Friday, May 30, 2014

Lesson 303: Just Breathe

Exhale, Readers!  
It's the weekend.
Time for a little breather for Eloise.

My years are not measured from January to December,
they are measured from September to June.

After 38 years in the school systems, the "new year" is always September,
and I save the retrospectives for June.

Google created a great video for high school graduates.
Check this out!

I screamed YEAH! at one part,
and burst into tears at another.
That's one good video if it can evoke that much emotion in just a minute and thirty seconds.
See if you can guess which parts they were---answer at the end of this blog.

Parents, if your little ones are leaving your nest, 

Mama Bird understands just how fast they grow.

In just two weeks, 

Robins go from this,
(the tuft of head feather!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

to this,

to this!

The Front Porch Faction should be ready to take their leaps this weekend.

Robins weren't the only subjects of my photographs lately.
These are for my favorite Bird Nerd, Kristen C.

While at camp on Memorial Day weekend, this humming bird landed next to me.

This peacock also spread his feathers right in front of me.

While spectators were ooohing and aahing over his magnificent plumes,
I ran around the back to see what his butt looked like.

Did you ever see a peacock's tail end?
This is what it looks like.

Those photos were taken at a little zoo connected to a neat place outside of Cook's Forest, Pennsylvania. The Farmer's Inn is a fantastic place to take kids, and is only about a two hour drive from Erie. Here is the link if you'd like a day trip this summer, Erieites.

I took this photo from the parking lot.  
It really is a beautiful place.

We spent the weekend at my husband's family's camp.
This area of Pennsylvania had flash flood damage from heavy rain earlier that week.

This is a snapshot of my kids standing at the spot,

that this beautiful covered bridge once stood.

The furious water took it down,

its bits and pieces strewn downstream.

It's final resting place is along the creek bank about 100 yards from where it once stood.

The power of Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me.
The water cut a new path through the solid earth.

and took this tree with it.

The rain did not stop my friends, however.

They left Erie in a lightning storm, and arrived in Philadelphia 4 days later.

The team that went to greet them wore Natalie's traveling shirt to the Rocky steps!
Rocky is one of Eloise's all time favorite movies.
That is why I named the dog in my children's novel, The Key, Rocky.

Congratulations Doc, CJ, and Nathan!

Keep moving.
That's what I've been doing.
I have hardly stopped for the last six weeks.

End of the school year activities for all five of us,
plus little league has kept Eloise on a tight time schedule.

In April and May I have to set my alarm for half an hour earlier, 
and often head to bed more than an hour later than usual to fit it all in.

I still try to find time to work in little bits of Me Time in my week.
I love to try to see the field from different angles.

This week's shots came from my camera in the grass.  
The green blur comes from the blades of grass in front of the lens.

Other little league news of the week:

Ellen's name got pulled to throw out the first pitch at the Sea Wolves game on Sunday.

Naturally, the very day she got the call, this made the National News.

50 Cent's First Pitch

Rapper 50 Cent was a little to the outside.
Let's hope Ellen fares a little better.

Onto more Fitness News:

The Beer Runs will resume this summer.

I see these socks in our future.

I need three more to complete my Six Pack running goal
of running from The Lamp Post to local drinking establishments.

I signed up for the Presque Isle Half Marathon on July 20th.
When I Googled images for the event, my own feet came up!

I'll need some longer runs to condition myself for the event.
The next in the series are long suckers,
9 ish
10 ish
12 ish miles.

The next one is tentatively set for June 7th.
Give me a holler if you are interested in joining for all or part of it.

I got all my gear ready for summer fitness fun.

The Zombies Run ap has 5K, 10K, and 20K missions!

There is also a new feature called an Airdrop that I can't wait to try.

If you do run with me this summer, be forewarned,
I'm completely done with earbuds!
They never stay in!
If you want to trot along beside me, you'll have to listen to my tunes,
and help me run messages from Abel to New Canton.

No takers?
That's OK.
I'm an introvert at heart, so I don't mind going solo.
However, lonely runs can be a safety issue, especially for me,
so I bought this new toy to hang around my neck.
One can always use a compass.

On my Beast training workouts, I will always have my battle ax with me.
It has been part of my clan for centuries.

It holds a map to the location of a treasure's trove of riches.
It has been passed to me with full confidence that I will keep the hidden cache safe and
protect it at all costs.

Come to some Beast workouts with me and see it for yourself.
You can look, but do not touch!
The curse of the Red Eyed Serpent will fall upon you and your entire clan
should this fall into enemy hands.

As you can see, I have lots of fun planned for the summer.
But for this weekend, the last weekend before school lets out,
Eloise is taking a breather.

Sometimes it's good to sit back by a fire, and catch your breath.

That's what I plan on doing this weekend.

I'm taking a few days to enjoy the journey,

and take a couple of snapshots of what I find along the way.

