Thursday, April 29, 2010

Don’t spend idle time sweating the small stuff!

My stage fright is slowly decreasing when I ride my unicycle, aka Blanche. I know I’ll be better prepared for an audition … one day. I have made a point to wave at anyone looking my way when cruising my four-mile route. Gardeners, delivery drivers and farm workers are, hands down, the friendliest people. They wave back 90% of the time. Do I fall more often from nerves and hand waving? Yep. Things are humming right along and I wave, then splat! My critical voice shouts in my head. I ignore the voice and hop back on Blanche.

So, now I am learning to idle on Blanche, you know, just sit there without going forward or backward but rocking back and forth in place. Impossible you say? I agree. At least at this point. In the beginning, I had to hide my idling goal from my husband because I practice down our hallway for support on both sides. I know he would not dig the possibility of me “jacking up” the walls and I did not want a lecture from my husband. He obviously feels that riding the unicycle is an outdoor sport. So I broke it to him gently last night at dinner. I mean, it is my house too! I shared my goal with him and where exactly I’ve been practicing this stunt. I was right, he was concerned. Then I had to remind him that walls are, well, just walls and that “it is not open-heart surgery!” Are you thinking, “What the heck is she talking about?” What does open-heart surgery have to do with any of this?

Here is the story on this saying, which is one of the valuable life lessons I keep tucked in my mental back pocket. You see, when my Baby Lucas was deathly ill, EVERYTHING in my world paled in comparison. Literally, nothing else mattered except my baby surviving his two open-heart surgeries, eating through a tube and ventilator dependency (a nurse sixteen hours a day included). Back then, I could have cared less about my stuff, house, cars, clothes, walls, holidays, or upcoming events. Things lost their earthly meaning. I just yearned for health and togetherness. Although it was a sad place to be, God showed me a new perspective on life through that pain. Ever since Lucas (now thirteen!) was a baby we repeat a saying around our home when things go wrong, or awry and it is, “Well, at least it is not open-heart surgery.” My Techie forgot that when you hold those words next to most daily trials, stupid fluff or worries (like a scuffed wall), it really is nothing to grow angry over. When our house caught on fire while we were on vacation I thought, “Thank God, it is not open-heart surgery.” When my younger son spills his milk (practically daily), or I drop the open can of coffee all over the floor or (fill in your own frustrating blank) I move forward with a smile knowing that although it’s a pain, it thankfully is not open-heart surgery. These few words lift the load tremendously. In a way, having a sick baby taught me not to sweat the small stuff. Like idling on your unicycle in the hallway, for example.

So after our debate and walk down memory lane, my best-friend and Techie husband comprehended that learning to idle in the hall is not like open-heart surgery. At all.

Wish me luck!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Feliz Cumpleaños Mamacita

While I am on the topic of pictures speaking a thousand words, take a look at these photos from my Mom’s, aka, Overboard’s, 65th surprise birthday Fiesta. Do you see the Extreme Olé seeping out of every guest? What a festive group of Senoritas! These cheerful women were either related to Overboard or long-time friends (the best kind to have). That is the thing with my family, we don’t have a high-friend-turnover rate; once an amiga, always an amiga!
The cake was so darn cute, the rooster prop perfect (Overboard collects chickens, roosters, chickadees, farm animals in general), the Mexican food delish and Sangria was the perfect afternoon drink (Tequila and noon don’t mix well). And what is a party without games? Boooooring! So, we played “Overboard Concentration” where we had to match phrases like, “lasagna and enchiladas,” “Flower Arranging Flair,” and “Bowling Beauty.” After lunch everyone was surprisingly delighted to stick on a fake bandito mustache and sombrero for a group picture.
  Everything went according to plan. My backyard is put back together and I can relax in nostalgic disbelief that mi Mamacita es seeesty fi year old.

Awww, those moms … they sure grow up fast these days. You blink and the next thing you know they are all grown up and on Medicare!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If a picture speaks a thousand words, what does yours say?

I heard something weeks ago that I am still chewing on, like a cow’s cud…over, and over. I give Ralph Rittenhouse credit for planting a seed and forcing me to think this one through.
When you look at these photos what does your mind think?
Kobe Bryant = Sports, Donald Trump = Big bucks and bad hair, Nadya Suleman = Crazy Octomom, Hugh Hefner = Sex King, Charles Manson = Psycho Murderer

All you did was look at a face and you created a character profile without ever meeting or getting to know them. The same thing happens to you and me. This is a reality; it is just the way life works. The brain is such a strong, powerful force that it cannot help but take any information and compact it to connect to your face, poise and energy… along with recent history you have created.
When other folks see you, do they think:
Loving Mother? Crazy lady? Compulsive shopper? Workaholic? Generous? Worrier? One-of-a kind? Gossiper? Cold fish? Fake? Honest? Sexy? Control Freak? Light-filled? Stubborn? Odd Ball?

