Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Check. — You will be yelled at.

In a world full of uncertainties, there are only a handful of absolutes that you can count on in this life.

My grandmother’s house is full of a few of these…a few things you can count on.

1. There will be homemade Ma Betty cake and lots of food to choose from.

2. There will most likely be a Chinese Checkers game.

3. As much as she loves you, Ma Betty will NOT let you win this game.

Ma Betty is the most amazing Grandmother. She loves us like nobody else loves us. She dotes on us all and is proud of us and wants us to enjoy the time at her house.

But as much as she loves us, I am here to tell you that she takes her Chinese Checkers seriously.

And by seriously, I mean, it does not matter if you are 5 or 45, she plays to win.

So, my advice to you is this: Do not get in her way. Do not make stupid moves with your little multi-colored marbles.

And whatever you do, do not block her highway and create a traffic jam in the middle. 

When you play my grandmother in Chinese Checkers, I suggest you bring your A game.

Because you can count on it…if you mess it up; if your little blue person gets in the way of her little red person…

You will be yelled at. With love, of course.

As much as she loves you, when it comes to Chinese Checkers…

Just get out of her way.


Today’s Action Challenge: Play a game. What are your favorite board games? Play those with your family and friends. What were your favorite board games growing up? Make sure you introduce your kiddos to those and let them experience a bit of your childhood.

Just play some games. Make some memories.

And…Be like Ma Betty. Play to win.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Chinese Checkers

Daily Post Prompt about playing a game…the rules, the relationships and the rivalries.



Doubt. — Suspending Disbelief is the Cure.

If you could create a painless, inexpensive cure for a single ailment, what would you cure and why?

Doubt. I would cure … doubt.

Because doubt is the thing that keeps us from trying.

Doubt is the thing that keeps us from achieving.

Doubt is the thing that keeps us from believing that the most amazing things can happen.

Doubt is the thing that holds us back and makes us … miss the magic.

My girl-child just started reading a book in her third grade class about the great Shoeless Joe Jackson.

So. Without a doubt, we had to watch Field of Dreams.

Field of Dreams. A story about a farmer. A farmer who believed. A farmer who believed and built a baseball field. A baseball field in the middle of a corn field.

And then watched as his childhood heroes stepped through the stalks and played a game.

Heroes, that included his own father.

On a day like All Saints Day, when we honor and remember those we have loved who have passed, there is power in believing in some magic. Magic that the world wants us to doubt everyday. Magic that doesn’t include hats or wands or white furry rabbits. But instead, the magic that is all around us in the form of miracles and blessings and unexplained amazing. It is the peace that we feel. It is the calm that washes over us. It is courage and strength that our loved ones send our way. Magic that might be angels and saints and … faith.

Doubt is where this kind of magic goes to die.

I believe that the cure for doubt is simply suspending disbelief.

Suspend Disbelief.  It is the one thing that I remember from that freshman Film Class in college.

And in order to suspend disbelief, we simply have to turn off doubt.

And believe.

During the movie, Y was trying to understand why Joe couldn’t leave the field. Why he could step up to the line, but couldn’t cross it.

I tried to explain it to her. I tried dream. I tried time travel. I even tried magic.

But finally, I ended up telling her, that she needed to stop questioning and just … believe it.

Suspending disbelief is the art of believing and leaving doubt behind.

It is the art of putting all doubts aside.

And it happens when we stop trying to figure it all out.

When we stop trying to be rational all of the time.

When we stop trying to make it all make sense.

When we just have faith.

Just believe.

For so many of us, that is a really hard task. Almost impossible.

Because we need everything to make sense. We need everything to have a reason. We need it to have order and explanations and definitions.

And we look in the mirror and we question. The What Ifs. The Not Nows. The Maybe Somedays.

Then there are The Not Good Enoughs or The Not Pretty Enoughs or The Not Thin Enoughs or The Not Smart Enoughs.

All of these doubts cloud our vision and make everything seem so much harder. So much more unattainable.

But the challenge is to clear that mirror. Suspend disbelief. Move the doubts to the side

And Believe. Have faith. Take the steps, the leaps.

