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.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Grace #11 The Ocean

I have been landlocked my entire life. I have never before lived on a coast, near a coast, or even near a river, lake (I don't count Lake Erie in Toledo as I never actually saw the lake, and I didn't live near it), stream, pond, or birdbath! I was truly a landlubber. Until I live in a coastal state! Now I can casually say to Steve "hey, want to go to the beach today?" and he can casually reply "yeah, it's only 1:30, let's go!"

What a Grace! All 3 of us love the ocean. My daughter is especially enamored of the water and was seen yesterday, which was an unseasonably warm 80 degrees, in the Atlantic up to her knees. Even though the air was warm, the water was still quite brisk and her feet were completely numb, but she couldn't stop smiling. We searched for shells, sea glass, and other washed up treasures. We found 2 lighthouses. We climbed on the rocks, played in the sand, and looked out toward France. We ate an amazing dinner at a little restaurant in Salem whilst sitting on their rooftop deck, drinking martinis, and watching the sun set over the Atlantic.

It was pure bliss.

I am more thankful for this gift-from-God-unseasonably-warm-and-sunny April day than I have been for anything for a long time. I needed this day. Amidst all the house hunting, moving expenses, tax forms, 4th grade drama, 39-yr-old drama, and self pity I had forgotten about the big picture. Yesterday, standing on the edge of the United States, that picture snapped back into focus. I felt purely, truly, and remarkably happy. At peace.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sex, it's what's for dinner

I have been thinking about sex a lot lately. My 10 year old daughter has not yet asked where babies come from and I am beginning to wonder if I should be broaching the subject, my friend Deb sent me a really hot book to read, hormonally my body just seems to be in one of 'those phases', and we recently watched a Bond movie with Daniel Craig (and who is hotter than Daniel Craig? No one!).

My friend Chellie told me that Oprah (who has been banned from my TiVO for having too much political and pop culture stuff) (though I secretly still like her) had a segment about talking to your kids about sex. There are diagrams and guides you can download from her website, there are .wmv clips you can watch about talking to your kids about sex, there are even books you can buy to help you introduce the subject. I don't feel like I need any of these props, I simply need to have an interested audience and right now my daughter doesn't appear all that interested. I wish the subject of sex wasn't so taboo among so many people so I could interview them and ask when they started having 'the talks' so I would know if I should be talking, even if she isn't interested in listening. I think I have laid the groundwork pretty well: using the anatomically correct names for body parts, having no embarrassment about normal body functions that occur down there, being open to and answering any questions about my period, or which bras I like best, or why I am a fan of cotton underpants. I have even asked her "hey, have you ever wondered how babies are made?" and she very nonchalantly answered "not really." Well, I guess that answers that question. I know she'll get the information when she's ready. I just hope she gets the information from me!

As for the really hot book I've been reading, well, since my daughter is at that age I have taken to acting like any self-respecting-teenage-boy and hiding my porn under my mattress!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The latest contenders

All of these homes are currently for sale. We are seeing all four of them on Sunday and plan to make an offer on one, assuming at least one of them is what we're looking for. This blue cape below is my least favorite for curb appeal. It is a really nice home, don't get me wrong, I just am not crazy about the garage being featured quite so prominently. Still, it is empty, it is for sale, and it is in a great location.
This colonial is my absolute favorite for curb appeal. I love the traditional look of it and the side-load-garage. However, that side load garage means that I have to schlepp my groceries and everything else up through the basement to the first floor everytime I go shopping. The location is a little farther away from my daughter's school than I necessarily wanted to be, but positions us nicely for when she goes to high school. It is in a great town.
This home is hard to see from the pictures. The realtor did not do this family any favors with his photos, but in reality it is a gorgeous home. It has amazing views out the back. It just happens to be on the same street as the blue cape pictured first, so it is also in a great neighborhood.

This dark little number is the great unknown. It really is that dark and its landscaping that you can't see does a magnificent job of hiding it from the rest of the world. The homeowners have already been difficult to deal with just to get a showing and the price is kind of high, but I have learned to not judge a house by its front elevation and so we are looking at it. It's in a fantastic location.
So there you have 'em. The latest contenders for the title of 'Beth's new house.' I hope at least one of them wins because I am ready, and I do mean ready, to move!

The Church Basement

My sister-in-law and I have recently found a great way to connect though we are 800 miles apart and vastly different in many ways. She is also a blogger and in her blog she sometimes posts pictures under the heading Scary Jesus. The Scary Jesus pictures are images she finds of Jesus, usually on the cross, that are particularly gory, or where the artist gave Jesus a particularly scary body or expression. I always love this segment of her blog, a fact which boggles her mind as she knows I am Catholic.

