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Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh no he didn't...

Me (to Mike): You know it's time to get really serious about exercise and healthy eating when you're walking through Target formulating your response to the person who might say "When is your baby due?" and you aren't pregnant.

Mike: Amy, no one's gonna think you're pregnant...(isn't he sweet)...You look too old.

I think he might want to sleep with one eye open tonight.

Frags on wheels

Mommy's Idea

Today's installment of Friday Fragments is inspired by wheels. That's been the theme of the week around here this week.

First, there was the Suburban we rented to go to Amish country last weekend. I only drove it for about 30 minutes, but I did not enjoy it. I'm too short to drive something that big. Felt like I was driving a semi. BUT...I did love riding in it. There was so much room. Everyone had plenty of space. There was no "she touched me" or "I'm squished" whining. I could get used to that, as long as Mike does all the driving.

Then on Wednesday, we got to spend 4 hours tooling around Indianapolis in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Frankly, it was bunderful! (I know, so bad!) I wonder if I can get one of those from CarMax?

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Last night, we went to Lucas Oil Raceway where they were racing stock cars and midget cars (apparently the word "midget" is socially acceptable in reference to automobiles). I am really NOT a racing fan, but we had a great time. Going to the race track is like going to the movies with someone you don't like. It's ok because you don't have to talk to each other. I need to make an appointment to get a hearing aid now.

And next week, I'm taking some friends for a limo-chauffered girls' day, courtesy of one of my tourism contacts!

Finally, in the category of "spinning my wheels," I have had a heck of a time getting a uniform skirt for Annie to wear to high school. It's a long story that she probably doesn't want me to share all the details about, but let's just say that $45, 3 yards of fabric and umpteen phone calls and e-mails later, she is still skirtless. At this point, she might be showing up on the first day of school in a plaid sari.

In need of more fragments? Wheel yourself on over to Mrs. 4444s's place to hear what she's got to say today!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I wish I rode the Oscar Mayer wiener (and I did!)

The e-mail came from Dyl-icious Dylan, asking if I wanted to hop aboard the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and show him around Indianapolis. Frankly, he didn't have to ask me twice! I told him I would relish the opportunity.

Dylan and his partner, Ketchup Kylie, are in Indy for the week and had some down time. They were looking for someone to introduce them a bit to the city. So Dylan googled "Indianapolis bloggers" and came up with me. Hot diggity dog!

It turns out that Kylie was feeling a little under the bun, so Dylan pulled up to my house by himself. There is nothing quite like seeing the Wienermobile driving down your street.

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The boys wasted no time running out of the house and taking their seats in the hot dog on wheels. I'm just glad Clifford the big red dog wasn't around to chase down this treat. Dylan, being a very conscientious Hot Dogger, insisted everyone buckle their "meatbelts" before we headed out. I decided to ride "shotbun" so I could help Dylan navigate our way to our first stop.

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We headed to a nearby shopping center where Annie and about 29 other teenagers were due to return from a day of service at a camp for kids with disabilities. You should have seen how excited these kids were to see the Wienermobile, get Wiener Whistles and stickers that said "I saw it!"

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I'm afraid, for these kids, any other surprise just won't cut the mustard after they've experienced the Wienermobile. And it wasn't just the service day kids. People came out of stores, pulled up in their cars, and followed us into the parking lot just to get close to the legendary Wienermobile (which is actually one of 6 Wienermobiles on the road around the country). 

We had so much fun spreading hot dog smiles that we decided to take the smiles across town to our friends at Joy's House, an adult day community. For security reasons, the guests at Joy's House couldn't come outside to visit the Wienermobile. Instead, Dylan pulled up along the dining room windows, so the guests could relish the view from there. Then we all got out and went inside to visit with the guests and hand out Wiener Whistles and I saw it! stickers.

Of course, we took some time for a few photo ops:

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Laura & Tina at Joy's House -- What you might not be able to tell from this picture is that Tina was about to strangle Robbie if he blew his Wiener Whistle one more time.

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Once she took the shotbun seat, we weren't sure if we were going to be able to get Tina out of the Wienermobile. 

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And despite the fact that the heat was beginning to ketchup with Robbie, we piled out of the HDOW (hot dog on wheels) to pose for a family picture. I'm pretty sure I'm going to send this one out in our Christmas cards.

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By the time we were wrapping things up at Joy's House, we were getting pretty hungry. Despite the fact that you're driving around in a giant hot dog -- did you know the Wienermobile is 60 hot dogs long and 24 hot dogs high? -- there's actually nothing to eat on the Wienermobile. So, where do you take the Hot Dogger who is graciously driving you around town in a grilled fiberglass hotdog? To a hamburger joint, of course!

After a dinner at Boogie Burger, we decided to introduce our Hot Dogger to the hottest dawgs we know -- the Butler University bulldogs.  We pulled up outside of legendary Hinkle Fieldhouse and snapped this postcard-perfect picture:

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Just as we were getting ready to leave Butler, there was a knock on the side of the Wienermobile, which Dylan said is a pretty common occurrence. What was uncommon about this knock, however, was it came from the father of Butler Blue 2. They (Blue 2 and his pop) had been following our tweets and knew we were on campus. So we introduced Butler's hot dog to Dylan and the Wienermobile. Even our seasoned Hot Dogger was impressed. 

