Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Amazing day

written last week, but posted today....
Today, I had a fabulous day! … A family that I have been working with for 4 year was able to purchase their first home  today.   I cannot explain the happiness that I feel…

First let me introduce you to the family… When I met Patrice and Maurice, they were up to their ears in debt and credit issues.  They were living in a rental home that was not safe for their family.  They needed to get out, and get out quick.   Now, their credit issues were not your normal run of the mill credit problems.  They were totally under water from medical bills.   Within days of delivering her premature twin boys, it was discovered that one child had a problem.    He was rushed into surgery to remove a large portion of his intestine.  About the same time, Mom suffered a heart attack.  So, Dad was faced with one premature child fighting for his life after a serious surgery, one child fighting low birth weight and a wife that was recovering from a serious illness as well.  It didn’t take long for the bills to pile on, and the emotional strain to take hold.
I met them through an organization that helped families with medically fragile children, and offered to help them pro bono.  I fell in love with the mom immediately due to her enormous heart and joyful attitude.  It was their dream to own a home.  I have never seen a family work so hard towards a goal.  And, I’ve never seen a more optimistic, hopeful  example of believing in your dream.  These guys never gave up.   They trusted God, and just never, ever gave up.  I have been blessed to be working with them.

I saw miracles during this process… finding the perfect rental home with a fantastic landlord that treated them fairly.  This took several tries, but they never gave up.  After several years of good payment history, and hard work to reduce their debt, they were able to purchase the house they were renting.  The landlord and his wife have been a true blessing to this family.   

I have learned so much during this process.  I’ve learned that when you help someone out of the goodness of your heart, you can’t help but be blessed.  I’ve learned that watching faith in action is the most amazing thing you can ever see.  I’ve learned that being positive and continuing towards a goal eventually pays off.  And, when it does, it feels wonderful.   I’ve also learned that you can feel great joy by helping someone else accomplish their goal.

I received a text last night that said “We’re too excited to sleep – thank you for helping us get here”.    It was just the boost that I needed to remind me that hard work pays off.   Yes, it took  a long time, but we stuck with it.  All the money in the world can’t compare to this.   So… when you ask me why I continue to do this job… this is why… 

Saturday, December 25, 2010


It's Christmas!  The time to celebrate Christ, and to enjoy time with your family.  Our family has long standing traditions of making sure we get to see all the family at Christmas. 

On Christmas Eve, we head over to my Mom's house to see my parents and brothers, sister-in-laws and my neices and nephews.  This year, my brother and his family in Oklahoma joined us via Skype.  They have the youngest children, and I loved seeing Alyssa be so excited about Christmas.  Our kids are older, and are still excited about Christmas, but it's just not the same as the under 10 generation!

We eat, exchange gifts, laugh among the family and eat some more.  It is always wonderful to see my family.  We all live so far apart, and we don't get to get together often.

After we head home, my kids get to open 1 gift... The same every year... their Christmas PJs.  They had been asking all day long if I remembered to get Christmas PJs.   Thankfully... in all this hustle and bustle, I didn't forget.  But, of course, I just acted like I did.  haha

It is now Christmas morning, and we normally have to keep the kids upstairs so that we can come down, start a fire, turn on all the trees (yes, we put up 6 trees- can you say Christmas Spirit???), and put on Christmas music and then let them come down while we film them.  Times have changed!  It's 9a, and the girls are still asleep! I'm down here blogging, and hubby is taking a shower.  WOW!  Can't believe that they are sleeping in.

We'll hang out here all day and enjoy our presents, visit with neighbors, and just play.  Tonight, we'll head over to see all the other family on my hubby's side.  We eat, laugh, eat some more, open presents, etc.  It's another good mix of young and older children.  It is a fabulous way to finish off the day.

According to the weather man, we might actually have our first White Christmas (in my lifetime) today.  It is supposed to start snowing later today.  If it does, I will be the little kid at Christmas.  It will be just the Christmas miracle that we all want so much! 

I love Christmas!  I am thankful to be blessed with wonderful family and friends. I am thankful that I can celebrate the birth of Christ in freedom, and I am thankful for those that fight so hard to make sure I have this freedom.  We are truly blessed! 

I'm off to enjoy my time with my family, if they ever get down here!  I'll run extra tomorrow, for today, I shall eat all day! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The airport

