Monday Mantra #19

Everything will be okay in the end.

If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.



image via Susan Parrish

No-Colored Glasses

My husband and I were lucky enough to take our five-year-old on an All-About-Him trip last week to Scottsdale, Arizona. Our friend’s house backs up to an amazing preserve of 50+ miles of trails. Every day we went on nature hikes. We spotted rattlesnake bones (dried wood), anaconda snake holes (groundhog holes), volcanic rocks (black rocks), and fossils (trash). We even found a kangaroo cactus.


That cactus sealed the deal on a five-year-old’s dream of growing up and becoming a “guy who takes kids on nature walks every day.”

We crossed rivers and we climbed mountains. We took shelter in the shade of a forest after trekking through the hot desert sand. We slinked past bear caves and hid from rhinoceroses. We followed footprints and flightpaths.

All in a about a 1/2 mile radius from our front porch. All within a stone’s throw of a neighborhood of homes. And all in my flip flops.

The highlight was this incredible buried treasure:


With this accompanying discourse:

Me: Look at that tire!

Him: Where?

Me: Right there! Under that tree!

Him: Where?

Me: Right there. A tire! Don’t you see the tire?

Him: Where?

Me: Are you kidding, you don’t see the tire? You are literally standing right on top of it.

Him: Where?

Me (going over and kicking it): The tire! Right here. 

Him: Oh.

We continued on our way and hunt for wildlife and pots of gold. Approximately two minutes later, we headed back to camp (our house) and I said, hey wasn’t that tire pretty awesome?

To which he replied, I guess, but where was the tiger?

My first thought was one of relief that I did not have to go home and call the eye doctor. But then it settled in and I stopped and I smiled.

He was actually searching for a tiger. And, more importantly, he actually believed that a tiger could actually be there, sitting on our dirt path under the shade of our forest.

I smiled and I thanked him. For reminding me that anything really can be possible. Because in his eyes, anything is. He’s not jaded by expectation or limitation. He’s not hampered by the impossible. Or the routine. Or the ordinary. Or the expected.

I saw an old tire. He saw something more.

What a wonderful way to view the world. It’s better than rose-colored glasses. It’s no-colored glasses.

How many truly extraordinary things have we missed along the way? How many times have we bypassed something great simply because we believed it was beyond belief? How many times have we missed out because we forgot that anything is possible?

Because it really is.

Tiny miracles happen every day. So do big ones. We just have to slow down, keep our eyes open, and always, always be curious.

And keep a look out for tigers.



Monday Mantra #18

People are made of flesh and blood and a miracle fiber called courage. -Mignon McLaughlin


image via Mitch Law

Monday Mantra #17

Never hug a cactus. -Calvin, age 5


A Five Year Old’s Take on March Madness

In keeping with tradition, our five year old has once again designed his dream March Madness bracket with all of his favorite teams.  The NCAA might have to start regulating superpowers and probably institute fouls for temper tantrums…but there’s no denying this tournament would make for exciting TV.


The SSC (Superheroes and Seuss Conference) has some serious contenders this year. Superman should be flying straight and easy to the Final Four, but look for The Grinch to give Superman a few rips in his cape. The Grinch could steal Christmas and Superman’s spot in the Final Four. Possible upsets? Sam-I-Am might end up Sam-I-Am-A-Winner. And Pop has shown amazing tenacity throughout the season in what some say was the toughest schedule of all teams in the tournament. Despite the constant belly hopping, Pop is still going strong.

In the ORC (Oscar Rejects Conference), the favorites are Nemo and Wreck It Ralph. But Winnie the Pooh could definitely give Ralph a run for his money. And honey. Preferably honey. And there are a couple of high risk/high reward gambles here. Turbo’s super speed would have landed him a higher rank, but his low free throw accuracy slows him down to snail pace, hence the #8 seed. Buzz Lightyear’s peak physical condition makes him a potential threat but his tendency to fly away mid-game to Infinity (and sometimes Beyond, depending on the time zone) makes it hard to bet on him.

The RRC (Really Random Conference) has some key teams to beat, including last year’s defending champ, T-Rex. T-Rex has a tough trail to blaze with Gorilla in the trees and Shark in the water. He’ll have to get past both of them, which is no easy task. But T-Rex’s staying power is undeniable, despite his teeny tiny arms. Kenny Bear has a huge upside but can sometimes run into problems getting bogged down with details (as in every item of clothing he is wearing, every item of food he ate that morning and every item for school he carries around in his backpack). Bubble Tape can definitely hit the long shots but sometimes fails to stick it in the paint. No doubt we’ll definitely hear some of the all-familiar “Hubba Bubba Hubba Bubba!” chants. And who doesn’t love a good Cinderella story? This year’s heartstrings are being pulled by Gummy Worm. Everyone thought Gummy Worm was out when he injured his bottom red 1/3 in January. But he is back and stronger than ever and might just surprise us.

Lastly we have the WNC (Willy Nilly Conference) with newcomer Peyton Manning. It’s his first Dance and he’s coming off a stellar season with a 31-1 record, although that one loss to Seattle in February was a heartbreaker. Peyton should break down Blue Straw easy in the first round but after that, it’s no man’s land. Hope he brings his helmet because he’s going to need it to fight off the winner of the Ninja Turtles/Team Umizoomi matchup. A lot of ladies might be rooting for Umizoomi as the one team with some girl power in this male dominated field. But the Ninja Turtles have some serious weaponry in their arsenal if Donatello can stay healthy. The Zoo and The Museum game is anyone’s guess, while Santa should sleigh #7 seed Curious George with Ho-Ho-NO problem and even have time for cookies and milk.

