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Sunday, December 30, 2012

That "snow" ordinary ice cream

There I was, just wasting time making meaningful connections on Twitter the other night, when I overheard (over-read?) my friend Michelle talking to Katie about snow ice cream.

Being in love with anything that includes the phrase "ice cream" and possessing a yard several inches deep with fresh snow, I just had to butt into the conversation to see what the heck they were talking about. And what they were talking about was in fact...ice cream made out of snow.

When I was a kid, I once poured chocolate syrup over snow in a cup. The results were not stellar. But Michelle shared with me an actual recipe, one simple enough that even I couldn't screw it up.

The Ingredients

8c snow
14oz sweetened condensed milk
1tsp vanilla.

OR

1 gal snow
2c milk
1 c sugar
1tbsp vanilla

Not having sweetened condensed milk on hand, I chose option 2.

Here's how we did it:



I thought it tasted pretty good. A little like the ice milk my mom used to buy back in her "let's get this family healthy" phase. The peanut gallery had their own ideas:

Annie: "Tastes a little like a vanilla candle, but in a good way."
Charlie: "It tastes like sugar and snow and vanilla. Not like ice cream."
Robbie: "SUGARRRRR!"

If I were to make it again, and I think it's definitely fun to do once per winter, I would use either the sweetened condensed milk version of the recipe or make it with 2% or whole milk so it's creamier. I only had skim milk on hand, so that's what I used.

Snow Ice Cream. Try it, then let me know if your family likes it. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Colorful language & curtains for Christmas

We hosted my family -- parents, siblings & spouses, nieces and nephews for Christmas last weekend. We had the date set plenty far in advance. Did that motivate me to start getting things ready early? Nope. Of course not.

The day before legions of relatives (22 of us in all) descended on my house, I decided that I had to put up curtains. My living room and dining room have been going commando -- that's curtain-free for all you non-decorator types -- for about a year. But my "all custom draperies" sister and her family were on their way. As was my "makes her own cleaning supplies and sings while she Swiffers" sister and her family. I just couldn't have them over with my bare windows showing.

(I should note here that I love my sisters. I also like them very much. They do nothing to make me feel self-conscious -- nothing other than be skinny and pretty and have kids who wear matched clothing. All of this is on me. My own crazy anxieties.)

So, I headed out with a smallish budget and a plan to get some thermal curtains for my triple-wide and double-wide windows. I struck out at JCPenney. Then I headed to Kohls, where happily, I found curtains in a neutral "mushroom" color. I bought 7 sets of curtains (odd, I know, but that's all they had and I really needed 10, but I would just make do), 2 drapery rods and headed home to hang those suckers, with a little help from Annie.

Five hours, a borrowed cordless drill (seriously,  I have to get one of those things) and some colorful language later, we had the hardware installed to hang the curtains. Learning from the last time I hung drapes (in which I'd hung them without ironing them and the package creases were still in them when I took them down years later), we ironed each panel and got read to hang them.

We hung them on the short set of window first. I think it's south facing. Or maybe west? I can never remember which way our street runs. The sun was streaming in -- right through several little pinholes where the sprayed-on thermal backing obviously did not stick. I might have said "fuschia," "shell green," and a few other choice words of color.

Annie, who was standing on a chair holding up the rod, tried to tell me it was probably ok. When I insisted that she step down and step back to look, her response was, "Um, yeah. Those look like we live in a gangster house."

Oh, peacock blue.

By then it was time to get Robbie from school. After making a couple of stops to find new curtains that would match the hardware I'd already installed and would not break my bank, I decided if I just got the tie back hardware that matched the rods, then the curtains would be a little more bunched up and not have as many places to show the light streaming through. 

So, I went back to the store to buy the additional hardware. I was able to install it with minimal difficulty and next to no rainbow references. Just as I was pulling the curtains into a swag in the new hardware, Mike walked in.

"Cool! Curtains," he said. "But why did you pick that color?"

At which point, my eyes began shooting daggers and I said something that sounded a bit like "turquoise-ecru-burnt sienna" and a few other of the really good colors from the Crayola box of 64.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppSensing the error of his ways, Mike quickly back-pedaled, mumbling something about the mushroom curtains coordinating nicely with the reds in the couch and the rug.

As I was still muttering shades of black and blue under my breath, Annie spoke up.

"Mom, I don't think we should host Christmas at our house again."

"Why not?"

"Because it makes you cuss a lot."

Oh, indigo purple.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What happens when I get over myself

Last Sunday, I woke up and wished I hadn't, not that early anyway. But I had to take Charlie to Sunday School, so the fact that I was feeling blue and sorry for myself didn't matter much. While Charlie is in class, I sit in the CCD office with two friends, talking and laughing -- oh yeah, and helping with any prep stuff the Sunday School teachers need. Knowing my friends were going to be there made the rising and not-so-shining a little bit more palatable.

Imagine, then, how I felt when I arrived and found no one there. One quick text message and I was reminded that one friend was out of town. The other one opted to sleep in and come to church later. Waaahhhh! Didn't she know I was counting on her to be there? How could she have not read my mind or sensed my sad (and selfish) aura?

A big sigh and harumph later, I found myself in the cafeteria eating a donut. Oh yes, I did. Caramel frosted with white fluff inside. It didn't make me feel as good as I had hoped, but it did provide temporary comfort. After about 20 minutes of wallowing and self-pity, I decided I could at least go help set up the Christmas breakfast for the Sunday School teachers.

When I got to the gym where the breakfast was to be served, I found 3 small children. Let's call them Kate, Miles and Nora. I know these kiddos. My (missing) friends and I keep an eye on them while their mom teaches one of the Sunday School classes and their dad sings in the choir. At first, their presence in our little Sunday circle was a bit annoying. This was OUR time, our KID-FREE time. Just what we wanted -- 3 kids to look after. Nice Christian attitude, huh?

But we watch them and play with them, chatting over their heads as we can. Yet last Sunday, there was no WE to watch them. Oh, there were other people in the gym setting up, keeping a distant eye on Kate, Miles and Nora, who were coloring pictures of Advent wreaths. I decided there were plenty of cooks in the kitchen and I'd go at least be a physical presence for the kiddos.

Kate and Miles came to show me their pictures. Nora toddled behind them, waving her paper, too. There was a volleyball nearby, so I picked it up and we started to play catch. Kate only wanted me to throw the ball to her. She was ok if I threw it to the other two, but she didn't want to catch a ball anyone else had thrown. Nora ventured a bit away and I called to her to come back. Kate ran to fetch her.

After several minutes of playing ball and chasing Nora, I decided we should play "Red Light, Green Light." Miles wasn't so keen on the idea because he didn't want to lose. I told him there were no winners. It was just something fun to do. Then back to catch. Then a little more coloring.