My daughter went on her first overnight trip for business.  She was a little nervous flying by herself, but was ready for the adventure.  She sent a hysterical email to her Dad asking him to drive her to the airport and pick her up the next day.  In it she said… “I know that you and the fam will be at the airport with balloons and flowers to pick me up because you will miss me so much, being that I am the glue that holds the family together”…   Yes, humor runs in the family… but this was Mistake number one!  Never  send such an obvious dare to a family member.  Dad, of course, would never willing embarrass his children,  but  I took it as a personal challenge to do something crazy.    It’s just my calling!
So… with a little coaxing, I talked my youngest daughter into a plan.  We went to Party City and bought the HUGE clown sunglasses and Santa hats (mine had a tiara!!!).   We made a big sign that said “Welcome Home Brittany” and decided that we would make a scene.  
Walking up to wait for her plane, a lady saw our sunglasses and asked ‘Just coming in from Florida?”  “No… we’re just being obnoxious!”  I explained that our daughter had gone on an overnight business trip, and she needed a ride home from the airport.  So… we couldn’t resist being totally obnoxious.  She, of course, thought it was funny, but had no idea how far we would take it.
While waiting, I notice a chauffeur standing across the aisle.  When he turned, I noticed that he was holding a sign with none other than my NEIGHBOR’s name on it.  Well… Crap on a Cracker… we didn’t really expect that we would see anyone that we knew while we were here.  Afterall, Atlanta is a big city.  It seemed incredibly small when my straight-laced neighbor came walking up!   I didn’t even bother to explain the obnoxiousness, because he lives next door, and he already knows we’re crazy.  LOL
When Britt turned the corner… we RAN to her like it had been months since we had seen her.  She saw the sunglasses, hats and sign and tried to act like she had no idea who we were.  We hugged her and made a huge scene.  People were looking, and I’m sure they were touched by the fact that a family was reuniting after a long separation.  J  The ladies that were standing next to us were just laughing so hard.  Had they not known the true story, they probably would have been teary-eyed like the rest of the crowd.  Haha
Britt got over her embarrassment quickly.  She’s used to us… But, I’ll bet it’s a long time before she asks us to pick her up at the airport again.   Or… maybe not.  Fun is fun, no matter how old you are.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flying Foils

The other day, I went to get highlights in my hair.   Once I was completely “foiled up”, my hairdresser informed me that she needed to run up to the school to drop off some supplies.  It’s only 5 minutes away, and I needed about 25 minutes for the color to set in.  No big deal, right?

Once she was gone, I realized that I left my tea in the car.  So… I thought I would run outside and grab it.  Since her salon is in her house, I thought I might be able to sneak outside without anyone actually seeing me.  I had that “tune in Tokyo” look going, and I really didn’t want to run into anyone that I knew.  So… I peeked out the door, and realized that the coast was clear.  Or so I thought…

About the time I made it to the car, a big gust of wind came up.  My foils lifted right up in the air.  I mean straight up.  I started to panic.  Visions of Balloon Boy were running through my mind.  I could see the teaser story now… “Hairdresser loses menopausal woman to gust of wind – story at 11”.   Or “ UFO sighted over Lilburn was a hoax- wind and highlights to blame”.    

The panic got even worse when I realized that if any of these foils actually came off, I would have to START OVER!  And, I would “have some splainin’ to do” when Amanda returned.  So, my first reaction was to put my hands up and try to hold down the foils.  But,  it was going to take more than two hands.  So… I opened my car door and stuck my head inside as fast as I could.    There I stood, butt up in the air, and a head full of foils in the car.  Such a pretty sight.   I’m sure I looked like a big ostrich because I kept poking my head up to see if the wind had died down. 

Finally, it looked like the wind had died down, so I decided to make a run for it.  I stood up, closed the car door,   turned and saw a car sitting at the light… ARGHHHHH!  I could see them laughing from 30 feet away.  So, what do I do…  what else can I do… I just smile and wave…. Yep… Just smile and wave J   Here’s hoping they didn’t recognize me from that distance.

I returned safely in the house... but dang it, I forgot my tea.     

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Maid of Honor

I had dinner with my girlfriends the other night.  And, as usual, we started reminiscing. We’ve been friends for 30+ years, and we’ve shared a lot of stuff.  We talked about everything under the sun and eventually the subject turned to our weddings.     

Shay married first among us.  By the time I got married, she was pregnant with her first child.  We all remembered that.  Pat even remembered that Shay had a striped maternity dress on at the wedding.  Now… I know this to be true because I found a picture several months ago, and so it was fresh on my mind.  How Pat remembers it is a mystery.  It was 26 years ago.   None of us can even remember what we ate for breakfast.

What does it say about our friendship, though,  when my friend remembers the  outfit  that one friend wears 26 years ago, but completely forgets that she was the Maid of Honor at the same wedding?  Hmmm… she had no recollection whatsoever that she was my Maid of Honor.  REALLY? 

‘Here’re pictures of you as my Maid of Honor’… ‘What?  I was really the Maid of Honor? ‘Yes… here you are witnessing the marriage certificate with the Best Man.’   ‘Seriously, I was the Maid of Honor?’   ‘Yes… and yet you do not remember at all?’   ‘Well, I remember the wedding, but I thought the pregnant girl was your Maid of Honor, and I remember that Shay had on a striped dress.’     WOW! 
 Words cannot begin to even describe the level of laughter coming from Shay.    My devious mind was going other places though.  Since we can’t remember things that really happened, it might be possible for me to make her remember things that never happened.    Hmmm…Like the time she laughed so hard at me that she peed her pants in a dance club and I got mad because we had to leave… But wait, that really did happen!   Or the time we dressed up in Sauna suits to go dancing so that we could lose weight, and we had water coming out our shoes from the sweat.  Wait… that happened too…     The problem is, the stuff that really happened to us in the past is far more fun than anything we can think up now.   And… after all these years, we can still make her pee her pants.     Oh Yeah!

