Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Glass Castle -- Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle: A Memoir The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A well-written, depressing tale of neglect. My heart ached for the Walls children and I found myself angry at their parents and their misguided way of life.

View all my reviews >>


Friday, November 20, 2009

MyList Submission

96.5 is asking listeners to submit playlists. And, because I am a master procrastinator on the stuff that matters--like school, homework, term know how it goes.

So here's my list. They want ten songs and two alternates:

We Used to be Friends by the Dandy Warhols
Let's Dance to Joy Division by The Wombats
Little Toy Gun by Honeyhoney
Knights of Cydonia by Muse
I am Your Skin by The Bravery
Lithium by Nirvana
How We Operate by Gomez
Head Like a Hole by Nine Inch Nails
Nearly Lost You by Screaming Trees
Are You Gonna Be My Girl by JET

♫ Alt. 1. Doll Parts by Hole
♫ Alt. 2. Letters From the Sky by Civil Twilight


Monday, November 2, 2009

Quick tips for eating out with kids

Quick tips for eating out with kids

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lost Symbol -- Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3) The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Lost Symbol is an action-packed addition to the Robert Langdon adventures. The story moves quickly with properly developed characters and a fully formed plot. The action keeps you turning pages but the story lacks the same inertia found in Dan Brown's previous Robert Langdon adventures.

View all my reviews >>


Friday, October 30, 2009

Using high-tech devices for a safer Halloween

Using high-tech devices for a safer Halloween

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Parent-Teacher Conference Recap!

Last week were parent-teacher conferences. It was a great evening, everyone got such great reports from their teachers.

S, 8th grade, is doing great! He made the honor roll and is working so hard to keep a top GPA this year. We are thrilled, if you guys knew how long and hard of a road it was get him to this's just an amazing transformation on his part. I think it helps that he has become involved in helping with the team sports as their equipment manager. He didn't want to play football or basketball but he is good friends with the teachers who are coaches and they asked him to help out at practice and the games. It is great for him because he gets to be apart of the team on a behind-the-scenes kind of way. He goes to all the games and since he is keeping his grades so high I signed a permission form for him to leave the last hour to go to the away games. He loves it.

M, 5th grade, is still reading at a super-advanced level. She is testing well into high school range which is making finding her quality reading materials a bit of a challenge. She reads most chapter books in about a day so we're constantly looking for new books for her. Her teacher talked about how not only does she read and comprehend at a very high level, she discusses books at a very advanced level as well which she told us was really interesting. She's also doing great in all other areas and scored the highest in her class on the assessments, math and reading. M's teacher is really great this year.

C, 3rd grade, is also doing exceptionally well this year. He's also well above grade-level for reading and he's doing very well in all other areas of school. His teacher talked about how much fun he is and how he makes her smile everyday.

A, kindergarten, is doing great, too! She loves kindergarten and is also in the advanced learning groups in her class. She has the same teacher M and C had for kindergarten and we have such a great relationship with her, I know that really helps. We talked about how dramatic A is and how she's such a goofball...a deep thinking goofball, of course!

Common points of discussion from everyone's teachers: They are all eager to learn, ready to listen and happy to be at school each day. It was really great to go to everyone's conferences and hear good things across the board. Now to get the to act at home like they act at school!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Making the most of parent-teacher conferences

Making the most of parent-teacher conferences

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

All children derserve to be represented in storybooks...

All children deserve to be represented in storybooks regardless of how we may or may not feel about their parents and their relationships.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Saving your child's artwork

Saving your child's artwork

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween safety tips

Halloween safety tips

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fall family fun at Paradise Park in Lee's Summit

Fall family fun at Paradise Park in Lee's Summit

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Likeness -- Tana French

The Likeness The Likeness by Tana French

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was not as impressed with The Likeness as I was with In the Woods. The story was interesting but I felt it got off track a few times. Overall the story held my attention to the satisfying end and I genuinely wanted to know what happened to all of the characters.

View all my reviews >>


Monday, September 21, 2009

Walk Now for Autism Pasta Dinner Fundraiser

Walk Now for Autism Pasta Dinner Fundraiser

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Music Download

The Dandy Warhols--We Used to be Friends

I love this song. It's sassy and fun.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Family safety 101: What should I keep in my home first aid kit?

Family safety 101: What should I keep in my home first aid kit?

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Family fun 101: What is an inexpensive family outing in Kansas City?

Family fun 101: What is an inexpensive family outing in Kansas City?

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Challenge yourself to make time for yourself

Challenge yourself to make time for yourself

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Monday, September 7, 2009


As of a couple weeks ago I am now a paid writer...

...and I am blocked.

This is NOT good.

I must locate my muse.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This Super Mom is Hip!

A quick refresher on my (not-so-regular) regular Super Mom Series:

I have a lot of really great, really spectacular friends and most of them are moms. They challenge me daily to be my best and I, suffering from impossible shyness, never tell them how they inspire me. I am changing that starting today. I hope to 'spotlight' a fellow mommy-blogger every Monday. I will only be posting fellow mom-bloggers with public blogs and only addressing them by the names they use for themselves on their blogs because I don't want to breech anyone's privacy. Later, I'll also 'showcase' bloggers who I don't necessarily know but who are as equally inspiring. (If you do NOT want to be included let me know.)

Okay, now that I have refreshed your collective memories, I apologize for missing a few Mondays so I am scratching the day of the week and just writing about my awesome momma friends when I can.

Now this week's mom is truly hip! Why? I'm so glad you asked. One Hip Mom has four beautiful little ones...and I am very partial to mommas with lots of children. There are a lot of unique joys and struggles that come with a family of four or more children and I am always so grateful to my friends with large families who share their lives because it reinforces that our brand of crazy (good and bad) is normal.


Hip Momma is an awesome mom. There are a lot of adjectives that describe Hip Momma but as I read her blog the two that always come to mind are loving and fun! And, I cannot forget to tell you that she makes the sweetest little pinafores, aprons and pillowcase dresses. She has her own store on Etsy appropriately named A Diva and 3 Dudes Designs and oh, did I mention she is also a nursing student?

A Diva and 3 Dudes

Hip Momma, thank you for being you. Your dedication to all you do; your family, your sewing, your inspiring. *hugs* momma!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Scavenger hunt at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Scavenger hunt at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

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Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Live! I'm Live!

Here's my first article as the Kansas City Family Examiner:


Saturday, August 29, 2009


I feel like life just went on and left me in the dust. I am swamped. I wish there were about ten more hours each day because I just cannot seem to find enough time to accomplish everything I need to do! I need to get to sleep so I will just make a quick list to purge all of my to-dos...maybe that will help me feel less overwhelmed.

1)Homework. I am falling behind. My doctor's appointments and just flat out not feeling well have made focusing on classwork almost impossible. I will be spending most of tomorrow on homework.

2)Deadline. I received my first deadline for the Kansas City Examiner. It is Monday. So, as soon as I am finished with homework...or at least caught up enough to stop...I need to get busy on my article. My editor is waiting to approve it so I can go live. (It was super cool to say all of that!)