I can't remember how the making videos started, except that I was probably looking for another time killer. Kate used my scarf as a prop for an interpretive dance. I shot a quick video on my iPhone and let the kids watch it immediately. That was all Miles had to see.

"Make a movie of me!," he insisted as he began one big long twirl, sans scarf.

Nora came and plopped down in my lap, watch the videos as they were recorded, laughing and wanting to watch them over again. I love the cozy feel of a kid sitting on my lap, head tucked under my chin. I turned the camera and recorded Nora saying "ho! ho! ho!" and smiling one of those chubby-cheeked toddler grins.

Soon, church was over and their dad came to pick them up.

"If they said I was filming them, I was," I offered. "But not in any creepy way. They were performing dances and silliness and then would watch themselves. I'm going to delete the videos."

He assured me that was fine and thanked me for watching them. It struck me that I hadn't felt sad since I'd stepped into the gym. As I said goodbye, Miles yelled, "Wait! I need to give you a hug!" (Insert melted me here.) Then Kate came to me and said "I'm so glad you came today. It was really boring before you got here."

I smiled and thought "I'm glad I came too."

Sometimes I need my friends. Or a caramel-frosted donut. Or both. And sometimes what I really need is to just get over myself. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Will everyone stop eating Sheri's M&Ms?!

About a month ago, over on the 4th Frog Facebook page, we conducted an M&Ms vote. It was a spin-off of the elections, so I asked people to vote for M&M Plain or M&M Peanut.

It would appear that my readers are the independent sort because there were a lot of write-ins. Here's how the returns came in:


Peanut M&Ms - 10 votes

Pretzel M& Ms - 7 votes

Plain M&Ms - 4 votes

Peanut Butter M&Ms - 5 votes

Almond M&Ms - 2 votes

Dark chocolate M&Ms - 2 votes

Mint M&Ms - 2 votes

Coconut M&Ms (blech! Sorry Leah) - 1 vote

Because we were having so much fun -- and because the Halloween candy was on clearance at Target -- I decided to give away one 1 lb. bag of M&Ms to one lucky voter. Sheri, who has been a 4th Frog reader for as long as I can remember, was the chocolicious winner. I promised to send her a bag of her favorite M&Ms, the pretzel variety.

I bought the bag and put it in a hiding place at home until I could get to the post office. Apparently, it wasn't hidden well enough because some kids who will remain nameless found the bag and ate all of Sheri's M&Ms.

So I bought another bag and hid them really well that time. The trouble was that I knew where they were and in a moment of uncontrollable weakness, I opened the bag...and ate every last pretzelly chocolate bite.

Intending to make good on my promise, I bought a third bag of Pretzel M&Ms and tucked them away in a different hiding place. Ironically, instead of the Halloween decorations the original bag had, this one was sporting a Christmas theme.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Friday afternoon I was all set to go to the post office and mail Sheri her prize. Well doggoneit, someone had opened that bag, too.

So I am devising a plan to get Sheri her Pretzel M&Ms. I have several options:

1. Buy another (4th!) bag of Pretzel M&Ms and drive directly to the post office.
2. Buy another bag of Pretzel M&Ms and store them in an empty tampon box, which I'm certain at least 3/5 of my family will not go near, until I can get to the post office.
3. Skip the Pretzel M&Ms and send Sheri a Target gift card so she can buy the M&Ms for herself.

Somehow I am going to make this right. Even if I have to eat 3 more bags of M&Ms to do it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Linus, circa 2012

Last year I bought the Charlie Brown Nativity on post-holiday clearance to add it to my Nativity collection. Since we took it out of the box the other day, Robbie has played with it quite a bit.

At first, I got all warm and fuzzy, watching him spend so much time with it, recalling Linus's monologue about the true meaning of Christmas:



As Robbie was playing with the figures, I noticed he'd dropped Linus's staff. I handed it to him, telling him not to lose it, that a shepherd needs his staff.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

A few minutes later I heard him say in a very gruff voice,

"Listen! I've got a staff & I'm not afraid to use it."

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Laundry Manifesto

Dear Kids:

I know that I have admitted in the past that I kind of enjoy doing laundry. I wasn't lying. I like watching my DVR'd shows while folding laundry in the family room. However, there are some aspects of the task of laundry that I do not enjoy. For that reason, I feel compelled to write and share this "Laundry Manifesto."
  1. I will wash, dry and fold your laundry. I will not, however, put it away. That is your responsibility.
  2. Socks will not be matched or folded. Instead, they will be immediately placed in the sock basket. Please don't ask me for socks. Get thee to the basket and find some for yourself.
  3. Clean and folded laundry will be placed in neat piles on the couch. If you wish to sit on the couch, you must first carry the piles to their appropriate locations. The floor is not an appropriate location. Neither is the bottom of the stairs. Nor is under your rear end on the couch.
  4. Hell hath no fury like a woman whose laundry piles have been shoved, smashed or unfolded instead of carried upstairs. Put the laundry away or wrestle somewhere else.
  5. Once clean laundry is moved from the couch, it should be put away. Pants and shirts with buttons should be hung in your closet. Hollering that you can't find "x" item, only for me to enter your room and find it on the floor will not be dealt with kindly.
  6. I am your mother. I gave birth to you and know you probably better than anyone else does. That does not mean I always know which t-shirts are yours. If you discover one of your siblings' clothing in your pile, do not throw it in the dirty clothes. Carry it to their rooms. Even better, be daring and put it away for them.
  7. I encourage you to check your pockets before putting clothes in the laundry. Any money left in said pockets becomes the property of the laundress. 
  8. If you need something specific to be cleaned and ready for tomorrow, 11pm is not an okay time to let me know that. 
  9. You are welcome to use the washer and dryer. If you don't know how, ask. If you choose to do a load of laundry yourself, do the environmentally responsible thing and please make sure it's a load. Two t-shirts do not constitute a load.
  10. You know that fury I mentioned in #3? Multiply it by 10 if you put clean items in the dirty clothes. Multiply by 20 if the clean clothes are still folded. 
  11. Clean clothes that are found in the dirty laundry will be immediately selected for donation to the Goodwill. 
 If we all follow these simple rules (note: they are not suggestions), we'll get along just fine.

Love,
Mom.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A dog & a smile & a grateful heart

Sometimes I forget to be thankful for the simple things.

I was reminded of that the other day when I was downtown and found Max the bulldog. I'd seen him on TV before, but never in person. I watched him for several minutes, smiling the whole time.

So today, I'm thankful for people and things (and dogs) that bring a smile to my face.


Thanks for the reminder -- and the smile -- Max.

Wishing all my readers a Thanksgiving full of smiles.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Call 'em, text 'em, Facebook 'em, TELL 'EM (Giveaway)

Sometimes when my head hits the pillow at night, I think about if I talked to my kids that day. I'm sure I told them stuff -- hang your coat up, do your homework, no more videogames, brush your teeth. But did I really talk to them?

