Monday, July 29, 2013

The 3Rs

Rank Resort Reunion - We just went through one of those weekends - when you sleep little and indulge much - and even though you are still out of sorts on Monday morning and can't locate your bank card, you are richer and happier because of the experience, because of the bonding opportunities with family loved ones, these people who have seen you through all the bumps and still want to share with you.  I love the following pics and I love my family!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Court House Deed

Here's to twelve years...when my BFF agreed lawfully to be my children's other parent.  When he adopted them.

It sounded so cool when we first started discussing it, after their dad passed.  It was a relief to consider sharing the load.  What a deed!  But then as July 25 drew closer, I started questioning my decision.  I'd already given up a lot when I thought about our family life, being a single parent for so long and protecting the four of us from the scary outside.  My faith in my own judgement was a bit shaky.  Did I really want to formally ask Shawn to share in the responsibilities (let's face it, that part is easy) and the rights as the other parent?  What if something happened to the two of us?  Would I have to negotiate with him about MY kids?  What if I got over him and they kept loving him?  I was getting fairly comfortable with calling all the shots, doing things my way, since 1994.  After all, I knew that I knew what was best for us.  And after one meditative trip around the block, I realized this was best for us.  Shawn Steil, father.  Kate - Matt - Joe, adopted.

It's only recently that I realize the risks he assumed that day.  It was official.  He was dad.  There was no getting out of it.  They had new birth certificates.  None of that spooked him.  He changed his will.  They changed his perspective.  There is beauty in intentional love.

He taught them how to make pinewood derbies, how to throw a softball, how to disagree without being disagreeable.  How to drive, how to dance, how to treat a lady.  He taught them all the things I never could, because he gave them things I don't have.  And they took to him like the super human beings I knew them to be.  They provided him an unconditional love that quickly prompted him to refer to them as his "Irish triplets" with a smile so satisfying that even now, with all of the kids well into their twenties and far from home, makes me so completely happy.

Happy Anniversary to four favorite people on the planet.
Court House, Cedar Rapids, 7.25.2001

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

They are lovely

They really are...they are lovely.  These two precious girls, Anna and Clara.  These are the children of my friend, my college roommate, Jo, who lost her life to brain cancer on 9.28.2006.

We kept in touch for a while after Jo's funeral, but their dad found a girlfriend and it became obvious that I needed to back out.  Walk away.  I haven't seen them in several years, since they were 7 and 9, and I'm so pleased with what I discovered - two capable girls, 13 and 15, full of opinions and enjoying opportunities, boy crushes, dreams, likes and dislikes.  And a healthy respect for what happened to them, and what happened to Jo, and how they are still connected.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  Anna needed a confirmation sponsor and her dad, not knowing any other Catholics, but committed to the girls' Catholic schooling and teachings due to Jo's wishes, contacted me.  He apologized profusely for asking for this "favor" and for sure I sobbed at the chance to connect with them again . . . to let them know that even though they were ripped off in the biggest way possible, Jesus loves them.

We had frozen yogurt and went shopping for skinny khakis (permitted school uniform attire) and were reacquainted.  Of course we became Facebook friends immediately.  Seeing their mother with every nuance and glance was just an extra gift.
Clara, me, Anna - at Orange Leaf

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Wholeness of the Half

At Chicago's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon yesterday, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched Kate, Matt, Austin, Scott, Kelly, Anne, Bryan, Kyle, Jeff and so many others...running with so much conviction to the finish line.  Why didn't I have this compassion in my twenties?  The value I hold for my own health has only happened in recent years and it is accompanied by my sore joints and a few health scares; these kids are out there, in front of their aging, regulating their diets and exercise regimens, trying to beat their own best times, and seemingly having a lot of collective fun along the way.   It was a very impressive experience and I enjoyed sharing it up close.  I didn't even think about eating or drinking or sitting or watching Homeland while I was out there cheering and running after them.

And the people who watch marathons seem nearly as dedicated and invested as those who run.  The ones who carried signs got the high-fives:  "Go total stranger!  Go" and "It's not the first 100 meters that is impressive, it's the last!"

The carb-loading at the Maloneys on Saturday night as well as a late lunch at Benelux with JFM after, made this tri-state tour weekend one of the best ever!

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run."  - John Bingham aka "The Penguin"

5:40 am!  Time to go!

Waiting for the runners!

