Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Lunch Time

This is the month of Thanksgiving here in the states, so I feel it's only appropriate to state at least one thing I'm grateful for this month, so....

One of the things about my job for which I am so grateful is my lunch time.

Hmmmm....that doesn't sound too good, does it?

But, seriously, I can have some really great lunches because I'm close to some great places....

like home is just 10 or 15 minutes away, so Pat and the kids can come meet me whenever I (or they) want.

I'm also close to a park my kids play at sometimes. Although this creepy woman started hanging out there during lunch, too, so I've stopped going.

There's also some great eating places in the neighborhood, like one of the best burger joints, and a fantastic Thai restaurant, and a really good salad place when I'm feeling healthy.

But there's another place that I absolutely love, and it hit me a few days ago how lucky I am to work so close to this. I go there and sit on a park bench or a picnic table and read or try to do some writing,

and I have this to look at...

and this...

and this is one of the places I used to go to write when I was a teen and an early twenty-something and I wrote that sordid soap opera for years....

and now I work just 5 minutes from there.

That's just one of the things I'm grateful for -

a beautiful respite in my day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo - It's a No Go!

This year I decided to join Nanowrimo

a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month: "Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!"

Since it started on November 1st I have...

Cleaned the house

Baked a cake

Baked muffins

Organized my files

Written so many blogs I actually have a backlog

Offered to work as much overtime as needed

Walked the dog so much she now refuses to go out

Redecorated the house

Knitted a scarf

Started exercising again

Joined Procrastinator's Anonymous

And I've written exactly 2248 words out of the 25,005 words I'm supposed to have written on my novel.

I don't feel like I'm getting anything done.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Yesterday my husband was hit with some sad news.

One of his music heroes - who had turned into a friend - passed away yesterday.

This is my own little tribute to that friend.

My husband Pat moved from his home state of Utah to Texas in 1991 to pursue his dream of playing guitar. Once he arrived in Texas he discovered the blues: Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Howling Wolf...and then there was Stevie Ray Vaughan. A guitarist who kicked the blues up to a whole new level.

Not long after arriving, Pat formed a band and began touring, which eventually led to a high profile gig (in the blues world anyway). He played in several countries and all across the states, meeting many people he admired, even B.B. King. I think that's the only man who's ever brought Pat to tears - until yesterday, that is.

Another musician Pat met was Doyle Bramhall, the songwriter and inspiration for many of Stevie Ray Vaughan's hits. Pat met Doyle through Chris Hunter, Doyle's step-son, who played drums in the same band with Pat. Pat and Doyle talked, hung out, and played together. Pat gained great respect for Doyle pretty quickly. He was mega talented, and unlike so many successful entertainers, carried himself with no conceit. Pat always prided himself that Doyle (the man who partnered with Stevie Ray Vaughan) loved his guitar playing. Pat played on one of Doyle's cd's not long after they met.

I wasn't able to spend much time with Doyle, I only had a handful of times with him, but there is one memory that immediately came to mind when Pat told me the news yesterday. About seven years ago, Doyle and his wife Barbara were visiting in town. With a 5-year-old Savannah in tow, we met up with them at a local Starbucks to give them some baby clothes to take back to Chris for his little girl. After a brief conversation they invited us to lunch. They were hungry for Tex-Mex (and who isn't in Texas??), so we took them to our favorite haunt. Doyle was so friendly, and spoke easily with our little Savannah, and had me crying with laughter as he told past stories from the road. That lunch led to a full day together: all five of us driving around the city, talking, laughing, and sharing stories and food. Both Doyle and Barbara left a lasting impression on me and I was always happy to see them when they came to town.

I'll forever be grateful to Doyle for the compliments and confidence he gave my husband,

for the way he welcomed me,

for the way he talked with Savannah,

and for the music he gave us.

RIP, Doyle.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sound the Alarm!

Like many moms, I constantly compare my parenting skills to others.

I try to emulate their patience, and then I snap at Sarah when she won't quit pulling on my shirt over...and over....and over.