Did I take the time to ask about the doodles on Annie's hands and listen to the tales of friendship attached? Did I check in with Charlie and ask about how things are going with the lunch table crew? Did I tell Robbie how proud I am that he is taking such an interest in doing well in school?

I think we all have days like that. We all have people in our lives who need to hear something from us. Last month, I was invited to a Hallmark Moments & Milestones event in Indianapolis. They think telling people what they need to hear is so important, they've created a whole campaign around it. (OK, so they kind of have a vested interest in the idea, but they happen to be right.)

In true Hallmark fashion, they took this room full of bloggers and started by pulling on our heartstrings with this video, created with snippets and photos from our blogs. (My contribution is Amy M.)


Now, tell me you aren't reaching for the Kleenex right now. 

Then we each wrote our "Tell Them" thought on a piece of paper to share with the room. Here is mine, inspired by the whining and scowling that comes with getting into the driver's seat to drive to three different schools, play rehearsal, basketball practice, Cub Scouts...

Photobucket

Once we all dried our eyes from that little share-fest, we got to hear from two Hallmark writers and an ornament designer. Seriously, me getting to get a little peek inside the inner workings of the brain of a Hallmark writer is like Charlie having a chance to learn shooting technique from Michael Jordan.

After hearing about the ornament design process, I will admit to feeling more than a little bit guilty that I'm not a mom who buys her kids a new Hallmark Christmas ornament each year. Hey, those things are pricey. However, I will say that learning all the steps involved in the process -- did you know they make and dress with real fabric 7 models of each little figure, I can appreciate the cost a little more.

This ornament was carved in clay first, then molded in plastic, then produced in pewter.

Hallmark_6b

Maybe I'll start buying one family ornament each year. 

PhotobucketEven though it was mid-October, we enjoyed frosted Christmas sugar cookies on custom-designed paper plates. If my mother-in-law were still alive, this is so something she would buy. Well, she would ask me to buy them because she would never be able to figure out how to order online.

This cutie on my plate is the daughter of one of the bloggers who was there. So I was very careful not to smear frosting on the plate, so I could wipe the crumbs off and let the mama take the plate home. Oh yes, I did. If it was my kid's face on a paper plate, I would have collected every plate in the room. Your kid's face on a paper plate? That tells them "You're special."

(Want to order plates like these? Or personalized Christmas cards? Use the code BLOG30 at Hallmark.com and enjoy 30% off your order!)

And then, there was the swag. Oh yes, the swag!

There were Thanksgiving greeting cards, interactive story books, ornaments, recordable books, and my favorite, the Text Bands.

PhotobucketText Bands are wrist-watch like devices that allow kids to type a message (up to 10 characters) into their band. Think of it as "Tell Them, the digital version." The message scrolls across the face of the band -- URCOOL or BSTFRIEND or LUVMOM. Then when the kid bumps knuckles, high five or shake hands with another band-wearer, the messages swap. Up to 24 messages can be saved on the band. Click the picture to the right for a demo.

The Text Bands are meant for kids, but I could see a few uses for husbands and wives -- TONIGHT?...

Anyway...moving along...

The Giveaway
I think the Text Bands are so cool that when Hallmark offered me the chance to do a giveaway of one of their products on my blog, I picked Text Bands. Lucky you!

So here's the deal. This contest is open from now until midnight on Saturday, November 17. I'm using one of those fancy RaffleCopter widgets to collect entries. The winner will be drawn on Saturday morning and your set of 2 Text Bands will be sent to you directly from my new friends at Hallmark.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Whatever it is, don't wait. Do it now.

I don't often mix my professional blogging world with my personal, but I'm making an exception in this case. I've received positive feedback from people I respect for a recent post on All Things Aging that I thought it was worth sharing here, too.

Read it. And more importantly, do it. Whatever it is, don't wait. Do it now.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's good to try new things

In our house, Annie is the theater kid; Charlie is the sports kid; and Robbie is the quirky kid. 

I know it's probably bad to think of them in such narrow boxes, but that's what their interests and personalities lend themselves to, so that's how it's evolved.

Except that once in a while, someone surprises us. That was exactly the case when Robbie asked a few weeks ago if he could play basketball. This is the kid who has played on two soccer teams, once when he was 5 and once when he was 8. During both seasons, the fastest he ever ran was to the sideline for the post-game snacks. 

Even so, when he asked if he could play basketball, I jumped on it and signed him up for a great learning league at a nearby church.

On Wednesday of this week, I told him that his first practice was today. He said ok, but not with a lot of excitement. Yesterday, I reminded him that basketball practice was this morning. 

"Oh Mom, I changed my mind. I don't want to play basketball."

Too bad. I'd already paid for the (extremely reasonable) league fee. 

This morning as we stepped outside to get in the car for practice, he took a look at the rain and said, "Hmm...I guess basketball is cancelled." Though to his credit, he took it in stride when I assured him that the court is inside and they could play rain or shine. 

Once at the church, things started looking up. He found that a handful of his friends from school were there to play in the league as well. While the kids went through first day evaluation drills so teams could be assigned, I took my place in an adjoining room for the parents meeting. During the meeting, Mike texted to ask how he was doing. He wasn't the only one who was wondering. I was anxious for the meeting to get over so I could peek in and see if Robbie was having a good time. 

Meeting adjourned and I headed for the gym. I was happy to catch a little bit of this action:


Just after I stopped recording, Robbie leaned toward the sideline and yelled over to me "Mom, this is fun!"

I texted the video clip to Mike who texted back, "Wow. He's waaaaaaaaaay better than I thought!"

The next drill kind of put "waaaaaaaaay better" into perspective.


No worries. It's a learning league.

When practice was over and we were headed to the car, my sweaty-headed little quirky kid who isn't my sports kid said, "This was the most fun I've had ever. I've never felt more alive!"

It was a reminder to me that it's good to try new things, to step out of our narrow buckets once in a while. And in that spirit, tomorrow I'm taking Charlie painting.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Writing is hard.

I fancy myself a writer. Not just a blogger, but a writer. Writing in general has always come pretty easily to me. I've kind of got a knack for it.

I have a few book ideas rattling around in my head, ideas that have been there for a while and have no real timeline for getting out. I'm sure that doesn't really qualify me as a writer, but that's what I call myself nonetheless.

I have a friend who is a REAL writer. She's in a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. She actively writes every day. She submits stories to publications and has been published. So when she encouraged me to register for a community fiction writing workshop at my alma mater, I thought this was my chance to finally unleash the real writer in me.

The instructor of the class is Dan Barden, a really real writer whose book, The Next Right Thing, I'd read last summer. I was happily anxious for the class to get started.

The first night of class was great. Dan asked us to tell something that would make someone want to turn the page. And he didn't take whatever you said first. He pushed us to refine what we'd said. To dig deeper. Except when I put out my "juicy" item -- the fact that I'd Googled every person in the class before the first session -- he took it, said something about that making me "weird," but that it also made him want to know more. I had pleased the teacher. I was on my way.

