Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Winning Wednesdays: When your vacuum sucks (or doesn't)

There are few certainties in life; death, taxes, and your vacuum dying within three years of purchase. I've never met a vacuum I didn't hate.  And so begins this story...

Meet my frenemy, Bissell:

Oh, sure. He looks good.  He describes himself as "easy empty".  He throws out big phrases like "12 amps" and "dual edge cleaning".  Be fooled not.  His strong work ethic is short lived..  That's the way vacuums are. They suck. Well, actually, they don't suck...which is the problem I found myself with recently.  Every time I'd vacuum, I'd look over the path I 'd just completed, only to find more dust than when I began.  It made me crazy (well, if you know me, more crazy). I wanted to yell at him (okay, I did).  Rip up the carpets.  Move into the bathroom. ANYTHING to not have to deal with a broken vacuum.

So the days went on, and I decided I'd have to buy a new one.  Money was a little tight so I was waiting a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the floors were filling with dust.  It annoyed me every time I looked at it, but I didn't know what to do.  So after a month, they were looking a little (a lot) disheveled.  Last week, I couldn't take it any more.  The superwoman deep, deep, deep inside of me decided to throw caution to the wind and try to repair it myself.

I went and pulled out my snazzy pink tool set.  Be jealous.  

The job called for dissembling the bottom of the vacuum .  Cue oh-so-chic pink screwdriver.  And yes, I really do look that rough at night.  And I'm blind. Feel free to laugh at me.

I noticed there was a bunch of funk in this tube thingy.  I don't know what it's called.  I have no interest in learning what it's called either.  I just noticed it wasn't supposed to be white, so I took a chance.

I got a wire hanger, which is the tool in my house voted Most Likely to be Used.  For everything.  Clogged toilet?  Wire hanger.  Clothes stuck behind the dryer?  Wire hanger.  Random junk stuck in vacuum hose thingy?  Wire hanger!

Using my trusty wire hanger, I slowly began to unpack the clump of crap...and this came out.  Oops.  I don't even know what it is, but I'm willing to bet it doesn't belong in a vacuum.

And then...Ahhhh-HA!  The hateful green crayon strikes again.  Why am I not surprised?  I have it on my walls and permanently melted inside my dryer.  Why would one NOT be in my vacuum hose?  

After a little more digging and a lot more sneezing, this was the pile of filth that I found in there.  Now I know vacuum hoses need to be cleaned.  Ooops.

I must admit, I wanted to flex my muscles when I was done.  Pat myself on the back.  Hug myself.  Tell myself I'm awesome.  Fix every other broken household item.  Instead I just rolled my eyes at myself, because after a month of complaining about it, I'd fixed it in less than 30 minutes. 

Just another job for Super Screwdriver

The next day I vacuumed all of the bedrooms with no issues.  #winning.

The moral of the story?  Just do.

I know as a single woman (and especially a single mom) running a household is no easy feat.  I don't have a handy bone in my body.  I don't even want one. Would it be easier to have a handy man around here?  You bet your butt.  But there's not...and that's okay.  In the past three years I have learned that sometimes just doing is better than just complaining. Or ignoring. Or worrying.  I'm preaching to the choir here because rarely do I just do.  I avoid household fix ups like the plague.  Yet, when I force myself to do whatever it is, I often find it isn't that big of a deal.  If I fix it, awesome.  If I call my tools mean names and never end up being able to fix it, awesome.  At least I tried.

Annnnnd for the surprise vacuum still sucks. Or doesn't. Which means it does.  But for those thirty minutes, I got clean rooms.

The winning is in the doing, anyway.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful Thursday: A Crown of Splendor

Proverbs 16:31 - Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.

I just got off the phone with my sweet Aunt Roberta, back home in New York.  When I asked her how she'd been feeling, she responded, "oh, I'm okay...just a little tired."  Aunt Roberta celebrated her 99th birthday yesterday.  I'm only 30 and complain about being tired! She's amazing. 

