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Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's not easy being green

Don't worry, this post is not about living au naturel and how I make my own soap and toothpaste and spin my sheep's wool into yarn to make my own natural garments. This post also has nothing to do with frogs. This post is about being green...with envy.

PhotobucketI'm having one of those days. You know the kind where everyone else has it better/easier/more fun than you. I know I should be grateful for my blessings. I know I am a lot better off than a lot of people. I KNOW, ok?! But I'm still greenish.

I'm jealous of those moms whose "only" job is to be a wife and mother. Who aren't the one always turning in the permission slip 3 days past the deadline because I couldn't figure out what I did with it. Who actually have time to go grocery shopping AND cook all that food before it spoils. (And who know how to cook.)

I'm resentful of those women who eat PopTarts for breakfast, Cheetos for lunch and whatever they want for dinner, but still can fit into clothes from the juniors department. I wish I didn't know what it felt like to want to call in "fat" to work.

I'm envious of those people who leave work at the end of the day, pick up their kiddos and go home. And STAY HOME, instead of leaving work only to plant their butt in a chair at home two to six hours later.

I'm solicitous of people who get mani/pedis on a regular basis. I'm jealous of people who walk into the store, buy whatever they want without giving a thought to sales or coupons or what's left to pay that month.

I'm covetous of ladies who lunch and couples who go away on vacations together and people who journal with multi-colored Sharpies, filling the pages with gorgeous doodles.

Yes, yes. I AM blessed. I have wonderful kids who make me laugh. A husband who asks how my day is going. I have a flexible job with co-workers I honestly like. I have a house and a car and no worries about where my next meal will come from.

But some days, the green-eyed monster just oozes out and I can't help myself. Which reminds me. I'm jealous of people who are content.

Note: I found the green-eyed monster pic on a blog called The Ladle Is Half Full. Her post on this same topic is worth a read. Same idea, less whine.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A day for thanks


It's Memorial Day. The harbinger of summer. The day of cookouts and pool parties and afternoon movies when the mercury stretches too high. But what is it really?

It's a century-plus old observance, a day set aside to remember those men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. And in these post-9/11 days of patriotism, it's a day when we look around to anyone who has dedicated their lives to the service and defense of our country and we say "thank you."

So thank you to my Dad, who served in the Army in Vietnam.

Thank you to my father-in-law, who served stateside in the Navy.

Thank you to my uncles Jerry, Paul and Chris for their service.

Thank you to my grandfather who served on the USS Texas and was part of both the D-Day invasion and the securing of Iwo Jima. He was captured and spent time as a Japanese POW, an experience he still will not discuss.

Thank you to Mike's grandfather who was part of the team that prosecuted Nazi war criminals in the trials at Nuremberg.

But the thanks go beyond that.

Through friends I've met in recent years, I've come to understand that it takes a village to send a soldier to defend a country. It takes husbands and wives and children who are willing to part with their family member for months at a time so we can enjoy the freedoms our armed forces protect. Thank you.

It takes people like my uncle Howie, who volunteers at his local USO chapter, so our veterans feel appreciated and heard. Thank you.

What does it take to celebrate Memorial Day?

It takes each one of us to stop at some point in this day and be grateful for our freedoms and their sacrifices. To fly a flag outside of our home. To visit a military cemetery or a patriotic concert. Or to pick up the tab for a soldier and his or her family when we see them in a restaurant.

At the very least, it just takes a simple "thank you."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The day I (almost) finished a half-marathon

I started writing this post several weeks ago and never finished it. The scorching temperatures this weekend and an overheated Charlie yesterday reminded me of it.

Yesterday (now a few weeks ago) the 500 Festival Mini Marathon took place in Indianapolis. It's a pretty big deal -- 35,000 crazies runners and walkers set to start and finish a 13.1 mile course through downtown and around the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I must have a lot of self-punishing ambitious friends because my Faceboook newsfeed that day was full of people heading to the start line of the race. Once a long time ago, I was one of them.

