One week to B-Day....and do I have a gift for YOU

This time next week will be my dreaded birthday. It's not a really significantly awful age or anything, it is just that my birthdays are traditionally so awful in and of themselves, pretty much ever since I became an adult ,(I think it has something to do with moving to the Northern hemisphere and it falling in deepest darkest winter), that it is now a day I actively dread every year. (Stay with me here people, you will be glad you did, this is not my usual whiny birthday post).

Now I loathe my birthday not because I do not have a dear, lovely husband who tries. Oh how he tries. Poor man. I'm sure my birthday conjures up all sorts of anxiety in his gentle heart. I have told the sweet man to please just pretend it is NOT my birthday but he is unable to do that, and if he ever were to manage that, I am sure that I would feel very sad. Somebody is sure to remember it after all, and I then would be reminded of it, and then it would just be lame that my husband was ignoring it. Even though he was told to. And I would be bitter and resentful rather then depressed and forlorn, which is my general b-day mood. Can you tell what a party it is being married to me? It's not that I don't want to be excited, I try I really do, for his sake, but every time he asks me what I want or what I want to do, I experience a faint wave of nausea and a swell of despair. I have never professed to be low-maintenance and issue-free.

So listen peeps, I think I have figured out the problem. It's not good for me to think about myself too much. Not that I am not ordinarily a complete narcissist. Hello, have you met my blog where I write about myself daily? There's just something about a day that is supposed to be all about me and me having a non-stop good time, that is just bound to put me in a bad mood. I think it is because life and the world as we know it, does not exactly revolve around my birthday and so when things that would be a mere annoyance on an ordinary day occur on my birthday, I take it as a personal affront from the universe. Soooo.. I've been thinking and today I thought to myself, SELF! What can we do to make this a less horrific day for us all? And Self replied. I know! I know! Why don't you make it not so much all about YOU??! Brilliant! No?

SO! Since it is indeed better to give then to receive, I have a plan. I will give a pretty little something (no, never you mind what it is, that is a birthday surprise, but rest assured that I am quite a good gift giver. Ok fine, I do not know but that is only because I will tailor the gift to the winner, I don't like to be all generic about these things,) ..where was I? Ok yes, I will give this lovely thing to the person who comes up with the best/most creative/most heartfelt and genuine/funny/makes me cry/or whatever...way to make their little slice of the world (or maybe someone else's slice far away) a little bit better on February 6, 2009. That gives you almost 7 days to think about it and prepare yourself. Here are the............druuuumroolllllll.........

Very Official Rules: (Cos every good contest has very official rules)

1. You must post your resolve on this website before that day.

2. On February 6th if you come back and report back on the follow-through before midnight, you might well be a lucky winner.

Although c',mon! You will be a winner either way! Super duper party not-pooper! I'm so excited! I just can't hide it! Do not let me down here people and be all lame and non-participatory. Can you imagine how bummed I would be about my birthday if that happened??! Can you EVEN IMAGINE???

Rest assured that you don't have to provide drinking water for sub-Saharan Africa at large. It can be as small as getting through a morning without snapping at your kids (this is considered a major feat in my world), or calling your granny if you don't do so regularly, or volunteering somewhere, or getting to the gym if you don't ordinarily (trust me, this improves your health and your sense of well-being and that totally improves the world around you). Be creative! Be genuine! Or whatever! Just do something positive that you would not do on the average day! So let's recap: as long as you can tell me how you think it will improve the world in some way (before Feb 6), and you follow through , and tell me about that too (on Feb 6), you are eligible to win and win big. Ok maybe not big, but pleasant. It will definitely be a pleasant win. Cool? YAY!!! I can't WAIT for my birthday now!

Those of you who follow anonymously, and have yet be introduced, this is the perfect time to reveal yourself. I am so excited to meet you. Those of you who are my friends (if you have ever commented here I consider you a soul mate) and you do not help me.....(*insert the scary, staring, quivery with rage face I do to my kids when they are misbehaving while I am on the phone, here.)

So it turns out my parents DID have us just to be their slaves....

Did you ever tell your parents that? When they heartlessly forced you to work your fingers to the bone, making your bed, feeding the dog and so forth? I probably did not have the courage to say it outright (did I mom?) but I muttered it under my breath and thought it alllllll the time. Yes mom, I did.

