this is temporary…

Look for the good. Be the good.


Happy Birthday Naomi! Mommy loves you!

Happy New Year!

I’m usually not a New Year Resolution type person. My thought is: why wait one more day to start a good habit? Or stop a bad one? (If you know me at all, you know I am totally backwards and like to start diets right before the holidays.)

But this year is different.

I ended last year taking a break from the blog, enjoying my family and the holidays. And this year I am making a resolution of sorts… a conscious effort to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. I’m ready to listen to my kids laugh and watch a nice fire. Let’s take time to break bread with loved ones old and new… And let’s be kind to each other; it costs us nothing and could mean everything.

I hope 2017 is a fresh start that treats you well! God Bless You!

Saying Goodbye to Grandpa

Grandpa excelled as an sportsman. He had a keen eye and would point out things in the tops of trees or in the back of a field at a great distance that I could never see. He was an excellent shot and terrific hunter of large and small game. He was one of those intuitive fisherman and had the trophies to prove it. He was a fantastic golfer and had plaques made for achieving two “holes-in-one” in the same week. He was incredible with a sling shot and could swim like Johnny Weissmuller. He worked hard and his life wasn’t easy. Born in Tennessee his family moved to Detroit for more opportunity when he was a young boy. His parents weren’t the most dependable kind. They often left his sister and him to fend for themselves. I remember once when he was asked about what it was like to live through The Great Depression, and his response was that they were so poor they didn’t notice a difference. As an adolescent, the streets of Detroit were his playground. He told me of playing “cops and robbers” with his friends and rolling down the now historic stairs of the Fisher Theater after he would fake getting shot. When he grew old enough he took a job as a cab driver. He would get his fares done early so he could have the car for personal use and drive wherever he wanted- mostly pool halls. He met, fell in love with and married my grandmother. Apparently they were quite the duo winning dance contests for the jitterbug and the such. We really didn’t hear much about all of that. You see, not too long after taking their wedding vows they were invited to a roadside tent revival. They accepted Jesus into their hearts and felt a peace and love they had never experienced before. My grandpa told me how shortly thereafter he was at the 19th hole with some friends. He was drinking his usual beverage that he said tasted like water when he felt this new found peace start to leave- and it scared him. He asked God right then and there that if He would give him back that feeling he would never drink again. He dedicated his life to God and his family. Grandma and grandpa both got jobs in one of Detroit’s booming manufacturing opportunities. They were great providers. They bought a house outside of the city to raise their two daughters, two nieces, nephew and take care of grandma’s mother. Grandpa became a bible teacher at their local church. He wasn’t perfect, but it was clear that he loved God, he loved his family and he wanted to give them better than the experiences he had lived. He said those days with his house full of kids were the best times of his life.

When grandma got sick with dementia, it was hard to watch. Not because she would forget things or regularly repeat herself or ask the same questions over and over. It was hard to watch grandpa. He wanted her to remember. Maybe he got tired of giving the same answers. Maybe he would get embarrassed, for her sake, in front of company. I think mostly he wanted her to get better. The night she went into the hospital for her heart, I drove just over 2 hours home from college to see her. She was sitting up, talking and doing great. I remember telling her I loved her and that she would be going home soon. I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call that she had suffered ventricular fibrillation during the night and passed. My mom, aunt and grandpa went through the routine of making arrangements. The next year would have marked their 50th wedding anniversary. I’ll never forget my grandpa’s sweet words to me at the funeral, “She was a good woman, I didn’t deserve her” he said.