And let the magic happen.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge: Make a list of the doubts you have that hold you back. Then take a pen and mark them out. And rewrite them in the positive. What would those doubts look like if you suspended disbelief. If you put the power back in the believing? How does that list change? Does that list begin to look like your dreams? Your goals?

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

field of dreams


Sock. — Saturated in Mismatched Colors.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Saturatedsocks

A bunch of new socks

together for the last time

in the girl’s drawer. 

Click here to learn more about our mis-matched sock MommyVerb Adventures. 


Fall. — Color it in…One Piece at a Time

I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I would love to be able to have the talent to pick up a pen and draw what I see or what I imagine. It would make my life so much easier because I have so many stories. Stories that are just waiting for an illustrator.

But I’ve never been an artist. At least not in the traditional sense.

Give me a pen. A journal. Some paint. A canvas. Some material. A sewing machine. Some magazines and scissors.

Then give me some TIME.

And then see what I can make happen.


In college, I was given an assignment. To this day, it is one of my all-time favorite projects.

The goal was to learn about color.

Not just learn about color, but really get inside color. Create color. Play with color. Make your own color.

I started with one of my favorite photographs.

fall photo picmonkey

A tree in New York City. In Central Park. In front of the Dakota Building. Where John Lennon once lived.

Then, I had to create a collage. One piece at a time. Cut out pictures and colors from magazines to re-create this image.

three fall pictures picmonkey

In a new way. Create a new image. Full of color. One tiny piece at a time.

Try it a few different ways. See what works and what doesn’t.

fall collage picmonkey

Then, I had to use only six acrylic paint colors to recreate this image.

Red. Yellow. Blue. Green. White. Black.

To mix. And try. And try again. And start over. And mix again.

To make every other color in life.

And then paint it. Recreate the same image in a brand new way.

Recreate it to see what you get.

fall painting picmonkey

It might just be my own personal masterpiece. Maybe no one else sees it.

But, I framed it and hung it on my wall along with the original photograph and the collage I created.

Because the process of getting there, was just as important to me as the final product.

It is and always has been a tribute to my favorite season.


Fall is a turning.

Fall is an opportunity.

Fall is another trip around this side of the Sun.

Fall is the colors.

Fall is golds and yellows and faded greens. Fall is oranges and maroons.

Fall is cool evenings and the possibility of campfires on the weekends.

Fall is sleeping with the windows open.

Fall is hearing the echo of the High School football game announcements of tackles and touchdowns, as I sit on the back porch with a glass of Cabernet.

Fall is the return of my favorite sweatshirts and jeans.

Fall is the chance to try again.

Fall is trying something new.

Fall is preparing.

Fall is practicing.

And fall never expects perfection.

It just wants you to really get in there…and play with its color.

Let’s All, Go. Do that.


Back. — The day before … the first day of school.

They will get up tomorrow, maybe a little easier than they will, come October.

Because they will be excited.

The morning will go a little smoother than it will, say, come November.

Because their clothes are already picked out, they know where their shoes are and they won’t need their jackets.

They will try to eat breakfast, but might not be able to finish their pancake.

Because the butterflies are taking up too much room.

They will get to the bus stop early tomorrow.

Because they want to make sure they don’t miss it.

Mommas and Daddies will go into work a little late.

Because they want to make sure they get that first step on to the bus picture.

And then they will be off.

For the very first time. For the fourth time.

Back to School.

Back to bedtimes. Back to structure. Back to hearing “No, because you have school tomorrow.”

Back to backpacks. Back to lunch boxes. Back to tennis shoes because they can’t play on the playground in flip flops.

Back to bus stops. Back to yellow buses. Back to excited to find a seat with a friend for the short ride.

Back to pencils. Back to notebooks. Back to putting your name on your papers and walking in lines.

Back to folders. Back to desks.  Back to listening and following lots of new directions.

Back to classrooms. Back to lunchrooms. Back to sitting with and working with and eating with friends.

Back to learning. Back to adventures. Back to discovering new things you now know how to do.

Back to friendships. Back to teachers.