I wish to be a loving mother, but bet odd woman is mixed in with other labels that are only part of me. My point? When folks observe us, why not aim for positive reactions because of the things floating around that have formulated who we currently are? Our warm essence, our positive energy (not our bad hair or sex habits) … I want our best stuff to shine like the sun from our being so others will see it glistening in our smiles and glowing in our eyes.

So…I dare you to make others conclude you are unique, loving and truthful, among other things. Those admirable qualities reside in all of us. They are shining bright inside wanting to blaze front and center. So step into the spotlight and be that unique, loving and truthful person you are. So when your picture is eyed-over only the positive is seeping from it explaining you really are God’s one-of-a-kind creation.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Do you like laaaaamb?

Do you like lamb chops? Do you love the taste of lamb? My opinion? Lamb is good, no, it is great! I say this because every Sunday afternoon when I was young we ate at my grandparent’s house. Imagine a huge long table covered in clear plastic with a lace tablecloth underneath. There sat a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, mushy broccoli, salad, lots of bread and greasy lamb chops. I have eaten loads of lamb over the years without thinking twice about it. I learned early on to cut off the thick pudge of fat and find that tasty meat that existed between the bone and the gristle.

About eight years ago, I baked my first lamb roast for my husband. I tucked sprigs of rosemary in it and coated in with olive oil. How could he resist? He returned home from work, took a big whiff of my delicious lamb and scoffed, “What’s that smell?”

“It’s dinner.” I replied, “I am baking lamb, doesn’t it smell good?”

Despite sharing approximately 3,000 married days together (at that point) we had never discussed lamb, outside of a petting zoo. At this moment he let me know how much he hates lamb.

“It is too gamey,” he retorted.


What!!! The needle scratched across the memory record playing in my mind and all I could flashback to was that I Love Lucy episode where Lucy hires an older lady to be her housekeeper. On the first day of the job, Lucy announces she has Little Ricky, her baby. The grumpy housekeeper in a loud voice, shouts, “Baaaaaaby? Nobody ever said anything about a baaaaaby!” And then Lucy has to convince her that the baby is no big deal and she will care for him….well there I was trying to defend my little lamb.

Lamb is nothing but fond delicious childhood memories of my Italian grandma’s love with my huge family around the long table every Sunday sucking down pasta and lamb chops. After dinner, while the moms did the dishes and the dads watched TV, my sisters, cousins and I would play office (one desk was my grandma’s kitchen desk area, a second was the walk-in pantry) , listen to records on a huge TV stereo console piece of furniture, or make up skits, using the living room’s fireplace mantle as our stage. Then we would force our parents to watch our skit as we reenacted the Pilgrims’ arrival to America. For me, lamb = good memories. Not so for my husband. I realize that lamb is an “acquired taste” for some. But it’s not like it’s sheep testicles, guinea pig, cow stomach or octopus. It breaks my lamb-loving heart to think he ranks it with these food outcasts.

Hey, it’s really not baaaaaaaad!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How do nudists do it?

I have remained motivated to hop on my BBF (Butt’s Best Friend) Blanche and push myself to unicycle fifteen minutes a day around my neighborhood. I want to conquer the fear of riding in front of others, as being exposed in public view (how do nudists do it?) makes me jittery and prone to crashing. Performance anxiety is normal, unless you are Jay Leno or Cher, and I want to conquer this fear to claim inner balance, of course.

Yesterday, Blanche, Neil (Diamond on the ipod)and I knocked out our first four mile ride. With those two, I discovered a few things besides the following:
A. There are hidden muscles that when used cause soggy spaghetti legs (my spinning friends understand).
B. Confirmation that the Neil Diamond songs “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Kentucky Woman” are classics.
I realized that unicycle riding is the art of maintaining the constant feeling of almost falling. It is an oxymoron, but if I think too much about balancing, I am sure to lose balance and plunge. Stage fright blankets as I approach kids playing basketball and dads mowing lawns. Grownups and children alike stop and stare, like I have two heads, yet people talk to me as if old friends. “How long have you been doing that?” I yelled back, “Long time.” and start to wobble with nervousness. “Looks like fun!” I hear, “Oooh yea!” I shout back while trying to ignore them at the same time. My favorite shout-out came from a serious cyclist this week, “You’re missing a wheel!” (Oh, I am missing more than one wheel buddy). Now, when I see other people walking dogs, riding bikes, or jogging I give them a shout-out of some sort. The simple Hello Wave or comment “How ya doing?” is a friendly encouraging gesture … and if I can do it while on a unicycle then I am one step closer to overcoming my stage fright.

