Awesome Mom Commercial

I’m super excited for the Olympics this year, and have seen this awesome commercial or a variation of it several times lately.  I thought I would post this full length version for all the Moms out there, or anyone who has a Mom they love that has been there to support them.  This brought tears to my eyes the first time I watched it.

Enjoy. 🙂

I Guess You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

Sad, but true.

Overall, I aim to please.  I am definitely a “yes person.”  To a fault usually.  People are always telling me – “you have to learn to say no!”  I’m not very good at it though.

So it’s hard when people criticize you when you’re always trying so hard to help them, and to be the best person you can be.  It’s easy to get your feelings hurt when you’ve tried so hard, and done so much, only to have someone look past all of that to what you DIDN’T do, and point that out.  It really takes the wind out of your sails and can be very discouraging.

What we need to realize I think is that some people are born criticizers.  Some are born complainers.  Some are born with a negative attitude and will die that way.  And some, unfortunately for us, are all of the above.

So the question is – why in the hell do we keep trying to please these people?  What’s wrong with being who you are, doing the best you can do?  Those who love you and appreciate you will continue to love and appreciate you.  Those who don’t, can lump it.

So going into the weekend, have a good one, have fun, and be the best you can be.  Not for all those Bitter Bettys and Negative Nancys, be your best – for you, and those that are worth the effort.

Peace.

Letting Go

The quote on the left is something I saw on Facebook yesterday, and it has stuck with me since.

I am fortunate enough to have many friends.  Quite a few of them I have known for years and years.  My oldest and dearest friend and I have been sidekicks since we were 5 years old.  That’s almost 30 years!  Many of my friends that I still keep in touch with I met in high school.  I also have friends that Joe and I have met as a couple and enjoy hanging out with.  I never really made friends at work as I was the only female my age in the office for many many years, but in the last few years I have been lucky enough to form a friendship with a co-worker that I really cherish, which has made the day to day of my life much more interesting and fun.

I can honestly say that I haven’t lost a lot of friends.  Sometimes people just grow apart, and that’s okay.  Life takes people in different directions, and just because you aren’t really good friends anymore doesn’t mean you don’t care about someone or love them just the same.  But deep down it bothers me when there is someone that is in your life, and then they are gone.  Someone whose friendship you valued, and then they are non-existent.

This can also apply to relationships.  I’m happily married for almost 10 years now, and haven’t had to deal with other relationships for a very long time, but there have been times in my life when things went sour and I spent way too long trying to figure out why.  Trying to figure out what it was that I did that made things go wrong.

When you’re in the mindframe that accompanies a lost relationship, whether it is a friendship or a mate, you don’t always want to hear the advice that tells you to move on, to leave them behind, and to let go.  But something really resonated with me yesterday when I read that caption, and really made things click into place in a lot of ways.  From as far back as my teenage years, all the unsolved mysteries of my life, and the lost friendships and relationships (not that there were many), seemed okay all of a sudden.  Reading that and putting things into perspective that way, helped me I guess to close the book on a few loose ends that perhaps were never meant to be tied up.

I like to believe that everything happens for a reason.  That God has a plan for all of us.  But this has made me think that sometimes He does reach in and take people and things away from us because we aren’t strong enough to do it ourselves.  As human beings we tend to be gluttons for punishment and chase after the things that hurt us the most.  So the decision is made for us, yet we still do what we can to try to reverse it.  To make things better, to set things right.

What we need to realize is – perhaps things have been set right.  We just need to leave it alone and let go.

Divergent – Book Review

I had seen Divergent by Veronica Roth in Chapters many times.  I knew it was a pretty popular book for young adults, and a friend had recommended it to me.  In Chapters it always was in the featured sections, often having a display of its own.  So when Chapters had their buy 3 get the 4th free deal on, I picked it up.

I’m so glad I did.

I am a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy.  I find Dystopian Fiction quite interesting and scary in a sense, because I suppose anything is possible.  Reading Harry Potter and Twilight, there is the fantasy element there with wizards and vampires, so while you’re reading it though you are thoroughly entertained, there is always that element of disbelief.  Obviously.  I mean, Lord Voldemort is scary, yes, but he doesn’t exist. I’d hate to have to go up against the Volturi, but I know I never will.

Books like The Hunger Games, and this one – Divergent – don’t have that magical element.  There is no fantasy here.  This is all about how people have screwed the world up, and due to decisions that real people have made, other real people are controlling others and oppressing others, and brainwashing them to think that it is normal, and that they like it.  That’s what’s scary about it.  I suppose that no matter how outlandish it may seem, it really could happen.  That’s what makes it good though, and that’s what keeps you coming back for more – you’re almost desperate for a happy ending, because in a way it could be your happy ending one day.