But I know the real reason I love these images: it is therapeutic for me to have someone identify some of the images of Jesus as scary because I have frequently found some of the statuary, pictures, and even images in textbooks to be quite frightening.

It all began when I was 6 years old. I went to a Catholic school called Queen of Martyrs. We were learning about the parts of the Mass and my teacher had borrowed an old chalice and bowl from the church to use as visual aids. After the lesson was finished my teacher asked if I would return these items to the church basement storage room. I obeyed, of course, and skipped off toward the basement door. I wasn't scared. After all our cafeteria was in the basement. Our first grade classrooms were in the basement. This was my school. There was nothing scary on the other side of that big red door that marked the entrance to the church basement. Right?


I opened that door, probably still humming and skipping and instantly all of the breath was knocked out of my body. On the other side of the door was the storage area for all of the old statues, posters, pictures, and crucifixes that weren't currently being used for one reason or another. The room was dark because the windows were mostly obscured by stacks of boxes and a huge trifold screen upholstered in a garish floral pattern. I couldn't reach the industrial sized light switch to turn on the lights. I could see the table in the center of the room where I was supposed to put the chalice and bowl, but that meant walking into that room, that dark room where the walls were lined with bloody Sacred Heart Jesuses, Agony of Christ crucifixes, a huge looming statue of Jesus with his bloodied hands outstretched and a menacing look on his face and blood dripping from his REAL crown of thorns.

I was terrified.

I knew I couldn't go back to class with the items. I knew I had to put them on that table. I had to walk past that statue. I felt frozen to the spot.

Finally I decided to just do it fast, you know, kind of like how you have to jump into bed when you're 6 and you know there are monsters under that bed so you leap really high and fast so they can't grab your ankles. I ran in the room, slammed the bowl and chalice on the table and ran back out. I was running so fast that I created a draft and the real fabric tunic that draped the outstretched arms of the Resurrected Jesus brushed my arm as I went by. I couldn't stop shaking. My teeth chattered, my skin had goosebumps, and my heart thumped as I slammed that door shut and ran like the hounds of hell were chasing me back to my classroom.

Shall we say that the experience made an impression?

Ever since then I have been a little nervous whenever I walk into a new church because I never know quite how graphic the statuary and crucifix will be. I have deliberately chosen to attend churches that have positive, loving, kind images of Jesus, rather than churches with the bloodier, more menacing versions. I never told my parents or siblings or friends what I had seen and how it had scared me. I thought there was something wrong with me that I didn't find sanctuary in the Image of God. Then my sister-in-law began her Scary Jesus posts and I felt relief, for the first time ever, that maybe I wasn't the only one who found some of these images scary. I realized that perhaps some of the artists were a little zealous in their quest to ensure that we knew how much Jesus had suffered. I was able to see the images for what they are and acknowledge that to a 6 year old, those images were the stuff of which horror movies are made.

Needless to say, I have NEVER gone into a church storage room since. NEVER.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Writer's Block

I never thought it could happen to me while blogging: writer's block. I mean after all, I don't actually write about anything, yet I've been able to fill many months with posts, so how can I be blocked from writing about nothing? It boggles the mind, it does.

I just couldn't bear to put up another post about how I can't find a house, wah wah wah, how I am just obsessed with finding a house, yada yada yada, how if I have to live in this low-ceilinged-door-sticking-no-heat place another minute I'm just going to freak out. Too much of a good thing (assuming you ever thought the other posts were good) is still too much.

So without my litany of self pity about the house situation I found myself with nothing to write about. How sad is that? Then I realized something: I have all sorts of things about which to write. I have so many ideas and opinions that Steve regularly has to hide in the bathroom just to escape hearing all my thoughts/feelings. So here goes:

I have recently purchased some new workout wear. This was big for me because I usually workout in clothes that most homeless people wouldn't be seen in. I have been enjoying my classes so much and connecting with so many other women that I finally decided that I don't want to look homeless. I want to wear clothes that fit and are comfortable. I work seriously hard on staying in shape and by-God I'm tossing out the too-big-for-Steve-free-vendor-T-shirts and bringing in the cute spandex (oxymoron? Not in workout wear!).

My hair is growing out. It doesn't look better, just longer. Progress?

My face is still slightly broken out from the last major waxing. I still think hives/pimples look better than a goatee. On me, that is. Now I am faced with the bikini wax dilemma. I have never had a bikini wax before and I am admittedly scared. I am not afraid of the wax, I am afraid of losing the respect of my aestethician once she sees what has been lurking under my button fly jeans. Still, the red bumps from shaving are perhaps not my best look and I'm getting to know my 'waxer' so well that I think it's time we took our relationship to the next level.

Steve and I have been downloading documentaries from Netflix to our TiVO. I now know everything about nothing. Status quo.

