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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rules for using coloring books for grown ups

 photo 8DCF51B6-51D8-4A19-BE96-8EAD733B3319_zpsc0wr9n2g.jpgAdult coloring books are all the rage and something I'd mentally put on my Christmas wish list. I've always like to color; crayons are my artistic tool of choice.

A few weeks ago, I was offered a chance to snag a review copy of an adult coloring book offered by Put Me in the Story. There were a couple of things that made saying "yes" to this opportunity easy.

  1. It was free. No brainer. 
  2. The PMS coloring book (unfortunate abbreviation) is personalized. So my copy came with my name printed on the front and inside.  
  3. Tucked in the designs are inspirational quotes, for instance "Do one thing every day that scares you." (Eleanor Roosevelt)
  4. I got to create the dedication myself. I chose a quote -- "To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." (Joseph Chilton Pearce)
Which leads me to the Rules for Using an Adult Coloring Book

1. There are no rules. 

Well, that was quite the short list. But really, that's the beauty of this art form. There's no way to mess it up. Each person can approach each color encounter however they wish. There are a few things I've discovered that may or may not help you if you're interested in picking up a coloring book. 
  • There is no pressure to finish a page. I might color one section of a page and be finished for the night. Or I might color one portion of a page, then decide to move on to another page. 
  • Fine-tips seem to be best for the job. I've been using some regular Target colored pencils. I'd like to try some of the fancy fine point crayons. (Maybe Santa will put them in my stocking.) I'm a little scared to try markers because I worry that they might bleed to the next page, but the vibrancy of color might be worth it. 
  • Working on a relaxing coloring page with 3 boys and a football game on TV in the next room pretty much negates any relaxation that might have been had. 
  • It's been interesting to see what kinds of designs I'm drawn to. Circular designs are my favorite. Straight-line geometrics, not so much. 
  • Challenging myself to try questionable color combinations is kind of freeing.
  • I'm finding that getting to the relaxing part takes time. Despite my chosen dedication quote, it takes me a bit to let go of the need to color it right. I have to try to remind myself that mistakes are part of the creative process. 

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Since I received my copy of Keep Calm and Color On, Put Me in the Story has added another grown up coloring book to its line. Keep Calm and Color On: For Stress Relief.  Each book has 64 pages, good for hours of relaxing coloring. 

The price -- $19.99 for one -- is slightly higher than what I've seen in stores like Michael's. Now through December 13, you can order 2 for $30 with the promo code RELAX.

I don't get anything if you do buy, except the satisfaction that my friends will be enjoying their coloring books too.

Do you color? Do you find it relaxing? 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

So it turns out I do miss my college kid

 photo 7ac17ae5-f724-41dc-9922-64ad5bbb3056_zpsvpkcbylf.jpgWhen we dropped off Annie at college nearly two months ago, I was excited for her. I knew she was ready for this next adventure and I was confident that she would do well. I will admit to having a good cry the night before she left. But when we dropped her off at school, I didn't shed any tears. Heck, I didn't even cry when two hours after we left she posted on Facebook that she'd gotten (and been hiding) a tattoo on her leg.

In the days and weeks surrounding Annie's college departure, plenty of people have said to me "How are you? " Or sometimes "How are you," as if sending my daughter off to college should have left me sobbing buckets of salty tears. I kind of felt like a bad mom when I answered honestly, "I'm fine." Maybe I shouldn't be fine. Maybe I should be feeling my heartstrings stretched to their capacity, crossing off the days until she comes up with big red Xes on the calendar in the kitchen.

My boss, whose youngest child is Annie's age and is off to college himself this year, assured me that I am not a bad mom. "You will miss her at the weirdest times," she said. And it turns out she was right.

The first time I really missed Annie was on the way home from visiting her for Family Weekend. We arrived on a Friday night and hung out in her dorm room with about 6 or 8 of her theatre buddies. We got FroYo and walked around the campus. The next day, we watched her hang lights in the theatre, went to hometown favorite burger place and drove out to a pumpkin patch, where I got some great pictures of Annie and the boys.

The next morning, we headed home. And on our way home is when I really started to miss her. It wasn't so much that Annie wasn't coming home with us. It was more that I didn't have her to myself anytime over the weekend. The family time was fun, but as we were headed back to Indianapolis, I found myself longing for some girl time with my girl.

So maybe, I'm not a bad mom after all.