It hadn’t been a year since grandma had passed and I knew grandpa was lonely. Owen and I had recently gotten engaged, it was the perfect reason to stop over for a visit. Grandpa was happy to see us, but I could tell he was out of sorts. He had the television remote in his hand and was frustrated. I asked him what the matter was and he answered with anger that “Someone has been messing with those wires.” What wires, I questioned and asked him if he had other visitors. The wires behind the TV he explained, and no he hadn’t had any recent visitors. It really didn’t make sense. I asked him who was messing with the wires, and he changed his story to an animal must have gotten in and messed with his wires. Since there was no sign of any animal being in the house, I assured him that that couldn’t be the case and told him Owen would take a look. I figured a wire had gotten loose and disrupted his service. I mean, technology is confusing even for me. When Owen moved the TV set away from the wall, we were all shocked to see that the wall was blackened around the outlet. Thank God there wasn’t a house fire! I told grandpa we had to unplug everything and we would need someone to come out to fix the electrical. He seemed a little dazed and confused, and I knew something was wrong. After our visit was over, I called my mom right away to let her know what had happened. “Something is wrong with grandpa” I told her, “he needs to get checked out.”

He had always been a sharp man. The kind of guy who could quote poems, riddles, stories and Bible passages without missing a word. He was the employee who was awarded $2000 for an innovative idea that would save Chrysler a fortune. Grandpa was a self sufficient person who always seemed confident in who he was and what he was about. The same guy who turned down a supervisor promotion to remain an inspector, because he knew what it meant. No, his weeknights and weekends were for hunting, fishing, tinkering in his garage and going to church. It wasn’t very long after our visit that he was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s. We all understood, himself included that it wasn’t safe for him to live alone. My grandpa, aunt, and mother saved a few personal treasured items, allowed the grandchildren to take any keepsakes, and kept what my grandfather would need. Then they contacted an estate sale company and put the house up for sale. A plan was set for grandpa to move into a first floor bedroom with my parents.

He had mostly good days at first. He could drive and go out to eat if he wanted to, his last bit of independence. Slowly he showed more and more signs of his disease. He would come home with 10 cans of the same baked beans because he couldn’t think of what else to buy at the grocery store. He would get frustrated and irritable. He was angry with himself for not remembering, and he would often take it out on his family members. Alzheimer’s has a way of making you suspicious on top of forgetful, and he started regularly accusing my sister of taking his belongings such as electric shavers and slippers when he had himself misplaced them. At doctor’s appointments, although clever, his answers became more evident:
“Who are these people?” the doc asked referring to my aunt and mother.
“Relatives” my grandpa answered.
“What kind or relatives?” the doctor prodded further.
“The good kind.” my grandpa replied.
He could no longer remember that they were his daughters. And so it went, some days worse than others. Some days we could cope with humor, like when it took him 20 minutes to baby-step/shuffle from the dining room into the living room. When he arrived he looked up at all of us watching TV and asked “Now what?” Some moments were frightening, like when there was a large crash in the middle of the night. He had pulled out a drawer of silverware that had dropped to the floor. He was just getting his tools he explained. Night wanderings had become more common and my teenage sister had a dead bolt installed on her door. She didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of grandpa walking into her room in the middle of the night. I couldn’t blame her. My parents had alarms installed on the doors after they were awakened to the police pounding on the door one morning at around 2 am. Thankfully they had found my grandpa walking down the road, and in a moment of precious lucidity he could offer to them my dad’s name.

My mother tried to keep him with her as long as she could. They paid my cousin and a family friend to be caretakers and help him with his hygiene when he could no longer remember how, not even when prompted. But it was only a matter of time when we were no longer able to take care of all of his round the clock needs. My mother and aunt found a comfortable adult foster care home with a 24 hour nurse and care he required just minutes away from their houses. They visited him daily, even though he didn’t know. As anyone with personal experience will tell you, the signature not-knowing is the curse and the blessing of the disease. It is the tormenting reality that the family members and friends have to come to terms with and accept. They have to watch their loved one become a shell of their former self, a person that resembles someone they knew very well. At the same time it is the only relief- to know when the Alzheimer’s has fully taken over, the infected person doesn’t seem to have any realization. And you pray that it’s true, that they don’t on any level know the depths of what they are going through.

