The Pirate Boy

He swooped into our lives and stole the heart of our daughter. It wasn’t until recently that we learned he comes from a long line of pirates, French pirates who fled to Scotland. ‘French, Scottish Pirates’, sounds like something from Dr. Who.christmas-2006-jasonann

Unknowingly, we had been prayer for his arrival for several years. “God, send her a
engineer type who can support her and allow her to be whatever she wants,” was our prayer. The her was our daughter who is off the charts creative and intelligent and who, because of a few difficulties at birth, had to overcome challenging learning disabilities all along the way.

dscn0020“Someone who will appreciate her uniqueness, who will love her creativity, who can talk her language, who will support her in everything she does.” Enter Brian Patrick Ford. Today is his birthday and I want to do some shouting.

Brian sails through life quietly, gently, fixing things, building things, and taking care of those he loves. He’s like a gentle giant, a really, really smart giant. We watched him pack Austyn up and move her from Chicago to Colorado. A short time later they packed up again and headed for Alaska. Brian shares Austyn’s sense of adventure.

Child number one came along and Brian somehow managed to juggle new family, work, 181985_151537304902805_128046477251888_321576_5467106_nand school. Child number two surprised us all. Enter Emery Rain Ford. In those early months, Brian spent more time in the NICU than anyone. He studied books with big words and funny pictures that told him how to build airplanes while sitting with Emery.  He ran to hospital between work and his night classes. Through countless surgeries, dark times that seemed hopeless, he was the steadfastness that kept them anchored. He carried the financial load of medical bills and living expense without every showing signs of worry. Working long, exhausting days to make ends meet.

This past year their lives have changed! And we’ve loved watching every minute of it. New life, new job, new health, and new opportunities for this French Scottish Pirate Family. Brian remains calm, gentle, and caring, fixing jeeps when the need it, reviving VWs when they poop out, keeping computers on-line, repairing airplanes and flying a few, always ready to catch a few waves, and always grateful for what he has.

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So here’s to Brian Patrick Ford! The greatest French Scottish Pirate King who ever lived!!

May this be the beginning of a voyage of a lifetime.

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The Unleavened Life

There’s nothing more tiresome as listening to wealthy people complain about all they have to do to care for their wealth.” It should be a line from a movie, but it’s not. It doesn’t even come up as a quote on Google. I know, I checked.

slo-austynelizabeth008I figure if you are smart enough to acquire all that wealth, then you are certainly smart enough to figure out how to take care. Unfortunately, this assumption is rarely accurate.

Our family celebrates Passover each year. We do it for a couple of reasons; one is that we are part Jewish, or at least hope we are. The other is that we love the deep heritage that comes with the Jewish culture.

There is a point in the seder meal that touches me deeply. It’s centered around the matza bread. Matza is similar to a big flat cracker.

The simple Jewish translation goes like this: The Jewish people were waiting for God to free them from Egypt. They were so ready, and knew for certain that it was going to happen, that they didn’t put any rising agents in their dough BECAUSE when God said ‘GO!’ they couldn’t wait for their bread to rise. Thus they ended up with a big flat cracker called matza.

Life is so like bread. The more complicated the recipe, the more ingredients it needs, the longer it takes to make, to rise, and to bake.

When we live complicated lives, we miss so many opportunities. We wish we would be called to do great things, but if the call came, we’d have to let it go to voice mail and retrieve it when we had a minute to breathe, or next week.

It takes all of our energy to manage our responsibilities, debts, belongings and relationships. It’s exhausting, possibly even more so than listening to someone complain about it. There are amazing opportunities that cross our paths daily and we’re too preoccupied to see them.

An unleavened life allows one to answer the call, go when needed, grab an opportunity as it appears. A uncomplicated life gives time to appreciate the world around us. Freedom to enjoy the pleasures of life (without the drain of caring for them).

And when God says ‘Go!’ or “Now!’ or ‘Here it is, just what your were waiting for!’ – those living an unleavened life are ready, willing and able.

The unleavened life, it’s like a big flat cracker that goes anywhere you wish to go.

You can tell a lot….

My husband always says you can tell a lot about a man when you meet his wife. I’ve alway thought this was an interesting observation. It’s one that has never disappointed.

Some encounters can be scripted and without interruption, go according to script, word for word. Others are surprising, shining a new light on a side of a man not seen in his professional life. Some encounters are disappointing – but not surprising.

In the very recent political arena, this statement holds true for not only the candidate but also those who support him. I’ve stayed far away from politics these last two years and must say I’m better for it. I have just as much insight with no baggage. I fear those who have followed it’s every moment will take years to rid themselves of the muck they’ve allowed themselves to walk through. I follow the election like I watched American Idle; start watching 6 weeks before the finally and pick the winner.