The other time I find myself missing my college kid is at work. I work on a college campus and lately, I've had a lot of meetings that require me to crisscross the campus several times a week. As I walk past the students who are close to my daughter's age, I think to myself "Annie is probably walking to class right now." I look at the brick buildings and the changing leaves and the kids with their frappa-mocha-lattes, backpacks and school spirity sweatshirts and think about Annie doing the same things on her college campus. And I miss her. Not in a break-down-crying-need-to-talk-to-a-therapist way, but in a happy-for-her-but-wish-I-could-spend-time-with-her kind of way.

And guess what? She'll be home this weekend for fall break! She will be home to see Robbie's football game, eat dinner with us, cuddle with the dog, and go to church with us. And on Monday, she and I will have girl time getting our hair done and driving her back to school.

I can't wait.

Monday, September 7, 2015

It happened Labor Day weekend

 photo Flintstones_LD_zpse950ywvl.jpgI drove through the campus of my college alma mater, Butler University, today after I dropped Charlie off at his girlfriend's house for a Labor Day picnic. As I drove down West Hampton Drive, past the Sigma Chi house where Mike lived for his 4 years of college and past my own Delta Gamma house, I realized that it was 26 years ago this weekend that Mike and I met.

We weren't on campus. Instead we were at the YMCA Flat Rock River Camp for Butler's Freshman Weekend. Mike was a freshman, a camper. I was a sophomore, a counselor for Freshman Weekend. I was there because I'd become involved with Butler's chapter of the YMCA during my freshman year and had volunteered to help out at the Labor Day weekend event. Mike was there because his mom wasn't about to have him come back home for the 3-day weekend so soon after she'd gotten him out of the house for college. 

Mike said he first noticed me, "this really cute girl," when I was in the center of the circle during the game "Honey, smile if you love me." The person in the middle has to stand stoically as people come into their personal space -- no touching allowed -- and yell, coo, holler, sing or otherwise deliver the line "Honey, smile if you love me."

I caught sight of the tall, cute, beefy freshman when he was assigned to my skit group. When there was some free time, he invited me back to his cabin (blush!). I went (what?!), where he promptly laid down, fell asleep and left me chatting with his cabin mates. Later, he would tell me that he hadn't really fallen asleep, but that he only pretended to be asleep so he could listen to me and see what kind of girl I was.

There was dinner and a few other activities I don't remember. Then it was time for the night hike and bonfire. He held my hand on the hike. I might have swooned a little. We arrived at the bonfire, where there were more games and songs and probably the making of s'mores. What I do remember about the bonfire is that we were playing a game called "Sing a song or kiss a counselor." 

A few counselors had flashlights. When the light of the flashlight landed on you, there were two choices -- sing or kiss. I happily anticipated Mike's moment in the spotlight, the one where he would stand up, walk past the fire and share our first kiss, likely just a peck but a first kiss for sure. 

Sure enough, a few rounds into the game, the bouncing flashlight glow landed on Mike, the brown-haired, brown-eyed man-child I'd become smitten with. He squinted in the light, then smiled broadly. His eyes turned toward me and...

"FLINTSTONES! Meet the Flintstones," he belted out. 

If it is possible to have your hopes dashed and your funny bone tickled at the same time, that is exactly what happened to me right then. 

Lucky for Mike, he did deliver on the first kiss later that week, after he asked me to "go with" him, a statement which he still denies making. I suppose there is no point in arguing the point, since here we are, 26 years later, still laughing. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad trip to Target

target sad face photo target-sad-face_zpsrywkwlf3.jpgI went to Target tonight. It's usually my happy place. Tonight was a different story.

I was already in a bad mood because one of my offspring made a boneheaded decision. Do they have military schools in Australia? But nothing like a little retail therapy to fix a bad mood, right?

Well, I needed to pick up some prescriptions from the pharmacy. The pharmacy that is located in such tight quarters that I am certain  whoever planned the layout of this Target store has never actually maneuvered a grocery-laden cart through barely wide enough aisles. I started to turn down one aisle...jam-packed with people. So I made the turn into the next aisle. There was some guy in scrubs looking at pain relievers. Dude, can't you get those at work?

"Excuse me," I said. He barely looked up and mumbled something, which I'm guessing was "no," because he and his cart stood there, taking their half out of the middle of the aisle. "Excuse me," I said again, this time not waiting for him to move and just forging ahead. He got the idea and inched his cart over, though still not far enough for both of our carts to fit. "He's probably related to the guy who designed the pharmacy," I thought while lifting my cart's wheels past his.

I finally made it the pharmacy and asked for my waiting prescriptions. The pharmacist found them, rang them up and said "That will be $721."