Divergent takes place in dystopian Chicago.  It is the story of Beatrice Prior, who is about to choose her path in life.  The city is broken down into 5 factions.  Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent).  At the age of 16, all youth must take an aptitude test to tell them which faction they are most suited for.  Though most stay within their own faction, it is ultimately the decision of the youth themselves to choose one of the five.  If they choose one that is different than the one they came from, it usually means that they will be cutting off all ties from the family they are leaving behind.  They then must survive an initiation process that tests their abilities to the limit, before they are welcomed into the faction of their choice.

Our story centers around Beatrice Prior, a 16 year old from Agnegation who finds out something very interesting during her test, and then must make her choice.  She renames herself Tris, and it follows her story as she works through initiation, makes new friends and enemies, and learns surprising things about herself, and about the people around her that she thought she knew so well.  It’s interesting to read as she tries to figure out who she can trust, who is good, who is evil, and what people’s true intentions are.

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s like Hunger Games, but not.  It’s good, but different.  The sequel, Insurgent, is out, and I’m waiting for the paperback version to be released so I can scoop it up.  I’m really looking forward to reading it.  This was a very fast paced, interesting and entertaining read.  I like the character of Tris because she is definitely the heroine, but she is flawed, not incredibly beautiful, and a bit of a badass at times.  She’s believable, and strong, which is a good example to the female demographic this book is aimed to.  Much as Katniss was an independent, strong female.

Check it out for one of your summer reads.  I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

Super Easy Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This one is super easy.  I was going to make something totally different for a potluck I was going to on the weekend, but due to a stovetop malfunction (long story) I had to change my plans and I was scrambling on a Sunday morning to find a recipe I could make with the grocery store closed using only what I had on hand.  Luckily I had some pineapple, and this turned out pretty good.  It’s very light and airy.  I found this recipe on the BigOven.com iPad app.

Ingredients

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup margarine, melted

pineapple, sliced in rings

maraschino cherries – I didn’t have these, but they would be a sweet, colourful addition

2 eggs, separated

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup pineapple juice – I didn’t have this either, so I substituted orange juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar with melted margarine until completely incorporated.  Spread into the bottom of a 9″ cake pan.  Arrange pineapple pieces and cherries in a decorative design in the brown sugar.  Set aside.

In another small bowl, whip the egg yolks with a mixer until light yellow and thickened.  Gradually add in the sugar and beat well.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and juice.  Mix completely together.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold gently into batter.

Pour batter and smooth over pineapples in pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes.  Top will be brown, tester inserted should come out clean.  Let it cool in the pan for a couple of minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.

Serve warm or cold.

This would be awesome with a scoop of ice cream, or some whipped cream, or even better, some rum enhanced whipped cream.  Yum!

Grandfathers

July 9th.  A day to remember for me for two different reasons.  Both my Grandfathers died on July 9th.  Nannu, my Dad’s Dad, 19 years ago today and Pepere, my Mom’s Dad, 16 years ago today.

My Nanna and Nannu in Malta. Dad’s parents.

My experiences with these two men couldn’t have been any different.  I never met my Nannu.  I believe he was 96 years old when he died, about two weeks before I made my first trip to Malta when I was 15 to meet both my Grandparents, whom I had never met.  He had a massive stroke and passed away before I ever got to meet him.  So my interaction with him was just letters and phone calls.  There was no Skype back then, and I think that even if there was, he probably wouldn’t have used it.  I’m very sorry that I never got to meet him face to face.  Life happens like that sometimes, and at least it was the start of a really nice relationship with my Nanna, who I got to know much better until her passing in 2005.

My experience with Pepere was something different altogether.  He was in my life from the beginning.  Some of my first memories are sitting on his knee, being juggled in his arms, being sung to and hugged and comforted by him.  When we lost him to cancer at the age of 72, when I was 18, I was devastated.  I lost a piece of me and I still miss him so sometimes.  He was a wonderful man, a gentle giant, who was loving, and sensitive, and strong.  I used to spend my summers on his lap on his tractor, or following him around as he worked outside, or inside his wood shop, making beautiful things.  Growing up my parents worked a lot, and I never really had outside babysitters – Memere and Pepere were my primary caregivers.  I learned so much from them, including the value of family, I inherited

Pepere and I as a baby.

my love of Christmas from Pepere (and my Mom too).  Mostly, I learned how to have fun.  Oh, and to always think before I spoke.  His big thing was this: Always think before you speak.  It only takes a second and you may be saving someones feelings.

Grandfathers are so important.  I feel bad for my husband Joe, who was very young when both of his grandfathers died.  He has very limited memories of them.  I am sorry that he never got to build relationships with them, and had them to help shape his life and his personality.  Though every time he loses his wallet or keys, Joe’s mom will remind him – “You’re just like my father!”  So even though he didn’t really get to know him, obviously a piece of him stayed with his grandson.  We went to visit his grandmother at the nursing home a couple days ago, and there is a picture on her board of Joe when he was about 2 years old, with his Dad and his Papa.  Every time we go she points this picture out to us and says how proud he was of his only grandson – at the time he died, Joe was his only grandson.  She now has 13 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren, many of them boys.  It’s too bad that he didn’t get to meet them all.  At least Joe has vague memories, many of his other grandchildren have none at all.  I find that terribly sad, as from what I have heard, he was a wonderful man.

