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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother |

Flawed Moms, Perfect Praise

Triple Layer Chocolate Turtle Cake

Not all pictures are worth 1,000 words. Some, of delectable food, fail to tell the adventures behind them. Like the one I took of our Easter dessert, a turtle cake made by my daughter.

Lots of the rest of the day weren’t picture perfect. I woke up with an earache which started my day in a bad mood. With Sudafed, it only sounded like ocean waves in my left ear. As I rushed before church to get dinner ready to go, I ran late. I was so busy taking care of the dinner details I neglected to make time to take care of me.

When I put on my Easter dress, I realized I either needed to shave my legs or wear hose. Except I didn’t have any hose because I threw the last pair out when they got a runner.  How fast can I shave my legs and not cut them? But I got to the church in time and squeezed into the pew.

As I sat, trying to collect myself, I thought I would read this Sunday’s readings and clicked on the icon on my Droid. Except I hit the wrong button – the one that blasts Catholic radio that I thought I deleted from my phone. “Oh shit, shit, shit,” I hissed hoping I didn’t once again embarrass my family with this mistake at church. The phone volume was down. Disaster averted, except I just whispered shit in church on Easter Sunday morning and was now praying that the elderly couple sitting in front of me were hard of hearing and hadn’t heard me. I then sat pondering that you can take the girl out of the trailer park but the trailer park still stays in the girl, and my mouth is sometimes my thorn in the flesh.

Then it was time to sing the first song, and I couldn’t see the words. I’m too young for bifocals and now keep a pair of reading glasses in my purse. Once I got them on, I was able to see to read and sing. This weekend was the first time ever at church I realized I absolutely couldn’t see to sing without them.

So I’m the flawed mom. Strike one – an earache and I’m not hearing right on that side. Strike two – I just cussed in church. Strike three – I can’t see without the reading glasses and keep forgetting it till it hits me.

This time, however, I’m not out. My misadventures continued after church. I grabbed a casserole lid just out of the oven with my bare hand and burned my left hand. I’m left handed. So during our perfect Easter dinner feast, I sat with my left hand in ice water and had to have my husband cut my food because I couldn’t hold anything with my left burned hand. I’m left handed and struggled to eat our perfect lunch holding my fork in my right hand. The food was wonderful.

Four hours later, the burns are such that I can now type so long as I stop every few minutes to put my thumb on ice.

But I realized through my misadventures, that I’m a flawed mom but it’s ok on Easter Sunday. My imperfect adventures that amuse my family – most of the time – make my praise on Easter Sunday perfect. God fills in my gaps, even the big ones, and loves me just the way I am.

We sing in Mass, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Then we sing it again. Finally, we conclude, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

With that perfect peace, this flawed mother can still sing perfect praise.


Easter Dinner Menus

Deviled Eggs

Easter dinner is one of the easiest holiday menus to make. My challenge this year is finding ways to add more fruits and vegetables to the menu but still have a feast so they feel like it’s a holiday dinner.

Menu

  • Salad (with artisan lettuces, green peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, celery, and carrots)
  • Fresh strawberries and pineapple
  • Deviled eggs – note the how to peel hard boiled eggs on this site – the techniques will result in prettier eggs
  • Glazed ham (I buy Appleton Farms hams from Aldi’s that are spiral sliced and use the glaze that comes with the ham. When I bought one last year, my family said it was one of the best-tasting hams I had ever made. This year, they are on sale for $1.69.)
  • Dinner rolls (Tomorrow morning, I’ll grind Prairie Gold Montana wheat and make them from scratch)
  • Oven Roasted Asparagus
  • Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Turtle Cake – this is my daughter’s contribution this year – layers of chocolate cake with pecan halves and a caramel glaze drizzled on top
  • Lemonade and southern iced tea

The salad vegetables and fruit can be prepared the day before, as can the deviled eggs and to-die-for dessert. That means the only real work tomorrow is to make the ham, rolls, asparagus, and mashed potatoes.

