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Archive for October, 2010

By Shannon Penrod

Let me start by saying that in my life I have not shown enough appreciation for my mother.  Becoming a mother myself has taught me more about my mother than I ever dreamed of knowing and as a result I am seriously considering filing papers to have my mother canonized. 

I never appreciate my mother more than during holidays.  Growing up I had the idyllic holiday experience of coming home from school to find a festively decorated house with cookies fresh out of the oven and a hand sewn Halloween costume waiting for me to try on.  It was great, but it’s a lot to live up to. 

How on earth did my mother have time to pull off Holidays?  She worked, she had no help, she even ironed…how in the hell did she do it?

I love holidays…I just wish we could go back to the old days where my mother pulled it all out of her butt (at least that’s what I thought) and I just get to show up and enjoy it.  But that ship has sailed, the torch has been passed and now it’s my turn to chain my leg to the sewing machine trying to create the costume that can’t be bought at the store.  Which brings me to this Halloween.

Our entire household enjoys Avatar: The Last Airbender a wonderful cartoon that airs on Nickelodeon.  If you haven’t seen it, take the time to watch it.  Personally, I am addicted and so is my seven year old.  The show is about a little boy named Aang who must save the world.  It is best thing on television.  Which is why M. Night Shamalan decided to make a movie version of it, which was in theaters last summer.  The movie was good, but not as good as the cartoon, a sentence I never thought I would utter, but that is my opinion.  My child does not agree, he loved the cartoon but really grooved on the movie.  Thus came the moment of doom when he said, “Mom, I want to be the Last Airbender for Halloween, not the one from the cartoon, the one from the movie.”  Uggghhh.

How do you explain to a 7 year old that the movie didn’t do well enough for them to mass produce a Halloween costume?  You don’t, not if you have a legacy to live up to.  Instead you make the costume from scratch, without a pattern.  Heavy sigh. 

So the last week I have attempted to live up to my mother’s standards of holiday enjoyment with somewhat less than perfect results.  The costume is almost done.  I am currently putting the third coat of paint on the bathing cap we will be using to make the bald cap.  The costume will be success but the rest of my life is in ruins. My house looks like a fabric store exploded there are gold and maroon threads stuck to every surface including the stacked dishes, there is no clean laundry and the cupboards are all but bare.  There are also no Halloween decorations and the gluten-free pumpkin cookies I made a week ago are now stale.  I ask again – How did my mother do this?

At this point all I can hope is the same forgetfulness that assails new mother’s and allows them to get pregnant again with little memory of the pain of passing an 8 pound bowling ball through an opening the size of a keyhole somehow effects children’s holiday brains and allows them only to see what their mothers have accomplished and not the piles of laundry they are sitting amongst.  Yeah…let’s hope for that.

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By Shannon Penrod

I don’t know about you but for me it’s the little things in life that get me really excited.  Conversely, the smallest thing in the world can also mess me up.  Perfect example, we moved recently and every time I take dishes out of the new dishwasher they are covered in this horrible white film.  The silverware looks like it’s been coated in chalk.  For me this has been debilitating.  I mean what’s the point in even getting out of bed if you can spend the time loading the dishwasher, turning the dial to start it and the dishes get dirtier instead of cleaner!  It sucks the life out of you.  Seriously,  I could never have made it through the potato famine or any other huge catastrophe! 

You know I say that, and I know it isn’t true.  I am great in an emergency.  Burning building? No problem…I can save everyone.  Waxy build up on my kitchen floor?  I’m going back to bed.   I can power through things that make other people shake their heads and walk away. Just don’t give me a hang nail while I’m saving the world.  I go back to my original statement.  It’s the little stuff that trips me up.  And this dishwasher thing had me considering going on Prozac!

At first I thought it was the dishwasher.  No such luck.  It’s the water.  Hard water.  Nothing you can do but hand wash and dry the dishes.  Now….let me say this, I have lived in places that don’t have a dishwasher, I am capable of hand washing dishes.  I just can’t bear the thought of hand washing and drying dishes when there is a perfectly good dishwasher sitting there.  I can’t do it. Don’t ask me to.  It’s cruel and inconsiderate.

Then they told me that I could buy some really expensive chemicals to put in the dishwasher that might work.  Of joy!  Just what I was hoping for!  Let’s coat my child’s silverware with chemicals! Yippee! said the mom who doesn’t allow artificial food colors in her home.  I started considering paper plates and plastic forks.  Seriously, screw the rain forest.

 Then I googled white film on dishes.  I love google.  I would marry it if I could.  And after a little weeding there it was: Vinegar!  Did you hear the angels sing?  I filled the “Jet Dry Compartment” with it and for good measure filled a cup with vinegar and set in on the bottom rack.  Cue the angels.  My dishes came out sparkling.  Good riddance nasty white film!  Vinegar!  No harsh chemicals.  Vinegar?  Is that the active ingredient in Jet Dry?  Is it just vinegar in a fancy bottle?  I don’t think I want to know.  My life is back on track and I can once again get out of bed with out dread!

