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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Well, you don't see that every day

Today has been an interesting day. As far as days go, it wasn't anything special. Kids to school. Me to work. Same old, same old.

But I saw several things today that would qualify as unusual. Or interesting. Or cool.

First, there was the man stopped in his truck at the traffic signal who was using the down time to trim the hairs in his nose with an electronic nose hair trimmer. I'm glad I wasn't eating breakfast when I saw that.

There was the guy who drove the wrong way up a one-way highway ramp. I watched as he figured it out, about half-way up the ramp, and turned around. He didn't appear to be impaired, just geographically challenged.

Oh, I saw a Cinderella horse and buggy. I've seen plenty of horse-drawn carriages downtown before. But instead of a wooden "wagon," this one had a white, wire, pumpkin-shaped carriage attached to it.

Then there was the great white shark ferociously attacking a wooden seal decoy. Ok, so I saw that one on an IMAX movie screen at the Indiana State Museum, but it was still cool.

But the most unusual, and the coolest, thing I saw all day was this:

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C'mon, sing it with me -- Nananana nananana...Batman!

What remarkable thing have you seen lately?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Wind down Memorial Day with "Taking Chance"

Four years ago on Memorial Day weekend, I was taking advantage of the slow weekend and flipping through the channels. It was in the midst of a free HBO cable channel trial period and I happened on a movie called "Taking Chance."

I'll admit, I was first drawn in by Kevin Bacon. But I took my fingers off the TV remote because the story wrapped its emotions around me and didn't let me go.

"Taking Chance" is based on a true story and an article written by Marine Lt. Col. Mike Strobl, who volunteered to escort the body of fallen soldier PFC Chance Phelps back to his Wyoming hometown.

The film shows the reverence and care with which a soldiers body is readied for return home, the honor and respect the soldier and military escort are given throughout the journey home and the emotions experienced by many people along the way. 

What the movie does not do is take sides. It is not a propaganda piece for or against the military. It does not take advantage of the audience and try to hammer home a political message. "Taking Chance" is about people, not ideology. 

So if you are winding down your Memorial Day weekend and want to take some time to reflect on the purpose of this day, I encourage you to give "Taking Chance" some of your time. 

You can download it from Amazon Instant Video (pardon the messy link, I'm posting this from my phone):

If you watch it or if you've seen the movie before, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Say what, Google search?

I try hard not to use my phone in the car. I used to talk on the phone all the time while driving and I've been able to cut back on that. I'm pretty good about not texting, though I will answer a text when I'm stopped at a red light. My phone doesn't have Siri, so I don't have one of those talk-to-text features. But it does have a voice search function.

I can hold down the home button on the phone and say "Call Annie, mobile," and it will, which is pretty sweet. I can also use the voice search function to search Google. That comes in handy from time to time. Like last week, for instance. I was on my way to the Indiana Soybean Alliance for a blogger's event. I had a pretty good idea of where I was going, but wanted to confirm the address. So I held down the button, waited for the beep and said in (what I thought was a very) clear voice:

"Indiana Soybean Alliance"

What I said and what Google Voice heard were two different things. What Google gave back to me was: "Indiana Sleeping Alliance."  Not what I was looking for, but something I should keep in the back of my mind for future use.

So I tried it again, this time trying to be more clear with my enunciation: "Indiana Soybean Alliance"

Google Voice: "Indiana Floyd bean Alliance" Ugh. No.

Me: "Indi-ANa- SsssOY-beaN Alliance"

Google Voice: "Indiana silly bean Alliance"

Still determined, I decided to change the search a little, not sure if it was really the soybean alliance or the soybean board.

Me: "Indiana Soybean Board"

Google Voice: "Indiana saw you being bored"

Well, I don't know if anyone saw me being bored, but if they were looking in my direction, they  probably saw me being frustrated and shouting into the pinhole microphone of my phone.

Me: "IN-DI-AN-A SsoooY-beaN BOARD"
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Google Voice: "Indiana so you being bored"

Why I didn't just give up, I don't know. Call it determination or rage-born stubbornness. So I tried a different approach this time.

Me: "Soy BEAN Indiana"

Google Voice: "So I mean Indiana"

With that I waved the white flag and waited for the next red light, where I typed in "Indiana Soybean Alliance" and where Google promptly responded accurately. Finally.

Ahh...first world problems.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

This Mommy's favorite game - #LTYM 2013

As promised in yesterday's post, here is the text of the essay I read at Listen to Your Mother Indianapolis earlier this month:

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Photo by Mike Washington Photography

This Mommy’s Favorite Game
I’m not sure what happens at your house, but in our house, we spend a lot of time playing games. They mostly fall into two categories -- those that involve suicidal birds or digital versions of famous sports stars (I’m talking video games, people) and those that require hours of practice, driving to fields and gyms all over creation and result in foul-smelling laundry.