My rule of thumb for holiday meals is my kids are each assigned a dish to make the day before a holiday and one to make the day of. They can choose from our menu and decide what they want to make. That decreases my workload, gives them practical cooking experiences, and gives us all more time in the kitchen.

 


Sunrise, Sunset

Sixteen years ago, as I lay in a hospital bed fighting for my survival and that of my unborn son, my grandmother lay dying in a hospital 30 miles away from me.

Before I was hospitalized, I was able to see her one last time with my toddler daughter and share with her that I was going to have a son. My son and I survived, and I took him to see her soon after his birth.

Unfortunately, in that time frame of 2 months, she had lost more of her memory. For a single moment, she recognized me, and then she had no idea who I was or who my children were, though she enjoyed seeing them. A month after that, she died.

Amazing how many times in life birth is followed by death.

Now, as a sandwich mother who’s watching my children spread their wings at the same time I see elderly parents at the other end of the spectrum, I see it’s part of a sunrise, sunset effect. The challenge now is sometimes that the sunrise is happening at the same time as the sunset, and I’m in the middle trying to figure out which one to see or help.

When I was 16, I sang “Sunrise, Sunset” as a vocal solo in music contest. Then, it was a song from a musical. Now, it the story of my life.

And now, I realize more than ever to make the most of every sunrise and sunset. Seize the joy and savor the love.

Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset.

Swiftly fly the years. One season following another,

Laden with happiness and tears.

 


How to Find Tri-State Weather Updates

Masters of Disasters

Area spotters, forecasters, and emergency personnel meet to discuss ways to serve the Evansville, IN/Henderson, KY & southern Illinois area better.

Storm season is upon us. Though it may seem we’ve already been overwhelmed with tornadoes this year, the highest risk for tornadoes is about to begin. Are you prepared?

If bad weather hits the Tri-State area, Twitter adds another layer of information sharing to help us stay safe. At this week’s first ever meeting of weather forecasters, weather spotters, and emergency personnel for our area, those with boots on the ground worked to find ways to improve how information is shared and spread quickly.

Twitter does not take the place of weather sirens, TV forecasts, or weather radios. It does add another layer of protection and source of information.

#TriStateWX – clicking on this link is the fastest way for you to quickly get Twitter updates on local weather.

In an early morning storm siren this spring, when I crawled out of bed and was groggy, a phone alert rang but it was from the wrong station and wasn’t the person who usually alerted me. Our weather radio for some reason didn’t work. I grabbed my phone and glanced at Twitter. There was a #Tristatewx tweet that a tornado was headed to Evansville and to take cover immediately. Immediately after reading that tweet, I screamed at my family and told them to get to the basement NOW. Yes, teens can get out of bed quickly. When their mother uses “the Voice.” Fortunately, that storm missed us. Had it hit, Twitter would have been what saved my family.

The beauty of #TristateWX is that I can tweet with it when a tree limb crashes onto my car during a windstorm, just as anyone else can report weather information. Last week, when dime-sized hail was reported in downtown Evansville and my daughter was walking to a class, only a 3 minute drive from me, I was able to drive and meet her to ensure she wasn’t stuck outside during a hail storm.

So those who use it can glean from weather professionals and also see real time weather changes.

To use #Tristatewx in Twitter, simply click in the search area and type: #Tristatewx.

NEW – #TriStateWX List = Earlier this week, weather pros, spotters, volunteers, and other groups met for the first time to discuss how to better serve our area and work together and spread weather information via social media channels. I’m not quite sure what the name of the group will be – two possible names floated were Disaster League of Evansville or Masters of Disaster.

A new way to find weather information quickly was proposed and has been put in place. The Evansville Red Cross (@EvvRedCross) has now created a list, #TriStateWX. If you use Twitter, you can subscribe to this @EvvRedCross list – #TriStateWX. Area weather professionals, spotters, and others have been included in it.