3)Party prep. A's birthday party is Sunday. I have a lot of preparation to get finished so Sunday morning is not crazy. I need to prepare some food and clean up a bit. So I guess between my homework and article I will squeeze that in somehow. Thankfully Jeff and the kids will help out a lot with that one.

4)Pros/Cons. Our company is trying something new and stumbled on something really awesome. It is great, I will blog about it another day because I am excited to share it. I am product testing and need to sit down and make a pros vs. cons list to make sure our product is worthy of competing with the other stuff. It will not take long, but I am running out of minutes to spare.

5)Labels. This is related to #4, but is more involved and will take quite a bit of time.

6)Homework. Did I mention my classes are overwhelming? Everything is due Sunday. I have no time. I wish I could freeze time so I could get some things finished while the world around me pauses.

7)Kids. I have four kids...they need my attention and I cannot give it to them right now. The guilt from that is pretty sad. They understand but I still feel like it is unfair to them.

And lastly, but it's not exactly a list item but more of a handicap, my shoulder/arm/hand is still messed up. Today I was finally told a diagnosis after one heck of an interesting test involving electricity and needles (more another day). I have a pinched nerve in my wrist. I will explain it more...only 10% of pinched nerves are in the wrist. I like to be different. It is kind of my specialty. Needless to say, movement has been difficult to put it mildly. I am pretty loopy with Vicodin making it even more difficult to focus. At least, thankfully, the Vicodin gives me is just unfocused and jittery.

Okay, so writing it all out did not help me feel less overwhelmed. In fact, I just sacrificed seven minutes I could have been reading my Philosophy textbook.

Oh, who am I kidding? I would be in bed reading The Likeness.

Please forgive typos, grammar and other oddities in this post. Blame The Din! (Special thanks to @OpinionatedGift for vicodin's new moniker!)


Thursday, August 27, 2009

I *Heart* Give-Aways!

Guess what everyone? One Hip Mom is giving away one of her very cute, handmade pillowcase dresses!


Visit her Etsy Boutique and check out all of her awesome designs!

A Diva and 3 Dudes

Seriously, RUN and visit One Hip Mom! And don't forget to tell her who sent you!


Sunday, August 23, 2009



Writing is one of my favorite things. I write as a hobby and most of what I write I never share. I have a life goal of being paid to write and most of what I write privately will be what I hope to have published, legitimately, so it will never show up as a blog post or Facebook note.

In fact, I do not even put my best writing forward in my blog. I keep it casual and mostly conversational because it is just a thing I do on the internet. I have no pressure to be wildly creative or witty. It is me, almost uncensored. Sometimes, I share my deepest thoughts, sometimes I write nonsense, sometimes I'll share my thoughts on a book, and sometimes I talk about my Super Mom friends.

My point is, this blog is just for fun. It is just something I play with like a toy that keeps me busy when I have nothing else to do. No big deal.

About three weeks ago I submitted an application to write for the Kansas City Examiner for the Family and Parenting section. I found the opportunity on and figured it was a long-shot but I'd submit an application anyway. What's the worst they'd say? "No."

When a couple weeks went by with no word from the Examiner people I figured that was their way of saying, "No," and I was a little disappointed but figured it was because I have no "professional" writing experience and the only experience I could show them was this blog and my BlogHer profile.

I was so happy this morning when I logged on to my email and found a letter informing me that I was just who the Examiner was looking for and feel my insight as a mother would be a great addition to their magazine. This is the foot in the door I have been looking to find. The best part is the content I provide will always belong to me so as I build a base readership and find more writing opportunities, I will have a good supply of material to present.

I am so excited! This is just the start I have been waiting for!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Personality

Main Type
Overall Self
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Neurology of Angels -- Krista Tibbs

The Neurology of Angels The Neurology of Angels by Krista Tibbs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Neurology of Angels is a touching story that profiles three different sets of characters who's lives are intertwined through the complicated process of pharmaceutical research. Krista Tibbs details the often complicated and misunderstood processes behind FDA approval for new treatments for fatal disorders. Tibbs creates vibrant characters who are as flawed as they are heroic as they work to fight systematic bureaucracy and save lives.

The subject of The Neurology of Angels is socially relevant today as we are struggling with the very same issues as the characters. The Neurology of Angels leaves you questioning what you thought you knew about pharmaceutical research and government interference in private industry.

View all my reviews >>


Thursday, August 13, 2009


Twelve years.

It does not feel like twelve years. It feels more like five years. But even if the time flew by, it does feel like the end of an era.

As noted yesterday my baby goes off to Kindergarten tomorrow. Less than 24 hours from now. I do feel happy. But mostly, right now, I am feeling a bit pensive.

I am not usually sappy or emotional but an ending requires some reflection. I've been thinking a lot about the last twelve years. What they have meant to me as a mom, a woman, a wife. Wondering what they have meant to my children, my husband, my family.

The years have not been easy. In fact, I'm pretty sure some days were very near impossible. And there have been some days, a lot of them, that were simply amazing. I have had massive breakthroughs and massive failures.

The years have not been without sacrifice. We placed our plans for owning a home and family vacations on hold to just get by with one income. I am thankful that Jeff understood how important I felt it was to be an at-home mom. To be as hands-on as possible. But, if I am honest, it has been difficult watching everyone move, seemingly, blissfully forward while we felt stuck in neutral. It is not a regret though, because I cannot sit here today and say I regret staying home with my kids. If I were going to do it again, I would. Without hesitation.

For the longest time it felt like being a full-time mom was all I was good for...was all I was capable of. I do feel like I did it well, not perfectly, but well. I know I am biased, but my kids are awesome. They each have wonderfully unique personalities. They are kind and generous. They love each other and they love the world around them. Not to mention they are always good for a laugh. Today though, today I know I am much more than Mom. I have a lot to offer the world...whatever it is or however I may figure it out. I love going to school and I am excited to see what this next year is going to bring. It is just so new it is a little scary right now.

The last twelve years have provided some of my happiest and saddest moments...and some of my most frustrating moments. I did the math on diapering four kids...I did not, however, own up to the environmental cost. (I'm sorry, Mother Earth. I will make it up to you.) I know that unless you are or were a full-time stay-at-home mom for a long period of time you may not believe me but it is hard. Really hard. Harder than any job I have had before. There are no sick days. There are no holidays. Stay-at-home moms sleep and wake by their children. Eat and potty by their children. Showers are dictated by the children. And we have the privilege of teaching them every single thing they need to know. We mess up sometimes in moments of exhaustion and sometimes the tiniest thing is a major triumph that reduces us to tears.

Perhaps, the best part of this ending is my husband, Jeff. He's been waiting patiently for his wife this entire time. I have been, until now, run over and dog tired. Then if being a full-time, over-touched, over-nagged, over-whined mom was not enough, I started school and pushed myself even further away. Not on purpose, but life just kind of takes over and before you know it twelve years are gone and your head is spinning and you have to find yourself again.