"What the?!" The ridiculous total was enough to make me sick. So I picked up two of the five prescriptions, told him I'd be back after payday and made a mental note to call the insurance company to see a.) if there are any cheaper options they will actually pay for, b.) how close I am to meeting our deductible, and c.) see how much drugs cost in Australia.

Did I mention that Robbie was with me? And he was intent on finding stuff to put in his locker? He was excited at the prospect of buying something for him, so he was dancing in the aisles, touching every box and bag in front of him and generally stomping on my last nerve, even though he was really doing nothing wrong.

Then we had to buy stuff to pack in the lunch boxes. So, I pulled out my phone and started adding items to my Target Cartwheel savings app as I dropped them into my cart. And then, my phone died. There went my instant saving and my Target mobile coupons. Argh.

They were out of the flavor variety the kids like in the multipack of chips. Of course; by this point I was feeling like I'd been singled out for persecution. I was so frustrated that I didn't even bother to look at the prices of what I put in the cart. Budget be damned.

Peanut butter, applesauce, chips and carrots finally acquired, we headed to the school supply section. For the love of all that is holy, I KNOW better than this. I KNOW that the school supply section is the WORST place to be right before school starts. It's a collection of frantic mothers, impatient children, and shell-shocked Target employees trying to keep the shelves stocked.

And yet, for some inexplicable reason, there I was, pushing my cart down aisles (wider than the pharmacy, thank you Jesus!) full of things that will make for a successful year at school. I found the "locker decor" section. Did you know they sell shag carpets and chandeliers for lockers? Because Mitzi's science book will be so much more bearable if it's surrounded by modern touches of wastes of money.

Robbie didn't find what he was looking for; I'm not sure he knew what he was looking for other than "cool stuff for my locker." So we headed for the check out, where the lady in front of me apparently was taking her Sunday drive in the Target check out on a Wednesday afternoon.

"Do you have any coupons or gift cards today?" the cashier asked me when it was finally my turn. I told her my dead phone tale of woe. She commiserated. I told her about my $700 pharmacy bill. She was sympathetic. When she rang up my York peppermint patty, she didn't even ask if I wanted it in the bag or with me. She just handed it to me because she knew nights like this one called for chocolate ASAP.

That cashier was the bright spot in my trip to Target and I headed for the exit feeling slightly better.

Until I got to the parking lot and realized I had no idea where I'd parked. It might be in Australia.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Hot & cold...a personal realization

I realized something about myself yesterday as I sat at my desk eating the lunch I brought from home. Ok, eating the lunch I brought from Panera on my way from home to work.

At the Panera drive-thru, where I'd planned to order creamy tomato soup and a Med-Veg sandwich, my eye fell on a picture of a barbeque chicken flatbread. It looked good enough that I abandoned my go-to order and told the voice in the box to fix me up one of those flatbreads. (I'm spontaneous like that.)

I drove to work, popped the Panera bag in the fridge when I got there, and sat down to a busy morning. It wasn't until about 2pm that my stomach reminded me I had lunch waiting for me. So I took the bag out of the fridge and walked back to my office -- right past the microwave.

The barbeque chicken flatbread, chilled by now with its melty cheese solidified in an oozy pattern, was delicious. I almost wished I'd ordered two of them, not because it wasn't filling -- it was -- but because I didn't want to let the flavor go so soon.

And that's when my realization came. When it comes to hot food or cold food, I prefer formerly hot food cold. Does that make me weird? (Ok, so what really makes me weird is the fact that I've thought about this enough to devote an entire blog post to it.)

Cold pizza photo Cold pizza_zpsir5n5cgn.jpgThe cold flatbread was not a culinary anomaly. This morning I had two, formerly hot, panko-breaded chicken tenders, leftover from last night, with a side of fruit salad.

Morning-after-straight-from-the-fridge General Tso's chicken? Yes please!

And cold pizza? Well, if eating pizza cold is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My writer friends, an Amazon gift card giveaway & #SunshineSharing

typewriter photo: Vintage Typewriter 16012010233.jpgI fancy myself a writer, but if it weren't for the internet, my writing would be unknown. (Well, it's practically unknown even with the internet.) What I mean is that I haven't written a book, yet. I have a couple of ideas rolling around in my head and even have one that I've gotten a small start on.

Several people I know personally are writers, as in written, edited, and published real books writers. When my friend Jennifer Parker announced the publication of her book, Messy Blessings, earlier this Spring, I thought about all the people that I know who are published authors. It's kind of amazing, really. Honestly, what an accomplishment.

So I wanted to share those people and their accomplishments here. Check out the books and let me know what you think.