And now my kids say it to me, and I have always thought that this was sooooo hilarious. Yeah kid, me asking you to put away your laundry totally compensates for me doing the laundry, feeding, cleaning, bathing, puke catching, bum wiping, nose wiping, nine months of morning sickness and years of labour (of the birthing variety- yes years. Seriously, my kids take their sweet time down the birth canal and they also tend to love to hang out there for hours in transition -between 8-10 cms- while I have un-medicated contractions 45 seconds apart. Good times. ) So YEAH kid, that's exactly why I had you. So that you could make the bed that would not even exist if I had not had you.

Anyway, ever since my kids have been old enough to make this ludicrous claim, I have occasionally wondered if maybe, just perhaps the same was true of my own parents, and they weren't opportunistic little child-slave drivers after all. I was juuuust starting to let my parents off the hook when this conversation took place today:

Aaron: (my husband, for the uninitiated): "So this is how it is going to go tonight guys! I need 2 kids to set the table and unload the dishwasher, and I need 2 kids to clear the table and load the dishwasher."
Me: (chiming in enthusiastically) Yes! And I need one kid to vacuum the living room and sweep the dining room while the other teams are doing their thing.
Aaron: (does not miss a beat) and that would take 5 kids and we only have four.
Me: Oh man, that's right! Dammit.

See, that is our motivation! Deep in our hearts we procreate just for the free maid service. Clearly we have entered a new phase of life here. I guess my babies are really growing up. They are big enough to be my servants now. Awwww.... Awesome

Culturizing ur kidz

When I was growing up we were regularly exposed to classical music. There was nothing high-brow or pretentious about it, it was just that my parents enjoyed certain classical pieces and played them often, consequently we loved them too. I remember one of my brother's earliest words yelled from his car-seat being "Dvorak!". As he demanded to hear more of the New World Symphony.

(Not for nothing but my brother ended up being quite academically brilliant and musically talented.Also, good looking.)

I, like most earnest first time mothers of the time, totally bought into the Mozart Effect theory, and diligently exposed my first-born to classical music from the womb. (I also made him listen to his French, Russian, Chinese, German and Spanish tapes every single day as a baby), I would have totally scared myself if I knew myself back then.

My first-born is indeed brilliant, and seems reasonably musical, but so are my second, third and fourth born (and I am of course, completely un-biased), who as you might have guessed, did not have as rigorous an education courtesy the One Step Ahead catalogue. (I do seem to remember watching numbly as kid number 3 unraveled the language tapes so that I could have 2 minutes of peace).

My point is that exposing your kids to classical music when they are young, in an attempt to raise their IQ can't hurt, but there are other even more compelling reasons to do so. I remember as a teenager coming home from boarding school on the weekends. My sweet boyfriend at the time would often accompany me and both of us would find great respite and peace in the classical music only policy my parents had on Sundays. It was such a pleasant break from the non-stop barrage of rock/pop/rap/reggae/metal/house/etc/etc music we were exposed to all week long (all at the same time!).

I still tend to play classical music to the exclusion of anything else when I am in a particularly stressful phase of life.

Having some sort of familiarity and appreciation for classical music can enrich a child's life for the rest of their lives. It opens a whole new world to them. I think it's really helpful to expose them to it early, when they have no pre-conceived ideas about it, and can grow to love it on their own terms in a very real and uncontrived way.

I'm not a music teacher or educator, so take my comments for what they are are worth, but something I enjoy doing with my youngest (aged four) who is still my trusty sidekick for most of the day, is to tune into NPR as we are driving, and then have him tell me what is going on in the music. He enthusiastically weaves all sorts of tales as the piece plays. There is inevitably a prince, princess and evil witch involved. He listens really carefully for changes in the music and his story lines are always appropriate to the music. He seems to understand the change in emotion and mood when a minor key comes along, and the different personalities different instruments can have. He recently added a horse into the mix, to what really was a very galloping portion of the music. I was quietly jubilant.

It's something we both enjoy, and a way for us to interact when we're in the car, while exposing him to something I hope he will develop a love and appreciation for. It's easy, and fun and natural and that works for me.

Notes from Benjamin Zander

I mentioned that I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by this remarkable man on January 20th. He gave up an invitation to the Inauguration (it's true, he even showed it to us, it was fancy), to come and speak in small town Ohio. Clearly he is insane. But gloriously so.

I am going through some papers and found some of the notes I scrawled on a program (why do I always forget my lovely little journal for things like these?).

Out of context many of them lose their oomph or even become incomprehensible but here are a few that stand well even on their own.

