Monday, January 30, 2012


This past Saturday, Teagan participated with the YMCA school program from her elementary school to present the Dragon Dance as part of their presentation on China.  If you have 6 minutes with nothing to do, you can watch the video below.  You will see Teagan at the start as she gets in place as the tail and at around 4:15, you can see her shake the dragon's tail- skip ahead to 5:30 for the final bow.  She was so excited and so proud of the practicing they had done and the decorating and everything.

Here she is just before they took the stage- she just looks so big to me in this picture.  So old, so grown up. She's in the gray boots...

It was a really cool event.  It's an annual event- the YMCA World Fair.  Each school represented a different country and the kids had done a lot of work to make decorations and provide information about the country.  Each booth offered some sort of fun food or craft or game, too.  Edamame in Japan, noodles in China, etc.  It was fun but a bit chaotic.

Best of all, the event was free.  And the Y had a table set up to provide information about their summer day camps so I'm eager to get Teagan signed up for those and might even have Zach do a few weeks there, too.

Oh- and we had no idea Teagan could do this:

(Only backwards- she can't really do it frontwards!)


Sunday, January 29, 2012


I always get a little grin when I read the Keywords that other bloggers share from their stats.  Some of them are downright funny.  I've never done that kind of post because my Keywords are always pretty dull.

And they still are, in my opinion.

Aside from the folks who land on my blog because they specifically search for my blog ("eternal lizdom"), the rest of the list is kinda... meh.

ballet dancers plie

costco cheesecake

m&m package

wooden firetrucks

"jasmine trellis" trader joe's

baby playing tennis

balls with handles for kids

Since the list, while random, is boring, I thought I'd have some fun and go Google each of those Keywords to see what I found.

You can imagine that "ballet dancers plie" would result in a pretty broad set of results.  And it did.  I went scanned through several pages of search results and image results without seeing my blog.  Refined it to include "lizdom" and found links to posts from 2009.  Scratching my head over this one- especially since it brought multiple traffic to my site.

Since the broad sounding terms offer too much for me to sit and scroll through, I went for the more unique sounding one next.

"jasmine trellis" trader joe's - I don't see the Trader Joe's connection but there is a link to my blog in the first page of results.

So I guess keywords aren't something of interest for my blog.  And now I feel bad that I wasted your time with this post since it netted nothing of interest.

Maybe if I posted about gold price or treatments for rheumatoid arthritis or Blue Ivy's godmother or nitrous oxide or right to work or Pat Sajak (all top search terms right now)... Nah, I don't think it will net anything interesting for a future post, either.

And here's how I feel after attempting this post.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

6 Words: Tail of the Dragon

World Fair. Teagan is Dragon's Tail.

(video and pics to be added later!)


Friday, January 27, 2012

It's Been So Long Since I Fragmented

Mommy's Idea

Holy wow... it has been ages since I've done Friday Fragments!  If you're new around here and popping over thanks to the lovely meme of the even lovelier Mrs4444, welcome!  If you're on of my regulars- I already love you.


Earlier this week, I did something I rarely do.  I wore a skirt and tights to work.  I wore the skrit because I couldn't find clean pants in the laundry.  My typical wardrobe is khaki type pants (I have 2 pair in black, 1 in tan, 1 in khaki and Friday is jeans day) and a sweater or button and collar shirt, maybe a scarf thrown in for fun.  So me in a skirt and low heels and tights was a Big Deal.  The only problem is this skirt is one I bought at Goodwill and it's a size 14W and is at least 1 size too big so it felt kinda awkward and lumpy all day.  And it has this weird hook and eye thing that's been poking me all day.  And the tights feel weird.  I think I'll stick to my pants.


Buttons.  Buttons is continuing to do well.  We adore her.  She is still learning out house rules- like "Dogs do not snatch food from the hands of people, especially children."  Most of the time, we just enjoy her silliness when she shares it and her laziness all the rest of the time.  She is a very smart dog and very laid back in her old age.  We are blessed to have her in our family.  I love the way my kids have taken to her and the way she so kindly tolerate my kids.  I love the way she and Sassy have become little old lady BFFs as they snuggle up in blankets and on pillows together.  And I love giving her snuggles and having her lay on my cold feet on the couch.  I need to get my battery charged up and take some time to get pics of her with my good camera.  Here's a couple of shots of my kids and our dogs at bedtime last week- these kids are desperate to have dogs that will sleep with them at night.


My city has Super Bowl Fever.  I want to get excited about it, I really do.  Towns in the counties surrounding Indianapolis are having special events.  The downtown area has all kinds of Big Deal NFL things going on.  I'm happy about the money coming into the city when all the tourists attack on Super Bowl Weekend.  But I just don't really care.  I'm glad others are excited and I support the people who are volunteering or working the Big Game and other events.  Just please don't ask me to get excited- especially when the Big Game includes a team that's Enemy #1 of our own home team!


My current TV obsession?  I'm watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix.  It's a fantastic show.  My only complaint is that watching it one episode after another means I really pick up on the lack of continuity- especially season 3.  I'm on the fourth episode of the season and am realizing that I've yet to see Jason Street.  Season 2 ended without really ending and season 3 picked up trying to give a wrap up from season 2 and kick off the next season at the same time.  But I'm really into the characters and all so I'm sticking with it until the end.


