children are like kites

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Source: This Little Piggy

Source: This Little Piggy

Morning came early today. And it’s Monday. Not just any Monday, though. It’s the first Monday of (yet another) brand new chapter in my life. I’m not even sure what to call this chapter just yet. And I’m not really sure how I feel about it either. Love it? Hate it? At the end of the day, probably a mixture of both.

securedownloadMy daughter left this morning on an early flight to the east coast. For business. After four weeks of training, this is her first official business trip.  Of many! Wow. My arm felt like lead as I tried to wave goodbye. Her tail lights burned through the darkness, and then disappeared. Turning to come back inside, I saw “it”. THE poem. It has been on our refrigerator for a hundred years (give or take). I have shared this poem with many over the years. Mostly requested by other moms. When we got a new refrigerator we moved the old refrigerator out to the garage. The poem stayed intact. It’s funny though. I am in and out of the garage a million times a day, but never really “see” the poem. It’s just there as part of the refrigerator, I guess. But not this morning. No. This morning it was different. It was as if “THE poem” was covered in flashing neon lights, bells a’ringin… I stopped dead in my tracks to read it.

The garage door slammed shut.  I felt the darkness all around me. It was quiet. So very, very quiet. The hum of the refrigerator seemed almost deafening. She is officially all grown up. Out the door and off to new adventures, challenges, experiences.  It’s a solo flight for her; realistically and figuratively. Flights, rental cars, hotels… The real world; the unknown. Is she ready for everything? Definitely. She is a strong, smart, confident young woman who can handle anything. To say that I am proud – Well, that barely even scratches the surface of how I feel. Yes. I am VERY, VERY PROUD…!! But I am also a little sad. For me, not her. I am just not very good at this whole “letting go” thing. At all.

But… her time has come. “Time to soar, as she was meant to soar, free and ALONE. My job is done.”

kite alone“Children Are Like Kites”

“I see children as kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground.
You run with them until you’re both breathless.
They crash.
They hit the rooftop.
You patch and comfort. You adjust and teach.  You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they will fly.  
Finally they are airborne…
They need more string and you keep letting it out.
But with each twist of the ball of twine,
there is a sadness that goes with the joy.
The kite becomes more distant,
and you know it won’t be long before that string will snap and the lifeline that holds you two together will no longer be the same.  
A child, as a kite, must be prepared to soar, as they were meant to soar, free and alone, to the greatest extent possible.
And only then can we collectively say that we have done our job.”

– Author unknown

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the bunny corsage

As you all know, I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic lately. Posted a pic on Facebook this morning and my “little girl” had her bunny corsage on. Knew I had to re-post this blog…

live happy

Easter-birds-nest-GraphicsFairy I LOVE Easter .  It is a springtime holiday, and just for that reason alone it is a favorite of mine.  Spring is cheerful and happy and hopeful… The flowers peeking up from the soil (sometimes right through the snow… like now !),  there are little baby animals everywhere, warm rain and sunshine replace the sleet and freezing rain, we trade in the winter parkas for light jackets and pastel sweaters… I could go on and on and on. Suffice it to say that I simply adore spring.  As a little girl in a big (Catholic) family, we had huge family gatherings for Easter. It would start with church and my first warm, fuzzy memory… a “ bunny corsage “.

Easter bunny corsage

A carnation with googly eyes, pipe cleaner ears, little whiskers and a big bow. To this day, one sniff of a carnation and I am instantly transported back in time.  Priceless.

After church we would head to…

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quiet time

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good friday blessingsEvery Good Friday when we were growing up, my mom had a rule.  Between the hours of 12:00-3:00, we were required to have “quiet time”, alone in our rooms.  A time of quiet reflection during those hours when Jesus would die on the cross.  As a mom of two adult children, I now have a new perspective.

