2017/11/02

25 Years of Mojo!

Da Goddess @ 00:28

Happy birthday to my glorious first born!

Mojo, you have always been my little ray of sunshine. You were and are the best of me, the best of your biological father, and the best of our entire family.

I’m continually awed by the way you carry yourself and the way you show kindness and compassion toward others. I don’t think I know anyone else — other than your brother — who is quite as generous a spirit as you. And believe me when I say that he wouldn’t have come along if it hadn’t been for YOU! You opened my heart in ways I’ll never be able to explain.

Happy birthday, honey! I love you more than words allow!

2017/10/03

Happy Birthday, LD!

Da Goddess @ 03:25

My beautiful boy is 21 years old today.

He is a gift to all who know and love him.

What an amazing young man my Little Dude has grown up to be.

Happy birthday, kiddo! I love you so much!

2017/07/27

The CUTEST Site on the Internet

Da Goddess @ 15:45

You’ll thank me for this. You will.

2017/07/04

Happy Independence Day!

Da Goddess @ 10:26

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…

Celebrate our hard won rights and remember those who fought for those rights.

Be safe and have yourselves a beautiful day!

2017/06/16

This Is How You Do It: Body Positive Message

Da Goddess @ 02:57

A mom on Instagram had this discussion with her kids after her daughter called her fat:

My daughter called me fat today. She was upset I made them get out of the pool and she told her brother that mama is fat. I told her to meet me upstairs so we could chat. Me: “what did you say about me?” Her: “I said you were fat, mama, im sorry” Me: “let’s talk about it. The truth is, I am not fat. No one IS fat. It’s not something you can BE. But I do HAVE fat. We ALL have fat. It protects our muscles and our bones and keeps our bodies going by providing us energy. Do you have fat?” Her: “yes! I have some here on my tummy” Me: “that’s right! So do I and so does your brother!” Her brother: “I don’t have any fat, I’m the skinniest, I just have muscles” Me: “actually everyone, every single person in the world has fat. But each of us has different amounts.” Her brother: “oh right! I have some to protect my big muscles! But you have more than me” Me: “Yes, that’s true. Some people have a lot, and others don’t have very much. But that doesn’t mean that one person is better than the other, do you both understand? Both: “yes, mama” Me: “so can you repeat what I said” Them: “yes! I shouldn’t say someone is fat because you can’t be just fat, but everyone HAS fat and it’s okay to have different fat” Me: “exactly right!” Them: “can we go back to the pool now?” Me: no.

Each moment these topics come up I have to choose how I’m going to handle them. Fat is not a bad word in our house. If I shame my children for saying it then I am proving that it is an insulting word and I continue the stigma that being fat is unworthy, gross, comical and undesirable. Since we don’t call people fat as an insult in my household, I have to assume she internalized this idea from somewhere or someone else. Our children are fed ideas from every angle, you have to understand that that WILL happen: at a friends house whose parents have different values, watching a tv show or movie, overhearing someone at school — ideas about body image are already filtering through their minds. It is our job to continue to be the loudest, most accepting, positive and CONSISTENT voice they hear. So that it can rise above the rest. Give me a (high five) if this resonated w u! Just do you! Xoxo Allie

When we stop allowing media or other people define beauty for ourselves, when we consistently teach and remind our children that true beauty comes from within, we will have stronger, more well-developed kids who’ll spread that message, who’ll grow up avoiding fad diets and unhealthy practices, who’ll grow up with stronger, healthier senses of self, and who will be advocates for body positivity.

God created each of us to be unique and that’s what we are. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Beauty comes from within. It’s something we all have innately. But we forget. We allow media to dictate the definition of beauty and that must stop. We don’t need to have people who have long forgotten that beauty is about the light and love we have within us rather than some airbrushed image they paste on the cover of their magazines. We are more than what someone who’s never met us tells us we are or should be!

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! WE ARE BEAUTIFUL. Just as we are. Remember that. And help others believe that.

2017/05/18

Five One

Da Goddess @ 21:24

Today I turned 51.

My exciting day has been full of thrills, the likes of which you’ve never seen. Well, you probably have, but I’m betting you wouldn’t wish to experience.

I got back my voice after a day of not having one, the consequence of some crazy ass sore throat of unbelievable intensity. My uvula was swollen and bumpy, as was the back of my tongue. The tongue bumps were large, scratchy, and raw, surrounded by hard patches. I’ve never had anything like this before and hope to never have again. I’m dousing my throat with chloraseptic spray, eating jello, drinking tea and water, and basically resting as much as possible, while also trying to keep my back pain to just under a roar.