What fragments do you need to let loose this week? 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Before and After and Back to Before

Ever find that a little bit of organization goes a long way towards helping you feel more in control and on top of things?  I definitely have my limits- even though I'm not one to spend half a day on house work and I don't have the "place for everything" rule in my home, I do find that the chaos can lead to disorganization and feeling overwhelmed on my part.  That's when I know I have to take control of the laundry, the clutter on the couch or ottoman, deep cleaning the bathroom, or cleaning out the clutter from the front door area.

The same holds true at work.  Last week, I was slammed with some Big Hot Issues.  When I came in on Monday, my desk was far messier than I prefer it to be.

Trying to take advantage of opportunities- rather than focus on the headaches of situations- I took the time that I was tied into a conference call and got my desk cleaned up.

Making progress:

Aaaaahhhh.... that just feels better.

And it never got done beyond that and pretty quickly came close to the first picture again.  The funny thing was that I would go to put my hand on a document or something and know exactly where it had been but would struggle to recall where I had put it away.

Ah, well.  I did manage to weed out some excess paper to my recycle bin and I did file away a few things and I did find some things I could easily take care of and pass on to someone else.  It was still an accomplishment, even if the goal met wasn't the goal set.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seal and Heidi: An Example of What I Think Is Wrong

Let me state a few things up front.

1.  The relationship between Seal and Heidi Klum is absolutely none of business and, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't impact my life.

2.  I obviously do not know these people personally and none of the opinions I am about to share is designed to imply otherwise.

3.  I know that there are absolutely situations where divorce is the only choice, the best choice.  I'm not wearing blinders and I'm not one to say that my way is the only way.  I'm not one to live in absolutes, either, and I very realistically know that divorce is a real thing with a real purpose.

I've made it pretty clear how I feel about the issue of divorce in our society.  I've also shared why it's important to me- because of what divorce does to kids.

I've been honest that I have a divorce behind me.  I've also stated that I know that divorce is truly sometimes the best option.

When I saw this interview with Seal on Ellen... I got pretty ticked off.

After 8 years and 4 kids and 2 big careers... they've grown apart and they still love each other deeply but...

Even Seal and Heidi were shocked?  They weren't expecting the divorce attorneys to show up at their door?  They got selected in the Hollywood Breakup Lottery?

He said... when you become a parent, you do the best that you can... but how are they doing the best that they can when they are calling it quits after just 8 years and "growing apart?"

Obviously I'm not truly concerned about Heidi or Seal.  But I think that his statements are an exact example of the general idea that our society holds about divorce.  It wasn't fun anymore... we grew apart... I wasn't happy or fulfilled...

The gossip is that Seal has a temper problem and Heidi filed for divorce because she felt the environment wasn't the best example for her kids.  I fully understand that.  I support that.  I don't know that filing for divorce is the first response- but separation and requirements for change and help would be on my list.

But taking just Seal's statement... just his words...

That breaks my heart.  It kills this little piece of me that divorce is something so easy to turn to and so easy to obtain and taken so lightly.  The thing about Seal's words in this interview is that I have heard similar things 100 times over in conversations and on message boards and on talk shows.  What Seal said could be said by any number of people I'm connected to in my everyday suburban life.  And that leaves me feeling sad and angry.

Remaining civil and connected for the kids?  Pshaw.  If you really want to put your kids first, and given that the only issue in the marriage is truly that you've just grown apart or aren't personally happy, put your marriage first.

Everytime one of these Hollywood types rushes off into another engagement or another divorce is announced, I shake my head.  I say a little prayer.  And I wonder what exactly it is about marriage in this country that is so special that it "should only be between a man and a woman."  There is no sanctity of marriage in our society.  There is no respect for the vows taken on a wedding day.

I'm being emotional and dramatic- I know there are couples who take their vows seriously and are committed to each other through the good and bad, the highs and lows.  And when I say "couples," I mean gay and straight.

Some individuals "get it" and take it seriously.  I have deep respect when a friend turns to me and says that she knows this is about her and not just about him... that they have been broken for so long... but that she is willing to give it everything she has before it comes to an end.  I have admiration for a friend who says that he wants his focus to remain on what is best for his children and asks me to advocate for them when he vents to me about his ex.

Bottom line, for me, is simply this.  It doesn't matter if you are straight or gay.  When there are children involved in your marriage or your serious commitment to another person, those kids are part of the promises you make.  When you break the vows to your partner, you are breaking promises to your kids.  In all honesty, if there are no children, I probably don't really care so much.  I might roll my eyes at the headline.  I might be sad for my friend who is feeling heartbroken.  But there is a lot less damage incurred when children are not part of the family that is divorcing.

When my mom and dad got married, I was about 10 years old.  I was included in the ceremony.  My dad gave a special toast to me at the reception.  I've known people who propose to the child to whom they want to become a step-parent or adoptive parent.  I've seen where ceremonies include the kids being officially included in the formation of the bond in the wedding- not just becoming a married couple but becoming a family bound through marriage.

What if we did the same in our marriages prior to having kids?  I suppose the vows are supposed to cover that but maybe if we mindfully include in our vows that "I promise to stay connected to you when/if we face parenthood.  I vow to be a partner to you and to defend our marriage for the sake or the security of our children."

Marriage isn't "going steady."  It's not having a boyfriend or girlfriend.  It is intended to be a lifetime commitment founded in love and mutual respect to another person.  At some point, society needs to place a lot more value on that intention.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Planning My Garden

I didn't have a garden in 2011.  I really enjoyed growing food in 2010 and it was sad to me that I wasn't able to get to garden planning in 2011 (gardening and planting should have happened right when all the job changes hit so there was no time for gardening).

This year, I need to get back to gardening.  I have been reminded of it several times in the past week.  There have been several discussions in my online mom community and then I came across a pin on Pinterest that inspired me.

