Addition

Let me tell you a little story about Math. Better yet I will write a Math problem for you to demonstrate my feelings about this subject.

Math + me = frustrated.

The end.

Now a series of ecards to further drive home how I feel about Math.

I will never argue if I am left brain or right brain. I am all right brain.

During my years studying Math as a kid, right up until that last exam my Sophomore year at Michigan State, I kicked and screamed and scraped by with B’s. I had to work my butt off for those grades!

Now here we are with a sixteen month old and I’m doing a different kind of Math. The Math problem I’m trying to solve is addition.  Adding another baby to the Bonventre equation.

I love being a Mom. Through the good and the bad it is hands down the best job ever! To say I am living a God given purpose in being her Mom is quite true. For even in the hardest days I have insane, indescribable joy raising my little babe.

I love sneaking into her room and watching her sleep. What is more precious. For a moment everything in the world feels perfect. She makes me laugh and smile all day long. I love watching my husband play and dance with her. It’s all so lovely.

 

Life is chaotic and hectic and pure bliss all at the same time. What more could I want? Then the pang in my heart starts. I flip back through pictures of my 5lb preemie and wonder where the days went. I miss my cuddly newborn.

I remember the days when my heart longed for her. Doctor’s appointments, so much prayer, shots, tears and then we conceived. More doctors appointments, so much prayer, loss and more tears. It was an uphill battle to get Charlotte Faith Bonventre here but God was gracious to us.

It wasn’t until I was talking with a friend several weeks ago that I admitted out loud why I am so hesitant to get pregnant again. Everyday of my next pregnancy I will mentally be fighting for peace. I go back to that horrified moment over and over in my mind. “We can’t find a heartbeat on twin A.”

Friends assure me, you’ve lived through the worst. I hope they are right but how easy it is to believe for someone else, anyone else over yourself. I wish I could take all their confidence and swallow it whole. Fully filling the doubt that tries to grow inside of me.

Of course I am stronger than I was and closer to God than ever before. So much good out of so much bad.

And then she’s patting me on the knee. Her squishy little hand comforting me amidst my worried thoughts. Staring up at me. Her front teeth showing out of her sweet little mouth.

It’s all worth it. It’s all so very worth it.

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My feet hit the pavement. I look down at my bright blue Nike’s against the newly paved sidewalk. The shoes look sleek. At this point in my morning run, they are the only thing about my appearance that is clean and sharp.

Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. They take turns leading the way. Something about watching this repetitiveness makes the heaviness of my body slip away. My ponytail swishes back and forth on my neck. The heavy red train is secured under a baseball cap. I’m hot. I’m sweating. I’m out of breathe. It’s the best I’ve felt all day.

I’m several weeks into running. It has become a highlight of my day. A year ago as I took the first strides on the same path I ran today, I hated it. Does anyone love being out of breathe? The only incentive spurring me onward — the extra weight I was carrying on my post pregnant body. My goal was to lose a few pounds. My dream was to look like I did at 28. Forget about pre-pregnancy! I’m going all the way back to pre-wedding bod.  I wanted it so badly that in my desperation I thought, I should try running again???

So there I was, the open road and my determination to lose some baby weight.  A little overweight and A LOT out of shape. Fantasizing about abs and pants that didn’t cut off my circulation.

Wait I have abs! If abs stands for [a bit soft.]

What’s that?

It stands for abdominals.

My mistake. 

I went for a few runs last summer but my knees wouldn’t have it. They ached for days. With this new irritation and my already well seeded disdain for running, I at long last conceded. But like a moth to a flame I still held onto this fairytale that someday I’d be a fit, cool kid. I knew I’d be back.

Earlier this summer I’m standing in a local brewery outside of Baltimore. I was out of town for a work conference. I’m chatting with one of my peers, shooting the breeze about running and my knee pain comes up. They insightfully pointed out something I hadn’t thought of last summer. During pregnancy a woman’s ligaments get all stretchy and loose to support the changes going on inside which could have been directly correlated to my achy knees.

Hooray it’s not middle age!

This peeked my curiosity. So on a particularly stressful Friday I decided I would run.

I pulled out my old running clothes and wrestled to get them on. I doused myself with energy giving essential oils, grabbed my iPhone — hit the David Guetta station on Pandora and took my first steps.

Praise the Lord oh my soul! It was love at first step.