This was on top of knowing my sister was dealing with my dad getting out of the hospital for the second time in three weeks due to congestive heart failure. It’s a new diagnosis for Dad and I know all too well what that means for him. He insists he feels fine in between hospital stays, but it’ll eventually get to the point where he’ll need more meds to help keep fluid from building up and he’ll become less comfortable more frequently.

Dad’s 86 now and even though I’m older, I don’t like the thought of losing him (or my mom, or any sisters) any time in the near future. I’m not ready for this.

So. Yeah, so. That’s how I’ve spent my birthday. Happy fucking birthday to me.

2017/04/16

Christos Anesti!

Da Goddess @ 08:52

Christos Anesti! He is Risen!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

Before the dawn, Mary and the women came and found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They heard the angelic voice: “Why do you seek among the dead as a man the One who is everlasting light? Behold the clothes in the grave! Go and proclaim to the world: The Lord is risen! He has slain death, as He is the Son of God, saving the race of men.”

Thou didst decend into the tomb, O Immortal, Thou didst destory the power of death! In victory didst Thou arise, O Christ God, proclaiming “Rejoice” to the myrrhbearing women, granting peace to Thy apostles, and bestowing resurrection to the fallen.

The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin! Again I say: Rejoice! Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb! With Himself He has raised all the dead! Rejoice, all you people! Shine! Shine! O New Jerusalem! The Glory of the Lord has shone on you! Exalt now and be glad, O Zion! Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!

Happy Easter, my friends!

2017/03/02

Happy World Book Day!

Da Goddess @ 15:06

If you know me, you know I absolutely adore books. I love the written word. I love getting lost in the written word. I love the feeling I get from reading, even if that feeling is of frustration or anger at the writer (if I’m involved enough in a story to get upset, then the author’s done something right — they made me CARE!).

My mom gave me the second greatest gift of all when she taught me to read. The first gift, obvs, was love. But even if she hadn’t loved me, I’d still have reading. And reading is power.

A good story will draw you in. It will make you FEEL. It will make you forget the real world for a while. It will open your mind. A good story will open your heart. It will take you to places that only exist in the imagination. It will help develop your imagination. And, dare I say, a good story will inspire you to reach for the stars, and beyond.

There are no goals without imagination, without dreams or dreaming. How do you learn to dream, to believe something is possible if not for the stories other people tell?

I often ask kids about their favorite books. I ask them what they like about the story and the characters. Many kids tell me how they’re inspired by the ideas set forth in the books they read. They tell me how the story could continue, what adventures the characters might find in a new chapter (or seven!). When a kid can tell you what they’d like to have happen next? Well, my friends, that’s magic! That’s imagination. That’s the sign of a child whose brain has been engaged. And that’s a big win in my (pardon/no pardon the pun) book.

Whether our children are reading physical books or on an electronic device, WE ARE WINNING! They’re learning. If their minds are engaged in reading, they’re developing tools they’ll need to become whoever they dream they can be. Because, and here’s the secret, when they read, they can become the characters in the stories, if only for a while. And if they can do that for a while, they begin to believe it’s possible more and more often…in real life. That astronaut in the book? That could be me! That brave knight/princess in the story? That could be me! The character who just discovered a new tribe or animal? Me! Even when the author includes a physical description of a character, while you’re reading, that description falls away and you begin to inhabit the character. If you were to close your eyes in the middle of the tale, your face is the one you’d see if the character looked in the mirror. That’s the power of reading, of imagination. That’s how you start teaching kids to dream.

When I was little, I loved stories that inhabited colorful lands full of colorful characters. Dr. Seuss knew what he was doing. Sneeches, with or without stars upon thars, were fun playmates on days I was kept inside. Or maybe one of the twenty-twenty Daves would come by to save…the day from absolute boredom while stuck in my cave. Chances are, the Cat in the Hat would also stop by, if only to help me find trouble to squeeze out of by the lash of an eye.

As I got a bit older, Trixie Belden became my muse. With her and the Bobwhites, I solved neighborhood mysteries that no one else could have solved. I traveled with her, laughed with her, cried with her. When I felt lonely, Trixie was there for me.

Always, always have a book. When you’re watching TV, have a book to read during commercials. Going to the doctor? Take a book. Got a lot of books and spend a lot of time at the doctor’s like I do? Ask if you can bring in a few to start a lending library. Old magazines will only last so long.