It was early May 2000. For a variety of reasons ranging from wanting to get into shape to needing to get out of the house, I agreed to join some friends in signing up and training for the Mini.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppWhen race day came, I felt ready. I'd done the 11 mile training walk a couple of weeks earlier. I had shoes that fit right. I wasn't planning to wear anything new -- didn't need any surprise scratches or rubs. I got up bright and early to join my friends for what was sure to be one of the crowning athletic adventures of my life. Annie and Charlie were ready, too.

Once we got downtown, we stopped to pee at the State Capitol building -- hey, we paid for those flushes with our taxes -- and then worked our way to the 15-minute mile walkers corral. Here's our group before the starting gun:

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We had discussed a strategy. Though we were starting together, we would each go at our own pace. We'd stay together while we could, but if someone hit there stride and was really moving, she was free to keep going.

The race course was fun. It wound through downtown, past the zoo (I think. It was 12 years ago.), through some neighborhoods I probably wouldn't usually go into by myself and on to the Speedway. There were random people who'd set themselves along the sidelines to provide entertainment. Singers, a one-man band, a dude with a guitar. The neighbors in the 'hood called were all on their front porches cheering, some along the street giving out high fives to anyone who wanted the encouragement. Some of the people had even set out their sprinklers, which was awesome because the weather was really warm and humid.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppBy the time we hit the Speedway, I felt like I was in the zone. It was mile 7 (I think). Because of the heat, I'd been sure to hit every water station. My legs felt like they were on autopilot and I was feeling pretty good.

Except I was freezing. And it was 80+ degrees outside, 130-ish degrees on the surface of the oval race track.

I mentioned that I was cold to my friend Kris, who convinced me to stop by the nearest ambulance, which was just a short walk away. I told the paramedics that I was doing great, but that I was just so cold. That bought me a first class ticket on the ambulance to the in-field hospital at the track, which is where they take the race car drivers after a crash.

I'm pretty sure I walked into the track hospital on my own. As I gave someone my name, I asked if they had a blanket I could use. I was sooo cold.

Within seconds, I was on a gurney with an IV in my arm. A nurse came and said she needed to take me temperature.

Obligingly, I opened my mouth. Wrong end. It's a good thing that heat stroke alters your mental state because I might have been mortified. But (haha, no pun intended) I didn't take offense and offered up my backside.

Core body temperature: 105 degrees F.

Diagnosis: Heatstroke.

Despite my repeated request for a blanket so I could warm up, the team came and dumped buckets of ice over my body. As they hung another bag of fluid on the IV pole, I asked if I could finish the race once that bag was empty.

"Oh honey, your race is finished," one nice nurse told me.

This was in the days before cell phones were another bodily appendange, so I worried a little that Mike, Annie and Charlie, who were waiting to cheer me on just outside of the Speedway, would be left wondering what happened to me. (Kris saw them and let them know what happened.)

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Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppI don't remember much else about the infield hospital, except that I posed for pictures with the doctor and the nurses. I was an avid scrapbooker back then and I knew this was scrapworthy. Then it was time to head to the finish line -- via ambulance.

That's when the altered mental state of heatstroke reared it's inappropriate head.

There were about 4 women in the back of the ambulance and I started complaining -- loudly -- that there weren't any men back there with us. I tried to convince the paramedics up front to keep their eyes out for cute men that we could stop and pick up. I don't think I stopped talking the whole time in the ambulance. I'm sure the other women back there wished they'd had buckets of ice to dump on me, too.

In the end, I was no worse for the wear. Exhausted. Happy to be reunited with my family. And with quite a story to tell.

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Moral of the story: If you're going to be outside in extremely hot weather, drink water, drink water, drink water. Also, your mother was right about clean underwear. I was glad I was wearing mine.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

We have a winner (and more chances to win)!

Photobucket Cheeseandicecream, aka Nathan Miller! I think Nathan and I would get along very well. He can have the cheese and I'll take the ice cream.