My knees are doing great. I’m still turtle slow but I don’t give a toot about that. I’m super proud that I’m sticking with it. It’s a release and well needed after working all day intermittently between my J.O.B & Mom duties.

 

I started this running thing a couple months ago to get physically healthy but little did I know it’d be two fold.

Mentally I was collapsing.

There’s a certain pressure I have always felt since becoming pregnant. It’s as though I have no tolerance for my own complaints amidst the reality that sometime ago I didn’t think I’d get pregnant. I have friends that still are waiting for their baby years later. Infertility has given me sight into a spectrum that can only be seen from this side of the fence.

I have undoubtedly put the highest standard of thankfulness on becoming a Mother. Sealed it with an iron lock and thrown away the key. So when I get frustrated in the day to day grind of motherhood, which is, ummmm a lot these days – I try to swallow it. I normally talk out my feelings. It’s how I process and deal with stuff but not when it came to this. So when little Ms. Charlie became a speeding bullet crawling and getting into EVERYTHING that can potentially KILL HER and Dad started traveling a lot I was like a volcano full of bottled up stress. Mt. Chavo was ready to BLOW!

I know Moms seem to do it all and do it all flawlessly but that myth is a crock of poo. No one does it flawlessly. Instagram’s a liar! We Momma’s need a little more grace especially towards ourselves. I was getting my rear end handed to me and instead of asking for help I kept juggling this hot mess of a life, all the while getting hotter and hotter. I wasn’t channeling my stress in a healthy way. I wasn’t enjoying anything. I was surviving. So when running beckoned and I answered I felt a sense of relief and peace all in one three mile experience.

Those shoes on my feet and the beads of sweat rolling down my face mean I’m alone. I’m alone to process my thoughts. I’m learning about endurance. I’m learning to push harder when I feel tired. When it feels like I can’t go any farther a mental conversation between my mind and my body begins.

Mind: Keep going.

Body: But I’m tired.

Mind: Keep going.

Body: Ok you’re the boss!

The mind is a powerful thing and these lessons I’m being taught during my runs hold water in all situations.

There are no marathons in my future. I still think those are reserved for a breed of superior human than I. However, there is a lot of growth being had on these runs.

 

 

The Diner

It was a bright sunny Saturday in March. The streets of Kercheval were already lined with empty cars patiently awaiting their owners to return from their errands. The cars shimmered in the sunlight as we turned into the parking lot.

My favorite of all brunch spots, Side Street Diner was first to check off of our agenda that day.

The restaurant’s front door swung wide. As I entered the smell of pancakes drizzled in syrup greeted us at the entryway. The crowd of hungry patrons waiting to be seated met our eyes. I did a quick glance around the restaurant accessing the time I’d have to wait before fresh coffee and yummy breakfast food hit my lips. A grumble rolled through my empty stomach at the thought of waiting.

They have their bill, they just got their coffee —– and then I saw her.

Her long wavy blonde hair gathered at the nape of her neck. She greeted an older couple that had just been seated. An unsettled feeling rolled over me.

What on earth am I going to say to her?

She’s the ultimate waitress. She remembers her customers names and the details of their lives. She serves good food and makes you smile the entire time you sit at her table. She’ll slide down in the booth right next to you and make you feel as though you’re not really at a restaurant but a friend’s house. The warmth that she gives isn’t just found in the food. It radiates from her kindness and compassion.

I watch her as she turns from the older couples booth, drink order in hand, to a corner table that seats a Mom and Dad and two spunky kids. Their parents chug black coffee trying to fuel up for the days activities.

I look down at Charlie snuggled in her car seat wishing it was just Matt and I. I want to shelter this sweet lady from peering down at my Charlie and being reminded she’s a Momma with no baby to hold.

I was excited to get back to some type of normalcy after we brought Charlie home from the hospital last summer. We visited the diner and our friend greeted us on the patio with hugs. We introduced her to Charlie and she gushed over how cute our peanut was and then I gushed over her growing baby bump.  I was so excited to get the details of how her pregnancy was going. She was due in August and that was just a few weeks away.

A series of heavy hearted details unfolded. My brow furrowed and tears waited at the brink of my eye, not being permitted to fall so I could be strong in front of my friend.