This last weekend I heard a lot of “WHAT?” “Who are these people?” “Are they insane?” “That’s not how all men are!” coming from my husband as he scrolled through his phone. After two years of me rolling my eyes, putting my finger to my lips, and making the hand motions of a puppeteer shutting up her muppet, the one sided conversations ended with his comments.

I would like to think we’ve come a long way, but maybe that’s just in our heads.

Last week this was posted and it made me sad, because it shined a light on reality:

Imagine a woman who showed up (to a presidential debate) unprepared, sniffling like a coke addict and interrupting her opponent 70 times. Let’s further imagine that she’s had 5 kids by 3 men, was a repeated adulterer, had multiple bankruptcies, paid zero federal taxes and rooted for the housing crisis in which many thousands of families lost their homes. Wait…there’s more: she has never held any elected office in her life.      – Michelle Vitalione

You can tell a lot about a man when you meet his wife. You can tell more about a country when you meet the candidates running for election.

Moxy Minutes

 

I’ve been working on Moxy for some time now. Moxy is my name for the woman described in Proverbs 31. A proverb that I’ve been studying since I was in Jr. High.

This is a proverb that has been used by some to set an unrealistic expectation for women to become the perfect wife, or at least a  Proverbs 31 wife.

I’ve never seen it in that light. Rather, I see it as a character study of a confident, independent, intelligent, kind, giving (the list is endless) woman who anyone would be lucky to be in relationship with. Any relationship; friend, relative, business, parent. When Moxy enters your world, you can’t lose.

I’m excited to see how this study has evolved. Last year I started recording the complete study which is on YouTube, https://youtu.be/7HSA0FKULJo. Most recently the Moxy Minute has taken center stage in the form of two to three minute videos each focused on a character trait that Moxy possesses.

I hope you take a minute to allow me to introduce Moxy to you. She is my role model, my example, and the person I hope to become.

Moxy, a force of character, determination, courage and nerve.

Moxy can be found on YouTube @ jeanniegb: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9msiqxRzdf37EWws5_sNJQ

It’s just what we do!

It’s just what we do!

The text message read:

Morning. 

I received a private message from my friend in Colorado. Her body is shutting down and is calling hospice today. She asked if I would be able to come photograph them as a family during these last days. I want to make that happen if it’s possible.

Call me.

A few hours later our daughter Austyn was on a plane to CO and we had rearranged our schedules to help Dad take care of the two kids she was leaving behind on their last week of school.

I recall standing next to Austyn a few years ago after she had offered to take care of a situation for someone and they asked, “Why are you so nice?”

She looked at me, smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and said a-matter-of-factly, “That is what we do.”

Today, while Austyn was photographing this young family as they are most likely living the final days with their mommy, I stood in her place at my grandson’s award ceremony.

We had joke over the weekend that it must be difficult for teachers to come up with awards for every child. But that wasn’t the case when I walked into the room. All the K-3rd graders sat crossed legged on the floor watching as 14 of their classmates received recognition.

Liam receive an award for Integrity.

If you want to teach children to be kind, you have to be kind.

If you want to teach children how to  be forgiving, you have to be forgiving.

If you want to teach children how to love unconditionally, you have to love them unconditionally.

If you want to teach children to feel important, you have to show them how to love themselves.

If you want to teach children to respect authority, you can’t speak poorly of those in authority.

If you want to teach children integrity, you have to live it.

…after all, “that’s just what we do.”

The Moxy Chick

The Moxy Chick

Each year I find myself revisiting Proverbs 31. It’s been a proverb that I have loved and read since a teen. Back then, this Proverb was all about being the perfect wife – HA!- the perfect wife only exists when there is a perfect husband – HA!HA!

In my 30’s  it spoke to me on a new level. It became a guide on how to manage a crazy life and pretend that you have it all. Honey, only 30 year olds believe they can have it all. HA!HA!HA!

In my 40’s, Moxy started to shine a new light on the importance of building character, being a strong, courageous woman, and living without fear.

In my 50’s Moxy has become a good friend, a wise old woman who has hidden secrets that she reveals when she feels like it or when the reader is finally listening.

A few months ago I was going to start a study on her at our church, but one thing led to another and it was postponed until fall. Somewhere between writing the workbook and trying to figure out childcare for those attending the study, the idea of recording each week snuck in.

So here it is; Moxy, A Study of Proverbs 31. Twenty lessons on a woman who I adore. So pour yourself a drink, turn on your favorite background music, get comfy, and take a listen. She will not disappoint.

jeanniegb YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jeanniegb+moxy 

 

My Time Piece

My Time Piece

There’s a clock on the wall in my bathroom that isn’t audible until 2:00 in the morning when it echoes in my ears. From my bed I can hear every second that passes in the early morning hours.