What does the new list do? If you use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and subscribe to the @EvvRedCross link, you can now include a Twitter feed that posts tweets from those who tweet weather and other emergencies. When severe weather hits, if you have #TriStateWX list already set up as a stream, it can be a more efficient way to quickly see storm alerts and weather updates.

The new #TristateWX list is not intended to replace the #TriStateWX hashtag. It is intended to provide one more tool in the arsenal of weather preparedness and information sharing.

Weather forecasters from varied stations are included on this list, as are storm spotters from Illinois, Kentucky, and Indiana. Some work with weather professionally, and others share their knowledge out of a passion for keeping our area informed of pending weather situations.

Things like #TriStateWX are just one more reason why I love living in the heart of the Mid-West, in the Evansville/Henderson Tri-State area. Those involved know and work under a fundamental principle:

Saving lives matters more than protecting turf.


Savoring Life as a Samaritan Mother

Mary Biever, International Woman of Mystery

As a middle-aged mother about to have an empty nest, the best part is:

Recognition that it’s my empty nest, and I can decorate or dance in it as I please.

For a lifetime, I’ve been a Samaritan Mother. My background’s a little different, and so is my perspective in life. In teens or early adulthood, there is more pressure to fit the mold.

There have been times I shut my mouth, stifled my humor, and tried to sit still. It wasn’t pleasant for me or those around for me. But I tried to do it so I could be more than the Samaritan Mama.

I pressed my nose against the glass of “Normal” World, hoping the glass would evaporate and I could have a seat at the respectable table.

It ain’t gonna happen. I wasn’t wired to be quiet and demure. Instead, I was made to seek and seize joy wherever I can find it. Fun makes the tough stuff easier to handle.

  • If my kids put oversized pink sunglasses in my Easter basket as a prank, I will probably wear them. And I might forget I have them on when we go out for donuts.
  • If we switch drivers on a long trip, I might suggest a <insert politically incorrect adjective> fire drill to race around the car.
  • Whenever there’s an opportunity, I’ll find a song to sing and encourage those around me to sing along. Even if it’s a bus of strangers at the airport, and I get some to join me in singing “Wheels on the Bus.”

When channeled, the personality traits that make me an outsider Samaritan Mother become strengths, both personally and professionally:

  • I know what it’s like to feel the role of outsider and constantly seek ways to help others feel included.
  • Humor can make my workshops, classes, and speaking engagements more interesting. Audience members may wonder what will come out of my mouth next. Well, so do I.
  • The passion and excitement I feel when seizing every moment of every day to live to the fullest helps me be a better writer.
  • A blowing up the box perspective, instead of thinking inside the box, helps me find creative solutions for my clients and their public relations strategies.

Bottom line: I was made a Samaritan Mother. Those differences can become my greatest weaknesses or strengths. It’s how I use those traits that makes the difference. Bloom where you are appreciated. If your surroundings don’t support who you really are, then transplant yourself to a new place where you can bloom and flourish.

Who are you at your core? Are you making the most of that which is uniquely you, which no one else on the planet can be?

Don’t waste your life with your nose pressed against the glass, hoping for your place at the table. Find good friends who will support you and inspire you to not only be who you are but to be the best you possible.

 

 


How to Help Harrisburg Illinois Tornado Victims

Harrisburg IL devastated after an EF4 tornado. Photo by Jordan Vandenberg

FEMA again denied private assistance to victims of the EF4 tornado that flattened Harrisburg, Illinois, and killed 7 people.

For years, many local churches have ventured across the country to help victims of other disasters. Now, there’s one in our own backyard, only a 2 hour drive from Evansville, Indiana. For those private homeowners who lacked insurance, their only recourse now is help through private charities or to quality and obtain low interest SBA loans.

Complicating Harrisburg’s recovery from their disaster is the unexpected illness of their mayor, Eric Gregg, who has been pivotal in their rebuilding. He was hospitalized in Evansville and had emergency surgery last week.