Growing up, Aunt Roberta was a constant fixture in my life.  She was my great-aunt and quite the character.  She lived on the 5th floor of a cozy co-op building in Bayridge, Brooklyn, just minutes from the Verazzano Bridge  The building itself smelled like lint balls and retirement, but my sister and I loved visiting.  She had shelves filled with the cutest trinkets that Amy and I loved to play with. She had fabulous lime-ish/puke-ish green rugs.   She had a real rotary phone that we always played pretend with.  She always bought us totally rad (umm, it was the 90's) Easter outfits from department stores we'd never usually get a chance to buy clothes from.  She took us out for dinner for every occasion.  She had never married or had children so after my mom (her niece) passed, she set up a college savings account for us. When my sister and I graduated high school, we each had a little something to start us off.

She was (and is) a character! Her signature drink was Dewar's on the rocks and she had a glass every day, later saying that's what kept her young.  She joked around a lot, and had the gift of sarcastic wit.  A devout Catholic, she went to Mass daily and was very active in her parish.  She was very proud of her Irish heritage and told stories of kissing the Blarney stone, which folklore said endowed the kisser with the gift of gab.  When I expressed interest, she graciously told me "I think you already have the gift of gab, dear".  Word. 

In a recent conversation, she mentioned that every night she thinks she's going to pass.  "I always wake up thinking---geez, I'm still here?!"  At 99, you can't blame her for wanting to be in heaven already!

Aunt Roberta is one of the most special people in my life, and I am blessed to have had her this long.  She now lives in a nursing home in Long Island, NY, so I don't get to see her often. However, I carry her in my heart and think about her often.  I call as often as I can and love to hear her voice, even if it's hearing about the "rotten" food and "crazy people" at the nursing home. Can you blame her?

Even though she still gets her hair dyed (she would kill me if she knew I was telling you), underneath it lies a beautiful shade of silver hair, and it is a crown of splendor that I admire.  I am thankful for who she was and is to me in so many ways.  She has lived a godly and righteous life, and I can only hope to live life the way she has.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


The title of this post is less than impressive. And it bothers me.  But my brain is pretty much fried today, so just pretend it's some witty, creative, enticing title.

In the six or seven months since I've been blogging, I've gotten a lot of feedback from my posts. Some have poured their heart out to me. Some have told me they laughed (with me, I hope haha).  Some I've even talked to on the phone, random strangers brought together by a common journey.

Many people have been asking and encouraging me to update it more often.  There were a few things that made this difficult. First of all, like most of us, my life is just all kinds of busy.  My day usually begins around 5:45 am and ends after midnight.  And like most mothers, working or not, I do about 3,402 things in that time period.  Second of all, the topics here are quite heavy.  I can't just decide I'm going to talk about forgiveness and come up with some words that stir you.  Usually, if I post on something like forgiveness, its because the previous day I have FLIPPED out on someone I was having trouble forgiving.  Just being honest...

One of my closest friends, Jenn,  writes a blog that is a great read.  Check it out when you have a chance!  Anyway, she started a little schedule on hers and I'm totally copying off of that idea.  So, here is the schedule I'm going to try to follow from here on out. Obviously, when I flip out on someone and realize I need to blog more about forgiveness (or anger management classes), I will. This is just a short list for now, because I want to ensure I can keep with it.  As usual, if there's anything you'd like to read about, feel free to comment on my Facebook page, letting me know your thoughts!

Here they are (excuse the cheesy alliteration of the titles...but, we all need to be cornballs once in a while):

Motherhood Mondays - Blogs about the ups and down of single parenting.  Sharing the laughs, misfortunes, near-death experiences, meltdowns, smiles and lessons learned.  Even married moms can relate on some level, but no matter how much your husband works, single parenting is a different BEAST this should be fun.  You may also think I'm a psycho mom.  Again, fun.