During a routine ultrasound the Doctor had seen a hole in her daughter’s heart complicating delivery plans and worrying Mom and Dad about the uncertain future of their daughter’s health. Matthew and I shared with her the difficulties we had through our pregnancy and I asked my friend if we could pray with her.

There under the big red umbrella covering our table I ended the prayer but still held onto her hand. Tears steamed down her cheeks and she thanked us. Several months later I  would stand not very far from that same spot and hear the unthinkable update. My friends daughter was born with DiGeorge Syndrome and only lived a few sweet months here on earth.

I knew we’d be back in the diner one day and on that day I would see her. Of course I wanted to see her. Hug her. But I couldn’t see past what I would say after I let go of her. So when I did wrap my arms around her I made sure our embrace spoke all of my heart felt sympathies.

I don’t know what I ended up saying but I will forever remember what she did. She spoke of pain. Of memories that sank so deep you could almost see them pressing into her skin. She spoke of a daughter, an angel that will live on in her heart. A daughter that brought such joy in so little time. She spoke of a nonprofit. She spoke of hope. While she spoke, I listened. I listened to her strength. I listened to her courage. I hung on her every word. I ate them up so much more satisfying than my coffee and blueberry pancakes.

I didn’t need to speak, I needed to be there for her. To listen to her. What kind of silly is it that I thought some magic words could remove her pain???? We can’t remove each others pain but we can carry it right alongside them.

So if you have a friend or family member going through a hard time talk to them. They might be feeling so alone. Break their isolating thoughts by caring enough to visit them or call them. Get them out of the house for dinner or coffee.

You don’t need to have the answers or the right words. Just let them do the talking. Ask them about work or summer plans. Ease into the conversation. Sometimes it feels so good for the grieving person to get back to business as usual topics! When in doubt reach out to someone really close to that person like their spouse or parents and get the green light from them about how to approach your friend.

During these conversations remember, they will let you know if they can’t talk about it right then. When they do share, respect the boundaries of talking too much about it! When we lost Juliet I had one friend with the best intentions who would start any communication with me with the whisper of “how are you.” They’d drag out each syllable in the most somber way. I knew they cared but it felt like they were hounding me. I was onto the next subject and they’d steer that depressing bus right back around to my loss.

As long as we are this side of heaven, we ourselves or someone close to us is going through a tough time. None of us are experts. None of us can remove the grief but we can carry this burden with them. Their really is strength in numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Un Poco Gordo

Un poco gordo translates to, a little overweight  in English. This is one of the few phrases I remember from High School Spanish. I did not one, but two semesters of Spanish. Ready for a not so proud admission? I signed up for round two of Espaniol because I knew I could get away with doing practically NOTHING to pass with a 4.0.  Sadly it wasn’t because of my affection for foreign language.

I [could] be somewhat fluent in Spanish had I not cheated the whole way through that year. Forgive me, I was 16 once and my 16-year-old brain’s thought process went something like…

My spanish teacher doesn’t seem to notice or really care if I cheat. I don’t have this option in Physics or Advanced Lit therefore I should cheat.

Or

I live in a country that speaks English therefore I don’t need to be bilingual so I should cheat.

Or

I can talk all hour with my best friend or conjugate verbs? Cheat.

Cheating won 3 times out of 3.

I’m curious even to this very day why this phrase stuck with me all these years later. Probably because I found it funny and if I think somethings funny I remember it. Maybe if my Spanish teacher would have been a comedian I’d be bilingual.

Oh my troubled youth.

Speaking of funny, if you haven’t checked out Comedians In Cars Getting Coffeedo it! You can thank me later. You especially have to watch the episode with Will Ferrell. Let Jerry’s face be a sign of good belly laughs to come.

Comedian

In this episode Will Ferrell admits he’s the type of guy “who has to workout just to look fat.”

I laughed. Out loud. For like five minutes.

I get ya Will. I could work out everyday and still the Mommy belly remains. I know exactly why though.

Donuts & pizza to start. I’m impatient. I stick with a workout plan for like a week. After I finish my workout I truly believe I’ll magically drop 10lbs. From one run. One! And then after my ONE run I want to “treat” myself with a donut. I think about eating my next meal as I’m halfway through my current one. Clearly, my love affair with food trumps my desire to slim down.