When he returns to Harrisburg, I hope Evansville good will and help goes with him. My challenge to you personally, to your community, to your church, and to your family: find a way to help Harrisburg, Illinois. Here are contact that can get you connected:

Service:

  • S.T.O.R.M. – Social Services, Temporary Housing, One Stop Center, Rehab of  Houses, Matching Resources – matches tornado victims without resources to volunteer groups and agencies who can help them. To volunteer or donate, call (618) 294-9600.

Financial:

  • The Harrisburg Disaster Relief Fund accepts online donations that are tax deductible. Partnered with the Southern Illinoisan newspaper, these funds are collected by the Southern Illinois Community Foundation.
  • 50 Days for 50 Grand – Ike Honda and Black Diamond Harley Davidson are selling $20 raffle tickets (5 for $50) to benefit the Southern Illinois Hog Chapter’s disaster relief efforts. On May 12, they will draw winners to win a new Harley Davidson and Honda Civic.
  • The Athletic Department of Murphysboro High School is collecting financial donations to help Harrisburg students who lost everything. Funds collected will be given directly to the Athletic Director of Harrisburg High School.

Ways Others Are Helping:

Disasters are personal to me. Eleven years ago, our family’s home and business burned. Through the generosity of our friends and strangers, we muddled through 1 of the most traumatic periods of our lives.

So on a personal note, please do what you can to help these tornado victims. Frankly, I think our local help can be more effective – in terms of time and cost – than what FEMA could have offered. Let’s take care of our own neighbors in our own back yard.

If you find other ways we can help those in the Harrisburg area, comment below, and I will share them.


My Martha Kent Moments of Motherhood

Smallville - Amazon Affiliate Link

These days, as a mom, I increasingly feel like Martha Kent. During the richest, most rewarding years of my life, I have poured my energies into the raising of my children. As they begin to leave home, one adventure at a time, I’m that crazy mom back home watching them leave to pursue their own destinies while I stay in the background in Smallhome instead of Smallville.

Except I’m probably more like the going grey Martha Kent of the comic books of my day instead of looks too young to be an older mom Senator Red Queen Martha Kent a la Annette O’Toole in the TV series.

My kids still live here, but each new adventure takes them a little further from home. Sometimes they leave the nest at the same time for their own unique journeys.

On their journeys, they do things their way which can be different from my way. Sometimes when they share their solutions for problems, my first instinct is to ask, “What?” Their approaches can seem alien to me. Over time, I’m learning that instead of pushing them to do everything my way, the outcome is better when they develop their own way. What works best for me will not always work best for them.

That reminds me that my kids aren’t my children given to me to keep. They were given to me to raise and let go.

Most of the lessons I could teach my kids have been taught – talking, the tying of shoes, reading, writing, arithmetic, and a work ethic. As they leave the nest, I wonder at the places they’ll go and the people they’ll be. As they soar on eagle’s wings, I thank God for the chance to know them and raise them. They will venture to places I’ve only dreamed of seeing.

In Superman talk, their adventures will lead them to discover unique ways to honor “truth, justice, and the American way.” As they do so, I’ll play the Ma Kent role back on the family homestead, cheering them on and cherishing them through the victories and loving them through the defeats.

Now, as the back seat cheerleader, I can only repeat the words of St. Catherine of Siena:

Be who God meant you to be and you’ll set the world on fire.

 


My Chicken Little Dancing Adventure

Chicken Little Runs

“A baby bird is in our backyard,” my son told me yesterday. “I don’t know what kind it is.”

“Really?” I answered in a distracted voice. Little did I know a chicken adventure had begun. I assumed a baby bird had fallen from a nest and would be dead before sundown.

“The bird is walking around the garden eating worms,” my son told me later, after he had tilled our garden. Then I ventured to see the bird. This was no robin. It looked like a chicken.

But how would a chicken land in our yard in the middle of town? We got rid of our chickens 7 months ago, and there were none in our area. It didn’t look like the chickens we had raised. So I posted its picture and Facebook and asked what kind of bird it was.

