This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grace #15 Patience & Grace #16 Faith

I decided that before I went any further into my Graces I was going to look up the definition for Grace, just to see how Grace is defined.

Grace: (n) unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification. Wow! I had never heard Grace defined quite that way before! Merriam-Webster's first definition is something upon which I will have to ponder, especially the 'unmerited divine assistance' part. Actually though, when I think about it, I guess I always thought of Grace this way. Recently I was leading the Junior Great Books program for 4th graders at my daughter's school. One of the vocabulary words we had was 'sufficient.' I asked the kids if they knew the definition and after many false starts (they were confusing the word 'efficient') we finally settled on the word 'enough.' I asked if anyone could use sufficient in a sentence and my very-own-flesh-and-blood-aren't-I-just-the-proudest-mama-right-now daughter said "God gave us sufficient oxygen, plants, and animals for us to live and grow up." Some people just get it, don't they? All of the oxygen, plants, and animals are unmerited assistance. The amazing friends in my life, they are certainly unmerited assistance. I didn't do anything amazing to earn these friends, this husband, my life... it's all just a Gift.

Now, on to Patience and Faith: I don't know if technically I can claim as Graces these virtues that I am striving to obtain, rather than blessed with in abundance, but I am grateful for them anyway.

Patience: (n) the will or ability to wait or endure without complaint. As I see it, patience should rightly claim its place among the verbs because it is the act of being patient which is most important. The will to be patient, well, let's face it, the will can wax and wane. I get excited about stuff. I throw my whole entire mind, body, and soul into a project and while I am entirely willing to do all the prep work to ensure a successful conclusion, I want that conclusion sooner, not later. I am impatient.

Faith: (n) firm belief for something for which there is no proof. Well if I use this definition then I have absolutely no faith at all because I have received abundant proof that Someone or Something is looking out for my best interest at all times. I have received so much proof, yet I doubt. Perhaps what I suffer from is not a lack of faith but renuo ut recipero testimonium - a refusal to accept the proof.

Perhaps the real Grace is in having the Patience to wait for all the unmerited Divine Assistance to be provided, and the Faith to accept it when it comes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some things just need a 4 letter word to describe them!

Ahhh the joys of buying a home: the search, the anticipation, the excitement, the tear-your-hair-out-frustration-at-the-sellers-who-can't-seem-to-get-their-heads-out-of-their-&%@! Okay, that was a little cathartic. I have been rather preoccupied of late by the purchase of our new home. We found the home, we put a contract for asking price on the home, we waited. We waited. Finally the sellers deigned to respond to our offer...with a counter offer! How does one counter a full price offer, you may ask? Well, if you're these sellers, you attempt to add in a clause saying that if they don't find a house they want to buy then they get to take their old house back no matter how late into the proceedings we are. Obviously we didn't agree to that clause. We countered with our original offer but extended the closing date for another 31 days. We waited. We waited. We figured they weren't going to respond and began looking for another house. Finally, again, they deign to answer, agreeing to all our terms and wanting the original closing date. Ooooo-kaaaay?

Of course that can't be the end of that, they then want to add a clause to the contract saying that if the home inspection of the property they found to buy doesn't go well, then they can stop the sale of their house. Haven't we been down this road before? Don't we all understand that there is some risk inherent in the process of buying/selling a home? Our realtor keeps reassuring us that they are just 'a little nervous' and we should be patient. Umm...isn't this a Buyer's Market where the patience is all on the Seller's Side?

We finally limp along to a signed contract, but in Massachusetts, that is not enough. Massachusetts has something called the Purchase&Sale agreement. This agreement is essentially another contract where everything you have finally agreed to in the first contract can be renegotiated. The only difference is that it takes place after the home inspection.

We get the house inspected.

We argue over window treatments that were not excluded in the 'Exclusions' section of the listing, not excluded in the 'Exclusions' section of the contract but were suddenly valuable family heirlooms handmade by a now-deceased favorite grandmother. Okay, whatever, I don't want your ugly ol' curtains anyway, can we now move forward to the P&S? Nope, now they want us to get financing in 11 business days so that they have 21 business days to find a mover. Have these folks never read the newspaper? Watched the news on TV? Movers are sitting around twiddling their thumbs hoping for a client! It won't take 21 days to find a mover, it won't even take 2 days! And does anyone see the irony in that they want more time to find a mover than they are allowing us to get an appraisal and loan?

Deep breaths, Beth, deep breaths.

Then they want to change the closing date, pushing it back 17 days. Yes, that's right, you remember correctly, they chose the closing date! Unfortunately when dealing with people with multiple-personality-disorder you have to keep in mind that they cannot be held responsible for what another personality agreed to.

Finally, after much negotiation and a full-out-this-is-not-a-threat-we-will-walk-today conversation with the realtors, we get the P&S. We sign the P&S. Our realtor rushes the P&S to their realtor's office so they can sign the P&S.

They don't sign.

Why didn't they sign? We don't know. We haven't heard. Perhaps a new personality has been discovered and this personality wants us to personally load their boxes on the moving truck for them.