My job as Mom is not finished. I know that. It has, though, shifted. I can feel it. A tidal shift on an epic scale...or that's what it feels like today. And probably tomorrow.

And...I was wrong above. This is not an ending. It is a beginning.


Fair Warning

This is the blog post where I give you warning that in just a short time, I will be reduced to a blubbering bag of emotion.

My baby will be going off to Kindergarten. And as happy I am that she is such a wonderful baby girl...little girl...I am heartbroken that my time with my babies at home with me is coming to a close.

This is hard. I am thoroughly excited and saddened at the same time.

More later.

And PS...

I am sorry I missed Monday's Super Mom...stay tuned though. Next Monday's mom is pretty cool!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Curse

I blogged about my aching back a few days ago and am sad to say the situation has not improved. At all.

In fact it got worse. Way worse.

The pain got intense, ranking right up there with the intensity of childbirth and kidney stones. Not only did the pain get worse but the numbness got worse as well. You know the shocking, jarring feeling when you whack your funny bone and it sends that stunned arc of pain through your entire arm? Ya, that began happening all of the time. I lost the ability to use the last two fingers in my right hand and had severe weakness in my arm. It was pretty scary to say the least. After speaking to the urgent care center, Jeff took me to the ER since this met the definition of an emergency and was outside the scope of an office visit.

Now, this is where I should fill in some back-story so you'll see what I mean when I say "my curse". See, I have a high pain tolerance. One doctor, my urologist, called it "freakishly high". And what always happens when I am in severe pain one believes me. Ever. I don't writhe. I don't cry. I don't lose it or show it outwardly. I sit there dealing with it by going inside my own head. I cannot show it for some reason. I don't know why but I just can't. And it never fails, because I don't show pain, even the most severe, medical personnel do not believe me. It's frustrating.

When I had appendicitis during my pregnancy with my oldest my OB sent me to the hospital for a surgeon to evaluate me. Both the nurse who admitted me and the surgeon felt nothing was wrong because when I said my pain was a level 10 (on their little pain scale 1=fine 10=worst pain of your life) they said, "It doesn't look like it." Long story short, I went in to have the appendectomy and they found it inflamed and ready to burst and both nurse and doctor stepped all over themselves apologizing to me for not believing me. "You didn't look like it hurt that bad." No shit.

Another example, after my second was born I went to the doctor with severe pain in the lower right side of my back. My doctor sent me to the emergency room where I was, of course, asked what my pain level was. I answered "10". After a bit I was admitted and the next day an IVP showed three kidney stones. Long story short (it was a very long stay filled with lots of horrible events) my urologist had to do surgery to remove one last stone. I was in serious pain but they didn't believe me because I wasn't showing it outwardly. After the surgery was finished, he came to me and apologized for not really understanding how uncomfortable I was as he just pulled a 9mm stone out of me and that had to be excruciating.

I have a lot of those stories. It never fails. Medical professionals have an idea of what they think severe pain looks like then I come along, in severe pain, and am discounted as someone who isn't really in any pain at all. So back to yesterday...

Yesterday in the ER, I was asked the question about my pain level. I said, "Eight." I have felt worse but it was pretty bad. They gave me a shot of morphine (lovely stuff!) The doctor examined me...well, not so much examined but moved my head from side-to-side and said it's a compressed nerve and he wanted to take x-rays of my neck. I came back, the morphine had worn off...rather it only barely took the edge off of the pain and Jeff went out and told the nurse I was in bad shape again. And we waited...

The doctor came in and explained the results of the films. The x-rays come back showing extra bone growth that is compressing my spinal column. And told me that he thought the acute pain was controlled so I could go. I asked if the damage to my hand was permanent and that I was still in severe pain but he said, "I don't know." and walked out of the room. A minute later a nurse came in to check me out. I signed my name...well, what I was passing as my name because I could not control my hand. He handed me a list of prescriptions then said, "the pharmacy will put the instructions on the bottle" and walked out. That was it.

I spent all last night trying to will the Lortab to work better than it does. It's not. But I got enough of my hand movement back to type! I am very grateful for backspace though, my fingers are not quite going where I ask them's still a bit unsettling!

So the moral of this post:

If you are in severe pain, medical emergency pain, whine and cry and carry on about it because having a high pain tolerance does nothing for you. I am tired of doctors and nurses coming back to me after tests confirm that ya, I'm pretty miserable and apologizing. And if I am lucky enough to influence a medical professional--if you use the pain scale then USE it and believe your patients when they tell you it is severe. People don't display pain the same way and some people don't show it at all! Especially if your patient has zero history of abusing pain medicine or ER frequent fliers!

I'm going back to sleep now.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Super Mom Monday

Today's Super Mom is THE very definition of a Super Mom in my opinion.

I was very hesitant to profile this particular mom because I know how much she values her privacy and is now navigating new rules for discretion. So, because of that, I am going to be more discrete and not directly link you to her profile or public Blogger blog. Instead, I want to direct you to Army Strong Stories and you will find her public blog there along with some of her very fascinating coworkers.

Recently, my friend was given an opportunity of a lifetime when she was invited to join the JAG Corps. I have always known she is a person of strong character so I found it fitting that she began an adventure that takes the strongest among us and makes them stronger. I think it is her love of her family and her passion for the Constitution driving her success and she is absolutely thriving in her new role.

I left this vague on purpose (she knows who she is) but I want to share two last thoughts:

1. When you visit Army Strong Stories, and I know you will, please take the time to read about all of the awesome men and women who blog there. Their stories show us that sacrifice and patriotism are not about whether you are right or left, red or blue but are stories of real people on their own awesome adventures.


2. I am honored to know this woman and call her my friend. She is truly my hero and an inspiration to me. I am so proud of her and I wanted her to know I think of her often sending her thoughts and prayers of strength and endurance. She doesn't need them though because she's awesome. ♥ ;)


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Oh, My Aching Back

I have somehow managed to hurt my back...again.

My entire upper right shoulder area is in intense pain. It hurts so much I can't lie down or lean against anything. I'm trying to lie on a heating pad but the pressure of leaning on it is bringing tears to my eyes.

I know it is nothing serious because there was no injury or trauma. I'm pretty sure I slept wrong or something stupid like that. There's a huge knot in the muscle right below my right shoulder blade. Oh, I left out the best part. The huge knot is pushing on the nerves that got out to my right arm making my entire right arm throb, twitch and fall asleep.

I need to do some exercises that will get those muscles a little stronger so this stops happening!

But, today, I am stuck on the sofa on a heating pad covered in Icy Hot downing ibuprofen like candy even though it's not helping. At.All. (OK, not really like candy, 4 every 6 hours.)

*sigh* and *ouch*


Monday, July 27, 2009

New Series! Super Mom Mondays

I have a lot of really great, really spectacular friends and most of them are moms. They challenge me daily to be my best and I, suffering from impossible shyness, never tell them how they inspire me. I am changing that starting today. I hope to 'spotlight' a fellow mommy-blogger every Monday. I will only be posting fellow mom-bloggers with public blogs and only addressing them by the names they use for themselves on their blogs because I don't want to breech anyone's privacy. Later, I'll also 'showcase' bloggers who I don't necessarily know but who are as equally inspiring. (If you do NOT want to be included let me know.)