I rediscovered how wonderful it is “out there” in the fresh spring air, watching the flowers bloom and acknowledging the blessing of good health. The outdoors is invigorating with sunlight that lingers each day while so much life chugs around the neighborhood. I noticed that although hesitant to make myself go, once on the road, my tank of simple joy fills up.

To recap life lessons affirmed this week:
1. It is good to face your fears
2. Everybody needs encouragement
3. It’s a cheap thrill to be outdoors and hug the gift of life and health
4. I am sort of weird (my sisters were right after all)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Is it Just Me, or is Everyone Missing a Piece?

The One Hundred Chickens and a Worm puzzle has (almost) been completed. Can you believe that one tiny damn piece was left in Kentucky? I can’t take this puzzle apart until I have put it all together! Do I wait for that last piece to come in the mail? That’s so "life" ... just when you think you have the puzzle all figured out, you realize you’re missing a piece or two.

Why do I feel like I’m...
A few tacos short of a fiesta platter?
One brick short of a load?
Not playing with a full deck?
A hump short of a camel?

When in reality I'm ... One piece short of a puzzle?
Maybe because it’s the truth!
No one ever really has it all together.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meet Blanche

This is my latest BBF, my Butt’s Best Friend, and it was not easy fighting my husband every step of the way to welcome her into our family. Sure, every male in our family has a Quad (four huge wheels per person), plus a trailer to tow the little darlings . Yet Techie, squawks over the purchase of one measly wheel. Don’t get me started.

My goal is to take her for a spin for a mere fifteen minutes a day so I will be sure to nail that next unicycle audition. Did you hear that Hollywood? Nail it!
Blanche loves Neil Diamond (just like me) and she wanted to say something. (The reader must now channel playful Muppet-like imagination as Blanche the Talking Unicycle speaks).
Take it away Blanche...
”Uh, hmmm. The road is long, with many winding turns, that leads us to who knows where, who knows where? But I am strong, strong enough to carrrrrry on….Rose ain’t heavy, she’s my brother. ”
Awwwwwh! Thanks, Blanche.
I am off for a cruise. Toodles!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pieces of Pure Joy

Rarely do scenarios play out as perfectly as you dream them up. But this does happen, and it is called pure joy, at least that is what I call it. While visiting Kentucky, Daniel went on a Fishin' Mission in the lake behind my in-law's home. 

After patiently waiting, and waiting, and waiting, all alone by the lake, we heard him yelling, then running up to the house with his first Largemouth Bass hanging from the line. This kid could not wipe the smile off his face for hours.
Pure Joy! This is is a piece of his life-puzzle we will never forget!

“Joy is the feeling of grinning inside.”  -Melba Colgrove

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Painful Puzzle Pieces

Unfortunately, in real-life puzzles, there is potential to be handed a more heart-crushing jagged piece than you could ever imagine. It is the opposite of your perfect dream puzzle piece. This type holds a nightmare that hums a devastating tune and it's delivered with aching loss, leaving no explanation, just shattered pieces of hope scattered across your soul. Sorrowful, real-life puzzle pieces make the big picture impossible to see.

A few weeks back I posted a sweet story about my cousin’s baby shower. Remember how they announced their baby girl’s name? She stuck the name LINDA under her maternity shirt, then lifted the secret veil to present her name...which happens to be the name of both Grandmas. It was a joy-filled moment packed with love and hope of new life. (Linda Belly was the title of that post dated March 22, 2010).

My cousin, the excited first-time mom, went into labor last night only to find out that full term Baby Linda’s heart stopped beating. Today we grieve the little angel who was met with a hello and goodbye all in one breath.

Life is not fair. Or, as I was once told when a jagged real-life puzzle piece broke my Mommy heart, “Fare is what you pay to get on the bus.” Nobody likes this sad reality.
These hopeful new parents hate their real-life puzzle right now. I pray that somewhere in their deep grief God will send some light, knowing that this stinging hurt is part of something bigger; a gigantic beautiful complete picture.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Puzzling is my personal symptom of being on vacation. Only then I have lazy time to put together a 750 piece puzzle and allow myself the luxury of quiet time hovered over the table for hours. There is clear-cut simple and inexpensive gratification with each piece I connect as slowly the big picture comes into focus and my anxious excitement moves in slow motion. Visiting family in Kentucky, I had plenty of quiet time to (over think) comprehend how life is like a puzzle. Every day is a piece.
Consider how boxed puzzles and real-life puzzles build character and teach these life lessons:
-Little things add up to something amazing, just take it one tiny piece at a time
-With puzzles come patience and oodles of endurance; everything takes time 
-Battling frustration over that one damn missing piece or unexpected problem grows perseverance
-Admitting you need help contributes to reaching your goal and makes any project more fun
-A feeling of accomplishment beams near the end of your goal and it feels simply satisfying (even if it is only a five-dollar masterpiece).
At home, I swing from tree to tree of busy-body-ness rarely slowing down to my vacation puzzle calm place. I admit my personal life could soak up simple peace with a puzzle table at home; my own rest stop in between tree swinging. You see, when I am puzzling, I focus on one piece at a time, forcing me to stay in the present…. and THIS is the puzzle piece that is missing in my rushed chattering brain.
I am disappointed my "One Hundred Chickens and a Worm" Puzzle was not completed in Kentucky. I was soooo close; I only needed one more day! We broke it down into chunks and the plan is to reconstruct and finish in California. Just like in real-life puzzles, it feels so good to slip in that final last piece of the big picture, knowing you have met your goal and are ready to move on to solving whatever life sends you next. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Got Quake Supplies?