To the beat of a drum, Robert Palmer sings ” gonna have to face it you’re addicted to food.” This post-preggo bod ain’t getting tone anytime soon with this mentality. I see pics of Momma’s holding their two week olds in tight dresses, their belly’s flat as a pancake and instead of getting inspired I start thinking about how good a pancake would taste.

Help me Jesus!

My wake up call came in the brightly lit fitting room of my beloved Target. Such a strange feeling to be sad at Target. Trying on bathing suits can have this effect on women, no matter what store their at.

Matthew and I are going to the Bahamas next Wednesday and I wanted to grab a new swimsuit for our Mom & Dad get away. I stood staring at my reflection in the large rectangular mirror. Pale and out of shape. Squishy in all the wrong areas. Puzzled. Questioning, is it me, or is this just a really bad mirror?

I’m un poco gordo. As funny as I thought this phrase was in High School – the reality is, it’s no joke!

I handed over the swimwear to the curly haired lady running the dressing rooms with my head hung low. Matthew sensing my defeat asked me why I looked so sad. He to was all kinds of confused as he’d never seen me anything but elated while shopping at Target. The tears welled up at his question.

Time to stop complaining and get busy! This was the motivation I needed.

As much as I love food I love fitting into my jeans too. So I’m going to have to part ways with my sugar and carbs for now. Or at least only visit them on the weekends. After all I’ve already established I’m a recovering cheater so lean eating of any kind is challenging.

Maybe you feel me. Maybe you were one of those people who confidently committed to making the New Year a [healthy one.] Maybe you’re a new Momma trying to lose the last of the baby weight. Maybe you’re currently checking out Crossfit, in week two of the Whole 30 diet, or just coming to grips with the fact that those extra pounds you’ve wanted to lose for several months are now a faithful companion. A companion you’re ok with having around. Wherever you are I hope you’re happy and can laugh at the situation as Will Ferrell does.

Being un paco gordo isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re healthy and you like the way you look. Feeling comfortable in your own skin is truly the name of the game for me.

As for this girl – I’m working on it.

My goals are quite simple —

  • Eat real food and stay away from processed stuff. The end. I’ve thrown away the junk food in my cupboards which is a BIG DEAL. I know those little treats will beckon to me in moments of weakness. Minimizing temptation is half the battle.

 

  • I’ve upped my water intake so the hungries stay away. I add a few drops of Lemon, Grapefruit, Orange or Lime essential oil and my water goes from Blah to Tada!

  • I stocked up on tons of lean protein and veggies. What’s surprised me the most is that when I have real food to eat I actually eat it! Go figure. A little preparation goes a LONG WAY.
  • Most importantly I’m committed to being patient. I know I won’t have six pack abs in a week. Which isn’t the end goal anyway. Six packs are for Frat parties. I just want to be less squishy.

Please wish this recovering cheater lots of success!

Dear Juliet

 

Hello my dear.

It’s Momma. Just wanting to send you an update from down here.

You’ll be happy to know Sissy is growing plump. Our little preemie isn’t so teeny anymore. She’s sitting up. This is very exciting but simultaneously frightening. The stronger she gets the more mobile she is and the more mobile she is the more I’m reminded my baby won’t be a baby much longer.

It seems the days are in a race with each other. Each one speeds by quicker than the last. I’m just like every Momma before me. In the past few months, I too have had to come to grips with how futile it is to plead with time to slow down.

Last week we visited Dr. Leo and found out Sissy weighs over 15lbs. As I laid her on the scale a flash back to our first visit popped in my head. A reminder of how far we’ve all come in such a short amount of time.

We’ve all done some growing. In more ways than one. 

I ask Charlie about you often. I sit with her cradled in my arms and I ask if you visit her dreams. I ask if she knows what you look like. Can she remember growing next to you in my tummy? She stares into my eyes as these questions tumble out of my mouth. A few moments pass and I watch as her small pink lips curl upwards and form a gummy little smile. She makes no sense of my questions. Not yet for her to understand but then again she did just smile at the mention of her big sister’s name.

Your name is never very far from my memory. It dangles in my heart like the cloth butterflies suspended on Charlie’s mobile.

Yet there are days when my head hits the pillow and I haven’t thought of you even once. When your name does tiptoe back into the spotlight and stands center stage in my mind, a sharp piece of guilt scratches a fresh line in my heart.