There, that about covers it and gives me all sorts of fodder for new posts: my bikini wax, what I've learned from the documentaries, and my hairstyle progress. Gold, pure gold.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

I know I'm a day early (first time I've ever been early for something, let me assure you) but I want to wish you all a Happy Easter today because I know I won't have time to post tomorrow. It doesn't make any difference to me whether you believe in Easter on a religious or secular level, or if you didn't even know tomorrow is Easter -- I 'm still wishing you a Happy One.

For Christians around the world tomorrow should be the Main Event. While many Christians, adults and children alike, would probably claim that Christmas is the big holiday, Easter is the belief that defines Christians as, well, Christians. To my knowledge other religions do not deny that Jesus was born, only that He is Divine. His Divinity had one shining moment of proof: rising from the dead after 3 days.

I began thinking about this concept very differently after I read The Celestine Prophecy. I found that I really do believe that all living things are energy in their simplest form and that the energy can be easier or harder to see based upon its vibrations. We see evidence of this all the time when watching a spinning color wheel where the colors blur or certain colors disappear the faster the wheel is spinning. A hummingbird who appears to have invisible wings until a slow motion camera slows down their beating. A bullet fired from a gun is invisible to the human eye until it is slowed down enough for us to see it.

So is it possible that Jesus, who clearly understood our relationship with God is a personal one, proved His, and therefore our potential Divinity by mastering His molecules? Can Tibetan monks in deep meditation control their body temperature, heart rate, and metabolism? I believe they can. Can ordinary people through deep concentration walk on fire without being burned, lift extremely heavy objects without injuring any muscles, or control their brain's pain receptors to limit/eliminate pain? I believe all these things are possible and in fact are regularly reported and accepted.

Could Jesus have been modeling one of His greatest lessons when He walked on water, survived the desert with no apparent food or drink for 40 days, healed the sick, inspired billions, and rose from the dead? If the Bible's translation is accurate and Jesus really did say "Truly, truly, I say to you,He who believes in me will also do the works that I do;and Greater Works than These will he do..."(John, 14:12), then imagine the power that Jesus imagined for us. Think about that phrase "...and Greater Works than These will he do..." Greater? Jesus thinks we can do Greater? How? We're not Divine! Or are we?

This is the lesson I am taking from this Easter. Jesus as Divine? Absolutely. Myself as Divine? Well, it's hard to see it right now as I sit among piles of needs-to-be-put-away laundry while The Suite Life of Zach and Cody plays in the background and the smell of my husband's breakfast (Doritos) wafts through the air. But perhaps I have Potential. And as Mary Daly said:

It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God"
Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Steve and I are having problems in the bedroom...

Steve and I just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. For all those years we have always had a problem in the bedroom. The problem is our bed. It isn't just limited to our bedroom either, we seem to have bed problems in the homes of our families and friends, in hotel rooms, and even in a beautiful bed and breakfast we found in Maine.

It all began when we first moved in together. We were poor. I'm talkin' got-our-first-kitchen-table-from-a-restaurant's-dumpster poor. We both had twin beds and since we were so poor we certainly couldn't afford a new bed and new sheets we decided that we would just share one twin bed. That lasted one night. Already we were learning that comfort and sleep could overrule libido. Then we had the great idea of putting both our twin beds together with one single king-sized fitted sheet holding them tight. We actually slept like that for about 6 months until I just couldn't stand waking up each morning "in the crack" and began looking for a new bed. Next we bought a second hand queen sized waterbed. This bed was with us for 8 years! It never really worked that well for us because the plastic liner made Steve sweat and I was always a little sea sick from the waves and I was still waking up "in the crack" only this time "the crack" was the area between the mattress and the frame where I would inevitably get tossed during the night.

Finally, pregnant, financially stable, and fed up, I demanded that we get a real bed. We did. We bought a beautiful queen sized sleigh bed with a good quality mattress and box springs. It was bedtime bliss for about 4 months. Then our daughter was born and we soon discovered that our tiny infant took up the space of an adult and we wished we had a king sized bed. Since our daughter opted to not sleep - ever - we spent many nights with one or both of us ultimately moving to other beds in the house so our child could stretch out in comfort.

We moved to Toledo and our daughter (then 5) finally started sleeping through the night. At last, we could enjoy our bed again! Nope: we foolishly purchased a house with a floorplan that could only be arranged so that our bed shared a wall with our daughter's bed. I found the mere 3 inches of dry wall between our beds to be quite daunting to um..other bedroom activities. In desperation we tried moving the bed against the window wall. Too noisy and freezing during the winter. Finally I actually moved the bed in front of our closets. Not too convenient, but at least it was private!