Now...without further ado...

Today's Super Mom Monday mom-blogger is...

Michelle over at Simply Blessed.

Michelle never fails to make me laugh daily. She is smart, witty and creative. But more than that, she understands what it is like to have a house full of kids because she has one more than I do! She's willing to share all of the ups and downs and crazy that goes along with having a big family and she does it with grace and humor.

Many times I feel like I stalk her blog because sometimes I read and then reread her posts thinking, "She totally gets it." A lot of her experiences are things I go through here...and she's providing a glimpse of things to come since her oldest is a bit older than my oldest.

Thank you for your blogging, Michelle! It truly is great to know someone out there can relate and is willing to share the good, bad and the ugly so honestly!


A Cry in the Dark

Late last night just as Jeff and I were settling down in bed we heard a frantic shout, "Mommy!"

We ran into the girls' room and found both girls awake. A had crawled up in bed with M. Though neither of them looked like they just shouted a panicked "Mommy" we got them settled back down in their bed.


The boys' room! I left Jeff in the girls' room and ran into see what was up with C. I opened the door and he was up in his bed crying, "My head just started hurting out of nowhere. It hurts really bad. It woke me up it's so bad."

I slowly began to go into panic mode. Now I should stop here and explain: I am not one to panic about illnesses. I fully understand kids get sick and not everything, in fact most things, are not cause for concern or even a doctor's appointment. Somehow, society has gotten really dependent on doctors and diagnoses and we've started going to them for simple things like colds or to see if the flu we have has an over-hyped name. But something about his voice, the way he was holding his head and rocking, the redness of his eyes, our family history of migraine headaches, and the fact that I was tired so things weren't registering properly set off alarm bells in my head.

I brought C to the living room and began taking his temperature though I already knew he had no fever. While I sat there with C waiting for the thermometer to beep my head began to clear. I realized he was not in the dire straights he pretended just minutes before.

"C, are you sure your head hurts really badly or did you wake up scared?" I ask.

C can't take the guilt and cracks, "I woke up and was all alone and the girls' have my nightlight because A needs it because of Thriller and my head only hurts a little bit and I'm sorry Mommy."

We had a long discussion about pretending to be sick rather than just being honest and telling us he was scared. We reminded him that because he told his his head hurt so badly we thought it was an emergency and we were scared for him. And that we are always here for him and he can call for us anytime but to be honest when he does it.

We tucked C safely into bed and then tucked ourselves in baffled by C's need to feign an illness to get our attention. (I will ask C about that today.)

Jeff fell asleep and I read for a little while to clear my head.

Just as I was about to flip off my lamp, Aly came running into my room...

It was a long eyes finally closed at 4:00AM.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Failure to be Thin


String bean.

All legs and arms.



Those were words and phrases I heard all my life. I was always the tall, thin, awkward one. I grew up but never out. Which, of course, was perfectly fine with me...except for the awkward part anyway. I happily remained a size zero through high school until I got pregnant and gained just under one hundred pounds! Yes, I packed on 97 total pounds during my first pregnancy.

I thought for sure that would all change after my first child was born. But when he was three months old people began asking me if I was sick because I was so thin. I had lost all of the weight. And that was great...except people started making odd comments about how I must have had an eating disorder and trying to shame me for being thin after having a baby. I quickly learned that when people asked me about my weight--and they did, a lot--I should just smile and change the subject because it brought out a strange passive hostility toward me.

I continued this for a while. Three more kids and I was still buying size two pants. My metabolism was just freakishly high and long and lean was my body type. I still got rude comments and people still tried to make me feel badly because I was thin after four thinness is the epitome of beauty. Trust me, I didn't need anyone to help me feel badly about myself...I had a horrible self-image already. My nose was too big. My complexion was awful. My hair was straw. I had no boobs or butt. My weight was the one thing I didn't have to hate about myself. It was as if people wished I would gain weight. I didn't get it.

Then two major things happened.

I quit a-not-so secret smoking habit and I turned 30.

That first year I gained around thirty pounds.

And then another twenty.

And, those who wished I would have gained weight all those years were suddenly giddy when the topic would come up. Like my extra weight was a big unspoken "told ya so". So my complexion still sucks. My nose is still too big. My hair is still straw. I still have no butt. Now, I get to add weight to the list--the one thing I thought I had going for me. (The bigger boobs are okay with me!)

My failure to be thin is another thing to figure out and I am slowly working on it. I am down from my heaviest weight. I don't want to be as thin as I was because, frankly, I hated how most people were passive aggressive toward me. I'm not ready for that again. Somewhere in the middle would be good.

I don't know how I'll end up. But I don't think that is the point really.

New words define me now...more important words like wife and mother and compassionate. I like those much better because no matter what, no matter what numbers pop up on my scale's display those kinder words will always be true.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wine Log

Jeff and I have have been trying to sample new wines lately. We've found some really great wines like a Chilean red, Ruyun, and some not-so-great wines like a red named Tin Roof. We wanted to keep track of our sampling because we just can't remember every detail of every wine anymore.

Jeff found a neat little website: WineLog

So we, of course, created accounts!

Hopefully we'll find some great new wines to sample.

My page: GoodByeGracie

His page: Jlagne1


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's My Summer and I'll be Lazy if I Want To

I do not take classes in the summer for two reasons.

Reason #1: All four kids are home and they make studying really difficult.

Reason #2: I want to be lazy!

Yes, lazy. I know in most of today's society "lazy" is a dirty word. No one wants to admit to being unproductive so we all multitask trying to optimize our time and energy. And I do optimize with the best of them...nine months out of the year.

During the school year, I study while doing just about every other household and parenting task possible. I spread myself thin every day making sure the kids are fed, bathed, have their homework completed, entertained, loved, and safe add in making sure the house is cleaned, organized and safe, not to mention: volunteering at their schools, working on homework, keeping up with friends and family, throwing birthday parties, hosting holiday gatherings, and figuring out how to take a minute every day to shower and eat. And I do most of these simultaneously while trying to remember to be a supportive, loving and affectionate wife because really, doing everything else would be impossible without Hubs.

So by the time summer rolls around I am really ready for some lazy. Don't get me wrong, the house and children are still clean and safe but I do not live by the calendar. The summer is my time to recharge and relax. And by the time the school year rolls around I am reluctantly ready to begin again knowing the chaos is coming. But for now, it's my summer and I'll be lazy if I want to.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Inside Her Head

I have put a lot of A's funny, sometimes strange comments on Facebook. I got to thinking that I really wanted to save them instead of let them fall away into internet garbage. So here they are most recent to oldest:

Age 4, July 2009

A insists that Candace on Finneus and Ferb is actually named Kansas.

