Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Concert on PBS

Did you happen to watch the annual Memorial Day Concert on PBS? Gary Sinise of CSI fame is SO supportive of all military personnel. His co-host Joe Montegna is equally supportive. The music, the views of monuments and buildings, the Reflecting Pool, the stories shared, and the statistics acknowledged all served to make it an incredibly moving but yet uplifting event. The average young age of those who served and gave their lives is one of the most poignant statistics. When the orchestra saluted all branches of the service men and women in their branch's uniforms arrived on stage and joined the audience in singing their song. I can tell you it gave me a lump in my throat and a swelling of pride in my heart. Thank God that there have been men and women serving our great country since the beginning, and may God bless all the souls of the faithful departed, let light perpetual shine upon them and grant them peace for evermore.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Is Not Just For Picnics and BBQ's

When I was a little girl growing up in a suburb of Chicago, holidays were community events. On Memorial Day there was always a parade with marching bands, children with bicycles decorated in crepe paper streamers, convertibles with local officials and small-town celebrities sitting up on the backs, and also marching were members of the American Legion and the VFW. There would also be a clown in a tiny little car, and the local grocery store owner dressed in a black suit and derby hat rode a bicycle that had a huge front wheel (he had to stand on a ladder to get on the bicycle). The parade route ended at a park where a memorial had been erected for those servicemen who had served their country and for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. There, wreaths were laid, prayers were said, and speeches were given. My brother was in the Navy, and while he was serving there was a small flag with a colored star that hung in our living room window indicating that a serviceman lived there. When my brother was killed at a very young age, the flag changed and there was a gold star indicating that the serviceman who lived there had lost his life. Over the years things changed, and for many people Memorial Day became just a day off of school and work. A day to visit Home Depot and start house projects. A day to celebrate with friends and family at a picnic or backyard BBQ. I moved away from that suburb many years ago, but if I could I would go back for Memorial Day and hope they still have a parade to honor those men and women who serve our country, who protect us all, who suffer horrible injuries, and those who give their lives in service. I hear alot about gang wars and the escalating problems with gangs in cities and towns. I cannot help but think that those kids who think they are tough and fearless should all be drafted into the service to find out what the words tough and fearless really mean. Gang members are not tough, but rather they are bullies and insecure boys who live in prisons of their own making before they end up dead or in the real prisons. We honor celebrities who behave badly, we laud athletes who behave like pigs, and yet we fail to consistently honor the servicemen and women who are the true heroes. I hope you will bring up your children to distinguish between people who are worthy of their admiration and people who are not. Take your little ones to a Memorial Day celebration and explain to them why we must never forget those who served and those who continue to serve for they are deserving of admiration, respect and unending gratitude.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oprah Farewell

Although I was rarely home when Oprah's show was on, over the years I did catch a few episodes. I watched the final three shows, and found myself very touched by all that Oprah has accomplished and the lives she impacted. For someone who needed validation in a big way, she certainly received it. Whether it be education for the underprivileged, emotional healing for the victims of abuse, or the broadening of horizons for many she has indeed been of great service to humans all over the world. I have always believed that what you give out in this world is what you get back, and this is a shining example of how that works. Good for you, Oprah. Can't wait to see where the next chapter of her life and career will take her. She is quite a woman.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Am

Last Saturday afternoon I decided to go to a theater to watch the documentary "I Am" after hearing about it on Oprah (my daughter taped the show and mailed me the tape). It was interesting to say the least, but there were only eleven of us in the movie theater. Not sure if that is a sign of the economy, the hour of the day, or lack of interest in the film. The film asks the questions, "What is wrong with the world?" and "What Can We Do About It?" It is indeed thought provoking, and there are many things that can become subjects of long discussions. I am especially contemplating the idea of "taking only what you need" and how to apply that to my own life. I am also intrigued by the scientific studies being done about the human heart and the connectivity we share with all things. Absolutely fascinating! I actually wish this film could be shown to every school child every year because I don't think we can start teaching children too early the concepts of love, cooperation, minimalism, and others that this film brings to the screen. If you have not seen it, I encourage you to do so because it just might be life-changing. There is no Utopia, but life could certainly be a whole lot better for many on the planet if more of us would incorporate some of these ideas in our everyday lives. I'm going to give it a try. Let me know what you think if you see the film. I am very interested in your opinions.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Please Don't Teach Children To Hate Others

