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Friday, September 30, 2011

Just missing John Candy

I am an anxious traveler. I make plans to go places and then try to figure out if I can cancel those plans because I get nervous about flying or about being gone from home/work so long or feel guilty about spending the money. Usually, I end up going through with the travel plans, but only after at least a few hours of angst.

Tuesday morning when I was returning home from the Upper Midwest Social Media Conference, I was uncharacteristically calm. I was ready to get home from my family, but I didn't feel any of my usual travel anxieties. That should have been my first clue that adventure lie ahead.

PhotobucketIt started at the Mason City, Iowa airport, which is probably not much bigger than your corner 7-11. For the first leg of my trip, I was flying with another conference attendee. I got my boarding pass while she checked her suitcase. We sat in the 1960s-era chairs and waited for the security area to be opened.

They issued the call for security checks and we got in line. I fretted a little about whether or not I needed to put my hand lotion and make-up in a ziploc bag. I didn't have it that way when I left Indiana, but it looked like these folks were a bit more persnickety. I decided to put the hand lotion that was within reach in a baggie, but left the other stuff buried in my rolling suitcase. I plopped my laptop, shoes and jacket in separate bins and walked through the metal detector.


"Ma'am, please back up and walk through again."

Okey doke.


"Ma'am, are you wearing a belt? buckles on your shoes? jewelry? Do you have change in your pockets?"

No, no, no. No pockets.

"Ma'am, have you ever had a security pat down?"

Nope, but I was about to. The uniformed grandmotherly-type directed me behind a see-through wall. (What's the point of the wall then?). She said I could have a private pat-down in the nearby restroom if I wanted. That sounded good to me.

Well, then that led to a whole other set of troubles. They had to find another officer to observe (and of course no one was available just then) and I could select someone to observe on my behalf. For the love of Wilbur Wright, just pat me down out here in the open.

As she was sweeping my chest ("just the back of my hands, ma'am"), I realized it was my underwire that set off the machine. I guess that's one inconvenience of being busty -- more metal in the bra, although the metal detectors in Indy didn't seem to object. It's a good thing I've already had babies because that pretty much ensured that I had no inhibitions left anyway.

Anyway, once Grandma Backofthehands was satisfied that I was not concealing a pick axe in my underclothes, then I got to stand there while they searched my bags completely and ran them all through the scanner again. By this time, I was thinking that I deserved a bumper sticker that said "I got a pat down in Mason City, Iowa."

Finally cleared to board the plane -- it took longer to go through security in Mason City than it took to fly from Mason City to Minneapolis -- I left my rolling case on the jetway to be stowed under the plane and took my seat. As I was buckling the seat belt, I looked across the aisle and something took my breath away.

The woman seated on the other side of the aisle looked in profile just like my mother-in-law, who passed away last May. Except the hair. Karen had much better hair. I immediately got teary and felt a wave of grief pass over me. It was quickly followed by a rush of mild panic.

Why was this woman who looked like my deceased mother-in-law sitting next to me on this airplane? Was it a sign? It didn't take long for my active imagination to discern that this angel-person-MIL-look-alike was there to be with me because the plane was going to go down.

(And no, I am not being treated for any psychotic episodes.)

As the plane taxied down the runway, I sped through a decade's worth of Hail Mary's and soon we were safely in airborne and I was no longer thinking like a crazy person.

The flight to Minneapolis was blessedly uneventful. The angel-person-MIL-look-alike did not follow me through the airport and I breathed a little easier. After saying goodbye to my conference buddy, Nicole, I headed for my gate. There was no hurry -- I had 2 hours to kill before my flight to Chicago. (My travel schedule was cruddy -- Mason City to Minneapolis to Chicago to Indy. Clearly, I am not an experienced traveler or I would have arranged a better route.)

As I walked through the terminal, I saw listings for several direct flights from Minneapolis to Indianapolis, all of which would avoid a total of 7 hours of layovers I had ahead of me. So, I went to the Delta help desk to see about making a switch. For some reason the agent seemed very sure of, yet is still unclear to me, I could not re-arrange my tickets. So I decided to just enjoy the pace of the day, bought 24 hours worth of WIFI, and set up my laptop.

