marriage, motherhood

This Is The Way (of a Courageous Heart)

December 6, 2003

Within each family are the stories of shared memory. For example, ask T.Puzzle how the boys earned a day of ‘Unlimited Video Games But with Limits’ and you will hear a little bit about what makes our family tick. It’s a whole lot of teasing and humor with a generous dose of love.

Another such story that lives on as family legend is how Mad Dog broke up with me not once, but twice.


I can find the humor in it now, but living through it at the time was anything but funny.

Not surprisingly, my boys find this fact to be hilarious.

As today marks the anniversary of our 17th year of marriage, I realized something. Following one’s heart is not without fear, but following it at all is enough to sustain you through life’s uncertainty.

While we were dating, Mad Dog was always honest with me that forever may not be in the cards for us. Through the course of our relationship I learned I was worthy of commitment and decided I would not settle for less.

Mad Dog clearly disagreed.

Not once. But twice.


Then at some point, he had a change of heart and I was faced with a dilemma. Do I follow my heart or do I let this guy go once and for all?

I followed my heart.

My heart knew better than all the naysayers and it knew better when my head spouted fear and worry. I chose to live from the heart because I figured if it all blew up in my face, at least I wouldn’t have regrets.

I would never have to wonder ‘what if?’.

This is a life lesson I have carried with me. It has helped me leap forward when my head is adamant I stay still. It helped me know it was time to return to Florida. Moving during a pandemic in the middle of a school year is not the circumstance one dreams of when contemplating major life decisions. While all signs pointed to stay, my heart knew without question it was time to go.

This knowing, one might assume, would make life immune to hardship as if our gut instincts will shield us from adversity. Yet it has been quite the opposite. I can’t even begin to describe the stress and challenges we have faced in these past few months. We have fought, I have cried, there were quiet moments of genuine despair, and yet, we have not broken. We seem to weather each day as it comes, storms and all, and keep going. It’s as if these hurdles when woven together bind us closer as a family.

Through every up and down I continue to listen to the knowing within. Whatever happens, my hope is to never let a ‘what if’ define me or my life.

I would marry Mad Dog all over again.

No regrets.

Our anniversary sunrise. Worth every bit of the journey.

marriage, motherhood

Safety First

For some reason, Mad Dog is always in a hurry.  I’m not sure why exactly.  Is someone chasing him?  Is he carrying top secret information and must never be caught?

Date night strolls often wind up with him ten paces ahead and me jogging to keep up.  Yeah, it’s as romantic as it sounds.

Even when we are home, his pace is quick.  It is best to steer clear as his rushes through his to-do list.  In all of this heightened speed, he relies on repetition and memory to navigate the space around him.  If something is an inch or two ‘off’, he inevitably runs into it.  And not in a delicate way, but in a full-on injury-inducing way.

Does this slow him down?


Does it make him scan his surroundings before attacking his day?

Of course not!

He does enjoy deflecting the cause of his injuries.  He jokingly (and sometimes not-so-jokingly) blames me.  He wants to know why I keep moving things(!).  He ‘moves with precision’ (exact quote thank you very much) and if I move something even a tiny bit, he is bound to run into it.

Okay, okay, I’ll give you the drying rack over the laundry room door (I mean, it’s kind of awesome that he even goes in there let alone actually does laundry, so kudos for that).  It is possible someone in our house inadvertently shifted it and therefore when Mad Dog nearly punctured a lung on it, I could understand I might be to blame.  And, then there was my yoga mat.  I had moved it to the side in our bedroom, but knowing Mad Dog in the way I do, I should have moved it about three more miles out of the way to ensure his safety.

But furniture?


He claims I move furniture.  Not ottoman type things, but anchor pieces like couches, beds, and cabinets.  Yes, cabinets!  I absolutely take down cabinets and move them one inch over just to mess with him.  Honestly, I should have my own show on HGTV.

And I’m certain my three times a week of Jazzercise, I mean I use 8 lbs. weights after all, in addition to my at-home yoga practice, certainly has afforded me the necessary upper body strength to move giant pieces of furniture all by myself.  Maybe bodybuilding has been my long lost calling?

So many dreams to consider.

These will have to wait until I finish moving Mad Dog’s office desk.

Trust me, I always remember to lift with my knees and not my back.

Safety first.



children, family, gratitude, humor, kids, marriage, motherhood, parenting

Cruise (Part 6)

Mad Dog and me enjoying our time together.
Mad Dog and me

When you are a stay-at-home parent it is hard to put into words what it feels like to be away from your kids for four whole nights.  Our annual cruise without kids is something I look forward to all year-long.  Having to only worry about myself is liberating.  Being able to walk into art-filled stores and not worry about someone breaking something is a revelation.  Sitting at a leisurely meal enjoying a glass of wine (or several) and not having to cajole table manners out of my boys is amazing.  It’s nice to be at a table of adults who realize knives are for butter or meat, not for stabbing your brother in the face.  This time away helps me remember that I am more than somebody’s Mom.  It reminds me that I was a whole and interesting person before kids and it’s comforting to know I can be that again.