Then Dan gave us the only homework we'd have every week for 12 weeks.

Write. By hand. For 30 minutes every day.

I imagined I'd have my first novel finished, at least in some draft form, by the end of the 12-week class.  That first week, I wrote for 30 minutes five of the seven days. Some of what I wrote was rambling about what I should write. Some of it was the beginning of a story that I thought had some legs.

The next week, I wrote for 30 minutes three of the seven days. The following weeks have been the same or less. And do you know why?

Because WRITING IS HARD.

The initial idea isn't too tough. I've got about three stories begun now. But getting beyond the first few pages is hard. Character development is hard. Knowing enough about the circumstances of the times, the history, the environment, is hard.

This class has given me a whole new respect for authors I've read. It's made me want to read more so I can write better. 

It was my turn to have my story, what little of it I've finished, critiqued this week. The feedback was constructive. My classmates thought it was funny. That the pacing and the voice were good.

Dan wasn't so convinced. He thought the voice was inauthentic. He felt that story as I'd submitted was still too conceptual, that I need to bring it "down to the dirt." He was right. What I'd turned in was my second draft, but it was hastily written. I knew where the holes were and just skipped by them in order to get something on the paper.

Writing is hard.

After class this week, I gathered all the feedback I'd received and brought it home to read it. A few people thought the storyline was something they'd read before, from a book I've never read. Several had underlined sentences that had made them laugh. And Dan had typed a page of response.

It began with the good stuff. That my writing is lively and funny. That I have an eye for detail. Then it was the stuff I needed to hear. And finally, suggestions for revisions, for how I might make the story better.

It's a daunting task. My first reaction was to scrap the piece and look for the next good idea. But I'm pushing myself to accept Dan's challenge, to re-write and keep on writing this story I've started. I don't know if I have that kind of perseverance and drive, but I'm going to try.

Who knows if at the end of the 12 weeks I'll have a story worthy of submitting anywhere. Or if I'll have the beginnings of something that might someday be a real book. But I know for sure that come December when this class is over, I will have learned at least one thing.

Writing is hard.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why are people like that?

Last night on his way to take Annie to volunteer at school, Mike ran out of gas. After he called to let me know, I grabbed the gas can and went to the rescue. There was very little gas in the can, so I stopped at the gas station to fill it up.

As I was getting out of the car, a very nice silver car pulled up next to me. The driver, a well-dress, good-looking fellow with a map in his hand leaned his head out the window and said "Excuse me, ma'am?"

"Yes? Can I help you?," I replied?

"Well," he said, "I'm trying to find downtown Dayton."

Oh buddy, was this guy lost! He wasn't even in the right state. Lucky for him that he asked me because I grew up in Dayton and this was his lucky day.

He went on to say "I was driving on 1-69 and realized that was the wrong direction, so a truck driver pointed me this way. But now I'm turned around and I'm almost out of gas and down to just about my last dollar."

Did I mention he was holding a black, leather-bound Bible in the other hand as he was talking to me?

Seeing this as a divine or cosmic opportunity to help someone just as I hoped someone else across town would do for my husband, I told him I'd be happy to put $20 of gas in his car. He smiled, thanked me and said that $20 would be good -- he could get some gas and some McDonald's.

"Oh, wait," I said. "I don't have any cash. I'll swipe my card in the pump and get you some gas, but I can't give you any cash."

"You don't even have something small?" he asked.

"Nope. I don't carry cash."

"Well, would it make a difference if there's an ATM machine inside. You could go get some money?"

I finally woke up and was angry at this jackweed for obviously lying to and trying to take advantage of me. I was also mad at myself for even giving him the time of day.

"No. Sorry." I turned and walked away. He drove off, just as far as another row of gas pumps to hit up some other naive person (who was smart enough to say no right off).

I'm left wondering how people decide it's ok to lie and be dishonest and try to scam people out of things? I am a nice person, but next time, I probably won't be so nice. 

In the meantime, if some guy in a nice silver car, Tennessee license plate B60-65M asks you for help, just keep walking.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Because I'm a woman of my word...

even if my word is reluctant, which in this case, it totally is.

Ten days ago, I was all excited about a date night with Mike. I had bought a new dress and felt, dare I say it, sexy in it. I promised details and pictures when the evening was over.

The date itself was fun. We went to a fundraiser for Joy's House, an adult day facility, that is near and dear to our hearts. I'd forgotten how many people we know who also love Joy's House. The food was good -- best banquet steak I've ever had! We stayed within our budget and were able to contribute a little bit directly to Joy's House, but also came home with a cool trio of paintings for our sunroom.

What was not fun was having Annie snap our picture before we left. Well, the taking of the picture wasn't so bad. It was the looking at the picture on my phone just after. Holy cascade of chins FatWoman! It's not that I'm not aware of the fat that I'm carrying around. My I don't usually have to look directly at it. And seeing it in the camera roll on my iPhone, it made me feel just the opposite of the sexy I had been feeling. It made me feel ugly and unworthy.

So that's why I didn't share the pics here or on Facebook.

But as I said, I'm a woman of my word. I've eaten and sat my way into this mess, so it's time that I own it:



It's a far cry -- and about 50 pounds from this picture, one of my favorites when I felt "skinny," even though I still had about 40 pounds to lose:


So, now I'm left with "what do I do?" Maybe I'll put both pictures on the fridge and in my bathroom and in my car as inspiration.Maybe I'll do nothing and just be frustrated and uncomfortable for a while longer. I'm stuck in the excuse phase, you know the one where you can come up with 100 reasons for why something can't be done? Yeah. That's where I am. 

But those 100 reasons are starting to butt up against the 100 reasons why I am so unhappy with my body the way it is. I'm not making any promises or big announcements. I'm not jumping on a wagon and inviting anyone along with me. 

I just AM right now. And soon, I'll have to move in one direction or another. I know where I need to go. I know where my head wants to go. But the inside part of me, that's the part that needs convincing. And unfortunately, the only convincer it will listen to is me. 

So today, I'm living up to my word to share the picture from date night. Maybe the very public admission of how I went from sexy to sad will ignite something. I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sometimes marriage looks like this (after 19 years at least)

I was planning to wax philosophic or at least sentimental tonight because Mike and I are celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary. But I decided to share a slice of regular old married life.

------------------------------------

(Phone rings.)

She (at the office) said: Hey!

He said (through gritted teeth and with frustrated voice): If you are going to insist on locking all the doors at home, then you should make sure there is a key hidden outside somewhere.

She said (confused): Uh, ok. Why?

He said (still frustrated, a bit more vigorously so): Because people have to be able to get in the house.

She said (trying to remain even-toned, but probably sounding sarcastic): Huh. When I want to get into the house and it's locked, I use my housekey.