LADY GAGA Pictures, Images and PhotosSoon enough, it was time to board. This time, instead of sitting by myself, I had a row-mate. I'm pretty sure it was Lady Gaga -- if Lady G flies coach from Minneapolis to Chicago and if her real name is Lucy. I kept trying to figure out a way to take a picture of her to show the kids, but all the scenarios for why I might point a cell-phone at someone sitting 2 inches away from me seemed completely unplausible and downright rude. So you'll just have to take my word for this one. I flew on a plane next to Lady Gaga -- or someone who should definitely go as her for Halloween.

The layover in Chicago was scheduled to be 5 hours. I grabbed an Auntie Anne's pretzel (before, of course, I saw the Garrett Popcorn shop) and looked for a place to hunker down with my computer and its recently paid-for WIFI. After spending an hour or so folded into a small waiting area chair listening to a guy on my right snoring loud enough to rival any jumbo jet engine and three people speaking in animated German to my left, I decided to look for a more comfortable spot.

Starbucks to the rescue! They may not have Diet Coke, but they make a mean reduced-fat triple berry coffee cake...and they had tables with outlets I could use. With about 45 minutes left until my flight to Indy took off, I decide to go to the bathroom and the move to the gate to await the boarding call. It was on my way to the bathroom that I saw: Indianapolis...CANCELLED.

Seriously?! That would have been good information to have, oh say, 4 hours ago when I could have rented a car and driven to Indianapolis and been home by now. At this point I was near tears, though the cancellation was for mechanical reasons and I told myself "much better cancelled than crashed in a field."

I just wanted to be HOME. So I got in the line to figure out what my alternatives were. The guy in front of me said there was another flight to Indy scheduled for 10pm, but it was full. There were four flights to Indianapolis on other airlines, also all full. I was preparing myself to spend the night in a hotel and wait for the morning flight, when I looked up and saw someone I recognized from work. I realized that there were actually several people from work, most of whom I'd only met a time or two before. That didn't stop me.

"Julie! Hi. It's Amy. I work for Ellen." Thank God she remembered me. "Were you scheduled to be on this flight?"

It turns out that they were on their way home from China and had been traveling for more than 24 hours. That put my little jaunt from Iowa to shame. This same group had missed a connection on their way to China thanks to an airport delay so they weren't going to put their faith in the airlines anymore. One of them was on the phone arranging a rental car. So I hitched a ride with them back to Indianapolis -- 7 of us packed to the gills but happy to be moving toward home.

After three hours or so, we'd reached my exit off the highway. And that should really be the end of my tale. Except, about two minutes after one of the ladies and I were dropped off at a truck stop just off the interstate for her husband to pick us up and get us all the way home, I realized I'd left my bag carrying my laptop and wallet in the rental car.

Arrrgghh! It was a sadly fitting end to a crazy day of travel. I was never so happy to be at the end of a trip. I came home and collapsed on the couch next to Mike. When it was time for bed, I went in and kissed each of the kids.

Charlie woke briefly and asked, "What took you so long?"

If he only knew.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tune in

Just a little more than 30 minutes until my "national" (ha ha!) radio debut on "Living the Dream Mom" radio. I'm the first guest up. The show is broadcast at 10am ET, so set those alarms, grab a Diet Coke (or coffee if you must) and listen in. Better yet, call in! 1-877-864-4869

OOPS -- a link to listen might be helpful. Here you go: Living the Dream Mom Radio.

Monday, September 26, 2011

LOL Monday: Take 4


Check out the license plate!


Honest, I was just getting a Diet Coke.


Apparently "juice" means something different in Iowa.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Robbie was right about the dog

Last July, we adopted Gabby, the bagle hound. She came to us, as you may remember, with the promise that she was good with cats, great with kids, good on a leash and housebroken. And she was good with cats (though the cat was not good with her and defected on his own accord), great with kids, good on a leash, and definitely NOT housebroken. 

