Thursday, October 28, 2010

Picture Fall Catch-Up

Like the season, I'm letting go. I'm not going to even pretend that I am going to finish every prompt for this class. And that's okay. But for what I have done, let's say we catch up, alright?

Day 27 - Leafy Love - don't these leaves look
like they are hugging the tree???

Day 26 - Open Heart, Open Mind
Wide Open Spaces!

Day 25 - Fall Color

Day 23 - Rhythm & Repetition

Day 21 - Serving Up Kindness - This little flower came with my
room service meal and was the highlight of my day!

Day 20 - Connections - Becca is fantastic at the illegal slide tackle!


Day 18 - Muse - this bridge has been my muse this season.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

At this point in my life, there aren't many questions that I get asked "frequently." In fact, none that I can think of off the top of my head. But there was a time...

As a new mother of twins, perfect strangers seemed utterly fascinated in the most intimate aspects of my life.
Although sometimes the attention was appreciated, more often, taking my girls out in public (such as to the grocery store) became a chore, as I would be stopped in nearly every aisle by someone wanting to coo over my babies and then ask the inevitable.  All while I was trying to rush through a quick shop so I could get them home before feeding time and the impending meltdown.

Although most people were well-meaning, at times, I literally wanted to make a sign and hang it from their stroller! Because in all honesty.... it got old. Fast. Sometimes the questions were stupid. And sometimes they were grossly inappropriate.  But here, in no particular order, are the most frequently asked questions...

1. Do twins run in your family?
No, but they do run in my husband's family.

2. Boys or Girls? [Ahem. I'm all for not playing into gender stereotypes, but I always took them out dressed in pink, usually with little ribbons in their hair.]  Oh, girls. 

3. Are they identical or fraternal?
[Seriously?  Did you even look at them before you asked me that?]  Rachel and Becca are decidedly fraternal. They did not look alike as infants, nor do they look alike now - other than the normal sibling resemblance.  Rachel's face is now more narrow and long with a squared off chin (like Dad), she has small delicate ears, and her hair is blonder.  Becca has a rounder face, larger ears, and darker hair, although she didn't have any hair to speak of before she was two! Their noses are different, their eye color is different. Personality wise - night and day! And we have never referred to them as "the twins" ~ they are two separate human beings who happen to share a birthday.

  4. Natural or C-Section?  I had Rachel and Becca C-section (unplanned)  because when I went into labor Becca was positioned breech and up under my rib cage. After the fact, the doctors said she was small enough that they probably could have turned her once Rachel was out. Too late for that.  If you ask my husband he'll tell you that it was for the best. Apparently he didn't relish the experience of me screaming my head off during Sarah's delivery! Having done it both ways, I can't say I honestly recommend one over the other. They are just different experiences.

5. Who was born first? Rachel. By one minute. And since she was the one properly positioned, she would have been born first anyway.

6. How big were they when they were born? Rachel was 6 lbs 7 oz., Becca was 5 lbs, 7 oz.  They were born 3 weeks early which is normal with twins and I was HUGE. They came home from the hospital weighing 5 lbs, 11 oz. and  4 lbs, 11 oz. respectively. Becca was such a tiny thing, she wore the outfit off a cabbage patch doll!

7. Nursing or bottle feeding?  [No kidding, COMPLETE STRANGERS would ask me this!  Well, if it is any of your business...]  Both.  I nursed until their first check up. They weren't putting on weight, so after that I supplemented with formula and switched between them who got to nurse. At least that way, Dad could help with the feedings. They were weaned to formula when I went back to work.

  8. How do you handle it? I swear I never knew how to answer this. I still don't. When you have no other choice, you just DO.

I don't get asked these questions any longer. Although occasionally when I'm out with all three girls, we'll get asked if they are triplets. That drives Sarah nuts. It is hard when you are 20 to be taken for 17!

Now the most frequently asked question is directed at Rachel and Becca...