A's compliment about dinner tonight: "Oooh! That paprika kicks the spot!"

On her dad giving her brother, C, a haircut: "This is way more exiting than tennising today because C might actually be bald!"

Explaining to A why newborns can't eat spaghetti. She said they don't need teeth and can just "swallow it down whole."

I asked why they don't call the "real" Jesus "Jesus" (with the H sound) was kind of a random thought spoken aloud because Jeff goes, "What?" And A repeated, "Why don't they call Jesus the real juice?"

A had a great time "whackin' balls" at the driving range today. She said she was "smokin'".

A picked out a brown dress and brown shoes to wear today. She came to me and pointed to her dress and said, "Brown." Then pointed to her shoes, "Brown," and said..."Matchin'."

#1 thing A wants MJ to know..."Always go potty before a bath...or else you would go potty in the bath...and that's bad." and "One more thing, if you are laying down and rinsing your hair in the bath and you accidentally peed then you would get your hair dirty and have to start all over again." In her own words, of course.

A's life goal her own words: "I am trying to cross my fingers for thirty or fifteen minutes but my thumbs are in the way."

Age 4, June 2009

A is discussing the comedic downfall of only having 10 fingers. She said she wants 11 because it "would be more funny". (channeling Spinal Tap makes me proud!)

A just said to me, "Mommy, you need to take me to the eye doctor because when I wake up stuff comes from behind my ear."

Watching the kids play golf on the Wii...after each stroke that A makes she shouts, "Chimichangas!"

A just woke up (at midnight) to ask me if she could "stay up for a couple more hours". I said, "No, Sweetie." She gave me a hug and a kiss and ran back to bed where she zonked right back to sleep.

A is wearing olive green pj pants with Tigger on them, a pink princess night gown and a (1) bunny slipper...this was her choice for today.

While watching Journey to the Center of the Earth with the kids. A said she wasn't watching the "lolly pop smooching" during the kissing scenes.

Age 4, May 2009

A is singing, "I am cleaning my best. Doing at very good job. Cleaning the table, I'm doing my best." to the tune of "Here Comes the Bride".

A just accidentally pants-ed M.

After telling A to be careful because her food may be hot. To that she replied, "Oh you know us girls mom...our science education is just fine. April Fool's."

I'll close this installment of Inside Her Head with this:

A's cuteness is my Kryptonite. Anytime she is in trouble she turns on the's all downhill from there.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Are You Kidding Me?

Back in May I went to an interview to be a writing tutor in the writing lab at my college.

The interview, I thought, went horribly. The interviewer was rude...she spoke down to me and insulted me. It was really the strangest interview.

For example, she asked me what my favorite thing to write was and I replied, "monologues" which prompted her to ask, "Oh, so you love to bore people to death?" it was so uncomfortable. Then if telling me I was boring people to death because of my favored writing pieces, she went into an odd diatribe of how her husband bores her with his "monologues". I just laughed uncomfortably with a "WTF?" look on my face.

At one point she was discussing the mandatory training meetings every Friday at 2 and she got really snarky and said, "Every Friday your butt belongs to me so don't even think about making other plans" in this horrible catty tone (I wish I could play a clip of it for you). I just looked at her and said, "Wow, I won't even talk to my children that way." I had had it with the insulting tone and the way she talked down to me so I wrote the interview off...our personalities were just not meshing. She ended the interview with "I'll call you by Friday and let you know."

The Friday came and I received no phone call...I didn't expect to after getting snarky back with her and went on with the summer.

I just logged on to my student email account and found a couple very recent emails in there about scheduling and a tutor survey...apparently she FORGOT to call and offer the job to me?

Seriously? How does that happen?

Of course, I can't take the job...we have full on scheduling conflicts now that I could have avoided had I been notified she offered me the job.


The Memory of Water -- Karen White

The Memory of Water The Memory of Water by Karen White

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There is not much I can say about The Memory of Water. It is a Lifetime movie in pages rather than on the TV screen. It is predictable and the characters lack the depth Karen White was hoping to create. Some of the book was charming and White's story-telling was thorough, the predictability of the story just made it difficult to want to continue reading because the reader knows what is going to happen well before it happens.

View all my reviews >>


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thanks Rachel Ray

We made this for dinner tonight. Everyone loved it. I changed it a little by adding fresh cilantro and leaving out the chili powder and using a 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne and 2 tablespoons smoked paprika.

Mexican Lasagna


* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 pounds ground chicken breast, available in the packaged meats case
* 2 tablespoons chili powder
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1/2 red onion, chopped
* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
* 1 cup medium heat taco sauce or 1 (14-oz) can stewed or fire roasted tomatoes
* 1 cup frozen corn kernels
* Salt
* 8 (8 inch) spinach flour tortillas, available on dairy aisle of market
* 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar or shredded pepper jack
* 2 scallions, finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - twice around the pan. Add chicken and season with chili powder, cumin, and red onion. Brown the meat, 5 minutes. Add taco sauce or stewed or fire roasted tomatoes. Add black beans and corn. Heat the mixture through, 2 to 3 minutes then season with salt, to your taste.

Coat a shallow baking dish with remaining extra-virgin olive oil, about 1 tablespoon oil. Cut the tortillas in half or quarters to make them easy to layer with. Build lasagna in layers of meat and beans, then tortillas, then cheese. Repeat: meat, tortilla, cheese again. Bake lasagna 12 to 15 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Top with the scallions and serve.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Holy Reading Batman!

I just scanned through my blog and no wonder I haven't been able to write a constructive post...I've filled all of my free time reading!

I love summer time...when I can read for fun and not for an assignment...

I do have something in mind for an upcoming blog post.


The Host -- Stephenie Meyer

The Host The Host by Stephenie Meyer

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Host was a quick, easy read. Through Stephenie Meyer's fast paced and uncomplicated writing she tells the story of Wanderer and Melanie...two beings who's lives intersect and simultaneously complicate and complete each other as they learn to live with each other and share those they love.

The writing is typical of Stephenie Meyer. She draws readers into the story with expressive language. Though in this novel, Meyer gets into the bad habit adding questions. The characters ask so many questions, outside of dialogue, that the story dulls as it tries to come though these weird questions. It is almost as if Meyer did not quite know how to form the thought with active language so she gave up and just inserted questions.

View all my reviews.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Listen To This 7/4

Eric Hutchinson's Rock & Roll


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife -- Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's Wife The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
The Time Traveler's Wife is a story about a man who travels back and forth in time and creates an enduring relationship with his future wife.

I loved Audrey Niffenegger's concept but the book fell far short of my expectations. Her characters were inconsistent and because of the inconsistencies it was difficult to become involved in their lives and care about their futures.

The biggest problem in the book is with Niffenegger's endless attempts to make her characters hip with long lists of subculture bands and the arts not to mention her use of obscene language. She tries much too hard to add hipster credibility and, frankly, it is forced and boring--the opposite of what she was trying to do with these characters.