I work so hard to be more attentive to my kids, and then I shush them when I'm watching Modern Family.

I try to be more health conscious to keep their bodies growing strong instead of wide, and then I stop at the nearest drive-thru and order burgers and fries.

One thing all moms do, though, is have days when you think you're going to absolutely lose it!

The other day while I was cooking dinner and getting tomato sauce all over my favorite white shirt, Savannah kept coming in asking for various snacks, Sarah was hanging on to the back of my shirt like she loves to do, Pace was crying at my feet wanting to be held, and telemarketers wouldn't stop ringing my phone.

I had a sudden urge for a glass of wine...a piece of chocolate...something that would give me a quick respite.

Then I remembered an article I read in a parenting magazine about the rise in the number of women who have become addicted to prescription pills.

Is it bad that I wanted to search for that article so I could get some tips on which pills work best???

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Pros and Cons of My Career Change

In March of this year, after much deliberation, I left my full-time job at an organization where I had grown, gained more and more responsibility, and actually surprised myself numerous times with my ability over the past ten years. You can read about my pain-staking decision here.

A couple months ago I took a part-time position as the Office Administrator for a local church. Yes, that means I’m the church secretary, but my official title is “Office Administrator,” and I’m sticking with it.

Over the last few days I've been thinking about the good, the bad, and damned-near ugly that has come from my career change. I guess you could say I've been trying to verify that I made a good decision. Here's what I've come up with so far:

1) No more traveling! I felt so guilty leaving Pat home with three kids each time I traveled and my trips were getting ready to increase. It also didn't help my guilty conscience to have a three-year-old screaming, "Don't go, Mommy!" when I walked out the door.

2) Less stress. I’m no longer receiving threatening e-mails from my Senior Vice President, which means I no longer grind my teeth (or plot someone's demise) in my sleep.

3) Less time at work and more time at home. I work four days a week, I'm able to sleep in a little later, I must close up the office for an hour lunch each day, and I get out of work before rush hour hits. These are my dream hours!

4) No make-or-break decisions. I don't sweat over the big, suffocating, eye-twitching, budget-making or breaking decisions anymore. That is someone else's job now.

1) No more full-time pay or benefits. Bye-bye, new boots and low co-pay! "Honey, I know you like to climb on the table, dive on to the couch, and then roll off on to the floor all while sucking on a lollipop and holding scissors, but Mommy really needs you to stay healthy right now. She needs a new pair of shoes."

2) No more traveling, which means no more free five-star meals or facials, or massages. If there's going to be any spoiling, I'll have to do it myself. However, see Con #1.

3) Being called a “Church Secretary.” Yes, I know that’s what I am, but for some reason it drives me up the wall when someone calls me the church secretary. See image above.

4) I have to watch my language. I’m the church secretary, you know. And, man, is that hard! Especially when I want to cuss someone out or throw this dinosaur of a computer out the window.

Overall, though, I have to say that I'm really glad I made the decision to leave and I stuck with it. My bank balance may be smaller, and I may not have all the little perks that I did before, but at least I sleep well at night, don't dread the mornings, and have more time to hang out with my kiddos....which is the best PRO of all!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Extra Credit

Today's post is once again for Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writing Workshop.

Today I decided to combine two of the writing prompts into one blog: (1) elaborate on one of the 22 things I've done (#11), and (2) write a blog with eight lines. I get extra credit for this, right?

And now...

The Story of the Deaf Guy in Eight Lines

I worked in a hot tourist attraction selling t-shirts in the West End

A magician's shop that employed some cute guys who possessed the sleight of hand was right next door.

One day one of those cute guys brought over a new, even cuter guy who could not hear or speak.

This new, cuter guy kept looking and smiling in my direction and I thought, I need to learn sign language and fast!

So I bought a book and studied day and night

One of the magician’s who noticed me flirting with the new guy pulled me aside and whispered, “You can’t go out with him – he’s been charged with sexually assaulting a minor!”

Unfortunately, it turned out to be true and my fascination with him vanished like Copperfield’s assistant.