It was a chicken. My son asked, “Can I put the cat beside the chicken and see what happens next?”

“No!” I told him. My mission had begun: how to save that chick.

Doing the Chicken Dance with a Public Speaking Workshop

One friend on Facebook told me it was my baby because 2 weeks ago at a public speaking workshop, I had opened with the Chicken Dance. She said this is what happens when you do the Chicken Dance in public.

The chick was running around our backyard hunting bugs and catching worms. When we got to close to us, it would dash into underbrush. “Will you put it in the coop?” I asked my family – we still had our empty, abandoned chicken coop.

“Why would I do that?” my son asked.

“Because you love your mother.” I told him.

“IF we catch it, it’s YOUR responsibility, and YOU have to take care of the food and water,” my daughter lectured me. Then my husband caught the bird and put it into our coop.

I started trying to find a home for the bird, posting it on Facebook and calling all my chicken-owning friends to see who would take this one lost bird. I don’t have the time to start chickens again, and it isn’t fair to just have ones. Prepping dinner went by the wayside as I tried to save the bird. I saw a couple of neighbors wandering through brush and wondered if the chicken were theirs. They disappeared.

An hour later, I saw them again, and I asked if they were looking for a chicken. Yes! They thought it was gone – they had gotten chicks that accidentally got open, and the one I found was the only one still missing. So they retrieved their bird, and my little chicken adventure was done.

I was barely able to fix dinner and eat it before leaving for a meeting.

There are people who do great things to serve their communities and to help the animals in our world. Some save lost puppies or find homes for stray cats. I have never done any of that.

But once, just once, I saved a chicken that was dumb enough to wander into my own back yard. And I sort of saved it.


Ending Writer’s Block with a New Perspective

I’m working through a boat load of writing assignments right now. As I struggled to get through my checklist of projects, writing came slower and slower.

In frustration, last week, I turned my laptop around. Instead of sitting at my desk that faces a wall, I changed seats, turned around, and faced in the opposite direction.

With that simple change in perspective, my writer’s block dislodged. Out poured the writing and the projects.

That made me think of what we do with a clogged drain. We try one approach to clear it and then another.  If we run a snake down the drain and it doesn’t work, we might shift the direction a little to see if that helps. Sometimes, it does.

So the next time a problem stumps you, try shifting your perspective. Looking at the problem from a new angle can make all the difference.

 


You Know Your Web Marketer’s a Bozo If…

Putting out-of-town beside your professional business does not automatically deem competence. Marketers and consultants who crown themselves “experts” sometimes sell their clients a yellow brick road that can lead to the outhouse. How do you know if you’re getting good advice or are talking to a bozo?

If you hear the following, run, don’t walk, as fast as you can away from your self-proclaimed expert:

  1. Search is dead. Don’t worry about SEO. We’ll take care of your numbers so you don’t have to think about them.
  2. Break Facebook’s rules and create fake people to administer your Facebook business page.
  3. Blogspot is the best blogging platform around. WordPress is too much trouble.
  4. Don’t promote your local community on your Facebook business page.
  5. If the share buttons for social media on your blog shift my design by an inch, ditch the share buttons. Appearance matters more than functionality.
  6. Don’t go for quality in blog writing. Just use key words.
  7. If we handle your social media, you don’t. Hands off. We do all the work, and you pay the bills.
  8. We will set up your domain name and Facebook business page for you, in our name instead of yours. We own your stuff so you don’t have to.
  9. We will automate your Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook business statuses to share everything at the same time to save time.
  10. We plan your posts a month in advance. Don’t post anything current or timely. It distracts from our long term market strategy.

Unfortunately, I have met businesses who have been told all of the following by their paid professionals. Note – paid does not equal expert. Frankly, paid does not equal competent.

Hiring the wrong web marketer can be one of the most expensive business mistakes you ever make. 

If you have been told any of the above and want to know how they can hurt you, contact me.

 


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