First of all, you have to know my mom.  She is funny. She has been known, at times, to maybe “stretch the truth” a little (?)… but it’s always funnier when she tells the story.   She pulls her grandkids to the side and tells them outright, “Grandma lies.” They laugh. One of my brothers will roll his eyes (usually the dad of the one listening to Grandma’s story), and we move on. OK – So back to the subject… our “time of reflection on Good Fridays“.

family pic church directory

Some of you may remember from earlier posts that I am the oldest of seven kids. When I was 10 years old, my mom was 29 and had five kids; me being the oldest. (Good news! Found a family pic from our church directory to capture just that moment in time… That’s me to the right of my mom – Ha!)  So when Good Friday rolled around, off to our rooms we went.  At 12:00. Until 3:00. To be really honest with you, I can’t really remember much of what we did during that time. My mom told us that it would rain at some time during that three hour stretch, so my sister and I (shared a room) would spend some of the time lifting the heavy shade on our window to peer out and search for those ominous, rain producing, clouds… One thing I DO remember (unfortunately), because she did it all the time. My sister always had more money than me; and she liked to count it. Out loud. Coin, by coin, by coin… She had me as an unwilling, yet captive, audience for three hours. Lucky her. Looking back, I have to laugh. I realized as an adult, that as kids, we actually had “quiet time” a lot!!  Not just on “Good Friday”.  You see, my mom was also very smart.  And resourceful.  She was merely attempting to maintain her sanity.  That was why she would slip off to the bathroom with her coffee and a weeks worth of magazines. We would hear the “click” as the door locked behind her. The rule…?  Don’t knock unless someone is bleeding. Bad.

beach with crossesI was (doubly) blessed with twins when I was almost 30, and they were, and still are, such a joy in my life!!  In raising our kids, my husband and I made a conscious decision to pick and choose the pieces of our individual childhoods that we wanted to take forward with our own children. Kind of like combining really dark chocolate with… well; just about anything!  It’s all about the mixture. “This” worked; “that” – Ummm… not so much. So guess what made the cut from my childhood? Yep.  “Good Friday quiet time”. 12:00-3:00.  They could read, work on puzzles, quietly listen to music (pre-appoved; by me!).  There was no TV, radio, computer, phone or friends during that time. And they were fine with it really.  The older they got, the more they understood why there were being asked to do it. It was a way for them to, hopefully, prepare their hearts for Easter Sunday.

children becomeSo, Mom – if you’re reading this – you will be glad to know that I still, to this day, honor that quiet time every Good Friday. I usually plan a quiet “project”; something that I can do by myself, at home, without really thinking.  Today is no exception. It is a beautiful day and the birds are chirping like crazy.  Not a rain cloud in sight…  I have selected a “project” (more on that later) and I am ready to put on some beautiful music and spend the time reflecting. Quietly. 12:00 until 3:00…

 

the “infamous” Easter cookies…

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Carrots, bunnies, baby chicks, flowers, ducks…

So yesterday I talked about my nostalgic Easter memories, and mentioned our yummy Easter sugar cookies that we were, well… not to brag, but we were kinda known for…

IMG_2779Went searching for a good pic of them today, but was only able to get a so-so picture. That’s ok with me though. Considering the state of complete and utter chaosslight disorganization” my photos are in… finding ANY picture with a cookie in it was nothing short of an Easter miracle. So enjoy it. Please. It did NOT come easy. Here’s the good news though.  Actually, TWO parts to the whole good news thingie. First of all, I’m sharing our recipe with you; or should I say – Betty Crocker is sharing her recipe with you.  It is actually from her “Cooky Book” (1963 – Page 18)!  Ya – Vintage stuff!! 

Mary’s Sugar Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cream sugar and butter together. Add egg and flavorings, mix thoroughly. Stir dry ingredients together and mix in. Refrigerate 2-3 hours. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough in half and roll 3/16″ thick on lightly floured board. Cut with cookie cutter and bake on parchment paper on baking sheet for 6-8 minutes or until delicately golden.  (Makes 4 dozen 3″ cookies) ** After cooling, we liked to frost with a buttercream icing before heavily decorating with sprinkles!!