The second problem with the story is the writing itself. While there are moments of greatness in the writing, most of the content is wordy and tiring yet somehow through all those words, wonderful minute details were lost leaving the characters lacking depth. There was an entire paragraph devoted to the contents of a shopping list but the anger Clare feels at always being left behind is only briefly mentioned at various points through the story.

I appreciate the general idea of the story. That story would have been a great story to tell. Unfortunately, it ended up hidden behind Niffenegger's idea of a hipster, wordy language and flat characters.

View all my reviews.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon with Wilted Spinach

Serves 8

1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons thyme leaves, divided
2 pounds salmon fillets
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 bag (10 ounces) spinach leaves

Mix orange juice, 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1 teaspoon of the thyme in small bowl. Place salmon in a large glass dish. Add marinate; turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, longer for extra flavor.

Mix sugar, smoked paprika, cinnamon, orange zest, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme and sea salt in small bowl. Remove salmon from marinade. Place in a greased foil-lined baking pan. Discard any remaining marinade. Rub top of salmon evenly with smoked paprika mixture.

Roast salmon in preheated 400 degree F oven 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach; cook and stir 2 minutes or until wilted. Serve salmon over spinach.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Trunk Music

Trunk Music (Harry Bosch, #5) Trunk Music by Michael Connelly

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Trunk Music is a good crime novel. The story flows nicely and the characters are interesting to read. It is exactly the novel you would expect in this genre.

View all my reviews.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Atticus Cafe' Scones

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, currants or blueberries
2 eggs with milk added to total 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to 375 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Cut butter into dry ingredients until gravel-sized. Then rub the lumps of butter between palms--imagine flattening the butter into leaves. Work quickly so the butter doesn't soften. When the mixture resembles cornmeal stir in nuts or fruit.

Beat the eggs and milk together into measuring cup then pour over dry ingredients and toss. Gather mixture like a snowball and flatten it on the counter into a disk about 3/4-inch thick. Cut the disk into pie-shaped wedges and lay them on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes.


The Funhouse--Dean Koontz

The Funhouse The Funhouse by Dean Koontz

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Funhouse is a little predictable and exactly what you would expect from Dean Koontz. I liked the gore and the quick pace of the story. However, I felt there was some unfinished business at the end.

View all my reviews.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Silly Gooses -- Dav Pilkey

The Silly Gooses (A Very Silly Book) The Silly Gooses by Dav Pilkey

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Silly Gooses A Very Silly Book is just that! An exciting silly story of a goose who meets his soul mate who get married and hatch eggs...of course all in the silliest way possible! This is a fun story that my four year old daughter loved. She cracks up every time she retells the story!

View all my reviews.


The First Patient -- Michael Palmer

The First Patient The First Patient by Michael Palmer

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
The First Patient is a quick paced drama set in D.C. I picked this one up to have as a quick read that offered drama, action and a bit of suspense but did not require much thought. Michael Palmer delivered. The story was a bit predictable; I had it figured out pretty early. But the action was good, the writing was quick and to the point. The dialogue was a bit forced in some areas and a little weak in others but overall The First Patient matched my expectations.

View all my reviews.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Help -- Kathryn Stockett

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Help is a phenomenal story of the relationship between southern white women and their black maids during the Civil Rights Movement. Kathryn Stockett created rich characters that readers want to get to know. The Help deals with tough subjects with love, humor and frankness leaving readers feeling as if they were transported back to 1960s Mississippi.

View all my reviews.


Monday, April 20, 2009

New Chapter this Fall

Fall 2009 marks an interesting new chapter: All of my children will be in school!

Wow! All of them!

I won't get into how bittersweet that will be...that is another entry for another day.

But having all of my kids in school leaves me with an interesting new phenomena...TIME.

Time for myself, by myself doing what makes me happy. It will mean a clean house--at least between the hours of 8 and 3:30!

So in the interest of enjoying my new time I decided to do another semester of online classes. Thankfully, I still have plenty of options--I only need to be on campus for Biology and Math.

Jeff was telling me to take the semester off and just enjoy myself after 11 years of being a stay-at-home-mom, but that seems...well, not something I'm interested in doing. I fear that if I take a semester off, I will not want to go back.

School is hard work, doubly so online as deadlines are firm (no exceptions), there is no professor to bounce questions and ideas off of (though they are always available by phone, email and office meetings) and frankly, you have to be freakishly disciplined to get through each course. I spend a lot of time with my face in my books and computer reading lectures, watching video lectures, listening to taped lectures. And while it is difficult, I like using my brain.

So next semester I will continue with online classes for one more semester!

Cross your fingers that I am able to secure:
Cultural Anthropology
Economics I
Interpersonal Communication

I can study with my new-found time...

Studying without interruption? Sounds like heaven!


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Too Violent?

Amazingly people are fuming over this domestic violence PSA. Apparently, the violence depicted is too over the top for the average viewer. Unfortunately, the violence depicted is real, usually far, far worse. (Imagine a child watching this happen between her parents from a hiding spot!) This happens in many, many households. But, I guess we are not supposed to talk about it...still.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Read This 4/17/09

Priscilla and the Pink Planet Priscilla and the Pink Planet by Nathaniel Hobbie

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Priscilla and the Pink Planet is a cute little story of a Priscilla's search for some color. The story is filled with sweet illustrations and rhymes.

View all my reviews.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


A, my fabulously funny four year old, comes up with some hilarious snippets of wisdom. My Facebook friends may remember most of these little gems.

While discussing fun things she could do alone while I work on my homework, A announced, "I am too young to have an imagination."

This morning she was working a word search but instead of finding the words in the word list (the letters next to each other) she goes through each word and finds and circles each individual letter randomly, only crossing off the word after she's found all of the letters.

The other day she announced she is "bald without her glasses". (She does not wear glasses and was talking about her sunglasses.)

She loves to play fetch with one of our cats. (Yes our cats like to play fetch.) Except for A's method is to pick the cat up and toss her at the toy...oddly enough the cat enjoys this game. (I swear!)

That's just a very, very small look into her little mind. She is a hoot!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Read This 4/12/09

Killer Heat Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
Killer Heat had such potential but it just never produced the nail-biting drama promised on the cover. The dialogue in the story was weak, choppy and confusing at times. And worse than bad dialogue, rather than writing complex characters the author relied on stereotypes and put-downs to elevate her heroine. The main character, of course, was startlingly beautiful while all of the other characters were tubby and round and full of faults that the main character was perfect in comparison. There was no character development, aside from everyone else being fat and ugly. The only bright spot about this book was the historical aspects from the City of New York.

It was difficult to finish.

View all my reviews.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Read This 4/12/09

Flotsam Flotsam by David Wiesner

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a fantastic story told with vibrant illustrations!

View all my reviews.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Buddhist Service at the Rime Tibetan Buddhist Center 3

Part 3 of 3

The most moving portion of the service was when the sangha chanted “Om Vahrasattva hum” one hundred eight times in rapid succession. The chanting began after everyone spoke the Vajrasattva mantra and we noticed the members discreetly removing mala beads from their pockets or the seats beside them. The chanting began quickly and, at first, the sangha was out of step but by the tenth repetition suddenly the entire sangha fell perfectly in tune with one another leaving the room ringing with their combined voices. I was moved as I heard and felt the unity grow and surround the shrine room.