When you are comparing yourself to others, remind yourself, "I am a contribution". I loved this. He told the tale of how he spent his whole childhood feeling inadequate when his dad would ask him and his siblings what they did that day. He knew it meant, "what did you achieve this day" and compared to his siblings he felt that he was a chronic underachiever. Until one day he changed the framework of his thinking to, "I am a contribution". To this world, we are each a contribution. What we contribute has nothing to do with what those around us contribute. This has helped me on days when I have not felt as if I achieved as much as I set out to. I think about what I have contributed, and it is always quite a bit more then I first realize.

Should, ought, need, must, blame, threat, control are all words of the downward spiral

How about, what if, what's next are all words of radiating possibility.

le #6: Don't take yourself so d*mn seriously. (There are no other rules)

I will never say anything that could not stand as the last thing I ever say.

Human beings in the presence of possibility have shining eyes.
As a leader you may need to ask yourself, "who am I being that my players eyes are not shining?"

A conductor does not make a sound. His job is to awake possibility in others.

Give people an "A" right from the beginning, and the relationship will be transformed. If the relationship has broken down, you have not given that person an "A". Only when you genuinely give the person an A (believe that they are worth one, care about them as though they are an A), can you tell them the truth (when the truth is a painful one ;)

We don't give children a name as an expectation to live up to, but as a possibility to live into.

You cannot learn anything without mistakes.

If people won't do what you want them to do, apologize for not making them want to.

We should get into the habit of asking ourselves, "what assumptions am I making that I don't know I am making?" Every organization must have a person who is empowered to point out assumptions without fear of retribution.

There is no problem that cannot be solved if you create a new framework to look at it in.

Every interaction is a possibility for leadership.

And one more, about the type of man his father, a Holocaust survivor, was. After he went blind he never complained, but was often heard to remark, "I hear particularly well these days"

Here's a link to his book again and one of his lectures.

Receiving what we already have

I recently re-connected with my lovely friend Heather (seen here with me as we snatched an hour together in a scenic Mesa food court during my whirl-wind wedding trip a few weeks ago). Heather has published a book and has several CD's out which everyone I know can benefit from. Go check out her website. In addition, she has launched an interactive blog recently on which I discovered this little gem tonight. I loved the whole article for so many reasons,(I think almost every parent can relate to the screaming, inconsolable 4am wake up call), but the truth of this paragraph leaped out at me especially resoundingly tonight:

For several weeks, I had been preparing to give a talk on abundance, and this moment, revelation hit me. The first step in creating abundance is to receive what you already have. I glanced at the clock. 5:17. Fatigue pulled at my eyelids, but I was determined to capture what I had experienced and went directly to my computer to write.

All my life I had been in search of more—truth, money, relationships, health, beauty, order, to name a few. With my eyes fixed so intently on the future, I was often missing what was already mine. What I had experienced that this morning, in an unexpected way, was a the reservoir of abundance. The irony is that, all along, this has been right in front of me, but I had been missing it. This morning, I found it in just being with my daughter. None of my action was a means to an end. I wasn’t cleaning, making food, or trying to teach her something. I was existing next to her in a state of presence. In those moments, a space opened for me and I received what I already had.

I believe that this is the perfect sentiment to take into February, with its theme of all things heart related. The talk of the town lately seems to be scarcity. Jobs are scarce, money is scarce, peace of mind seems to be scarce. I do truly believe though, that each of us are blessed with an abundance, perhaps yet to be truly discovered, that has nothing to do with the economy, and everything to do with us merely making room for it in our consciousness, our spirits and our hearts. A timely reminder for me. I hope it helps you too!

In which I score big points with my kids' school teachers and principal

We heard that my profound commentary, gleaned as me and my truant kids watched the inauguration, had been printed in the local paper. It is certainly something posterity will treasure forever.

Kirsty Sayer, a mother of four, said she brought her kids to the Cla-Zel to let them witness history. As a mother, Sayer said she wanted her kids to remember the event and learn something from it. "This is probably the most historic event in their lifetime," she said. "It's much more important than anything they could have learned in school today."

Um, yeah. At least they did not print the part where I said, "and if their teachers have a problem with that they can just suck it up". Or the part about we go wherever there is free food.

Not really.

