I’m not a liar but Facebook sure is.

This is so true! Thank you to Madison at http://www.fielekefrontporch.com for telling it like it really is!

Fieleke Front Porch

I have some confessions about pictures I pulled from my Facebook feed…


In this picture, what you see ismy sweet Ru & I, snuggled up happy as can be. What you don’t see is that my best friend was in town visiting me taking care of me because I really hate it when Josh travels for work for a week and I have to hold down the fort with a 2 & 4 year old.


In this picture, what you see are the cutest little girls ever with their beaming proud Momma. What you can’t see is that this was the day after our social worker told us it will probably be a long wait to adopt a baby, longer than we hoped, and I was still processing and grieving that news.

10959617_10101604449966544_6846384602493608323_nIn this picture, you obviously see my stud of a husband making me a really happy lady. But…

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The same but (not) different

 I loved when USA Network came out with the slogan, “Characters Welcome.” It was refreshing in a time when everything was so very much the same. Cookie cutter houses, standardized tests, one size fits all, and matching duck face selfies abound in our culture. So, when I started seeing articles about celebrity doppelgangers and actors who were mistaken for other actors, I was not surprised. But apparently Hollywood and the media are. Gasp! Could it be that these people, who by today’s standards are perfectly beautiful, are not as unique as they think they are?

The truth is…they aren’t. The problem lies not with their facial features but with the Hollywood definition of beauty. In recent years, it has become so narrow that celebrities were bound to start looking alike. Throw in a little plastic surgery and you have a recipe for the mundane. If you look back at shows from the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, the actors and actresses came in all different shapes and sizes. Even foreign shows have more variety. It’s as if Hollywood has forgotten that “variety is the spice of life” and makes the shows more realistic and more interesting. I mean, isn’t it annoying when you can’t tell the characters apart?

I was recently watching reruns of “Rosemary and Thyme“ and loved that all of the actors looked unique and each one has, at some point in the series, inspired devotion. But of course, it was a British show. It’s like some insidious disease has infected our minds in the US where it’s not enough to aspire to be your best, but the goal has somehow changed to include someone else’s best. It’s a disease that muddles our brains into thinking that unless we look like celebrities, we are less than perfect and therefore undesirable.

This is completely contrary to the truth which is that variety really is the spice of life. I love chocolate but if I ate it all day, every day, I’d be disgusted by it. Maple trees are my favorites but if they were the only trees we had, the view from my porch would not be as magnificent. Uniformity is mundane and what is beautiful has become commonplace.

I think it’s time for homogeneous Hollywood to wake up and smell the coffee. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.

It’s All Relative

Come on Spring!

For many years, I have deliberately kept my house cold at the beginning of the winter. I’ve made it a game to see how far I can make it before I have to turn on the wood stove (the first week of November). I occasionally use a ceramic heater on the coldest of mornings.

While I’ve made this a game, I really started it for health and financial reasons. A shorter heating season equals less wood use which equals money saved. Keeping the temperature moderate is also healthier for me because:

1) I become a slug when the temperature gets too warm. No physical activity means a fatter, unhealthier me, plus a ton of undone work. I also end up with more arthritis pain if I sit around, so I’m a fan of the zippy feeling you get when you feel cold.

2) I tend to stay inside if the difference between the outside and inside temperature is too great. No sunlight = No vitamin D production = brain mush and once again the work doesn’t get done. Being outside actually rejuvenates me, even in the dead of winter. It’s like free therapy.

3) According to Harvard researchers, being exposed to moderately cold temperatures “trains the blood vessels in the skin to be responsive.” Unfortunately, that’s about as much training as my body gets. Dutch researchers theorized that, at 61o, our brown fat was activated. Bring on that heat-producing, calorie-burning goodness. I can use all of the help I can get. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2010/January/out-in-the-cold

The one exception to my cool house rule is prior to a big winter storm. I will heat the house up pretty high (78O) just in case the electricity goes out. This has helped in the past to keep my house relatively comfortable while we ride out the power outage.

Over the years, I noticed that our tolerance for cold (or heat) is actually relative to the temperatures to which we have become acclimated. After basking in the glorious sunshine of summer, a sudden 50o day makes you want to wear a parka and drink hot cocoa. Then winter comes with the snow and the wind and subzero temperatures. Once in a while, you get a beautiful glimpse of Spring as temperatures heat up to a balmy 50o. I go out without a jacket and my kids run themselves ragged doing everything they couldn’t do outside during the bitter cold.

What changed? Our core body temperature is still around 98.6o so that can’t be the culprit. It’s just that our perception of the heat or cold is relative to the temperature we have become accustomed to at that moment. Our frame of reference has changed.

For example, since I have 6 kids, I’m used to chatting, arguing, drama and injuries. Throw some autism meltdowns into the mix and you have a very wild existence. I can actually see some people cringe at the general din and chaos when they walk into my house. They smile with a glazed over look as I say things like, “If you fall off of that and die, I’m going to kill you” and “You only lost one finger. Hold pressure on it and be thankful you have 9 more.”