Back to wishes for a first day full of excitement and wonder and awe…for both the teachers and the students.

Back to School.

For the very first time. For the fourth time. (For the 18th time.)

first day bus

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Feel. — Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea


The sea brings magic.

I feel better when the tide

meets my toes and soul.


View. — The Big Picture is there…just beyond the willow trees.

All the way home, all eight hours of the drive, I was recounting what a nice vacation we had just enjoyed. Nice place. Quality time with family. Beautiful weather. Time with my ocean and sand between my toes.  As I looked down at the ton of souvenir sand that we were bringing back with us on the floorboards of my car, I wanted to try to make sure that I remembered all of the good times.

The rollercoasters. The crab legs. The fun adventures with friends at the cottage. Kayaking on the river. Catching weird (and creepy to think we were swimming with them!) creatures from the dock. The campfire. The beach. The waves. The sun. The sunrises. The birthdays. The family game nights. The laughs. The memories.

I kept trying to hold on to all of this…because I knew. I knew that as soon as we got home, it was going to get back to normal. Not that normal is bad.  I love my little slice of normal.

But… the rain was falling and I was starting to understand what people were saying about building arks and living in Seattle.  The dog was there and I was going to try to stay to true to my intentions of giving him the one millionth chance to bond and build some sort of relationship.  There was a ton of unpacking to do, even though I had brilliantly done all of the laundry before we left, so all of the clothes were coming home clean.  There were hungry kids with nothing in the refrigerator, requiring either a trip to the grocery store or a wild dose of creativity and resourcefulness. To make matters more frustrating, I had this nagging idea for a story. And even crazier than that, I randomly thought I could sit right down at the computer (which is so….super….slooooooow) and type out a best seller in mere minutes.  Yes, I somehow thought I could write this brilliant tale at the kitchen counter, between the calls for organic mac n’ cheese with a side of quinoa (see, I went with the creative option instead of the store) and milk (which we didn’t have) above the pleas  for multiple games of Connect Four.

And … as predicted and painfully obvious now, I started to feel overwhelmed.  The sound of the ocean waves were quickly fading away, being replaced with dog whines and  kiddo arguments over whose turn it was to watch a show. The scent of the salty air was overpowered by the burnt ‘curly rice’ that bubbled over onto the hot burner on the stove top. The sand between my toes that had been so magical just a few hours ago, was now underneath my feet on my kitchen floor and I realized I was reaching for the broom.

In a last ditch effort to hold onto the last bit of this vacation, I reached for the leash instead and headed outside in the drizzling rain.  As I turned left out of my driveway, the color in the sky caught my eye.  Yep,  a beautiful, vibrant, bright rainbow fell from the sky. Actually, the elusive and   squeal-producing double rainbow!

rainbow small

I took a deep breath and really stopped to take it in. I found myself looking up and over the willow trees that I love at the end of my driveway. My eyes continued along the long arched lines of “ROY. G. BIV” (You know: Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.) and watched as the lines were … unbroken.

My breath caught just a little and I took a few steps back to see the whole, full, beautiful rainbow. Right over my house.

I wanted my camera to capture it, but was afraid that  if I walked away it might be gone.

So I ran.

Dragging the dog back to the house, I grabbed my phone, which usually doubles as my camera, and ran back outside. Down the driveway, out into the road.  Trying to hold a leash and an umbrella and capture the image forever.

I was getting so frustrated again, because no matter where I stood, no matter how many steps backwards I took, I realized that I could never get the distance from this amazing sight in order to see the whole thing as I wanted.  And in that frustration, I decided to resign myself to the fact that it was too big, too amazing, too monumental to be captured in one frame. It just wasn’t meant to be. Just as I was letting that idea go…

I remembered that panaramic option on my phone.  Multiple frames.  Pieced together. To allow me to see and capture the whole of the rainbow.

Right over my house. Almost spotlighting my little world.

It was probably one of the most amazing images I’ve seen in a while.  I’m sure it means something. I just haven’t had a chance to completely comprehend what that something is.

But I know this. It made me stop. I took a deep breath.

And recognized once again… that perspective is everything.