Kate's arm - listing the people she was thinking about

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's a Silly Place

Some days the world just doesn't make sense and sometimes it all comes together so nicely:  Did you know that you can use white wine to remove red wine stains?  How cool is that!

It could be a red wine weekend, so dear reader, with you in mind, I'll just continue...
  1. Club soda and salt is a great trick.
  2. The most important thing is to get to the stain while it's wet because once it's dried, it's very difficult to remove.
  3. Dilute the stain with water, club soda, even white wine.
  4. Then, take a cloth and blot the stain from the outside in.
  5. Dilute the stain and covering in iodized salt. Let the salt sit on the stain for about an hour.
  6. Remove away the salt . . . more wine magic!
Now..kick back and bask in your own reflective glory.  And pour a little more vino while you're at it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Art Stays with My Ears

Accessibility is an issue in the IT world that is less about hardship and more about finding solutions so someone dealing with a handicap - temporary or otherwise - can access and leverage technology to accomplish and enjoy the things they want to do.

I recently visited the home of a world-renowned pianist who is losing his eyesight and needs to practice 100-page concertos (about 10 per year) for touring.

A VESA mount arm was installed so an Apple cinema display could swing within inches of his eyes.  His Steinway will host something similar.  Swipe tablets may work to digitally display the music; we're evaluating other designs and solutions.  One idea involved the individual wearing headphones and speaking into a mic, and with the use of speech recognition software, he could dictate to the computer.  That solution required headphones and the kind artist calmly said that was not acceptable:  "My art stays with my ears," said he.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Nothing to Hide

In response to surveillance, the NSA, and privacy debates, I've been one of those to utter the common refrain that I've got nothing to hide, and I really like the idea that maybe I'm safer than ever.  But maybe I should reconsider . . .

Check out this essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Why Privacy Matters Even if you have 'Nothing to Hide'" by professor of law Daniel J. Solove, George Washington University. 

In response to the "nothing to hide, nothing to worry about" notion, he comments:
  • So do you have curtains? Can I see your credit-card bills for the last year? 
  • If you have nothing to hide, that means you are willing to let me photograph you naked. And I get full rights to that photograph-so I can show it to your neighbors.
Instead of  “nothing to hide”which implies guilt, maybe we should protect our right to privacy.  Although I may not have anything to hide, I do have things that are no one else's business.


Now, for some fun ~
Thanks to Dan for forwarding this to me . . .

Answers to questions directed to the NSA regarding collection of Verizon phone records:

1. Will I be charged extra for this service?

No. While the harvesting and surveillance of domestic phone calls were not a part of your original Verizon service contract, the National Security Agency is providing this service entirely free of charge.

2. If I add a phone to my account, will those calls also be monitored?

Once again, the answer is good news. If you want to add a child or any other family member to your Verizon account, their phone calls—whom they called, when, and the duration of the call—will all be monitored by the United States government, at no additional cost.

3. Can the National Security Agency help me understand my Verizon bill?

Unfortunately, no. The National Security Agency has tried, but failed, to understand Verizon’s bills. Please call Verizon customer service and follow the series of electronic prompts.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Note to Self - Words to Live By!

On the eve of what promises to be a very fun wedding prep weekend, including a bridal shower to honor my soon-to-be (ooh!) daughter-in-law, Kelly - I want to share what she shared with me, years ago via an email forward, when my son was newly taken with her beauty, wisdom, and generosity:

1.   Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2.   When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3.   Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4.   Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5.   Pay off your credit cards every month.
6.   You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7.   Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8.   It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9.   Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10.  When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11.  Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12.  It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13.  Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14.  If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15.  Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16.  Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17.  Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18.  Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19.  It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20.  When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21.  Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22.  Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23.  Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24.  The most important sex organ is the brain.
25.  No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26.  Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27.  Always choose life.
28.  Forgive everyone everything.
29.  What other people think of you is none of your business.
30.  Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31.  However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32.  Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33.  Believe in miracles.
34.  God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35.  Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36.  Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37.  Your children get only one childhood.
38.  All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39.  Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40.  If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41.  Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42.  The best is yet to come.
43.  No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44.  Yield.
45.  Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Using the Possessive

Happiness is not found in things you possess, but in what you have the courage to release . . .

- Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Crazy Sexy Juicer

I just met the work of Kris Carr and must share:  she is the author of the crazy sexy wellness revolution and lots of books and great essays, too.  Her recipes are fabulous and, although I love my Vitamix, vegetables and juicing just go together, and there are so many good Kris Carr recipes.  See below . . . this is on my want list, next time I'm spending - this juicer that my friend, Mary, introduced to me:  
Welcome, phytonutrients!.