Time is such an interesting thing to me. On one hand it seems to be completely man made. Who came up with 24 hours in a day? Why is there 60 seconds in a minute? Who decided?

Then I consider the rotation of the moon, the spinning of earth, the seasons, and years; it’s impossible to think that we can control time at all. Clocks that hang on our walls or the numbers that flash on our phones aren’t controlling, they are just telling what time it is.

How often do we say, “If I only had a few more hours in my day…” Or “I need an extra day in the week.” Or “There just isn’t enough time!”

Such comments force one of two statements to be true: Either the universe is screwed up by rotating the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun, not mentioning all the other stuff that’s spinning around out there. OR we are doing things that we need not be doing. (I vote for the second one – I’ll let you tell God he’s a screw up!)

Maybe time was never meant to be controlled. Maybe it was meant to be appreciated, respected, and cherished. Maybe each second that ticks by on the clock is a second of life, and breath, and love, and not a reminder of all that has to be finished, or started, or achieved.

Maybe the tick, tick, tick at two o’clock from the bathroom wall is there to remind me that I’m just a tick in this world and I can either enjoy it or try to control it.

I wonder why I can’t hear the ticking of the clock at six am, or noon, or when I’m getting ready for bed. Perhaps because there are too many other wonderful sound like the birds, or music, or voices, or life.

At two am there’s just me… and my thoughts… and the ticking of the clock that reminds me that time cannot be controlled, nor should it be attempted. Rather it should be cherished, appreciated, and respected.

I need to fill my time wisely. I need to get rid of the things in my life that steal this precious commodity from me. I may not be able to control time, but I do have the power to decide how I will spend it. If we truly believed that each tick is life, and breath, and love, then how I choose to use it would be different. It wouldn’t be waisted like loose change tossed in a bowl. Rather it would be cherished, protected, and admired like a precious gem handed down through generations.

Tick… tick… tick… there are only so many ticks in a day. Each one is a precious as the next. Together they create a life time. There isn’t one that should be waisted. None should ever be used for anything other than life, breath, and love.

But they said…

But they said…

My recent surgery to remove a large barnacle and two malfunctioning organs (details in the link below) gave me cause to seek out some advise, and there was a lot of it.

I asked those who had this procedure what I should expect. There was advise on medication, recovery, and the highly debatable – estrogen. Some said it was too risky, others said it was the best thing I could do, yet others said not to have the surgery at all.

I did my best to be a good patient and took all the meds prescribed. But one by one my body made it clear it wasn’t happy with any of them. So I heard the words, “You better stop taking it,” several times. And to my surprise, I didn’t really need any of them. The intelligence of our bodies is amazing if we shut up long enough to listen.

When it came to hormones, I had come to the decision that I would take estrogen from the beginning to avoid any shock the removal of such organs might have. BUT I wanted an exit plan, I would get off of it as soon as possible. I made it through four doses of that little blue pill before I decided the tingling hands and my brain feeling like a rubix cube might not be worth it.

When the words, “Stop taking it,” were heard once again, I wanted to do cartwheels.

I’m not afraid of all the terrible things they said I would experience,” I said. “I got to go through it sometime.”

“There are some hidden benefits to taking estrogen,” my doctor assured, “but there are alternatives that we will discuss on Thursday.”

So all day Monday I waited…they said I would go plunging into menopause right away. I was ready. I would take it on, full force, head on, I was ready!

They said I would winkle up like a prune. So I googled skin care oils and was amazed at all the health benefits found in Olive Oil and wondered why we don’t bath in the stuff.

They said the hot flashes could be an inferno and the night sweats would not be sweet.

They also said the I would loose all my desire to crochet (or sex, which ever you prefer).

“Please God, don’t take that away,” I said.

“OK,” I heard HIM say. “Don’t worry.”

I didn’t worry, but I did wait for the title wave of menopausal symptoms to consume me.

Day four, I was the same old me.

Day five, I waited…after all, they all said it would happen!

Day six, “Hey, I still think you’re cute!” I told my husband. “I’m glad,” he said.

Day seven came and so did the one week check up. My doctor and I sat in his office as he asked questions and answered mine. Finally I had to ask, “So… when are all those terrible side effects they said I would experience happen?”

He tilted his head a bit and shifted in his chair, “You’ve not had any?” he asked.

“No, not since I stopped taking the Estrogen.”

He looked at his clipboard and then back at me, “Well then, I guess it won’t be an issue for you…”

I know he kept talking, but I don’t know what he said because all I could hear was all they said and once again I wanted to do cartwheels.

