Sunday, November 30, 2008

Can't See the Forest For the Tress....

"Can't see the forest for the tress. "

Have you ever heard this statement?

According to, it is "an expression used of someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to look at the situation as a whole."

For me, this has special meaning. It literally has to do with trees - Christmas tress that is.

I have Christmas Tree issues. It is not that I think they are cliche' or unimportant. I do not fuss about the needles messing up my carpet or clogging the vacuum hose. I do not have to make my tree look perfect. I don't really care about the color scheme or the spacing of the ornaments.

My issue is my stress over simply getting the right tree (a fresh cut tree) into our home and getting it to stay in and upright position through the holiday. It is not only stress, it is an obsession.

Now, we have had our fair share of tree disasters. My stress is not completely irrational. Our trees have needed to be leveled using bricks, and propped up using books. We have had to anchor them to the wall with fishing line and string. One year, even after straightening, anchoring and propping, the tree still fell over three times, sending me into an emotional spiral - all over a tree.

We have had years of panic when we had no tree just before Christmas. Years of plenty when two were delivered to our home. We've cut every type of tree imaginable from lots, farms and forests. We've traversed highways, freeways, roadways and avenues with an evergreen tied to our roof. We've bungeed, twined, roped and anchored them to the top of our car, saying silent prayers all the way home that when we arrived, our treasured tree would still be with us. We've even had the mishap of forgetting the tree and trying to drive the car into the garage - the house still bears the scar.

I am absolutely aware of my tree issues. Still, every November, I slip into my tree obsession. I get cranky, irritable, frustrated, upset, and completely bent on finding the right tree. So much so that I lose sight of what the tree represents. I get so focussed on the silly tree, that I don't see that the reason I enjoy it is because it represents the time that I get to spend with my kids decorating it. I am blind to the life stories that the ornaments tell- baby's first Christmas, the paper angels from preschool or the macaroni photo frame from first grade. I am so consumed that I don't consider that the tree represents a season of hope, love, and salvation.

My vision is so fixed on the tree, that I don't see the whole forest of what the tree represents. I can't see the forest for the tree.

Do you get so caught up in the details of the season that you forget what it is all about?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Blessings

After the Turkey, stuffing and pie,

I sit and reflect upon the year that's gone by.

I count all my gains, gifts and blessings,

and chose to forget my misfortunes and messings.

I think of my family, husband, children and me,

and know that we've been given more gifts than we need.

A beautiful home, cars, and things all around,

we all are so grateful for these blessings abound.

But, these blessings of things don't satisfy my heart,

and through these lines, I wish to impart,

The things that are truly a blessing to my soul,

are these intangible things that make me feel whole.

Like my children laughing and loving each other,

and having them know they can count on their mother.

For a husband who loves me in spite of my faults,

and learned, just for me, a wedding day waltz.

For a God who greater, could there never be one,

who loves me so much that He sent me his Son

And a country where I am allowed to be me,

the home of the brave and the land of the free.

These things I don't own and could never have bought,

but through their gain, great blessing I got.

After the turkey, stuffing and pie,

Will you sit and reflect on the year that's gone by?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tongue Tied Tuesday

The "Big Three" can't afford the real auto shows anymore? Hmmm... they can still afford real jets....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thanksgiving Tradtions

I am big on tradition.

Part of what makes the Holidays special to me is a sense of carrying on and passing down family customs and rituals from year to year. Whether it is having a special meal including scalloped potatoes on Christmas Eve, making "Grandma's Bunny Cookies" on Easter, or decorating my parents' mountain home to the hilt for the 4th of July celebrations, there is a feeling of connection to the past as well as to the future in all of these traditions.

You would think that since I am a "Mayflower" girl - my lineage is traced back to Stephan Hopkins who signed the Mayflower Compact, I would follow the same Thanksgiving traditions from year to year. You'd think that every year, I would relish in customs passed down from my forefathers and foremothers that "officiated" and prepared the family's Thanksgiving celebrations.

Well, this is one holiday celebration in that I have broken the tradition of "tradition".

Now, don't get me wrong, I would love to have a set routine every November. It might make this particular holiday a little easier to plan for. But as I have grown older, life has allowed me opportunities to swerve from a predictable celebration each year. I'd like to tell you about a few of them

The first Thanksgiving that I broke the ranks of ritual came when I was just a teenager. I had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania. I was blessed by being welcomed into the home of a very dear friend and an amazing family. It was my first experience of food other than the Thanksgiving "fare" that I was accustomed to. To my surprise, in addition to the turkey, potatoes and green bean casserole, there was an Italian fare of pasta and sea food as well. The cold weather of the east cost was very different than the warm California weather I was used to.