Sometimes we have to change our vantage points. We have to step outside. Stop trying to force things to happen when the timing is off.  Trust that the right time will come. Get away from our frustrations and negative places.

To see the big picture.

Take a step back.

And look at it again.



Commit. — Jump in? Or run away?


I was watching the girl and boy child play in the waves yesterday.

I’m sure many of you will know how this goes.  You drive a million hours to get to the beach. The kiddos sleep most of the way there, which of course is awesome. You arrive at the house you have rented for the week and you immediately start thinking about unpacking and getting groceries and getting settled in for some vacation time. You are exhausted from the packing and the traffic and the nonsense of long distance travels.  The kiddos are amazingly refreshed, however.  And they want to go swimming. Now.

So, I stopped carrying in the bags and stopped making the lists and I just took the kiddos to the beach. I’ll be honest. I wanted to see it and feel it and be there just as much as they did.

We ran/walked down the wooden path, up the stairs, over the dunes…

And there…there it was. Just where I left it a few months before… my ocean.

The powerful waves. The peaceful, reassuring sound. The salt air. The refreshing breezy wind that gives me that fabulous beach hair.

And even though I gave the kiddos the proverbial warning: “Don’t get wet!” …

We all know exactly what happens next. They start with their toes. Dipping them in just to feel it out just a little. There’s a collective squeal, followed by lots of running back and forth from the sand to the surf.

Next, they have their feet in up to their ankles. Then before you know it, they are knee deep, even though the water is icy cold at this point.

And…oops, now their shorts are soaking wet and well, they might as well play now. They are already wet! 🙂

Which of course, I expected, … so play on, kiddos.

And I. I soaked it all in. I sat and watched them. As the waves came crashing in, one after the other. I watched as they both eyed the same incoming wave, each independently weighed their options, and made a decision: jump or retreat.

They decided. They committed to their decision and they followed through. Each in their own way.

Done. Simple.

Assess the situation. Set a goal. Make a decision. Commit. And Act.

There’s a lesson there for all of us.

So, MommyVerbs readers: Dip your toes in. Try it out. If it is for you…jump in.

If it feels wrong…run away.

Either way.

Commit. And Act.


Snack. — Healthy Bites and Sugar Bites: Another Balancing Act of Parenthood

sugar bites

I am far from perfect.

Stop laughing. I know it is hard to believe. But it is. Oh. So. True.

For the past year , we’ve been on a mission around here.

MommyVerbs groupies know that we have been trying to eat well and play more and choose happy.

And we are making good progress.

We have been more intentional about making time to play and do things as a family. We have started some traditions and have crossed a lot of things off of our family time bucket lists in the past year.  As a matter of fact, included in our  Summer Solstice celebrations, we will be creating our Sweet Summertime 2013 vision board this evening.

We’ve crowded out any fast foods and processed foods. We’ve added in real, whole foods.

While we are still tempted at times, I think it is easier for Felix and I.

I’ve pretty much morphed into a vegetarian. Felix got up at 6 a.m. and went for a 4.7 mile run this morning.

But when you throw the boy and the girl child into the mix of these “Eat Well” intentions, it is …  trickier. 

Trickier–because the rest of the world is not playing by the same rules.

When you are five and so-close-to-being-eight, your world is as big as you can see … only of those places and people around you.

So, they see their friends walk by with the Dr. Peppers and the Mountain Dews in hand.

They see the bags of Cheetos and Capri Suns after the ball game being handed out for snack at 10 a.m.on a Saturday morning.

They see the brightly colored cupcakes with three inches of blue and red icing at the birthday party.

They see the commercials for the sugary-delicious cereals and the ‘make your own slurpee machines’ on television.

They see the fun toys from the fun movies that they want to see that come with the fun happy meals.

They see the hot dogs and potato chips at the cookout.

And as their Momma…I see it all, too. I see X and Y watching. I see them questioning.

And I’m trying to balance it all for them. That’s what we do, right Parents? We balance. Or make our best attempts to balance. The fun and joy of childhood… with the need to give them a good solid nutritional foundation.

Childhood is not usually synonymous with flaxseed and fish oil.