I was with him early in the day of the night he died- my mother, sister, aunt, cousins and me. When I was told he passed I felt relieved to know he was finally at peace. He went to be with his Lord, with my grandma and many family members that had gone before. He was home and he had his memories. I didn’t attend his funeral services, I continued on a planned trip to Europe. In truth, I knew he was in a better place… and I had said my goodbye to grandpa a long time ago.

Loving Lately

Loving Lately: Miracles

We had been having a great time on our family vacations. Back-to-back, we had been making good use of our new camper and our family’s cabin in the great up north. I love making these kind of memories with my children, the kind of reassuring building blocks for life. We’d been breathing fresh air and splashing in fresh water. It’s been picturesque. I wanted to share more, but I’ve been too remote to blog. I was able to get out a few recent pictures to show a glimpse of our activities from a nearby town. 

It was Thursday night, early Friday morning and I heard the baby cough. Normally he sleeps next to me. Our family of 6 takes over the loft in the family cabin. We aren’t very regimented about who gets which one of the three twin beds, or which kid(s) crash by me on the queen. What I do know is that I was extremely disoriented and when I heard the coughing I knew the baby wasn’t by me; for the past few nights my husband was keeping the baby with him in a twin so I could sleep in. If I would have been thinking clearly I would have rolled over and turned on the antler lamp, instead I got out of bed and walked toward what I believed to be the end of the room with the window and the light. My hands were out in front of me, low enough that I would be able to feel for the lamp on top of the table and shed some light in this pitch black loft, so I could finally check in my baby. Normally we leave a night light on. At times the moon and stars are bright enough to break the darkness, but not tonight I guess it was too cloudy. How and why I took a sharp left turn I have no idea. I guess I figured I had taken enough steps and should have felt it by then so I should change my strategy. How I didn’t step on any of the kids clothes they leave in the floor at every wardrobe change or a single toy they regularly leave out down the aisle between beds still puzzles me. As I was going down I grazed the finger tips in my right hand. When I hit the floor I felt my hips sandwiched between two hard boards, probably two of the twin beds. I yelled out “Owen, turn on the light.” I actually felt a little guilty being so loud. I thought to myself that I probably just woke everyone in the whole cabin. When the lights came on I was surprised to see I was at the bottom of the stairs. 

I must have sounded like I had a concussion or amnesia. I truly was in shock. I kept asking “Where am I?” and “How did I get here?” It still doesn’t make sense. I never felt one step. I didn’t know I was going down 9 vertical feet. I remember brushing the fingertips of my right hand. I know I crashed on my left side. I believe with all my heart that there was divine intervention. I tumbled, no- rolled, no- flew? down over 11 feet diagonally of hard wood stairs and smashed through the railing of the second set of stairs on the most padded part of my body. I didn’t hit my head, or neck, or wrist, or ankle. The CT scan (available after a hour long ride to the hospital) showed no breaks or internal damage. I have some bruising, the worst with an area around my bottom about 10 inches wide and 14 inches long. I’m sore, but I’m ok. I’m alive! I finally took a few steps, with the assistance of my sister and crutches. Tonight will mark 1 week since the accident. Thanks for all of the prayers. Thank you to my family who has taken such good care of me. And thanks to God for sending your angels to look over me. They did an awesome job.

What I Learned During the 21 Day Fix

I took the 21 Day Fix challenge. I fit in my 30 minute workout everyday and I stuck to the meal plan. (With the possible exception of day 20 in which I cannot confirm nor deny that I might have exceeded my “blue” container, a.k.a. healthy fats, in the form of cheese and a possible “unhealthy” white sauce that I did not mean to order on top of my vegetarian style eggs.) Was it fun? I had some creative menu planning moments, but no. Was it easy? There were without doubt better days than others, but no. Was it educational? Absolutely.