The photo story for the week is set to one of my favorite songs ever--Just Breathe by Pearl Jam.  I was reminded of it again, as it was the song that was played on the season finale of The Black List, my favorite show of the year.  It's been in my head for two weeks, and now I'm about to put it in yours.

Try this.
Breathe in for 4 seconds.
Hold for 7 seconds.
Exhale for 8 seconds.
Do that for 5 minutes in the morning.
10 minutes before bed.
Thank you Challenge Erie for the life-changer.
It works.  Try it.


 Screamed YEAH! at the basketball player's buzzer beater.
Cried at the Down's syndrome kid's acceptance letter.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Lesson 302: The Frame That Holds Me Together

Happy, Memorial Day weekend, Readers!

This is the flag that hangs in my living room.
It is a piece of history from my dad's side of the family.
It was the flag that was draped over my grandfather's coffin.

I have another big flag in the garage.
This one belonged to a family friend, Stew.
He gave it to me because he knows I love flags.

There is a cool story behind the top photo of the flag in my living room.  If you noticed, when the stars are counted from left to right, starting at the top left, the 23rd star is illuminated.  There was a beam of light coming through the window of my living room dormer.  It made the perfect column of light and lit up just that star. Other than adding the text, I did not enhance the photograph in any way.

It was taken a few days before my husband, Louie left for his trip to Reno, Nevada to bowl in the National Bowling Tournament.  In twenty years, he'd never been away from me or the kids.  Reno is a long ways away by Lamp Post standards.  I was in full support of him going, but as the trip approached, some anxiety began to rear its ugly head.  

I've learned that anxiety comes from not living in The Now.  Anticipation of what is to come is merely a story made up in your mind.  It is not real.  I learned some valuable lessons from reading the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  It was an assigned reading for Challenge Erie, a wellness program I am participating in.  

Eckhart Tolle <3

Many creative people suffer from anxiety. I consider myself a creative person, and because of our active imaginations, we can concoct the worst of scenarios from a set of circumstances.  I've learned that worry is a waste of my creative energy that I could be channeling to other things.

When anxiety begins to seep into my thoughts, mostly during times of stress, I always turn to prayer.  I feel most connected to God when I am alone in the stillness of the morning.  The morning that the photograph was taken, I was particularly stressed about my husband's upcoming trip. 

What if the flight is late?  
Will he miss his connector?  
Will the time change screw up his bowling?  
Will breathing in recirculated airplane air cause him to contract
 a rare and highly contagious virus 
that will inevitably kill me, leaving my children motherless?

Don't worry about anything instead Pray about everything Tell GOD what you need & Thank him for all he has done  Philippians 4:6

I've become a policewoman of my own thoughts, so to speak, and when I feel my freight train brain starting to derail, I can quickly get it back on track with right thinking and good health practices.

"Once you have understood the basic principle of being present as the watcher of what happens inside you--and you understand it by experiencing it--you have at your disposal the most potent transformational tool." --Eckhart Tolle   A lovely and distinct mindful awareness happens on the SHEN table sooner than later...and transformation follows.  graphic pinned from Inner Well Institute

On the morning that photograph was taken, I was getting anxious.  
I retreated to my bedroom and spent little longer than usual 
on my morning prayers. 
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 - Wall and home scripture, lettering, quotes, images, stickers, decals, art, and more!

 Morning minutes are precious at the Lamp Post with five people to get ready for school.  I hurriedly came out of my bedroom and hung a sharp right to the staircase leading to the kids' rooms.  I was six steps up when I looked over to the west wall and noticed the single, illuminated star. 

How cool is that? I thought.
I wonder what number star that is?

Because my hands were full of castaway kid items in need of their rightful places, my head bobbed up and down with each number mentally recited as my eyes tracked the stars. The 23rd star!  That is the date of my husband's birthday---May 23rd, which is today!  Coincidence?  Divine intervention?  That's for you to decide, but I know what I believe.  

Psalm 94:19--when anxieties and doubt swamp you, immerse yourself in God's affirming presence and his soothing word. More at

If you ever feel anxious, I hope you find help in the things I've shared with you.
They certainly have helped me a great deal.

Speaking of hope, here's my hope shirt that my sister Kenyan got me.

Here's the flip of the photo, so you can read it better.
It actually makes me dizzy to look at the part of my hair on that side.

Another dizzying  fact is that my hubby actually allowed me to take his picture.

Louie is not much for photos.
Or blogs.
Or facebook.
Or all books for that matter.

He is the always present but ever elusive man in my life, much like Vera was to Norm.  The only time Cheers fans ever got a glimpse of Vera was in this episode when Diane threw a pie in her face.  The actress was never named.

It was me!
It's been my best kept secret!

So who is he?
That guy that can stand Eloise day after day.
Best put, Louie is the frame that holds me together. 

Often, he gives me this look.

It could mean any number of things:

A bird feeder.
A picture frame.
A bridge for the creek.
And giant knitting needles out of PVC pipe.