With that planned out garden in mind and knowing we already have a fantastic raised bed that Jeff built in 2009, I'm ready to start thinking about my 2012 garden.

The first thing I will need to do this spring is upgrade the soil.  I need to remove all of the dead growth from the bed, till the existing soil, and add new manure and soil.

I'd like to add the framing on the end of the bed.

I'd like to grow:

brussels sprouts

I would have 2 kinds of tomato and the peas on the end frame.  I'd like to grow red onions, beets and carrots close to each other since they all grow in the dirt. Brussels sprouts, radishes and jalapenos in another section.  Given the size of my garden and in the interest of avoiding overcrowding, I see my garden divided into 4 x 3 instead of 4 x 4.

I also want to clear out my herb garden on my deck so that I can again have fresh cilantro right outside my door.  Cilantro would be the main herb that I use but I'd also like to have lemon thyme again since it goes so well with chicken, beets, brussels sprouts, fish.

With this plan, I'm hitting the favorites of the family.  Teagan and I love tomatoes.  I love brussels sprouts and beets.  We use onion often in lots of recipes.  I like radishes as a snack or in salad.  I love jalapenos.  Teagan loves peas, Zach loves carrots.

Will you have a garden this year?  What are you planting?


Monday, January 23, 2012


My retreat was wonderful.

As I drove to Church from work on Friday, I had time to think about what I wanted from this retreat.  I prayed about it and I opened myself up to some free flowing thought about why I was doing this.

The thing I really got from it last year, and it surprised me, was the connection to other women in my congregation.

This year, I went in with a hope for what I would come away with.  My hope was that I would have the opportunity to share with others how much I love them and that I would come away feeling loved.

That absolutely happened.  It happened through shared laughter.  It happened through a session where we shared compliments and things we admire about each other in our small group.  It happened through a late night conversation with a good friend.  It even happened with a friend that I've not had the chance to get to know well- even though she "stalks" the blog (Hi, Lori!!).

And the unexpected piece I came away with was a focus on doubts.

One of the sessions talked about the baggage we carry.  What was interesting to me was that the baggage I was carrying at that moment related to my past.  Had you asked me that question 3 months ago, my past wasn't my baggage.  But in the last few months, there have been some big reminders of the brokenness I still carry from the things I survived.

Taking time to stop and think about the baggage I carry demonstrated to me that something I'm pretty good at is focusing on the present moment and feeling positive about the future.  I was pleased with that.  In many ways, I'm in a really good place in life.  I love who I am.  I live authentically and confidently.  I am blessed with a beautiful family, my marriage is fun and loving and supportive, I have a good job with good benefits, I have a loving church family.

In the sermon yesterday, our pastor pointed out that God IS love.  Not that God defines it for us or shows it to us or teaches us about it.  But God is the definition of love.  And I think I live that.

We had an exercise that was very moving in our little group where we shared compliments with each other.  The challenge was that the people at your table weren't necessarily people you were close to so you might have to stretch a little bit.  Within our little group of 4, 2 of us had been part of the church for a long time, 1 had been involved several years ago but then left and is now back, and another is somewhat new but her family is very involved.  There were definitely different levels of sharing that happened- but there were tears that went with our words.  The woman I know the least well at the table had stayed for a bit the night before (some of us spent the night and had a movie night after the sessions ended Friday) and we had chatted a little.  From just the few exchanges she and I have had on Sunday mornings and that night before, she gave me a compliment that I will hold in my heart.  She really validated that I live what I believe.  She said that she felt so comfortable talking and sharing with me because I was a non-threatening presence that came to her without judgement.

But back to that baggage and those doubts.

My doubts are all linked to these memory problems that have been rearing their ugly head the past few months.  It isn't that I doubt my memories.  The things that I remember are things that I know are true.  The baggage I carry is that there are so many holes in my memory that I can feel my confidence dip when I think of all the things I don't remember.  It isn't just my childhood- it's current events as well.  Things I want to remember, things I want to recall, things I want to hold close just aren't always there.

I had an epiphany last night.  Perhaps the missing memories and my approach to people are linked.  Because my brain doesn't hold information the way others can, I don't hold on to knowledge of the things people have done or the things I've heard about people doing.  In many ways, when you come to me, I'm a clean slate for you.  If my brain "worked," I wonder if I would hold on to hurt feelings longer.  I wonder if I would keep a list of "wrong-doing" in my brain.  But because I don't hold on to these hurts and wrongs and slights... I'm more open to receiving people as they are, where they are.  I know it isn't the entire reason that I am the way I am... but it struck me last night.  See, someone had shared a piece of information with me about someone else.  In my head, I was thinking, "I'm really not sure I want to know this."  Then my immediate next thought was, "Well, I'll forget about it within the next 6 months anyway."

That's when it hit me- maybe my lack of strong memory recall is really an inability to hold onto a list of wrongs and that is actually something very right.


Friday, January 20, 2012


A year ago, I attended the first ever Women's Retreat at my church.  I wasn't sure what to expect and I came away from it with more than I expected

This weekend, the 2nd annual Women's Retreat is on at my church and I am very excited to be attending again!  There will be another sleep over for those "brave" enough to stay the night. 

I'm looking forward to the "retreat" piece of this the most.  Life has just been so crazy and hectic lately and I think a chance to plug in and really focus on me and my purpose sounds so refreshing.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

FitCity: Paula Deen

Wanna know my thoughts on the Paula Deen brouhaha?  Head over to my post on FitCity!  I'd love for you to share your opinion over there, too!