Another ten minute meditation was followed by a special guest speaker, Dr. Terry Brody. Dr. Brody spoke about the way the Buddhist handles times of crisis and how to learn from those times of struggle. Personally, this was a welcome lesson after having a particularly difficult start to this year. I listened to her speak saying the things that I knew to be true—that bad times do not define us, that we should not let ourselves become paralyzed with inaction but fight against the urge to close off to the world and find the middle path. She recited some of her favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders and the service concluded with a prayer to the Dalai Lama for a long life and a dedication of merit to the sangha. The horns, drums and cymbals began again as the preceptors extinguished the candles, bowed once again to the Buddha and exited in the same manner as their entrance.

While the Tibetan Buddhist service was a lot to take in, it left us an overall sense of peace and contentment. Our only disappointment was Lama Stanford was in India so we were unable to meet him in person and the center preceptor filling in for him skipped the guided meditation. We were hoping for the guided meditation to help us understand meditation through his teaching. My husband and I walked from the shrine room to the gift shop to take a brief look at the ritual items and books. Our children quickly found us in the gift shop and upon greeting us confirmed they enjoyed the dharma school as much as we enjoyed the meditation service by asking, “Can we come back next Sunday?” They excitedly explained they got to sit and meditate. They did yoga poses and walked like a crab. They were taught about the offering bowls and the importance of the offering. We gathered our crew, left a small donation for their time, resources and the experience and left the Rime Center pleasantly surprised by and thankful for our positive and peaceful experience.


A Buddhist Service at the Rime Tibetan Buddhist Center 2

Part 2 of 3

The beginning of the service was announced by a recording of horns, cymbals and drums during which the entire sangha stood, faced the center of the room and bowed. The preceptors walked in a single file line down the middle of the shrine. The center preceptor lit candles and incense as an offering to the Buddha and all three bowed in respect then everyone sat down. Each precept sat on a zafu and zabuton, two on the sides facing the sangha and the third, the center preceptor, sat in the middle slightly elevated. He then rang the singing bowl four times to indicate the beginning of the service.

Members immediately fell into a meditation the program noted was a brief stabilizing meditation. A few short minutes passed and the center preceptor rang the singing bowl to note the start of the refuge vows. The refuge vow is spoken three times by the entire sangha as a motivation to open their hearts to enlightenment. Quickly following the refuge vow were the Four Immeasurables, blessings for all beings to be free from suffering and filled with happiness, the sangha spoke three times followed by another ring of the singing bowl and a ten minute meditation session. The meditation session was ended by a ring of the singing bowl and the members of the sangha fell into the supplication to Buddha. We were instructed to visualize a gold Buddha sitting on an open lotus. The visualization ended with Buddha radiating light and dissolving into the light and becoming one with us. The supplication asked that we are shown the path to enlightenment through compassion and virtuous action true to the teaching of the Blessed One.

The next portions of the service happened quickly as the well-practiced sangha fell swiftly into unison. The ringing of the singing bowl began the Seven Limbed Prayer prostrating offering, confession, rejoicing in the good, asking the Buddha to remain, and beseeching Buddha’s to teach others. The Seven Limb Prayers were spoken by everyone one time. The Mandala Offering, also spoken by everyone, is an offering to all of the lineage of Buddhas and bodhisattvas and all of the lamas and deities and enlightened beings in all ten directions and in all three times. My husband and I struggled to keep up with the chants while trying to discreetly read the pamphlet with the text of the chants. We found quickly that we would read the explanations later so we could follow along with the service.

Another ring of the singing bowl, the preceptors began the supplication to Manjushri. The pamphlet from the center credits Manjushri as one of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism as the bodhisattva of wisdom. The preceptors continue with the supplication to Maitreya or the next Buddha. The preceptors moved on with a Supplication to Tara, the Bodhisattva of compassion, which ended with the entire sangha finishing the prayer. A music track began playing and everyone began singing the Tara Mantra, “Om tare tu tare ture soha.” At the song’s conclusion the Dedication of Tara Meditation was spoken by everyone one time and the sangha quickly transitioned to Liberating the Beings of the Six Realms aloud. This led to the Tonglen meditation session where the sangha was to embrace the bad and emit the good. After the ten minute Tonglen meditation session everyone spoke the prayer to Chenrezig and began singing, “Om mani padme hum.”

Part 3 to come...


A Buddhist Service at the Rime Tibetan Buddhist Center

Part 1 of 3

The Rime Buddhist Center and Tibetan Institute of Studies is found in a hundred year old two story church in Kansas City, Missouri. The large red building offers ample room to hold not only the Buddhist service and practice but house dorms for retreats and visiting monks from all over the world. I found myself walking up the steep red stairs Sunday, March 15th at 10:15 in the morning for the 10:30 service with my husband and four children in tow.

When we entered the Rime Center we were first greeted by the sharp, rich smell of patchouli incense then by the friendly smile of a member on the look-out for visitors waiting to answer any questions. From previous conversations with Lama Chuck Stanford, we knew that there was a Sunday dharma school the children were able, and encouraged, to attend. After a brief conversation with the center’s greeter we took the children upstairs, helped them remove their shoes and bid them farewell hearing them instructed to each pick up a zabuton and find a place to sit down.

My husband and I removed our shoes in the foyer and walked down the main hallway that ended at the shrine room. We briefly spoke with a gentleman who was handing out service programs and introduced ourselves. We explained that we were new to the center and if there were any last minute bits of information we should know. He said we were welcome to grab a spot to sit where we were comfortable, either on the hardwood floor on a zabuton with or without the zafu or on one of the chairs that lined the sanctuary. He told us to participate as much, or as little, as we felt comfortable and the program he gave us outlined specific details on what to expect and when. We thanked him and sat down on a zabuton with a zafu near the middle of the sangha to observe both the preceptors and the community.

Right away we took in the brilliant red drapes with colorful tapestries decorated with Buddhist iconography. The shrine, situated at the front of the room, held pictures of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama in various poses of him in meditation or smiling along with mandalas, statues of Buddha and Tara and colorful photographs of the sangha during many different events. The shrine room ceiling gently fluttered with the multicolored Buddhist prayer flags strung from one side to the other. The seating itself was divided into two sections on the right and left with a center path to the shrine and folding chairs lined the sides and back walls. The shrine room felt serene as each member sat quietly waiting for the preceptors to enter marking the beginning of the service. We noticed the energy shifting as people quieted and began their own personal meditations.

Part 2 to follow...


Being Five More than Ninety

Remember the Drama midterm I posted about a couple weeks ago? I took this midterm during a horrible bout with the stomach flu while I had a fever. I was sure I did horribly. I could not focus during the test at all.

I finally got my grade back this afternoon and I scored 95/100!