Good friends are a priceless item.  Do everything you can to stay in touch.  They will keep you strong when you feel weak, and they will make you laugh when you feel like crying.   They will love you for all the goodness that you don’t even know you have.  And they will love you for all the faults that they have seen as well.   And… you can go years without seeing them, and just pick back up where you left off.   That’s the best thing about girlfriends.   

 But as for the three of us… Lord help us all when we go to the nursing home!  Or perhaps I should say… Lord help everyone at the Nursing home when we finally get there!   We will remember how to lace our roller skates, and we will remember our friendship, and we might even recollect that we were at each other’s weddings.  But we won’t remember how to follow any rules.    We’ll still be making them up as we go along…

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Daily routine

On January 1, 2009, I made a commitment to do something good for my body.  Now,..  don’t get me wrong… I exercise 5 or 6 days a week either running or walking with some girlfriends.  But, the older I get, the harder it is to get back to that same level of fitness that I enjoyed at a younger age.  And, I’m getting fluffier every day.  (I’m SO FLUFFY!!!!!!)  So, I decided to add just a little extra.

I committed to do 100 crunches, 30 squats and 25 pushups every day.  I also made a promise that if I missed a day, I would do double the next day.  Well, let me tell you that I only missed one time and figured out quickly that doing double was horrible.  So, no matter what, I did them every day.   Seriously, it took me 5 minutes to do all of this.  And, let me tell you that there were days that I thought about quitting because my abs weren’t getting rock hard, and my butt was still laying down on the back of my legs.  But, I persisted.  And you know what… on December 31, 2009, I had completed:
 36,500 crunches
 9125 pushups and
10925 squats   

100 a day didn’t seem like much, but when you look at the accumulation, I felt like I had definitely accomplished something great.  So, I committed to 50 squats, 30 pushups and 150 crunches per day for 2010.      

The 5 minutes that I take out of my evening to finish these exercises is really very little. And, I know that it may be years before I see any huge results. However, underneath this layer of fluff, I can feel a difference.   Yep… I’ve got 6 pack abs, but you can’t really see them yet because they’re hiding behind a power keg. J  

On November 10, I pulled my bicep muscle, so I had to stay off the pushups for a few weeks.  I still continued with the crunches and squats.  But, I missed a lot of pushups.  I had to start back slowly and work carefully.  Amazingly, I could see a difference in just taking a few weeks off.  It made me realize that all this work was actually making a difference.

What I’ve learned over that last 2 years is that your daily routine is EVERYTHING.  One simple good habit in your routine can make a huge difference over time.  Likewise, one bad habit can take its toll slowly and unnoticeably.  You may not realize how much impact a little change for good or bad can make.  The change may be gradual, and unnoticeable, so you think you’re not making a difference.  But, if you will stop and take a gut check, you’ll see how far you’ve come.   You can’t always accomplish big goals  in a hurry.  But, you can make a commitment to move towards them EVERYDAY.  Every step you take forward just puts you one step closer to your goal.  You may have some setbacks, but you recover, and start again.  You just have to keep going.  You will never get there by sitting on your butt.   

One small change can be huge over the course of time.  If you told me 2 years ago, that I would do 91,000 crunches, I would have passed out.  But at 100-150 a day, I got there.  Good habits make good results… Remember, it’s all in your daily routine…

Saturday, December 4, 2010

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it Fred.

Before I started my own real estate company, I worked in the corporate world for many years.  Yes… I was a geek!  I started out programming for a large airline, and worked my way up into middle management with a team of 40 programmers supporting 40 different internet software products.  

Starting up the maintenance department wasn’t easy.  What programmer wanted to be on the support side?  It’s a thankless job.  But, I had a fantastic team of programmers from all walks of life.  We had the most diverse group of any other department, and that’s what made it fun!  

During the interview process, I made it clear that it was a hard job.   In this department, we were the last line of escalation for agents with software problems.  If it got to us, it was serious, and it needed a programming fix.   So to make sure that I got the right people, I basically scared them to death in the interview process!  ‘Our software didn’t always break  9-5 hours because it was used worldwide.’  ‘We would be expected to cover 24 x 7.’  ‘ If  I call at 4a, you’d better answer and be ready to work. ‘  ‘I only hire adults, so don’t come and ask me if you can take a day off.  You know what’s on your plate to be finished, so you decide if you have time to take a day off.’  Anyone that still wanted the job after the interview was a keeper! 

All this “prep work” in the interview process made for a wonderful team of hard workers.  Every programmer had 1 product that they were lead support on, and 2 other products that they learned as back up support.  If they needed a day off, they just coordinated with the backup to make sure there was product coverage. So, they didn’t need to check with me, they controlled their own schedule.    I was totally serious about not asking me for a day off!  They just let me know that they were going to be out, and who was in charge while they were gone. And… knowing that they had autonomy over their job made them work even harder!   