It’s the Big News these days- Paula Deen has come clean with her diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.  She was diagnosed 3 years ago and is now trying to make a major overhaul to how she is perceived in the public eye as she goes from being the Queen of Butter and Sugar to an advocate for healthy living and diabetes medication. 

I can understand the social outcry over the news about Paula Deen’s condition.  It feels like a marketing move rather than a recognition of changes that need to be made.  It feels like the corporate sponsorship with this diabetes medication is more important than Paula actually being a positive and healthy influence on her followers.

Paula Deen built her fame on her Southern charm and Southern cooking.  Recipes ranging from fudge made with Velveeta to deep fried lasagna were commonplace on her Food Network program.  I have watched enough episodes to know that “moderation” or “healthy substitution” or “steamed veggies” were words that didn’t come up.  Ironically, I used to watch Paula’s show at the gym, on the treadmill, and often found that the butter and sugar and other ingredients inspired me to do just a bit more work. 

I don’t know how many people watched Paula’s show and would then do everything she did.  I know that I have roots in the South and know some Southern families and many of those people do enjoy country fried chicken smothered in gravy and consider Velveeta to be a food group of its own.  I also know that many of those people know full well that fruits and vegetables that grow are healthier when eaten raw and not from a factory and not drowning in butter, salt, bacon, and cheese.

But don’t we already know what the right and wrong choices are?  Is there anyone who was watching Paula and following her recipes who thought they were being healthy with those choices? 

It all boils down to one of those “soap box” themes for me.  Personal Responsibility.  Where is the personal responsibility?  Where is Paula saying, “My diet has been horrible for years and now I am paying the price.  If you make changes now, you might save yourself from this diagnosis.”  Where is Paula saying, “Not only have I given up my sweet tea and started walking a mile each day on the treadmill, I am also completely overhauling my diet and focusing on ways to live a more active lifestyle overall.” 

If Paula Deen came to me and asked me to help her fix this mess, I think the first thing I would advise is that she step up and accept responsibility that the choices she has made and the foods she has promoted are not healthy.  Those are indulgences that should be saved for an annual family reunion or holiday gathering.  I would encourage her to partner with nutrition and fitness experts who would help her with a complete overhaul of her diet and activity level.  I would ask her to make the menu in her restaurants a healthy one- dropping the fried foods and butter laden dishes and overly sweetened desserts.  I believe Paula Deen has a real opportunity to influence change and she is, instead, choosing to focus on managing diabetes with medication and very slight modifications to diet and exercise.

I also think that I, as a mom and wife, need to continue to lead the way in my own family.   I am a reasonably smart woman and know, with or without Paula Deen having diabetes, that fried foods aren’t healthy.  Sugary treats aren’t healthy.  Fake cheese isn’t healthy.  I know that a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables is best.  I know that daily activity and an active lifestyle is best.  I know that replacing sugar with artifical sweetener isn’t the best option.  I know that overloading with regular cheese in place of fake cheese isn’t the best option.  I know that sautéing in oil isn’t the best replacement for deep frying.  I know that playing Just Dance is better than watching TV on the couch.  I know that taking the family for a hike is better than sitting the family down for a movie-and-popcorn marathon.

Interestingly, at the same time that Paula Deen’s news hit the social networks, a new report on the obesity epidemic was released.  1/3 of adults and 17 percent of children are obese and the numbers show no sign of improving.  Apparently, there is still a large part of the population who doesn’t have the resources, knowledge, or concern to make healthier choices.  And maybe this is where Paula Deen’s biggest mistake lies.  Instead of stepping up and trying to live a truly healthy life and encourage others to make life altering and saving and improving changes as well, she is instead advocating that sometimes you just end up with Type 2 Diabetes and look at this great medication you can take to help manage it. 

We are each responsible for our choices.  Paula Deen doesn’t determine my understanding of healthy living.  I am responsible for learning and sharing what I learn and encouraging my family and working through my personal struggles to do better with the knowledge I gain.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote a post that shared with you some of the details of a major set of events in my life- I am a survivor of sexual abuse and childhood rape and I missed the last quarter of my senior year of high school to have intense inpatient and outpatient therapy.

It's a long post but if you haven't read it before, I encourage you to read it now.

In the past 2 months, I have had 2 huge reminders jump up and slap me around a little bit.  Reminders of how broken I was.  Or how broken I am.

In many ways, I am whole and happy and content and live a joy-filled life.  I love my life.  I love who I am.  I have deep appreciation for the life I am blessed to live.  But sometimes, a reminder comes along of how broken I have been in the past, a reminder of how horrible the foundation of my life really was, a reminder of issues that I still live with now.

Last night, I reconnected with someone who was an important part of my healing.  Someone who was in that intense therapy time with me and witnessed some very raw and painful moments in my journey.

To be honest, I had forgotten his name.  I never forgot his face and he is one of the small handful of people from that time that I think of regularly.  When he would cross my mind, I would try to bring his name up and just couldn't.  I never really dwelt on it.

He found me on Facebook.  And we started chatting.  And I love that we have reconnected.  He said some things about important things I did for him back at that time and that really moved me.

But talking to him again has made me realize how broken I still am.

I have gone through a lot of steps and phases in this ongoing and never ending healing process.  I have worked through some big steps on forgiveness.  But sometimes, a fresh reminder of the broken side of me can still hurt.

My memory is very faulty. I've written about my memory issues before- most in depth in this post.