For over a year, we tried to figure out ways to keep our home dog-friendly and pee-free. I talked to an animal behaviorist. We crated her. I searched on the internet for solutions. We gated off the upstairs -- her favorite place to potty. I even had an energy worker tap into the dog's aura and re-align her chakras. The only thing we didn't try was what Robbie suggested on a few occasions. 

"Mommy, maybe Gabby would be better if we got her a friend dog."

Let me assure you there was no way on Noah's ark that I was about to bring another animal into our house. That's just what I did not need. 

After trying for more than a year to make the dog pee and poop outside, we had to call it. There was no way we could keep her. I contacted the rescue where we got her, as well as another nearby no-kill shelter. They both said they would see if they could find a place for her. 

Then my sister offered to put an ad about Gabby in the daily e-mail for employees at the company where she works. 

4yo beagle/basset hound mix (hence "bagle hound") named Gabby needs a new home. She is a sweet, sweet, mild-mannered dog. She rarely barks and she is so tolerant of kids. She came to us 1 year ago. According to the rescue where we got her, she was housebroken. However, our lack of fence and no other dogs to follow has made this difficult in our house.

Gabby needs a fenced yard (6ft) or lots of walks -- she loves them -- and preferably another dog or two to play with. She loves Beggin' Strips, rawhide bones, chasing after balls and playing tug of war. She is very gentle, unless you try to take food from her. Then she will growl.

She is due for her check-up and shots, which we will be happy to take care of.  We'd also be willing to allow a test-run of a few days to see how things go.

 Within an hour of the e-mail going out, I received a phone call from someone interested in adopting Gabby. A few phone calls and dozen or so text messages later and Gabby, the very cute, very sweet, very ill-mannered, very unhousebroken dog has a new home...and, as Robbie had suggested, a friend dog:


Since she's been in her new home, I've received a few text messages from Gabby's new mom. She's fitting in very well -- loves running in the fenced yard and playing with her brother dog, Briggs. And she has not peed in the house once. 
See? Robbie was right.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

PYHO: I "heart" old people.

I like old people. I really do.

Maybe it's because at 41 years old, I still have 3 grandparents and 1 grandmother-in-law living and they all mean so much to me. Maybe it's because at 41, I can relate to the idea of getting older. Certainly, working in the field of aging for the past 6 years has a little something to do with it.

Two of my favorite old people -- Grandma & Grandpa

Last week, I had three separate conversations in which the gist of each was "People don't like to donate to old people causes."

It's the reality. I know it, but it still wasn't fun to be reminded of it. Why don't people want to donate to "senior" charities? Maybe it's because seniors aren't as cute and cuddly as toddlers. Maybe because we have a sense that older adults have had their time and we need to funnel resources to kids. Maybe it's because we don't want to face the reality of our own aging and the mortality that comes with it.

Let's face it. Most of us are going to get old. It beats the alternative. But "old" doesn't necessarily mean home-bound, bedridden, forgetful and grouchy. There are examples all over of older adults who are thriving into their 70s and 80s and beyond. Betty White, Morgan Freeman, Joe Paterno, and my favorite --80-year-old Pat Koch, owner of Holiday World in southern Indiana, a woman who completed her master's degree at age 71 and who can be found sweeping the grounds or serving food at the amusement park.

And yes, there are some older adults who need some help. Perhaps they need meals delivered to their home. Maybe they need a ride to the grocery store or the doctor. Maybe they are lonely. Today's transient families mean that more and more older adults are left without physical and emotional support nearby.

So what do I want you to do? I'll leave it up to you, but here are some ideas:
  • Call or visit an older adult you know. Put a reminder on the calendar so it becomes a habit. Ask them to tell you stories of their youth, to pass down a recipe.
  • Volunteer at a local senior center, adult day center or nursing home. Deliver meals for Meals on Wheels. Bring your kids with you so they learn to value the aging as well.
  • If you contribute to your local United Way, consider designating some of your contribution to a senior-serving organization in your area. Or make a direct donation to an aging services charity near you.
  • Start a "grandparents and grand-friends" club at your kids school as a way to encourage intergenerational learning and relationships.
  • During the holidays, be a Santa to a senior.
  • Stop talking about getting old as if it's a disease.
I've been writing this post in my head for a long time. I guess today was the day to pour my heart out.