Winning Wednesdays - I'll be sharing some of the ways I'm winning in this journey.  I've only dedicated one day to it because, well, guess.  Every so often, though, the stars align and I find myself winning some battle.  I also look forward to hearing about how you are winning in this game of life.

Thankful Thursdays - I love and am slightly obsessed with the book One Thousand Gifts.  It really is probably the best book I've ever read.  Therefore, I really wanted to dedicate some posts to focusing on all the things I am grateful for because there are many!

Fun Fridays - Something funny.  My life is full of fun and awkwardness and randomness and more fun.  I also have funny friends.  Laugh with me. Laugh at me. Whatever!

Singleness Sundays -  When inspired, I'll try to pay homage to my excellent adventures in singleness.

Stay tuned for more!

Peace out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Love Story

Happy belated Valentine's Day!  Hope it was, as my son says about nearly everything, "awesome"!

You've read the title of this blog and efore you get all excited, let me burst your bubble.  I am not about to tell you I met someone.  Not even close.  Not even close to close.  Actually, I'm pretty sure my 6 year old has a better love life than I do.  Oh, many an awkward moment I've had, that's for sure...but no one even slightly acceptable (on a good day) has crossed my path.  When my ex-husband moved out, everyone asked me when I would start dating again.  Date?!  I'd rather scratch my eyes out with a spork, thankyouverymuch.  My feelings aren't that strong anymore, but the opportunity just hasn't presented itself.  I said I wouldn't date until I was 30 (I was 27 at the time).  30 just came.  I now joke that every birthday, I will start saying "well, I didn't want to date until I was 31 anyway...".

However, there is a love story in the works here.  The story began before I was born.  A God who formed me and knew me in my mother's womb. Who carried me through to a healthy birth, all 9 lbs. 12oz. of me (my poor mother).  A God who brought comfort when I lost my mom.  A God who was near in the years that followed, both good and bad times.  A God who protected me in my comings and goings, safety I too often take for granted.  A God who was with me when I lost two babies, practically unknown and unseen to the world, but so very real to me.  A God who smiled with me when my two living babies were born.  A God who was with me during some very dark, confusing and humiliating times, a comforting and constant presence in the midst of chaos.  A God who has provided for me financially, who has protected my children, who has given me all I ever need and even some things I don't.

This is so hard for me to admit, but there are times when the beasts of loneliness and disappointment hurt like you can't imagine (well, you probably can).  It's that familiar weight on the heart that I can physically feel.  Usually I'm too busy to deal, but sometimes I have to allow myself to feel it.  I'm a huge joker, so most people can't even imagine me being all weepy and hot-mess-ugly-cry-ish, complete with dripping snot and what not.  But it happens.  It isn't too often, really.  Most days (yes, even Valentine's day) ridin' solo is just fine with me. I don't even think about it.  But then I pop in some stupid Nicholas Sparks movie.  Or I can't take one more nanosecond of my daughter's attitude, and there's no one to save me (or her).  Or I have to drive my tired self home from the airport after midnight when returning from a business trip.  Or my car makes noises that I'd rather just ignore.

There are certain roles husbands are supposed to play such as protector, provider, leader.  Though it'd be nice to have that in a human, God has been that and more.  A lot of it is too personal to blog about, but I have been through situations that could've been much, much worse! Protector. I have a job that allows me to work and earn a decent living, but also be home to meet my kids when they return from school.  We have a home, a car in the driveway, food in the fridge, toys well...everywhere.  Provider.  The kids have somehow, some way, made it to their 4th and 6th birthdays.  They're healthy, they're happy and they drive me nuts.  There are times when I feel like I'm 'bout to LOSE MY MIND up in here, but they are also my greatest joy (omg, I'm a sap).  He's constantly giving me what I need to raise them and I have to lean on Him, because in reality, I don't know what the heck I'm doing!  Leader.