My other rule was NO WHINING!  If you had a problem, you could come in my office to tell me the problem AND your proposed solution.  If you came in without a solution, you were just WHINING.  And you would be met with my favorite line from Super Chicken -  “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred!’   And I would tell them to come back with a proposed solution. It only took being turned away 1 time to understand that I meant what I said!   I didn’t expect the solution to be exactly right, and many times, we brainstormed the perfect solution together.  However, I did expect that they had at least thought about it and could tell me what they had already tried.    I can’t tell you how many times programmers came in my office with a problem, talked it through and figured it out without me even saying a word! ( LOL – So glad I could help!)  They would thank me for the help, and I really hadn’t done a THING but listen.

And finally, I continually reminded them that I worked for them!  It was my job to remove all the obstacles that were in the way so that they could do THEIR job.   Yes… I was Mama Bear sometimes… Leave my programmers alone – come to me and let me help you.  And there were times that I was doing all the running so that they could stay focused.  But, my team appreciated it!  And besides, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it!   

I never lost team members. Once they joined my team, they stayed.  And when I left the company for another job, my team presented me with a framed picture of Super Chicken and Fred that said ‘You knew the job was dangerous when you took it Fred!   It still sits on my desk today as a reminder not to whine about the hard things that come my way.  It’s a dangerous job, but somebody has to do it!

So... do I use this same logic at home... Absolutely... Being a mom isn't easy, nor is being a good wife.  But then again, being my kid or my husband isn't easy either ... And, when you throw menopause into the mix...well let's just say that  I can go from Mother of the Year to Mother of Fear in no time flat.   But... We knew the job was dangerous when we took it Fred! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Never give up chocolate and Alcohol at the same time

The year my brother went to Afghanastan, I gave up sweets in support.  However, when it came time for Lent, I was at a loss. I’m not Catholic, but I still participate in Lent as a way of trying to tame some of my ‘crutches’.   I almost always give up chocolate.  It didn’t seem fair to count my current refrain from chocolate, so I decided to give up alcohol.  Now, I wasn’t a big drinker, so I thought this would be very easy.  NOT!

By the time Lent rolled around, I had been off of chocolate for almost 2 ½ months. After the first few weeks, it had become much easier.   However, I didn’t count the sugar in alcohol as a ‘sweet’… I meant candy, cookies, cakes, etc.  So, every now and then, I would have a margarita.   After all, I have a stressful job, and sometimes, I needed something extra (LOL)… Chocolate is my drug of choice when I’m irritated, but margaritas run a close second.  And, I seemed like I was getting irritated a little more often while I wasn’t eating sweets. J 

Well let me tell you that by about the second week of Lent, my husband threatened to hold me down and force feed me chocolate or a margarita.  Apparently, my attitude wasn’t real peachy.  At one point, I remember saying to someone ‘I’m a pre-menopausal woman who hasn’t had chocolate OR alcohol in weeks.  DO NOT MESS WITH ME, YOU WILL NOT WIN!   I was halfway joking, but apparently, I added a look that made everyone question my intentions!  Of course, I wouldn’t have a problem at all if people would just quit making me mad! 

As Lent progressed, I received daily threats that I was going to be fed chocolate in my sleep.  I apparently had somehow lost the purpose of my sacrifice.  Giving up these things was supposed to make me a better person, not worse!  I was supposed to turn to God instead of sugar.  But, given my current state of “the change’- I was apparently making way too many additional changes at one time.  Remember the line from the movie “Airplane’ where Leslie Nielson said ‘I picked a bad day to give up alcohol’?    Well, my entire family was apparently living the Airplane nightmare!    To this I replied… Well… Life’s tough – Wear a Helmet!  I would try to be nicer, and they would have to try to deal with me because I was not going to back down on my promise to my brother, or my commitment to GOD!  And I didn’t. 

We made it through… barely… My family still loves me, no one was seriously injured, and I learned a few things about myself…  But I did have to make a promise to my fam that I would never give up both of these things at the same time again.  Menopause definitely requires chocolate OR alcohol.     It safe to say that I won’t try this again!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Life’ short… Eat Dessert First

Someone sent me an email a long time ago about a lady that believed that life was short, so she always ate dessert first.  I forwarded it to all my friends, and we shared a laugh.  Except, my 2 BFFs and I took it seriously.  Every time we get together to celebrate anything, we always eat dessert first.   Dessert is the best part of the meal, and we usually don’t have room for it.  So, the 3 of us decided that it made a lot of sense to take the best part FIRST!  

You would not believe how surprising it is for a waiter/waitress to hear us say that we will be ordering dessert first, then we will eat dinner.  We’ve been met with all kinds of crazy looks.  It never fails… they tend to find it very odd at first, but then it becomes very intriguing. They keep coming back to our table to chat, and to see what all the laughter is about.   In fact, we revisited a restaurant after about six months, and the waitress ran over to the table and said “I remember you ladies, Dessert first, right?”

I had dinner with my 2 BFFs at my house last night. Yes, it’s almost December, but we were serving barbeque.  Since we were having a summer in November theme, we made smores out by a campfire.  Yes, it was cold, but we just put in this firepit, and DANG IT, we were going to use it!  We roasted marshmallows, laughed, told stories, etc until our booties were too cold, then came inside to eat dinner.   My kids could not believe that we really did have our smores before our dinner.  They loved it!