Perhaps they don't really want to sell this house.

Perhaps God is trying to tell us something.

I'm all ears Lord, help me out here. Am I supposed to bail on this deal or am I supposed to learn Good Things Come to all Who Wait?

All I know is that right now 'bail' and 'wait' are not the four letter words I am thinking of for this situation....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Grace #14 Our Adopted Families

I have heard various versions of an expression that goes something like "Sisters are the friends you're born with but friends are the sisters you find along the way." I like expressions like that because they link me to like-minded individuals who have experienced that sometimes, regardless of how much you may want things to be different, your family members may not be your best friends.

My relationship with my family members is distant: geography, age differences, and personality differences have taken their tolls over the years and left me with a slightly nostalgic, benign, and comfortable relationship, but not a close one.

I am, however, blessed with adopted families. Entire families with whom I have connected, Steve has connected (enough) and with whom our daughter feels a cousin-ship. Not having a lot of blood-relation cousins, these adopted cousins are invaluable to us.

It seems I have picked up an adopted family in each city/state in which I have lived. Not unlike people who collect a treasured souvenir of their travels, my adopted families serve to help ground me with the past, nourish me in the present and shepherd me into my future.

You know who you are. I know who you are. And you are all Graces.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Grace #13 The Internet

I don't care whether the internet was created by Al Gore or an MIT thinktank, I think it is the greatest invention of my lifetime. I use the internet daily to find out everything from ways to use baking soda to finding a home. I know there are many issues with internet safety, and as my 10-yr-old gets more adventurous online these things loom larger on my horizon, but I think that used properly, the advantages of the internet far outweigh the disadvantages.

I have recently joined Facebook. I initially joined because a friend in Cincinnati asked me to join so we could catch up on each other's lives without having to schedule phone calls. I don't do very much on Facebook, but I really like the idea that I can find people, if I choose to do so. Friends, distant relatives, estranged family members, old classmates, they're all out there waiting to be found, reconnected with, and remembered.

And the information available on every subject and from every source! Medical problems, recipes, household tips, decorating ideas, online purchasing, and a billion other things: all at the touch of my fingertips whilst I sit comfortably in the privacy of my own home.

Does life get any better than this?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bicep curls, Tricep curls, squats, and Kegels

Well I am just about as happy as I have ever been. After my incontinence post, my good friend Debbie called me right up and said "Girl, I can help you!" She reminded me that I should be doing my Kegel exercises daily, (something which I'm sure I haven't done since my OB said to them before my daughter was born), but then added the most wonderful piece of trivia I have ever heard: "you know Beth, there are weights you can use to strengthen those muscles..."

What? Kegel weights? How could I not have known about this???

While I haven't actually worked up the courage to purchase, insert, and lift said weights, just knowing that there are women out there who are using them has made me happy. You know that very distracted looking saleslady who just blew you off at the checkout?...well maybe she was distracted because she was, at that very moment, lifting her Kegel weights! How about that woman who always has the slight smile on her face everytime you see her? Yep, probably Kegel weights. How about that woman who is not at all attractive, not very friendly, and has no personality to speak of who is married to that hot, rich guy and you could never understand what he saw in her? Now you know that woman is probably up to 10-15 pounds of Kegel weight and is able to make change with those muscles!

I feel obligated to get these weights. Sure, yeah, the jumping-and-feeling-like-I-have-to-pee thing, but more importantly, I will never stand in a long at the post office again and feel that my time is being wasted. I will no longer sit through the PTO meeting just doodling on my agenda sheet. I will no longer have to worry about having an interesting answer to the question "so, what are you doing today?" "Why, I'm lifting my Kegel weights, thank you for asking!"

And Steve, well, well, well, my friends, Steve is really in for some surprises, if I do say so myself...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Is Peeing Your Pants a Social Taboo?

I have been diligently attending all of my aerobics, weight lifting, and stretching classes. No matter how I feel each morning, I pull on the spandex, lace up the gourmet Asics running shoes, and head off to the gym. I am dedicated. I am also a woman who has given birth. Things in the bladder department are perhaps not as toned as they once were and frankly, all of this bouncing is starting to take its toll. Today as I was bouncing around during my intense 30 minute Cardio Quick class, I felt as though I was going to pee my pants right there on the studio floor. I had gone to the bathroom immediately before the class started. I had limited my water intake to only what I had to drink to survive. I even tried to keep my bouncing to a minimum, which is not an easy feat considering that the class consists of jumping jacks, kicks, knee lifts, and various and sundry other bouncy moves.

Nothing helped. I still felt like I really really really had to pee.

I hadn't felt that way all through my BodyPump class which I had just taken the hour before. I had just gone to the restroom, so I decided to "tough it out." Well let me tell you, clenching your ureter shut is not an easy thing to do while doing jumping jacks, no ma'am, not easy at all. However, I was successful, I did not pee my pants in the gym.