Nathan's entry (which had no bearing on his win, as his number was chosen by said this:

The greatest thing about baseball is how time seems to slow down and makes you realize how much you have and to appreciate the true essence of the game. I would love to take my and my finances family to the game that night. Thanks for the chance!

Nathan -- Send your snail mail address to me at 4thfrog70 (at) gmail (dot) com so I can have the Indiana Family of Farmers send out your tickets.

For those of you sad that you didn't win, fear not! There are several other Indiana bloggers hosting the same giveaway. Check them out here:

Redefining Perfect

Angel's Homestead

Family Fun in the City

Chaos is Bliss


Kat's Cafe

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

GR-8 Indianapolis Indians ticket giveaway

I don't do a lot of giveaways, but from time to time one comes along that sounds like fun. This is one of those times. The Indiana Family of Farmers has invited me to take my family -- AND ONE OF YOURS -- to the June 11, 2012 Indianapolis Indians baseball game.

A lot of giveaways are set up for families of 4, which leaves someone out if you're in my family of 5. But IFoF is letting me give away 8 tickets to its Family Night at the Ballpark. That means even a big family can have a big night at Victory Field.

Gates open at 5:30pm with the game beginning against the Rochester Red Wings at 7:05pm. In addition to tickets to the game, the winner of this giveaway is invited to join IFoF for an in-game picnic that begins at 7:30pm. You can choose to watch the game from the Coors Light Picnic area or from Section 120 on the first base side of the stadium.

Sounds great, right?  

Here's what you have to do to enter:

Simply leave a comment with your favorite thing about going to a baseball game AND how many tickets you'll need. If you want all 8 tickets, great. If you only need 4 or 5, let me know that too and I can give the other tickets away to someone else. Be sure to leave your e-mail address or make sure your e-mail address is available on your profile.

For extra entries:
  1. Like the 4th Frog Blog on Facebook and leave a comment below that you did.
  2. Like the Indiana Family of Farmers on Facebook and leave a comment below that you did.
Entries will be taken until Friday, May 25 at 8pm. I'll use to choose a winner (or winners if the first person doesn't need all 8 tickets).

Good luck! I hope to see you at Victory Field on June 11!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Things that come to mind when you are wearing Taco Bell

Have you ever wondered what you might say or think if you ever found yourself wearing Nachos Bell Grande from Taco Bell?

Maybe you've never considered wearing Taco Bell. Maybe you've actually worn Taco Bell, but are too proud to admit it. Whatever, stay with me for a bit while I go through what came to my mind this afternoon when I dumped Nachos Bell Grande down the front of my shirt.

  1. The F word. And I'm not talking fiesta.
  2. I guess Taco Bell really is too messy to eat in the car. (For the record, I was sitting in a parking lot, not driving and munching.)
  3. Damn! I don't have my cell phone with me to take a picture of this.
  4. Whew...I saved enough to still eat this. (Oh yes, I did. My shirt was clean -- well before the Taco Bell got on it -- and I was hungry.)
  5. Thank God I hadn't put the taco sauce on this yet.
  6. Wow. This looks like vomit.
  7. I should have gone to Subway.
  8. This is the second time this week I've had cheese on my boob.
  9. Good thing Mike hasn't finished cleaning the inside of my car yet.
  10. I sure hope I don't have to get out of the car before I get back home.
  11. Maybe this is God's way of saying I shouldn't be eating this junk?
  12. (Daydreaming of being on the red carpet)..."Amy, Amy, who are you wearing?" "It's Taco Bell. Isn't it FABulous?!
  13. I am soooo going to blog about this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Better than the Food Network

Here is the scene:

Annie - at theatre rehearsal

Charlie - at soccer practice

Mike - running the carpool between the two

Robbie - outside playing with friends

Me - Lounging on the couch, firing up the DVR to watch the first episode of Next Food Network Star.

I was just settling in, beginning to size up the contestants when the back door flung open and Robbie ran in.

"Mom, can we go to the park?"

What I wanted to say: "What? I just started my show. The house is quiet and I was ready to be quiet in it."