As soon as possible, get a child their own library card. Make the library or bookstore a regular part of your week. Investing in a child’s mind is investing in the possibilities of their future. Let them become invested, too, as they tell you what they’ve read and what it means to them.

I know I’ve told the story many times of how Mojo would walk into walls because her nose was stuck in a book. And how LD was potty trained with the help of book on dolphins, porpoises, and whales. He was so proud the day he was allowed to take that book everywhere he wanted because he was finally out of diapers. And let’s not forget how my kids would do their chores or finish dinner because their reward was a trip to the library or bookstore!

As my kids grew up, people would give them gift cards for Borders or Barnes & Noble so they could choose their own gifts. Instead of ONE present, they ended up with many. And they were the kind of gifts that kept giving because they turned out to be creative, thoughtful, and funny people. Had they only had TV or video games, I doubt I’d be saying the same (or I’d be lying about them).

I don’t know where I’d be if not for the books I read as a kid. I don’t know where I’d be if not for the books I read as an adult. I do know I’d never have dared to dream of becoming a nurse if I hadn’t read books about candy stripers and nurses. I’d have never dreamed of being a photographer, either. I wouldn’t be passionate about wildlife if not for reading “Born Free” or even “Misty of Chincoteague”. That’s how powerful the written word can be.

I wish you a very happy World Book Day today — and every day! May the book be with you.

* Inspired by Definitely Dreaming

2017/01/12

True Story I

Da Goddess @ 00:39

My kids didn’t like white bread when they were little. I only bought wheat bread for sandwiches, so that’s what they were used to. Offer them a slice of Wonder Bread and they’d practically run screaming as far and as fast as they could.

Then, one day, they tried a slice of warm sourdough at a restaurant and that was that!

Don’t get me wrong, they still had their sandwiches on wheat, but they no longer fainted at the mere mention of white bread.

Who knew growth came with sourdough?

2016/12/25

Merry Christmas!

Da Goddess @ 00:29

May the light shine upon you and those you hold dear.

And now I bring you my favorite Christmas song of all. It’s my favorite version and it wouldn’t be Christmas for me if I didn’t post it.

2016/12/24

Christmas Eve is Here

Da Goddess @ 15:17

Justin Hines, y’all. Please, pray for a Christmas miracle for him. Give him his breath and song again.

2016/10/18

Ramblings of a Failed (yet Successful) Parent

Da Goddess @ 21:32

I didn’t blog about L.D.’s birthday back at the beginning of the month. I thought about it. A lot. But I still managed to not post a single word. Perhaps it was my way of denying that my baby was no longer a teenager. Maybe it was just because I was finding it difficult to admit I missed him terribly. It was likely a combination of the two. Reglardless, I should have posted something and celebrated it with the few of you who still read the blog.

So, yeah, my Little Dude is now officially out of his teens. 20 is just the beginning of his adult life. I’m both immensely proud of him for being the sweetest, gentlest young man I know while simultaneously worrying about what comes next for him. He’d had his heart set on a military career only to have his hopes and dreams killed by a single hearing test. While the military’s test is admittedly inadequate, his documentation from his doctor that proved his hearing was fine wasn’t accepted. Since then, I’ve been full of concern over what will become of him, where he’ll find new inspiration for a new dream or two. He’s so smart, so creative, so thoughtful. He’s really a great kid…er…man. I wish so very much for his happiness and contentment, for him to find his path to a satisfying life, doing something that fills his heart and soul with joy. In other words, I fret like every other parent does as their children grow up.

Then there’s Mojo. She’ll be 24 in a couple weeks. She’s living so far from home, married to a wonderful man, and, yet, I still think of her as my baby. It’s just so wrong that we can’t shake those images of our children as infants. On the other hand, I never want to forget. I never want to forget the wonder I felt as I heard her heartbeat for the first time. I never want to forget the overwhelming love I had from the moment I first laid eyes on her. I never want to forget how she felt in my arms when I first got to hold this tiny miracle that somehow came from me. I feel that way about both kids, but I think it’s especially potent with Mojo because she was my first absolute and truest love. You never get over that. Nor should you.