He said: Well, I can't find my keys. And now I wasted my entire lunch hour driving home and I can't get in the house because you have to lock all the doors. I know it's my fault I can't find my keys, but still there should be some way for a person to get in.

She said -- well, nothing at first because she was still trying to figure out how locking all the doors when you're not at home is a bad thing.

Then she said: What do you need?

He said (impatiently): I need the ointment for my foot.

She said: Why don't you just go buy some at the store?

He said:  Because I can't find my wallet.

She said -- nothing, again. But she thought to herself, "I am so blogging about this."

--------------------

Eighteen or 19 years ago, I would have been really annoyed by this scenario. I might have even jumped in and escalated it to a real fight. I'm not sure if it's wisdom or wear, but yesterday when it took place, I just laughed (and ok, plotted a minor bit of blog-worthy revenge.)

Yep. It's not all sunshine and lollipops. And it's not all sneers and sarcasm. It's life. And in the grand scheme of things, it's good.

Happy anniversary to my huzzzband.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hot date!

Well, it's a date, anyway. And not just a night of sharing popcorn and not talking to each other at the movie theater. Tonight, Mike and I are going to a bonafide soiree -- a black tie shindig. I even shaved my legs for the occasion. (And the few toes that required it, too.)

We just made the plans to attend yesterday, so I hadn't given much thought about what to wear. (This will not surprise my college roommates who were privy to my last minute "what to wear" freak outs for sorority dances.) When I did think about it today, I began to hyperventilate just a wee bit. There was NOTHING in my closet that would qualify as "formal."

Dress Barn to the rescue! They actually had a several contenders in the social occasion dress category. I had Robbie with me. He waited outside the dressing room and I would come out to show him each option. I really thought I was in trouble when he said "Mom, that's really weird" at the first selection. But he was able to help me narrow it down to three choices.

Not wanting to leave my fashion fate up to a nine-year-old who believes socks and underwear are optional, I asked the sales girl to help me decide from the final three. The winner is a deepish v, front and back, with some rusched fabric under the "girls," followed by a black and gray sequined skirt.

I actually feel kind of sexy in it -- as long as I don't look in the mirror. Looking like you have a pumpkin shoved up your dress is cute when you're pregnant. Not so cute when your "baby" is almost 10-years-old.

But that's an insecurity for another night. Tonight is date night. I'm wearing a pretty dress and make-up -- it's been months since I've worn make-up. I have on panty hose and dressy, but comfortable, shoes. I'm carrying a black lacy evening bag and wrapping my shoulders in a silk pashmina.

And I'm going out on the town with the man I said "I do" to 19 years ago this Tuesday. It's all good.

(I'll post pictures later. My carriage awaits.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

When the school nurse calls

and tells you that your son said he hit his head on the floor in gym class and is now in the clinic, do you:

a.) Gush, "Oh my baby! I'll be right there."
b.) Ask rational questions about his current symptoms.
c.) Want to know if there were any witnesses to the alleged fall.

Does it make a difference if you are new to the school and the school nurse doesn't know you yet? So she doesn't know that you really are a good mom but that you are also wise to a kid who likes attention and dislikes school.

Does it make a difference that your child recently wrote a report on concussions and is reasonably well-versed in the symptoms of concussion?

To be fair, he did head straight for the couch when we got home and hasn't moved from that spot. The TV is not on and the iPod Touch is not within reach. We have an appointment at the doctor's office at 2pm. But I'm still a little skeptical.

Of course, I've been wrong before.

UPDATE: According to the pediatrician, the diagnosis is mild concussion. No gym or physical activity for one week. She said she didn't think that there was anything severe going on, but that he did get his bell rung pretty hard.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Blogging just because

When I first started this blog four years one month three weeks and six days ago, I thought that it was going to be the start of my BIG WRITING CAREER. Not the one that I do for a day job. But the one that was going to lead to book deals and mornings on the Today Show couch and author signings. And who knows, maybe that's still in my future? (I did just start taking a fiction writing class...)

What I didn't know about blogging could fill my basement -- if there wasn't so much junk down there already. In the four years one month three weeks and six days since I embarked on this adventure, I've learned about RSS feeds and brand identity and self-promotion. I've gotten some cool opportunities. I've been approached to do reviews and giveaways. I've done guest posts for other bloggers and have had a few post on the 4th Frog Blog as well.

And what I've come to understand about myself is that I really love blogging just to blog. To write and share ideas and wait for the response and interaction with people who read. I have several blogger friends who depend on their blogs for income and that's awesome. But they work hard to make that happen and when it comes to blogging, that's not me. I don't want to junk up my page with a bunch of ads. I don't want to get all wrapped up in the numbers. I can't tell you how long it's been since I've checked my analytics to see how many people are reading.

Maybe that makes me a bad blogger and the 4th Frog Blog will get blacklisted from all those PR companies who send me stuff to write about. I'm not saying I won't ever write about products that I love (or hate) -- seriously, Diet Coke should be paying me already.

Maybe this is all just an age thing. I'm 42 years old and I've figured out that I'll do what I do because I enjoy it, not because someone is offering me something to do it. If those two things are present in an opportunity, great. But if not, thanks, I'll pass.

Am I a blogging anomaly? Is this admission the beginning of the end for the 4th Frog? I hope not. I don't plan for it to be. Seriously, I hope to be still writing and sharing and putting stuff out there that makes people laugh and think and smile four years one month three weeks and six days from today.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Surrender and grace



Surrender.  It’s a word, a concept, a directive that’s been chasing me for years. Yes. I said years.

The first I remember it was when I read a book called Surrendering to Motherhood. It was written by a former Wall Street Journal reporter who had to come to terms with the fact that she couldn’t do it all. Couldn’t be it all. She had to give into the uncertainty and spontaneity of motherhood in order to really enjoy it.

A few years later, on a retreat, I felt God whispering “surrender” to me. It felt right – inviting even, and the idea of surrendering brought relief. But it didn’t last long.

And then more years on, a co-worker who practiced energy healing was working her magic on me, trying to alleviate a headache that just wouldn’t go away. She placed her hands above my head and said “I’m getting the word ‘surrender.’” Seriously. How long will it take me to learn this lesson?

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about this call to surrender. Envisioning what surrender would look like, I saw myself leaning into God. Resting against him. Again, it felt inviting. It was peaceful. I knew I was being taken care of. Loved in a gentle and unconditional way. Coming back to the present, aware of my surroundings, that surrendered heart was what I wanted.  Truly my heart’s desire.

Two days later, Mike broke his ankle and the idea of surrender went out the window. It was time to take charge. Line up reinforcements. Muscle through. March on.

That surrender thing? Something I didn’t have time for. Just thinking about it didn't give me a sense of peace or calm. It bristled my back and raised my defenses. There was no time for surrender. Surrender is sacrificed in the face of stress.