Actually, I think they sort of jammed a few of my gushing quotes together and they left the part where I mentioned the words "civics lesson" (to make it sound legit), out. And lest you think I am too hopelessly swept away by Obama-mania, I really do think my kids are going to have many historic events to enjoy in their lifetime, but this was certainly the best so far :)

Gracie days

Gracie as you know, turned the itchy 7 this week. Her birthday this year reminded me of her Birth Day. The sun was shining (shockingly enough) reminiscent of the day she was born in the SF Bay Area of Northern California. It was a sunny, mellow day too. Just as it was this year. Although it was about 40 degrees warmer in CA that day. On her Birth Day I went for a walk with my doula in the late afternoon in the hills of my neighbourhood. As I walked, soaking up the golden sunlight, I encouraged to tuck her chin down, and get into to a nice launch-off position so that we could get this show on the road. She was surprisingly obliging after I made that request, and came fairly quickly (and forcefully) after that.

Today I encourage her to keep her chin high as she makes her way through life, and I watch as she does. She has already displayed a great amount of tenacity, character, and integrity in her seven short years of life. She is tender and demonstrative and loving and mysterious and reserved rolled up into one artistic little soul. I can't believe that it has been 7 years. Really that is bizarre. In this time over again, she will going to church dances. Ridiculous. She is just an infant. See?

Here are some more photos of her big day and the subsequent Bunny Birthday Bash which I must clarify refers to her bunny inspired birthday party theme and not acts requisite of an ASPSCA intervention. If you wish to get a full feel for these glittering events, and I know you absolutely do, you can check them out here:

Yes, apparently there are times when the cupcake cake doesn't translate as well as at others. And how much did I care at this point? About . that much.


What I am suggesting and asking is that we turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good in the land and times in which we live, that we speak of one another's virtues more than we speak of one another's faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears.

When I was a boy our father often said to us:

Cynics do not contribute.

Skeptics do not create.

Doubters do not achieve.

~ Gordon B. Hinckley (Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled)

Gracie says...

YES! 7!!!

Cleaning your disgusting keyboard without taking it apart and having to get a new one

So from the sublime to the...less sublime.

You know how old fashioned computer keyboard keys (like the keys on our dinosoaur desktop) just pop off when you need to clean them and underneath them. (And it's all fun and games until somebody forgets which order the numbers go back in that one time when she was an intern, and helpfully cleaned her bosses keyboard. But we won't talk about that today)

Well the lap-top ones don't.

Which is unfortunate. And really, really gross.

Particularly if you have 4 kids taking care of their menagerie of Webkinz on your computer. After lunch. Without washing their hands first. Or perhaps even eating a sandwich (or 6) over your computer when they thought you weren't looking. (Cos you weren't).

Also a problem if you have a penchant for fluffy blankets to wrap around your frail and freezing self as you sit on the couch at 1:10 am instead of sleeping sensibly in your warm bed next to your warm husband. The seems to have set up a little Fluff Club Med under the shift key and the number 8. Shift 8. Prime Fluff property, apparently. Who knew.

Yes, ok ok I am getting to the solution. And a lovely, obvious and cheap and strangely satisfying little solution it is. I saw it the one time I got to watch non-kid TV one morning when granny was visiting. The tip lady on some perky morning show whipped out a pad of post-it's and mesmerized me (and granny) as she slid them along under the row of keys and retrieved little clumps of dust.

Genius! No lifting off of impossible to replace keys. No buying those expensive little cans of air blasting stuff. Just slide the post it along, pull it out and make yourself a new blanket or a stuffed animal or something else soft and fuzzy from what you find in there. Alternatively, you could feed a small African nation with the crumbs you haul out. (Thanks kids! Food storage! Awesome!)

If you don't have post-its handy any sticky label type thing will do. I used the sticky edge of a book of stamps...just as grossly yet satisfyingly effective.


Today! What a day! It has been an amazing, magical inspiring day. A day that doesn't feel quite real because it really has been so different from any other day I have ever had, it's one of those stand alone days in the history of me.

The day started with all four of my kids snuggled in bed with me, watching for the Obamas to emerge from Blair House. Obama=not so much punctual. Hey! He's just like us, kids!

As we got ready to attend the Inaugural party and I was forced to be away from the TV for whole minutes at a time, in order to make these truly wicked brownies (yet another sublime experience this day), they gave me blow by blow descriptions. Benjamin took it upon himself to draw this and stick it up on the door. I only noticed it when we left the house and it made me smile all the way through me. Indeed it has.

A few people I know have expressed that they don't see what the big deal this day is. That it has been overblown, that we have all been swept away on some sort of media band-wagon and why should this inauguration get any more attention then any other.