9. What is it like being a twin?  To which I can only hope they respond, "What is it like not being a twin?"  Because honestly, being a twin is all they have ever known. How can they compare that to not being a twin?

Monday, October 25, 2010

a Trip to Chicago

Mel asked for more details. Unfortunately there isn't much to tell!

I flew into Chicago on Thursday, got a van from the airport to my hotel, checked into my room and ordered room service for dinner. Hung out playing on the computer.

Friday I spent all day in a seminar, then back to the airport and flew back home. No sight-seeing. No tourist stuff. Just a quick out and back business trip. That completely wiped me out.

Spent Saturday and Sunday camped out on the sofa watching television (except for laundry, grocery shopping, and a soccer game). And thank heavens I had scheduled my Let's Eat post ... or it never would have happened! ;)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let's Eat Blog Hop

Welcome to Let's Eat Blog Hop! If you arrived here from Random Reflections, home of the very talented Karen, welcome! It was a fairly short hop from upstate New York to southeastern Pennsylvania, so you should be read to dive right in!  If you are starting here, no worries, you can follow the entire hop by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

Quick & Easy Chicken Pasta Salad - approx. 8 servings

Feeding finicky youngsters is a tricky proposition. Feeding finicky teens is impossible. If I serve a meal they don't like, they simply won't eat it. But this is one meal they actually enjoy! It's a cold one-dish meal, great for summertime. Only six ingredients! Easy to whip up for potlucks and backyard barbeques! This recipe is also very forgiving in that there are no exact measurements and you can add more or less of any of the ingredients to change the amount of servings you create!

Ingredients to serve 8:
  • 1 pkg Farfalle (bowtie) Pasta - 12 oz.
  • 1 pkg Perdue Short Cuts Original Roasted Chicken (or 2 chicken breasts baked)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 large or 2 small cucumbers
  • 1 pkg Cracker Barrel extra-sharp white reduced fat Cheddar Cheese - use approx 6 oz. (feel free to substitute here - the salad would be great with feta, gorgonzola, or blue cheese crumbles if you like something with a little more zing)
  • 1 bottle Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing - 8 oz.
  • Optional - sliced black olives, any other veggies you want to add
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cube chicken, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese into small pieces.
  3. Combine all ingredients into serving dish. Add any optional ingredients to suit.
  4. Slowly add ranch dressing, stirring until all ingredients are lightly coated.
  5. You can season to taste if desired, but we find the ranch dressing to be more than sufficient seasoning!
  6. Refrigerate and serve cold.
I input this recipe into My Fitness Pal and came up with this nutrition info per serving:  Calories - 411; Carbs - 36 g.;  Fat - 20 g.;  Protein - 19 g.;  Fiber - 2 g.   You can make it lower cal by using a low-fat ranch dressing if you prefer.

Now off you go to the UK to visit Jacky and see what she has cooked up for us! It's a longer hop, so you might want to grab some Chicken Pasta Salad for the trip!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Perfect Protest - Part 2

I've mentioned before that I had planned a "part two" to the Perfect Protest post. In fact I've planned it since that post aired two weeks ago on October 6th.  But here's the thing about being willing to admit you are not perfect. You get plenty of opportunities to prove it!  Way too many I think.

I'll start with saying, I haven't done a good job of keeping up with my blog. LIFE has to be lived before one can blog about it and I feel like I've been living a LOT of life lately. 

Sarah was home from college for Fall Break and we were scheduled to spend Saturday together at a crop. Signed up and paid for. After the hour driving there, but before I was even fully set up, she got sick. We had to pack back up and come home. I did laundry and "tried" to scrap a bit at home.  She spent the rest of Saturday in bed, poor thing. 

Sunday I went grocery shopping, then Rachel and Becca had a soccer game. Jay played with our zoom lens.

The ball coming off Becca's foot. Good kick! And yes, Santa
moonlights as a sideline referee.

Becca goes down hard. The girl behind her got yellow-carded (warning
before you get expelled from the game) for this move. The ref said:
 "you just ran her over" - he clearly saw a personal foul. My girl was
crying but she got back up and kept playing anyway.

