Monthly Archives: January 2006

Refrigerator Magnet Wisdom

When I was a kid, my mom had a refrigerator magnet that said, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” When I asked her what it meant, she explained that you have to do the best with what life gives you.

As a teenager, I thought it was just a trite saying. I decided that I was more highly evolved, that the logic found in Hallmark cards or Chicken Soup books or refrigerator magnets is beneath me. But in my day-to-day life I have realized that I’m just a regular person who needs reminders every day, whether it be the Bible on my night stand or a magnet on my refrigerator.

And it’s really true. You have a choice with what to do with every obstacle and gift that is in your life. You can choose to say “why bother?” when an obstacle is in your path, or you can say, “I am stronger than this” and overcome it.

I read this recently, and although I’ve seen it online and in print in various permutations, you get the gist of the idea:

Positive Attitude

Steve is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, Steve was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Steve and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

Steve replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or … you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or….I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or… I can point out the positive side of life. Choose the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, it’s not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes, it is,” Steve said.

“Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It’s your choice how you live your life.”

I reflected on what Steve said. Soon thereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that Steve was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Steve was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw Steve about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied. “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Wanna see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

“The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon to be born daughter,” Steve replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two
choices: I could choose to live or… I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren’t you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

Steve continued, “…the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expresions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read “he’s a dead man. I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said Steve. She asked if I was allergic to anything. “Yes, I replied.” The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, “Gravity!”

Over their laughter, I told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.” Steve lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Moses closed Deuteronomy with this advice: choose life.

I don’t doubt the validity of refrigerator magnet wisdom.

“Train, Mommy!”

Last week Georgie was dying to see a train, and glimpsing the freight cars along I-480 just wasn’t cutting it. George suggested that we go park by The Station Restaurant in Berea.

In a previous incarnation, it was The Pufferbelly, which originally was the sandstone Union Depot for the CCC & St. Louis Railroad (known as the “Big Four”). Now you see CSX and Norfolk Southern trains — usually 100 pass within 24 hours. The edge of the parking lot is less than 10 feet from the first set of rails, so caution is required when visiting.

It was a great idea! Last week we saw 2 trains within the first five minutes — Georgie was in heaven! It was cold and rainy, so we stayed in the van to watch. Today we stopped again, as it was in the 50s and sunny, and the parking lot was packed with trainwatchers! Come to find out, it is a hobby for some enthusiasts. Taking photos, checking the timeliness of the trains, keeping logs on which engines and what freight they’re carrying, chatting with other ‘regulars’ about what they’ve seen and photographed… I felt like I was visiting a Star Trek convention at first.

We saw a train coming along the closest rails, and got out of the van to watch. A lady with a boy of about three suggested that we stand back, since the horn is quite loud when you’re that close. Boy, she was right — even I was surprised by the speed and sound of the train, and I made a mental note to bring George’s shooting earguards next time. Georgie’s eyes were as big as saucers and after it passed he said, “Mommy! Train! Oh, great!” I laughed, it warmed my heart that I was able to bring him such joy.

After the train passed, I went over to the lady and thanked her for the warning, she told me that she learned the hard way the first time they came to watch the trains. She and her husband are “rail fans” and enjoy watching the trains just as much as their son does — they come down to the Depot several times a month.

When I got home, I Googled ‘rail fan’ and found a ton of information, including the scanner frequencies that the railroads use to communicate from dispatch to the engineers! My mom bought me a scanner several years ago, and now I’ll be able to program the correct frequencies for Georgie to listen to. He’ll be so excited.

It’s so nice to see families who spend time together doing things that are fun — and FREE! How easy it is to get caught up in the fast pace of life without thinking about what matters most; the people you love.

My memories of childhood are of the things that were free (or close to it).

  • Camping in Niagara Falls, hiking around the Niagara River and watching the water rushing so fast it took my breath away… then finally seeing the falls, and knowing without a doubt that God exists.
  • “Caravan sledding” down the hill at our house on Heckman Road with Dad on the big sled, me on the smaller sled and Mandy tied to me on the inner tube.
  • Going to cut firewood with Dad in the woods.
  • Playing kickball at Grandpa Tuggle’s house and arguing the merits of “Ghost On First.”
  • When Mandy ate the mushroom and Mom gave her Syrup of Ipecac and she puked all over her high chair. (I know it wasn’t exactly supposed to be ‘entertainment’ but it was. And it qualifies as “free!”)
  • Mom letting us take over her sewing area in the basement to put on our shows. (Who needs real microphones when you have a bucket and a broom?)
  • Building forts with blankets.
  • Going to see the Shetland ponies.
  • Riding our bikes to get ice cream, or to the park in Uniontown.