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IMG_2771The second bit of good news? It’s Throwback Thursday & as I was frantically searching for the elusive “Easter sugar cookie pic” – I came across these treasures. Awww… So cute!! My kids are gonna love me for this one (wink, wink…) xo

 

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a nostalgic Easter

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happy easterEaster.  Gotta say that I’m feeling a bit teary nostalgic about Easter this year.  OK… a LOT nostalgic.  Here’s the deal.  My son in away at school finishing his Masters in Accountancy and studying for his CPA Exam. He gets up in the morning, studies all day, goes to bed.  Next day… get’s up in the morning, studies all day, goes to bed. Basically it’s “Groundhog Day” (hated that movie!) with a gym workout thrown in here and there for sanity measures.  And a couple beers on the weekend.  He has taken Exam #1 (of 4) and #2 is May 1.  Needless to say, he will not be home for Easter. My daughter recently started a new job, and is possibly scheduled to leave town for work.  Soon.  Like maybe Easter Sunday… morning?

easter kitchen duckOK.  So back to the ole “nostalgic part“. I was lying there in bed last night, unable to fall asleep because my brain was in overdrive (been there, done that; right??) I remembered back to all of the funny little Easter memories that just tickle my heart to remember…

Easter crossMaking our easter sugar cookies (they were bee-you-tee-ful…gotta say!), the coordinated family Easter outfits, dyeing Easter eggs, chocolate nests for the Easter table, “the bunny corsage”. Sigh…! Makes me so happy inside just remembering everything.  You know what else makes me happy inside at this time of year?  Decorating the house for Easter and spring!  Are you a “springtime decorator”?  It’s a definite mood lifter for me!!  It’s like chasing away the winter blahs, and making everything seem fresh and alive again!!  So today I am sharing with you a few little snipits of springtime at the Toth house.  Welcome…

Easter kitchen ceiling light fixture

Our kitchen light, taken from a rather unique angle. Lying on the kitchen table looking up through the light at the ceiling… teehee!

Easter bunny DREaster DR

easter chicks

Easter kitchen light

kindness (really) counts

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do small things

So I took yesterday’s post to heart.  Yes. I’m talking about MY post from yesterday. About being kind; about making a difference.  This is a really big deal to me.  It has been for a long, long time.  I feel that, as individuals, we sometimes feel that we are just a tiny little speck in a great big world.  After all; what could WE possibly do that could REALLY make a difference?  That’s the part that gets me.  OK. As much as I would like to, I am, more than likely, NOT going to discover a cure for cancer.  I am NOT going to eliminate world hunger or childhood obesity.  But if I CAN do something small, that will make someone smile – even just for a moment – YAY! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!!

almondsSo after I posted yesterday (love; not hate”) I got dinner started and had to make a run to Trader Joes. (LOVE Trader Joes.  But that’s SO another post…)  I gathered my goodies, and as I was waiting in line, I saw the little $1.00 bags of (dark… YUM!) chocolate covered almonds. “I need to pick up a bag of those to stick in the mailbox for Bob (our mailman).”

As I dropped them in my basket, the thought crossed my mind. I need to perform five acts of kindness today. Sounds good! The next thought to pop into my brain was, but it’s already 5:00! Alrighty.  Already crossed off #1!!  After loading the groceries into my car, I started walking back towards Trader Joes to return my cart.  I saw a gal getting ready to walk her cart back up to the entrance, and recognized her as the mom in front of me with four little kids. I zigzagged over and offered to return her cart up to the front.  So appreciative for such a small gesture.(#2)  

money

As I returned to my car, another thought popped. I looked in my wallet.  One dollar. So I attached a little note and took it back into the store where they have the little shopping carts for the kiddos! Left it in the perfect spot for the next little nugget to come along!  That was SO fun! (#3)

cart

As I pulled in to the driveway (after dropping off Bob’s chocolate covered almonds in the mailbox!), I was thinking about the dogs going out to potty (normally in the front yard).  We have a mama and baby bird (nest on front porch) at our front door, and the little baby is learning to fly. I was just so worried about scaring mama and baby!!  But… I couldn’t take them in the backyard either because we have baby bunnies and baby ducks (under the deck?).  So I took the dogs for a walk. Oh my – SO happy! (#4) And all the little birdies, bunnies and ducklings were quite appreciative as well! (#5)

roast

On my drive home earlier, I realized that my acts of kindness had started early in the day without even thinking… My hubbie had been craving a pot roast; and he loves his brussel sprouts… so guess what we had for dinner!?! (#6) As we were discussing “acts of kindness” at dinner, my daughter was sweet enough to remind me that I had made her a special breakfast that morning (she had a huge presentation at work!) on our “special family plate” and I had also packed her a lunch when she was running late! (#7 and #8).  So, all in all, not a bad day on the ole “kindness meter“. At the end of the day, striving for five is actually quite attainable!!

kindness pass it on

As for today, you ask??  Well… I packed a magazine in my husband’s suitcase before he left out of town as a little surprise.(#1) “Talked out” some things with a friend who needed someone to listen.(#2)  Let a gal go in front of me in the checkout line at Target.(#3) Purchased some little treats for a little “cheer me up goodie bag” to give a friend who is going through some hard times.(#4) Finally – I also did a little something special but can’t actually say… That person will probably be reading this and it would ruin my little surprise!! (#5) So check, check, check, check, check…

How about you???