As this friend from my past chatted with me, I tried and tried to bring up memories from that time.  My senior year of high school.  My time in an inpatient therapeutic hospital and outpatient therapeutic hospital.  The time in my life when I worked the hardest I ever have at becoming whole and complete.  And it is all firmly locked away or has fallen through the swiss cheese holes of my brain.

It frustrates me.  It makes me incredibly sad.

It's like waking up from a dream and knowing the general idea of what the dream was about and having flashes of who was in the dream with you.

The thing that stays with me from my faulty memories are the feelings.

To my newfound old friend... I may not remember all the details.  And when we talk, I'm sure more will come back to me with the help of your memory.  But I remember my feelings and I trust my feelings now.  I know that you were someone I was very fond of and enjoyed the company of immensely.  I remember really enjoying spending time with you- even if I can't remember the conversations and exact moments.  I am very excited to reconnect with you.  I am beyond delighted to see that your life seems to have turned out in a normal and whole place, like mine.

I'm a bundle of emotions today.  In some ways, I am reminded of how faulty and broken I am.  In more ways, I am realizing how blessed I am and how the timing of the events in our lives are part of a bigger plan and happen when they happen for a reason.  In more ways, I am feeling a sense of relief or hope in being found by someone who can help me rebuild a segment of my life that I didn't even realize I'd locked away.  I'm eager to reconnect with this person who I know was an important part of my past.

I think it might be time to consider looking into options for recovering memories.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Spaghetti Night

Tonight we plan to have spaghetti for dinner.  Spaghetti seems like it should be a simple meal, right?  It tends to be one of our standard "go to" meals when we don't know what else to have.  It's easy to keep a box of pasta on hand and a jar of sauce.

But I've realized that with all of our particularities, it's becoming a bigger deal.

I prefer Ronzoni's Healthy Harvest pasta.  Thin spaghetti, to be exact.  I think Jeff has a slight preference for Barilla Plus but I can get away with the Ronzoni stuff because it's usually half the price of the Barilla.  I absolutely cannot do plain white pasta anymore.

Sauce almost always has to be Prego Roasted Garlic & Herb.  We are going to try a generic brand tonight (Target store brand) since it was significantly less expensive.

That's the basics.  Then it starts to get complicated.

We basically end up creating a "pasta bar."  We each have our own way of enjoying our spaghetti.

Jeff and Zach are pretty classic- straight up pasta and sauce.  No spices, no seasonings.  Jeff likes the classic Grated Parmesan Cheese (which I dislike immensely).  Zach doesn't care much about cheese either way.

Teagan doesn't like pasta sauce.  For as much as that girl loves tomatoes, she does not like tomato products.  So she does plain pasta with cheese.  She likes the grated stuff but, like me, prefers real parmesan or asiago cheese.

I doctor mine up like crazy.  I recently discovered that a dollop of sour cream makes the dish especially yummy.  I also add a seasoning blend that is made up of garlic, salt, and pepper (and other spices) so it has some zing to it.  If I'm feeling really ambitious, I might saute some mushrooms or squash to add in.

Tonight we're adding meatballs to the efforts.  If I had to make a guess- Jeff and Zach will consume the most meatballs.  Jeff will have his with his pasta, Zach might want his on the side.  I will most likely have at least one meatball but will cut it up and mix it into the dish.  If Teagan eats any meatballs, they will be without sauce and cut up on the side.

I might pick up a bag of salad on the way home.  But salad isn't necessary for our pasta night.  Sometimes I think about making some garlic butter toast but usually don't.  We never stray from the red sauce.  I do venture out to other pasta varieties and sauces if Jeff isn't around for dinner.  We tried to throw together our own sauce one night when we had pasta going but discovered that the jar we thought we had in the pantry wasn't there... but we had cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  We gave it our best effort and it was edible but not fantastic.

I'd love to someday have a themed dinner night with candles and Italian music playing.  Or maybe have spaghetti while we watch Lady and the Tramp.

How do you do spaghetti night?


Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Made It! Guacamole

With the guidance of a friend, I made my own guacamole for the first time this weekend.

I was surprised at how easy it was.  I was delighted at how tasty it was.

Following the example set for me by my friend, I took fresh ingredients and minced and chopped and smashed them together to make this:

The best part of making my own guacamole is that I can really customize it to suit my personal tastes.

This batch was 3 avocados, 2 roma tomatoes, 1/4 of a red onion, 1 clove of garlic, the juice of 1/2 a lime, 1/2 of a jalapeno and a bunch of coursely chopped cilantro.

I minced the garlic.  I finely chopped the jalapeno (didn't remove the seeds because I like the heat).  I chopped the tomatoes and the onion.  Then came the fun part.  All the avocado into the bowl and I hand smashed it up.  That's the key, according to my friend.  And I think she's right- makes the consistency exactly right.  Smashed up the avocado and then hand mixed in the other ingredients finishing it off with a huge squeeze of lime juice and lots of cilantro.

If ever there was a dish that had ingredients so perfect for me, it's guacamole.  I love avocado and cilantro and lime and fresh jalapeno.  Anything with those ingredients always piques my interest so something that combines all of those together is right up my alley!

It was so good I had to call Christy and tell her to come over and have some, too.  And she did.  And she agreed that it was good.  My guacamole had some zing, was made from fresh and whole and raw ingredients, and it tasted dang good. 

What have you made lately that was new to you or learned from a friend or something that you improved on?


Friday, January 13, 2012

Candy Dish

I sometimes keep a small candy dish at work.  Right now, it has a variety of Hershey's Kisses and Rolos on it.  I like my candy dish because there are people who will spy it from the hallway and pop in just to grab a little treat.