I just love this photo of Rachel. Good stop-action - the only way you can
tell she is on the move is the pony tail flying behind her!

Two hours in the sunshine watching them play always exhausts me.  So instead of doing anything "productive" we watched the remake of "Karate Kid" with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.  Suprisingly GOOD movie! And interesting to listen to some of the life lessons you have been learning played out in a movie.  Probably why I so thoroughly enjoyed "Avatar" when it came out.

Tuesday I took Sarah back to college. Six hours round trip. It was a beautiful drive with lots of gorgeous fall color, but no safe place to pull over for photos.  So we'll make do with this one taken near home:

It was also a long drive. Once I got home I only made it off the sofa to go to bed! 

Yesterday I had Physical Therapy, went to the gym, did a quick grocery run, took Rachel & Becca to the dr., made dinner, sewed two moles (a project R & B need for school - I did make them cut the pattern.), and started this blog post.

Today, I need to pack. I'm leaving this morning for a business trip to Chicago, back very very late Friday night. 

So just keeping up with LIFE is exhausting me. I'm woefully behind on Picture Fall and have lost the mojo. I'm not keeping up with Unravelling II either. And new classes are due to start soon.  Yikes.  And I have oodles of partially started projects laying around that need my attention. So in case you are wondering what is the point, let me spell it out. I'm not wonder woman and I can't do it all. There, I said it. Out loud. I'm not perfect. In fact, I'm very far from it.

When I first posted about accepting myself with my imperfections... in fact, embracing my imperfections as part of who I am and acknowledging that I AM ENOUGH... I was a little concerned.  Because honestly, at first blush it sounds like, well, a cop out. Like I am giving up on me. Accepting that this is as good as it gets.

But, Brene Brown says:
"Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth....Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance." 
This is the big lesson in Guidepost #2 in the Gifts of Imperfection

During my second read of this amazing book, I learned that accepting that I am worthy of love and belonging JUST AS I AM does not mean I have given up on anything.  I can still strive to become the best version of me, to be even better tomorrow than I am today, without letting go of the fact that I am enough today - whether I  manage to improve or not. It is a bit of a circular argument. But there you have it - you can accept and embrace your imperfection and still strive to be your best. 

So when I get back and life has settled a bit, I'll tell you about my newest goals in striving to be my best! Have you embraced your imperfections today? And how are you getting around that to be your best?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Gifts of Imperfection

If you've been thinking about buying this book, but have been on the fence, hop on over to Susannah Conway's Ink on My Fingers blog to read a lovely interview with the author Brene Brown.  What Brene has to say might just get you off the fence.

Plus, there is a chance to win one of two copies of the book that Susannah and Brene are giving away... just by leaving a comment!  Good Luck everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Orange Crush

Last night I watched some highly entertaining football - all the while freezing my buns off sitting on icy cold bleachers. It was the annual Powder Puff game. In Powder Puff, the players are girls, teams are by class level, and the game is flag football played in 10 minute halves where the clock is stopped after any play that lasts less than one minute.

Game One is Seniors v. Freshmen.  And the Seniors always win.  Last night did not disappoint in that respect. Seniors won 7-0. That's just the way it always is.

Game Two is Juniors v. Sophomores. And my girls are Juniors.

Here's the "Orange Crush" Junior team just before sunset gathered outside the stadium.  DH was the photographer last night and this light (while beautiful and glowy) made it very hard to get an accurate color of the shirts. They are orange - but a little on the light side of orange.

Here's one squad of the Orange Crush team discussing plays before Game Two. Under the stadium lights, the color still isn't right. But check out those fantastic striped socks our girls are wearing! Aren't they adorable?

Game Two between the Juniors and Sophomores was tight and fiercely fought, but Juniors took it in the end with a score of 13-7.  And that's the way it should be.