A good thing came out of all this, though, when a deaf couple came in to my store a few months later and I was able to communicate with them!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Last Trick-or-Treat

Last night was a fairly traditional Halloween for us: a dinner of mummy dogs and chips followed by trick-or-treating and lots of candy eating. Although we opted to skip the scary movie and watched "Castle" instead. Savannah & I have grown to love that show!

For the last couple of years, my sweet, soft-spoken Savannah has taken to scary costumes. This year she was a blood-sucking zombie basketball player.

Sarah wanted to be Rapunzel, but, alas, we were unable to find the long, flowing hair for our fair maiden. She finally agreed to be a fairy princess.

Pace, still not quite able to communicate, had absolutely NO say in his costume.


Oops! I mean, maybe next year, little guy.

He went as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

His costume turned out to be the hit of the evening, and all I did was add a headset to a Cowboys outfit already hanging in his closet. Touchdown!

But the event of the evening that really woke me up was at one of the last houses we visited. Pace and I were slowly making our way up the path when Savannah and Sarah raced by us.

“Trick or treat!” they both proclaimed.

Pace and I waddled up (I swear, Pace walks like an old penguin.) as Sarah received her candy. The lady looked up at me and said, “Where did your older one go?” I looked around to find Savannah standing on the sidewalk with her dad.

“Anyone who says trick-or-treat gets a piece of candy. Would you give her this?” the neighbor said placing a candy bar in my hand. I took it to Savannah and asked why she left.

“I’m just too old for this, Mom.”

And that was that.

I now have a kid that’s too old to trick-or-treat. Wait…I need to stretch out my creaky knees and put on my reading glasses. The words have suddenly grown blurry.

So the plan for next year is Savannah will stay home and pass out candy while the “kids” go trick-or-treating.

She’s growing up, folks, and I can’t stop it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Few Things I've Done

I’ve taken the leap!

I’ve decided to try my first writing prompt for Mama Kat’s Almost World Famous Writing Workshop.

Luckily, this prompt doesn’t get me shaking as much as others, so it may be the perfect start.

One side note before I start: this list will be edited since both my mother and my daughter read my blog.

Without further ado….

22 Things I’ve Done in My Life

1. Hid in the bushes of my school in Kindergarten when my mom was late picking me up.  I was afraid I would be kidnapped.

2. Almost kidnapped in third grade walking home from school.  (I guess I had given up on Mom in my mature years).  A van pulled up beside me and a man got out and started walking toward me.  I took off running down our alley and a bamboo shoot went up my thumb nail while I frantically tried to open our gate.  I heard the van door shut and speed off.

3. Learned to drive on the back roads in the Piney Woods of East Texas at the tender age of 11.  And, yes, I drove my aunt around town for many years before I received my license at 18…but you didn’t hear that from me!

4. Wrote a secret, on-going soap opera throughout middle school and high school.  I even had set and costume design planned out the entire time.

5. Went to a fantastic high school.  I attended the Arts Magnet high school in downtown Dallas.  We didn’t dance on the tables like they did in “Fame,” but I did walk the halls with Erica Badu, get stoned with jazz-great Roy Hargrove, and acted in a play with Elizabeth Mitchell from “Lost” and “V.”  I loved high school!

6. Had a mad man at my front door.  He was trying to get in the house with a knife.  I was 15 and terrified.  Thank God for neighbors and the cops!

7. Belly laughed many times with my best friend through high school and my twenties.  We actually recorded ourselves one night and then played it back.  We ended up on the floor laughing at ourselves laughing.   Does that even make sense?  At one point it became completely silent; we were laughing so hard we couldn't get any sound out, only gasps for breath - both on the tape and while we were listening.  I love it when you can laugh yourself into silence! 