I've always found it curious when I fill up my candy dish at the end of the day and it's half empty the next morning.  And there are times, when I'm in a not so great mood, that it maybe irks me a bit.

For me, the candy dish is there as a method of connecting with someone else.  I like knowing that Cathy likes Rolos and Deb likes Cherry Hershey's Kisses.  I like the connection between me and the candy grabber when they grab a treat and groan and say "Oh, I need this right now!"  When the candy is half gone in the morning, I miss out on those connections and I'm left wondering who it is that's enjoying the treats anyway.

But whenever I catch my inward disappointment at the missing candy, I remember this StoryCorps from NPR.

I'm not saying that the cleaning company we use has employees that are bringing their kids in and those little kids are dancing around in their jammies, munching on chocolates in my office.  But the image does make me grin.

For me, it serves as a reminder that I don't know someone else's story.  I don't know who is coming to my office overnight to snag a treat.  Maybe it is someone who is just selfish and wants a big handful of free candy.

But maybe...

It's a mom who is back to work for the first time since having her first baby.

It's a man who recently lost a loved one.

It's a person cheating on their diet.

It's someone who has an abusive spouse.

It's someone who is facing challenges with their kids.

It's someone who is hungry.

I'm often fascinated by the idea of other people's stories.  And my candy dish is another way that I find myself wondering about the people I might somehow impact.

Do you ever think back to your childhood and have random memories of strangers or acquaintances- either witnessing or experiencing a kindness or seeing someone interact with another person?  Sometimes I think back to those people who left an impression on my life and wonder if they remember me, too.

I remember, for example, a next door neighbor in our apartment complex who we didn't know well but knew well enough.  She didn't live there as long as we did- maybe only a year.  But I remember she was adult and single and I thought she was pretty "hip."  She took me out to lunch one day- just as a treat.  For some reason, we were in a big hotel in downtown Lexington, I think.  She took me into the gift shop and pointed to this corner that was loaded up with stuffed animals and she said, "Pick any one that you want.  It's yours."  I still have the unicorn I selected.  I don't remember our neighbor's name and I can't quite place her face.  But that act of kindness left an impression on me.

Maybe, just maybe, my little candy dish is leaving some sort of positive impression on someone else.  It's kind of silly to think that a tiny little piece of chocolate could really mean something big, right?  But maybe... maybe it's will be part of someone's memories when they look back a decade or two from now.  Maybe it brings a smile to someone's face.  Maybe it soothes a little bit of hurt.

Or maybe it just tastes good and it's free.  Either way, I'm going to keep reminding myself that the someone who is taking my candy overnight is still a person with their own story.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I spent some quiet time reflecting on my current status today.  It was on my morning commute to work.  Alone in the car, radio off, phone quiet.

A thought struck me.  I was focusing on how to adjust my attitude to face the workday ahead.  I'm tired due to a certain new little dog who has to potty in the middle of the night so I am going outside at 3:30 or 4:30 in the morning.  I'm right back to overloaded at work and feeling like I'm not getting enough done each day.  I'm holding on to keeping work out of home life as best I can (I've really improved a lot on that one from when all the changes hit and I was bringing work home every night, every weekend).  But my days are hard and I sometimes feel like I kinda dread being back at work for another day of a long list of to-do's that are all #1 TOP PRIORITY for a long list of Very Important People that expect all of their #1 Priorities to be my Most Urgent Work Of The Day.

And in my quiet reflection, I remembered the prayers I've been sending up for guidance and acceptance and strength.  And I remembered the focus word I selected for 2012 (steady).  And I heard a voice or suddenly had a though pop into my head...

"I gave it to you because I know you can do it.  Yes, this stretches you.  But I know that this has an end point, a purpose.  Trust.  Steady."

So today, I'm calmly focused on doing my best, working my best, doing what I am capable of to the best of my limits and abilities.

One choice at a time, having faith that my ladder is being held steady, knowing that I have the ability to stay focused and strong.  I will do my best.  It's all that I can do.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Early July, 2011.  Indiana was experiencing a heat wave. 

A woman walks into our local humane society and waits to be waited on.  Once her turn comes, she explains that she can't care for her dog- the dog is too old.  She wants to surrender her to the humane society.  They ask her where the dog is.

Locked in the turned off car.  Where the windows are up. 

A 20 lb dachshund, 13 years old.  Locked in a car in the heat of summer. 

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, rushed to the vet for emergency care. 

A foster mom steps up- experienced with the breed, the age, the special needs discovered in the course of veterinary care.  Cushing's Syndrome

This wonderful foster mom works with Button until she is in good health.  Gets her on medication for the Cushing's, controls her food intake to bring her weight down to a healthy 15 lb.  Loves her and snuggles her and builds up her trust in humans again.

I watched this story unfold on the Humane Society for Hamilton County's Facebook page.  I love their social networking efforts and I think they've seen good payoff for their efforts.  There are many dogs that I have followed over the past few years- cheered when they have a day out or find a foster home or- best of all- forever home.  Button was a dog that always stayed with me.

Sassy is my own little 13 year old pooch.  Even as her health starts to deteroriate- she seems to be losing sight and hearing on some days- I can't imagine taking her and abandoning her to a shelter.  Yes, dogs are more work and less fun as they age.  But it's just like life, isn't it?  Hard work in the early years, independent for a while, and then health and body starts to deteriorate as we near the end.

The week after Christmas, after finding myself thinking of that sweet little Button over and over again, I finally caved and posted a picture of her on Facebook.  My hope was that someone would want to adopt her or that there would be enough peer pressure that the scales would tip in favor of this family going to meet Button for possible adoption.