I stare at your twin all day long. I feed her. I kiss her. I laugh with her. And yet you don’t even get a thought. This is where the guilt draws from. Bubbling up from my absent mind to saturate my grieving heart. My concern, that Charlie will be loved more than you.

My angel in heaven, Will you please forgive your Momma? Will you be like Jesus and peer into my heart and see the love I have for you. Whether it be recognized in the hours of a day or not, doesn’t make it any less real.

You offer me grace as the guilt melts away. This let’s me know you don’t mind one bit where my thoughts are. You know just how madly I love you.

The love between a mother and a child is a raging fire. It is consuming and magnificent. Brilliant with color and passion. Death cannot extinguish this fire that burns for you my love. Perhaps, altering it a little with distance for now.

March of 2016 is the month you went home to be with Jesus. A month that I will celebrate your little life a little extra.

As I readjust and shift my weight in the comfy rocker next to Charlie’s night stand I glance at the turquoise box set underneath. Gold dots adorn the box holding an ultrasound picture of you taken on March 8th.

Your perfect profile in black and white. It was the last picture I have of you growing. My fingers brush over it gingerly from time to time.

I wish more than anything you were here with us. I wish I could have seen you grow up next to your sister. But wishes are for storybooks and in this life wishes don’t often come true. Our story isn’t over. It has many pages to be written. Charlie will continue to grow. Time will certainly not slow down. As for me a new wish is developing in my heart. One that I can make come true and I hope will honor your name.

#BabyJules

Love, your Momma

Move Over Turducken, Piecaken Is Here!

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on how truly blessed we are.

We live in America, home of the brave.

We live in America, home of the free.

We live in America, home of the obese plenty.

When my Mom hosts Thanksgiving, before we kick off the meal we spend some time going around the table to name something we are thankful for. For several minutes we listen to our family and friends list their blessings as the glorious smell of turkey whispers to us. For the several minutes following we sit in silence as forks and knives clank against plates and bowls and we chow down until our bellies reach capacity.

eatingpants

Several years ago I heard about a not so traditional Thanksgiving meal. The Turducken; a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey.

This is what we do as humans.  We take something perfectly good and make it better.

Can we say iPhone 4, 5, 6, eventually 82.

Just this morning Matthew rushed into our living room to introduce me to the Turducken’s cousin, Piecaken.

“Google Piecaken. I can’t wait to see your face” he said.

Eyes wide and a smile growing –  I read that a Piecaken is a pie stuffed into a cake.

The turducken doesn’t interest me unless you have a slice of pizza crammed in there somewhere. The piecaken, however, is right up my alley.

After all that turkey, potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing how can you think about dessert?I’m sorry but to me dessert is the perfect finale to this pig-fest.

chandlerregret

Why make that awful decision between having pie or cake after dinner. Now all that dreadful deciding is removed from the equation.

Capture

Now you can have your pie/cake and eat it too!

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Yes Lawd! Yes!

Redheaded Thoughts, Told From Nana’s Perspective

Matthew received this email from his Mom yesterday. I haven’t seen my husband cry in the whole 8 years we’ve been together. Yesterday he came close. Twice. It seems IVF makes everyone involved a little weepy.

I’m undone by her thoughtfulness. Overwhelmed with the kindness. I’m incredibly lucky to have married into this family.

This is the wholeness of love.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Redhead is taking the day off.

I am her mother-in-law and I have a few thoughts of my own. We will call them, “Nana’s Thoughts.”

Today my son took his wife for the egg retrieval portion of their IVF journey. My son sent me a text a couple of hours ago that 30 eggs have been retrieved.  I have been trying to wrap my head around this whole thing since that text.

I’ve been sitting in my computer room all this time with tears in my eyes. I must have gotten some of the hormones that I helped inject into my daughter-in-law. I am so emotional, I can’t get over it.

Happy does not begin to describe the way I feel.  My younger daughter keeps cautioning me that the journey is not over so I should keep myself under wraps. But let me tell you something I have learned about being a parent.

It never stops.

I love my children so much, that when they struggle I feel it.  When I say children, I mean both of them. When my children married, their spouses not only came into my family – they came into my heart.  They are mine to have and to love in all situations for all of my days.

So their journey is my journey. I may have to walk a step behind because they are adults and it is their journey, but that’s OK because they are smart and strong.

I am here as a back-up, whatever they need I still want to provide for them.

It never stops.