8. Fell into the fountain still wearing my maid of honor dress after my sister’s wedding.  Yes, alcohol was involved.

9. “Acted” in the Video of the Year for 1989.  I was in Don Henley’s “The End of the Innocence” video, which was filmed in the Dallas area.  My one, solitary scene was filmed at Union Station downtown.  In case you’re dying of curiosity, here’s a link to the video on Yahoo! Music.  You know you wanna see it!  That’s me as The Bride at 3:47.  I was 19, skinny, and had high aspirations of making it big. *sigh*

10. Had my hair butchered onstage by an “internationally known hairstylist.”  Yeah-right.  Internationally known for crap!  I will say that my own hair stylist managed to turn it into something really cute, but it was the shortest I had ever been.     

11. Learned sign language so I could date a cute deaf guy.  Turned out he was a pedophile.  That pretty much sums up my pre-Pat dating life.

12. Started my period on my wedding day. *sigh*

13. Been on David Letterman.  Not as a guest, though  Pat and I scored free tickets to be in the audience.  When we watched the show that night, there we were when the camera scanned the audience:  I was laughing and Pat shot his arms up in the air to be seen.  It worked!

14. Watched my husband play for thousands at Jazz Fest in New Orleans several times.  I got that old-time, pre-marriage butterfly feeling watching the crowd go nuts after his guitar solos.

15. Met Clint Eastwood at the Monterey Jazz Festival.  He was there to interview a woman Pat played in a band with.  Mr. Eastwood was so gracious and made sure I was included in the conversation. 

16. Performed with my husband twice a week for the last three years. 

17. Stayed at two “haunted” hotels and managed to scare the crap out of myself both times.  (A story may be coming on Halloween.  Mwah!)

18. Took a leap of faith and left a torturous work environment without knowing I had a net to catch me.  It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

19. Lost a baby in utero.

20. Gave birth to three extraordinary people who have changed my life for the better.

21. Gave birth to one of those three extraordinary people without drugs.  Believe me, I wanted the drugs!  She just came too fast.

22. Married a man that actually gets me (most of the time), allows me to be really immature and goofy (and frankly dives right on in there with me), and has learned to work around my many moods (and there are a lot).  Oh yes!  And we make beautiful music together. *blush*

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Savannah's First Concert

Two tickets to see Taylor Swift in concert...


Cost to park at Cowboys Stadium....


Cost to see Savannah's face when Taylor Swift steps onstage....


It was a very good girl's night out!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Eleven Years

On this day eleven years ago, early in the morning, I was driving to east Texas with Savannah, then 20 months old, in the backseat. My sister Valarie had called a few minutes after six to tell me our father had died after a hard battle with bone cancer.

We knew it was inevitable he would be gone soon, I just wasn't ready for it to be that soon. I had just left his house 36 hours before. He had suddenly seemed to be getting a second wind. Wanting to eat and laugh, trying to get up from his bed, a hospital bed placed in his den so he could be with his family. We now know that was the surge of energy terminally ill patients get before they die. It can last for one hour, two days, or two weeks. I wish I would have known.

Today, eleven years later - hard to believe - I still find myself grieving. All day I've been quick to grow angry, cry, or feel overwhelmed. Dustin Hoffman once said you never get over the loss of a parent. I couldn't agree more. It seems strange that my three kids will never know their Grandpa Ralph and just how much he would have loved them.....does love them.

But as the day draws to an end, I want to remember the good things,

not the drive I had to take that morning,

or selecting his casket,

or walking away from the gravesite.

I want to remember his hugs.

How he smelled of saw dust and sweat when he came in from his workshop.

How he ate his fries with a fork.

And hearing him say, "Pass the sugar, Sugar."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grandma's Front Porch

Last March I took a leap of faith.

(You can read about my decision to leap here.)

I left my job...

a secure job...

a well-paying job...

a job with benefits...

a job with a HELL of a lot of stress and leadership that made everyone's life difficult.

For too long I was gritting my teeth, tired all the time, quick to lose my temper, and very hard to live with. I felt I was getting a nudge from something greater than me to leave - that there was another path waiting. So after a lot of discussion with Pat I turned in my notice.