Last night I had time to watch the PBS presentation of a documentary titled Freedom Riders which I had taped earlier in the week. May 1961 was a shameful period in the history of our country, and the people who had the courage to be Freedom Riders were trying to peacefully do a good thing. Local politicians and law enforcement officials, State and National politicians could have done so much to facilitate peaceful bus rides. Sadly some of those opted to behave in despicable ways and chose to not do the right thing. Hatred, prejudice, and bigotry are learned behaviors. No sweet babies are born with those characteristics. They are innocent, but parents who have those characteristics pass them on to their children. Careless selection of friends while growing up can also contribute to children adopting those traits. As I watched the documentary I was ashamed to think that we in America (who rush so quickly to aid citizens of other countries in times of need) could have allowed such indignity, harm and cruelty to happen to any fellow American citizens. There are so many good things to teach little children so please focus on those things and be good parents. You will make the world a better place for your children and grandchildren.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Ongoing news about the misbehavior of powerful, public, and arrogant men in positions of trust is sickening. In this day and age, why any sane persons think they can have secret trysts is beyond me. With all of the technology to record conversations or take private pictures, with all of the greed that abounds, with the rampant desire for 15 minutes of fame, I think that any intelligent person would realize that they will be caught.........just a matter of when and by whom. The betrayal of marital vows, the public humiliation of wives and children, and the betrayal of the public trust are too much to tolerate! We should be completely disgusted by the ignored allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct, the cover-ups by subordinates and colleagues, and the total lack of integrity permeating our society in every possible way. Oprah Winfrey's recent show asking the question, "Has the world gone mad?" was timely and should cause us to ask why we accept such sleazy behavior from the people we elect to offices, from the athletes and celebrities who behave like pigs and yet are the individuals envied and emulated, and from the people in positions of trust who take advantage of the most vulnerable......our children. Have we not had enough? If not, when will enough be enough?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Phone Calls Trigger Toddlers' Mischievous Behavior

When our son Scott was l9 months old we moved into a brand new house built by my husband and my father. There were rooms not yet fnished in the house, but we needed to move to avoid paying apartment rent and mortgage payments simultaneously. I was quite pregnant with our second child, but my dad promised that everything would be finished by the time of delivery. My dad was crazy about his first grandchild and thought everything Scott did was not only acceptable but also adorable. It soon became clear that incoming phone calls diverting my attention from Scott were a signal for him to get into mischief. Although Scott had watched my dad a lot it still came as a huge surprise that he knew how to pry open a paint can, remove the lid, stir the paint with a stick, and then fling the paint all over the newly finished beautiful hardwood floors. After chastising him, cleaning up the mess as best I could considering my size, Scott looked at me with his big blue eyes and said, "Don't worry. Goggy will pix it." Goggy was the name he bestowed on my dad as soon as he learned to talk, and he thought Goggy could and would do anything for him. The following week, again when there was an incoming phone call, I heard Scott's little voice calling, "Help. Help." I put down the phone and ran to the master bedroom where my little guy was trying to hold up a very large accordion type shuttered closet door which he had somehow managed to take off of the tracks. Although I was thankful he had not been hurt, I rescued him and explained why he should not do that. Again he fixed those big blue eyes on me and said, "Don't worry. Goggy will pix it." Goggy did indeed fix those things, but little did I know that was just the beginning of things to come.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Don't You Just Love Weekends?

Today is Saturday. The sun is shining, and it is a gorgeous day here in the desert. While working what seems like forever in stressful careers and being available 24/7 for them, I used to treasure Sunday afternoons. Church in the morning, leisurely lunch at home afterward, and then the entire afternoon ahead to read the paper, take a nap, catch up with family and friends, or check off some things from the never-ending to-do lists. Now I relish both Saturdays and Sundays. The phones do not ring as much, the doorbells either, and the house is peaceful and serene. Sometimes I add music or TV news to the days, but mostly I just like the absolute quiet. It helps to renew my spirit, re-energize my body, and refresh my mind. I hope you too have that time each week just for you. When you have babies, toddlers, or children of all ages, me-time can be difficult to arrange, but I encourage you to put some on your daily planner pages. Ultimately, you will do a service for your spouse, your children, and yourself because when you feel renewed, re-energized, and refreshed you are able to be your best self for you and the people who love you. Take it from me, it can make all the difference in the world in your personal health and in your relationships. I find it also helps me visualize new ideas and designs for the clothing and accessories we sell on our website www.malcolmfortots.com and our ETSY shop www.malcolmfortots.etsy.com so I hope you will stop by and see what I mean.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Lives We Choose