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First Blue 2 checked out the Wienermobile -- that's just mustard. Blue 2 was perfectly behaved. 

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Then Dylan tried out the Blue 2 mobile.

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It was a mutual admiration society. 

PhotobucketBy that time, we were all getting pretty tired. So we rolled on home and said goodbye to Dylan and the wiener on wheels. But before he drove away, Dylan left me with my very own beanie weenie -- a stuffed Wienermobile!

Of all the things I've gotten to do as a blogger (and there have been plenty), I think my afternoon in the Wienermobile has been the best yet. (Even better than flying upside down in an airplane!)

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Dyl-icious Dylan, the Hot Dogger and Wienermobile driver.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What a difference 3 years makes

Happy Blogiversary Pictures, Images and Photos

Three years ago today, I started this blog. I called it the 4th Frog out of desperation and sheer lack of creativity for anything else. But in those three years, I've grown into the name.

I've become the 4th Frog. I answer to the name on Twitter. But I've stopped short of getting vanity license plates and decorating my house with frog figurines.

Three years ago, I clicked over to Google Analytics several times a day to see how many people had read what I'd written that day. Now, I check out my metrics about once a month. I felt like it was my duty to make people laugh when they visited this blog. I still like to make people laugh, but I feel more duty-bound to be honest because that's where the real connections happen.

I thought 2008 was going to be the launch pad for my first book -- grown out of this blog. Now I'm not so sure what I've written here is book worthy, but I do feel like I've found a voice here that could also find a home in a book or two if I choose to take that path.

Back in the day, I was afraid if I didn't post every day (or nearly so) that I would lose followers. Now I know that if I don't step away from the blog from time to time, even if its just a for a few days, I'm in danger of losing perspective.

In 2008, I was worried about attracting followers. Now I blog because it brings me friends.

I'm older now. Maybe more cynical. Hopefully a little wiser. But the most important thing is, that on this, my 3rd blogiversary, I am still here and you are here and I'm happy about that.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Laughs from Amish country

We took a little family vacation to northern Indiana last weekend. Our destination? Amish Acres in Nappanee.

When I was a little girl, I read every book about the Amish I could get my hands on in the Richmond, Indiana library. I was fascinated by their different way of dressing and their mysterious-to-me ways. In more recent times (like in the last 6 months), I've harbored a secret desire to embed myself with an Amish family for a couple of weeks. Totally disconnected. Work my fingers to the bone on something other than a keyboard.

So when the marketing manager for Amish Acres invited our family to come visit, I didn't think twice. Despite the fact that we had the kids convinced that we were going to assume the Amish lifestyle and customs for the weekend, we actually stayed in a modern(ish) hotel and were limited to learning about the Amish culture from our visit to the Amish Acres farm.

You know that transplanting a family of tech-heavy, suburban folks into a slow-paced environment where technology is not embraced is going to produce some laughable moments.

We watched two pretty interesting documentaries about how the Amish came to be and how they choose to live in the world and not of it. Amish today reject the use of most technologies, though they will use gas lanterns and gas washing machines in their homes.

After learning several of the customs of the Amish, Annie said to me, "Mom, I think you could be Amish with benefits."

"Amish with benefits?" I asked.

"Yeah, you could be Amish as long as they let you have a computer."

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* * *

PhotobucketOn a tour of a restored Amish home, we approached a small building with a crescent moon cut in the door. Robbie asked what it was. I told him it was an outhouse and explained what an outhouse was used for -- that people had to go outside to go potty.

Without skipping a beat, Robbie said "I wish Daddy used an outhouse."

* * *

On Saturday afternoon, Annie and I went to see "Plain & Fancy," in Amish Acres's Round Barn Theater. The Broadway musical about a New Yorker heading into Amish country to sell some inherited farm land to Amish neighbors has been performed at the Round Barn Theater for 25 years.

Before the show began, the announcer came over the loudspeaker and reminded people that videorecording and photography was strictly prohibited during the performance.

"If you use photography," said Annie in a very serious voice, "you will be shunned."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sandwich Showdown Giveaway

Dagwood Bumstead.

Shaggy and Scooby Doo.

My husband.

Lots of people love sandwiches. And in the summer heat, they're a perfect go-to meal when you don't want to heat up the kitchen by using the stove. At home, I'm pretty much a PB&J girl. But I do enjoy a good made-fresh-for-me deli sandwich -- don't forget the banana peppers!

(It always comes back to food with me, doesn't it?)

Eversave.com is hosting a "Sandwich Showdown" in several markets across the country today. In Indianapolis, the deal is $5 for $10 worth of yumminess at Stars Sandwich Market. Similar deals are likely available near you, too.

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What's better than 50% off your lunch? How about a FREE lunch?! 