The peer pressure worked.  We applied, were approved, had contact with the foster mom, and finally set a time to go to the humane society to meet Button.  We all got along and so she became ours.

Day 1 was easy.  Lots of snuggling and learning cues and petting and such. 

Day 2 was a challenge.  It started out easy enough.  But the honeymoon had to end at some point.  We are a busy family so dogs in this home have to be able to be left alone while we are at work, school, church, activities, and so on.  Jeff stayed home from church to stay with her and we did our first time out of the house later in the afternoon- leaving her for about 45 minutes.

She pushed open the baby gate, went downstairs, tore up 2 bags of trash, and pooped on the floor.

We went out a second time- grocery store.  She got out again (we hadn't full latched the gate the first time and made sure to fully latch it this time but that didn't stop her).  And she managed to get a tin of Danish butter cookies open and mostly eaten, opened a tin of Poppycock caramel corn, pooped a large pile in the living room, and peed in the kids' bedroom and the bathroom rugs. 

Wow.  These humans learned a very important lesson! 

So we are adjusting.  Jeff is stopping the by the house as often as he can to take her outside and check on things.  She had another accident overnight and again during the day. 

This evening, we discovered that all of the trips outside haven't been so great for our sweet little old girl.  With her swollen dachshund / Cushing's belly and her soft little paw pads, she has gotten hurt on our concrete steps and sidewalks.  We noticed she was hesitant to go down steps and was walking a lot slower.  We assumed it was tummy ache related since she has yet to poop after her food rampage.  But it's because she has rubbed a sore patch on her belly on the steps and rubbed a few raw spots on her paw pads on the sidewalk.  So we apologized profusely to her, loved on her like crazy, and will be carrying this little dog down steps and to grass everytime she goes outside.

So we are adjusting.  It will be a week (at least) of adjusting.  There will be accidents and trouble.  And there will be even more pets and snuggles and hugs.  Best of all, in just a few days, we are all bonding.  Sassy and Buttons (See? We changed her name from Button to Buttons!) have started to snuggle close to each other.  The kids adore Buttons- even when she's been bad.  She's a keeper. 

We have a special little dog in our family.  She is sweet and funny.  I had no idea doxies were so adorable- just the way her little legs work and how adorable her big nose is on the end of her little snout.  I read that the average life span of a standard dachshund is 12.7 years so there is no guarantee she will be with us very long.  No guarantee we will have Sassy very long either.  The kids are aware- but the losses will still hurt when the time comes.

For now, we will just take each day as it comes and enjoy it as best we can. 

Don't worry- there will be plenty of pictures to come! 


Monday, January 9, 2012

Quick Updates

1.  We got Buttons!  She is cute and very snuggly.  She also makes all kinds of piggie noises when she breathes, walks, sleeps, etc.  She is also HUGELY food motivated (partially due to her Cushing's Syndrome).  More details to come.

2.  This will be a week of transition- which means some acting out and everyone figuring out how they fit into this family.  So I anticipate plenty of cleaning up the floor and figuring out new routines and schedules.

3. Work is kicking my butt today.  Big time.

4.  Today was my Big Plan to Kick Off Being Healthy Again Day.  However, work has interfered.  No time for the gym.  And with the dog situation, working out this morning was not an option.  And this evening?  Given how worn down I am already from this stressful day- I don't see it happening.  So I am a bit frustrated- which adds to my stress.

That's about all I got for you right now.  The good news is that Jeff and I love each other, my kids are healthy and happy and doing great, and that while life is crazy and stressful... it's not bad or traumatic right now.  We truly are blessed- even if the everyday things make it a bit more challenging to see sometimes.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

6 Words: Buttons

Today. Might add to Furry Family!



Friday, January 6, 2012

Forget Art Class- Music Grade

Back at the end of August, I posted about a sign that Jeff and I spied in the Art classroom at Teagan's school.  Jeff and I had a positive reaction to it.  Many of my readers did not.  The sign, in my opinion, was a way of encouraging students to draw in a different way than they had so far.  When I talked to Teagan about the sign, she said that she liked it because she'd always thought she could only draw stick people and now she knows she can do more than that.

But today I have a complaint.

That sign in that class?  It isn't part of the grading system.  The projects that the kids do in art class don't even relate to the sign- it's more for free drawing and in-regular-class time.  So there has no impact on Teagan if she does decide to stray from drawing bodies to drawing stick figures- no points taken away, no trouble, no grade reduction.

But Music Class is apparently a different story.

I realized that 1st semester grades were probably up.  Grades really aren't a huge focus in our home at this point in time.  I see them as a guideline to determine where we might need to focus a little bit of energy or effort.

In each of her subjects, there are specific skills that she is graded on.  The scale is done in a basic "mastered / progressing / needs improvement" method.  So, for example, I can easily see that in writing, she needs to focus more on refining sentence writing- capitalization, punctuation, and writing in complete sentences.  With that scale, you can easily see where the overall grade (scale being "Satisfactory / Progressing / Needs Work") comes from.

Teagan is doing very well in all her subjects and classes.  No surprise there.  But I enjoyed clicking around and seeing where the grades came from.

Until I got to the Music Class grades.

She received a grade for the quality of her voice.

"Matching Pitch"

Description: Students will sing a short excerpt from a known song.

Now, if this description led me to believe that Teagan was asked to sing a song they'd been learning in class and she instead sang a different song- therefore demonstrating that she didn't learn the song that was taught or requested, I'd be ok with this being a graded subject.