 If you aren't convinced about juicing coolness, watch this Jason Vale video:


Tuesday, July 9, 2013


On this hot and humid night, I learned two new things:  I made my first Craigslist buy (thanks Liz) and then actually used what I purchased!  So the steamer I bought for $25 only retails for $59 (maybe I should've bartered more?  I was petrified as we pulled up at this stranger's house) but it is brand new and this young couple told me that his mother gifted them with this steamer and they needed the twenty-five bucks way more than pressed clothes.  It was a win-win no matter the angle and when I saw how the intersection of wrinkles and steam, I knew this night would go down right for me.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Freedom and Power

"Freedom is actually a bigger game than power. Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash."

                                                                                                                                               Harriet Rubin

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Back the (Filtered) Tap!

Yes, I like the Summer Shandy and the Peach Moon is a recipe I'm eager to try, but really, the beverage that really does it for me in the summer - the simple, eternal solution - H2O!  We cleanse, we recharge, we need it!

Proper hydration is key to having the energy you need to be active and focused. Dehydration is a major factor in fatigue and weakness. The only way for me to keep my energy, activity and productivity up is to stay hydrated.

Also, this is what Dr. Frank Lipman has to say on water, relative to hangover help:

"The reason why one gets a hangover is that your body - your liver in particular - is not able to process and metabolize the break down products from the alcohol quickly enough. In addition to needing enough enzymes, the liver also needs water to process and get rid of the toxins. When supplies run low, it takes water from other organs, including the brain. This is why alcohol is so dehydrating, and why you can wake up with a throbbing headache (and a dry mouth) from drinking too much."

"It is thus essential to drink a lot of water while drinking and before you go to bed... it can prevent a hangover or at least lessen one."

Good to know!
I'm currently competing in the Burst Your Thirst campaign, and I'll pass on their tip:
TIP: There are endless possibilities for fun, outdoor exercise this summer! Take the kids to the park and while they're climbing on the jungle gym you can bust out this calorie blasting circuit workout from Blogilates that will leave you feeling strong and sculpted.

"Every step toward your dream today
is a step away from your regret tomorrow."
- Dr. Steve Maraboli

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy birthday, America!

Watermelon cake!  It's the best!  All you do:

Find a seedless watermelon and cut off both ends and then cut off the rind so it resembles a double-layer cake.
  1. Pat the sides with paper towels (please don't use the cheap ones!) to remove excess moisture.
  2. Place on a favorite dish (I like a light color dish so the berries show off better).
  3. "Frost" the cake with non-fat Greek vanilla yogurt (16-24 oz) and then chill for 30 minutes.  Oh, and put the "cake" in the frig so it chills, too. (You can even put in the freezer for a few minutes.)
  4. Prior to serving, touch up any areas that are in need of more yogurt.
  5. Decorate with berries.  You can also add flaked cocunut.
  6. Cut the first piece so your guests see up close the guilt-free experience that awaits!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Thought for the day:  Small things done consistently in intentional places create major impact.

What's your strategy?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Bike the Drive 2013

We had the opportunity to bike Lake Shore Drive on Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend - as in, bike in the middle of the road, both northbound (to Bryn Mawr) and southbound (turning around at the Museum of Science and Industry).

Yes, it was a while ago, but I'm behind on all-things-life, and I just want to capture this so I don't ever forget it.  Being with two of my best life friends, Shawn and Kate, and mostly just being on my own as I cruised the drive, with the secure knowledge that, while we focused on riding more than visiting, they mostly were ahead or behind me.  It was an exhilarating way to spend a Sunday morning.

I kept thinking of Einstein, who, they say, was riding a bike when he came up with e = mc².

Nothing that profound came to me on my bike that morning.  Just the usual:  It's great to be here.
Special Steil

Monday, July 1, 2013

Everyday Love

Do you do what's required to maintain a relationship or do you do more?  Are you selfish and self-centered or do you constantly put the needs of others before your own?

I'm hoping you're somewhere in the middle, like me, where the giving and getting are fuzzy, in the delicious reciprocity of real life, real love.  Where it's just good and no one is compromising very much at all.
I'd been sitting all day at a conference in Chicago, so later, we walked.