That's right, one lucky 4th Frog reader will get:
  • Today's Sandwich Save (in your market)
  • An extra $5 in Save rewards to be used on a future purchase
What if there's not a sandwich save in your area? No problem. You'll get $15 in Save Rewards!

How to enter

If your mouth is watering just thinking about a freshly made, tasty sammy, enter by simply leaving a comment on this post telling us your favorite flavor combo when it comes to sandwiches. Get detailed -- what kind of bread, meat, veggies, condiments, etc.


For a bonus entry, tweet the following: I want to win a sandwich showdown Save from @EversaveIND and @4thfrog! and leave a comment letting me know you did.

I'll use Random.org to select the winner tonight. Please come back here or watch the 4th Frog Facebook page for the name of the winner.


If you want to be certain to get a sandwich deal, go ahead and purchase the Save for yourself.  If this is your first Eversave purchase, you'll get $2 off the Save and I'll get credit for referring you.  The nice folks at Eversave gave me Save Rewards for hosting this giveaway as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stalking the ice cream truck: my interview with Smiley's armpit

Generally in the mornings on my way to work, I listen to the Smiley Morning Show. Today, Smiley and his co-host K.J. had commandeered an ice cream truck and were driving through the city giving away free ice cream to beat the heat.

Well, you know how I feel about ice cream. Combine that with how I much I enjoy the SMS and of course I had to go find them. Locating them was pretty easy. They were live broadcasting from the ice cream truck. So I found them at Monument Circle downtown, rolled my window down and thanked K.J. as she handed me an Astro Bomb Pop Jr.

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After I drove off, I snapped the pics of the pop and thought, "I should totally blog about this!" I decided to drive back around to take a picture of Smiley and K.J. handing out the goods. But when I got back around to where they had been parked, the ice cream truck was driving off. 

Because I will do anything for this blog, I followed the ice cream truck in hot pursuit. About 4 blocks later, they pulled over in front of an office building. I pulled over too, hopped out of the car with my trusty iPhone with the intention of taking a few pictures. Which I did:

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Then I remembered that this new phone has a video record feature. Suh-weet! So when Smiley started to interview me live on the radio, I switched the camera to video mode and recorded the encounter, too. 

I am not a professional videographer, as evidenced by what ultimately turned out to be my interview with Smiley's armpit:


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

10 things I learned by not exercising

  1. Regular exercise leads to better sleep.
  2. Even moderate exercise can make the difference between weight loss and weight gain.
  3. Layin' around like a sloth begets more layin' around like a sloth.
  4. Exercise leads to healthier eating habits. Who wants to eat a chocolate chip cookie when it will wipe out 45 minutes of sweaty exertion on the treadmill?
  5. Exercise excuses you from 30 to 60 minutes a day of hearing "MOM! MOM! MOM! Can you..?."
  6. Exercise can make simple things like climbing 45 stairs to your office seem like a piece of cake.
  7. Exercise is contagious. When people find out you have an exercise habit, they want to join in.
  8. Exercise means you like seeing yourself in pictures better.
  9. Exercise makes shopping for clothes more fun.
  10. Sweating and heavy breathing from exercise is much better than sweating and heavy breathing from just being fat.
Tomorrow. I'm back at it. Honest.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

O. EMMM. Geeee...


Like ohmigosh, I'm sitting at a bagel place soaking up some free wifi and trying to get some work done, but there are these two, like, girls who must think they are on a talk show because they are talking loud enough for everyone in this place to hear.

And they must be, like, totally popular because they rully, rully miss lacrosse and they should totally have a reunion -- with just the people they like.Oh and the boyfriends, they have boyfriends. But maybe one not for long because she and her boyfriend, like, get in these fights, but "omigawd, our fights are SOOO lame."

Then there is the whole pity for the friends who have jobs. I mean that must be like, soooo awkward, having to work to get your money. Oh well, we should totally do lunch next week, rully.

They better hurry because "I totally can't believe you're leaving soon" and we'll fer sure text each other all the time. But they can't go tonight because like she finally said yes because he kept wanting to take her to this party, even though the last time they went to a party, she got like TOTALLY wasted and he held her hair back while she was totally puking.

And O EMMMM Geee isn't that just soooo cute?

Of course not everything is so cute because "I told her that she is gonna be soooo hideous when she grows up because I saw this one lady who looks kind of like her and she was so ugly, I almost had to barf."

I'm sure there's more, but I rully have to go ask these restaurant people if they have a spoon I could totally gag myself with.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My favorite day of the year

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Today is National Ice Cream Day. It's my favorite day of the year -- even though I just learned about it 10 minutes ago. But seriously, how could you not like National Ice Cream Day (unless you are lactose intolerant, in which case we appreciate you not joining in the celebration).

While my diet is much healthier than it was say 5 years ago or so, ice cream is still my favorite food. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be ice cream. If I were on death row and could choose anything as my last meal, it would be a smorgasbord of ice cream. And the beauty of having ice cream as a favorite food is that if, when I'm older, I have trouble chewing and swallowing solid food, good old-fashioned ice cream will not let me down.