A typical weekend for our family looks like this:  basketball, soccer, play practice -- drama is a game all unto itself -- on Saturday, followed by more drama and soccer on Sunday. I’m sure you’re familiar with that.

But games are not just for kids. I have a favorite game that I like to play, too. It's called "Mommy's Legs Are Broken and She Can't Get Off the Couch."

My favorite game has just two basic rules:

1. It can only be played when there is nowhere anyone has to be, because Mommy's legs are pretty much required for driving to soccer practice. Which means getting to play this game is a darn near-miracle.

2. It can only be played when Daddy is not home. Otherwise Daddy will try to play too and, well, that just ruins everything.

Other than that, “Mommy’s Legs Are Broken” has no rules. There are no uniforms to be washed, although jammies are recommended.  No equipment necessary, but I will say that having the phone, iPad and TV remote within reach makes it  more enjoyable.

The game generally starts when one or more children ask for something that he or she is perfectly capable of getting for themselves.

Kid: "Mommy, can you get me a glass of milk?"

Me: "Nope. Sorry."

Kid: "Why not?"

Me: "Because Mommy's legs are broken and she can't get off the couch."

Kid: "Arrgghh! Not again! I hate this game."

Which is how you know this is a real game, because there are members of the "opposing" team saying not so nice things to your team.

From there, the game is totally up to the Mommy.

"Can you please bring me a Diet Coke?" -- Pleases and thank yous and other common courtesies are still expected. Mommy's legs may be broken, but her sense of social etiquette is not.

"Can you pick up all the shoes and take them to the right rooms upstairs?"

Generally, this game is a good way to get things accomplished, like having the family room picked up, without Mommy having to be the one to do all the work.

Warning: once the children get the hang of the game, they will try to play too. This is NEVER allowed. Kids’ legs are never broken. Only Mommy's.
The game can end in a variety of ways:

1.   Mommy's had enough rest that she feels ready to take on the family again. Please note: this has never, in the history of “Mommy’s legs are broken,” ever happened.

2.   The doorbell rings and a stranger is at the door. At this point,  Mommy must get off the couch because children are not allowed to open the door for strangers. (You can keep the game going by telling all the kids to be quiet and act like no one is home, hoping the stranger leaves soon.)

3.   A fight breaks out among the children resulting in blood or bones sticking out. Any other level of fighting can be dealt with from the couch, generally by leveling threats such as “no video games for a week” or “I will make tuna noodle casserole for dinner if you don’t knock it off.”

4.   The house catches fire and Mommy must evacuate.

There you have it. The basics of my favorite game, "Mommy's Legs Are Broken and She Can't Get Off the Couch." Coming in a boxed set with bonus margarita mix to a store near you this Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

They laughed at me

program photo program_zps88799fc3.jpgThey laughed at me and that was a very good thing. It's been 13 days since Listen to Your Mother -- Indianapolis. Almost two weeks since 14 of us stormed the stage at the Indiana History Center to share our tales of motherhood in all its glory...and other forms that motherhood takes.

The experience left me feeling like there are not enough words in the English language to describe the emotions, the mood and the connections. Amazing. Magical. Fantastical. Those are a few good ones to start.

Many of my fellow cast members shared stories that were poignant and heart-tugging. Not me. I have motherhood stories like that, sure. But I wanted to share laughter. When I read my piece at the first LTYM rehearsal, I was a little worried how it would be received. They laughed at me. Those 13 other women sat around the table and laughed at the words I'd written -- exactly as I'd hoped they would.

So on the night of Listen to Your Mother, I prayed that the nearly-sold out audience would find my words just as ticklish to their senses of humor.

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I launched into my piece, titled "This Mommy's Favorite Game." In the first few sentences, there were a few chuckles. But when I hit my first big punch line, close to 300 people looked at me, tossed back their heads and roared with laughter.

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 photo e70332c3-a369-4ad1-b64a-c51e605ee328_zps7860e9ed.jpgI loved it.

I stopped for a minute, looked around and soaked up all the laughter. It was like fuel for my soul. I kept moving through my story, more talking to my 300 closest friends for the moment than reading, pausing to listen to the chuckles, the guffaws, the chortles, the giggles.

And just like that, it ended. My piece was over and the laughter settled. But I can still hear it, still feel it's warmth. It's addicting. I crave it.

And I wonder just where it is that I will get my next fix. 

If you have just a minute, you can read the text of my humorous essay. And if you wait until later in the summer, I'll post the link to the video of whole dang show!

(PS -- Thanks to Mike Washington Photography for all the terrific photos.)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Almost showtime!