For more heartfelt posts, visit Shell at Things I Can't Say for PYHO Wednesday.

Monday, September 19, 2011

For better or for home improvements

We've lived in this house for more than 13 years. We are still walking/lying/wrestling/sweeping the original floors. Do you even know what 13 years of drippy sippy cups, tweenage nail polish, muddy soccer cleats, pizza picnics, diaper changes and stubborn dogs will do to carpets? Let me tell you, it's not pretty.

So, the time has come to toss these nasty floors and spring for new ones that will hopefully receive kinder treatment by older kids and no dogs. (Yes, it means what you think. That's for another post.)

The prospect of new flooring -- once you can breathe again after the sticker shock wears off -- is so appealing. What is not appealing, however, is the getting ready for the new floors. It means everything has to be picked up off the old floors.

If you are a minimalist, this is not a problem. However, if you've spent the past 13 years saving stuff and storing stuff and inadvertently seeing just how much one corner of the dining room can hold, the task of getting ready for the floor guys is enough to make you want to throw up on your nasty, 13-year-old carpets.

Mike has been driving this new floor train. Well, at least in his own special way. He called the company, picked out the flooring (I did get to peek and veto) and scheduled the installation. His process of getting the house ready of course starts with the garage. So right now, our garage is a home for refugee furniture -- not all of which is coming back inside.

For my part, I spent 6 hours this weekend cleaning my walk-in closet and bedroom. (Again, that's an experience for another post.) Mike assured me he had everything else under control. When I left for work this morning, he promised his primary task for the day was to get the first floor ready to go. However, when I walked in from work this afternoon, he greeted me with "Wait. Don't yell."

Apparently, he had several freelance projects to work on during the day and hadn't gotten as far as he'd hoped (read: he moved kitchen and dining chairs to the back porch). I didn't yell. I'm always happy for freelance work.

The yelling came later. Not from me. From Mike.

I figured out his M.O. He was waiting for his minions -- the kids and I -- to come home and finish homework to get the job really done. He stood in the middle of the family room, barking orders. Telling kids to take this upstairs and 10 seconds later hollering because they'd left the room.

I don't like this approach, but not everyone parents in the same way. Then he started barking at me. That's when I the daggers came shooting out of my eyeballs. If looks could kill, it's a good thing the life insurance is paid up.

"What?" he said.

"Nothing," I wisely replied.

"You want to say something, so say it."

"No. I'm fine."

"Well, I know you're thinking it in your head."

The man may not be a mind-reader, but he's smart enough to know when his wife is cursing in her brain and biting her tongue at the same time. If he was a mind reader, he might have read something like this...

Listen here, buddy. You had all day to do this stuff. "Don't worry about it," you said. "I've got it covered." What you meant was "I'm going to scream and boss and stand around while everyone else gets whipped into a frenzy and does all the real work."

It occurred to me when I tasted a hint of blood from my bitten tongue that it's not just wallpapering and marriage that don't go together. It's any kind of home improvement project. At least in this house.

And I would say out loud to him what I thought in my head. Except. As unpleasant and frustrating as his tactics were, they worked. In a very short period of time, the job was done. By the end of the week, the floors will be finished and I will have forgotten the unpleasantries of Mike's approach to home improvement preparedness.

Until the next project comes along.

10 good things about Monday: A collaborative post

This morning on the 4th Frog Facebook page, I made this request: 

Quick: help me make a list of 10 good things about Mondays. GO!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to create the following list.

10 Good Things About Monday
  1. Clean underwear in the drawers, courtesy of weekend laundry marathon
  2. It starts with an M. I like M&Ms.
  3. You get to see me (Contributed by my boss, who I haven't yet seen today).
  4. You get a new start to a new week.
  5. You didn't have to work the day before. (And, I'll add if you had to work on Sunday, be thankful you have a job.)
  6. Monday Night Football (This was the top vote getter)
  7. The kids leave the house for 6 hours.
  8. It's trash day, so the bin will be empty. (I wish our trash day was on Mondays.)
  9. You have all those fun weekend event memories to make you smile throughout the day.
  10. Every day is a gift from God.
What would you add?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Could Sarah Jessica Parker play me in a movie?