The truth is that I used to get stressed out around a lot of kids because for the longest time I had 2 busy but relatively easy kids. In fact, I once said to a friend and I quote, “Having a big family is alright for you but I’m just not cut out for it.” I’m sure God was thinking, “Oh, ye of little faith.” Now, when I have just 2 or 3 kids in the house, it feels like a holiday.

My frame of reference changed. And that’s what I’m trying to take advantage of by waiting until our bodies have adjusted to the cooler temps. After many mornings of cozy warm feet hitting the freezing floor, putting on the heat feels akin to winning the lottery. Right now, I’m anxiously awaiting a new frame of reference. I know it’s only January but I’ve got my seed catalogs everywhere, garden planned, and outdoor projects lined up. I’m in a springtime state of mind. Bring it on!

Holiday Highs and Lows

IMG_0930Today is my birthday. I’m not tremendously fond of birthdays. Thankfully, my family knows this and keeps it pretty low key on my birthday. Today, my sister is making sandwich perfection (aka Reubens) for lunch and we’ll probably talk gardening. Definite birthday win.

I didn’t always have an aversion to celebrating my birthday and it’s not related to my age (45, today). It’s just that I really don’t see what we’re celebrating. Getting ripped from the safety and security of a mother’s womb? We really didn’t do anything except go along for the ride. Surviving another year? That’s definitely worth celebrating if you live in a third world nation with a high death rate…or with toddlers or teens…or are a toddler or teen.  None apply to me.

In fact, I’m not tremendously fond of holidays in general. I know I sound like a Grinch but let me explain. It’s not the holidays themselves that bother me but the commercial messages that have overtaken the holidays. Valentine’s Day has gone from a commemoration of the martyrdom of some Saint named Valentine (there were 3 likely candidates) to a day to give tokens of love, chocolate, and flowers. What do those things have to do with death? And what does martyrdom have to do with romantic love? Wouldn’t it be better to just let those you love know that you love them all year long?

And Christmas, that’s gotten really warped. As if a fat, pipe smoking trespasser wasn’t enough, we’ve now added the creepy elf on the shelf. Are you kidding? Have you seen the movie “Dolls?” It’s a wonder all kids aren’t in therapy.

Then there’s the added problem of disappointment and heartbreak when the much anticipated holiday falls short of expectations. Not getting the right gift (or any gift), spending money you don’t have, being unable to buy the gifts you’d like to give, not spending the holidays with your kids, or spending the holidays alone. Too much worry for one day of the year. To me, the high suicide rate around the holidays is just proof that we’re putting too many eggs in one basket. Seriously, it’s just a small fraction of your year, people.

Yet each year, we eagerly anticipate the same holidays and suffer the same post-holiday slump. Feverish pulling down decorations as if to purge ourselves of their effect.  Perhaps it’s the autism influence but, in my house, business as usual is more enjoyable than the excitement of one day (children who thrive on schedules turn into scary monsters with any change).

Maybe it is just me getting old. But if it is related to my age, then it has more to do with acquiring some small modicum of wisdom over the years, passed down from the many patients facing illness and death who told me to not wait for the golden years just enjoy life every day because the golden years don’t always turn out to be that golden.

So I chose not to wait until Christmas, or my birthday, or Valentine’s Day to find joy and happiness and fulfillment. I’ll take the sunshine, the hugs, the crisp mornings, the cotton candy skies, the first tree buds after a long winter, the smell of the earth after a rain, and the smiles on my children’s faces. All these little things are actually the big things in my life’s journey and I plan on enjoying them every second of every day.

Happy Everyday to us!!!

Things to do away with in 2015

In keeping with New Year’s tradition, I’d like to offer my own ideas of what 2015 would be better off without.

Online reviews: Since companies started suing for poor reviews, the online review system is not worth the paper it’s, well, not printed on.  Instead, I’m just going to put something like this: I cannot afford to honestly review this company.

Celebrity Bare-alls: What is the deal with celebrities flashing us? Do they really think that their bodies warrant sharing? Seriously, if your acting or vocal skills are not up to par, just go home.

The Race Card: I’m so tired of self-serving media hogs claiming that race plays a part in every white/black interaction. The violent protests and targeting of law enforcement personnel take away from the true message of equality. People are misjudged every day based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion but they’re also judged (positively and negatively) on the way they talk, how their bodies look, where they live, what they drive or don’t drive and a whole lot more. In the immortal words of The Youngbloods, “Come on people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together try to love one another right now.” And don’t forget that despite our legal system being flawed, it’s the best we can do since it’s designed and run by all of us who are equally flawed (a common characteristic, I might add, despite our skin color).

Republican and Democrat cat-fights: I’m so tired of both parties holding up progress in a grown-up version of a temper tantrum. It’s time for politicians, as a whole, to put the long-term interests of the country ahead of the short-term election-grabbing gains. Perhaps the problem is that we the people are no longer governing the country. Stop trying to have it your way all of the time or I’ll be tempted to head to Washington and put you all in time-out!

TXTing SHRTCTS: It is my firm belief that our grammatically challenged youth should stick with whole language until it is mastered. There’s really no need anyway since they text at the speed of light. PLS STP U R DRVNG ME CRZY.