I’m proud of her. Proud of how she’s followed her heart and found a man who truly loves her, believes in her. Mo’s educated herself (though I wish she’d go back and get a bachelor’s in something!), she’s filled her heart and home with love. She’s bright, funny, loving, generous, and all around swell. What more could I ask for? Turns out, I want more. For her and her brother, I want everything. I want the sun to always shine upon them. I want fortune to always favor them. But that’s what I ask of the universe, not of them. From them, I want only to know they’re trying and giving their best — to themselves and to others.

I hope they’ll forgive their old mum for my lackluster performance. I hope they’ll know that I’ll always love them. And I hope they’ll know — forever and always — that they are the best things I’ve ever done and ever will do.

I may have failed in a myriad of ways as a parent, but I’ve never failed in my love for them, nor have I ever regretted having them. As I said above (and many times before), they are the best of me, my greatest loves, the one thing I’ve ever done with the clearest mind and fullest heart. My failings should never be thought of as theirs. And their successes are theirs alone. One day, when my time is done, I will be able to say, with nary a bit of exaggeration, I’ve done something wonderful and left the world a better place if only because of them.

2016/09/04

On This Day 10 Years Ago: September 4, 2006 — Steve Irwin Died

Da Goddess @ 00:00

Over the years, I’ve written about the impact Steve Irwin had on the lives of my family. Below is a repost of something I wrote in 2009, which still rings true. I’d like to add a few thoughts.

Steve may be gone, but we’ve witnessed new generations carrying on with his mission. Irwin daughter Bindi is officially an adult and continues to talk about the need for conservation, advocates for the animals, and has become a true global ambassador for wildlife. His son, Robert, does the same. Though his younger years perhaps limit his visibility, he aims high and reaches or exceeds that mark with pure, unbridled enthusiasm. Both Irwin kids are passionate, educated, and very well-spoken, which is a testament to not only their mother, Terri, but to the foundation of keen interest and the solid work their father did in the name of wildlife conservation.

As I mention below, my own interest in wildlife began early. My parents were the leading contributors to this, but I was also intrigued by the work of Marlin Perkins, who was pretty much all my generation had in the way of a wildlife educator/promoter. There were others who followed, of course, but that was the start of my budding curiosity. I’m so very grateful for the path Perkins paved because it brought us Steve.

I’m grateful my children grew up in the Age of Irwin. I’m grateful for the first class shows they had, to see the world through khaki colored glasses, to see wildlife conservation as something exciting and important.

For those reasons alone (though there are many more), I continue to mourn the loss of the great wildlife warrior named Steve Irwin.

I’ll never forget the year LD turned two and on Christmas morning he went crazy when he saw one of his presents was a three or four foot plastic crocodile. He immediately jumped it, covered its eyes, called for Terri (his sister given a co-starring role in his funny little world of Croc Hunterdom) to get his shirt off and wrap it around the croc’s head. Yes, LD was two and had absorbed enough Irwinisms to run his own fake rescue and relocation in our living room.

Dressed in his regular uniform of khakis (the boy wanted what he wanted), we headed over to my sister’s house for more Christmas activities. The croc came along. Anyone speaking to LD that day had to address him as Steve. To this day, there are probably a few people who were dating relatives or friends of my sister and brother-in-law who really believe this is my son’s name. We probably should have considered it, but for the simple fact that the ex’s brother carries the same name and they weren’t on speaking terms at that point. Still, my little 2 year old had made his stand about the name and his goals for the day: he would be Steve and he would be on croc patrol. No cats, people, or food would go missing if he could help it! (Okay, maybe a little food, but that was only if it was near enough to a chair he could climb up to get at it.)

And he did it all with an Australian accent. My American born baby boy sported a fair dinkum Aussie accent. Because that’s how his hero spoke.

This was how it went for two and half years, give or take. Halloween costumes were, naturally, khaki and sported fabric paint representations of Australia Zoo’s logo, with the name Steve below that. We’d attached frogs, lizards, and snakes to his shirt (all plastic, of course…our collection was immense…still is) and his shorts or pants, and his hat, although the hat was from the Norwich Gators (close as we could get at the time). Our pumpkins were carved with crocs and “Steve” and occasionally a panda or regular jack o’lantern pattern. But they still represented The Man.

When the news broke during the early hours on Sept. 4, 2006, I was awake and editing for Blogcritics.org at the time. I heard it. And everything stopped. Then I started flipping channels and it was everywhere. It didn’t seem real. Finally, I emailed my friend Pat who lived at the zoo and received the sad confirmation that it was, indeed, tragically true — Steve Irwin was gone.