Here is a little about what I’ve learned…

  1. I eat too many carbs. Apparently if you have oatmeal for breakfast, you are not supposed to have a wheat pita at lunch if you are going to have rice for dinner. But that’s really the least of my concerns, because I like muffins and pastries. My daily intake of refined sugar (even in the form of organic cane sugar) and all purpose unbleached organic flour is just too high. I’ve got to face the facts.
  2. I don’t eat enough whole grains. Just because I have been buying whole grain organic bread for over a decade doesn’t mean I’m really eating whole grains. I have pasta, pita chip, cereal, cracker and tortilla opportunities just to name a few. Alas, what’s a girl to do?
  3. My portions are out of proportion. So this one is not a shocker. Yes, I have a tendency to get carried away at a breakfast buffet, but that’s not what I’m talking about. There is too much of a good thing, meaning you can even overdo it with healthy meals. For example, some salad dressings are caloric nightmares. It’s a work in progress.
  4. I don’t exercise enough. I can honestly say I feel like I’m on my feet all day. I do dishes, laundry, chase my one year old, make snacks and meals- clean them up, make beds… the list goes on. But getting your heart rate up and sweating for just 20-30 minutes is a different beast. Granted, I am not naturally prone to loving that, but I think know I need more of it.
  5. I need to drink more water. I don’t drink half of my body weight in ounces on a regular basis. (Because you are probably good at math, I won’t tell you what that is; let’s just say it’s over the standard 64 oz.) There are days I can reach that goal, but I really need to push myself. Thankfully this program has no restrictions on coffee, tea (unsweetened and without cream of course), and flavor infused waters- even carbonated. I’m actually fortunate that way, I am completely satisfied with just those options. If I could only drink more water…
  6. My attitude could use an adjustment. I was doing this to better myself, reset my habits so to speak. I started off with excitement and optimism. I made fun and healthy, (and delicious) snacks. I made some separate food for myself, but to be realistic I’d have to create dinners my family would eat also; which I really enjoyed. Knowing I was doing good for them too was heartwarming. I made it through my birthday, Mother’s Day, my brother-in-laws birthday, a weekend getaway- streaming my workouts mind you, a church pizza party… Yet, somewhere along the way I fell out of love. Around day 15-17, I got pretty grumpy. I started having thoughts like “A little pita with this hummus would be nice. I can’t help it if the restaurant doesn’t serve whole grain…” and “If I wanted to workout on vacation in ‘real life’, I would go to the hotel fitness facility, instead of exercising in the dark while my children are sleeping.” It turned into more of fulfilling my commitment than bliss.
  7. I am going to apply more of these principles into my life. I definitely need to incorporate more fresh fruit and vegetables in my diet. I’ll be honest, if I eat oatmeal for breakfast and a wheat pita for lunch, I’m not going to worry about having a little rice for dinner- but I need to pay attention. I can’t have a daily intake of waffles for breakfast, french fries with lunch and pasta at dinnertime followed by dessert- on a regular basis without knowing it’s going to have an effect. The program suggests the 90/10 rule; if you follow the guidelines 90% of the time you can treat yourself 10% of the time. And I think until I reach my goals I’m going to try hard to follow that.
  8. It works. The results are in the “chia” pudding. I’ve lost over 5 pounds. (Not the most dramatic results in weight, but it’s only been 21 days.) However, in three weeks I have lost over 3 inches in my stomach, and over 2 inches in my waist. That’s amazing! I think some mom’s like myself (and certainly women who are not and men too) start to think “this is just my body type now.” The truth is we CAN do something about it.

I still have some work to do to achieve my goals, but this was a great platform and eye-opener. The knowledge that it can happen is encouraging. I can do this! (And I am really looking forward to this week “off”… I earned it!)


When your 3 year old takes advantage of your open laptop…

So sorry!

But how could you get upset with this face? (Him taking selfies with my phone)

Loving Lately 🎂

Loving Lately: My Birthday!