We’ve been friends for over 30 years, and we share a lot of memories. These two ladies are my dearest friends, and my ultimate support system.  These are NOT the ladies that I would call to bail me out of jail if I ever messed up.  These are the ladies that would be sitting in the cell beside me laughing!   We all believe in living life to the fullest.   We even still go roller skating together, and laugh a lot.  We eat a little, drink a little and laugh A LOT – and we get VERY loud!   We’ve accumulated a lot of funny adventures over the years, and plan for many more!   We have never given a care about what the people around us must think… we just have fun.  And, we’re living our lives with a ‘dessert first’ mentality.  Enjoying the best parts first.      

The funny thing is we’ve laughed our way through boyfriends, breakups, weddings, illnesses, raising kids, aging parents, girls trips, etc.   Now, we’re laughing our way through menopause… And we’re recalling every single funny thing we ever did, just in case we can’t remember then in a few years…  with dessert first, of course.   

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Confessions of a Middle-aged Chocoholic

In January 2008, my brother was deployed to Afghanastan for 4 months.  I wrote this email on April 30, 2008 to my friends… It’s old, but I thought it was worth sharing…

I feel as though I should start this  with… Hello, my name is KP.  It’s been 120 days since my last bite of chocolate…

However, as most of you know, I WILLINGLY and PURPOSEFULLY gave up chocolate (and all sweets/desserts/candy) on January 2 of this year in support of my brother in the military.  Chris went to Afghanastan right after Christmas, and I decided that if he was going to give up his time with his family as part of his duty to our country, I could give up something that I love as a show of support.  So, when he landed in Afghanastan, I stopped eating my beloved, much sought after, heavenly, satisfying chocolate.  He was expected to begin his trip home on May 5, and I planned to have my first bite of chocolate as soon as his butt hit the airplane seat.  As good fortune would have it, he left Afghanastan this morning at 9:30.  His replacement came early, and he was allowed to ship out 5 days early.  Yay!  So, I thought I would share with you all some of the many insights that I have come upon during my 120 day journey through HELL! 

I’ve learned that:
  1.  A promise is very easy to make, but really, really hard to keep.
  2. It’s a whole lot easier to accomplish things when you commit with your heart, instead of your head.
  3. Sometimes things that seem like really good ideas at the time, don’t feel like really good ideas when you’re trying to execute them.
  4. Sometimes, even small sacrifices that don’t seem to matter can really make a difference to other people.
  5. Sometimes, people need to know that you’re on their side, and that you stand behind what they are doing.
  6. I have always said that I can do anything for 12 weeks… Did you know that 4 months is actually 16 WEEKS!!!
  7. Giving something up for 4 months is like having 3 years worth of Lent all at once!
  8. Sometimes, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (oops, I dropped some chocolate on the keyboard – just kidding!J).
  9. Your true friends are quick to lend a hand when they think you’re doing something worthwhile.
  10. Your kids really do notice what you do, and every now and then, it’s good to set a GOOD example.
  11. Being disciplined is really hard work!
  12. There are a lot of people out there that make incredible sacrifices every day - for us and for others.  You really appreciate the selflessness that’s out there when you try to do something outside your comfort level once in a while.
  13. Sometimes when you work hard to accomplish something good, you actually accomplish something better.
  14. Making a commitment and keeping it feels really great!
  15. Life is crazy, and many things are beyond our control.  But, if you’ll take control of even one little thing in your life, it can totally change your attitude.
  16. Believing in your ability to accomplish something is just as important as actually accomplishing it.
  17. When you are anxiously waiting for something to happen, it seems to take forever.
  18. However when that event happens a few days earlier than expected… it’s time for a happy dance!
  19. 120 days without chocolate is a whole lot easier than 125 days without chocolate!
  20. I now know that I can give up chocolate for 120 days, so I never, ever have to try THAT again!

It’s 1:00p, exactly 3.5 hours since my brother left Afghanastan.  I have learned that I can wait a little longer before I have some chocolate.  I think I’ll change my motto to ‘I can do anything for 16 weeks.’ 

Remember…. Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive, well preserved body… I plan to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, margarita in the other, totally used up and worn out, screaming ‘WOO HOO! WHAT A RIDE!’ –  Maxine

Friday, November 26, 2010

Respect the Turkey!

I love Thanksgiving.  It’s the one holiday that is all about tradition.  And, for the last 25+ years, we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving at my house.   Over the years, the crowd has changed.  Children have gotten older, different family members come or don’t come.  We cook the turkey, dressing and few side dishes, and everybody brings side dishes too.  Lots of side dishes.  Yes, we could feed a small army, but we eat like a small army, so works out just fine.

My typical Thanksgiving starts off by getting up really early to get the turkey on the grill by 6:30 or 7a.  Yes, I cook the turkey on the grill, and it works great.  Plus, it frees up the oven for all the other things.  I then head out for a long run by myself to justify the large quantities of food that I intend to eat. Over the years, my long run has gotten shorter… This year it was only 4 miles. I figure by the time I’m 60, it will be a walk to the mailbox and back!  Yes, some traditions remain and others diminish!   I spend the rest of the morning getting everything ready. We normally eat around 1:30ish, hang out and keep eating until about 5ish then go see a Hockey game in the evening.   Not everyone’s tradition, but it works for us. 

