Finding one small blessing each day.

Excuse me, said the stranger July 29, 2012

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<a href=”Flatbread Company, Somerville, MA, USA

Photo by Sierra Tierra (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierratierra/)

Yesterday, I took the boys back-to-school shopping.  Really, I was just trying to get jeans for E, because (deep sigh inserted here) he is now an almost-teenager and he really wants me to buy him more expensive jeans.  I get it, I do.  I was a teenager once too, and what I wanted more than anything, fashion-wise, were some Guess jeans.  Or Guess anything.  I had this marvelous great-aunt who I could always count on to buy me the cool stuff.  But back to E, I do understand.  This does not mean that my budget does, but I figure perhaps if I space out the shopping a little bit I can at least attempt to get him some of what he’s asking for.

So we arrived at the mall.  I got Baby L loaded in his stroller and the four of us made our way into the first store.  We headed over to the young men’s department and picked up an assortment of jeans for E to try on.  At the dressing rooms, E went back to go try them on and I parked L in front of the three-way mirror.  It was priceless watching him charm and flirt with the multitude of blonde, toothy babies smiling back at him in the mirror.   I kept trying to get a picture of it but B kept jumping in and waving his arms around so the shot never came out quite like I wanted it to.  After we were done getting E his jeans, we headed on through the mall.  We visited a few other stores and finally everyone was happy.  Mission accomplished.

To get back to our vehicle, we had to go back through the first store.  We made our way through towards the doors and when we were almost there a woman called out.

“Excuse me?  Excuse me, ma’am!”

We stopped and turned and she stepped up to me.

“I’m sorry,” she said “But I just had to tell you.  I was watching your family earlier-”

Uh-oh, I thought.  PLEASE say that no one did something awful.  E had bought some candy and then decided to throw the bag away and put the candy in his pocket.  Really, child?!  Or please don’t let this be the day that my children decide that shoplifting might be a fun thing to try.  I do not have the energy for that, please.   Or maybe someone broke something.  I didn’t hear anything shatter, but you never know what my boys might do when my back is turned.

The woman continued. “I was watching your family earlier, and I raised three boys.  By myself.  And I now have four grandchildren. I want to tell you that your children are just so well behaved.”

I looked at her in surprise and turned to the boys.  All three were staring at us.

Us?  My boys?  Was she talking to the right family??  Clearly she had missed me bribing baby L with Dum-Dum suckers to keep him quiet.  Or the moment when the older two found the foam Batman baseball bats by the registers and proceeded to sword fight with them.  Or when baby L was yelling his brother’s name at the top of his lungs, repeatedly, because E wasn’t answering him.  Surely she didn’t really mean us.

I looked back to her and she nodded her head.

“They are.  They are polite and kind and just so well-mannered.”

“Well, thank you,!” I stammered.  I leaned over and gave her a quick hug.  “That is very kind of you.”

She smiled at me.

“I just really wanted to tell you that.  You should be proud of your beautiful family.  You are doing a wonderful job.”  With that, she turned and walked away.

What a kind, wonderful thing to do to someone.  To just randomly tell them how wonderful their children are.  Or that they are doing a great job.  I have those moments sometimes … had one on Friday, actually… where I am at the checkout at the grocery store or wherever and my kids are making me bonkers and B has begged me yet again to buy just this one thing and baby L is reaching for every Us and People magazine within reach and I just want to abandon my cart and walk away RIGHT NOW. 

Then you go and meet someone like this sweet lady, who went out of her way to stop me and tell me this. I told the boys, as we walked to the car, “This… this you should remember.  Every once in a while, you should be that stranger who just says something completely kind and wonderful to someone.”

My mission this week is to pay it forward to someone.  Maybe that’s not quite right…maybe I’m paying it back… but regardless, I want to do that for  someone this week.   And to that woman, whoever you are, thank you.  You made my boys (and I) very proud.

Have a beautiful Sunday, my friends.


Going to miss this July 26, 2012

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At this very moment, L is wearing a superhero cape and licking his arm.  Barney is singing in the background (I didn’t know Barney was still around), E is getting set up the scrabble board for us to play a game, and B has rode his bike to a friend’s house to play.

Life is good.

Very good.