Just before Christmas, the women's ministry at my church felt led to give all the single moms a financial gift, along with praying for us.  Like me, I'm sure many single moms feel forgotten, especially around the holidays.  While they prayed over us, I just kept hearing the phrase "love story" in my head. This was such a beautiful love story.  (WellI also ran out of deodorant that afternoon, and while they prayed, I was also thinking how the bright lights were making my pits sweat...but I digress.)  A lover remembers you, thinks of you, places value on you.  Even in seemingly insignificant times. Again God showed that His lasting love is tenderly caring for me.

It's a love story that life can imitate, but never reproduce.  Sure, it'd be nice to meet someone (under 50 and not socially awkward) one day.  There's a beauty in human relationships I can appreciate and marriage is His design. Yet I also know that this love story is as good as it gets.  His love runs deeper than any human's ever can and I can rest in it, because it is as sure as He is.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seven times seventy

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. - Corrie Ten Boom

You know the feeling. The house is quiet, the kids are playing together nicely, and you're using the moment to pick up (again).    Suddenly, you are aware.   Oh my goodness, there's peace.  Before you get a chance to wonder what constellations aligned for this moment, you hear the dreaded word: "Moooo-mm-mmm-mmmy".  Four year olds have a way of making a two syllable word into nine.  You'd worry, but you know better. Someone must've looked at someone.  Or touched them.  Or copied their picture.  Or breathed too loudly.  You know, the usual savagery.  

The other day was one of those days.  Both kids ran down the stairs. The 6 year old was screaming, crying, coughing, and apparently, dying, all at the same time.  The four year old came down with a smug look and an clandestine smirk.  

I wish I could tell you how spectacularly wise my counsel to them was. I wish I had ten bullet points, advising you on how to deal with your kids' constant bickering.  I don't.  My response was more like this:  "I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THIS CRAP!!!"  Tender, I know.  (You can forward your  Mother of the Year vote  to

I turned to my daughter and told her to apologize. With a full serving of dramatic flair, she turned to her brother and said "I. Am. Sorry! ".  There was nothing sorry about it.  I made her do it again. And again. "Say it like you mean it, El!"  Finally, she said with an atom of love laced into it.  I'll take it.  Her brother responded with "I don't forgive you." My first thought was, "good grief! Here we go again."  Then it happened...that still, small voice asked me..."sound familiar?"

Crap. Yes. It does sound familiar.  My six year old isn't that much worse than his mother.  Oh, I've forgiven some things.  But, if I'm painfully honest with myself and with God,  there's a lot I haven't forgiven. Even worse, there's things I don't want to forgive.  Things I feel are unforgivable.  Betrayal that is unimaginable.  Wounds that run deep.  Blemished memories and dreams unfulfilled.  And every time I feel like I've forgiven something, I am reminded of something else.  I look at pictures and I can see the pain behind our smiles. I think of days that should've been my happiest, yet they were some of the most hurtful.  The anger rises. The bitterness seethes.  My mind says "he doesn't deserve forgiveness".  Gulp.  Did I deserve forgiveness?

Matthew 18: 21-22 - Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times".

I can so identify with good ol' Peter.  Forgiving is a painful process because it involves letting go.  We think we are letting someone off the hook.  We think they're getting off easy.  We think we may be justifying their actions. And as my kids say all the time, it's not fair.  Yep, it's not.  But our lives were never intended to be fair.  Jesus' time here on earth was anything but fair.  He knew betrayal. He knew intense pain. He knew taunting.  He knew how it felt to appear weak.  Yet, even on the cross he cried "Father, forgive them."

If he did that for me, how could I not do it for the one who has hurt me the most? 

How can I pick and choose how many times I forgive? How can I draw the line between forgivable and unforgivable. Seventy-seven, meaning, over and over.  Over and over I have to choose to forgive. I can't offer up weak, dishonest prayers asking God to help me.  It's an act of the will. I choose forgiveness.  Even if I have to do it over and over. Even if the memories still hurt.  Even if the scars remain.  Even when I am treated unfairly again.  Even when my mind screams "no!", my heart needs to choose it.  

Will you?
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