But does childhood have to mean bags of sugar and bottles of soda?

I have great childhood memories of chasing ice cream trucks down the street. I mean that is the epitome of summertime, right?

So. We try to balance. If the snack that the parent so kindly brought for after the t-ball game is cheetos and capri suns. I’m not going to grab it out of their hands and replace it with a banana. But when it is our turn to bring snack, we will probably bring those bananas and maybe some apples along with some water.

If the cupcake at the super fun birthday party has 3 inches of red icing, I am not going to tell them they can’t have one while convincing them that this delicious organic red apple is better. But one is enough and I will certainly be pushing the salad at dinner.

Moderation and Modeling. That is where this Momma is right now on the topic.  There are some other Mommas that are out there…fighting the good fight everyday. Writing letters to their schools and recreation leagues. Protesting the cheetos and capri suns. They are writing fabulous blogs and leading powerful campaigns to create change. I’m inspired and in awe of them. I follow their blogs. I try their recipes. I share these with my circle of friends.

But I’m not there yet. I’m not ready to draw the line in the sand and tell my kiddos that they will never darken the doorsteps of Sweet Frogs again. I am not ready to make them miss out on the ‘goodies’ that their friends are enjoying.

Because that just seems wrong.

But I’m also not going to take them to McDonald’s and get them a fake hamburger or let them open the cabinet and see lots of brightly colored packages of sugary junk either.

So…This Momma is taking the Moderation and Modeling approach.

Everything in moderation. Yes. You can have that bag of cheetos and capri suns because your teammates are enjoying these while celebrating your big WIN today. But for lunch, we are not going to a fast food joint, but instead we are going home to have some corn on the cob and a good turkey sandwich on homemade bread.

And when we go to the grocery store, we will continue to stay on the perimeter of the store and out of the aisles and we will fill up our cart with fresh veggies and fruits. Or maybe we will go to the Farmer’s Market and buy some locally grown ‘goodies’.

At home, they will see cabinets full of non-GMO products and they will know what that means. At dinner, they will see lots of greens and good choices. They will see their parents choosing oranges over cookies and water over soda.

Moderation. And Modeling.

Instead of cringing, I will take pride in the fact that they were eating the strawberries and the cheetos at the cookout last night. There were as many carrots on their plates as there were potato chips.

A few months ago, after X asked to be excused from dinner because he was … SO FULL, he immediately asked for some ice cream for dessert. I said what us Mommas say…”Well, if you are SO FULL and couldn’t finish your corn, you can’t possibly have any room for dessert.”

He looked at me and smiled and in his cute little dimpled-smiled way, said very matter of factly, pointing at his stomach:

“I have one place for the healthy bites which is full … and one place for the sugar bites…I still have room there.”

One place for the Healthy bites. One place for the Sugar Bites.

Moderation and Modeling.

And my job is to always make sure that the Healthy Bites place is full.


Swing. — The Legend of a First Home Run.

It was a stormy afternoon. A rain shower had already moved through earlier, threatening the plans for the evening.

The last softball game of the season.

I called and prepared the girl child for the possibility that it might get postponed. She’s the type that needs a little heads up when schedules might change. Yes. She’s Type A like that. She IS her Mother’s Daughter after all. When I picked her up from her last day of camp activities, I could tell she was equal parts excited and nervous about the game. She loves softball. This season has been a great one for her.

She had a phenomenal coach who really loves the game as much as these girls do. He took time to teach them the necessary skills, but also taught them … the game.  And for the first time, I think, these girls really started to understand and appreciate the game. I listened to them talk between themselves — they knew who covered bases when the ball was hit here or there; they loved when a plan came together and the throw from shortstop was caught just in time at first base; and they dreamed about the magic of the elusive double play.

She came into her own this season. She found a field position that she fell in love with…1st base. She loved the action and the responsibility of this role. She has a good glove and can catch under pressure as the runner approaches. She’s getting better about understanding that she can come off the plate to make the play, something that took her half of the season to get comfortable with.