If I were limited to just one flavor, I'd choose chocolate, though I do enjoy a good vanilla bean where you can see the bits of the beans in the ice cream. My default combo when I just can't decide on anything is one scoop chocolate, one scoop mint chocolate chip on a sugar cone.

Also, always a cone, never a dish. Unless it's a sundae, which I very rarely eat.

I have different favorites depending on where I go:

Baskin-Robbins: Peanut butter chocolate -- a perfect go-to flavor

Maggie Moos: Dark chocolate and Cinnamoo mixed with almonds -- a sophisticated, grown up taste

Ben & Jerry's: Chubby Hubby -- delicious and the name makes me smile

Marsh Supermarket: Marsh brand light Moose Tracks -- all of the goodness, not so much of the badness

Graeter's (although I've only been there once): Buckeye Blitz -- similar to, but smoother than, the Baskin Robbins peanut butter chocolate

Steak 'n Shake: Chocolate milkshake, straight up. No fancy mix-ins or crazy side-by-sides

Dairy Queen: Dilly Bar -- Not too fattening and I love the crunchy chocolate outer shell.

McDonald's: The 49-cent vanilla cone hits the spot without hitting the pocketbook

You'll notice I'm not real big on fruit in my ice cream. Once, we were in Nashville, Indiana in the fall and I had pumpkin pie ice cream that was surprisingly good. Sometimes I get adventurous like that.

My favorite ice cream story of all time is from college. Our friend Beth had been raving to Mike that Ben & Jerry's had a new pepperoni pizza dough flavored ice cream. She kept up this charade for several days. Finally, she got Mike to go to Ben & Jerry's with her. He stepped up to the counter, asked to taste the pepperoni pizza dough ice cream and got back a very confused stare in return.

I think tonight we might have a make-your-own-sundae buffet after dinner. Heck, we might have a make-your-own-sundae buffet FOR dinner.

So, wherever you are, today raise a cone in praise of ice cream and know I'll be doing the same.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

An open letter to INDOT


Dear Indiana Department of Transportation:

I just traveled halfway across the state via Interstate 70. For about 1/3 of the trip, I had to pee. It didn't help that road construction meant that it would take me one whole hour to go 8 miles. I seriously considered getting out of the car and relieving myself on the side of the road, but I was worried about headlights shining on my large, white posterior. So, I have a few suggestions to share with you.
  1. It would be great if you could let travelers know when they buy a large Diet Coke at McDonald's that there will be road construction in about 30 miles, so they can decide to a.) get out of the car and go potty right then, b.) order a smaller size or c.) hit the gas station across the street to pick up a pair of Pampers in case a bladder emergency arises.

  2. Put a sign in big blinking lights that says "last exit before you will be stuck in traffic for an hour," so that drivers have the option of getting off the highway at that point to follow a different route and find a bathroom, if necessary.

  3. Set up his and hers port-a-potties every 1/2 mile or so in the construction zone for the comfort of those who just sucked down a large Diet Coke to keep themselves awake during the nighttime drive.

  4. Offer entertainment. Road construction creates jobs, I know. Think of how many starving musicians could be employed if you hired them to play on the side of the highway in crawling construction zones. Besides, music takes people's minds off their troubles, like having an urgent need to go to the bathroom.

  5. Give away bags of popcorn. Again, job creation. Plus, how can people stopped in traffic be crabby when someone is handing them a free bag of popcorn. And the salt in the popcorn might buy some very critical minutes for people who might have had too much Diet Coke to drink before hitting the construction zone.

  6. Actually have people working in the construction sites. Nothing is more infuriating than sitting, sitting, sitting in traffic; doing the slow, painful lane merge; and driving past the construction site to see nothing (or even very little) construction happening. Especially when you have to pee.
 Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Amy
The 4th Frog

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Time to frag, again?

How can it be Friday again? It seems that it was just Friday two days ago. But the calendar says Friday and you know what that means...Fragments with Mrs. 4444s. So here goes nothing...

Mommy's Idea

* Resolve. Willpower. Motivation. Good sense. Whatever you call it, I seem to have lost it when it comes to diet and exercise. I start out the day being really good. Then a few things slip in here and there and before I know it...ka-blooey! I really must start recording what I eat.

*Caralyn -- winner of the Chex Mix prize pack -- has not responded to me yet. So Caralyn, if you're reading this, e-mail me at 4thfrog70 (at) gmail (dot) com by Saturday at 6pm. If I don't hear from you, I'll have to draw another name.

* Annie is going to the midnight showing of the Harry Potter movie tonight. I want to watch Part 1 over again, then hop in the car and go to a showing of Part 2 at a more sensible time.

* There are 5 Amys here at the Bloggy Conference. FIVE. In my sorority pledge class, there were 7 (out of 37 girls). Six in my high school graduating class. Didn't mothers in the 1970s have any creativity? (Love you, Mom!)

* I think this might be the weekend I can kiss this iPhone 3G goodbye. 3G. Not 3GS. Not 4.0. When some college kids I was with recently saw that I'm still using a 3G they looked at me like I'd just sprouted pteradactyl wings.