I was on cloud nine for weeks, but after time passed and no yellow brick road or sparkly red shoes magically appeared, and a mystical voice didn't whisper sweet anything in my ear, I began to doubt my decision and the tension crept back in to my jaw, shoulders, and home.

Savannah was due to go to my mother's for a visit at the beginning of the summer. We typically meet my mom half way instead of taking the entire 3-hour drive, but this time I decided to make the whole trek. As we drove down the narrow country road leading to her house, trees forming a thick canopy over the car, it all seemed so familiar to me. A place of love, family, and home.

My mom now lives with her sister, my Aunt Peggy, in the house they grew up in, the house my grandfather built in 1931. It's the place I visited every summer and many holidays. It's where my grandmother, aka G-ma, rubbed my back until I fell asleep; it's where my mud bakery spanned the vast front yard complete with mud pies, mud cakes, and mud cookies, and where I snapped fresh peas and peeled potatoes from G-ma's garden as I sat next to her on the porch. Despite the memories I hold, I don't believe I ever fully appreciated the comfort this place provided until this recent trip.

I was in need of calm; something to get my mind to stop. I was sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, the same one G-ma sat in for many years, when I heard thunder in the distance. Not long after a soft rain began to fall. A breeze blew in with the rain and eased the Texas heat. I could feel the coolness brush my face and listened to the rain drops softy land on the trees and grass. and I felt my body sink down into the rocking chair as it released the stress. I laid my head back and enjoyed the moment; a much needed moment to gain a little peace of mind. A moment that I now refer to when I feel my jaw tense up, my "safe harbor" as author David Trottier calls it.

I go to my safe harbor, my grandmother's front porch, and bring all of my senses with me, and just let go...if just for a moment.

What about you? What's your safe harbor?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This was me fourteen years ago today...

It's been quite a roller coaster.

A ride with




and relief.

And I don't want to get off.

Happy Anniversary, Pat!

I love you!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Belated Birthday

I let Biscuit’s birthday pass last week without much fanfare. She turned two on the second. It was late in the day before I realized it and we were iced in most of the week, so I didn’t make it out for the new squeaky toy I had planned to buy her. Pat pulled out a big rawhide bone so she could have a special treat that evening.

I’ve never been big on celebrating pets’ birthdays. Partly because I never knew their actual birthdays, only a guess at which month they were born based on the vet’s estimate. Even so, I felt bad about almost missing Biscuit’s b-day this year. I feel like she’s gotten the short end of the stick, and I’m to blame.

She was a few weeks old when we brought her home, only a couple months after our beloved Clyde passed. I wrote about it on her first birthday last year, so I won’t bore you with the details again.

I don’t know if Biscuit came to us too soon, while my grief was so raw I was tender to the touch, but she and I have never completely meshed well.

I hate to say it, but “the dog” grates my nerves, and I think it’s all because I compare her to Clyde, two totally different dogs. Clyde was small, sweet, and obedient. You could pet him without getting smashed in the nose, although he did lick a lot. He greeted you at the door with a smile and a wag of the tail, and he was a perfect leash walker, walking with an heir of dignity about him and showing off for the other dogs locked behind fences. And last but not least, he lived peacefully with our cat Gilligan.

Biscuit, well, she’s insane. Of course she’s two, which calculates to fourteen, a horrible year for hormones. I remember my fourteenth year, except I didn’t follow people around licking at their heels or stretching my tongue to eat meat off the counter, though I did bark at quite a few people.

But I digress…

A complete opposite of Clyde, Biscuit is tall and muscular. She goes nuts whenever you try to pet her. I’ve had many a sore chin and nose just for trying to show her some love. I’m greeted by 60 pounds of dog pushing me down when I walk in the door - and that’s just coming back from getting the mail. You can’t walk her on a leash without having to drag her or her dragging you. And I’ll certainly never be able to own another cat for fear she’ll eat them for breakfast.

We should have named her Marley...

(Yes, we’ve had to replace our bedding because of Biscuit.)

but I thought I was getting that sweet, cuddly dog from the vet’s office. Man, she pulled one over on me.