I sat on the deck with my sweet hubby the other night, and we had a rare night of lots of conversation, talk about dreams, our home, our kids, our jobs.  He had gone inside for a moment and I sat, looking out into the yard, reflecting.  It was just one of those beautiful moments that you are completely present and totally aware of just how amazing this life is.  I looked at my wrought iron table, our empty glasses resting on it, the solar globes softly lit in the corner of the deck, the moon and stars shining down upon the hush of the yard in the night.   No texting, no Facebook, no glow of electronic applications interrupting us.  It was just us and the sky and the yard and our dreams… our beautiful boys all snug and safe in their cozy beds inside and absolutely nothing more pressing upon us than whether or not we should really head to bed.

That song, “You’re Going To Miss This” came into my head.  The one by Trace Atkins where he talks about just how fast it flies by.  I spent so long being so excited to grow up, have babies, be a mommy… and then I did, and when E and B were babies, life was a straight whirlwind of insanity.  We were poor, we were young, we had no idea what we wanted to be when we grew up…but we made it work.  We loved our boys, juggled our jobs, and argued our way through the first few years until we finally figured out how to communicate, and even more importantly, figured out how to let things go.  To pick what really mattered and drop the rest.  The drop-the-rest part was the most important thing, I think.  Focus on what matters… your spouse, your kids, your health, your family… the rest is disposable.  There will always be another bill to pay, the air conditioner will always break, your kids will always need haircuts.  But that man that you love?  Those kids that make your insides burst with the sweet goodness of them?  Those are the things that deserve your attention.

I am going to miss this.  I already do.  I already miss my E’s sweet little boy voice, my B’s desire to let me read to him.  I miss SO MUCH already.  But I also know how very good I have it, too.  I am so glad that I can view this picture from outside the frame sometimes, even if it’s  just for a moment.

Goodnight, my friends.  My boy and his Scrabble board are waiting for me.  And that is a moment this mama can’t miss.


A most beautiful tree July 23, 2012

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I want to start this by thanking the new friends who chose to follow my blog.  You inspired me ridiculously!  I was going to write today, and then I just wasn’t… and then I saw YOU!  I saw your friendly faces had LIKED what I had said and then oh, my goodness, am I so happy!  So thank you.  YOU are my hidden blessing of the day.

My cousin, who is a Marine, spent two years stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  He came back to the United States for a few weeks, and then went on to Afghanistan, where he was stationed for eighteen months or so.   Somehow he managed to miss every Christmas with our family.

Our Christmases have kind of changed in the years since my grandmother passed.  They’re not worse by any means, they are just different.  I say that with only a tiny smudge of sadness.  There are a lot of ways in which this is a good thing – I get to host at my home now, for example, and I get to spend days on end with my mother and stepdad in theirs.  But for my father’s side of the family,  it has become a nearly impossible feat to try to get everyone together in the same house.  Mostly, this is just because The House, her house, isn’t there for us anymore; a nesting place for us to all fly back home.  And so not only did we not get to come together again, but the Marine couldn’t come at all.

He finally was scheduled to come home from Afghanistan in late February.  We planned, we texted, we Facebooked, we emailed… we made all the plans in the world trying to figure out what weekend we might all be able to come together to celebrate this young man’s safe return home to his family.  And then this giant blizzard came through Russia and halted all travel.  We suddenly had no idea when he was coming home, or how long he’d get to stay home because he had to turn around after a certain number of days and go to North Carolina.  We just didn’t know.  So we waited.

Finally, finally he made it home.  All of us who could traveled hours and hours to converge upon my aunt and uncle’s home in Minnesota.  The home was filled with laughter, hugs, stories, and just plain… joy.  And a few more hugs.  The afternoon turned into evening and a group of us left for the airport to pick up another of our travelers.  Dusk and then early evening decended upon the city.

Turning back into the street upon which my aunt and uncle’s home sits, we all looked in surprise at the house.  There were Christmas lights lit, lining the porch and garage, a giant lit wreath above the garage.  We went inside and suddenly noticed that there was garland lining the woodwork in the kitchen, and then we saw that our aunt had put plates of Christmas cookies out.

The had decorated and baked Christmas cookies for the Marine, who had missed four years of Christmases with his family.  They had turned on the Christmas lights and decorated the most spindly, measly looking tree you have ever seen.  They stuck it on the deck next to us as we all sat outside on this cold March night in Minnesota.  My aunt’s father (who is in his eighties and is not a relation to the Marine) came over in full military attire to  pay his respects to the Marine.

It got darker and then we noticed it… the big evergreen that was lit up in all of its Christmas glory.  This tree, though, was not decorated by my aunt and uncle for their nephew.  This tree wasn’t even in their yard; it was a tree in a neighbor’s yard, on the other side of a wrought-iron fence.  This tree had been lit up by a neighbor… a neighbor who knew about the soldier who had missed so many Christmases, and knew about his homecoming that weekend.

