Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Flew the Coop and Went to MOMcation

I spent the past weekend with a group of extraordinary moms at MOMcation held at Heifer Ranch in Arkansas. After frantically cleaning my house, making sure all the laundry was done and food was prepped in the fridge for the Buckaroos (it was not in this shape when I returned), I set out under a weather advisory to drive 2 ½ hours to Heifer Ranch. I like to think I am adventurous but storm chasing is not my thing. Well, and I don’t think I would like to bungee jump, skydive, or climb Everest. O.k. maybe I am not the adventurous type.

Oh wait, I am a mom to two little boys, yea, that is an adventure all its own. Sorry, I get a little sidetracked, be thankful you are not in my head all the time, whiplash honey. ANYWAY…I love a big storm as long as I am wrapped in a comfy blanket on my couch, driving in it is a different story. My knuckles were white most of the time in anticipation of this huge storm that was supposed to hit. But, I was fortunate to not run into any bad weather until Murphy showed up. As I drove up and was getting my bag out to go inside the lodge, oh mercy, the sky opened up. I freaked for a minute because I had dressed cute and fixed my hair because all you women know that we are each others biggest critics. So, I opened the door looking like a drowned rat but the warmth and laughter radiated from the room.

Of the 18 women attending, I only knew Fawn (Instead of the Dishes) that I met through blogging. MOMcation was Fawn’s brainchild and she worked tirelessly to make it the wonderfully successful event it was. By the end of the weekend, I had made some wonderful new friends. We had cooking demonstrations, yoga class, a tour of Heifer Ranch, jewelry making, a bonfire, and so many more wonderful activities. Let’s not even talk about the karaoke, some things that happen at MOMcation need to stay at MOMcation, got it girls?! My favorite part was just sitting on the couch talking to the other women, hearing their stories, learning from them, commiserating with them, and enjoying getting to know them.

Before the weekend, all the attendees were listed on a webpage with a short bio. The women ranged from a grandmother, a cooking student (hey Fancy Pants Foodie), a librarian, Arkansas site manager (go check it out), there were stay at home moms, working moms, moms from all different ages and backgrounds.

And there was Queene. I read her bio that said “Capricorn Mother Goddess that is currently in the second round of graduate school, teaching 7th grade science; creating art, poetry and life. Thankful for each sunrise and with 145 kids, thankful for each sunset as well. Living freely with gusto and lovingkindness...” I must say, I was the most nervous about meeting her. Come on, I am a homeschooling, Jesus loving, Southern Belle Farm Chic. If you were matching people up, Queene with her awesome dread locks and I would probably not be the obvious Laverne and Shirley type. But, she and I hit it off immediately and had a blast together.

Judging others, we all do it - a mom who does not mother like you do, wear the “right” clothes, drive the “right” vehicle, live in the “right” neighborhood and let’s not leave out go to the “right” church.

Women have a history of being hard on one another. And, moms, good grief, we are especially hard on each other at times. “Oh, you aren’t breastfeeding?” “You gave your baby cookies for dinner?” “You let your baby watch 2 hours of Baby Einstein videos?” “You are homeschooling?” Each of us has our own style and attitudes about how we raise our children. Instead of forcing them on others and expecting others to fit into “our” mold of parenting, we need to support each other as moms and not judge each other. That was one of the wonderful outcomes of MOMcation for me. Thank you Queene for reminding me of this and thank you for blessing my life with your friendship.

Now ladies, take the time to meet other moms in your area, step out of your comfort zone, you will meet some wonderful women who just like you are doing the best they can to be the best moms they can be. And, that my friend is a bond that you have to be a mom to understand.

Make the choice not to judge and then celebrate and encourage one another. Oh, and go have a MOMcation! We all need it every once in a while!

A thankful mom,
The Park Wife

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Text Messaging

I don’t text…shock…amazement…how does she communicate? I know I am so behind the times, I live such a “simple” life. Yea, yea, I have heard that before. My nieces can sit at the table and be looking right at me while I am talking to them and have their phones under the table carrying on a conversation via text with one of their friends. Amazing. They are going to have a serious case of carpal tunnel.

Cell service where I live is limited and half the time I forget to even take our cell phone with me when I go somewhere. This has not always been the case. When I lived and worked in Memphis and for the international development organization, my cell phone was permanently attached to me. If I did not have it with me, I felt naked.

Life has changed. Technology will suck you in (can you say Facebook crack) and then you will spend all your time relating through something that is powered by a battery rather than something with a heartbeat. I am trying to not let that rule our lives.

Then, there is the constant abbreviation and degradation of the English language. As a journalism graduate, that drives me crazy! K=okay, r u = are you, those are easy, but I would need a text lingo dictionary to keep up. I blame all of this on Prince. He started using U instead of “you” decades ago. His song “I would Die for U” (yes, that will be stuck in your head the rest of the day) is probably the first record of text messaging making it into everyday language. Darn you Prince, you started a Revolution for sure.