PhotobucketOk, so maybe I'm not your typical "Sex & the City" type. But SJP's latest movie is "I Don't Know How She Does It," a comedy about a working mother.  That could be me. Well, the much skinnier, longer haired version of me. Or you, if you find yourself with a to-do list longer than the line at the ladies room at the movie theater.

Let me just say right now that this post will probably make someone angry. Men for one. My husband probably. I know. They work hard, they take care of kids, blah blah blah. But in most situations, we wives do more. More laundry. More cooking. More grocery shopping. More calendar finessing. I know it. You know it. The American people know it. (That's a quote from a movie I don't have time to Google right now.)

The other people who might get mad at this post are stay-at-home-moms, affectionately known on message boards across the internet as SAHMs. I've been a SAHM and I've been (am now) a working mom. And I'm here to tell you that working moms have the harder job. For realz.

I'll spare you the details on my to-do list; you probably have a similar one. But suffice it to say I've entered one of those periods of time where when my body gives out at night, my brain keeps on churning.

Where the heck is life's PAUSE button? All moms (all women!) need one from time to time.

When Annie was a baby and I was a SAHM, my PAUSE button came in the form of donating platelets at the local blood center. At the time, the process took about two hours and you could pick a movie to watch while laying there. Now they've sped up the process, so you can't count on as much relaxation time. Besides, some people don't consider being stuck with a needle relaxing.

So now what? Now, enter Eversave and its "Back to Beauty" promotion. Eversave surveyed over 700 moms and 35% said they find time for themselves once a month and their preferred way to spend that time is pampering themselves with manicures, pedicures, facials and other spa treatments.

In cities all over the United States, Eversave is offering great "me time" deals. The deal in my area is $29 for a mani-pedi from The Spa at Salon D’Va in Avon ($76 value). Eversave was nice enough to give me one for myself and one to give away to a blog reader. Plus, the lucky reader who wins this Save will also get $20 in Save Rewards added to her Eversave account.

If you don't live in Indianapolis, check out the blog carnival hosted at Mom Generations for other participating cities. Trust me. Winning this Save will be more fun than donating blood. (Though that's a totally worthwhile activity and one you should definitely put on your to-do list.)

Geesh...I suppose you want to know how you can win. Because we're all too busy for our own good, I'll make this simple. Paypal me $25 Leave a comment below and tell me what is your own personal PAUSE button?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hunk of Meat Monday

HunK Pictures, Images and Photos

Oh wait. Wrong kind of hunk. Though if he makes your Monday a little brighter, I won't judge.

Hunk of Meat Mondays

What I meant to share was an entry for a blog hop called Hunk of Meat Mondays. It's hosted by a fellow Indiana blogger. (I just saw on her site that they have a beagle. They live on a farm. Maybe they'd want a barnyard beagle-basset dog, too? But that's another post...)

Anyway, she (wish I could remember her first name. I've met her IRL once, but her name escapes me. It's probably something easy, like Amy) posted a yummy recipe for tetrazzini today. Well, mostly she posted it. All the ingredients and quantities, etc. But she didn't exactly spell out all the steps. She must be a good cook, because good cooks can get away with stuff like. BadLess experienced cooks like myself need step by step instruction.

Being  a badless experienced cook myself, I can't really contribute much to her Hunk of Meat Mondays. But, I do have a hunk of meat that I have no idea what to do with. This is it:

Three pounds of boneless beef ribs

I have no idea what I was doing buying fancy meat like that. Most of the meat that makes its way into this house is deli sliced, ground or flash-frozen. Apparently, I was feeling culinarily adventurous -- or maybe I was lulled into purchasing it by a big "Save $3 NOW" sticker on the package. 

However it got into the house, it's here and I have to use it.

I tried looking up a few recipes, but they included things like "liquid smoke" and I got scared off. Mike says I should just drop 'em in a crockpot, dump some barbecue sauce over it and eat whatever comes out. I'm not so sure. 

So, I hope this is not a violation of Hunk of Meat Monday, but I thought I'd ask if anyone out there has a tested and approved for use by a cook with good intentions but a bad track record. 