Pat likes to remind me that Clyde was mischievous when he was young, too. I guess I have selective memory. There was that one time he slid down the roof of our house from the second story and landed in the bushes. And it took him a few months to catch on to the leash and pooping outside. And he used to run around the living room in lightening-fast circles leaving cushions in the dust.

I try to remember that Biscuit is young. No, she’s not Clyde, but she’s a good dog, a sweet dog, and she deserves just as much love as Clyde.

I guess I just need to buy a hockey goalie’s mask to give it to her.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Time to Bloom

I have a bouquet of flowers sitting on my table that’s eight days old. I’ve removed a few wilted blooms, but it still looks beautiful. Usually by now most of the flowers would lie limp and pitiful and I would be forced to throw them out, even though I don’t want to. Fresh flowers are a rare treat for me. But this particular bouquet is still standing tall and showcasing lavender lilies, white daisies, and pink mums. I think they’re still thriving on the excitement I felt when I bought them.

You see, eight days ago I turned in my resignation at work after three years of growing increasingly unhappy with the leadership. I was at the point of dreading Mondays…and Tuesdays…and Wednesdays….and, you get the point. But it was more than just dread.

I grew increasingly tense the closer my car came to the building. By the time I drove into the parking garage I was throwing curse words at anyone and anything I saw. Okay, maybe I didn’t literally yell profanities at innocent co-workers who happened to cross my path – I still had to work with them, you know – but I certainly thought them. I also grew resentful of meetings (especially those at 4:00 on Fridays – I mean, seriously!), and colleagues that expected me to work with the detail that used to come natural to me. I blamed my lack of that detail on having a third baby, when in actuality my morale had tanked.

The culprit: the organization I used to be so proud to work for has changed, and what used to be a friendly environment has become quite toxic, and I've grown bitter.

The worst of it all, I brought my unhappiness home. I tried to nip my bad mood in the bud when I walked in the door, but many times I was unsuccessful. And honestly, no job is worth having an unhappy home.

Pat and I discussed the possibility of me leaving for the last few months, but fear always kept me tied down and just when I didn’t think things could get worse, they did. I had no idea how I was going to drag myself into that office every morning without imploding. I was getting headaches, I was physically and mentally exhausted, and I had chest pains. My body was trying to send me signals, or giving up on me.

When I didn’t act on my body’s message, I received it from another direction: church. Two weeks ago the topic was to trust God enough to take a leap and know that He will lead you where you need to go. All of the songs I sang were speaking to me:

Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, help me stand.
I’m tired, I’m weak, I am worn.

One of my band mates sang a song titled “Word of God Speak.” It’s all about shutting up and listening. As I stood waiting to sing harmony with him I had this feeling of something surround me. It was like I was in this warm pocket and I could feel the music envelop me.

Afterward I talked with a close friend about my feelings during the service and she pulled out a quote that she just happened to have with her. She said it helped her while she was having difficulties and she had thought of me recently when she ran across it again.

What was it about? Taking a leap and trusting that there will be a net to catch you or you will be given wings to fly.

I don’t know how it sounds to you, but I feel like I was getting all kinds of messages that day.

After much discussion and many freak outs with Pat, we both decided it was time for me to get out. I had one final meeting with my superiors that confirmed everything I was feeling and the next morning I plopped my resignation on my supervisor’s desk.

I. Am. Done.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Except when my doubts creep up, and fear settles in, and I think that I was crazy to believe I was receiving messages.

I think that’s why the flowers are still flourishing. They thrive as a reminder of the confidence and joy I felt that day.

I’ve taken the leap and hope there will be a net to catch me, or better yet, I’ll be given the wings to fly.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Am I Still in Texas?

Where do I live?

In Texas, right?

Down south where the winters are short and you rarely get below the 30s?

Isn’t that why I love it here?

Or I used to.

But the last two years have been rather freakish.

We typically have one snow/ice day a year when school is out and you stay home from work with a fire in the hearth and jaunts outside to build a snowman; a snowman that used up all of the snow in the yard. He looked like Pig Pen from Peanuts with patches of brown grass stuck in his snow body.