Game Three is played between the winners of the first two games. It is almost always Seniors v. Juniors. And the Seniors always win. It's tradition. Okay, honestly, it is that Game Three is rigged in favor of the Seniors. The officials call a lot of fouls against the opposing team and make sure there is a lot of backward movement on the field (or forward movement for the Seniors). That's just the way it always is.

Last year as Sophomores our girls beat the Juniors and played the outgoing Seniors in Game Three. They weren't lacking in spirit or the will to win. They were up against the foul calls and backward movement on the field. They lost. But, that's just the way it always is.

Going into Game Three, our girls were playing the same team they had beat last year. Which made things interesting. Game Three was rousing with lots of good plays. The Juniors failed to score after having possession for the first seven minutes and making it all the way to about the two yard line.

The Seniors fought back but were stopped short of their goal line by the Juniors. The first half ended in a score of zero to zero. One Junior was carried off the field after she landed wrong and broke her foot in two places. Keep in mind, this is FLAG football - there is no tackling. But dang, these young ladies are agressive!

In the second half, the Juniors scored early with a long run down the field. The Seniors came back with a long run of their own and scored, but the Juniors prevented them from making the conversion point. So the score was 6-7 with Juniors leading. Then ensued multitudes of absurd calls by the officials, multiple 15 yard penalties that put the Seniors right up to their own goal line, but they couldn't score. In their final attempts, hand-offs were dropped, passes were fumbled. With mere seconds left on the clock, the Juniors gained possession and took a knee. The Juniors won!  Every once in a while it is not just the way it always is.

Here are the Juniors celebrating their victory. Our girls are buried in the midst of that Orange Crush. 

One other thing about Powder Puff - the guys are the cheerleaders. The Junior men showed up bare chested, covered in orange paint. They roared and hollered and ran around the stadium. They blew plastic versions of those super-annoying World Cup Soccer horns. When the Juniors scored, they ran into the end zone and did push-ups.

They had the largest group of cheerleaders on the field. And they were highly entertaining. If there was an award for Spirit, the young men of the Junior class definitely would have won last night as well. As a parent, I was so grateful to see that my girls are part of a class with such a high participation level and so much spirit. Oh, and the fact that they won? Almost made it worth freezing my buns!

Give Yourself A Break!

Normally this page-a-day calendar sits on my desk and I use it to mark the day (because it is so easy when you work from home to truly forget what day it is!).  And as I rip off each page, the back side makes great scratch paper to have handy. I rarely give much attention to the message. Because although it is about slowing down and enjoying life, the messages tend to be preachy, judgmental, or just off the mark from what I need to hear.  But every once in a while...

the message is right on target! This one made me laugh out loud when I read it this morning. Yes, I need a break. So as soon as I hit post, I'm getting off the computer to do my physical therapy exercises and yoga. Yeah me!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Calm After The Storm

Perkasie sits in a valley between East & West Rockhill Townships to the north and Hilltown Township to the south. All aptly named because the area is replete with the rolling hills that make up the terrain of Pennsylvania.  It's beautiful, but also causes some quirks in our weather patterns that don't apply to towns to the east or west of us.

Last night, starting just about bed time, we had the most incredible bands of thunderstorms move through our area. As I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, trying to concentrate on slowing my breathing, my brain kept wandering to how I would describe that moment, what I was experiencing, in a blog post.

Have you ever done that? Write a blog post in your head while you are supposed to be doing something else... like sleeping?

So eyes closed, listening to the rumbling of the thunder, the sounds reverberating off the surrounding hills and echoing through our valley. And every so often the rumbling of the thunder was punctuated by a loud crack and a flash that would shoot bright light through my closed lids.

Image Souce

Then the rain came, lightly at first, tapping out a beat on the rooftop, then heavier, increasing in tempo, until the sounds of pouring rain, rumbling thunder and cymbal claps of lighting became a raucous symphony outside my window. And then, a slowing decrescendo, closing the first movement, then silence. I fell asleep at some point during the performance, only to awake again for the second movement and yet again for the third. Nature's nocturnal interlude lasted most of the night.