* We have one month of summer left and I'm finding it very difficult to squeeze in a mini-vacation for the family. Between summer school, high school orientation, parent orientation and work, when's a girl supposed to get away for a little R&R. I mean besides this bed-to-myself-no-cooking-for-anyone blog conference I'm at.

Ok. Brain emptied -- or at least too tired to squeeze out any more fragments. If you're craving more fragments, hit up Mrs. 4444s website.

Oh the pressure!

Have you ever had a dinner party and invited the best cook you know? You were sweating it a little bit as she took her first bite of food, weren't you? Or you went to one of those paint your own pottery places with an art teacher and you spent the whole time hoping that your finished product didn't look like one of her kindergarten students painted it. That's kind of what it's like being at a blog conference and sitting down to write a blog post about the experience.

I'm at a conference in Cincinnati called Bloggy Conference. It's a small conference, about 60 bloggers, so it's been very easy to get to meet up with and know people. Some of them are frugal bloggers. Some are mommy bloggers (or "life bloggers" as I like to refer to myself). Some blog for business. Others blog to maintain sanity.

Last night was the welcome party. Today there were sessions on authentic voice, using social media to promote your blog, a Twitter roundtable (for someone who usually tweets a few times a day, I've been burning up the Twitosphere), and a session called "Bring Sexy Back to Blogging," which did not actually involve nudity or anything that would help you in the bedroom.

I've learned a lot, but I put as much value on the getting to know people. I'm rooming with a woman named Judy from Omaha. Any worries I had that she might be a serial killer went out the window when she told me her husband spent 10 years teaching religion to high school boys. Judy is uber outgoing, so it was a good thing they put us at the registration desk to check people in last night.

Then there's Jessica, who looks like a normal human being, but who is really a New Kids on the Block fanatic. She's been to more than a dozen NKOTB concerts since they resurfaced in 2008. Despite that, Jessica is the kind of person I'd hang out with if we lived close to each other.

See? This is where the pressure kicks in. I've met so many fun and wise and sincere bloggers (I've met a few that don't fall into that category, too), that I don't want to leave anyone out. But I also don't want to be the person who keeps talking and talking about how much fun she had at a party that no one else went to and no else really cares about.

So, I'll just leave you with a few nuggets I collected along the way today:

Authenticity has no competition. -- Corporate Mom Dropouts

Men approach social media as a business. Women approach social media as a community. -- Girlfriendology

Write like no one's reading. -- Pajamas and Coffee (who did actually talk about nudity and bedroom aids in her presentation)

(Yeah, that last one...good advice, but please still keep reading anyway. I'm sensitive like that.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What I don't say about motherhood

About 5 weeks ago, I wrote a Pour Your Heart Out entry called "The downside of Facebook (or where did my social life go)." Many of you were sympathetic, saying you've encountered the same situations. Life settling into less than exciting social lives, the kids' schedules taking precedence over your own. But there was one commenter who left me thinking.

Lauren Michelle said, "I hear this a lot from parents, and it kind of makes me nervous about having kids. I really want kids, but I saw this same thing in my own family growing up and my parents only had one kid - me. I played softball, danced, cheered, did gymnastics, not to mention all the after-school activities I participated in...I don't know what they would've done if I'd had siblings.

I feel bad that parenting has become this thing that just wears you down and makes you a semblance of what you used to be...Maybe not everyone feels like that, but I see it a lot in my family and family friends. It makes me sad. I mean, I know that when you have kids you're supposed to do everything you can to make sure your children are having the best life possible, even if that means you get pushed back into the fray. I completely agree with children coming first, but it still makes me sad that parents tend to feel the way that you feel right now."


Lauren's comment really made me stop and think, so much that I'm still thinking about it 5 weeks later. What's made me keep coming back to the topic is not so much what Lauren had to say, but what I've had to say -- on this blog, on Facebook, in real life -- about parenthood.

Yes, being a parent is hard and it means putting myself and my needs aside sometimes (often). But it's more blessing than burden and Lauren's comment has made me look at myself and the way I talk about the privilege of being a mother.

Can people -- especially my kids -- tell by my words and by my actions that I feel so lucky to be a mom? Because I do.

I feel blessed
when one of my kids asks me if I'll snuggle up with them on the couch.

I feel lucky to be here to witness them learning new things, like riding a bike.

I swell with pride
when another adult tells me that they appreciate my child's good nature.

I am humbled
when one of my kids starts praying when an ambulance drives by, asks to go to church (that one doesn't happen very often), or in other ways show me that they are embracing the faith we're teaching.

I am grateful
for the silly and witty things they say that bring joy and laughter to our home every day.
Being a mom is hard work, yes. But it's a job I've never regretted signing up for. I'm going to try to do a better job of showing that -- to my kids and to others, even if that means I'm pouring my heart out.

For more PYHO posts, head over to Shell's place at Things I Can't Say.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just how dumb do they think we are?

Or maybe the more accurate question is just how dumb are the people who put out this sign:

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Since when do the words "fries" and "healthy" belong in the same sentence? Not to mention that a typical gyro has almost 600 calories and 12 grams of fat. If you're a Weight Watcher, that's 15 points!