At some point over the years, we started decorating our home for Christmas in time to be ready for our Thanksgiving guests.  So, we basically get through Halloween, put a few fall decorations up for a few weeks, then start putting up trees the weekend before Thanksgiving.   We are totally decorated by Thanksgiving Day. 

I posted that I was decorating for Christmas on Facebook, and I got a response from one of my daughter’s friends….RESPECT THE TURKEY!    It made me chuckle!  But she defended her statement.  This sweet young woman said that Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday, and that it was starting to get completely overlooked.  Stores decorated for Christmas before Halloween, and then there were the Black Friday sales that started the Christmas season.  This year, many of those started Thanksgiving night.  She’s right that there aren’t many decorations for Thanksgiving. 

But the more I thought about it, the more I defended my position.  There’s still the dinner with the family, the Thanksgiving Day parade, football, hockey, and all the leftovers.   It’s not overlooked, it just not as decorated as it used to be. Just how many pilgrims, pumpkins, gourds and fall leaves can you have around your house, and how long do you want them there?  I was tired of the fall decorations about 2 weeks after I put them up.  Besides, our business gets CRAZY after Thanksgiving, so we rarely have a free day to put up decorations after that.  Decorating early for Christmas makes the entire month of December easier!  And, I’m all for making December just a tad bit easier.

So…. I’m not  ‘DISSING the Turkey’…. I’m actually  letting the Turkey lead the Christmas Parade!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No Shave November

Yes it’s November… one of my favorite months.  Mainly because I like to participate in what I call ‘No Shave November’.   We’re wearing pants all the time, and no one will know that I haven’t shaved my legs.  Well almost no one. 

Of course, it comes right after ‘Optional October’, which I opted to stop participating in when I started playing tennis.  Leg hair just isn’t all that attractive in a tennis skirt.  Plus, I’m convinced that it creates drag and makes it harder to chase down a tennis ball.  Ha! 

Additionally,  it comes right before ‘Don’t Shave December’ -another glorious month.  Followed by ‘Just DON’T DO IT January’ and ‘Forget Shaving February’. 
I hold these months sacred because ‘Might need to Shave March’ ( sometimes known as ‘Mow your legs March’)  is following closely.  Then you fall into the shaving months… ‘A few shaves April’,  ‘Must shave May’,  ‘Just shave June’ , ‘Just shave daily July’,  ‘Always shave August’ and Suck it up and Shave September’.  Not my favorites, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

This year, I managed to participate half-heartedly in Optional October.  I did notice my leg hairs shimmering in the sunlight at my last tennis match.  But after getting spanked on the court, I was really glad that I had opted NOT to shave my legs for that!

I did not, however, get to participate in No Shave November this year for 2 reasons.  One, my neice got married in early November.  And, I felt that it would be for the good of all involved if my legs were sparkling and clean shaven.  Yes – I love my neice way more than I hate shaving.  J   And I hate panty hose way more than I hate shaving!  So… I caved … and shaved.

I thought that I could salvage what was left of November, but we’ve had a freakish heat wave here.  It’s been going up to the mid 70’s every day.   I don’t know what’s up with that.  But, given my propensity towards hot flashes, I have decided that keeping my legs uncovered was a necessary evil.  So I caved again, and shaved again.

I see no reason whatsoever to shave after today though.  Although I am off to a shaky start, I’ve still got a good 3 months that I might be able to manage to salvage!   Here’s hoping my hubby survives!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bird Poop in the Morning

Every weekday morning, (weather permitting), I join my girlfriends at 6:15 for a brisk walk or run through our neighborhood.   The only thing that keeps us from meeting is weather below 20 degrees, or heavy rain.  We rarely miss our walks – especially if we have something on our minds.  Yes… we actually keep a great pace (and there are a lot of hills), but we YACK the entire way.   We’ve talked politics, child rearing, economy concerns, work related issues, how to solve world peace, etc.  And, sometimes, we talk about absolutely nothing.  These walks save me thousands in therapy $$$.   These girls know many of my deepest secrets.  In fact, I tease that I have to keep them as friends, because they know way too much about me! 

One particular morning… we had just finished and we were stretching at the mailbox.  We were gabbing about nothing in particular, and I felt something hit me in the back. I looked around and didn’t see anything, and then did the typical “turn your head as far as you can to see your back’ yoga pose to see what it was.  We all saw it at the same time and took about 5 seconds for it to register.    Oh my goodness… I had bird poop all the way down my back.  I’m guessing that this bird had earned extra points for making it skip down my back 7 or eight times!  I’m sure they were high fiving their big honking wings all the way to the next target.  I’ve skipped rocks with less success! 