 

 

 

love; not hate

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kindness matters

Artwork by Beth Nadler Click here to see all of her beautiful artwork on Etsy!!

When my kids were little, I always told them that they were not allowed to “hate” people.  You could hate an inanimate object; a “thing”, but never a person.  You might hate what they said or what they did, but you could not hate them. My beliefs have not changed.

Yesterday presented a real challenge to upholding those beliefs, however. About a mile from where I was standing yesterday afternoon, three completely innocent people were shot and killed for one reason.  The shooter thought they were Jewish. That’s it.  He didn’t know them.  He didn’t know their families.  He didn’t care. Tragically, he was just that full of hate. Kansas City suffered a tremendous loss yesterday.  A young man (HS freshman) an Eagle Scout, with a love for theater and a beautiful singing voice; his whole life ahead of him.  His loving grandfather, “a devoted family man”, married 49 years, who moved here to be closer to his grandchildren. A wife and mother, described as a “deeply caring individual”, who was an occupational therapist at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired. So much pain. Please join me in prayer for these hurting families…

everybody smilesWe live in a world of differences that are meant to be CELEBRATED, not stereotyped. Our uniqueness makes us special. As for my husband and I; our extended family of siblings, their spouses, nieces and nephews, provides it’s very own “special blend of uniqueness“… We are Christian; we are Jewish; we are Mormon. We are African-American; we are Caucasian. We are Filipino; we are Panamanian. We are gay; we are straight. We are able-bodied; we have Down Syndrome. We. Are. FAMILY.

let peace

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, a man who understood hate, but instead chose love. And peace. “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” I absolutely hate what this shooter did.  I hate that he took the life of three beautiful, innocent people.  I have zero tolerance for ANYONE who thinks they are superior to anyone else.  But to hate him will just perpetuate this evil cycle of hate. I do not want to spend time and energy dwelling on this evil man.  Let us, instead, go forward – with the words of Dr. King in our hearts… “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

So get out there and LOVE .  Spread kindness far and wide. You CAN make a difference.  We ALL can. But will you?  Every loving gesture to someone in need, every kind word to a friend, every act of kindness to a stranger… It. All. Matters.

So what will YOU do to leave your (kindness) mark TODAY…?

kindness begins

 

 

procrastination gardening

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Procrastinating is, by far, one of my favorite pastimes.  I consider it a skill, really. So I saw something on Pinterest the other day that left me feeling inspired.  “20 genius ideas for BACKYARD DECORATING”.  After a long, dreadful winter – we are finally feeling the hope and promise of warmer weather.  Spring has sprung.

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IMG_2700So let’s talk about the yard for a minute. My “spring” was still covered by “winter”.  All that dead stuff that needed to be trimmed and raked and shoved into bags… Ugh!!  It made my back ache just thinking about it.  Which is EXACTLY what I did about it.  Think about it.

I thought about it for weeks? days.  What did I do about it?  Nothing. Absolutely nothing. There was always a good excuse why that particular moment, day, week wasn’t going to work.

IMG_2715So yesterday morning rolled around.  I was outside with the dogs for morning potty. It was a beautiful morning.  No rain.  No snow.  No tornadoes.  Aha!! But what about dinner… plan the menu, hit the grocery store, send out invites, starch the linens (ya, right)  Oh wait.  It’s leftover night.  Dang it!  Even the dogs seemed to be looking at me with judgement in their eyes.  Ok… WHATEVER!!!  I give!

Out came the trimmer, and the gloves, and the rake, and the bags, and the…… GEEZ!  This is SO not my thing!  As much as I love pretty flowers, I would definitely not list “gardener” in my resume!! Truth is, I’m just too cheap to hire someone.  And the hubster’s not exactly the “gardening type” either.  His solution is to let his fingers do the walkin’, and his checkbook do the talkin”.