The sign sits outside of a new restaurant/lounge/bar near my house that can't seem to decide what it is. The name calls it a lounge. But they offer breakfast, lunch and dinner -- and if you're so inclined, a hookah bar next door.

I've been passing this "eat healthy" sign for a couple of weeks now. Sometimes it lists a burger and fries. Sometimes with a salad. But always with fries. Again, how could anyone with half a brain put the words "fries" and "healthy" on the same sign -- unless they were separated by the words "are not?"

I can give the benefit of the doubt to someone who goes to a restaurant and orders a big salad, like the O'Charley's Black & Bleu Salad, only to find out later that the bowl of leafy, meaty deliciousness actually has 79 grams of fat. But salad at least sounds healthy. Fries? Not so much.

Maybe I've just been playing the weight loss game too long. Not that I've been entirely successful, but at least when I'm making bad choices, I'm fully aware that they are bad choices. Maybe not everyone has the same awareness. 

But the day that french fries are deemed healthy is the day that I will run naked through the streets. I promise you, both events would be very unappetizing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A winner and a loser

The winner
In a case of "the last shall be first," Random.org selected comment #34, Caralyn, as the winner of the Chex Mix Muddy Buddies giveaway. If you want to learn more about Caralyn, check out her blog Blink and You'll Miss It. Caralyn, send me your address at 4thfrog70 (at) gmail (dot) com so I can have your Muddy Buddies prize pack sent directly to you.

The loser
You should never trust a recipe that a bad cook recalls from memory. I got it close, but left out a few things. I realized this when I came across the recipe I'd printed out. Here is the correct version:

Caramel Pork with Vidalia Onions

1-1/4 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c. chicken broth
3 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (I used dried)
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
1 whole lime, cut into wedges

Heat a medium skillet over high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork, saute 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Add onion and garlic, stir-fry 2 minutes.

Stir in broth, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Serve with lime wedges. 

I squeezed one lime wedge over the pork on my plate. It was really good. So there you go. The correct recipe. Just one more reason why this will never become the 4th Frog Cooking Blog.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Forced back into the kitchen

I don't love to cook. That's no surprise to some of you. I feel like my menu is one endless cycle of spaghetti and tacos and hot ham and cheese sandwiches. Pair that with the fact that Mike likes to eat out and that spells trouble. Or at least "S-P-E-N-D-Y."

But our budgetary constraints of late have forced me back into the kitchen a little more frequently. And I've actually surprised myself. It turns out that if I have time, an easy recipe at hand and all the ingredients in the pantry, I don't mind cooking so much.

In the past several days, I've whipped up (with more effort than "whipped up" makes it sound):
  • Whole wheat bread (in the bread maker)
  • Zucchini muffins (with zucchini grown in our own garden)
  • Zucchini parmesan (yep, more zucchini) 
  • Caramel pork tenderloin with vidalia onions
I'm happy to report that not only was everything edible, but the last two were quite tasty.

For the zucchini parm, I sauteed thinly sliced zucchini with 1 diced onion and 2 diced cloves of garlic. Then I put them in a glass dish, covered with spaghetti sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese and some Italian-seasoned bread crumbs. Baked it at 350 just long enough to melt the cheese and served with with whole wheat spaghetti. I just might do that again this week, it was so yummy.

The pork recipe came from an internet site that I had a free trial to and now don't have access to, otherwise I would just provide you the link. But here it is:

Caramel pork with onions
1-1/4 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch strips
1 vidalia onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced

In a large pan (I used my wok), sautee the pork tenderloin strips for 5 minutes. Then add the onion and garlic and sautee for another 2-3 minutes. 

1/2 c. chicken broth
3 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp ground ginger (it actually called for grated fresh ginger, but ground was all I had)

Dump sauce ingredients over pork, stir and cook over medium heat until it thickens a bit. 

Mine never got really thick, but it was still tasty. You could serve it with rice, but I didn't want to mess with that, so I just served it with chow mein noodles to sprinkle on top and a fruit salad on the side.

Just to be clear, if I hit the lottery tomorrow (which won't happen because I don't play the lottery), I will happily give up cooking. However, until that happens, it's nice to know that it's not as bad as I've made it out to be.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Late night fragments

Mommy's Idea Well, it's actually not that terribly late by my standards. Only 10:47pm. I'm just getting warmed up. Whether you're stopping by here late at night or early in the morning, welcome to Friday Fragments, hosted as always by Mrs. 4444s.

I bought a new pair of tennis shoes last week. I'm ashamed to say (but of course I'm going to say it) that I haven't been exercising because I lost one of my tennis shoes. And it's been gone for a LONG time. So last week, Mike and I rode up to Marshall's and bought a new pair for $30. The dog is happy about that. And I even went out walking on my lunch hour the other day. Good investment for sure.