Now, and I mean this very minute, we can build a family of snow people and still have enough powdery stuff left to trudge through.

I don’t know if I like this. I admit that I don’t like having to wear shorts on Christmas Day, as we’ve had to do occasionally, but this is getting ridiculous.

Remember December of 2009? We had a White Christmas. And last February we had two separate winter “events.” One was known as a Mini Snow-pocalypse, which only lasted a couple days. Not too bad. The other was the Texas snowstorm from hell that knocked out our electricity for 40 hours. We had to keep our milk and eggs in the foot of snow on our deck.

I thought that was just a freak winter for us Texans, but oh no. I had to be proven wrong. We’ve had about an inch of ice on the roads since Monday night, temps in the teens and single digits all week, and then I woke this morning to 6” of snow. School has been closed for an unprecedented four days straight, and I’ve been working from home just as long. I do love being home with my family, but my toes are cold.

I think Mother Nature’s trying to tell me geography no longer matters. I’m trying to make a deal with her, though. If I now have to live with these wickedly cold February months, she should drop the temps down at least a little bit in August.

It’s only fair.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mac and What???

I tried an experiment last night and, oh, how successful it was.

Let me take you back to the beginning of my research…

When Pace was just a couple weeks old he turned into a crier. We thought he would grow out of it in a few days like Savannah did and just have a brief spell of colic. No such luck. It was hard to soothe him for several weeks and we were at each other’s throats due to lack of sleep.

After a little Googling and reading and talking (to myself usually – I do that a lot), I decided to cut out dairy and see if it would ease our baby boy. Of course almost everything I love contains some kind of dairy, so following some very frustrating days I found a couple of books on Amazon to see if I could gain some tasty recipes to help me through this “sacrificial” time. Yes, I’m wringing this out for every bit it’s worth, and, yes, I’ll remind Pace what I did for him when I need an upper hand.

I purchased a dairy-free book. It was pretty much soy replacements everywhere. Not quite what I was looking for, although I don’t know why I thought it would be different. And then I found a vegan cookbook. The Amazon reviews raved about it, especially over the “Mac & Cheeze” recipe, stating that recipe was worth the price of the book.

I used some of her soup & Mexican recipes (no soy in sight - yeah!) and all have been delicious, but because it was summertime I used that as my excuse not to try the Mac & Cheeze. I didn’t want to heat up the, I feared the gag reflex: my families and my own.

With a resolution to make my family healthier and to incorporate more vegetarian & vegan meals in our weekly diets I decided to give the Mac & Cheeze a try last night. To my delight it didn’t have any soy cheese or milk in the ingredients list. Instead it was nuts & veggies that made the “cheeze” sauce. I have to admit I did worry when I poured it over the macaroni and I was very hesitant as I dished it out on to our plates, even though it looked exactly like mac & cheese as we know it.

The first test – Savannah: "Mmmmm. This is soooo good!" as she stuffed another bite in her mouth.
(She still has no clue there was no cheese in it, so sssshhhhh!)

Next up – Sarah: "I no want it!"
(She wouldn’t want it even if it had real cheese in it, so no surprise there.)

I had the next taste: "Wow!" Seriously! It was so good. Not cheesy and gooey, but moist and very tasty, and it had a slight sweet flavor to it as well from the pureed onions & carrots.

Then came the big guy, the carnivore, the past Atkins follower: "Oh man. What a great meal!"

That’s right folks, the vegan Mac & Cheeze was a hit in the home of a meat-loving, dairy-guzzling family! I’m so impressed I have to tell you the name of the book:

“Quick and Easy Comfort Food” by Alicia C Simpson.

She seriously rocks! Check out her book. You won’t be disappointed.

You can always do what I did and serve your vegan side dish with pork chops & and green beans cooked with bacon. Kind of an oxymoron, right?

I know what you’re thinking…

Who the hell are you? And why are you coming back so nonchalant, like you haven't been missing for weeks???