Today is a good day and I hope and pray that that this journey soon comes to a joyous conclusion.  Then there will be another little one to love and provide for.

It never stops.

And that’s the meaning of family and parenthood, the way God intended.

Love, Mom

Daylight Daylight wherefore art thou Daylight

Dear daylight, I miss you.

Remember when it was daylight until 9:00PM?

Those were the days.

Now as I flip on Wheel of Fortune and glance outside I’m curious. How long has it been dark outside? The shades are open and I can view the darkness that fills the streets outside. The only light that’s visible is fluorescent. It gleams brightly off of an office building adjacent from my home.

As bright as it shines, it even looks a little sad all alone there in the alley. Left with it’s thoughts of the coming season. It’s preparing to work hard to bring us light in those dark, frigid days to come.

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Daylight savings day is tomorrow. Some of you will rejoice for that extra hour of sleep. Good for you, [glass is half full] thinking optimist. I can’t even. My glass is half empty.

Loosing an extra hour of daylight is like watching someone grab the last piece of cake that you’d been eyeing. You’re a logical human being. You don’t cause a scene. For you know you will have cake again but for a moment you are just the slightest bit sad. This is the equivalent to me on D.S.D.

As I set my clock back I’m reminded that the days are getting shorter and growing colder. This is a double whammy for me. I know in no time at all it will be March and we’ll be springing forward but for the slightest moment I mourn the loss of my friend daylight.

With less daylight we get less sunlight and on to my next point.

Vitamin D is pretty much my favorite vitamin. If you’re taking a vitamin D supplement it’s pretty much a happy pill. Not really, but it helps. Research suggests that it has benefits of fighting depression and common colds. Both are in ample supply for Michigan winters. Michigan is dreary.com for the next few months.

My non-medical, read it on the internet conclusion – is if the sun doles out a lot of vitamin D and I live in a place with minimal sunshine during the winter I’m bound to feel a little sad and sick at some point.

The equation is as such: 

Spring + Summer * Sunshine = Happiness

WinterSunshineSeasonal Affective Disorder

S.A.D. is a legit thing. This type of depression literally spells SAD. That’s sad in itself? When the sun goes away the winter blues are here to stay.

Now time for honest [ridicoulus] thoughts that go through my head

How will we go on?

  1. It’s just less daylight. It’s not like Zombie’s or Vampires attack because there’s more darkness.
  2. Throw some fun plans on the calendar so these dreadful winter months fly by while your laughing with friends and family.
  3. Celebration galore is right around the corner.  My goodness, Halloween candy was on shelves 8 weeks ago and now Christmas stuff is everywhere. Dress up for Halloween. Be thankful and eat lots of pumpkin pie and turkey. Then exchange presents for Jesus’s birthday! Good days are ahead.

How will I fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder?

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Food will get you through. But….

I have to watch my weight this time of year as I’m just not as active. Then again nature intended it this way. Just ask a bear. I read that fish, mushrooms and orange juice all have good amounts of vitamin D. I couldn’t find pizza on the list for a D boost but regardless, pizza makes me happy and will substitute for sunlight in the interim.

I checked the Farmer’s Almanac, it predicted that it’s going to be a mild winter for snow here in the mitten. Even though I don’t LOVE snow it does brighten up the dreariness. I might be the only non-farmer that checks the Farmers Almanac for the weather ahead. Something about knowing what I’m about to get into, helps me make peace with it all. Then again, having lived in Michigan my whole life – I should know better. The weather is as predictable as my mood. #InfertilityMedProblems

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On the bright side….

Positive thoughts. I’m already counting down to the Winter Solstice. Once we hit December 21st we start gaining something like, 1.5 minutes of daylight back. Victory!

Also I have a Southwest flight voucher burning a hole in my pocket. Florida anyone? Currently the Bonventre’s are on a budget but with all these Marriott points and the SW voucher – it’s gunna happen. I’ll get my vitamin D tank filled up and in no time it’ll be Spring!

Don’t forget to set those clocks back!

A Family Store Story

Welcome to the fam

Family as compared to department stores

Saks represents the wealthy side of the family that you always hear about but hardly ever visit. You really only know them through hand-me-down stories. From your few interactions with them you can assume they are nice enough people but you can’t truly get past one particular conversation you had with them about a big deal they scored on shoes. You complimented the shoes at a family wedding and they began to explain that these shoes were such a steal because they were on sale for $200. On my side of the family that is not considered anywhere in the ball park of a sale.