Don't get me started on my Southern Belle roots and the lost art of letter writing and thank you notes. Poor Miss Manners flipping in her grave.

Oh, and one other thing, I love when my husband calls me in the middle of the day. I love hearing his phone voice, love the fact that he takes the time out of his busy day to pick up the phone and call me. Texting could never replace that connection.

Now, we “simple” folks have adapted a little bit. My ever-innovative, back to basics, land loving husband who finds peace and joy in a focused activity, has introduced the Buckaroo's to a form of communication that is let's say a little more primitive than text messaging.

Of course, it will require some kind of building project.

Is it a stage for me?????

Little Buckaroo gets in on the building action.

And, then there was the painting. They ruined two sets of clothes before I just told them to take their clothes off.

Pretty cool project, but what is it? Who lives here?

Yes, our text messengers.

The boys now have homing pigeons, look up how they were used in World War II, it is fascinating and a great lesson for your kids. So, if you see a pigeon with a tube around its ankle. Take the message from me and send it back home. That is about as close to text messaging that your going to get from The Park Wife.

Happy Earth Day,
The Park Wife

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Live Like You Were Dying

It's funny, in a strange way, how things effect you that you did not see coming.

When I was in college, I sat next to a brother and sister in my photography class. Anne and Stony were kind, generous, had a zest for life, just plain exciting and fun. I knew immediately that I wanted to be their friend and I was. It was an extraordinary season in my life.

Stony was into body building and he and Anne owned a gym. Years prior to meeting them, Stony had battled lymphoma and kicked its behind. He worked hard and did well in many bodybuilding competitions. Their dad lived in New Orleans and I spent time at their home on State Street. (no, I never dated Stony if you were thinking that, just friends) Anne had a cottage behind her grandmothers home in Poplarville, MS and we would go there for some down time. I loved staying there and enjoying the family vibe they had created. I have many fond memories that include them.

After I had graduated and started moving all over the South, Stony returned to college for architecture, graduated, worked with his dad (a very prominent New Orleans architect) and married a young lady that I have not met but have heard how extraordinary she is.

Although I have not seen them since college, I have kept in touch with them. I knew Stony was fighting the good fight once again on the disease that ravaged his body but could never ravage his spirit. The lymphoma was not through with him and unfortunately, he lost the third and final, fierce battle Friday.

I have prayed for Anne, Stony's wife and the rest of their family to be able to endure the pain of their loss and to feel the peace of our loving God who Stony is now lifting some heavy weights for in Heaven.

I have wondered all day why this has hit me so hard. I have not seen them or been in their lives for almost 18 years. I am not totally sure of the answer of why I am so overwhelmed, but I think it is because without a shadow of a doubt I know that Stony lived his life how we all should. He made every moment of his life count. He was full of joy, love and hope, and he touched everyone he met with his incredible enthusiasm and zest for life. He was the genuine, real deal.

So, tonight, I grieve for the beautiful man who was a gentle giant, a hero, and touched the hearts of everyone who was blessed to know him. And, I reevaluate how I live everyday. For taking advantage of my blessings, spending time and emotions on things that really do not matter, and not living like I was dying.

Tomorrow is a gift, what are you going to do with it?
The Park Wife

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday, Good Life

I am busy getting my garden going, the opening of our farmers’ market is just around the corner. I was told years ago by a 93-year-old mountain woman that my plants needed to go in the ground on Good Friday. That was during my gardening infant stage when my thumb was as black as my cooking was that first year of marriage.

Since then, I have fallen in love with living a more simple life. Gardening, less clutter, spending quality time with my guys reading books and playing rather than in the car being overscheduled and worn out, and let’s not forget my passion for farmers’ markets. Pretty big jump from living in downtown Memphis in the rat race, striving to make more, do more and be more. Thanks goodness, no, I thank God that I now have a little more clarity on what “more” really is for me.

To me, “more” is being able to snuggle with my kids every morning knowing their thoughts, their dreams, and their hearts. Growing and picking fresh veggies, teaching my kids hands-on how to plant, grow, harvest, and prepare a salad or salsa that can not be bought at any store. Being a good steward of the land. Sharing my life and experiences with others. Relishing in the simple things in life that I was once too busy to even recognize.

With so many documentaries (Food Inc, Fresh) and TV shows (Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution- it is on tonight, don’t miss it) magnifying our food problems in America, I hope America is waking up and making changes. Not just for yourselves but for our future generations. I am so saddened by the statistic that says today’s generation of children are predicted to be the first which will die at a younger age than their parents due to obesity-related bad health. Not only does that make me sad, but it makes me mad. It should you too. Nearly one in three (32%, 23 million) American children are obese or overweight. And, don't think that because you have a skinny kid that they will not have health problems as adults when they eat McYuckNuggets and high fructose corn syrup laden foods on a regular basis.

It is Good Friday, so get out there and plant a garden and I hope and pray that you will spend the day pondering and celebrating that Good Friday is the drama of the love by which our every day is sustained.

He is Risen!
The Park Wife