I realize you were tempted to put my face on a milk carton, but just trust me when I say that things have been crazy and pretty much hellish.

I sure did miss you, though.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I admire my mother for many reasons.

She’s immensely talented in music and word.

She’s highly intelligent.

She can laugh at herself.

She found her calling after having kids.

She’s a pioneer in her career.

She‘s given several of the best sermons I’ve ever heard.

She’s a calming presence.

And one thing that gives me hope: she found a way to live out a dream after she qualified for a Senior’s Blue Plate Special.

My mother has had a love affair with England for many, many years. Throughout my childhood and teen years Sunday nights were reserved for British comedies. There was no getting around it, no matter how badly I tried.

She wanted to travel to England throughout her life, but first came college, then came love, then came babies, and then came a career with a not-so-high salary. Dreams of travel drifted further and further away.

Then one day after retirement she heard of a program that sent retired preacher’s to the UK. She applied and, of course, was accepted. A year living in England followed. And she had the time of her life – aside from all of the amazing times she’s had with me, of course; frustrating teen angst and all.

Being a tall, elegant, American lady, she was treated like the Queen herself. Who wouldn’t love that? She lived by the Black Sea, whipped around the roundabouts (going the wrong way, I might add!) in a Mr. Bean car, developed many lasting friendships, and fell in love.

Of course her favorite time that year was when Savannah and I came to stay with her for two weeks.

(I love this picture of Savananah @ 4!)

She’s given me hope that those dreams I’ve yet to accomplish may still come true.

One other thing - she’s showered me with love my entire life.

I love you, Mama.

Happy birthday!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Year of No Fear

Happy New Year!

It’s another beginning.

Another clean slate.

Another chance to make lifelong changes.

At least that’s what millions like to believe.

I’m no different. Every year I make new resolutions, with the exception of last year, and I didn’t accomplish much in 2010 except for managing to hang on to the baby weight after Pace was born.

Now that I think about it, though, dealing with a demanding baby, a preschooler who’s stuck in the Terrible Twos, and a tween filled with attitude, not to mention my demanding full-time job with a boss I can’t stand, and not killing anyone by Dec. 31?...that’s quite an accomplishment!

This time next year, however, I’d like to be able to say that I have a busy toddler, a sweet preschooler, and a teen whose attitude I can deal with a little better, AND a job I love, plus a book that’s ready to be considered for publication.

The secret to the last two, or three?

Conquering fear. Or at least not allowing it to block me. I don’t know that I, or anyone, can actually conquer fear, but we can find ways to push past it. Me being the Self Help Queen should be able to manage that.

According to the hundreds of books I’ve read on career changes, living a more creative life, conquering clutter, getting fit, looking younger, being a better mother, being a better wife, being a better employee, being a better writer, and on and on and on (Yes, I do a lot of reading and not much doing, but I can coach anyone to almost anything they want to accomplish. Hmmm….maybe that’s a possible new career!), one of the first things you need to do is find support. For me, that would be my husband, my great friend Crystal, and my family – my mother, my sister, and my aunt.

You also need to make yourself accountable to someone so that you’ll work to keep from embarrassing yourself. Looks like that’s you guys!

Next, you need to have some kind of map. I’m working on monthly goals and at the end of each month I’ll check in with myself to see what I’ve done. For instance, by the end of January I hope to have applied for three positions (God willing there’s three I’m interested in) and my updated resume posted on a career website. I also want to have two more chapters completed for my book.

Those are completely doable goals that will help move me forward. I just need to make the time and push past my fear of getting a new job (What if it’s worse than where I am? What if I hate it, too? What if I’m no good at it?), or the fear that I constantly battle in my writing, both my book and my blog. (I have nothing to say! Is this any good? Did I ever learn proper grammar?)

Are there any changes you’ve wanted to make, but have allowed fear to stop you?

Join me on my quest this year. Let’s battle fear together and make 2011 the year we conquered those HUGE goals.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do a little decluttering.

Did I mention I’m a procrastinator?