I am so blessed. I really am. I have such a loving group of family and friends. I have a great husband and four beautiful children. I don’t normally like to get gushy. (Must be softening up as I age.) Something happens to birthdays as you get older. When I was a child it was all about the party, people coming over, presents, cake and ice cream. It’s different now. Now it seems like a time of reflection. Where am I at in life, how far we have come and gratefullness that there is so much to be thankful for. The number 39 seems non-monumental, but thirty-nine years of life, a good life- not unchallenged, not always easy, but good and full of love, that’s special. I think my day was a pretty fair representation of my life.
I woke up to a gift bag full of presents, literally before my feet hit the floor. Owen was leaving for work and wanted to see me open a gift. He surprised me with some new workout clothes, complete with socks and sweatbands- appropriate for my new lifestyle. And he had wrapped a new cookbook and a couple of new kitchen apparatuses that were on the table when I went downstairs. He knows me so well! Isaiah had “Morning with Mom” at his school, so I got to start the day off right and have breakfast with my eldest son. Sometimes it rains, and so it was on the morning of my birthday. It was raining and slippery, so when I walked through the door I slipped and fell. But I’d like to pretend that didn’t happen, because those kind of embarrassing accidents shouldn’t happen on one’s birthday. Right? Onward! Of course I’m on this strict diet so I skipped the donut and stuck to the fruit. Life is full of those difficult choices… and occasional embarrassing moments. We take the ups with the downs… and keeping a sense of humor really helps.

My parents came over to watch the kids so I could go to breakfast. And they visited with me all day. They gifted me some fun decorative accessories to finish off my newly decorated bathroom (towels, soap dispenser, garbage can, etc. to match my well-loved French goose) and a new shirt. Yay! My sister came over in the afternoon joined me for my workout. My parents brought lunch; turkey and cauliflower stuffed cabbage rolls. My mom volunteered to give me a hand and give the kids a bath. I sat down and decided to commandeer the television, a rare treat but after all it was my special day. We watched a cute old Doris Day film and “To Catch a Thief”. Hey, sometimes life hands you those privileges. Take ’em! At some point throughout the moviethon, however, my baby woke up from his nap in real discomfort. He was cramping and scrunching, moaning and crying. I thought it was gas, until he threw up (a peculiarly large amount of lunch, goat milk and bile) all over me. You know, when life hands you sour, um, “lemons”… thankfully I had babysitters on hand and could dash into the shower right away; I try to keep my eye on the silver lining. (Trying to be a little bit Pollyanna never hurt anyone did it?)

Nevertheless, the best metaphor for my life was yet to be. Because at the end of the day I was surrounded by my family and friends. I had hot food and cold drinks (water of course, I’m dieting). Simply everything I want and need (with the exception a few people not there). I was surprised by thoughtful and beautiful gifts, including a baguette making class from a local bakery, a rustic rotating “fromage” (cheese) board, and a “21 Day Fix” approved dessert, that sufficed as my birthday cake- made by my sister- from which I might add all of my friends and family indulged because that’s the kind of awesome they are! (Imagine a sliver of a Clif Bar.) Thanks to everyone who make my day, days, years, life- great. I love you!

Loving Lately ❤️

Loving Lately: Life

I’m not gonna lie, lately I’ve been distracted. I’ve been making dinners and not taking pictures. I’ve hardly done any blog reading. I’m day 4 into a 21 day fix eating/workout challenge, and my out-of-shape self is really sore!

All of the kids (okay 3 out of four) have started their sport programs. (Between that and church, there are my weekends.)

I’ve redecorated my downstairs bathroom, and around my fireplace. My “country cottage” look is finally taking shape! (I can’t wait to tackle the kitchen.)

The yard is screaming for some attention. Thankfully that is not my yard in the picture. But spring has sprung and a couple of my flower beds have (almost) as many dandelions!

You know that saying “there just aren’t enough hours in the day,” it’s true- at least concerning all of the warm weather outdoor play time.

Who Has Time to Blog?