This tree was the most beautiful Christmas tree I think I have ever seen.

It was radiant because it wasn’t just lit by pretty lights and all the retail packaging corporate America sells us over the holidays.  It was lit by kindness, and honor, and respect.  It radiated gratitude and friendship for our fellow neighbors, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews.

That, my dear friends, is an image I will never forget.


A polyphasic sleeper July 22, 2012

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Sleeping Beauty

Photo above: Sleeping Beauty by Jennie Faber on Flickr.com

Have you ever read The Napping House by Audrey Wood?  I loved that book as a kid.  I loved the story well enough, but what I really loved was the pictures.  The big, silly grandma, the splayed feet, the dog… all of these things reminded me a little bit of my grandma, except I was pretty sure she didn’t sleep at all except quite possibly very late at night and very early in the morning.

I am a napper.  I am more than a little ashamed to admit this.  I suppose there could be worse things to admit, but there is some sort of shame associated with my napping that makes me want to hide my head and run for cover.  Possibly run for another nap, preferably someplace cool, with a big pillow and a long enough blanket to cover both my ears and my toes at the same time.

I remember when E was getting old enough to not really need a nap anymore, and I would sort of fight this.   Then I finally just gave up and let him stay up with his daddy, as long as I still got a nap.  Then B came along, and phew!  Now I’m safe again; another baby that needs a nap!

There were times along the way that this very real fear would strike me and I would think about all of the time I am wasting taking a nap.  I could be at the pool with the boys, I could be coloring with baby L, baking a cake with B.  But instead, here I am sleeping.  I also went through a phase where I didn’t take a nap, because after all, I work and don’t sleep at work… so obviously I am capable of making it through the day without a nap.  Inevitably, however, I came back to it.

I think I have finally just accepted this about myself.  That I am A NAPPER.  I am not proud of it.  I don’t think taking a nap for an hour or two every day is a qualifier I would list in the standards of A Good Mommy.  But it’s me, and it’s who I am.  It makes me really, really happy, and makes me a little more sane.  I also wake up from my nap feeling like it’s Day Two – a new start to my day.  Maybe when I grow old, I’ll feel like I got to live twice as long as everyone else because I got so many “extra” days in there.

Doubtful.  I sincerely hope I don’t cry because all of those hours could have added up to a few more DAYS with my little ones.  I hope I can just accept, and be, and my children will forgive me for my naps.  I hope they come visit me and we can chat over Moon Pie and lemonade and they will tell me all the naughty things that they did when I was sleeping.

After I wake up from my nap, that is.


Bras and babies

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I had a great day with baby L today.  Well, for awhile anyway, until I got so worn out I couldn’t see straight.

We ran a ton of errands: Kohls, Hy-Vee, Half Price Books, Ulta (I have a serious addiction to Ulta)… but at this point we were at Kohls in the bra section.  I had one of those $10 for every $50 you spent coupons and I decided I was going to use it to buy a much needed bra.  Victoria’s Secret it was not, but a broke girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  So there I was, with L and B in tow, and I started meandering through the bra section.  B was instantly mortified and had to duck away lest someone see him in the UNDERWEAR section, and worse yet, the BRAS.  L meanwhile was happily chatting away  to himself in the stroller.

I saw the 60% off clearance racks and headed for them.  I sifted through them, looking for my size and then my little L’s voice came calling out, loud and clear, “I see BOOOOOOOOBS!  Boobs!”.  There was this big, comfortable grandma-looking lady a row over and I happened to look her way just as my son was making his very loud announcement.  She tried to look away and then she just laughed.  A deep, feel-good, belly laugh and she said “Well, you can’t really blame him.  He’s not lying!”   Good grief, baby doll.  Then Baby L proceeded to pull a satiny aqua bra off the rack, hold it up to his chest and sing “I have boobs!  I have boobs!” in the sweet, lilting singsong only a toddler can do.

B happened to witness this and with lots of embarrassed giggles, snatched that bra away and hung it on the nearest rack.  Oh, my boys.  One wants to wear bras and sing loudly about boobs and the other is horrified to potentially be seen even CLOSE to the lingerie section.  Love, love, love them.


Head in the sand July 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 4:24 pm





I made an observation to my darling husband the other night.  What I said was something along these lines:

I sometimes think that my personal happiness and general outlook on life is directly tied to how much news I read through the day.  If I spend too much time reading horror story after horror story about this murder or that car wreck or what deplorable thing this person did to that person, I start to get… funky.  I don’t want to write anymore; I don’t want to really do anything more.  I just feel sad and a little despondent.”