As I grew into adulthood, for many years I took on the job of cooking the meal. The first year that I was married to my husband, I decided to go all out. I made stuffing from scratch, pies from my Halloween pumpkins, fresh apple pies, and a huge turkey. I wanted to honor his Italian heritage, so in addition to the entire traditional menu, I prepared a lasagna. I cooked for what seemed like days, to prepare a meal for twenty of my family members in the small kitchen of our first home. I carried that tradition for the first few years of our marriage.

But as my husband's career advanced, we were required to relocate. We found ourselves in Texas, a state where we didn't know anyone, at least not at the time of our first Thanksgiving there. Eventually, we found other "orphan" families who were also there without friends and family, and we became each other's adopted families. Since by that time we had three small children, traveling back to be with our families was both too expensive and too difficult. So we began sharing our Thanksgiving meal with our Texas family. Each brought a new dish or variation of a dish to the meal. This tradition lasted for the five years that we lived there.

Since moving to Arizona, there hasn't been any true tradition of how we spend the Holiday. Some years we have traveled to my home state to be with my family. Some years we have stayed in Arizona with my husband's family. I have not prepared the meal for the last seven years. Since my day is not spent in the kitchen anymore, my husband and I have started our own tradition for the two of us. Regardless of which state we are in, we have participated in charity walks or runs on Thanksgiving morning. This year it is a 10 mile charity run in Arizona.

So, even though tradition is important to me, I would never change the fact that my Thanksgiving traditions change from year to year. No matter what I have done, or where I have been, I have been surrounded by people that I love and am thankful for.

Isn't that a big part of what the day is about?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Award Time!

I was so honored yesterday when Nicole from Juicy Alligator gave me the Smile Award. She received it from The Mom Buzz.

I am so flattered she chose me to receive this award. I saw the qualifications for it. I hope they show in my blogging, and I pray that I practice them successfully in my day to day life.

The qualifications to receive this award are:

A. Display a cheerful attitude.
B. Love one another.
C. Make mistakes.
D. Learn from others.
E. Be a positive contributor to the blog world.
F. Love life.
G. Love kids.

The Rules:

1. Please link back!
2. Post the rules
3. Choose 5 people to give it to
4. Recipients must fill the characteristics above
5. Create a post to share this
6. Thank the winners!

I chose five bloggers that I think display these qualifications. It was very hard to many fill them. But here they are:

Living Locurto

Free Birthday Treats

Beth Blair

Fudge Ripple

Blogging for Boobies

You are all an inspiration!


I just wanted to let you all know about two new blogs that I know of.

The first one is called Fudge Ripple.
This blog is a collection of "mumblings and musings" by an amazing woman. Her posts are funny, entertaining and informative. She is an awesome chef- an influence you can see in her writing. Stop by her blog'll see why I like it.

The next one is called Blogging for Boobies.
Now before anyone is taken back by the name of the blog, let me explain the origins. It is written by 19 year old college student who took part in The3Day walk against breast cancer. This along with the fact that her aunt is fighting IBC, inflammatory breast cancer, inspired her to start blogging about breast cancer. This author an amazing young woman. She is also my daughter. I am so proud of her!

You can link to these via my side bar, or you can link from the titles in this post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grandma's Apple Pie

Who doesn't like pie?

At this time of year, bakers descend upon the grocery stores in droves. Each one intent on making their own special version of a family pie recipe. Pie tins, fillings, sugar and the like fly off the shelves more quickly than the store can restock them.

For those that don't bake, they head to frozen isle where the multitude of pie choices can satisfy almost any taste. If frozen pie is not the type of choice, there is always the grocery store bakery.

Still there is another option. Either local bakers or restaurant chains famous for their pie selection provide a "fresh" option for hungry desert eaters. From these pie providers, the choosiest of pie connoisseur can find a whole host of varieties. Pumpkin, banana cream, strawberry, lemon meringue, key lime, cherry, cheesecake - you name it, you can find it.

I can say that I adore pie. I will eat home made, frozen or bakery bought. Almost any flavor will do for me. I'm not that picky. But there is one type of pie that, in my opinion trumps them all. If it is offered in the choices, I will choose it every time. My all-time favorite is my Grandma's apple pie.

I have always been a fan of my Grandma's pie.