Not too far.

Party pooper.

Shopping with your husband is like hunting with the Game Warden primitive wood sign via Etsy

Oh, nothing.

He's a real good sport.

He's also good at sports.
Bowling in particular.

I show up to support him,
and organize the cheering section.

And when things get boring, 
I take pictures of myself in the claw machine mirror.

I love to make connections,

and I can't help but notice how much he resembles Penn State's new football coach.

I put this photo on facebook with the caption,
Penn State's new coach!
There were a couple of clueless people, 
completely unaware of college sports,
who congratulated me on Louie's new job.

People often compliment the Lamp Post lawn.
It's all him.
The man loves to groom grass.

He loves to ride four wheelers.

 He loves to fish.

He recently got a license to catch minnows.

He loves his family.

We are everything alike and polar opposites at the same time.

He turns 45 today, and I've been after him a bit about his wardrobe.
Some of the items in his closet were there when the first George Bush was president.

Apparently his students noticed, too.
This fifth grader created a project around his teaching attire.

It opens with a polite, but to-the-point note.

Observant little bugger.

She included a Helpful Tips section,

and this handy guide for matching colors and patterns.

Following the lead of her teacher, 
she even made a pop quiz at the end.

I don't know....
How do you think Louie did?

The black hat made me think of Handsome.
I'll be seeing him in concert in the cotton pickin' south in 29 days!

Tim McGraw also released a new song this week,
and I haven't had time to listen to it.

I'm in the depths of Little League season,
which is commonly known by most mothers as

Handsome usually makes his rounds on TV programs promoting his tour.
People have been posting on my facebook wall all week.
From a Friend: Get your DVR ready Friday am - your man will be on the Today show! Must admit that it was easy to look beyond the twangy music to enjoy his performance last night on the Voice! Enjoy!
From a Neighbor:   I see you missed your man on Ellen ...
Sure hope you saw him on The Voice at least.

From a Cousin:

Handsome is on Ellen today!

I missed them all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because of my very tight spring schedule,
I was unable to train for and attend the Ohio Tough Mudder that my team completed.
Plus it was Natalie's 16th birthday.

Even though I had to pass on his round of mud fun, 
the photos shared have helped me feel included in part of the event.

The Monday after a Tough Mudder is known as
Wear Your Orange Headband to Work Day.

This was my favorite of all photos.
This is my friend Brenda.  
She owns and operates a child care center and preschool.
Her kiddos welcomed her back!

Photo: Headband Monday!
 Love my future Mudders!

Two from  my school sported their headbands, as well,

while they made the students plank!

According to reports from the competitors, this Mudder was very different from the one I did last July.  Ohio in April and New York in July don't quite have the same feel.  It was the weather conditions that proved to be more daunting than the obstacles themselves.  Temperatures hovering at a wet 40 degrees made the 12 mile course extremely challenging.

DRAT!  I could have kicked all of their @$$e$ on this one!  Because of my nice layer of winter weight I've accumulated around my midsection, I would have been toasty warm from my extra insulation.  I participated in a school wellness challenge for ten weeks and actually gained a pound from start to finish.  Sedentary evenings + polar fleece pajama bottoms make for and easy couple of pounds.  I have this image of me, out in the lead, slithering over logs and slogging through mud hollering back to my team through a bullhorn to keep moving.  I would have single handedly pulled them up Everest one by one.  Damn!  Next year!  And Readers, remind me to eat like an Eskimo so I can be good and chubby (and warm).

Thankfully, I'm participating in a program that calls an entire city to action.   I've been following the Challenge Erie eating guidelines for three weeks, and already I'm halfway to fighting form.  I'll be posting some of my fitness plans for the summer on next week's blog, as well as showing you my tool that gives me super powers. It's special.

My friends sure called upon their super powers 

as one by one

they leaped into a tub of ice cold water.

The obstacle is known as Arctic Enema.

I hate that name.

It sounds too yucky

and not tough enough.

I want to rename the obstacle

I Survived the Titanic.

Mr. Deal a Meal took the leap,

and word on Mud Street was that even he cramped up.

That's why it is so important to have a friend waiting, to lend you a helping hand.
Here is Jack pulling Rose from the icy North Atlantic.

Good job, Team!
You are all the tougher for it.
Thank you Matt Kleck and Stephanie Krauza for the use of your photos.

Fun news of the week:
A co worker of mine and his wife are expecting their first baby.  They video taped her mother's reaction. The video has gone viral, and they will be appearing on some national news shows.  Check it out!

Mother's Day surprise

Update on my friends' bike ride from the Erie Art Museum steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps:

My friends are making progress!

It's been a wet ride and they still have a couple more days to go!

Enjoy a photo display of some pictures from the week.  They are set to the perfect tune in honor of Louie's birthday--The Mona Lisa by Brad Paisley.  I guess that makes me the Mona Lisa---a masterpiece with a secretive smile.  I'll take it!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!