I am a singer.  I sing and it's something I do pretty well and really enjoy.  I know a thing or two about music.

One thing I know is that not everyone can sing.  Not everyone can even carry a tune.  I have heard people who are good singers, great singers, mediocre singers, and even bad singers.  I've heard people that truly cannot find the correct note in their vocals.  I've heard people who are "tone deaf."

I don't see how "Matching Pitch" is something you can be graded on.  I don't see how your ability to sing is something you can be graded on.  I don't see how your level of talent can be graded.

In that art class situation, the thing I took from it was that the quality of your outcome isn't important.  What matters is your effort to do more than what is expected.  I can't draw.  I stick to stick figures and balloon trees because that's what I feel the level of my talent is... but maybe... if I tried to really look at something and draw it more realistically... maybe my deep efforts would still not produce a beautiful picture.  But I would have given my best effort to do what was asked.  I'm ok with being graded on my effort.  I'm ok with being graded on my ability to grasp concepts and understand steps and follow directions.

But if I'm graded on how pretty my painting turns out- I'm in trouble.

In a gym/physical education class is being graded, my hope would be, again, that grading is based on effort given and on demonstration of understanding.  Teagan received a grade for "1 Mile Run."  My hope is that she was graded for running her best for that mile or that she was graded based on attitude, effort, and completion of the task.  My hope is that she isn't graded on how fast she ran it or if she ran the entire time.

All other areas of the music grades made sense to me.  A skill was listed and you could see how it was measurable to determine a grade.  Demonstrate ability to keep a steady beat.  Demonstrate a rhythm based on a card that gives notes and beats.  If you want a student to recognize pitch or be graded on pitch, play a song and ask them to identify it.

But don't ask them to sing it and then grade them.  This isn't American Idol.  You aren't Simon Cowell.  It's an elementary school music class.  I'm not looking for kids to be falsely built up and told they have talents they don't have.  I just don't see the point in grading on something that isn't something based on effort, skill mastery, or other measurable things.

I would really love to hear opinions on this.  Music teachers?  Any input?  Parents of kids with or without singing ability?  Memories of music class in your own childhood?


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I first shared this back in 2008.  Ironically, I came across it when I was cleaning up a space.  Same thing today- I was cleaning out a closet or drawer and came upon it.  And the words are still true and still stay with me.  It is credited only to "Love Unlimited" and my Google searches have never given me any helpful info. 


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out for another is to risk involvement.

To expose your feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is a risk.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try is to risk failure.

But, risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing at all.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.

They may avoid suffering and sorrow but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.

Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave. They have forfeited their freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.


Monday, January 2, 2012

For My Husband

Today is Jeff's birthday! 

We started the day with breakfast in bed.  The kids made pictures and cards while I made breakfast- blueberry muffins, scrambled eggs, toast.  We stuck a birthday candle in the muffin and came in to surprise him and sing to him.  He's been relaxing in bed ever since- I think he's happy.

I ordered him 2 presents but they haven't arrived yet and this holiday thing is messing with deliveries.  So I guess the odds are good that his presents won't arrive today.  Which is frustrating. 

He's going to have lunch with his dad.  I'm going to see if he'd like to do a family outing to the movies.  We'll have steak for dinner. 

It's going to be a laid back, easy going kind of day.  There's a little bit of snow falling, the family is still in pj's, and we're happy to just be together for another day before the hustle and bustle starts up in a few days.

Which is a perfect kind of day for my husband's birthday.  He's a homebody.  He always prefers to be home.  Sure, there are things he likes to go and do but he's always happy to get back home. 

Happy birthday, Jeff!  Your family loves you, adores you, respects you.  Maybe that's the greatest gift- taking time to realize the good choices you've made that have brought you to this birthday and realizing the blessings you have around you.


Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy New Year!

At this time last year, I was putting together my training schedule and making all necessary plans for my Big Goal in 2011- completing a half marathon.  And I did accomplish that goal. 

I'm looking into 2012 and... I've got nothing.  I have no goals, no resolutions.  I've got ongoing changes and improvements.  Looking back at 2011 has shown me that my healthy living journey has really been a big roller coaster.  I did awesome and then I struggled and then did awesome and then struggled.  And I'm sure the pattern will continue in 2012.  All I can do is keeping trying, keep going back to it.

I don't have an event I want to complete in 2012. 

I want to see my daughter turn 7 in March, my son turn 5 in October.  I want to celebrate 9 years of marriage to my husband.  I want to continue to grow relationships with women in my church family.  I want my friendship with Christy to remain strong. 

There is a lot of change in 2012 for people I love and my hope is that my life just stays strong and normal so I can best be able to help my loved ones.

I like the idea of having a word to focus on for the year.  I can't say that I will commit to this word for the entire year.  So many things change and I like my ability to change with them.

A year ago, my job was exactly what I wanted it to be.  Within a few months, major changes happened and it blew up my world more than I could have anticipated.  Whatever word I'd chosen in January no longer applied by May.

I'm starting out my year with  "STEADY."

I need to stay steady.  I need things to remain the same and I will be working on making improvements from that steady state.

It's kinda boring, I know.  But I value life being boring, steady, normal, calm.  I've done chaos and I don't ever want to be in that place again. 

So I'm going to face 2012 and whatever it brings by staying steady.  There's a devotion in my Bible that talks about the story of Noah's Ark and how God held the ladder steady for Noah.  Noah still had to do the hard work and take the risks of being up on that ladder- but God held the ladder steady.  I like that.