Let's hear it. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I don't want to talk about 9-11


Today is the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks of America. I'd rather not talk about it.

I'll talk about the Space Shuttle disasters. I'll talk about the wrath of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans. I'll talk about last spring's tornadoes that killed so many. They were all unexpected and sad events, as was 9-11.

But none of them made me feel vulnerable like the attacks on America. I like to be in control. I like to at least feel like I have some control, even if it's really just an illusion. September 11, 2001 spun my world -- our world -- out of control. And that's why I don't want to talk about it. 

However, we don't live in a bubble. 9-11 is part of the history of our country and, whether I like it or not, part of my own life history.

The timeline of events as they happened at our house is a little hazy. I think the first tower had been struck and it seemed like a freak accident, so Mike took Annie to preschool.

I remember calling him on the cell phone when the second tower was struck. Instead of going on to the office, he came home and we spent the morning watching the television in disbelief.

After a few hours, once it was clear that America was under attack, I went to pick up Annie. I was worried that something might happen in our city and I might be unable to reach her. I could barely breathe at the thought.

In the late afternoon, I talked to my mom on the phone. She wasn't sure what had happened, but she heard and felt an explosion in their city. There is a large Air Force base there and we were fearful that the attacks were continuing, even though air traffic had been frozen by then. We later found out the "explosions" were the sonic booms of fighter jets taking off from the Air Force base.

I went to Mass that night. It was very crowded for a Tuesday night. People stood and called out intentions for prayer, something that is out of the norm during Mass. My fears did not go away at church, but I did feel some comfort in being there.

That night, I insisted that Annie and Charlie sleep with us. Mike thought I was being silly and overly dramatic. I didn't care. I wanted them close to me. They were oblivious to the events of the day, so the family bed for the night wasn't for their benefit, but for mine.

In the days ahead, I would watch countless hours of coverage on the news. I would become fixated on the fact that very few body bags were needed at the World Trade Center site. I would remember stories of those who died and those were left behind. The man from New Jersey who died because he stayed with someone who couldn't get out of one of towers; his wife said she knew he was "working his rosary beads."  Lisa Beamer, the pregnant wife of Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer. The man whose life was saved because he chose to take his child to kindergarten that day, which delayed his arrival at the Twin Towers.

I remember it. I just don't want to talk about it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sticks and stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but drinking my last Diet Coke really ticks me off.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

10 steps to becoming a hoarder

  1. Early in your married life, take organizational tips from your mother-in-law (RIP), such as "pile stuff in laundry baskets to deal with it later."
  2. Start a scrapbooking habit, take zillions of pictures, then fall desperately behind in scrapbooking for, say, 7 years. Put all the unscrapped photos into laundry baskets. Pile scrapbooking tools into a corner nearby.
  3. Move on to stamping and create a smaller, though similar collection of rubber stamps, inks, paper.
  4. Inspect bags your husband is hauling up from the toy room to take to Goodwill. Remove 40% of what he attempted to giveaway. You're saving the toys for the grandchildren (who might be born in 15 years or so).
  5. Don't have the heart to decline anything offered to you by your husband's 92-year-old grandmother, even if you really don't need a battery-operated talking parrot, 3 Clinique giveaway bags or a yellowed U.S. map mounted on plywood. You don't want to hurt the woman's feelings. 
  6. Marry a man who cannot part with anything that has to do with Star Trek or Star Wars.
  7. Ask your children "do you want this?" before you throw anything away. 
  8. Be sentimental enough to want to keep a newborn-size diaper (unused, of course), the hospital wristband your daughter wore when she had her tonsils removed, and the first letter your son wrote to Santa, plus about 17,000 other small pieces of their childhoods.
  9. Maintain enough optimism to truly believe that you will fit into those clothes or they will come back into style someday.
  10. When you finally decide to get rid of stuff, waffle back and forth between giving it away, throwing it away, saving it for someone else you know who might want it, or trying to sell it on Ebay. Put stuff in laundry baskets until you can make up your mind.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Because social media is not only about me

When I sit down to write a blog post, it's generally about me. I suppose that makes sense because this is my life, my story to tell.