We started laughing.  We were laughing so hard that tears were rolling down our cheeks.  Every attempt to stop laughing, was just met by snickers and more belly laughs.  My neighbor across the street had walked out to get her paper, and I’m sure she thought we were crazy.  When we finally regained our composure,  I wondered out loud what getting hit with bird poop first thing in the morning could mean.  Was this just a lousy start to what would turn out to be a crazy day?  Should I stay in the rest of the day just to be sure?  After sharing various bird poop stories, we headed off in our own directions to start our day ( and to start the sweat shirt soaking- haha).   

 A little later, during my morning talk with my mom,  I told her about the bird poop.  Laughingly, I mentioned that this could not possibly be a good way to start the day.  Then Mom said something that totally made sense in her cheerful, mom voice (you know, the one that I DON’T have) – “So a bird pooped on you. What worse could possibly happen to you today?  You’ve already got the worst part over with, so enjoy your fabulous day.” 

And… I decided to take that advice.  She was absolutely right.  This silly little incident, as gross as it was, had already started my day with more laughter than I had had in weeks.  Not so bad. Why dwell on bird poop… I decided to have a fabulous day.  And…you know what,  I did!  

Who knew that getting dive bombed by a goose could be a good thing?  Certainly not me… But, I realized a very valuable lesson.  Just because it seems bad doesn’t mean it is. And, you can dwell on it all day make it worse, or, you can just look on the bright side, laugh  and move on.  You can’t change it, but you can move forward.  So… remember, when your day gets off to a bad start… the worst is over… so enjoy your fabulous day! 

Thanks mom!     

Monday, November 22, 2010

No Thanks!

My husband is a fabulous cook and he absolutely loves cooking fun, exciting meals!  I, on the other hand, can take it or leave it.  I CAN cook, I just don’t!  I like to bake at Christmas, but that’s about it.  

I basically cook chicken nuggets, French fries and chocolate chip cookies.  The neighborhood kids know that if they come to my house on Friday, they’re getting Dinosaur nuggets.  The boys next door used to love to come eat here because they NEVER get chicken nuggets at their house.  Their mom cooks fabulous meals that make my mouth water, but no frozen chicken nuggets from a bag. 

In my defense, I work long hours.  But, occasionally, when my husband is working too, I will ask the kids if they want me to cook something… Usually, they yell out safe choices like Chicken Nuggets or Spaghetti… but one night my oldest just grinned and said “No thanks… I choose Life!”

Bahahahaha!  What an oxymoron!   You can’t make a statement like that and actually expect to live!  You can expect a smack upside the head , a kick in the seat or a long run down the street trying to outrun your mama.   This is when you completely understand Bill Cosby’s statement “I brought you into this world, I can take you out!’   

But, being the Mother of the Year material that I am (NOT)… I just smacked her upside the head and said “Life’s tough – Wear a helmet!”   

I’m sure the bowl of cheerios that she fixed herself for dinner was yummy. :) 

Life lesson – life is tough, and it can get tougher if you bite the hand that feeds you!  So, play nice!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quit Yer Yackin"

One thing you should know about me is that I’m a talker… A BIG talker.  I come from a long, long line of talkers, and I have lovingly passed the gene down to my daughters.   My girls get it honestly, and they have managed to take talking to an even higher level that I could ever dream. 
The next thing you should know about me is that I have absolutely no ‘stop gap’ from my brain to my mouth.  If I think it, I say it… there is no filter, no prime time ‘2 second delay’ or a ‘hold your tongue’ button that I can press.  And, much to my dismay, I don’t have a rewind button either.  And, because of this, I will never win ‘Mother of the Year’… L 

 I take full responsibility for passing along the talking gene to my girls.  My oldest came out of the womb talking.  Being around adults constantly, she had a vocabulary of a 5 year old long before she was 2.   So, when she started school, I decided that I would not be happy with the standard “how was your day at school” question followed by the typical answer “Good”.   I devised a plan to get her talking.  So every day when she came home from school, I would ask “What was the most exciting thing that happened today? “ At first, she would just shrug her shoulders and grin.  But, she’s a fast learner.  She knew every day that I was going to ask, so she would look for good things to talk about all day long. (Bahahaha I’m sneaky! Look for the good in each day? Who knew? ) In kindergarten, the stories started picking up some depth.  By middle school, her answer would be “Well in first period  blah blah blah….then in Second period…yada yada, and so on….  She would recap her day for an hour… If I interrupted, I would be met with “ I’m NOOOTTTT  finished!’  She would take a huge frustrated breath, then start right where she left off.
Well… I’m a fast learner too!  Since my girls are 8 years apart, I have the benefit of seeing how my parenting skills paid off on the first one.  And, the ‘keep your kids talking theory’ was wearing me OUT!    My youngest was probably the only kid in kindergarten that knew the meaning of the word succinct.   “Please honey, give me the succinct version”.  ‘OK honey, I want to hear all about your day, but I really need the succinct version”… OK, sweetie, Mommie needs to get back to work… can you tell me the Reader’s Digest version? ”   Somehow, she’s still sweet… 

But, sweet little girls turn into back talking teens at some point… and ooohhh… I don’t do well with sassy mouths.   The sweet patient mom responses that come from the Mother of the Year moms have never entered my brain, and therefore do not exit my mouth.  My first response is short and sweet - “Quit yer yackin’ and get crackin’.   The short and sweet version of  ‘Stop complaining and making excuses and get your behiney moving to do what I told you to do!’   That seems to be my answer to everything… I have numerous versions of this phrase…  Quit yer slackin’ and get crackin’,,. Quit yer snackin’ and get crackin’… Quit your yackin’ and get snackin’…. Yep… Mother of the Year… cast your votes now.  