Earlier this week, I was talking to the same friend about I just have too much to take care of to even consider surrendering. And as we talked and I shared how I felt I just had to keep my hands on everything to maintain control, a new image, a new lesson came to me. 

The call to surrender is really an invitation to grace. By giving up my need to take care of everything, to be the director of the end all and be all, I am opening myself to the grace of God to move in my life. If I keep my hands clenched tightly on those things that just can't do without me, I have nothing with which to receive that grace. 

But if I let go and hold my hands empty and open, I have more than enough capacity to accept the grace that is offered to me, the grace to keep moving forward or the grace to stand in the moment and persevere. 

It's not a lesson I'll be able to put into practice all at once, I'm sure. But I have a notion that even small acts of surrender lead to more than enough grace.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MWF ISO SCD*

*Married white female in search of sunny, cheerful disposition

I've had the urge to blog lately, but I haven't because what I've wanted to say would have read like this:

Whine whine whine poor me poor me poor me grouse grouse grouse harumph harumph harumph whine whine whine wahhhh wahhhh wahhhh.

And who wants to read that?

So I've stayed away from the keyboard. I wish my default attitude was happy-go-lucky. Maybe like this:


Ok. Maybe not just like that, but you get the idea. About the only benefit of having a frown being the go-to facial expression is that it might burn more calories because it uses more muscles than smiling does.

When I stop to think about my life, I see how ridiculous it is to be whiny and harumphy. I have so many great people and great things in my life. I'm just in that season of life where the busy-ness of life overshadows the joy.

But this week, I'm going to work on embracing the joy, on finding a smile and wearing it often. I think I'll start with this little gem I found on Pinterest.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How Monday went down(hill)

My Monday started at 1:30am, when I went to bed. I stayed up late working on a project for work, one that I had to present at our 9am staff meeting. Bed at 1:30, alarm at 6am, hit snooze once or twice (or thrice). "I might get 5 hours of sleep," I thought to myself.

Enter Charlie with a bloody nose at 3:30am.

"Mom? Mom?" Why do they never ask for Dad? "I have a bloody nose and it's all over my pillow."

Ok. Out of bed, tend to bloody nose, be compassionate to big boy until the red tide has stopped and he's ok with going back to bed.4am. Zzzzzzzzzz.

6am. Boing! Boing! Boing! Annoying ring tone signals it's time to hit the snooze button.

6:09am. Boing! Boing! Boing! Snooze.

6:18am Boing! Boing! Boing! Oh crap!

"Anniecharlierobbie! Everyone up!"

Hop in the shower. Lather, rinse, out. Grab some clothes, attempt to shake the wrinkles out. Head downstairs to dish up honey nut genericOs and pack a carbalicious lunch for Robbie.

"Anniecharlie! Are you up? Robbie -- go get some socks from the sock basket. Charlie, I need to hear you...Robbie, now put the socks on. Your feet. Not on the kitchen table. Mike! Are you getting ready? She's gonna be here in 15 minutes! Kids come get your medicine. Robbie, the socks. NOW. Ok. Now shoes. Check the basement. Take this medicine. Charlie! You're gonna miss the bus. Come get your medicine. Annie, go start the car and turn on the defroster. Charlie..."

Up goes my hand, with Charlie's ADD medicine in it. Pop goes the pill in my mouth. Swig of Diet Coke and "Oh crap! What did I just do?! That wasn't my medicine."

And that was just the start to my day. I dropped the kids at their varied places, discovered two holes in the back of my shirt, and headed to a doctor's appointment. It was a new doctor in a new building. I found it easily enough, but wasn't sure which of the 4 entrances I should use. So I pulled into a spot, got out the registration letter and headed for an entrance. Clearly, the ADD meds hadn't kicked in yet because this is how I left my car in the parking lot:

BadParking

Oops.

Off to the office, late for the meeting where I was scheduled to present the project I'd stayed up until 1:30am working on. You know, the project that my boss said during the meeting that we didn't really have time to discuss and could I just give a re-cap? That same meeting that I looked down at the agenda and saw another assignment that I was supposed to have finished but completely spaced.

Oh yeah, Monday was not loving me at that moment. Trust me, the feeling was mutual.

But things were looking up. Everyone in my office was set to go out to lunch to celebrate my birthday (belatedly). As the birthday girl, I got to pick the restaurant. So I did. But that place was deemed too far away. Plan B was a great Mexican place within walking distance of the office. I could almost taste the fish tacos and guacamole just thinking about them. That's as close I was going to get today...we walked there only to realize the place is closed on Mondays.

After lunch at Plan C, it was back to the office. My thoughts were racing (maybe those ADD meds?) and I had a tough time shaking the anxiety of the day. What happened next told me with no uncertainty that I had crossed into the danger zone.

I started thinking about how I would probably feel much better if I went for a walk. People, do you see what happened? The events of the day transcended my usual instincts to inhale some chocolate or find a donut STAT. Instead the unthinkable happened -- my stress had driven me to the point of CONTEMPLATING. EXERCISE. I told you it was serious.

Not wanting to get all sweaty, I opted instead to tune into the "relaxation station" on Pandora Radio. Some deep breathing and I was able to finish the work day.

The evening finished out circling back to get Mike's laptop bag that he left in the car of the woman nice enough to transport him to work and back; the younger-than-me people at Target giving me a whatchutalkinaboutwillis look when I said something about the Keystone Cops in reference to my day; and my internet connection blinking in and out as I am trying to finish this blog post.

Now I really need to hop in the bathtub and shave my legs. But I think I'll wait until Tuesday.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Follow me this way...

I've got a guest post up at Eternal Lizdom today.

Liz is an example of the great benefits of being part of the blogosphere. We met through social media and became friends in real life. She invited guest posts when she went to a faith conference at Disney World. The mood struck and I wrote.

Follow me this way for "It's a God thing, or is it?"

When you're finished, stick around and read some more of Liz's blog. If you're not already a follower, you probably will be.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You know you're a Catholic...

... when you see this guy at the grocery store and mutter to him "G'morning Father" before you realize it's just a guy in a rain poncho.

Photobucket

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thinking out loud

My back hurts.
My front sags.

My iron is low.
My blood pressure is high.

I cough when I laugh
and pee when I cough.

My saddle bags hurt.
(I didn't even know I had saddlebags until they started hurting.)

I have weight to spare and
I run out of breath.

I wake when I sleep
and want to sleep when I'm awake.

I take twice as many medications
as I have children.

I've lost control
and gained 50 pounds.

Something has got to change.

I don't want to join a group, find a partner, write down what I eat, bribe myself to reach some arbitrary goal. I don't want to talk about it, pray about it, think about it. I want to ignore it. But it won't let me. Because every day when I get up,

My back hurts.
My front sags...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New school jitters

NewSchoolJitters

I mentioned earlier that Charlie is going to a new school this year. After several years of him asking to switch to the public school, we have decided to give it a try.