What unfolded after that was beyond anything most anyone anywhere would have ever expected. Despite the popularity of the Crocodile Hunter series and other spin off shows, no one could have predicted just how widespread this man’s infectious enthusiasm reached. Straight out admiration, parodies, and even a handful of naysayers…the man, his mission, had stretched around the globe and back a million times. He made the scariest animals important, even lovable (except leeches and I’m afraid I’ll never laugh as he did about them), he made us care about the animals he encountered, taught us why they were special, why we should want them around. His plans were grand and he was making great strides in realizing many of his dreams, which ruffled a few feathers and caused some backlash, but Steve did it all for one reason: to protect the land and the animals, and give our children more than just picture books filled with photos and drawings of animals and trees we once encountered on land. Careful management could and can preserve habitats and healthy populations of animals if we can find a way to work together — from land management, husbandry, careful community planning, caring individuals, and sensible care plans from government agencies to help keep nature a viable and valuable part of our heritage.

It’s a message I was taught by Marlin Perkins, local Native Americans, and even by my parents (except snakes, but that’s a cause I took up on my own). To me, what was the point of keeping the forest if there were no animals? What was the point of loving the animals if they had no home? I learned it early and have always carried this with me. My conservationist roots run deep and likely always will. I guess my kids came by it honestly.

And then one day, Steve and Terri Irwin showed up and echoed what I’d grown up hearing. They even went far beyond what I’d learned and gave me new ideas, a new means of understanding, new hope! It spread quickly. I wasn’t the only one looking for a way to learn. It became part of our watercooler conversations.

Then we got that punch in the ol’ solar plexus we never wanted to hear. Yes, Steve Irwin was a celebrity and we often roll our eyes when a celebrity dies. But this seemed to run a bit deeper. Here was a young man actively, passionately chasing the dream of educating the world about our natural resources. He wasn’t famous for kicking a soccer ball or wearing the latest styles or releasing a record of music he had little to do with. He was out getting dirty and conducting research that continues to this day to enlighten us on the habits and lives of creatures we previously understood little about. He gave us tools to learn and set us upon a course of caring.

It’s been three (er, now 10) years and it still hurts. Thankfully, there are people everywhere who have picked up the mantle and carry on.

It may mean nothing to you, but it continues to mean a great deal to this family. Each of us, in our own manner, have found a way to carry on educating friends and strangers about the animals we encounter, the land upon which we live, the land that surrounds us, and how important it is for all of us to work together to keep it working.

Steve Irwin may be gone, but plenty of people in this world are carrying out his work, sharing the knowledge, spreading the word.

We miss you, Stevo.

Gone But Not Forgotten

2016/05/19

50 & 14: I Did It!

Da Goddess @ 03:57

I. Fucking. Did. It.

I’ve made it to 50! And the last 14 of those years included blogging. Crazy, isn’t it?

This past year’s been a rough one. Frustration, pain, and heartache seemed to be around every corner. My own health issues, my family’s health issues, deaths of friends and my sweet Celia, and having to say goodbye to Mojo as she packed up for Alaska. But this is all part of life and we get through it, don’t we?

So I’ve survived and am grateful for making it this far. Of course, I wish things were easier, but without sadness I’d never appreciate happiness; without pain I’d never appreciate pleasure. It’s all part of life. LIFE. I’m still here! I almost feel like hunting down that vice principal and a few friends’ parents just to say, “you were WRONG!”

Heavy sigh, deep breath, and many prayers I get to try writing another post like this next year!

2016/01/30

Ouch

Da Goddess @ 19:11

Had a truly wonderful time yesterday with King Arthur’s family. They had a party at his cousin’s house in Santa Monica. She lives not even a block from the beach.

I got in lots of baby time and it was heavenly! Baby Evan is just adorable and big sister Emma was very helpful. There was another baby there as well and I got in a bit of time with her as well.

Today, though, I am wrecked. I’ve taken all the meds I can take and don’t feel any better for it yet. So I’m missing out on another gathering as I type. Big unhappy face.

Plans with my family have been moved back a week. I hope there aren’t any further delays as the lost sister is moving in a couple weeks. Talking with my mom, she’s excited to meet her, too. I’m hoping I’m there for that moment because it means so much to both of them and I very much want them to meet before my mom’s health declines.

In the meantime, I’m icing my back, waiting for my next dose of meds, praying they do the trick. There’s only so much I can take with the pain these days and I’ve reached my limit this year.

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