He thought about it for a moment, and then said “Hm.  That’s an interesting observation.”  He wasn’t being sarcastic, he meant it.  It is interesting… because it’s really true.  He is a big believer in watching the morning news, first thing, in the morning.  There is very little that gets me more exasperated than before I have even taken a sip of coffee, hearing “A rollover on I-35 overnight took the lives of…”

Please, no.

There is entirely too much pain that goes on in the world today.  And right along with this, there is entirely too much knowledge about it being shared.

It’s really, really hot out.  It’s like 106 or something today.  Yes, we are having the hottest year on record since it has been being recorded, but today is NOT the hottest it’s ever been.  Or the longest it’s been this hot.  Yes, there is A LOT of really awful stuff going on in the world.  A lot of heartache, a lot of pain, a lot of bad things.  But sometimes I think that if we’re not careful, all of this awful pain in the world can wear us down.  Make us loving, kind, gentle humans feel sadness and pain when it’s not even ours to share.

I believe in loving each other, and I believe that when one of mine is hurting or sad, or there is even one who isn’t mine who is hurting or in pain, I will do whatever I can to assist.  I believe we should hold hands in this crazy world, and lift each other up when one of us stumbles.  

But I also believe that we should not set out to read every horrible thing that happens on this beautiful little planet we call home.  At some point, it just turns into overwhelming madness… there is just too much to be done.

So I am going to do what I can for those I can.  I am going to read these blogs that lift me up and inspire me, and I am going to hug my friends and tell them how much I love them.  I am going to put down the mouse, back away from the news channels and websites, and maybe just a little… stick my head in the sand.

Yes, I am an ostrich.


The green sign on the corner July 12, 2012

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It has been so long since I have written here I don’t even know where to start.  But it’s nice to be here anyway.  Good morning, my wonderful friends. 🙂

I have been so inspired to write lately, and sometimes I think the best way to get going is to just start SOMEWHERE.  So here I am!  This inspiration started when an old friend started a blog about her child’s challenges with Fragile X syndrome.  It’s not so much a blog as a collection of poetry and musings regarding learning to cope with this challenge life threw at her.  This led to someone else mentioning the blog Momastery, which if you haven’t read, I highly recommend as well.  The writer/mom on Momastery, Glennon, reminds me a lot of Rockstar Ronan’s mom in her style of writing.  This world is full of such amazing, wonderful, inspirational women.

Momastery’s big thing is about spreading the message that we all belong to each other.  Every single one of us.  As a part of that, we need to care for, help and love each other.  She has followers all across the U.S. who have joined her movement to just do good things for people.  I love, love, love it.   Am definitely a fan, and will definitely keep reading.  As you know, this blog is about finding the beautiful things that are all around us.  Glennon of Momastery definitely meets that criteria.  Go, mama, go!  I want to be one of these mamas who do something amazing in the world.

On my drive in to work today, I noticed a sign.  It said “FREE LUNCH.”  It looked like a garage sale sign, and was in fact mixed in with some For Sale By Owner and garage sale signs.  It caught my eye, and then the light turned and I kept driving.  The thought that flashed through my mind was “Crazy.  Someone is offering LUNCH to get people to come to their garage sale?”

I got to the next light, and saw another sign.  This one was green cardboard, and read again, “FREE LUNCH”.  So I looked a little closer.


Monday – Wednesday – Friday

12:00 – 1:00

Ages 1 – 18

And listed a school name as its location.  This stunned me.  I know children that attend this school.  I know families that live in this neighborhood; on this very street.

The message it implied honestly brought tears to my eyes.

Are there really babies in my neighborhood, in my town who don’t have any food to eat?  Are there really babies (and by the way, babies are anyone who isn’t old enough to vote) who have to go to school during the summer just so they can get something to eat?  My heart breaks just thinking about this.  Here I am, driving to work with my Tupperware container of watermelon, my travel mug of coffee, thinking about how much I’d really like a Sonic breakfast burrito, and there are children ON THIS VERY STREET that don’t have any food to eat.  These children, that my children play with.  These children that swing on the same swings at the park with my child.  These children, whose mommies and daddies work just as hard as I do, but for whatever reason, don’t have enough to eat.

I’m not quite sure what I am going to do about this.  But that green FREE LUNCH sign definitely opened my eyes.