I did however have chills, a lot of panic, a couple of near misses, and a sprint to the restroom the second class was over. I get to the restroom. I am in the stall. I am ready, bring on the gallon of pee that must be lurking in my bladder to have caused such massive discomfort throughout the class....nothing. Oh sure, there were a few anticlimatic drops, but considering how bad I had to go, it was nothing! Now what I want to know is: what's going on here? Why would my body sabotage my efforts for cardio fitness? Am I now going to have to join June Allyson and wear "female bladder protection" during my workouts? I know I'm not the only one sprinting to the stalls once the music ends, I have been elbowed and kneed several times by older ladies as they attempt to be first in the 'good stall' (you know, the one with toilet paper actually loaded in the dispenser and the door that locks). I just thought I had oh, 2, 3, 4 more decades or so before I was the one unable to bounce. I don't really like using public restrooms anyway (this goes along with the public shower phobia).

Then again, considering how small the amount was, I could probably pass it off as just sweat on the gym know, if I really had to...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I have been blessed with so many wonderful mothers in my life: my own mother, my mother-in-law, my stepmother, my grandmother, my grandmother-in-law, and all of my friends who are mothers. I have been loved, influenced, cared for, nourished, nurtured, and rescued by all of these women. I live for my husband. I live because of my mothers.

Happy Mother's Day.

We Bought A House!!!

You may remember this little gem, it was one of the contenders, then became a finalist, and as of June 30 will be called home. Home, what a wonderful word. We began the search back in mid-January and I can honestly say I have looked at hundreds of homes, if only online. We began searching a very narrow area in Massachusetts, then ventured out into New Hampshire, and finally narrowed in again. The new house is 5 minutes from our daughter's school, 10 minutes from Steve's office, 5 minutes from my favorite grocery store, and 3 minutes from Barnes&Noble (which for a book lover, was a huge consideration!). I can walk to the library and post office. We have neighbors, there are plenty of kids, and the view is amazing.
From a feng shui point of view you are always supposed to face the south and have a mountain at your back. This house has both. It is open, airy, and filled with natural light. It is my dream home and I feel incredibly lucky to have found such a house and incredibly grateful to be able to afford it. Just out of curiosity I ran the address through a numerology "calculator" and the address equals a '4' which means strength, solidity, and comfort. I need some solidity in my life. I am ready to settle down. We could all just use some time to be settled. I am grateful for the time I have had to search for the right home, but I am definitely not a long-term-renter. I need the responsibility of a home of my own. I need the grounding, maybe because I am a Gemini, an air sign, I am drawn toward bricks and mortar, wood and earth: solid substances to provide some balance to my air-filled nature (air-headed as my family would say).
Be it ever so humble, it will be my home.

Grace #12 Psyllium husk

At the risk of giving way too much information about my lower intestinal tract, I have to recognize psyllium husk as a perfect solution for those of us who need to keep things moving. I put a scoop in my smoothie every morning, try to remember to drink plenty of water, and everything in my body works like clockwork. Gentler than wheat germ, completely natural, and relatively inexpensive, psyllium husk has no noticeable flavor and doesn't bulk up the smoothie like other fiber supplements can do.

I had to wait months for a supply of psyllium husk because my regular grocery store does not carry it and a trip to Whole Foods is an hour-and-a-half-round-trip endeavor. I tried other fiber supplements but just didn't like them as much.

Crazy the things for which we become grateful, eh?

Is that Neosporin supposed to make you look sexy?

I have been debating the to-bikini-wax-or-not-to-bikini-wax question all winter. Finally, with my waxing appointment more than a week away and my bikini area looking a little too unkempt for my taste, I decided just to shave. I have not had a lot of shaving success stories in this area, which is why the bikini wax question became a question in the first place. I have asked friends for advice, but frankly my friends are not as hirsute as I am and really cannot understand the depth of the problem. Debbie, who to my knowledge has not bikini waxed, told me to go for the waxing. Chellie, who to my knowledge has absolutely no unsightly hairs anywhere on her body, suggested that if I shave I use Neosporin afterward to reduce the red bumps and lesions.

I shaved. I Neosporined.

I am a mass of red bumps, welts, lesions, chicken skin and stubble.

Is this really the sexy, smooth look for which I was aiming??

Now where do I go from here? Do I wait a few weeks to get the required 1/4" stubble to be able to wax? Do I try shaving again? Do I just give it all up and wear swim shorts? And it's not just about swimming: frankly I do not wish to slink into the bedroom, toss a naughty look at Steve, bare all, and have him swoon from the Bactine fumes as my Neosporined thighs glisten in the moonlight. Surely I am not forced to painful and expensive sessions with electrolysis just to keep my Eastern-European-Women's-Wrestling-Team genes at bay?

I don't know what to do. Perhaps I can train Steve to get excited when he smells Neosporin. Perhaps I can try using a man's razor with the patented lift-and-cut blades. Perhaps I can make peace with the fact that I am a hairy beast and that is how God made me.

Perhaps I can purchase skirted lingerie, wear boy shorts, buy swim shorts, and just never, ever look down again.