We finished the exam and I met Jeff in the lobby. Once outside, I leaned up against the railing, looking at the beautiful clear blue sky and listening to the birds. The trees were in bloom and the parking lot was shadowed by pink flowers. Jeff thought I was tired, but I was exploding inside.

“You know all the things they said I would go through?” I said.

“Yeah?” he said pretending he knew what I was talking about.

“The Doctor asked me if I’ve had any symptoms, you know, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia. I said no. He said I most likely won’t!”

“Really?”

“I can’t believe it, everything they said, everything I was prepared to tackle, he said won’t happen.” I began it giggle and I’ve been giggling ever since; we’re now two and a half weeks later and yes, I still giggle.

What they said was important, because it came from their experience. These things really happened to real people. But what I’ve learned is that someone else’s experience does not have to be mine.

Looking back…I think something happened when I said, “I’m not afraid.”  And I can’t help but wonder if it’s one of the reasons HE said, “OK. Don’t worry.”

 

Related blogs:

Barnacles, Ovaries and Miracles:  http://wp.me/pEozB-s0

Crocheting (or sex, which ever you prefer): http://wp.me/pEozB-s9

Ethel’s Got a Cold

Ethel’s Got a Cold

I called to check on my soon to be 88 year old mother who has been dealing with a cold this past week…

Hello.

Well you sound better.

I feel better. (cough, cough)

Good, You taking your medicine?

Yes. But not the prescription. It had big letters on the bottle that says it will make me dizzy. I don’t want to be alone and dizzy.

What are you taking?

Mucinex.

That’s good, keep taking it. You sound so much better. Did you sleep well.

Yes.

Good.

I could only find one bedroom slipper this morning, when I went looking for the other one, it was in my top drawer. (Laughter, cough, cough)

That’s an interesting place for it.

I’m doing some crazy things. Got in the elevator with my friend, the doors closed and I just stood there looking at her until she said, “I think you have to push a button or something.” (Laughter)

Maybe I’m ready for assistant living. I’m calling my friend and telling her to move over, I’m moving in.

You were petting out of it yesterday.

Today’s Jeff’s Birthday!

No, that was yesterday. This is Valentines Day. Happy Valentines Day!

It is?

Yah, it’s Sunday.

It’s Sunday? What happened to Saturday? That’s why all the show on TV are church…

Yes, that would explain the Sunday Services on TV. Now you can watch your favorite.

I don’t like any of them. Well, where did yesterday go.

You just missed it, that’s all. You were pretty sick…

This conversation could be considered worrisome, but I think this is truly who my mother is. Life just connects on a different plain for her.

This is the same woman who after reading one of my blogs about our grandchildren will remark, “This is so funny, someone should be writing this down!”

Crocheting (or sex, which ever you prefer)

Crocheting (or sex, which ever you prefer)

I’ve wanted to write a little ditty on sex but thought it may be too provocative for some (or my mother) so I’m going to refer to sex as crocheting.

I personally fall into the category of only ever having one crocheting partner. I’m not sure if this is rare as I don’t think my fellow single partner crocheters are very vocal about it. I think it may be because we’ve been made to feel as if there is something wrong with us. I wouldn’t know, I have nothing to compare it to. For that matter, neither do those who have crocheted with many.

Those who crochet around have the chance to make new and exciting garments. Crazy scarves, colorful hats, and fuzzy mittens. For those of us who have somehow found a way to only have one crocheting partner, we create the afghans, the throws, and oversized sweaters. They may not be as exciting or colorful or current as the others, but they are warm, inviting, and comfortable.

When you are young, crocheting is fun and exciting; it can be an adventure. A little later on,  crocheting becomes a requirement if you desire to recreate little ones. No matter how evolved we become, someone still has to crochet to produce those desired new creatures. After the little ones arrive, crocheting can become taxing due to the over whelming fatigue that comes with wee ones. Life can quickly snowball into a busy life that pushes the yarn and crochet hooks to the back corner of the closet waiting to be rediscovered.

As you age, crocheting takes on a new life. The house is empty, the kids are gone, life in many ways is simpler. If you want, you can crochet anytime, anyplace, as long as you’re not too tired, or you hip isn’t hurting, or you didn’t eat something weird for dinner and you now have gas. Or in some cases, you’ve tasted a little too much wine and the thought of crocheting is exciting until you are snuggled under the covers and snuggling under the covers becomes the most awesome part of the day.

Many partners or just one, I’m not sure if either is wrong, they are just different. Each creates it’s own outcome in which the crocheter must own. Scarves or afghans, mittens or sweaters. I’ve only ever crocheted sweaters. As I look ahead to the next thirty to forty years, I am confident that there are new sweaters to create and olds ones to wear.

After all, when don’t you want to snuggle into a oversized, worn, cozy, favorite sweater?