Target is your trendy Aunt that you and everyone else in the family loves to visit. She welcomes you with your favorite Starbucks drink. You love spending hours with her and it passes so quickly that you lose all track of time. She has the cutest wardrobe and follows the latest trends. And unlike Saks side of the family, she doesn’t blow the bank to look cute. Don’t tell the rest of the family but she’s your favorite.

Sup Target

Walmart is your hillbilly cousin from down South. You dread visiting. The whole way there you’re figuring out how to make it as quick as possible. In and out. Record speed tactics are set in place. Once you get there it’s such a spectacle you realize if nothing else, at least you’ll have some good stories to tell. Once you get home your review the credit card bill and realize that visit barely make a dent in your wallet. How is everything so cheap?

Walmart

Costco is Grandpa and Grandma’s house. They overdue everything and are constantly handing out snacks. “You look so thin, you need a bite to eat?” Who doesn’t love that compliment! Here have some popcorn or a foot long hotdog.” They always load you up with so much stuff to take home and your still trying to make room in the house from your last visit.

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Lowe’s and Home Depot are your Uncle’s that are usually sitting around talking about the best grass seed and running wires for the new ceiling fan. They barely interact with anyone but if you really need something they are happy to help. You once started talking about how you want to redo the bathroom and all of sudden they came to life with ideas and suggestions for plumbing and tile. They don’t say much but when they do it’s extremely helpful!

Quiet the Storm

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Think what you may, but the way I look and the way you look paves a path for us.

On the paved pathway of I-94 that runs right next to my home, a car accident took place.

Matthew and I were about to walk into our home when we heard a loud [crunch] rising from the highway below. We live off the service drive that runs parallel to I-94 so the noise was unmistakable.

My husband immediately froze. The key that was about to unlock the door paused mid-motion in his hand. Matthew turned to me, his eyes wide in excitement.

“That was a car accident! Do you want to walk to the overpass and see what happened?”

Is that a serious question? Of course I wanted to see what had happened.

As we walked to the corner of our street towards the highway, I listened to my husband as he quoted Dane Cook’s car accident bit, circa 2008.

“No – I was in my kitchen cleaning a dish and I heard it, so I came out.”

An interesting thing caught our eye as we crossed the street.

A young kid in his twenties was hopping the fence leading up from the highway embankment.

Weird, right? This is something you don’t see every day. Minutes later, we realized he was risking his life to cross three lanes of moving traffic to hop a fence and flee from the scene of the accident.

Not a smart decision.

The series of events that followed got me thinking.

Talking.

Wondering.

My husband, after looking down at the accident and realizing the kid we had seen minutes prior was on the run channeled his inner Tom Selleck, Magnum PI version. He decided we would hunt the kid down.

 

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I went along with it. I’m always saying we need a little more adventure in our life.

The whole situation was crazy but what struck me as really crazy is when we stopped to ask our neighbor if he’d seen a kid run by, our neighbors first question was, “Was he black?”

Later my husband talked to another guy, and he wondered the same thing.

Was the kid black?

Why would these two people assume the kid was black? They were black and their honest questions caught me off guard.

Today we live in a racially charged environment. The police are the bad guys and the criminal is the hero. The very same week the Charleston shootings and Rachel Dolezar [I’m white, pretending to be black] made headline news we are being asked – was the kid black?

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I am again perplexed by the complexity of the color of our skin.

I am white and freckly. You might be dark and black. But underneath the color of our skin, is blood that runs red. Blood that fuels a heart to beat. A heart that beats to be accepted. A heart that beats to be loved.

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I don’t know how to stop this storm from raging but I do want to make a difference. I’ve been asking myself questions like – will the love I give have a domino effect? Can one act of kindness change the path we are on? Can I help?

I hope so and I’m convinced this is the pathway to quieting this storm.

I want to be judged by my [character] not the character you assume I am. More importantly I want to do the same to you.

The kid running from the scene of the accident was white.

Let’s quiet this storm. Let’s love like my friend Jesus did and see the heart not the color of the skin surrounding it.

Matthew 7: 1- 5 [Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their 
faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of 
boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the 
ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ 
when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe 
that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your 
neighbor.]