Hey, it is a free country, and they have every right to express that opinion. but this is my blog right? So may I please admit, that this has frustrated me? Deeply? HOW can anyone not see what a huge deal this is? It has changed the identity of an entire race not just in this country but across the world, forever. A glass ceiling that has always existed has been shattered. Slavery, bigotry, hatred, segregation, the continuing feelings of isolation, of being on the outside looking in, until today, there has been no real closure on them. Not like this. No black person has ever achieved the highest political office that this country (and arguably the world), has to offer. Don't think this is a big deal? Try being a little black boy who was not allowed in a restaurant to eat dinner with your parents, and watching on this day as a black man and his wife walked into the White House, and took over. This is not ancient history, this is the experience of people not too much older then me. All within one short lifetime! This. Is. Huge. So at first, yes I felt frustrated, even outraged. How could anyone be so insensitive as to claim this was no big deal?

I frankly feel that if you are not black you don't really have the right to say how big a deal this is. I'm not black, but trust me, even this white South African girl knows- it's big. It's huge. Look at the faces out on the mall today. This is not just not a fad, this is transformational. It changes everything for these people, and by extension for us all.

Here's some reaction from my fellow South Africans

Now I am not so naive as to think that this fixes everything. Racism is alive and well. African-Americans will continue to be discriminated against by racists. That is a sad reality. But something like this gives the successful 50 year old black man, who was denied admission in that restaurant as a little boy, the man who admits that despite all that he has achieved, he never truly believed this day could ever come, that this thing could ever be achieved, a whole new perspective on what is possible in this world. And it gives a 32 year old white woman a whole new perspective on what is possible too. And speaking just for myself here, that's a big deal.

Tonight, after this glorious day, the outrage, frustration and confusion about this what's the big deal? mind-set has faded to more of a sense of sorrow for those who could not participate in this day with a sense of wonder. Who did not get to watch it with the sense of how truly miraculous and special it has been. There are so few experiences like this in life, this may have been a once in a lifetime moment, what a loss to have missed it! Does that sound condescending? I suppose it depends on where you are coming from when you read it, but please know that I am genuine, I don't think I am better then you are. I just wish everyone could have felt the joy and wonder that so many felt today. You know how it is when you want to share something wonderful you have experienced with everyone else? It's just that. Less of the righteous indignation of earlier, and more of a yearning. It's progress anyway.

But anyway, back to ME. This is all about me after all, and my feelings. My lovely, warm and fuzzy, happy, amazed, sublime, anything is possible and the world is so good, and let's all just cuddle one another, feelings.

We watched the inauguration with others who had worked hard in our community to help make this happen. There was an awesome energy in that old theatre. I am so glad my kids got to be there. Someday when they tell their therapists how awful I was in every single way, I hope that they remember this day, and say, "but I guess there was that one time she was pretty cool and let us stay off school so we could see Obama's inauguration. Yeah, I saw it, you were doing a worksheet? Oh. I'm sorry." Or at least that is my fantasy.

Finny was not feeling well and spent most of the time snoozing heavily in my numb arms , I spent most of the time dripping tears on his head. He did not seem to mind. He even slept through all the cheering and clapping. Another miracle in our time.

This blurry shot is the closest I have ever seen Obama to tears, (or that is how I interpreted his expression, there was some sort of strong emotion going on there) walking towards the inauguration stage. I wonder what he was thinking. I truly cannot imagine not having a massive panic attack right about then. You have got to be wired differently to go for this gig, man.

And THEN, THEN! Just as today could not get any more inspiring, I got to see another of my heroes in action. A year ago or so I received a book called The Art of Possibility as a gift just after I was called to a leadership position and was doing a little bit of the freaking out.

The friend who gave it to me has always been an example (and somewhat of an enigma) of serenity and chill-ness to me. So I read it. It was another one of those transformational experiences. The same friend who gifted me the book called me last night to offer me tickets to see the author speak tonight. Well twist my arm. Aaron and I went What an evening. It was the most perfect, inspiring, exhilarating, and utterly appropriate ending to this remarkable day. Living within endless possibility. Is there any other way to truly be alive? I think not. If you have a few minutes I would highly recommend tuning in. You won't even have to pay a sitter. (Which would be totally worth it btw)

Did I mention that I loved this day? Well, I really, really did. Here's to many more impossible dreams being fulfilled and infinitely more people inspired. Yay this day!

Isn't it beautifully appropriate.....

that we celebrate the man today, whose dream will be so much closer to being fulfilled tomorrow?

Sometimes life is incredibly poetic.

I am so excited.