From the time I was very little, I can remember her in the kitchen hand peeling little apples that she picked from the tree in her back yard. She was so patient with each apple. It seemed like it took hundreds to fill each pie - they were that small. After she peeled them she mixed just the right amount of sugar, cinnamon and flour in a bowl and then sprinkled it over the apples. She carefully mixed them and set them aside.

Then she went to work on her crust dough. I remember her "cutting" small squares of cold butter in some flour mixed with a little salt, using only two butter knives for her tools. Then she sprinkled, again, just the right amount of ice water over her flour mixture until she had the right consistency to role it out for the crust.

I would watch in amazement as she rolled the dough out, perfectly every time. She was able to move it to her tin, skillfully and slowly - never tearing it. She knew just the right amount of her apple mixture to put in the crust. When it was filled to the brim, she would roll out her top crust, place it over the top and cut four evenly spaced slits on the top. Then she would methodically pinch the top and bottom crust together.

She would bake it just the right amount of time, until it was golden and bubbly. It tasted perfect every time.

Once I became and adult, I asked my Grandma to teach me how to make her pie. I wanted to be able to make a perfect apple pie. I watched expecting to take notes, measurements, apple choices, and cooking times. To my surprise there were none of those. My Grandma explained to me that to make this pie, you just know when it is right.

To me, that is what makes it so special. Each time she made it the recipe was a little bit different than the last time. But each time, it always turned out just right. Just as in everything she did, she didn't need to follow a set recipe to know how to get the job done. She just did it until she knew it was right.

Though I can't duplicate her pie exactly, I have spent a lot of years trying to perfect my version of Grandma's apple pie. Each year, in the fall, I peel my apples and make my mixture of sugar, flour and cinnamon and fill store bought crusts to the brim - I was never able to master the crust so for me, it is store bought.

Every year, my recipe is a little bit different than the year before. But, hopefully, each year, they turn out just right.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Caution! Detour Ahead

Yellow flashing lights, orange and white pylons, signs with various arrows, squiggles and cautions. Roads being widened, repaved, repaired and ripped up. New lanes on the highways, roadways and in some cases, railways. U-turns, detours, road closures and reroutes.

No matter where I go within my city's limits, I am constantly coming upon construction zones. I drive to my local supermarket, I hit a zone. On my way to work, I hit a zone. On the way to get the got it, another zone.

On my way to where ever it is I am going, more often than not there are unexpected delays. I often have to change course and find a different path to my intended destination. Sometimes I make it to where I am going at the time I expected. Sometimes I am late. I occasionally make it there early. No matter the timing, I often end up on a different road than I had originally planned to travel.

Isn't life a lot like that?

We start off on one road to our goals and dreams. We think we have our paths mapped out perfectly and that we will fly down the highway at break-neck speed. We assume we will reach those milestones with no bumps in the road, no flat tires, no check engine lights.

But then we encounter conflict or circumstance. It might be in relationships with spouses, friends, or children. Maybe it is health issues. Possibly it is simply conditions beyond our control that affects our ability to provide for our families.

We are forced to carefully navigate around these things. Sometimes we don't see them ahead of us. We hit them head on. Then, the only thing we can do is stop and make repairs. Often if there is no other way, we must make a u-turn, go back to the beginning of the road and try traveling it again.

I know that whatever the obstacles, road blocks and construction zones have been, I have always ended up it the exact spot I need be. I do not always get there by the route that I had planned, but eventually I do get there. And I am a better person because the road I have traveled.

Photo from:

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Do you ever have those days that is seems you just can't get motivated to do anything?

Some days it seems like I just can't get the gumption up to complete any task with any sort of excitement. I feel blah. I feel uninterested. I feel tired. I feel just plain uninspired.

That's the way I have been today.

As sat down at my desk, flipped on my monitor, opened a new entry template and stared at the screen, I realize that nothing was coming to me. I had a million ideas of things to write about - or at least fifty written down in my notebook. But not one inspired me to start rolling words off of the top of my brain, to the tips of my finger and onto the screen.

I flipped the pages of my notebook. I reviewed again and again the topic ideas. I even thought of a few new ones to jot down in my notebook. But still, nothing. So, I decided to set it aside for a while. Maybe something would come later.

I took of my writer's hat and replaced it with my runner's hat....I should say shoes. I thought that maybe if switched gears for a while, inspiration and motivation would come. But, alas, to no avail. I trudged through my run, uninspired, uninterested, and unexcited.

I took off my running shoes and put on my chef's hat. Maybe cooking for my family would snap me out of my doldrum. So, I cooked dinner. But even that lacked pizazz as I served up the broiled chicken breast, the broccoli and the potatoes - the same meal we have had hundreds of times.