When I update my status on Facebook, it's usually about me -- something I did or don't want to do or how something made me felt.

I love social media, but I'm becoming increasingly aware of the challenge to remember that it's not all about me, myself and I.

I've received that reminder in sadly abundant ways lately:
  • A 36-year-old friend and mother of 8 was recently diagnosed with breast cancer
  • A 34-year-old neighbor received the same diagnosis earlier this summer and I didn't even know it
  • A friend from college has a tumor on her brain stem
  • A fellow blogger was told today that she has cancer. Again.
I could sit here and feel guilty that my blog contains tales of spendy skirts, impossible kitchen standards and faltering willpower while others are facing issues that really are life and death.

Or I can be grateful for the social media that exists so that I might share in these people's stories and lift my heart in prayer for the sake of their peace, comfort and healing.

So today, this blog post is not about me. It's about us -- you and I together -- and how we can turn this self-centered technology inside out . Instead of sending out messages of "me, me, me," we can allow these bytes and bandwith to open our hearts to those who are suffering today, to those whose day might be made just a little better by a quick message that says "I'm thinking of you."

It's a reminder I need to hear from time to time. So, how can I pray for you today?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rules of the Fridge

Attention 4th Frog Family Members:

You may have noticed there is a new refrigerator in the kitchen. You can tell it's new because it's clean. Really clean. Straight from the factory and passed over with soapy water clean.


Much like the rules that are declared, though not always successfully followed, when a new car is in the driveway, there are some rules that you should take note of for this new fridge.
  1. There are 3 doors on this fridge, as opposed to 2 on the old one. Unless you are actively selecting something to eat or drink, these doors must remain closed. All the way.
  2. Condiments belong in those handy shelves in the doors. Not haphazardly shoved in the first spot your eyes land on.
  3. There will be no sticky, drippy bottles of ketchup, jelly, salad dressing or anything else allowed in the fridge. If it's sticky or drippy, wipe it off -- with a wet paper towel, not on your shirt.
  4. Almost as bad as sticky bottles of ketchup and jelly are empty ones. If it's empty, throw it away. The same goes for milk. If there's not enough for at least a small bowl of cereal, drink the rest and throw the jug away.
  5. Speaking of milk, there will be no drinking straight from the gallon. (I realize this is not exactly a refrigerator rule, but thought I would take the opportunity to sneak in the reminder.)
  6. All leftovers will be covered. No one wants to open the refrigerator and see your pizza sitting on a plate out in the open. God invented foil and Saran wrap for a reason.
  7. If you spill it, clean it up. 
  8. Those orange and red and green things that are in the bottom drawers? They're called vegetables. Eat some from time to time. (Again, not a fridge rule, but related enough.)
  9. This fridge has an ice maker and water dispenser in the door. Yes, the control panel with it's glowing blue lights looks something like you might have seen in a Star Trek movie. No, you may not push the buttons just to hear the sounds. (Mike, I'm talking to you here.)
  10. It is my hope that this refrigerator will be a beacon of health. It will not be tainted by slice and bake cookie dough, tubs of cake frosting, real mayonnaise, bacon, full-fat cheese or premium ice cream. That's what the garage refrigerator is for. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Down with mediocrity

Last night I posted an entry titled "Would you go back to high school?" It detailed our Meet the Teacher night at Annie's school. But you can't read it now.

For only the second time in three years, I deleted a post. There wasn't anything untruthful in the post. I deleted it because I wasn't proud of the work. When I sat down to write it, I really wanted to convey how much I love this school. I wanted you to feel how energizing it is for your kid to have teachers who are passionate and engaged.

There is something special about this school, but there was nothing special about the post. While truthful, it was just not good. In fact, it kind of sucked. And I wanted to do so much better by the school (even though I didn't name it).

I rushed it because of some self-imposed deadline to post something. (See Wednesday's post for another mediocre example.) But it didn't do justice to the great things going on at the school and it was a of waste the time you might have spent reading it.

So it's gone. There will be another post in its place. One that will not be a waste of space or time. Thanks for reading. I hope you'll stick around.