And when I awoke, the morning was hushed and calm:

Picture Fall - Day 10 - Preparations

The girls won't be happy. I'm making "old people food" again. Different recipe this time, but still, it's meat, potatoes, and vegetables.

More Picture Fall

I haven't been able to get into a groove with Picture Fall. Rather than taking the photos one day at a time, I seem to be taking them in batches.  So here's another group!

Day 11 - "Stripping Down" - This day we were
asked to focus on texture, then strip all the color out of
it to really make the texture pop. This large ceramic
plant pot seemed perfect for the task! In color, it is red!

Day 9 - "What Remains" - my dahlia plant that died during the heat
of the Summer has come back and is trying to bloom again!

Day 8 - "Keeping it Simple" - a study in light.

Day 7 - "After the Fall"

Did you notice that Day 10 was missing?  Yep, I took the perfect photos for it last night... with no memory card in the camera! Ugh!  And those photos were intended for Amy's Let's Eat Blog Hop! So back to the drawing board.  Told you I haven't gotten into my groove with this class!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Perfect Protest - an update

I still have a "part two" to this post that I haven't written yet.  But today I was meandering through my Google Reader and found a new post from Brene Brown.  Part of the post was this totally cool and fun video:

The Perfect Protest from Brené Brown on Vimeo.

And apparently you are going to have to click on the link to watch it!  But if you hang in there, my picture flashes by near the end of the song. So cool!

I also HIGHLY recommend you go take a look at this video which I swear is guaranteed to get you boppin in your chair and put a smile on your face. Totally worth 2 minutes of your life!

I'm about one-third of the way through my second read of The Gifts of Imperfection and am loving it even more the second time around. Definitely recommend everyone read this book and embrace your imperfection! Love you all just the way you are!

A Little Slice of Heaven

My leftover 1/2 slice of TGI Friday's Vanilla Bean Cheesecake -
365 calories of pure heaven, enjoyed on the deck in sunny
75 degree weather!  I'll take every moment like this I can get!

Oh, yes you read that right - 365 calories for
a HALF slice! I behaved at Friday's and asked for boxes for
both my entree and dessert. And split each in half before I
even began eating.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Picture Fall

Today we finally had a morning that didn't dawn grey and wet.  And I was able to capture this "morning light" photo:

I want to say thank you to everyone for your lovely and encouraging comments on my photos. I really appreciate it. I finally feel like I am starting to get the kind of images I want. Still have a LOT to learn about my camera, but each new challenge makes me stretch. Baby steps.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Picture Fall

You've seen this bridge before.  But on Sunday the 3rd, I took my camera to the Soccer field and caught the image I had seen the week I didn't take my camera... The color of the bridge reflected in the water.  I think it takes being there at noon to really capture this in its full glory.

Day 3 of Picture Fall was a challenge to find beauty in starkness, in something other than the abundant richness of the fall colors. Pictures above and below were my take on the challenge. How did I do?

Picture Fall Day 4 was "morning light" - and we had 3 days in a row of grey, overcast, no light to speak of. So I caught raindrops on an umbrella instead.

Day 6 - "Subtleties"  - a study in monochrome. In my case, the color of our deck is very similar to the color of the fallen leaves that gather on it. If you know your leaf shapes, you can clearly see the pin oak and mountain ash leaves here and if you look in the upper left corner, you can see a sugar maple leaf. Had I thought about it before snapping, I might have "arranged" the leaves a bit so the species were more visible. But I went out and snapped exactly what nature had left me!

And finally, even though this isn't technically "monochromatic" I love the dark red mums played against the brick facing of the house.

The Perfect Protest - Part 1

Today I'm joining in Brene Brown's "Perfect Protest."  In fact, I've been planning to join since Brene first posted on 9/26.  It just took me awhile to get my camera set up and learn to use the timer function so I could take pictures of myself holding signs! And yes, I'm brave enough to take the photos and post them here, but not to ask my family to take them for me and then have to explain why!