We didn't make the decision lightly. Mike, Charlie and I met with a family therapist to talk about the decision and the reasons behind it. We prayed. We thought about it. And ultimately, we decided that it was the right choice for Charlie.

The day came to go pick up his schedule. We were in the building for about an hour. He didn't say more than 10 words. Maybe he was having second thoughts? If he'd said, "Mom, I changed my mind," I would have had him out of there and back in a Catholic school uniform faster than you can say "Pope Benedict the sixteenth." But he didn't.

Later that night, Mike asked him how he liked it. His response was classic Charlie:

"It was awesome, Dad. There were SO MANY pretty girls there."

Still, I was nervous. He moved from a school of about 500 kids to a 7th grade of nearly the same number. He had a healthy dose of nerves, but was mostly excited about the opportunity. The first day, our neighbors and his good friends met him in the driveway to walk with him to the bus stop. He wasn't too happy that I was hanging out at the bus stop, but other mothers were, so I figured it was ok. (I haven't gone back since then.)

When he came home after the first day, he said it was great...but when I asked about lunch he said he'd eaten alone. My heart sank a little bit. He didn't seem too bothered by it, so I tried not to be.

That first week, Charlie would come home and talk about teachers whose faces I didn't know, whose names I'd only seen typed out on his class schedule. About the third day of school, I realized I didn't even know the principal's name or the names of the school office staff. That just felt wrong.

The school he came from -- where Robbie still goes -- is like home to me. We've been there since Annie was 5 years old. I know the staff and the teachers. They know me. Why did I let myself be convinced that this whole switching schools business was a good idea?

Early the next week came back-to-school night. It was the same night Mike broke his ankle, so I was flying solo. I arrived a little early to attend a new family meet & greet. The principal was there, so I at least knew his name now. I talked to three or four families of other new students and then it was time to join the masses of humanity streaming through the halls, following their own students schedules.

I walked into the first classroom and introduced myself to the teacher. Much to my happiness, she knew exactly who Charlie was and told me we have a connection. Her sister-in-law teaches at Charlie's old school and her brother is our eye doctor. The massive public school world got just a little bit smaller and more personal then.

The rest of the night brought more surprises. A science teacher who is good friends with Charlie's former art teacher. An English teacher who I just wanted to hug because of her obvious passion for teaching and love of the students. A social studies teacher who clearly knows her stuff. A math teacher who made it a point to ask about Charlie's transition. And in the hallways, faces of neighbors I know by sight, but not by name because our kids have always gone to different schools.

Back-to-school night may as well have been named "Mom Breathes Easier Night." Yes, the school is BIG. Yes, I will make a point of wearing tennis shoes whenever I have to go trek across that building.  But I can say with certainty, it's a good place. And the right place for Charlie right now.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two lies and a truth

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Scenario #1: About 7:00 this morning, I awoke to the sound of breaking glass. I sat up to find two knife-wielding ninjas (thanks for the inspiration, Judy Daniell) coming in through the bedroom window.

"Mike!" I screamed. Upon hearing the panic in my voice, Mike leapt from te bed and engaged in some fierce hand-to-knife combat with these two very bad dudes. In the melee, he ended up with a broken ankle and torn ligaments.

Scenario #2: Early this morning, Mike was out riding his new FatBike (that's really what it's called). He heard shrieking and saw an old woman frantic because her little tabby cat had run into the street and into the path of a garbage truck. Mike pedaled with heroic speed and threw himself in front of the truck, saving the cat. However, the truck's rear tire ran over Mike's right leg, breaking his ankle and tearing a few ligaments in the process.

Scenario #3: While getting dressed this morning, Mike tripped over a pile of clothes that have been waiting for several weeks to be taken to Goodwill. He felt 3 pops and was in excruciating pain. A trip to the walk-in orthopedic clinic revealed a broken ankle and torn ligaments that will require surgery to repair next week.

Which do you think is the truth?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hello darkness, my old friend

Simon & Garfunkel, anyone?

Wow. It's been a really long time since I've written a blog post in the middle of the night. But here it is, 3am on the night before 2 of my kiddos go back to school and I am awake. No Diet Coke to blame. Just back-to-school excitement/jitters. Oh and a really irritating tickle in the back of my throat that keeps me coughing.

Thanks
Thank you all for your support regarding my Grandma's death. Her funeral was Monday and I have to say, it was a good day. It was sad to say goodbye, for sure. But I have no doubt she is in heaven and I will see her again. She was almost 89 years old. She had a long and happy life and a peaceful death. What more can you ask for?

Getting to spend 2 days with my extended family was such food for the soul. It really reinforced for me what a blessing it is to be part of this "empire" (as my cousin Carrie put it) that my grandparents created.

More thoughts on death and the celebration of life at another time.

School
School starts today for Annie and Charlie. This year, Charlie will be going to a new school -- the public middle school. He is excited -- and a little nervous. Even though I'm the one who dragged her feet about making this decision, I'm excited for him too. I really think he's going to flourish. I also hope he figures out how to make it to his locker on time. It's about three counties over from the front door. Man, that place is BIG!

Reality
I took this week off of work so I could get everyone back to school (Robbie goes tomorrow) and maybe catch up on some things that have been neglected around here. Such a dreamer, I am. This is how the week is really shaping up:

Monday - Funeral
Tuesday - Dentist (Like the people, hate the process. I'd much rather just go to lunch with them.)
Wednesday - Two kids to school, one kid for a final summer's hurrah, slight window for productivity
Thursday - Doctor's appt and a date with 2 bottles of heavy duty colon cleansing
Friday - Colonoscopy

Yep. I think I might need another week off to recover.

G'night
I think there was more I wanted to say, but the fog of sleep is finally falling over me again and I don't want to miss my opportunity. If I hurry, I might be able to squeeze in another 2-1/2 hours of shut eye.

Good night, John Boy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Love, personified


Soft, wavy white hair, speckled with a few black strands that refused to back down. That's what I saw as I watched my Grandma sleeping so quietly and so small in the bed at the hospice center a few weeks ago. I leaned in to kiss her wrinkled cheek and followed with my eyes as it led to her beautiful, wrinkled ears. How do ears wrinkle, anyway?

I reached down and rubbed her wrist. Her skin hung loosely, but so softly, around the bones of her arm. Under the pink and white afghan, I could see how much she had shrunk in stature, so tiny in that bed.

I couldn't help but smile. That tiny frame could not contain the enormous strength of my Grandma, of this woman who had born 13 children and buried two, one in infancy and one in adulthood. I looked back at the defiant strands of black in her hair and smiled more. They were a biological symbol of the fight my Grandma had within her.