A 7.2 earthquake shook Southern California on Easter Sunday. Thankfully, my hubby, kids and I were in the safest place possible; visiting family in Louisville, Kentucky. I had posted on March 23rd, 2010 that a big earthquake was predicted to rock us by March 26th….so I was a week off! Sheesh... what a crapshoot that this Big Momma would shimmy California so close to my post? Like they say, “God works really slow, but He is always right on time.” He, he!

After hearing of Mother Nature’s Easter jiggle, I can only hope your Sunday was full of calm and peace. Mine sure was. Here are picutres of us flying kites Sunday morning. Not a rumble, quiver or quaver to be found.
How many of you ran out and bought water and supplies suggested on the previous earthquake post? I am positive that if my California friends haven’t yet, they will be checking this off their list soon. Nothing like a Big-Momma-Quake to motivate (yeah, it sort of rhymes). I mentioned before, I hate, fear and despise earthquakes (stress the word hate). When my California lifeline called me twenty minutes after the quake, all I could do was praise God that we were Far, Far Away (Think Shrek...story-book happy, minus the Ogres and donkey).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's not the end, but beginning of something fan-tabulous! (I'll let you know when I figure out what)

I can kiss off  my star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Before leaving for our trip, I called the Maverick Artists Agency and they said they were still auditioning unicycle riders. There must have been more qualified riders than me and Asian Lady. Or, maybe it's cause I showed up with mucho make-up (think Tammy Fay Baker) and found out later I was supposed to go "natural", like the chicks on Survivor. Regardless, I was primed and eager to be Vitamin Water's spokesperson. My spin?

VitaMOM Water….
The Secret to Every Moms Balancing Act
("Be Good to Yourself" by Journey plays in the background as UnicycleRose rides Eunice through her hectic day drinking Vitamin Water... and.... cut!)

With my Dreams Are Free truth I was scheming to accept a loudly painted billboard mini-car (something akin to Redbull), and cruise to marathons and triathlons, riding Eunice and passing out Vitamin Water samples from my back pack. Wouldn’t that be a fun gig? Knowing that Dreams Are Free made this week chuck-full of life, creativity and skyscraper-tall imagination. It felt wonderful!

It led to a unicycle revival in my heart and mind. I feel motivated to put more time into Eunice. Maybe I will learn a trick or two? This experience pushed me into Bill’s Bike Shop and after wanting a bigger wheel for a long time… alas, I’m going to buy it! Hmmmm….what I should name her?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Unicycle Rose Got the Part!

April Fools! I know, I know, I should not joke about it, but I could not resist. Practical jokes and deception are what this day is all about. Honestly though, still no word from Hollywood, but my emotional tire will not deflate until Friday at 5PM. By then I will be out of of Southern California and visiting Louisville Kentucky, home of Churchill Downs, The Louisville Slugger, Maker’s Mark Whisky and my In-Laws. I had never immersed myself in the south until I married a Southern boy (he still says, “Awww, shoot!”). The accent is fabulous, there are towns with names like Bucksnort and this greasy spoon, Cracker Barrel, planted every ten miles along the freeway. Not to mention when the plane lands, you see gorgeous colorful scenery, lots of trees and flatlands. Unlike LAX, where one sees a blanket of grey smog hugging the city, tall concrete giants and violent gang activity close enough to touch.
We will spend Easter week eating chocolate bunnies with Ralph’s family, including his ninety-two year old Grandma from Tennessee and cousins I have yet to meet. Today after work, I will throw one of everything into our suitcases, still holding hope that Eunice will come with us.
Back to April Fool’s ...please share with me your tricks or practical jokes. What??? You have not pulled a prank? Get out there and pull somebody’s leg…April Fools is the only day you have a free pass to behave like a ten-year old. Don’t miss the opportunity.