Brene's post arose as an outgrowth of the publishing of her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" which many of you noticed in my last Weekly Gratitude post.  You wanted to know what I thought of the book.  I should begin by saying that I have followed Brene's blog for going on two years and have also read (and participated in the blog read-along) "I Thought It Was Just Me".  If you have read ITIWJM and followed Brene's blog for any significant time period, the stories and messages in Gifts of Imperfection will be familiar. There isn't much new here.  The advantage is that it is all in one place and easy to read and reference.  And unlike ITIWJM, this book leans less toward Brene the scholarly researcher and more toward Brene the chatty authentic blogger that you'd love to have for a friend.  I really preferred the more conversational style of this book.

Having finished my first read through, I am planning a second, slower read, where I will highlight the passages that are really speaking to me. Usually with a book of this type, I read it once determining my level of interest and commitment to the book. If my interest is low, the book is left in "like new" condition, to be passed on or donated somewhere.  If my interest level is high, the book gets a second read where I feel free to mark it up, knowing that it will become part of my permanent collection. This book fits the second category! Definitely a keeper and worth the price.

Since planning this post, the Universe has been sending perfection messages my way everywhere I turn. The October 3rd passage from "Simple Abundance" tells me that "aspiring to be Little Miss Perfect is an addiction of low self-worth." 

I know this truth first hand. When I was young, I put pressure on myself to be "perfect" because I thought that was the only way my Mom (my step-mother who raised me) would love me and want to keep me.  So I pushed myself to be helpful at home, get "perfect" grades at school, and always be the kind of daughter you wouldn't want to leave behind when the divorce came. And ultimately my strategy worked. When I was 13 and my Mom and biological father finally split, my Mom kept me. Which reinforced a learned pattern that perfection was necessary for survival. 

That unfortunate misconception carried through college, law school, my early career, and early motherhood. In college, when I struggled and was failing a course, I dropped it. If I couldn't do something perfectly, I wasn't likely to attempt it in the first place. I held myself back. I got in my own way of success, opportunity, and learning. 

Early motherhood was a mess. I wanted to present my "perfect" children to the world. Such was not to be. Luckily for them, they had minds of their own and enough self-esteem to be their perfectly imperfect little selves. They still do. And I hope they know that I love them, deeply and fiercely, just the way they are!

Now I know, without a doubt, that my Mom would have loved me even if I didn't bring home straight A's. And I know that I AM ENOUGH, just as I am. I can unabashedly and without apology publish less than stellar photos of myself just to make a point. And I know that none of my lovely blog readers would have even noticed the poor lighting and focus in the photos if I hadn't pointed it out.

Shout outs to Amy and Lee who already joined The Perfect Protest.  More perfection messages from the Universe! 

"Simple Abundance" closes its October 3rd passage with this thought: 

"Upon completing the Universe, the Great Creator pronounced it 'very good.' Not 'perfect.'"

Apparently even he thinks perfection is over-rated.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Welcome October!

October came in wet and heavy. We had tremendous downpours overnight and woke to a wet and wild world.

The Perkiomen Creek runs right through Perkasie - nearly splitting the borough in two. During heavy rains, the creek tends to swell and outgrow its banks.  When it does, it renders several low-lying road impassable.  This storm followed true to what we have come to expect:

This area, from the tree line forward, is normally a bit of grass and some roadway.  All that creek water should be on the other side of the trees!  Because of areas like this, the girls had a two hour delay for the start of their school day (roads need to clear enough for the busses to run).

In normal conditions, the creek would run well below the scrub in the foreground - you would even see a bit of bank on either side.

Our first Picture Fall prompt asked us to capture a fallen leaf that stirs our sense of the season. As I was out photographing the flooding conditions, this leaf caught my attention, being the only colorful one among its browned tribemates.

Then, just for fun, I ran a sepia action at 80% opacity on the same photo and selectively recolored my little leaf. I thought it would cause the leaf to pop more, but honestly, I think I like it better surrounded by other fall colors. What do you think?