Our kids are not ours to hold onto forever.  The second they are given to us is the same instant we must begin to let them go.  It’s up to us to keep hold of ourselves and be who we are throughout this process.  Time away from them is a great way to do this.  It’s also great because when you return, you realize you were missed.  You realize that even boys who seem to need so little except their determination to make it in the world, do in fact still need their Mom.  Even T.Puzzle, my recently turned affection-resistant kid, easily gave up a hug or two upon my return.  Those hugs were some of the best hugs I’ve had in a long time.

It’s good to be home!

children, family, humor, kids, marriage, motherhood, parenting

Moving Day


“Hurry up and get your shoes on. I have something I want to show you and the boys,” Mad Dog declared as he walked in the front door. The boys and I grabbed some shoes and zipped outside. I thought maybe the car was newly washed and shining, or there was a cute, tiny bird that he thought we would want to see.


It was a snake.

My life flashed before my eyes, I saw stars and my spirit left my body, hovered over me and watched as I attempted to hold my crumbling emotional exterior together. The boys held their breath as they watched and waited to see how Mom was going to respond. Mind you, they both had beared witness to Dead Lizard-Gate 2012 and could sense things were about to go south.

The snake was slithered up against our garage door. All I could think was, ‘it’s going in my house, it’s going in my house…’. I couldn’t verbalize it because I had lost my ability to speak. In a flash the snake vanished out of sight. Not only did he vanish, but he vanished in the direction of my garage.

At this point, I lost hope. I got very quiet and very sad because I knew the only logical course of action was to pack up and move. Oh, how I am going to miss my house! T.Puzzle, who normally is compassionate towards other forms of life, started marching to the front door shouting,’Kill the snake! Kill the snake!” So much for raising a level-headed, life-cherishing leader for our future. Sorry, America!

What was most difficult for my adrenaline-addled brain to comprehend was why on earth would Mad Dog think I would want to see a snake. To be clear I am terrified of snakes, dead lizards, fire ants, heights, massive crowds, sudden noises like balloons popping or fireworks, and realistically scary movies (I’m talking to you Contagion). Please spare me the knowledge if one or more of these things manifest in our driveway ever again.

Mad Dog I love you. I’m sorry we have to move. We had a good run. I’d write more but I’m pretty sure there’s a snake right behind me. Even if there isn’t, I have a feeling there will always be the memory of that snake watching me and waiting for our moment to get reaquainted. Save yourselves!

children, family, gratitude, humor, kids, marriage, motherhood, parenting

The Year in Review (Happy New Year!)

T.Puzzle transitioned from Pre-K to the big dance this year.  While he flourished in kindergarten in many ways, his attitude towards me has shifted dramatically.  I went from being his ‘best friend forever’ to… not. Trust me, my ego was ill-prepared for the loss of my little ‘Mommy’s boy’.  It helps when I think about what growing up is like for him.  He must get awfully tired of being told what to do every second of the day and he lets me know it, too.  It’s okay.  I’m a tough cookie.  I can take it.  No matter what he tells you, he’s always going to be my ‘baby’.

Full Speed continues to fulfill is pre-ordained destiny of being Mad Dog’s clone.  His mannerisms, his physical attributes as well as his attitudes about life and sports are all a spot-on mimicry of Mad Dog.  Thankfully, Full Speed couldn’t have a better role model.  Well, it might be nice to tone down that competitive streak but let’s be real, that isn’t going to happen.  All I can do is sit back and watch history repeat itself.

Mad Dog is painstakingly building a soccer empire right here in our cul-de-sac.  His intense coaching sessions even pushed me to win most improved at this year’s family soccer classic.  Trust me, after playing against Mad Dog, I know how to bring the hurt.  Even on the days when he scores a million goals on me, and those days do happen, Mad Dog remains my biggest supporter.  He trusts me to always give my best no matter what I do (soccer and otherwise).  This helps me to trust in myself.

As for me, first I want to share a blog secret with you my dear, faithful readers.  You may think that I have the most photogenic children on the planet.  This is simply untrue.  The key to my photographic success is that I average about a thousand pictures for every one, hidden gem that I post.


See what I mean?

The other part I want to share with you is this year I pushed myself to face my fear of horses and have taken some riding lessons.  The first time my horse cantered, I about passed out from fright.  I held onto the saddle horn as if my life depended on it (I guess technically it did).

I’m slowly learning that fear cannot stop us.  We are the ones who stop ourselves. I hope by facing my own fears, I can help my boys be fearless.  I have a feeling these guys are well on their way.


For me riding horses is a lot like motherhood.  It’s unpredictable, frightening, joyful, exhilarating and absolutely the ride of a lifetime.

Look out 2013! We are coming for you!