So as many of you know I spent the last week and a half on vacation. As the quasi-organised person I am, I set the blog on autopilot, scheduling posts I wrote ahead of time and even filling in a few during the trip. The truth is I love my blog. It’s my getaway, my connection to the outside world, and my sense of professionalism. We had a great time on our spring break, and in reflection on the way home it seemed to provide an endless amount of inspiration with all of the things I could share! Then reality set in.

Of course we held the mail while we were away, so it came to no surprise that upon delivery it would be a bundle. What I didn’t expect was a bill from a collection agency regarding an unpaid balance from my 2014 baby delivery! What in the world? We settled everything already a year ago (so I thought). Ok, fine. Don’t stress about it, I’ll have Owen call in the morning. Moving on.

I was unpacking our suit cases upstairs while my daughter played with the baby in his room, when I heard her scream. “There’s an ant!” My three year old bravely went to get me a tissue to dispose of the ant, while I checked for any more. And yes, there was another crawling up the diaper genie. Ugh! We paid (what I considered to be) a small fortune for an extermination company to get rid of the carpenter ants last fall! Oh please, don’t let this be happening again.

Naturally there tends to be a lot of laundry when a family travels, but not for us. We are the fortunate ones who get to visit my in-laws during our stay. They generously offer their home, including appliances, so we don’t have to pack-up dirty belongings. So where in the world did all of these soiled clothes, blankets, etc. come from? I’d like to know.

I knew there would be no groceries at home, because we were responsible people and used up what we had before we left. So, obviously it made sense to stop and pick up bread for Isaiah’s school lunches on the way to our house. Why didn’t I think of anything to make for dinner? Or milk? Who goes to the grocery store and doesn’t pick up milk? So I trekked my way out this morning to make a dash for the grocery store with three kids 5 and under, after a stop at the bank. In route my baby fell asleep in the car, and you know what? I just didn’t feel like doing it. So through the drive-thru I went and back home.

And you know how I like to deal with all of this stress? Well the washing machine is running and I’ve already called the exterminator. The kids are fed. So I’m going to pretend it’s not happening. Instead, we are going to purpose-lessly decorate eyeglass rims and dress up like Batman, until it’s time to get ready to celebrate my nephew’s birthday. The end.


Diet Life

My diet life could be compared to Oprah’s, except not as public. It’s more of a let go, then reel it in approach rather than a lifestyle- which kind of is a lifestyle. It’s all about perspective.

But I’m working on it, because I want to be overall healthier. So my friends and I have started a Diet Club. Ironically, the club consists of the same members as the Dinner Club. (Which reminds me I need to set a date for our long overdo Israeli cuisine night.) Basically, we have all set individual goals. They vary in range from counting calories to training for a marathon to cutting processed foods to learning to dance the waltz, etc. We communicate through a group text and encourage each other to keep it up.


In the mean time, I couldn’t show you a picture of my breakfast banana. I am sure to start getting creative, you know, and swap all of the oil in my quick breads for applesauce; replace the cream in my sauces with skim milk (Eeek)… But for now I will share a few photos from this weekend.

I actually made a commitment to one of my dearest blogging friends, Lynn of Lynz Real Cooking, to take pictures of some barns (which I treasure and romanticize about the stories they hold… dilapidated just gives character). And thankfully I have more time to do it… Because I got only one in this trip.


But I did find inspiration else where…


I also told Lynn that I would challenge Owen to come up with a sandwich. Until then, I will share an Owen hot dog (not on the diet).


It is so nice that the weather here is getting milder and easier for strolls. Did I mention I tried a youtube Zumba class? Hilarious. Like Steve Martin finding his rhythm in The Jerk. But it’s something I can rope my kids into doing with me right in the living room. So yes! And I am actually very excited about getting a little more healthy… And maybe I can spread my enthusiasm; encourage a few people to make a good choice or two. Because little choices add up. (See, that’s like something I could text to the group.)

I love the little sign -signifying the foot path…


Just a little reminder to stay on course.