Monthly Archives: April 2013

Mom’s Beauty

I saw a clip from Dove’s campaign on real beauty sketches. When it became clear that women were being asked to describe their features to a sketch artist – I knew what would happen. For some reason we women like to pick out our worst features and dwell on them as if we are some horrible beastly representations of humanity.

I had a huge gap between my two front teeth. Once in high school a guy told me he could stick a pencil between my two front teeth, so I’m not exaggerating here. But at church one day, I got a letter from a woman who was visiting for a few weeks and only spoke Spanish. She had someone help her write the letter and she basically said she knew we couldn’t talk to each other, but each week she looked forward to my smile. She said I always treated her with a smile and friendliness¬† even though we couldn’t speak each others’ language. I still had a huge gap between my two front teeth, but this woman saw the real me.

I’ll admit, my own mother has a hard time seeing her inner and outer beauty. Is she a fashion model? No, she doesn’t airbrush herself. Does she wear a business suit? No, she comes in casual clothes, like the ones she wore to clean the private school my kids attended – to help pay their tuition. She has warm welcoming eyes so you know she means it when she says come on in. Her smile can sometimes be mischievous, so you know that she isn’t afraid to have fun. She has an ample bosom to comfort even the most fussy child – she has held the babies of complete strangers who needed a hand and mom quickly volunteered. That’s who she is.

My mom is beautiful!

Enjoy the link below



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Filed under Community, Family, Healthy Lifestyle, Parenting

Just When You Think

My two youngest children are participating in a bike-a-thon for their school today. We are trying to train them to do some of their own fundraising and I suggested a particular name to Matthew. He asked for the phone number and I dialed it for him then handed him the phone. I heard the sweetest thing from him.

Mrs. T., this is Matthew. I was wondering if you would sponsor me and my sister for the bike-a-thon tomorrow.

Just when you think that your kids will never learn to work together, play together or figure out a way to get along before they are adults, this happens. Me and my sister. At the family breakfast table this morning, I shared the story with my husband who had been at a board meeting last night. The story melted his heart too.

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Filed under Family, Parenting

The Squeeze

Greta has shoes. This should come as no surprise since she is a “foo foo” loving girl who resides in fun country with friends because there is no better place to be. Greta’s shoes are like the crumbs of Hansel and Gretel. They tell where all she¬† has been, including the neighbor’s trampoline across the street and the dip in our driveway that fills with water when it rains. She finds puddles irresistible.

Her brothers find some hope – that she still plays with squishy toy animals, including lizards, snakes (one of her favs) and marine creatures. She even has a plastic cockroach she cannot part with. But the shoes! The shoes drive the boys nuts because they are everywhere, except where they are supposed to be – on the shoe shelf.

There was a clear and distinct plan. The top shelf was for Michael, the middle shelf was for Greta and the floor level was for Matthew. Each child had a place to store their shoes that was close to the front door. This made getting out the door for school so much easier as shoes got lost in their rooms, and still do. But Greta’s shoes were never where they were supposed to be and always in the way. One morning, we even had to walk across the still moist grass to the neighbor’s yard to retrieve shoes from under the trampoline.

I grabbed a pair of Greta’s shoes yesterday and determined to put them where they belong with a greater resolve to get her to follow the plan! When I took her little pink floral slip-ons to the shelf, I discovered there was no room. This has happened before and we ask Greta to put just the shoes she wears most on the shelf. I looked for a pair of shoes to switch them with and found none. The boys’ shoes had squeezed Greta’s right off of the shelf. This was part of the reason why her shoes were everywhere!

Michael’s work boots, two pair of sneakers plus a set of cleats. Matthew’s moccasins and sneakers. The boys also each had a nice polished pair of shoes for church. My boys have big feet and they had put the squeeze on Greta’s dainty shoes. All this time we were all blaming Greta for not putting her shoes on the shelf, but the reality was the boys and their shoes had squeezed her out!

I lured Michael into admitting that Greta’s shoe situation was out of control and told him to look at how silly it all was on the shoe shelf. He went, expecting to be vindicated about girls and shoes, but came away with an oops on his face. He admitted that boy shoes had obviously taken over. Lesson learned. It is obviously time for a shoe rack just for Greta. It is also time to check commonly held stereotypes and personally investigate a situation. I’m glad I took the time to see what it was like for Greta to fulfill the expectations we had for her and her shoes. I saw for myself the struggle she has had. It’s time for change.

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In the safety meetings I present to the guys at work – I talk about all kinds of stuff from proper ways of doing things to watch out for these common practices that are dangerous. I’ve also thrown in look what is coming down the line in new safety laws and see this group over here – they did something stupid and all got fired because it wasn’t safe and they put their company in a precarious position.

One of the areas discussed in the last few months was the importance of proper trenching and shoring techniques and knowing which ones to use for the type of job you are doing. Our company safety manual even has diagrams showing the proper techniques for the various soils and needs. The guys listened, half heartedly, but they listened. The boss asked for those diagrams to be kept in an accessible place on the main work truck. Done.