But then this evening, it dawned on me. I had the ability to create motivation. Even though I couldn't for the life of me ramble on about one of my writing topics, I was thinking an awful lot about how uninspired I felt. Why not write about that? So again, I sat down at my computer and the words began to flow from the top of my head, to the tips of my fingers, and onto the screen.

I think life is a lot like that in general. Just when we are ready to give up, something comes along and gives us the the will to hang on and try just a little longer, till it begins to flow again.

At the very moment I thought that I had nothing to motivate me, motivation hit. In a strange and contradictory way, my uninspiration was actually my inspiration.

In what ways can you create motivation?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Turkey Attack!!

Attack of the Tasty Turkey Cookies!!!!!

You can find the instructions to make these fabulous fowl cookies at my other blog's, Daily Goulash, Crafty- Cam.

Just click the colored link and you will go right to it! There are other fun crafty project ideas in the Crafty-Cam archives as well, be sure you check those out too!

OK, I admit, this is a shameless plug for my other blog...but hey, I am AZ Mom of Many of those hats is my self-promoter hat!

I hope this picture makes you smile!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Little Pieces of Joy

My co-workers laughed at me the other day.

Now this was not mean spirited. It was not done out of an attempt to embarrass or humiliate me. Nor was it done out of spite.

I think I just took them by surprise with a comment. Maybe it was shock that a grown woman would say such a thing. Maybe it was the true honesty and simplicity that accompanied my words. Maybe it was that what I said truly warmed their hearts.

This statement I made wasn't controversial. It was not amazingly wise or witty. It was not even a statement of great importance. It would not cause the world to stop spinning. It would not bring and end to the financial crisis. It certainly would not bring everlasting peace to the world.

Are you ready to hear what the statement was?

Are you sure?

Can you handle it?

Here it goes.....

Candy corn makes me happy!

That's it. Candy corn makes me happy.

I guess when you hear that you may chuckle, scratch your head or even think that it is juvenile. I may have had the same response as my co-workers if I heard one of them making the same comment.

The truth of the matter is, that it does make me happy. It could be that the colors of the candy corn are happy and cheerful - white, yellow and orange. The candy is so loaded with sugar that maybe my brain links the sugar high with the candy and sends out happy messages. Perhaps it is because at an instinctual level, the association between taste and pleasure is so strong that thinking of the candy brings on a subconscious wave of good feelings.

I think it has nothing to do with any of that.

The things I think of when I see or taste candy corn are things that truly make me happy. I think about the town I grew up in and trick-or-treating with friends (we weren't in a high-dollar neighborhood so candy corn was a Halloween standard.) I think of my grandma's table at Thanksgiving and the bowl of candy corn that always accompanied the pies and deserts after dinner. I think of the family gathering together and enjoying time together. I think of all of the cute little fall crafts that my children have made for me over the years - the candy corn with the google eyes and the turkeys with pine cone bodies and candy corn feathers.

These little kernel shaped candies are like little pieces of joy to me.

As I said, my statement isn't of great importance. In the great scheme of life, a love of candy corn will not have great impact. It will not reverse global warming or fix the world's problems.

But, for me, it makes me happy!

P.S. Maybe if candy corn made everyone in the world happy, that peace thing could come about.....Something to think about!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I....Love.... My.... Husband.

I know all you marrieds out there probably say this all the time.

"I love my husband!"

This is not a new concept. It is not strange. It is not unusual to profess this - maybe even shout it from rooftops or mountain tops.


It is even common to express it as a measure of gratitude or excitement.

"I love my husband!"

But I want to express it from the bottom of the deepest depths of my soul.


No exclamations, not as a gesture to thank him for taking out the trash or mowing the lawn, not even as that routine statement that those words can become after years and years of marriage - simply as an expression from the innermost part of me.

Isn't that the place that love should come from? Shouldn't it be from that place so deep inside that the line between self and the other person is blurred?

Now, I'll be the first to admit, I like how love makes me feel. But,I believe that love is not only about how I feel. It is not primarily about me or my needs being met. It is not the material things that my husband can give me. It is not about the security that comes from always having another to bear the load of life. Nor is it about reaching goals and milestones together.

What I believe it is about is loving another selflessly. It is about supporting the other person to truly know who they are as an individual. It is about giving the other person encouragement and room to grow and become whole. It is about helping to bring their dreams and aspirations to a place of reality. It is about compassion, forgiveness, compromise and understanding. It is about loving them so fully that you don't remember where the line is that separates you from them.