But over the course of the season, the best part, as a parent, was watching her fall in love with the game. It is an amazing feeling to watch your child find their niche, find something that they are good at, something that they really enjoy doing all while understanding their role as a member of a team. She learned teamwork this season. What an amazing life lesson to find as a bonus on a ball field.

This was the last game of the season coupled with the fact that the last couple of games had been rained out, so they all hadn’t taken the field in about a week. The Momma in me intuitively knew however, that she might be feeling more than nerves. I could tell that she didn’t feel well. She was cold. And was lacking her typical excited energy. She walked during the warm ups instead of running. She looked a little flushed and was not hanging with the other girls eating and spitting sunflower seeds in the dugout. (Something else they all discovered this season!)

I checked her forehead and asked if she felt alright and if she wanted to sit this one out. To which I got a resounding, “NO!” And off she headed to play first base.

The opposing team was the one and only team that they lost to this season. And this game was turning out to be a little back and forth. Good hitting, but some scrambling in the infield on occasion. I’ve learned that I cannot sit down during these games. I’m a stander at the fence. I bring a chair to every game and there are usually bleachers, too. But I rarely sit. I will find something to do — help with keeping the girls organized in the dugout, help with the stat book, help with the catcher’s gear, etc. I guess that is how I keep from getting too nervous for them as they play.

In the top of the 4th inning, the girl child was on first base and her teammate fielded the ball and threw it, not realizing how close she was. She hit Y in the chest with the ball. Several of us Mommas gasped out loud as we heard the ‘thud’ of the ball. Poor little thing. I called to her and asked if she was ok and I could tell that she was holding back tears with every ounce of courage she had. She mouthed to me in silence, “That really hurts!”, but she wouldn’t come out and wanted to keep playing. Fortunately, they got Out #3 on the next play and I met her on the bench.

She melted into my arms and started to cry. I checked her out and while I believed she might have a bruise, thought she was ok. But she certainly wasn’t feeling 100%. She was tired from the week. She wanted this win so bad that it was making her nervous. She was going to be fourth at bat this inning, but I told her she could wait and skip this one. Again, a resounding, “No!” as she started to wipe away her tears. Her teammates were checking on her and I love that they were. They have all really bonded as a strong team of girls this season.

It was her turn. She donned her helmet, wiped her eyes one more time, picked up her bat and headed out to home plate. She swung at the first pitch and missed it. Poor thing, her eyes were still a little watery. The second pitch came and she was a little closer, tipping it up and behind the catcher. I thought to myself, “please don’t let her strike out…just a little hit to make her happy.”

Third pitch. She swings and it is a solid, solid hit out to right field. She took off running and I watched as the ball went past the outfielder, who was scrambling to get the ball into the infield. There were some overthrows and some confusion in the outfield and Y was still running. The third base coach signaled for her to head home.

That’s when I realized. I realized that I was actually jumping up and down, screaming in proud excitement for her. Yes. I was that Momma. 🙂

The smile on her face is something that I will never forget. I know she will always have that moment as her teammates met her at home plate to celebrate the first and only home run of the season. That is magic, my friends. Pure Magic.

I know that I will spend some years in some bleachers. Between the girl child and the boy child, I’m excited to take my turn. I had my years on the courts and in the field. I’m ready to take my turn by the fence near the bleachers. I am excited for them both. Playing and learning and loving a game can be such a wonderful experience.  I hope they both find the life lessons just as powerful as I did during my days out there.

On the way home, she was beaming. She shared that she had secretly set several goals for the season:

1) Have an undefeated season. (They came close, only losing that one game, since they won this last one!)

2) Make a double play. (This one will have to wait until next year, when they learn how to throw past runners without hitting them in the back of the head!)


3) Hit a Home Run.

Success. At her last at bat. At the last game of the season. The one and only home run.

Here's the home run hitter. That's a proud smile with eyes that reveal that she wasn't 100%. And still the legend of her first home run starts here!

Here’s the home run hitter. That’s a proud smile with eyes that reveal that she wasn’t 100%. And still the legend of her first home run starts here!

Congratulations Y. So proud of you. And all that you are. Which is all kinds of awesome.
Play More!

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