What I did say: "Why do you want to do that?"

"Because it's fun. And my friends are going."

I took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. I knew what I wanted to do, but Robbie never wants to go outside, let alone leave the homestead. So I hit the pause button on my show and said, "Sure."

Twenty minutes later at the park, Robbie had climbed and slid and teetered and swung. And his friends were nowhere to be found. So I suggested we take the nature trail -- which is really a paved path -- and walk over by the creek.

Silly me. I thought he'd be content looking at the creek from the path. Nope, we had to go down to the bank. I thought he would be content tossing rocks into the water. Nope. "Mom, can I get in the water?"

The water level was low and the hope in his voice was high. So this is how we spent the next hour:

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Wet. Muddy. And so much better than watching the Food Network.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What is your mom's superpower?

Mothers are a pretty special breed of people. In fact, you might say mothers are superheroes, though we don't have the fancy costumes go with the persona. (Which is fine with me because I think Wonder Woman probably fights wonder wedgies fairly often.)

It's not the general awesomeness of each day -- dishes, laundry, cooking, driving -- that earn moms our superhero status. It's our superpowers that really make us remarkable. Some of us have x-ray vision. Some have super hearing. Some moms can uncannily read minds.

PhotobucketThis is my mom, Julie. She's got two superpowers.

The first is the ability to fix almost anything with a rubber band and a paper clip. Honestly. Give the woman something broken, a rubber band and a paper clip and 9 times out of 10, it will be fixed before you can call a repair guy. Seriously -- dishwasher, DVD player, big toe. When something in my house is broken, the kids will say "May Grandma can fix it."

My mom's second superpower is really just for show and came in much handier when I was a kid wanting to impress friends. But what good is a superpower if you can't show it off once in a while anyway. No, she doesn't tie a cherry stem with her tongue. She doesn't walk on hot coals barefoot, though she did used to hold her baby bottle with her feet (so I'm told).

The very cool, just for show superpower my mom has is that she can make a free throw while holding a bag of groceries in one arm. How cool is that?! I bet your mom would be jealous.

Speaking of your mom, what is her superpower?

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Mother's Day gift to my family

I used to think Mother's Day was all about me. And, well, it is. But if it weren't for my kids, it wouldn't be my day to celebrate. And if it weren't for Mike and his part in getting those 3 kids into the world, Mother's Day would be just another day to me.

So this year, I'm going to give something to my family for Mother's Day. My time and attention. I was inspired -- and convicted -- by this: "How to Miss a Childhood." That means once I hit "publish" on this post, I'm going blog/Facebook/Twitter free for the next couple of days. Who knows? Maybe it will feel like a gift to myself.

(Don't worry kids, I'll still let you clean out my car and bake me brownies and let me sleep in on Sunday.)

Mom's Math

Q: If a mom leaves her house at 7:07am and during the course of the day, drives no further than 19.2 miles from home, returning at 8:52pm, how many total miles will she have driven for the day and how many hours will she have spent in the car?

A: 125 miles and 3 hours, 58 minutes

Q: And if gasoline costs $3.89/gallon and the car gets 17 miles per gallon, how much does it cost this mom to do all this driving?

A: Too damn much.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Missing GoGo

One year ago today, I wrote "What the obituary will not say."  Incredibly, a year has passed since my mother-in-law died. In that year, there have been birthdays and holidays and sacraments -- milestones in our lives that she should have been here for. That she was here for in spirit.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppAt Christmas, I gave each of the kids something I found among Karen's vast collection (the nice, memorial way of saying "basement full of crap") that I thought she would like them to have. Mike's dad had given us baskets full of old sheets -- Star Wars, Super Heroes, McDonald's, Battlestar Galactica, Peanuts -- that his mom had saved over the years. I had a friend turn those sheets into a quilt for Mike. It's a memory of his childhood and a hug from his mom all at the same time.

So now we've gone a whole year without her. Sometimes it doesn't seem possible. We've been sad, absolutely. Sometimes the tears come out of nowhere.