 Quit yer yackin’ and get crackin’….  I’ve said it so much that it has become our mantra.   It’s just a southern version of Nike’s ‘Just do it”.  My kids get the message… they not going to get anywhere back talking their mama, and they’re never going to get far in life if all they do is talk about it instead of actually living.  Dreams may start with the talking but you’ll never get there till you start the walking…  So how do you take a smart mouth remark to a smart mouth kid and make it a life lesson? …I just got lucky!    Now… Quit yer yackin and get crackin… 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Menopause and the Spray Tan

My niece is getting married on Saturday.   Since both of my girls are participating in the wedding, I thought it would be a wonderful idea for my husband and I to coordinate somewhat and take a nice family picture.  I mean seriously, there aren’t many times when all of us are dressed up at the same time.
So… I bought a cute black dress with spaghetti straps to wear.  I tried it on for the fam, and it was a unanimous decision that I was entirely too pale for this dress.  Not to mention the fact that I have a nice tennis tan on my arms and neck ( V shaped at that), which made it look even less appealing! 
 I tried the tanning bed once, but I burned my bum.  So, after much coaxing, I agreed to get a spray tan.  I thought if I went a few days early, it would have a day or two to fade a little so that I wouldn’t look unnatural (ha!).   My daughter works at a tanning salon, and has gotten quite good at spray tanning.  So I drove to Athens to get sprayed.  
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a spray tan, but let me tell you, there are no secrets in that room.  The sprayer gets to see all the fat rolls that you can cover up with your clothes.  The thoughts of standing in this little room naked was horrifying.  Thankfully, it was my daughter spraying me, otherwise, I would have high tailed it out of there so fast there would have been tread marks.  
The spray gun looks like a blow dryer, but when the solution hits your skin it is FREEZING.  But, I’m running so hot these days, that I think I actually heard it sizzle.   I was like a little kid in there.  My daughter had to keep saying, “Mom don’t look down.  Mom keep your head up. Mom hold still.  OK Mom, if you move, you’re going to mess this up. Mom.. you can look later. Mom, PLEASE DON’T MOVE. “  Apparently, I was in touch with my curious 6 year old self and could not quit trying to watch it all. 
Finally, after striking several poses that would make a stripper blush, I was finished!  I held a towel up and made a run for the stand up tanning bed.  I stayed in there for 4 minutes with the fans running to dry… Yep, I can honestly tell you I have never had to hold that pose for 4 minutes either!  LOL.  
THEN… I found out that I really needed to put on loose clothing WITHOUT my bra for the next hour or so in order to let it finish setting in.  No problem right…  It would take me an hour to drive home, so I put on my huge sweat shirt and sweat pants. (I thought about stopping at Wally World, since I was dressed for it.)   I was told not to shower until tomorrow, and that I should probably try not to sweat either.  It’s 50 degrees outside, so again no problem, right???   
Well… I made it home just fine and decided to put on my normal clothes to go out to dinner.  It had been several hours, and I thought it was safe.  Other than my face being a little dark, I was pleased with the overall look of the tan.  No streaking, very smooth color, and NO orange look.  Looking prĂȘt-ty good...    
Unfortunately about a hour later disaster struck!  We were heading home from dinner when I felt a hot flash coming on.  Well Crap on a cracker!  I was told no sweating until tomorrow!!!  My body had other ideas!  I rolled down the window, turned on the AC and tried everything to keep it at bay. I even tried to stretch out as flat as possible in the seat so that the creases behind my knees and the crease in my tummy wouldn’t sweat.  Deep breathing didn’t work either!  At home, I can just start stripping off clothes until I cool down, but I couldn’t do that on Hwy 78!  So.. I just sat there, with various parts of my body soaked, and wondered if it would do anything to my new spray tan.  Should I try to dry off, or should I just air dry?  What do I do?  
Well… let me just tell you that there are parts of my body that took a substantial hit by my little side trip to the Bahamas!  Some places look like I took a brown magic marker and drew polka dots.  Under my arms is completely white!  Between my boobs looks like a big white circle with brown dots.  Under my boobs… well,  I don’t really know for sure how to describe it, but it’s not pretty!  Panty line… oh my!  It kind of reminds me of the lead character in  ‘Put me in the Zoo” by Dr Suess.   I managed to salvage behind my knees somewhat, but only because I laid out like I was on a stretcher in my seat.  The parts that show in my dress remain unscathed!  Yay!  
Thankfully – A.)  all the damage was done to parts that never see the light of day anyway!  And… B.) My husband has a good sense of humor J   So… all is well!  
Moral of the story… If you want to look like you just got home from a tropical vacation, make sure you don’t take a side trip to Hot Flash City on the way home from the tanning salon!