A number of years ago someone whom I love very much was going through a very rough patch of life. She asked me, "Do I deserve the life I've had?" Without any hesitation I replied, "You didn't get the life you deserved. You got the life you chose." She initially was offended because she thought I was assessing blame, but I really wasn't. I just meant that we get the lives we choose by the decisions that we make throughout our lives. Daily, we make choices........some are good, and some are not so good. As children we begin to make choices when parents permit and sometimes even without their permission. As parents, it is up to us to help our children learn to make good choices. That does not mean life will be perfect for them, but it means that perhaps they will think twice before making a decision that can have life-changing consequences if not immediately then down-the-road. Wanting what they want when they want it, being too young to know that what they want now may not be what they will want one or more years from now, and having little or no adult guidance may very well result in children not getting the lives they deserve but rather the lives they choose. It is never too early to start teaching children how to make good choices. How will you do that?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cooking With Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)

One of my Mother's Day gifts was another beautiful cookbook by Ina Garten. I think I must be her biggest fan because I now have three of her beautifully illustrated books, and I have watched all of the episodes of her show on the Food Network (and I have downloaded recipes galore as well). If you love to cook, or if you want to learn to cook, I cannot recommend anyone better than The Barefoot Contessa to teach you. Her recipes are simple, made with quality ingredients, and always turn out beautifully in both taste and appearance. Your family and dinner guests will think you are brilliant. Trust me, I know, because I have never been known as a great cook; but since using Ina's recipes and watching her demonstrations I now have people telling me that I am a fabulous cook and calling me a gourmet cook. I owe all of it to my daughter who introduced me to Ina's television show and who has gifted me with three of Ina's cookbooks. I am on a mission to own all of them!

Friday, May 6, 2011

If You Can Imagine Your Sweet Baby All Grown Up, What Do You See?

There is nothing sweeter than a baby. Each baby is a miracle, even those who are unwanted by their birth mothers or fathers. When I think of how wonderfully made a baby is and the potential for greatness that each baby has at birth, I wonder why so many end up going down a wrong path in life. My firm belief has always been that there are NO bad children, but rather only bad parents or caretakers. When you look at your adorable newborn, or your cute little toddler, or your charming elementary school child do you think about what you want him/her to become? What kind of adult do you want him/her to be? Are you willing to do what is necessary to help him/her become that wonderful person you envision? It is up to each parent to love, nurture, guide, discipline, teach, and be there for the child from birth to adulthood. It seems every day the news brings more and more stories of adults who did not have that experience as children. It may be too late for those who are already adults (although I always have hope that people can change), but I hope you will make a commitment to yourself and your little ones that you will be there in every possible way during childhood. No parent is perfect, and perfection is not what is required. I am convinced, however, that if every parent did his/her best for every child brought into this world that gangs, vandalism, turf wars, bullying, attacks, and assaults would be dramatically reduced if not totally eliminated. Helping your child select friends who will not lead him/her astray, teaching your child respect for you and for all other people and for animals, being aware of what they read, what they watch, what they listen to, and knowing where they are will help you give the world an outstanding human being. Ideally two-parent households are the best, but single parents can do great things with their children as long as the children remain their priority and more imporant than everything else. Children are just short people, and they know so much more than adults sometimes think they do. Children are perceptive, intuitive, trusting, honest, and innocent. They know when they are important to the adults who are raising them. What are you willing to do to ensure that your children have the best opportunity for a successful life? Anything? Everything?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Heart Is In My Throat

Several weeks ago the husband of a dear friend and neighbor was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was the picture of health at the time but had a gall- bladder attack which took him to the ER. He has been waiting to start chemo or radiation to shrink the mass so it could be removed. He had to wait until they could clear up his gallbladder problems. Today he learned that he is not a candidate for chemo or radiation because the mass in his pancreas has grown so he is now in Hospice care. I am just sick at heart for them as they are a wonderful couple, devoted to each other, have one daughter, one granddaughter and a darling toddler great-granddaughter whom they adore. It makes me want to rant and rail at the unfairness of life, and yet I have always known that life is not fair. If God is not going to give him a miracle then my prayer is that He will be swift and merciful with him so that he will not suffer. Yet another example of how life can change in an instant. Treasure each day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes

Ever since I was l8 years old, I have been a big fan of Dinah Washington's recording of "What A Difference A Day Makes." Now that I am way beyond l8 years of age, I am acutely aware of what a difference a day can make in any life. The news of Osama bin Laden's capture and death changed the entire focus of today. Writing a blog entry seems trite by comparison, but suffice it to say that 24 hours can render any of our lives changed forever. Make the most of every 24-hour day of life because one never knows from which direction change will come, whether it will be positive or negative, or whether the effects will be temporary or permanent. God Bless You, and God Bless America!