A couple of months ago, I woke up on a beautiful Fall day. The sky was intensely blue, the sun was shining brightly and the air just vibrated with excitement, possibility and joy. It was a special day.

As I drove home from dropping Finny at school, I knew I could not just go home. I had so much pent up energy and excitement. I turned my car around as I decided I would drop by the Obama campaign office to see if I could be of any more assistance at this late stage.

Nobody in there was resting on their laurels, there was surely no premature celebrating. All systems were full steam ahead. I was enthusiastically welcomed. I took my place at a crowded table in a little back room and grabbed a cell phone and a list. To my right was an old man, a war veteran. To my left was an old man who was gay, across from me, there was a young African-American woman, down the table a little way a middle aged, professional white woman sat. The table next to us was laden with donated food from restaurants and also just individuals who had baked up a batch of muffins to keep everyone going. I imagine they were feeling as I was. They had to do something. They wanted to be a part of this.

We enjoyed an hour or two of camaraderie as we worked our way down the list. Most of the people enthusiastically affirmed that they had already voted. One hard of hearing old man bellowed down the phone that yes, he had already voted, and it was for "the coloured guy". I recounted his response to the table and as we laughed nervously about the very un-PC nature of his comment, it struck me that this was actually something really special. Clearly, here we were seeing a presidential candidate who was being judged by "the content of his character and not by the colour of his skin". That old man was clearly not hip, he was not young, PC, cool or swayed by the media or Hollywood. He was a man who saw another man whom he believed would lead our country well. And he voted for him. A dream was fulfilled.

It was just the most magical day. To be honest, I had never felt a sense of belonging in America until that day. I was always very aware that I was a foreigner. I felt alienated (haha punny) at patriotic events, accepted but always somewhat of an outsider. But that day I belonged.

My hopes represented the hopes of people all over the world. Being South African for once made me feel even more of a kinship for the Americans who were hoping along with me. That night as I saw the footage of Africans celebrating with the unbridled joy that only Africans can celebrate with, I felt such a sense of one-ness, that night we were one world.

As I shared the evening with my sister on the phone in Australia, anxiously waiting as the numbers from each state came in, I felt as though the whole of Australia was rooting for us too (and by all accounts, they were). At one time when my sister had to reluctantly hung up to take a bathroom break, the numbers for Ohio came in, and I knew the deal was sealed. I called her and shrieked the news at her secretary. "OHIO! WE WON OHIO! It's done! It's done!" I was pretty much incoherent, I'm not even sure she knew who I was. "Oh brilliant!" she responded enthusiastically. We were all one world.

I had started that night really quite sick, at 6pm I was lying on the couch, coughing my head off and I sounded "at death's door" according to my sister. But as the hours went on, the adrenaline kicked in and I was dancing, laughing, screaming, running through the house like a lunatic and jumping up and down. My kids were quite bemused. I'm fairly sure they have never seen that sort of performance from me before, *(including the post traumatic stress dance I did that one time I inexplicably set off a mouse trap that I had no idea had been set underneath my kitchen sink, containing a dead mouse. Yes, I don't know how it is possible to set off a trap that had already caught a mouse, but I did, and it got my finger, and much therapy ensued.)

Along with the laughing and the running and the jumping and the screaming was the crying. When I called my dad in South Africa to wake him with the news, I was once again incoherent, hiccoughing through my happy tears. He told me that the radio had woken him up with the words "President Obama". We were one world. The happy crying continued for several days thereafter every time I realized it had not been a dream after all.

That night as Aaron and I sat quietly, almost reverently watching Obama's acceptance, it was not a sense of victory or the brilliant speech we were reveling in. It was the unity, the miraculous unity. The old, the young, the black, the white, the rich, the poor standing literally shoulder to shoulder, faces glowing with hope. Like everyone else, when the camera panned to a weeping Jesse Jackson (who frankly doesn't generally move me) , I like everyone else I'm sure, was undone. In that face, I think we were reminded of the unbelievable struggle and sacrifice of the civil rights movement, and what an unthinkably miraculous moment this was in light of where we had so recently been.

It is my prayer that the sense of global unity will only increase as President Obama takes on a country in chaos. I pray that we will be patient and realistic, but that the sense of hope and optimism will remain. I pray that he will be fortified to deal with all that he will be required to do. I'm not sure if any mere mortal man has ever had so much pressure of so many different varieties placed upon him all at the same time. He will definitely need the help of the Lord. I pray that he will seek it, be worthy of it, and trust it at all times.