Death is a part of life. And when my mom called to say Grandma passed away this morning, I was immediately sad for the missing piece of my heart. But I am also filled with joy because if there is anyone who has earned this rest, it is Grandma.

She earned it through the days and nights of worry over her love -- her husband -- off to war and later off to fight fires in his job as a fire chief.

She earned it through more than 65 years of marriage. 

She earned it through the raising and correcting and loving of 13 children. In the thousands of exasperated utterances of "Patricia!" or "Bill!" or "Paul!" -- or pick any other of her children's names. 

She earned it through the thousands of meals, hundred of jars of home-canned foods, mincemeat pies, peanut butter frosted cakes and dozens of gumdrop cookies and springerles that came from her hands.

She earned it through the quiet rituals -- the wooden stable and nativity put under the Christmas tree each year; the cherries pitted with hairpins at the kitchen table on hot (and un-air-conditioned) summer days; the quick and certain kisses she gave to say good-bye at each parting. 

She earned it in the loving, but not indulgent, manner with which she greeted every child who crossed her door. Grandma showed us the only riches you need to raise an army of children and a legion of grandchildren are plenty of love and some chocolate ice cream dished up in avocado-green bowls.

She earned it in the faithful example of her life as a woman of God. It has been said "Preach the Gospel often. Use words if necessary." That was Grandma.

My Grandma was not a woman of many words. (In recent times, the deterioration in her brain loosed some of the quick-witted things she must have been thinking, but not saying for all these years, much to our amusement.) But her actions spoke volumes. They spoke love and compassion, loyalty and service and humility.

This is my Grandma (with my niece Kate):

Gma_kate 

She loved.

She was loved.

She was LOVE.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Parental Jeopardy

The answers:
  1. They might get scared.
  2. They might put it in gear and cause a wreck.
  3. They might get out and run into traffic.
  4. They might get abducted.
  5. They might get overheated, go into convulsions and DIE.
The question:

Why shouldn't you leave small children unattended in a car, especially on a hot summer day.

Seriously. How hard is that to understand?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Way out of my comfort zone

I really should be in bed. If I were in bed, I would not be sitting here with my laptop, writing a blog post that I may or may not have the courage to actually publish. But sometimes a girl just has to step out of her comfort zone and say what's on her mind.

I have never had to bite my tongue or at least hold still my fingers on Facebook more than I did today with all this "Boo Chick-fil-a," "Yay Chick-fil-a" chatter going on. But as I was attempting to sleep tonight, my brain wouldn't shut off about the topic, so, good idea or not, here I go.

All the Chick-fil-a talk made me really hungry for a crispy chicken sandwich with buffalo sauce and a side of waffle fries. But I didn't eat at Chick-fil-a today. It's not that I am protesting Dan Cathy and his personal beliefs, but I had no desire to wait in line for an hour or more for my dinner. Instead, I ate at Panera Bread, which has probably ticked off some group somewhere along the line.

However, I am sure that I will eat at Chick-fil-a sometime in the future. That doesn't mean I am anti-gay or a member of some hate group. It means that I like those chicken sandwiches. As far as the company itself, I am more concerned about how my local restaurant treats its employees and customers. If the owner of the company has extreme views, my buying or not buying a sandwich from his restaurant is not going to change those views.

Others think it's important to express their dissatisfaction with their money (or lack thereof). That's fine with me. There are organizations I choose not to support because they are affiliated with other organizations that I have moral disagreements with. It's our choice as informed consumers to decide where we want our dollars to go. 

I'll admit, the idea of gay marriage is tough for me. I do believe that many people are born gay, that it's as intrinsic to who they are as a predisposition to right-handedness or left-handedness. And I don't think anyone should be made to behave in a way that is contrary to his or her true self. I also think that in today's world, some people choose to participate in homosexual relationships because the opportunity presents itself or because they feel like the right person of the opposite gender hasn't come along, or maybe doesn't exist. The latter makes me sad.

I also think, and I know this is likely to be wildly unpopular, that God calls us each to a different life. Those called to marriage are called to be true, physically and emotionally, to their spouses. Those called to religious life are called to be celibate, as are those called to the single life. And if you are born gay, is it also a calling to a chaste life? That's not to say those who are not married are not privy to love, but perhaps are called to a different kind of love.

I honestly don't know. I know what my church says. And I know that other churches have different thoughts. I know that friends -- intelligent, thoughtful and moral people -- have different views. For all I know, God is in His heaven wondering why we humans have made love so complicated. Which is why I didn't beat the drum for or against Chick-fil-a on Facebook, or anywhere else, today.

Maybe that makes me a non-committal coward. Maybe some people will stop reading this blog because I'm not prepared to draw a line in the sand and choose my place on either side.

Maybe. But at least, for today, I'm not too chicken to say what I'm thinking.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

How Erma Bombeck nearly ruined my blog

Erma Bombeck is ruining this blog. Oh, she doesn't mean to do it. And I don't mean to be bad-mouthing the mother of all funny mothers. But, I have not been hitting my stride on this blog and I have Erma to thank (or blame) for it.

Three months ago, I attended the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop at the University of Dayton. It was -- hands down -- THE best conference I have ever attended. I met and talked with and laughed with and learned from so many terrific writers. Ilene Beckerman, Karen Walrond, Tracy Beckerman (no relation to Ilene), Alan Zweibel on the famous side. And plenty of up-and-comers like Ott Mama and The Bearded Iris. (Oh and YOU too, I can't list everyone.)

And with all those brushes with greatness, all that time spent with funny people, I kind of lost my way. I think I'm funny. But now I feel under pressure to deliver the funny. All. the. Time. The truth is, funny takes time. Sure, I can come up with witty one-liners and am pretty handy with rib-tickling rhetoric. Delivering that every time my fingers hit the keyboard is a tall order.

Plus, even Erma found herself among the pits in her own bowl of cherries from time to time. My life is good -- very good, even -- but not every day is a gut-buster. Before the Erma conference, I felt like I could put that out here in this space. Now, it feels like a betrayal of humor writers everywhere.

But here's the deal: this space is my space. Sometimes it will be funny. Sometimes it will be wrought with exasperation. Sometimes, it will be my own brand of nonsense. Other times you'll come here and get a glimpse of where I am spiritually. Whatever it is, I promise -- you and myself -- it will be me. The good, the bad and the funny.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

If you give a fat girl a cookie...

If you give a fat girl a cookie, she is gonna eat it.

If she eats the cookie, the fatter she'll get.

The fatter she gets, the worse her heartburn will get.

The worse her heartburn gets, the more she will need daily doses of drugs like Nexium and Prilosec.

The more Nexium and Prilosec she takes, the less her body will absorb iron.

The lower her iron levels get, the more exhausted she will feel all the time (even if she is using her CPAP machine religiously).

When she feels so exhausted, she will just want to lay around in front of the TV.

And chances are, if she is vegging out in front of the TV, she'll want a cookie to go with it.