LTYM photo LTYM_mic_zps35a060dd.jpgListen to Your Mother - Indianapolis is just about 3 hours away and I'm trying to take my mind off the fact that Listen to Your Mother is just about 3 hours away.

I'm not really nervous. I love an audience! But I am excited in a "maybe I need a pre-show glass of wine" sort of way. I spent the morning getting things ready:

Clothes for Robbie's school program tonight...(his clothes, not mine)...CHECK.

E-mail directions to the theatre to my dad...(because apparently he doesn't have Google)...CHECK.

Steal Annie's makeup...(because I don't really own any)...CHECK.

Curling iron...CHECK

New shoes that might add a hint of unwelcome realism to my piece if I'm not careful...CHECK.

Two versions of my outfit...(because I still don't know what to wear)...CHECK.



Extra underwear...(Hey! You never know...)...CHECK.

I want to text Mike and tell him not to bring me flowers or anything. But I'm afraid he'll say he wasn't planning to bring me flowers or anything and then I might be disappointed.

I'm a little embarrassed that the pre-show slideshow will display me in varying degrees of fatness. "Oh look, there's skinny (skinnier) Amy." "Oh, there you are...what happened to you?!" But so proud that my beautiful kids and my wonderful mom will also grace the screen with me.

I'm humbled by the friends who purchased tickets and are coming to the show to hear me read my piece.

Mostly, I'm just so honored to be part of this cast. These women have stories to tell -- amazing stories and ordinary stories told in amazing ways.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tastes that take me home -- #giveaway

I grew up, mostly, in Dayton, Ohio. It's not too far from my now common-law-hometown of Indianapolis, which is nice because that means I get back there often enough to satisfy a few hometown cravings:
  • Marion's Pizza -- the deluxe version with a deluxe salad on the side. The pizza crust is thin and crispy and delicious. The salad has tiny, little cubes of mozzarella and green olives, along with all the other salad usuals. It's the olives that make it fantastic!
  • Super Subby's -- I order one of three things at Subby's. Turkey on wheat with provolone and light mayo. Tuna salad on wheat with lettuce and tomato. Or Subby's chili with mushrooms and provolone. I got hooked on that cup of deliciousness when I was working into the wee hours of the morning at Adventure Golf.
  • UDF Cherry Cordial Ice Cream -- This is the one item for which I will break my "no buying food from a gas station" rule. It's pink heaven with chocolate pieces in a bowl.
  • Esther Price Candies -- Esther Price was my first taste of GOOD chocolate. It will always hold a special place in my heart. 
The only problem is that in order to enjoy these treats, I have to actually go to Dayton to get them.

Fortunately, there is one more hometown food that I like and can get anytime I want to. That would be Mikesell's potato chips and pretzels. I get those right in my own grocery store. My favorites are the Groovy Chips and the Baked Pretzel Rods. So when the PR peo -- WAIT! This just in! You can buy Mikesell's and Esther Price Chocolate Covered Potato Chips! Do I hear Mother's Day calling?!...but I digress...

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As I was saying, when the PR people for Mikesell's contacted me to ask if I would like to receive some samples of Mikesell's newest snacks, it didn't take me long to say "sign me up!"

What I received was a box containing samples of three products:
  • Kettle-cooked Sour Cream & Onion chips -- Quite tasty. I'm not usually a fan of the onion part of sour cream and onion chip, but the flavor of these was mild enough to be enjoyable. The chip itself was thick and nicely fried.
  • Kettle-cooked Bold Jamaican Jerk chips -- Mike tried these and liked them (I was too chicken.) He said they were "Hot. Unexpectedly hot, but the burn died down quickly.
  • Cinnamon Toast Puffcorn -- These were not our favorite. The cinnamon came through nicely, but we weren't fans of the texture. However, if you like the Taco Bell cinnamon crisps, these would be a good snack for you.   
And now here's the part you've been waiting can win a three-month supply* of Mikesell's snacks -- the three I listed above and other Mikesell's snacks. 

* Please note: I'm not sure if these Mikesell's people have ever met a teenage boy. So let the caveat emptor say that one person's three-month supply may only last a week in someone else's house. 

To enter to win the free prize pack of snack sensations, leave a comment on this blog post (which means if you are reading this on Facebook, you need to click through and leave your comment on the actual post) answering the question below:

What kind of chip person are you? Regular? Baked? Kettle-cooked? Flavored? If you're more of a pretzel person, you can let me know that too.  

Also, if you are reading this on Facebook, check out the Mikesell's Facebook page too.  

I will draw a winner using on Saturday, May 4 at 9pm EDT. The winner will be announced here and on the 4th Frog Facebook page. The hungry winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
Giveaway open to U.S. residents ages 18 and up only. 

(Please excuse the wonky formatting on this post. I've been messing with the code to fix it and I'm just calling it "good enough.")