And tomorrow, I am hoping that I get that all one world feeling again. Because unity, my friends, is just the coolest, wouldn't you agree?

*Warning: the the following collage contains images of unbridled and at times, unattractive, elation. Viewers are cautioned.

Back to life...back to reality...back to the here and now...

Well hello there, it has been a while. As the title/theme song implies, I am clawing my way back to reality after almost a month of fun and family, it really is so hard to readjust to real life. Especially since reality is somewhat altered to what one pictures it to be whilst one is enjoying the revelry. By the time my kids go back to school next Tuesday, they will have spent a solid week at home, thanks to weather and one day of playing hookie to hang with Granny. Not necessarily good for the sense of getting back into the swing of things.

Shona and Marc left after over 2 weeks of doting on their nephews and niece. My kids have so much fun every time they are here, and Gracie gets to spend time with her cleaning soulmate. It's very special. They really are a most excellent Auntie and Uncle. And my home is always left far cleaner and in better repair then it was found. Now that is the type of houseguest everyone dreams of.

Right after their departure, Aaron and I went to see my baby brother, Seth get hitched! He and Christina were married in the Mesa, AZ LDS temple. The ceremony was so profoundly spiritual and beautiful. One really did get a sense of the magnificence of the power of sealing. There were lots and lots of happy tears initiated I may add, by the blubbing groom who set us all off nigh unto dehydration. It was a full day and evening of hearts bursting, sun shining, tears flowing, all the the makings of a perfect first day of a new life. Thank goodness for waterproof mascara.

For more photos of the glorious day (and the gorgeous and elegant evening reception) go here and here. As for the bubble bath and candle photos, my sister Shona and I feel that we may have missed our calling as romantic honeymoon suite orchestrators. That was so much fun, especially the frantic escape just before we were discovered. We may also have missed our calling as spies....or good hearted criminals perhaps.
Aaron and I returned to our cute kids with the best present ever-Granny! We did not have much time with her sadly, but it was a happy few days filled with cooking lessons, Wii Fit demonstrations, puzzle making , lots of cuddling and even a pre-birthday birthday dinner for Gracie who was much delighted with her art-centric gifts from granny. And in keeping with what Shona and Marc started, she organized my super scary coat closet thus reducing much strife and contention resulting from my kids' inability to keep it closed. Heck kids, leave it open! Let the world appreciate it!

It was a wonderful thing to get to share my kids with my family and vice versa, and it is hard to have them gone, especially when the warmth of their presence has been replaced by -25 degree temps. The day my mom left, I drowned my sorrow in tupperware cupboard organizing. It is a thing of beauty now. An old South African friend also living stateside now, saw my status update on facebook: ("mom is gone :( " )She gave me a call, knowing how I would be feeling. It was so good to hear her accent and feel her empathy. Thanks again, Candice! The internet really can be such a blessing.

And you? What have you been up to? Missed you madly dahlings!

Word of the year...

So in lieu of the traditional form of resolution, I thought the idea of the word of the year may work for me.

Something that has been troubling me for a while, as I have mentioned several times here, is my lack of focus. I feel that distraction in all its many forms, distraction from the task at hand, distraction from why I am really here on this earth.......distraction is driving me to distraction!

I believe that it is distraction that results in regret at the end of a life, or even at the end of a period of opportunity. It also stops us from achieving our potential, which to me is the ultimate tragedy.

A line from a truly excellent and inspiring talk I heard last year at Young Women's General conference has stayed with me ever since.

(In reference to Jesus Christ) " No other who has ever lived has been so “steadfast and immovable” (Mosiah 5:15). He was never distracted. (my emphasis added)

Which is why, this year, I will strive for

Here is another of the myriad of excellent talks on the topic of distraction, by one of my favourite speakers. Not surprisingly, the talk is entitled Rejoice! and is summarized by the scripture found in Psalms. 118:24) “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”.

In short, I would like to be focused enough to rejoice in each day that the Lord has given me to live.

To aid me in my quest for focus, I resolve to spend time each day writing my priorities (as opposed to just my do-to list), and evaluating whether they are moving me in the direction of my personal mission on this earth or distracting me from it.

I also resolve to evaluate how my time was spent, (honestly) at the end of each day, and whether my management of that most precious commodity is in synch with me achieving my priorities.

I think accountability/evaluation is a crucial aspect in achieving any goal and accounting for those moments will really help me to keep myself focused. Perhaps I will discover that I am not, as I recently self-diagnosed myself, acutely ADD after all, just severely undisciplined (which I uncomfortably suspect).