I have this overwhelming feeling that some time this century we are going to discover that there are only three ingredients needed to accomplish any task:  vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.  Combine them in different ways and you can clean anything, including your colon.  Has anyone checked to see if they can cure cancer?

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By Shannon Penrod

Tonight, in my household, we sat as a family and watched as the last rescue worker was safely brought to the surface.  My seven year old son sat riveted as we waited to see the capsule emerge from the tube.  We talked about what it must have felt like to be in that little cage and marveled at Manuel Gonzalez’s courage.  Who among us would willing take that journey?  We cheered and sighed with relief when Gonzalez finally erupted from the beaten up cage that had performed beyond all hopes.  Even in our living room there were hugs, I can’t begin to imagine the celebration in Chile.

Watching with my child I could not help but be reminded of watching the first moon landing with my parents.  As I watched my son’s reaction, I too felt that overwhelming hope that only comes when humanity works in unison to create something that defies logic. 

As Anderson Cooper detailed all of the events that had taken place since August 5th, all for the purpose of rescuing these 33 workers, I was proud of all humanity.  Countries and companies worked together for the sole purpose of total success.  There was a plan A, a plan B and a plan C, because failure wasn’t an option.  Plan B is what ultimately worked. 

How lovely that no one’s ego insisted that plan A was the one and only way.  How truly spectacular that plan C was still at work in case plan B didn’t work.  What if we attacked all of the world’s problems with such dogged tenacity, willingness to cooperate and unwillingness to surrender.  Could we end world hunger?  Cure cancer? Stop hatred, injustice and prejudice? Will we ever know if we don’t try?

I am so grateful to the individuals that made this amazing rescue possible.  They have given all of us an amazing example of what is possible when we put our minds to it.  I am glad to have shared this wonderful moment in history with my child.  I know that he will remember it for the rest of his life.  I am thrilled to have planted in his brain an image of what is possible when his fellow earthlings are focused on humanity.

Shannon Penrod is the host of Everyday Autism Miracles on Toginet Radio.  She is also an author and the mother of Jem Miller a seven year old recovering from Autism.

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By Shannon Penrod

There is an old saying that you don’t really know a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.  I don’t know if that’s true but it’s had me thinking the last few weeks.  With the change of seasons I’ve been pulling clothes out of plastic bins in the garage trying to find clothes the right temperature and the right size, not necessarily easy for me.  That’s when I came across Elizabeth’s pants.

Elizabeth was someone I met a little over a decade ago.  She was funny, intelligent and giving.  She had recently undergone a transformation where she had lost over 100 pounds.  I didn’t know her when she was heavy, but she showed me pictures and I was amazed.  I had over 100 pounds to lose and all I could think was that if she could do it, I could too.  I started on a journey to follow in her footsteps never believing that I could lose 100 pounds, but I did.  As the weight was coming off Elizabeth would give me her cast off clothes.  She didn’t need them anymore and she told me it was foolish to spend money on clothes when I was just going to lose more weight.

There was one pair of pants that she gave me that I simply fell in love with.  They were black with little white stick figures all over them.  I wore them until they literally fell off of me because my butt had gotten too small to hold them up.  Then I had the bright idea to shrink them so I could keep wearing them.  It worked although they were now Capri pants.  It didn’t matter.  The places I went in those pants!  I lived a new life in a thinner body that was frequently clad in Elizabeth’s pants.

As time went on both Elizabeth and I lost so much weight that our lives were forever changed.  She got married and moved away, I got married and stayed behind.  We both had children and struggled with losing the pregnancy weight.  With our lives so full we fell out of touch and somehow the shrunken pants found their way into storage, waiting for some distant summer when they might fit again.

Then came the tragic news that Elizabeth had died, way before her time, way before the world was done with her.  I still can’t imagine a world with out Elizabeth, even though she has been gone for more than two years.  Then the other day I happened upon the pants.  It was like reuniting with an old friend.  I couldn’t wait to wear them.  I put them on and was dismayed, they don’t fit.  They are too big, which would seem like something to celebrate but they aren’t just ill fitting in size, they no longer fit my life.  I walked a mile in Elizabeth’s pants when I was unmarried, with no children.  To wear them now seemed to somehow deny all that Elizabeth and I had learned on our journey to lose weight and gain the lives we longed for.

Like so many other things in life it is time to let go of Elizabeth’s pants; so they are in a bag waiting for Helping Hands for the Blind to pick them up.  I won’t ever forget Elizabeth; she gave me so much more than a pair of pants.  But I did walk a mile in those pants and I will be forever better because of it.

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