PhotobucketWe took Robbie to see Zookeeper, the movie, tonight. I got free passes from Gofobo. I smuggled in some fruit snacks and we were set for a cheap night at the theater. When we got there, we saw a poster advertising free popcorn. So while we waited in line, Mike and I each fired up our iPhones and went to popcorn.yahoo.com and got instant coupons for free popcorn. Woohoo! The popcorn was the small size -- about the same size as a brown paper lunch sack. Do you know how much they wanted for that stinkin' bag of popcorn if you actually had to pay for it? $6/bag! For about 25 cents worth of popcorn kernels. I'll keep walking softly and carrying a big purse, thankyouverymuch.

Charlie comes home tomorrow. He's been at my parents house since Monday, going to basketball camp at my high school. I miss that kid.

Is anyone else shaking their head, wondering how it's already July 7th already? The kids go back to school in just 5 and 6 weeks! I feel like I'm just getting warmed up to summer. Time to get out the calendar, try to squeeze in some memory-making activities and start watching for back to school sales. Where is the "pause" button?


Next week, I'm headed to Cincinnati to attend Bloggy Conference. (See the button to the right. I tried to paste it in here and it kept jacking up my entry.) I got my conference registration in exchange for volunteering to work the conference. And I'm sharing a room with another blogger, Judy, who writes at Dirt Road Musings. We've only spoken on the phone, but I'm pretty sure she's not a serial killer. She is younger and skinnier than I am, but I'll try not to hold that against her. Funny thing is that Judy is from the same town as one of my favorite bloggers, Annie, of Annie Weighs, but they don't know each other...yet. Bloggy Con will be the first not-for-business social media conferences I've gone to. I'm excited (and a little nervous). Anyone else going?

Don't forget to enter the Chex Mix Muddy Buddies giveaway. I'll draw the winner Saturday night at 9pm EST.

One last thing before I wrap up. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. No details necessary (no job offers for Mike to share, either), just thankful to be on the receiving end of His faithfulness today. 

Be sure to stop by Mrs. 4444s's place for more Friday Fragments.

Needlessly delicious giveaway

You know that yummy snack/dessert with chocolate and Chex cereal and powdered sugar? People around here call it "puppy chow," though it's definitely not one for the dogs. It makes appearances at holiday parties and scrapbook overnights. And now, on grocery store shelves!

Always looking for the next best thing, the people at Chex decided to take that yummy treat and pre-package it. They call it "Muddy Buddies" and I got a chance to try it through MyBlogSpark.

Muddy Buddies is made with corn Chex, peanut butter, chocolate and a "powdery sweet coating." (I sure hope that's a euphemism for sugar.) Like other Chex mixes, it has 50% less fat than regular potato chips, which might make you feel less guilty eating it...unless you eat the whole bag by yourself.

Photobucket
When my Chex Mix Muddy Buddies gift pack arrived from MyBlogSpark, I actually did share it. The gift pack included:
  • A serving bowl
  • A magnetic clip
  • An airtight OXO container
  • A bag of Muddy Buddies

PhotobucketMike, who is not a real sweets eater, said "these things are needlessly delicious." I would have agreed, but my mouth was too full of Muddy Buddies to say anything. Amazingly, we did have enough restraint to get the Muddy Buddies into the container and put away, though we didn't bother with putting them in the serving bowl. They lasted a little over 36 hours, thanks to the fact that we did not tell the kids they were there.

I have to say that I might have enjoyed the airtight container than I did the Muddy Buddies. It's in my pantry now filled with popcorn kernels.  The lid has a button you push to create the seal. Seriously, I'd buy a whole set of those containers if I could.

Now for the giveaway:

You, too, can get a Muddy Buddies gift pack from Chex Mix through MyBlogSpark! To enter, leave a comment and let me know where you would take Muddy Buddies. Will they be an at-home treat? A lunchbox snack? A substitute for Cracker Jack at the ballpark?

For an extra entries,
  1. Like 4th Frog on Facebook
  2. Like ChexMix on Facebook
  3. Tweet this: @4thfrog, ChexMix Muddy Buddies & #myblogspark = a delicious giveaway, http://4thfrog.blogspot.com
Then leave a comment here that you did. Entries will be accepted from now through Saturday at 9:00pm EST. The winner will be selected using Random.org. The Chex Mix Muddy Buddies gift pack will be shipped to the winner directly by MyBlogSpark.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Unplugged success

Last Friday I decided I needed to take a break from the digital world. I'd been feeling crabby and out of sorts and generally not happy. The long weekend presented itself as an opportunity to step back, unplug and take a time out from blogging, Facebook and Twitter.

After writing the post explaining my intended mini-absence, I closed the laptop and put it away in my bag. That itself was pretty monumental. My laptop is a standard fixture in the FR2 (family room 2).  I went to bed at about 9:30pm Friday night -- no trolling Facebook to keep me awake late.

When I woke on Saturday morning, I gave a relieved exhale that I wasn't reaching for the laptop to see what I'd missed on the interwebs overnight. I went downstairs, started cleaning the kitchen and grabbed a zucchini muffin that Annie had made. It was so yummy, that my first instinct was to tag her in a post on Facebook thanking her for baking them.

Not so fast. I was on a break.And I was beginning to get the shakes from internet withdrawal.