Messy Blessings by Jennifer Parker. I first met Jennifer in college. It turns out that she has actually known Mike since they were both in diapers. Messy Blessings tells the very true story of Jennifer's youngest daughter Hope who was born with a severe heart condition. Miraculously, Hope is a happy 8-year old today, despite a stroke that robbed her of her speech when she was very young.

Slaying the Debt Dragon by Cherie Lowe. I met Cherie through the blogosphere and flew beside her in a WWII stunt plane several years ago. Cherie and her husband Brian have been on a journey to pay off debt and find riches that money can't buy. The amount of debt they slaughtered in just four years will astonish you. Cherie's approachable writing style will make you feel like you've made a friend.

How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells. I met Amy through a mutual friend when Charlie was just a baby. She is a nurse. When she told me she was a writer too, I thought, "yeah, right." When How Sweet the Sound was published, I bought it and promptly left it on the nightstand for a while. When I finally read it, I was sorry that I waited so long and I had doubted that a nurse could also write. This story is a modern-day retelling of the story of Tamar in the Old Testament.

Then Sings My Soul by Amy K. Sorrells. I haven't read Amy's second book, yet. But it's central figure is a 90-year old man and you know how much my heart loves elders. This book is definitely on my to-read list.

The Forgotten Girl by David Bell. Ok, so I don't actually know David Bell. But his wife, Molly McCaffrey was my roommate for our first week of college, before we moved into our respective sorority houses. Molly and I re-connected via Facebook and that's how I came to know David. So he "counts" for the purpose of this blog post. The Forgotten Girl is a thriller, as are several of David's books.

Listen to Your Mother by Ann Imig. Ann is the brainchild of the Listen to Your Mother speakers/readers series that takes place during the month of May all over the country. Like David, I don't personally know Ann, but I've been honored to be in two LTYM productions, so that's enough connection for me. What's more, one of my Indianapolis cast mates, Natalie Cheung-Hall, has her piece "She Knew It," included in Imig's anthology.

The Giveaway with Sunshine Rewards
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As I was thinking about writing this blog post, an opportunity from Sunshine Rewards came along to do a giveaway for a $50 gift card. I thought it would be a great tie-in for this post. So, there are three things you should know:

1.) The links above will take you to the listing for each of the books. If you buy one of the books from that link, I will earn a few pennies from your purchase.

2.) Sunshine Rewards provided me with a $50 gift card of my own for participating in this giveaway.

3.) I totally love and support independent bookstores and make purchases at them whenever I can. But I also really enjoy the ease and efficiency and don't-have-to-leave-my-chair of So I felt ok about hosting this giveaway. If you win, you are free to spend your gift card on anything at, not just books.

What is Sunshine Rewards?
Sunshine Rewards is a shopping and discount site that offers you the opportunity to earn cash back on online purchases, shares special discount opportunities for members, and allows you to earn rewards for surveys. The owner of Sunshine Rewards is someone whom I have known through the Indiana bloggers network for several years. For a little more info, check out the FAQ on their site.

Enter to win! (Begins at midnight on July 1)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Excellence in human living...

Last night was Annie's graduation from high school. (PAUSE). That short sentence holds inside of it 18 years of WOW.

I sat in the Hilbert Circle Theatre waiting for her to appear at the top of the stairs, ready to make her entrance as "Pomp & Circumstance" trailed from the quartet on stage. Why didn't I think to ask her what side she was walking in on?

And then, there she was. It was the first glimpse I'd had of her in cap and gown. She had a rose in her hand and smile on her face. Time stood still.

As tears streamed down my face, I captured her frozen in my gaze. A sudden panic rose up inside of me. How did we get here already? Have I taught her everything she needs to know for life? I think I need more time...

I watched her move down the stairs toward her seat with the rest of the Class of 2015. She was confident and happy.

When her name was called...Anna Michelle Magan (prounounced correctly, thank you very much)...she glided triumphantly across the stage. She graduated with honors, but even better, I think she graduated with Excellence in Human Living. She is both passionate and compassionate. She seeks to be a righter of wrongs, still unjaded by life. She is stubborn and sometimes maddeningly insistent. She is creative and inquisitive and determined.

As she crossed the stage, there was no hesitation, no panic on my part. Oh, there were a few tears. It was as if I could physically feel the separation happening as my firstborn child, my only daughter, stepped into her own life. It's a life where she will need me still. Heck, I'm almost 45 and I still need my mom.

But it is her own life and as she came down the stairs, diploma in hand and something bigger than a simple smile on her face, I thought to myself, "She's got this."

 photo B017E86E-5F45-414D-8223-07071B3C3C8F_zpsxsexvcog.jpg