Here's to a year of focus..and rejoicing!

Adieu! Welcome!

Happy 2009 Luvvies!
We welcomed the New Year in amidst truly spectacular fireworks on freezing Navy Pier in Chicago after a lovely evening spent with friends eating Chicago style pizza pie (delicious) and Ghiradelli brownies. After we were done with the freezing we went back to our chi-chi hotel (thank you Priceline, and Shona) and broke out the bubbly. It was a lovely way to start the year.

Last night of 2008, Chicago

Looking for that elusive parking space at 11pm on 12/31
Spectacularly unspectacular picture of Navy Pier. Freezing cold but fun and festive
About 11:45pm on New Year's Eve, looking perky and spry. Actually it was phenomenal how well the kids held up. Finny was delighted to have made it to midnight! Not bad for a four year old who has walked several city blocks in the c-c-c-cold in search of a store that was not Prada, Pucci, or even Nordstrom in search of a new coat for his big brother who decided that since it was "like 60 degrees" when he packed, he should leave his coat at home. Nice move, boy genius. (I was just a tad annoyed. Actually I am thinking it was probably a diabolically genius plan since he never liked that coat.)
My spectacularly unspectacular fireworks photos (they really were incredible) just before my camera died which is probably just as well as I narrowly escaped frostbite on my fingers taking just that one.

Dancing on the bed

I love me a synopsis and I found this one on Jen Lynn's blog which took all the work out of it. So without further ado...

2008 in Review

What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?

Hmm....well, I went to Chicago?

Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I can't remember if I made any. My most recently successful year was the year I made no resolutions so I'm sort of vague about making them now.

Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes, I have several friends who had beautiful little babies which made me quite hungry for my own but I'm over that for now.

Did anyone close to you die?


What countries did you visit? Just this one

What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

More patience, serenity and endurance.

What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

November 4th. YEEEEEEEAHHHHHH baby!! One of the most exciting, magical days ever.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Well I did graduate, even though I did everything I did to do that in 2007. That and Obama winning Ohio being completely thanks to me.

What was your biggest failure?

Wasting time and being impatient with my family.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

It was a healthy year for us all, for which I am truly grateful.

What was the best thing you bought? Any time I paid off a some debt.

Whose behavior made you appalled or depressed? George W. Bush and his cronies

Where did most of your money go? Lots of lovely bills.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?


What song will always remind you of 2008?

Probably Coldplay's Viva la Vida, because Aaron was slightly obsessed with it and it was one of the last songs they played on New Year's Eve before the clock struck midnight.

Compared to this time last year, are you: much happier, richer, nicer?

Yes to all, I like to think.

What do you wish you'd done more of?

Learning, spiritual growth and mastery. I read the Book of Mormon three times though, which I guess was a resolution.

What do you wish you'd done less of? Yelling at my kids, and sitting thinking that I really must get up and do something constructive.

How did you spend Christmas?

In my pajamas, with my family, watching my kids play with their presents, being happy that my sister and brother in law were here and feeling very blessed

Did you fall in love in 2008?

YES! With my SAD light.

What was your favorite TV program?

The Office. I didn't get to see it very often though.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? No. I feel at peace with the world more or less. I even feel quite sorry for W.

What was the best book you read this year?

Book of Mormon.

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Nothing really stands out. (The iPod answer that was in here before was one that I failed to delete from Jen Lynn's synopsis LOL.)

What did you want and get?

A Wii Fit.

What were your favorite films of this year?

I'm not sure anything really blew me away. I liked Juno, Mama Mia....

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I felt really sorry for myself. I was just back from South Africa, sans luggage and I turned 32.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Winning the lottery and being debt free. Having a book published and being debt free? Getting an inheritance and being debt free?

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008.

Consignment Chic

What kept you sane?




The lamp


Taking care of my kids

My family

My friends


Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Obama! Hello!!!!?????

Who did you miss? My family as always.

Who was the best new person (people) you met?

I've met some cool new peeps through this blog and rekindled friendships through Facebook.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

That my worth in the sight of God is unchanging. I may have known it logically but the penny did not drop fully until fairly recently.

What are you most excited for in 2009?

My brother Seth's wedding-one week from today! Inauguration Day! Birthdays! Summer! Christmas. Hopefully getting to Australia in December!

What are you least excited for in 2009?

Let's not ruin a nice fresh new year with dark speculation shall we?