More kitchen cleaning. Laundry cycling. Lunch cooking. Plenty of witty remarks went through my head, only there were no Facebook friends there to appreciate them.

After lunch, I sat down to read a book -- a real book with pages and everything. (The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Two thumbs up.) I prepped dinner before we left for church. We got back home, I made dinner (caramel pork stir fry) and sat back down with the book. It was enjoyable and as a bonus, my fingers were no longer twitching as if they needed to make contact with a keyboard.

Sunday presented a special challenge to my resolve to stay unplugged. Mike helped Robbie clean out his bedroom. He came downstairs with two bags of stuff to be given to the Goodwill. I peeked in one of the bags and saw one of Robbie's Imaginext dinosaurs tossed in there.

"Mike! You can't give this away!" I shrieked.

"Why not, he doesn't play with them anymore."

"Because I'm saving them for the grandchildren! He LOVED those dinosaurs."

I decided I'd better go out to the car and see what other precious memories Mike thought were expendable. I found about 6 more dinosaurs and Eddie, the doll Robbie used to sleep with when he was a baby. I couldn't believe Mike would even considering giving Eddie away! I actually got teary over that one and thought, "I'm so going to blog about this."  Then I remembered I couldn't because of my self-imposed internet moratorium.

Having safely rescued Eddie and the dinosaurs (sounds like the name of a band), I turned my idle hands and brain back to the book and had it finished by Sunday evening. On Monday, we went to my parents' house to meet my new nephew (welcome Baby Benjamin!) and celebrate the 4th with all my siblings and their families.

I do confess to a few internet indiscretions -- peeking at Facebook when Annie had it up to see pictures my brother posted and playing several games of Words with Friends on my cell phone on the way to Ohio. But mostly, I was unplugged. And it felt good.

I won't say it cured everything that ails me; I still have things to work on. What it did, though, was give me a fresh perspective. And I think I'm better all around for it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The face in the mirror

In the past few days, several people (read: more than 2) have mentioned to me that I seem angry or stressed or withdrawn and asked if I'm ok. While I have felt some of that on the inside, I wasn't aware that I was projecting that to the outside. I think that those feelings have just been around for so long, that it almost feels normal for me. It took those people holding up a mirror to help me see it.

The short answer is that I am ok. But I am also stressed and unsettled. I know a few things I can do to help.
  1. Exercise. I hate that its true, but I do feel emotionally better after I've taken a walk or gone for a bike ride.
  2. Pray. Truthfully, I've been letting this one slide. That whole "let go and let God" concept is a tough one for people like me who like to run the show.
  3. Unplug. This one is scary for me because the internet is a great place for me to escape. I can get lost in Facebook and the blogosphere for hours on end. (Shocking, I know.) 
So, I'm going to take advantage of the holiday weekend and do all three. See you on the other side of the fireworks!

Fraggalaggadingdong

Ever have one of those weeks that seems to both crawl along and move at light speed at the same time? It seems like last weekend was 2 weeks ago, yet I can hardly believe its Friday again.

And if it's Friday, it's time for Mrs. 4444s Friday Fragments. Woohoo!

Mommy's Idea

I took Annie and Robbie to see "Mr. Popper's Penguins" at the theater the other day -- matinee pricing. Even at just $5/person, it was overpriced for the amount of entertainment the movie offered. I wanted it to be funny and sweet, but it pretty much fell short on both accounts. It did leave me with the word "yabsolutely," which I enjoy, so it was not all for naught.

***

It's been almost two months since my mother-in-law passed away. Missing her creeps in unexpectedly. I turned the TV on the other day to find Wimbledon coverage. Karen loved watching Wimbledon and seeing it on the screen made me a little teary.

***

We're going to meet my new nephew over the holiday weekend. I can't wait. Oh, and he has a name now. Benjamin. Love it. (Although my vote was for Oliver. Annie says she's going to use Oliver when she has kids. We'll see about that. When I was her age, I was going to name a kid "Letiticia.")

***

Thanks for your kind words over my mini meltdown regarding Mike's job search. He's had some good conversations with 3 or 4 contacts since then, so hopefully something will come into place soon.

***

We've reached the point of the summer where my feet hurt -- BAD. The bottoms of my feet are all dried out and cracked and painful to walk on. And the bones on the top of my feet hurt from spending too much time in old sandals. So now I'm at that embarrassing stage where I need to lather my feet in lotion, put on cotton socks and wear tennis shoes, regardless of what else I'm wearing. It's either that or hobble around. You know you're getting old when the Good Feet Store commercial comes on and you turn up the radio to hear it better.

***

Do you have big plans for the 4th? We're going to my folks' for the day. I'm planning to make homemade red potato salad and maybe some fruit salad, too. Not sure what we'll do about fireworks. My parents live on the outer edge of a small town. I'm hoping we can see fireworks from their driveway.

***

This concludes a very long day of blogging (doing some catching up on some other sites), so I'm ready to call it a night. Have a great weekend! Be sure to visit Mrs. 4444s for more Friday Fragments.