There’s sure to be more than one shining moment this year.

Move over Kentucky, I’m rooting for Kenny now.


Monday Mantra #16

Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered. -Dr. Seuss


image via Ben Gribbon

Monday Mantra #15


This is my wish for you:

Comfort on difficult days

Smiles when sadness intrudes

Rainbows to follow the clouds

Laughter to kiss your lips

Sunsets to warm your heart

Hugs when spirits sag

Beauty for your eyes to see

Friendships to brighten your being

Faith so that you can believe

Confidence for when you doubt

Courage to know yourself

Patience to accept the truth

Love to complete your life

-An Irish Blessing

Under wraps

Our now five year old had his birthday party last week. It was one of those crazy 90 minute affairs with kids jumping, screaming, singing, swinging, running, bouncing and climbing at warp speed intervals.

Thank God for good acoustics.
And for the fact that I didn’t have to clean up at the end.

After we said our last goodbye, we loaded our red-cheeked and cake-crusted birthday kid into our car, along with a big bag of presents from his generous gaggle of friends.

When we came home, we unloaded and headed out in the street with our neighbors to enjoy what had turned into a gorgeous spring afternoon.

While we were chasing the twins (who jump, scream, sing, swing, run, bounce and climb every waking moment of every day), our little birthday boy snuck around back, into the house and pillaged and plundered his way through his loot at warp speed intervals.

I knew there was something fishy going on when one of his friends came out and told me that he was handing out Tic tacs. I haven’t bought Tic Tacs since I saw the movie Juno.

I walked into my house and what could easily have been mistaken for the Von Trapp living room on Christmas morning: wrapping paper and ribbon strewn everywhere and all of the gifts opened and gathered in the small arms of VERY excited five year old boy.

I, however, was the other kind of excited. The shocked and dismayed kind of excited. For along with the wrapping paper and ribbons went the cards and gift tags. And my visions of sugar plums and organized, thoughtful thank you notes jumped, screamed, sang, swung, ran, bounced, and climbed right out the door.

I was very frustrated (read: furious) with the birthday boy’s actions and sent him to his room to think about what just happened.

But as I surveyed the scene and began to try to match the presents with their givers, tapping into my stellar deductive reasoning skills, I realized that my frustration was a little misplaced. And that the “thinking about what just happened” that was happening down the hall was a little ill-advised.

How, really, was he supposed to know? He knew the gifts were for him. It was his birthday party, after all. He knew he was destined to open them. He was excited.

And I should have known. I should have known that a five year old wouldn’t know why thank yous are significant. And a five year old wouldn’t know why it’s important we take the time. And a five year old wouldn’t know that the “who” in the who gives what is just as essential as the “what.”

It was a good reminder that sometimes I attribute adult understanding, logic and thought processes to a little mind who just doesn’t have the wisdom that my years have given me. And sometimes I should place myself in those size 9 light-up Spiderman sneakers for a few moments before jumping to conclusions and frustrations.

It was a good reminder and it was a good opportunity. To teach a lesson and have a conversation about why it is important to know who gave you a gift before you open it, why it is important to open a card first, and why it is important to appreciate the person who spent the time, thought and money to make your birthday a little more memorable.

So in the end we all received a present. It just took a little patience, understanding and compassion to unwrap it.

And it turns out the Tic Tacs were Pez.

Monday Mantra #14

Those were the salad days, the halcyon years! The sleepless nights, the wailing babies; the days the interior of the house had been hit by a hurricane; the times I had five kids, a chimpanzee, and a wife in bed with fever. Even when the fourth glass of milk got spilled in a single night, or the shrill screeching threatened to split my skull, or when I was bailing out some son or other…from a minor predicament at the police station, they were good years, grand yearsBut it all zipped by. One minute Marlena and I were in it up to our eyeballs, and the next thing we knew the kids were borrowing the car and fleeing the coop for college.  

From Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.


That’s what superheroes do

I want to tell a story about a superhero.

He is five years old and weighs about 36lbs. He has shaggy blond hair and starry blue eyes.

Over the course of one week, this superhero visited the doctor four times and the emergency room three times. He stayed awake for 26 hours straight. He even managed a smile and some curiosity during his very first ambulance ride. He was poked, prodded and scanned over and over despite a lot of tears and a lot of confusion. He answered questions with the kind of honesty and thoughtfulness of a superhero twice his age. He was calm, mature and strong. And when they rolled him away for surgery without his dad and mom, he looked back with uncertainty, but turned around and put on a brave face.

Because that’s what superheroes do.

The superhero’s surgery went well and he was back fighting crime (and his little superhero-in-training brothers) the very next day.

And the mom of this superhero knows that this week she had a little glimpse into the future.

She saw a grown up superhero. And a man ready to confront obstacles with the very same strength and courage. A man who was thoughtful and interested. A man willing to accept challenge. A man who was brave.

And this mom, who sometimes, most times, feels like she is screwing everything up, and who sometimes, most times, feels like she is grasping at straws, smiled. And she was so very proud. Not only of the little superhero right in front of her, but also of the man he would become. She believed with all of her heart in who he was, but also of who he would someday be.

Because that’s what moms of superheroes do.