We move to Massachusetts: new bedroom on opposite side of house from daughter, maybe finally we will get to enjoy our bed. Not so, not so. We had to borrow a split box springs from our landlords because a queen sized box spring will not fit up our narrow steps. The borrowed-box-spring squeaks. Constantly. With every little movement. Still no rest for the weary.

Like I said earlier, this problem extends to outside our home as well. The bed squeaked so badly at the B&B in Maine that I couldn't look our hosts in the eye the next morning and I hadn't even done anything.

At Steve's parents house we either have to sleep 2 floors apart or Steve has to sleep in a 'tester' bed that is so short that his feet hang over the edge all night.

My mom has a queen bed, but only one and there are 3 of us. Obvious problem there.

When we stayed with friends during an extended power outage their guest bed was plenty big enough but had mysterious sand-like-crumbs on the sheets that made our feet itch all night.

The hotel air conditioner was broken on one vacation and we had so much humidity in the room that our bed was actually damp each night.

I am looking forward to getting a new house and a new bedroom, but most of all I am looking forward to getting a new bed. I think I am older and wiser now. I know the pitfalls of a poor bed choice. Because let's face it...

...right now, Steve and I have BIG problems in the bedroom!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Never Terrorize Potential Buyers

This is the most recent house I went to see. I had high hopes for this house, as you can probably imagine from the picture. It looks nice, doesn't it? Well...I had an experience so terrifying in this house that I actually screamed, causing the realtor to race up the stairs to see if I was okay!

Things were going really well on the first floor. I would put down an area rug to unify all the pieces, but I like the fireplace, the windows, and the hardwood floors.

The kitchen is a little small, but clean and bright and the appliances are new and in working condition.I was a little concerned by how discolored the wallpaper was beneath the window in the foyer (water damage?) and a little unsure of the location (6 miles from the grocery store) but all in all, I was beginning to think this house may be the one.

Then I went upstairs.
The upstairs was pretty messy. The fourth bedroom was being used as a junkroom which really didn't show very well. The kids' rooms were cluttered. The bathroom had a blue floor. All things which didn't show very well but wouldn't have made me scream. That didn't happen 'til I went into the Master Bedroom.

The Master Bedroom is dark: a bizarrely sloping ceiling, a too dark paint color, and lack of natural light create a gloomy atmosphere. They didn't have any lights turned on in the room and it was a rainy day, so the gloomy effect was particularly noticeable. Behind the white couch in the picture is a closet door. It's hard to open the door all the way because of the couch and keep in mind it was all pretty dark. I wedged myself between the couch and closet and opened the closet door. The homeowners had a black fur coat hanging on the inside of the door and when the door swung open and that black fur swung out at me and brushed against my arm, well, I screamed!

The realtor comes running, I'm trying to slam the door shut, the coat is wedged in the door, I'm jumping back, I topple into the couch and fall down, the coat falls on me... and that's how the realtor finds me: Hidden behind the still-open-closet-door, sprawled on the floor between the couch and closet, and covered in black fur.
I won't be buying that house.

Not because of the coat incident. The bucket under both master bathroom sinks to catch the leaks, the flooded basement floor, the water damage (confirmed) in the foyer, and the gun range located at the end of the street are the reasons I won't be making an offer.

But the coat incident didn't help.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Is the Third Time Really the Charm?

Steve and I have been getting a lot of rejection lately. We put a contract on a house. This house had been luxuriating on the market for almost a year with no offers but when we put in a contract BAM so does someone else (someone with more money than us, apparently) and the house goes to them.

Okay, we had a Plan B, a contingency house, if you will. We put a contract in on Plan B house. They countered. We let the contract expire. Plan B house was Plan B because it wasn't good enough to be Plan A and frankly, who wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house that wasn't really good enough?

There isn't a Plan C.

So here I am again, searching the MLS, pouring over the meager 2x2 photos of the houses, driving by each new candidate to get a feel for the neighborhood, the yard, the house. Rejecting house after house. Getting excited about a house. Going to see the house. Getting disappointed about the house. Are there really that many people in America who chose pink or blue for their formica countertops? What were they thinking???

I am with a Buyer's Agent again. I don't have anything against real estate agents as a group, it's just that my last experience was so annoying. I'm also checking all the For Sale by Owner websites, hoping to find homes that I didn't even know were available.

I am going to start putting up the pictures of the homes I choose as 'candidates.' Perhaps the comments I get back will help us to make a decision because I have now seen so many homes that they are all starting to run together. Whatever house we choose next will hopefully be the one we get. This will be the third contract we will have written. My mom always says "Third time's charm!" Is it?

Perhaps I'll even make the final contestants into a poll! Wouldn't that be exciting!? (yep, my life is that lame right now).

But least my hair is growing...