Nicholas is very fortunate to have both of his grandfathers (and grandmothers too, of course) in his life.  He adores both of his grandfathers and they adore him.

Nicholas with my Dad

He sees more of my Dad because he lives closer and helps us with caregiving.  My Dad will take him for coffee sometimes if my Mom is working and Dad is watching him.  He runs to the door to greet Dad whenever he comes in yelling “Grampa, you’re here!”  It’s awesome to see, and it warms my heart, especially after being so close to my Pepere, to see the relationship between them.  I hope and pray that my Dad lives to a ripe old age like his parents did, so that Nicholas has many more years ahead to build on that relationship, and he will have as many wonderful memories with his Grampa as I do with Pepere.

He doesn’t see Joe’s dad as often, because they don’t live as close.  But he does have a great relationship with his Papa as well.  Joe (Sr.) will sit on the floor and play trucks with him and though he may play shy for a bit when they first arrive at our house for a visit, or we arrive there, it doesn’t take long for him to warm up to Papa and chat his ear off.  A week or so ago we went in to enjoy the pool at their house and after a few hours I think Nicholas got sick of the sun and decided to go inside to relax for a bit.  He and his Papa relaxed in the living room, Papa on the couch and Nicholas on the floor, watching cartoons.  I loved seeing this and was in no hurry to interrupt them as they bonded and chatted.  These are the times that Nicholas is going to look back on when he’s grown and remember fondly.  The coffee shop trips with Grampa, the chats and plays with Papa.  I hope that he has both of his grandfathers for many years to come and he learns from them all that he possibly can.

There are days that I think about Pepere and I miss him so much.  I would give anything to just curl up on his lap again, or kneel down

Nicholas and his cousins hanging out with Joe’s Dad.

on the floor in front of him while he sits in his chair and rest my head on his tummy while he plays with my ears.  He loved to play with people’s ears.  Or to chuckle at him when he had a few drinks and he used to get a bit pink in the cheeks as he would laugh.  To hear him speak French to his relatives, many who have passed away also, all his brothers and sisters are now gone.  I can just imagine the party that they are having in Heaven.

So if you are blessed enough to still have one or both of your grandfathers alive, cherish them, visit them, love them.  They have a place in your life that can not be taken by anyone else.  When they are gone, there will be no one else that will be able to fill that void.  The wisdom that they have just from having lived, is unparalleled.  Grandmothers have much of this same wisdom, but it is from a woman’s perspective, which is very different from a man’s, especially in that generation.  Sit and listen to the stories that they have to tell from when they were children, young men, etc.  They come from a generation that is quickly growing smaller, from a time when things were simpler, and life was very different.  We have so much to learn from them, if we only open ourselves up to listening.

Keeping Cool

Whew!

Woah.  It’s a hot one out there.  It’s been a hot week actually.  It’s the humidity that does it.  There is a heaviness in the air that seems to hit you and take your breath away as soon as you step outside.

Summer is here folks – I’m not one to complain about the weather (too much) but it’s here and we might as well enjoy it.

Please stay safe, keep up on heat advisories, and employ these simple practices in your day to day life when its so hot out:

– Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  Drink plenty of water.  Not just water, look for beverages that have electrolytes.

– Keep your blinds and windows closed during the day.

– Turn off the lights in your home when they’re not needed.

– If you’re outdoors, try to stick to the shade and avoid too much direct sunlight.

– Wear a hat outdoors, but remove it when you go indoors, this will allow your body to cool off quicker.

– Use those fans!  They help to circulate the air, which can be enough sometimes.  If it’s a ceiling fan, make sure it is turning in the right direction for cooling.  You can place a bowl of ice or something frozen in front of the fan to boost the cooling up a notch.

– Minimize the use of your stove and oven.  Cook outside when you can, or use a crock pot!  I know people often associate a crock pot with winter cooking, but you can make some really great meals, all while not heating up your house at all.

– If you have to be outside, and tend to exercise outside, try to limit your activities to early morning or late at night, when the sun isn’t so strong and the humidity isn’t as unbearable.  This includes activities such as grass cutting and gardening as well.  Don’t forget to drink during your activities.  Especially then.

– Mint.  Eat it, look for mint in lotions, etc.  It has cooling properties that will help cool the body down.

– Avoid alcohol when outside in the heat.  I know this sucks, but it dehydrates you.

– Get soaked.  Be it in a swimming pool if you’re lucky enough to have access to one,  a local splash pad, or just a sprinkler or kiddie pool in your backyard.  It’s amazing how a bit of cool water can lower your body temperature to something much more manageable.

There are many other ways to keep cool, the internet is full of them.  If you have to, go to the mall or your local library to cool off.  But please, if you think you are having heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.

Some of these (okay, most of these) are so obvious, but it’s so easy to forget the basics sometimes.

Enjoy the heat, but try to stay cool too.