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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 Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com. So I felt ok about hosting this giveaway. If you win, you are free to spend your gift card on anything at Amazon.com, 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."

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Useless

Useless photo Useless_image_zpszkr4d5dj.jpg
“I feel so useless.”

She didn’t say it looking for attention or for pity. She didn’t say it as a statement for dramatic effect. She said it almost in passing.

She is an almost 96-year old lady I met yesterday. I had stopped by her home at the retirement community to bring her Communion because her ride to Mass had fallen through. It was the first time she’d missed Mass in almost 60 years, she said. She doesn’t have a car – although she said that she could still drive if she’d had it. But when she moved to the retirement center a few years ago, there was a shuttle bus that she could ride to church. So she sold her car.

Selling that car was one of her big mistakes, she said. That, and selling her house on 10 acres and moving away from the community where she’d lived for her entire adult life, where all of her friends are.

She used to volunteer at the hospital and at the retirement center, but health concerns have taken her out of that.

If it wasn’t so far to church – at least 3-4 miles – she said she would walk. She always thought she would like to live next to the church so she wouldn’t have trouble getting to Mass. I suggested she call our priest and ask about moving into the spare bedroom in the rectory. We both laughed, even though the eternal optimist in me was 1/16th serious.

“I feel so useless.”

It was my turn to feel useless. I wanted to fix the situation for this sweet woman. I suggested maybe she could write letters and cards to soldiers. There is a need for that. She nodded and then held up her tremoring hands, saying that writing is more and more difficult these days.

I told her that I would be happy to give her a ride to Mass when she needed one. I wrote down my phone number even though she said she wouldn’t call me because she was sure my life was so busy. I promised that I would tell her “no” if I couldn’t help, but I’d be happy to drive her if it worked out.

We shared the Eucharist, said a few prayers, and visited for a few more minutes. Then I left to get back to my busy life. But I’m still thinking about her and wondering how many thousands of older people feel useless and what I, what we can each do, to embrace them, letting them know how needed they are in our world. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vague post: a morality tale

Someone did something not very nice to me & my family. I know the reasons behind it, but I still don't like it.

I was hurt. I still am if you want to know the truth, especially because this someone should know better. But no one will die over this. Probably no one will lose sleep. In the grand scheme of life, it's probably just a speck. Not even everyone affected by it will know about it. 

But I know and I'm kind of stung. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. That's when you want to know someone has got your back. And sometimes you learn that they don't and you find yourself adrift.

But you know what? That floating out there on the stinging raft led me to look at another situation in my life. A situation where I've been the not-so-nice one. Oh, I had reasons. But those reasons probably don't matter to the person that I've stung. Maybe that person doesn't even realize what I've done. Or maybe they do. But I know. And I know better, so now I have to do better. 

The moral of the story is: 1. Treat people the way you want to be treated and 2. when you realize you've failed to do that, go back to number 1 and start over.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

10 ways to get out of being a line judge at a volleyball game

Tonight was the first volleyball game Charlie got to play in. I was so happy that I volunteered to help the coach in whatever way she needed help. That turned out to be line judge. Oh, anything but that. I think I'd rather pick up the entire team's dirty sweat socks than have to be the line judge.

The job of the line judge is to stand at one corner of the volleyball court and to wave your flag in various directions to indicate that the ball is in or out or that the server stepped on the line or that the wisp of someone's fingernail touched the ball before it sailed out of bounds. Being the line judge is completely stressful. Winners and losers can be decided all based on what one line judge did or did not see. Plus, being a line judge totally interferes with the chatty mom role I prefer to play during volleyball games.

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So while I was doing my line judging duty, I used lulls in the action to think up ways that I could get out of the job. Here's what I came up with:
  1. Wet my pants enough to cause a puddle to form beneath me. (That wouldn't have been much of a stretch...note to all future line judges: pee first.)
  2. Throw up on the court. Definitely not sanitary, but a sure-fire way to make sure no one argued with me about stepping down.
  3. Re-enact the high school drill team's half-time flag routine with the small red flag I was supposed to use to indicate in, out and whatever else the flag is for.
  4. Cheer loudly for the home team. As a line judge, you are supposed to remain impartial. 
  5. Yell "miss it" in the middle of an opposing player's serve (see above re: impartiality).
  6. Stand with my knees locked and will myself to faint right on the spot. 
  7. Call for a do-over several plays in a row, saying "I really should have worn my glasses for the game."
  8. Yell "Way to go, Paul" every time a player messes up. 
  9. Order a pizza to be delivered mid-game and assure the official that I am an excellent multi-tasker.
  10. Duck and scream every time the ball comes within 3 feet of me.
Alas, I did none of these. Instead I stuck out the shift, did not have to make any controversial calls, and made a mental note to be first in line to sign up for ticket sales at the next game.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bad jokes for my PaPa

 photo MomPapaSchulers_zpse9ehuxvo.jpgMy PaPa passed away peacefully yesterday morning. He would have been 90 years old today. I guess he decided for his birthday he wanted to be reunited with NaNa.

There are a lot of things that I will remember about PaPa.

  • How he left college in his freshman year because he missed NaNa too much. 
  • How he drank "neer beer." 
  • How he would rub my knuckles together when he shook my hand. 
  • How he loved Schuler's Donuts (which are the only ones that could hope to compete with a Long's Donut from Indianapolis). 
But mostly, I will remember PaPa for his corny sense of humor and his never-ending quest to find and share bad jokes.

So PaPa, these jokes are for you:

What do you call rabbits running backwards? A receding hairline

Why did the golfer wear two pairs of pants?  In case he got a hole in one.

What is a bear without teeth called?  A gummy bear

What did the beach say when the tide came in?  Long time, no sea.

What do you call a cow with no legs?  Ground beef

What did one toilet say to the other toilet?  You look flushed.

This one comes from my Uncle Bill:

My favorite by far is his Hammond organ joke. I would be sitting in the living room while he was practicing the organ. PaPa would stop playing and said "You know, Hammond wasn't always in instrument business. He used to be a farmer. Back then the company was called Hammond Eggs..."

So PaPa, though we are sad to say "Wieder auderheisen," we will laugh on in your honor.

Readers, if you have a "PaPa joke" to share, please leave it in the comments and then spread the laughter today by telling the joke to someone who will groan appropriately.