At the big safety conference I went to this week, I saw a presentation by one of the regional directors for OSHA. He showed an inspector who just happened to go by a trenching job and didn’t like the looks of it. He wasn’t sent there, he just saw it on his way down the road. He told the guys to get out because he didn’t think it was safe. They listened. Five minutes later the trench caved in. He saved lives that day. I saw pictures of the trench before and after the cave in. Impactful. I also saw a picture of a man covered in mud being pulled out of a caved in trench. I think he was still alive, but not by much. Again, impactful.

It reminded me that there is a reason I do these safety meetings on a regular basis and a reason why we have these practices in place – to make sure workers can go home to their families at night. I’m glad to be a part of Bulldog Contractors LLC in Jefferson, Texas, that takes the safety of their workers seriously enough to have these regular safety meetings. I think I can go to bed at night with a clear conscience.

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Video Tears & Community

I got an email today asking me to review my application process for the special summer camp we have applied for – regarding Greta’s ADEM. It seems 40 families (it is a family camp) have signed up and they only have room for 30 families – unless some smaller families double in up in the units. In the email, they included a video of introduction to the facility – the Center for Courageous Kids.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a mom. Maybe it is just because Greta is still so young and we are still discovering what all lifelong issues ADEM will leave her to deal with. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t keep my eyes dry while watching that video.

There is a saying that unless you’ve been there, you just can’t understand. That’s what is so great about community. When we get together – we are stronger. When we get together – we find understanding and share ways to cope. I’m looking forward to attending this camp and meeting other ADEM families and sharing stories and practical day to day tips. Each child experiences ADEM differently, depending on where the lesions were located, how large they were and how many there were, as well as how long it took to get properly diagnosed and treated. So many variables, yet at the same time there are still classic ADEM leftovers that almost every patient, especially the children have to deal with.

What would we do without community? What would we do if we always thought we were the only one in the entire world that suffered the way we suffer? Take the time to be open about yourself and what you are going through – whatever it is. Look for support groups or fundraisers that help create awareness or contribute to vital research. You may have a handle on your situation yourself and think you don’t need community. I’m not going to congratulate you. I’m going to tell you that out there is someone who doesn’t have it figured out and they would be thrilled to talk to someone who has been through it and knows some of the ropes.

We need each other. We need community. Just google center for courageous kids and watch their introduction video. It just might change how you feel about community.


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I admit it, one of the favorite parts of my job is being a woman getting to tell a group of grown men to watch themselves and pay attention to safety concerns. It must be the mom in me, but as a safety assistant for a small general contractor outfit, I take my job seriously.

We cover OSHA requirements, staying in compliance with our clients and seasonal issues such as the recent rains we’ve had leaving pools of stagnant water around that can breed mosquitoes. Since some pretty scary stuff has been creeping into East Texas via these little insects, the guys needed to be reminded to be on the lookout for mosquito breeding grounds on the job site.

I often bring up common safety violations, such as climbing a ladder with stuff in your hands (because it causes accidents and even fatalities), but today we talked about distractions. Even if you are following all of the safety rules – you can still get distracted. Number 1? Mental distractions. What happened over the weekend, at breakfast that morning or the talk you know you’re going to have to have with your kid after school; all of these things can weigh on a person’s mind and lead to distraction. In the construction and general contractor industries – distractions can put yourself and others at risk.

What about you in your work? Distractions are dangerous and can even be deadly. Are you taking care of issues at home so you can focus on work at the office? Have you managed to lasso that runaway calendar and make it work for you so you don’t get distracted by how thin you are spread instead of paying attention to the job at hand?

Now flip it around and ask yourself the same questions. Have you left work at the office so you can focus on your family when you come home? Have you practiced good time management at work so that when you come home you are home and not bringing work home with you?

Distractions are dangerous on the job, but they are also dangerous at home. Stop and take a deep breath and ask yourself am I distracted at work? Am I distracted at home? Am I distracted in my relationship with God? Be honest and then be intentional as you go about staying connected in daily life to what matters most.

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What If?

My sweet little one is 10 this weekend. In planning her birthday party, she decided for a large all out bash – where both boys and girls would be welcome. Greta’s love language is fun times with friends. So naturally she would be thrilled to see all of her friends having a great time and everyone smiling like crazy!

One of the adjustments we have had after ADEM is emotional outbursts. Greta gets angrily easy and it takes about half an hour usually for her to settle down, unless we have an awesome, bright & shiny, fun type distraction for her. Her reaction when we try to gently guide/scold/discipline her is as if we were banishing her from the house and family. The psychologist said this isn’t a surprising reaction after all she has been through with the brain lesions.

What broke my heart this week was her sincere question: what if I get angry at my party? She knows she struggles with anger issues, as do a lot of kids and adults suffering with ADEM. She knows it could mess things up and her desire to have fun at her party is so great, but it is almost as if she recognized that this is something that is sometimes beyond her control.

What if? We may not have been through ADEM, but most of us have gone through bad choices or consequences from others close to us and their bad choices. When we are all set to have a good time and enjoy life, we wonder – what if that springs up again and ruins everything? What if these things that I don’t always have control over come back and really get in the way?

I appreciate the way Greta knew that getting angry isn’t who she wants to be and sometimes it just can’t be controlled. Bad choices isn’t who I want to be either. I think I’ll spend some time talking to God about it and asking Him to help me make better choices, so I don’t have to ask – what if. I’m also going to spend some time praying for His blessings on Greta, so she can have a great party and not let ADEM outbursts get in the way.

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