But we've also laughed, recalling stories of her, thinking out loud what she would think or say in certain situations. That's kept Karen alive for us and for the kids. Mike even started a Pinterest page where we've pinned things that remind us of her or things that she enjoyed.

She would have loved to hear all about Annie's first year of high school, expected phone calls after each of Charlie's basketball games and laughed at the funny things Robbie says. She would have questioned my sanity when I dyed my hair blue and given Mike at least 2 tubs of Vaseline for his dry elbows.

A few weeks ago, I was at the national headquarters of Karen's sorority. While waiting for the person I'd gone there to see, I stood in the foyer of the building filled with memorabilia. It was as if I could feel her there. If it wouldn't have seemed weird, I might have pulled up a chair and just soaked her in for a while.

The next day, I was giving a keynote address at a caregiver event. I was wearing Karen's favorite bracelet and sat down at one of the tables to go over my notes. I looked up and there was a pot of pansies sitting in front of me. Karen's favorite flower. She was there. I can only hope she'll be there in the next several months when Annie starts driving. (Heaven help us all!)

I'm not exactly sure how Karen would have us mark this day. Probably with a trip to the children's museum and a dinner of chicken pot pie. And a lot of laughter.


Mom, Karen, GoGo, Friend
Missed & loved.

Friday, May 4, 2012

How do I feed this thing?

I've been a parent for a little more than 15 years. So I know things. Parental type, family care type things. But one thing I haven't quite figured out is how to feed this:

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My first child is a girl. Annie is a predictable eater. Yogurt, cheese, apples, pretzels, cucumber, ham sandwiches. When it comes to meal time, with the exception of breakfast which she prefers not to eat, when it's time to eat, she eats. Robbie, the little guy, a steady diet of cereal and he's happy.

This one? He is a tricky one. Ring the dinner bell and he comes to the table, protests already forming on his tongue.

"I don't like broccoli."

"Rice? Ewww."

"Can I make myself a sandwich?"

If the meal is not pasta, tacos or pizza, forget it.

Then there are all those other edible moments of the day -- after school, before and after soccer practice, before bed. Oh, he'll eat then. But not before he complains about the lack of food in the house.

Today for example. "Mom, you have to go to the store to buy more food," he whined in a more angry than whiny voice.

"I just went to the store."

"But there's nothing here."

Well, son, it may seem that there is nothing here because at this point you have eaten 3 popsicles, 4 bags of fruit snacks and 2 granola bars in the last 10 minutes. All of which was said in my head because I really wasn't in the mood to argue.

"Have a sandwich. There's peanut butter and jelly, and ham and cheese."

One PB&J later, he was still grousing about never having food in the house. And he does have a small point. I don't generally buy volumes of food at once. Usually about $100 worth at a time. That's for two reasons. 1. If I buy it, they will eat it. And 2. I try to space out our food expenditures over the month. Food is expensive, yo.

He is a really active kid, so I don't doubt that he gets hungry. Famished, even. But feeding our family of five, one of whom is a near-teenaged boy, is like feeding a family of nine.

It all makes me feel a little guilty. I can see him stretched out on some therapist's couch tracing his life troubles to the fact that his mother never had enough food in the house. In my own defense, our definitions of portion sizes differ. A serving of strawberries to me is 5- 6 strawberries. To Charlie, a serving of strawberries is a 1lb. clamshell package.
So today I asked him to make a list of the things he thinks should be available at our house at all times. This is what he came up with:
  • apples
  • bananas
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • jelly, more jars
  • mio shock (whatever nonsense that is)
  • a lot of giant boxes of cereal
  • chocolate chip, blueberry, and plain waffles
  • protein bars -- labeled for Charlie and Dad
  • energy drinks
  • hot dogs
  • brats
  • cheese
  • a lot more bread
  • bagels
  • hot chocolate
 So he likes fruits, crappy meats, carbs and stuff hawked by professional athletes on TV. In abundance.

I think I might need another part time job.