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About halfway thru this earthly experience, I had to stop and laugh at myself.  Looking for my shears was like something from the pages of a “Where’s Waldo” book.  Remember my post the other day when I talked about making a mess when I cook?  Well, apparently I am very consistent.  There were piles, and equipment, and tools and dirt and grass… everywhere!! I looked at the clock on my cell phone, making a mental note of how many more hours it was until 5:00.

My arms were cut up and bleeding (stupid barberry bushes) and my back felt like an elephant was standing on it… but the reward was sweet. The bags were crammed full, the sidewalk was swept, the pansies were watered.  I shut the front door behind me.  Ahhhhhhh…

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And that’s when it hit me.  UGH!!!  We have a backyard…..!!!

 

 

 

 

he ain’t heavy; he’s my brother

I have had a couple requests to re-blog about my brother, Michael, recently. When I found out that today is “National Sibling Day”… I knew today was the day!! Love you, Mike… xoxo

live happy

down syndrome love my broYes.  I sure do.

We are the “bookends” in our family; Michael and I.  I’m the oldest of seven at 51… Mike’s the youngest at 27.  Michael was born about a year after I got married.  I grew up in St. Louis, but had moved to Kansas City after college, so the two of us never actually had a chance to “grow up together”.  But there is now good news.  Really good news for me.  My mom, dad and Michael are moving to Kansas City.  To say that I am excited does not even begin to touch the surface of what I am feeling. Just typing that fills my eyes with tears. There is just so much time to make up for… andI absolutely cannot wait!!!

Late night munchies...Mike Mom Dad Formal night

Mike loves dessertdown syndrome nuff said

Mike in headphonesMike dancing

Poem: “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley

November 12, 2008

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability…

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creative thinking

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being creativeCreative thinking.  That’s what I was thinking about today.  Ya – Pretty much all day. Now I should have been thinking about dusting.  My house really needs it. But there is always time to dust. Later.  Back to the creative thinking…  This is a subject that I think I could go on and on and on about… but I am really gonna try and make this a quick post.  No really…  Don’t worry though, we will revisit this subject again.  And again. So my friend, Dawn (@ Joyful Scribblings – check out her blog!), and I are going to another blogging conference (SNAP!) in two weeks. This particular conference is geared towards more creative thinkers; people who blog about the things that I am passionate about.  Photography, Food & Entertaining, DIY (Do It Yourself)/Crafting… love, Love, LOVE! So we are participating in some of the fun & creative “extras” at the conference – One of them being a “decorate your door” contest!  That brings me to the task at hand for today… finding some of the goodies for our door, as well as other supplies for the conference.  OK.  So I try to go into crafting places like Michael’s, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, with a plan.  Maybe even a list.  But I seem to subconsciously check all of that at the door somehow.  My soul is suddenly filled with the hope and promise of possibility thinking.  Ideas flow through my veins at an almost overwhelming pace.  “I could do this.  Or that.  Or this and that and…”.  Right.  You get my point.  

Truth is, creativity is a huge part of my life. Not just in what I do, but in who I am. It affects my actions, thoughts, decisions.  It permeates my photography, my cooking, my decorating.  It is why my dining room chairs are mismatched (on purpose) and I hate to iron.  Or dust.  It is deeply woven into my relationships, how I make friends, how I raised my kids. It is why I have trouble focusing; why my “to do” list never shrinks.  It is me. Or, a (very big) part of me, anyway.

So I stumbled across an article tonight, from The Huffington Post, entitled “18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently“. Here were a few of the things they listed:

  • They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.
  • They surround themselves with beauty.
  • They get out of their own heads.
  • They follow their true passions
  • They lose track of the time.
  • They constantly shake things up.

Found the article to be quite interesting, really. Kinda, sorta made me feel validated, in a way.  Like something on paper; in print.  Something they have officially “studied“… Nice.  We’re always looking for answers, explanations, excuses (?) aren’t we. I’m a Taurus, so I’m stubborn. I’m the oldest child, so I’m bossy responsible. Yadda, yadda, yadda.  So tonight my brain is absolutely exhausted from all this creative thinking.  Doggonit.  No time to dust.  It will simply have to wait until tomorrow.

“And then she remembered something very important… She was not bothered by dust.  She was, after all, creative.”  the end