I’m so glad that my parents took the time to do those things with us. We had fun when we went to Cedar Point, and to Geauga Lake and Sea World. But the things that make the greatest impression aren’t things — it’s the time you spend with them that tells them that you love them.

Preparing for the Hospital

Ironically enough, I’ve received three e-mails in the past two weeks asking what I took to the hospital when Ethan was born. Having given birth twice in two years, I can tell you what is necessary and what isn’t.

First off, you’ll probably want two bags – a small one with labor items that you’ll take with you into L&D. Once you’ve moved to the postpartum/recovery room, you can send your spouse to get the big bag from your car.

Make sure that your postpartum bag is completely packed and in your vehicle 3 weeks before your due date. Buy travel-size items and put a new pair of contacts in your toiletry bag so that it is fully packed. You never know when you’ll go into labor, and even though you think you’ll be able to finish packing while you’re in the first stage of labor, don’t fool yourself. I made this mistake, and George had no sleeping clothes or toiletries the first night when I gave birth to Georgie.

Labor Bag:
Breath mints
Lip balm
Hair bands
16-oz. water bottle
“Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin
Digital camera/video camera & batteries
Pen & small pad of paper
Toiletry bag (you may want to take a shower before you move to Postpartum)
Wallet (insurance card, ID, money for vending machines, etc.)

Postpartum Bag:
A going home outfit (for baby) including socks & cap
The hospital will probably give you that little pink & blue striped cap. If baby is on the small side, the cap you bring might be too big, so plan on using the hospital cap.

A receiving blanket
The linens belong to the hospital; don’t take them, that’s stealing!

Travel package of baby wipes
Most hospitals use washcloths and soap for diaper changes (more economical). If you’re adverse to this, bring your own disposable wipes.

Baby nail clippers
The kid will probably have nails longer than yours; if you feel brave, clip them when baby is sleeping. Ask a nurse for assistance and they’ll show you good clipping techniques.

Binder for baby info (include 2 copies of your birth plan)
For some reason, the nursing staff seemed to take me more seriously when they saw that I was keeping all of the information in my own binder.

A going home maternity outfit w/ flat shoes
Make sure they are loose-fitting, like drawstring maternity pants & a maternity t-shirt. Don’t plan on having your pre-PG body back for awhile.

I wanted to take a walk, and having my own robe made me feel more comfortable. Wal-Mart sells cotton waffle-knit robes for under $10. They’re thin and pack easily. Pick up a dark color, just in case you bleed through your gown.

Nursing bra & disposable breast pads
Much easier than relying on cloth diapers for leakage.

“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by the La Leche League
You can only watch the hospital’s CCTV broadcast of “How to Care for your Newborn” so many times.

Your own will keep your feet warmer than the no-skid socks that the hospital provides, and you’ll feel better if you decide to take a walk.

Body wash & mini pouf
Pick up a travel size of your favorite brand. You can find the mini-poufs at Wal-Mart for about $.50.

Stuff like granola bars, crackers, etc. Just in case your hospital meals are less than desirable or you want to offer some string cheese to your visitors.

List of Phone Numbers & cell phone
Some hospitals will let you use your cell in PP & R. Take a list of phone numbers for people you’ll want to call.

Skin lotion



Make up

Eyeglasses & contacts

Things to Skip:
Maternity underwear
Check to see if your hospital will provide you with those fashionable mesh underwear. If so, don’t bother bringing your own. They probably aren’t big enough to hold the icepacks you’ll be wearing for the next week.

Newborn diapers
The hospital will give you a few disposables to take home if you ask – they may even offer. Save the space in your bag — unless, of course, you’re cloth-diapering. Then, you’ll want to bring your own.

Why mess up your own clothes? Let the hospital take care of the laundry. That said, if you think you’ll feel more human receiving visitors in your own PJs, then by all means, bring a pair.

Shampoo & Conditioner
Unless you have to shampoo every day, skip it. Are you really going to feel up to washing your hair in the hospital?

Razor & shaving lotion
See above.