I believe that love is about everything that my husband has shown me.

What is love to you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Some Things are Worth The Wait!

Did you cast your ballot by mail? Did you vote early?

Every time an election comes around, my husband and I have a discussion about how we cast our votes.

My husband is staunchly efficient. He streamlines, straight lines, and fast tracks whatever he can - as long as is doesn't affect the outcome. He doesn't like waste whether it be money, product or time. So as you might imagine, he casts his ballot early by mail to avoid spending the time to stand in line at wait for a spot at a voting booth. To him, voting in that manner is the most effective and economical use of his time.

He doesn't understand why I wouldn't want to do the same.

There is something special about election day to me. When my children were young, I would bring them to the polls with me. I wanted them to see what voting was. It was important to me that they understood that although they are only one voice, their one voice combined with a lot of other one voices could have a profound effect on whatever it was they wanted to change. I considered it my responsibility and duty to be an example to them and cast my vote.

It was also important to me that they understand that the right to vote was something not to be taken for granted. My desire was for them to know that when they are older and able to vote, if they don't exercise that right, they have no grounds to complain about the results.

Those things aside, there is a selfish reason that I go to the polls on election day. I enjoy standing in line, being right there in the middle of the democratic process, even if it means and hour or two are taken out of my day. Although I know in essence my vote is anonymous and has no greater weight than a mailed in or early cast ballot, being at the polls makes me feel like I am part of something - a part of something big, that has a voice in the direction that this country is going.

My husband and I vote in different ways. Neither way is better than the other. Both set the example to my children that voting is important. However, what I hope to impart to my kids is that even if the line is long, some things are worth the wait!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Long, Long, Long Run

This is how Saturday mornings begin for my husband and me....

5am: Alarm rings playing some of my favorite music
5:02am: Alarm still playing some of my favorite music
5:07am: Alarm still playing some of my favorite music, however a different song than was originally playing
5:10am: I stumble out of bed, throw my hair in a pony tail, put on my running clothes and shoes, just in time to turn of my husband's 5:15 alarm.
5:25am: We both end up in the kitchen, miraculously avoiding stumbling down the 17 stairs that separate our room from the first floor.
5:40am: We fill our water bottles, grab our hats, sunglasses, and i-pods, and then make our way to the car to drive to our favorite running spot along the canal.
6am: We arrive at the canal after a 20 minute ride in sleep deprived induced silence, fire up the i-pods, check the shoes, and hit the dirt for the long, long, long run.

My husband and I run a 9 mile trail along the canal every Saturday morning.

You may be wondering why we do this, especially on a morning that we could be sleeping in. We do it because we are training to run a half-marathon on our 17th anniversary in January.

Now I don't run with nearly the efficiency, speed, or ease as my husband does. In order for him to run with me, he has to make adjustments. Because his stride is longer than mine, he has to adjust his steps so he is not running ahead of me. I don't have the same speed that he does, so he has to slow down his pace for me. When I am feeling like I have hit the "wall", he not only has to keep himself going, but also take on the role of being my cheerleader and encouraging me to continue. Conversely, I have to make adjustments for him too. My pace increases when we run together as I work to keep up with him. My steps become longer, more efficient and more fluid as subconsciously my body mimics his body movement. I become more self assured and confident in my ability to press on as he reminds me that I do have it in me to keep going.

I have to admit that it isn't always easy running together. There are times when I feel badly because I am holding him back and slowing his pace. I am worried that he may grow frustrated with me for being a burden- that he may not want to finish the race by my side. Sometimes, I feel that I am at my limit, and that gentle nudge of encouragement feels like it will push me over the edge.

But then, inevitably, he senses my feelings and frustrations. With just the right words - those he has learned through navigating 17 years of marriage to me, he helps me push just a little further towards my maximum potential. He assures me that he is in it for the long haul, every step of the way. He is there by my side, to cross the finish line with me at the end of the race.

In many ways, training for this race is a lot like our marriage. We each have different abilities, personalities, likes and dislikes. We have some viewpoints that are in line with each other and others that are in conflict. Through compromise and understanding, we travel the path of our marriage much in the way that we are training to run the half-marathon. We compliment each other in a way that allows us both to be the best we can be as individuals, as well as the best that we can be as one body in marriage.

We are as different as individuals as we are in our running abilities. But in the end, we have common goals and principles. Staying focused on our common goals keeps us strong on our journey, this long, long, long, run.