What a relief!

Now I need to go study for my tests tomorrow!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Today an odd thing happened when a transformer blew and knocked out the power to our neighborhood. The power surged about 10 times and A and I heard the explosion and arcing so we called the electric company to tell them about the problem. It was freaky but not why I'm sharing this with you.

I am sharing for this little gem:

When I was explaining what happened I said, "A transformer blew" and suddenly A started bawling, "Momma you said transformers weren't real!"

I love the minds of 4-yr olds!


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fit Foodies

New posts are up at Two Foodies Get Fit!

Edited: Fixed link!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Read This 3/25/09

Change of Heart Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jodi Picoult infused the belief systems of modern religions into the story presenting many interesting questions about vengeance and retribution along the way. While most of Change of Heart is the cliched woman against the world, I really appreciated the massive amount of research it took to write this novel so I was able to excuse the Lifetime-esque feel of the story.

Jodi Picoult weaves the story together devoting each chapter to one character's point of view. This writing technique is interesting because it allows us readers to identify with more than one character providing a fully rounded reading experience as we find we can relate in some way to character we may not have given much of a chance had this story been traditionally crafted.

View all my reviews.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rainbow Fingers and Toes

A little background and a family secret--I come from a family of smokers. I was a smoker but quit--my dad's side, still smokes. We lost my uncle to smoking-related stomach cancer over the summer and that set my dad on a quit smoking path. He's tried everything before--many times over but he cared for my uncle during his final weeks and it really set the ball in motion to try again. So the last few months he's done the gum with no success, the patch with no success and Chantix with no success. He stopped for a few weeks then the recession nearly took out our company and that stress started him back up.

Now as much as this is a serious topic and I hope and pray my dad finds his way to being a non-smoker this next attempt is HILARIOUS! (If you think that makes me a bad person--keep reading!)

He found a local hypnotist who, for a fee, will make smokers quit smoking. Who could pass up 187 dollar path to smoking liberation? He signs himself and my step mom up immediately and they were to report to Hypno-Lady first thing Friday morning.

The following are the dramatic events they claim happened...

Hypno-Lady had them sit in a room together facing her. She then began to recite "I want to smoke but I love my body more. I love myself. I can do this." She then began having them tap their finger tips to various parts of their bodies while repeating the mantra. Tap tap tap on the head, tap tap tap on the forehead, tap tap tap in their armpits..."I want to smoke but I love my body more..." They continued tapping various body parts for an hour and fifteen minutes. (I would have paid $187 to watch)

After the tapping portion was concluded Hypno-Lady directed them to look at their hands and envision a rainbow of colors spewing out of them and after they saw the rainbows leaking from their fingers they were to envision the same of their toes. (Seriously, why couldn't I have seen this!)

They were to keep these visions of finger and toe rainbows for the next hour after which--tada...

They'd leave nonsmokers!

They are both still smokers...

Hypno-Lady is now $374 richer.

True story.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Test Taking+Fever=Bad Idea

I have been sick with some kind of bug for the last few days that's left me pretty much in bed with a fever. And it also happens to be midterm time. I had one midterm left to take and it was in my Drama class. I studied as best I could but honestly I was just not up for taking any kind of test at all. I got my test--I knew nothing. I mean, nothing. Okay, nothing is an exaggeration but not by much. I felt so lost and I know it was because my brain was just not working but I felt like an idiot! I work my way through the test as best I could when I got to the essay portion. The question was whether or not Freud's analysis of Hamlet was believable or not and I had 10 minutes to prepare and write a response.

Of course when I'm not sick it would have been no problem. Psychology and Literature--my two favorite things. But my 101.1 fever brain totally locks up. I ended up with a brief two paragraph essay with what are likely the most incoherent sentences strung together about Hamlet and Freud my professor has seen or will see in his teaching career. That essay was worth 50 points. Half the grade of my midterm. If I earn a 50% it will be a miracle. Just marvelous!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Read This 3/19/09

The Memory Keeper's Daughter The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kim Edwards crafted a wonderfully poignant story of how a single choice can haunt people for a lifetime. The The Memory Keeper's Daughter is eloquent and stunning as Edwards writes the parallel lives of her characters and how this one choice simultaneously binds and destroys them.

View all my reviews.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Read This 3/18/09

The Year of Fog The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Year of Fog is a story of devastation, loss and the continued hope felt after a day on the beach ends tragically. Michelle Richmond's writing is beautiful and eloquent fully capturing the depth of despair. The Year of Fog laces past and present together into a well-crafted novel with fully developed characters. There are parts of the story that run a bit long but overall the story flows consistently.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Read This 3/16

Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a wonderful book full of stories that help teach the basic Buddhist principles to children. The short stories are filled with examples of compassion and patience. The author also included basic instructions for teaching children the art of meditation. The artwork throughout is vivid and whimsical.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Facebook Changes---PSA

Facebook changed its homepage last week. I checked my privacy settings and found they were all set back to the default settings leaving all of my information wide open. My husband's Facebook settings were also changed.

So if you have a Facebook page double check your settings so you can be sure they are the way you had them set before the change.

That's my PSA for today! =)


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My "Rockin" 2nd Grader

It's the little things that sometimes make my day--today it was a letter from M's teacher from second grade. It read:

Dear -A- Family,
It truly made my day!... This morning I heard a student say, "Oh, no! I lost my dollar." In the blink of an eye... C -A- pulled a quarter out of his pocket and handed it to her. Wow! What a "Rockin" kind of person C is!

FYI~Mrs. -O-

He's a good boy. The "rockin" reference is how he's known at the school--apparently he's always singing and playing air-drums, air-guitar and singing songs with the teachers at recess and stuff. Thankfully he's only broken out in song at the wrong time once.


Martyring Abuse--Not Cool

The incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna is disturbing on many levels but largely because they are glorifying an abusive relationship. Chris Brown repeatedly punched Rihanna in the face, left her bloody and bruised, and yet--to the public's eye--refuse to address the issues. The couple is back together and the violence WILL continue. The severity of this beating shows it has been violent in the past. But Rihanna will play martyr ("I can fix him! I can love him more!") and abused girls and women everywhere will look at her and say, "Wow, she won't even leave with all her resources--what chance do I have with nothing."

While both Chris Brown and Rihanna may not have chosen to be role-models and they probably do not want that responsibility, their career choices place them firmly in front of the eyes of children, teenagers and young adults. Neither of them are expected to stand in front of cameras and air their dirty laundry in a neat after-school special kind of way. We do not need to see Rihanna crying on 20/20 to understand she is a battered woman but both of them need to let the public know they are getting help--separately.

But that doesn't happen in our society of putting on Perfect Shows--Chris Brown is just misunderstood, Rihanna will "do what the law requires of her" during her day in court and thousands of battered girls and women will silently wonder, "What choice do I have now? Where is my martyr?"

I encourage everyone to read Nickelodeon Thinks Using Your Fists Makes You Cool from Deep South Moms and think about the messages our society sends our children.