Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A Review

I did this type of review in 2010 and I love going back and reading it.  Let's do it again for 2011!

I was hardcore serious about healthy living and was making plans for what it would take to run a half marathon.  I realized that I am a Penguin.  I started thinking about birthday parties.  Teagan learned about Martin Luther King, Jr.  I shared some heavy posts about my past- the difficulties of facing the abuse I survived.  I bonded with women in my church family at my first women's group church retreat.

Our area was hit with a big ice storm.  I reshared one of my favorite videos of Zach.  I focused on being purposefully positive every day.  My friend Lisa shared her experiences as a primary caregiver.  I ran a training series 5K in my quest to reach my first half marathon.  I learned important lessons about my son when I read to his class of 3 year olds.  I was invited to be part of a group of bloggers to visit our State Capital and spend time with our Lt. Governor and had mixed feelings about being there.  Teagan and I participated in our church Talent Show.  I had some deep thoughts about Humility.  Teagan had a heart scare.  And I continued exploring the ups and downs of healthy living.

Started with a bang when I learned I have exercise induced asthma.  I ran 10K in minimalist footwear.  I shared my weird way of eating M&M's.  I shared some deep thoughts about meekness after a sermon at church.  I took the Mom Pledge and outed my haters.  As we approached Teagan's 6th birthday, we learned she had an odd request and we also celebrated her special day in fun ways.  I shared my involvement in my husband's podcast (which I am now the regular 3rd host for, by the way).  I attended a Good Form Running Clinic.  I ended my month by chaperoning a small group of teen girls to the Revolve Tour in Columbus, OH and came away with bigger experiences than I had anticipated.

Another hurdle in being healthy- discovering the impact of low iron.  I completed a 15K.  Major changes hit my job.  I did the Race for the Cure 5K with my mom friends.  I started to get interested in bike riding.  I ran the worst race of my life- a 10 miler.  I signed up for Team in Training.

I ran a half marathon!  I did a comprehensive exploration of the difference between Subway and Arby's chicken salad.  I had valuable insight of the relationship between my kids.  I gave a sermon at church- one that was powerful for many and personal for me.  I attended Opening Day of our local Farmer's Market.

We took a mini-vacation and had a little fun with announcing the surprise trip to the kids.  We visited 100 Acres at the Indianapolis Art Museum.  I shared my thoughts on running shoes.  I was a bit overwhelmed at the number of people who were being reported as missing.  I got excited about inspiration.  After a fun bike ride, my friends and I experienced a true miracle.  An unexpected ending came with the shutting down of the online mom community I had been a part of for several years.  I looked back at some of the promises I had written to Teagan early in my parenthood.

I wrote a passionate post about divorce.  I got caught up in the Casey Anthony drama.  I wrote a post about the things I love about my church- and about what makes it different.  We learned a lot about Zach when he took a basketball clinic at the Y.  My job continued to be very stressful and demanding.

Jeff took off for GenCon.  I wrote a big post about my experiences with breastfeeding.  And August always means that it's time for the Indiana State Fair- which unfortunately saw tragedy this year.  Teagan started 1st grade.  I learned about being an overly visible woman and I went to my first Women of Faith event.  We had an important discussion about people being different.  Snapped a great family pic on our back deck.  I started the Great Art Class Controversy.

I got irritated by rude people.  I had to come face to face with my missing motivation.  I was deeply touched by the last words of many who died on 9/11.  Teagan had a very hard time adjusting to 1st grade.  Christy and I did a second bike ride.  We learned more about Teagan and her personality.

We continued to struggle with parenting Teagan.  I celebrated National Coming Out Day.  Jeff and I celebrated our 8th anniversary.  I encouraged my readers to feel themselves up.  I gave you a tour of my gym.  My baby boy turned 4!  We learned that Teagan was bullying again.  I had some really down days.  And I wrote about what a bully might really look like- my daughter.

I defended the importance of Thanksgiving.  Jeff and I got to take Zach on his school field trip to the pumpkin patch.  Jeff took an interest in cooking.  I shared a way you can easily give compassionately at Book Fair time.  Zach continued to demonstrate how funny he is.  I got excited about being a spark that turned into a bit of a fire!

I shared our annual St. Nicholas tradition.  I also shared the story I love to share every year- My Magic Christmas.  I expressed my lack of knowledge about the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I shared that I wanted my friendships to be deeper.  And I ended the year with another set of posts that generated some great discussion on children and obedience.

Here's to the New Year!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Pretend Sister

My brother, Ted, and his girlfriend, Em, came for a visit the past 2 days.  It's kind of an annual tradition at this point.  It used to be that they were coming to Indy for a convention and we'd see them for an evening.  We also enjoy a 1 or 2 night stay every summer.  This year, they were skipping the convention and just coming to see us.

I love these visits.

Ted and I didn't grow up together.  I was 15 when he was born and I went off to college when he was just 3 or 4 years old.  We don't have a lot of shred growing up memories, we can't tell a lot of stories about our shared experiences with our parents.

But now he's all grown up.  He'll be finishing college soon and embarking into life in the Real World.  Going off to college really opened him up to new experiences and also gave our relationship a new definition and purpose.

He's my brother.  But we are also friends.  We laugh and talk and discuss all kinds of things.  He's come to me for advice before.  He knows he can talk to me about anything without judgment or embarrassment.

And he has this fabulous woman in his life.  He's had a thing for her since his freshman year but they were just friends for a while.  However, the planets aligned and they came together- they truly seem to be destined for one another.

Em is smart, funny, pretty, full of energy, compassionate, and has a great understanding of the world (at least for someone in her 20's).

Best of all, Em and I really like each other.  Even before Ted and Em started dating, Ted kept telling me that I just HAD to meet Em.  I thought it was kind of weird that he wanted me to meet someone who was just a friend but then I met her and realized... she is so much like me!

The visit this week was wonderful.  We didn't do anything Big and Exciting.  We hung out at home (I actually cleaned for them!).  Best of all, my brother ended up spending a lot of time with my kids and Em and I had this golden opportunity to just sit and talk.

My happiest dream would be for these two to end up getting married and moving into my neighborhood.  I can totally see Jeff and Ted doing home improvement things together and teaching Zach and Teagan about building and mowing and so on.  I can envision Em and I sitting on her porch or in my living room, sharing some wine and talking the night away.  I can see my kids babysitting their kids.  I can see my kids spending the night at Aunt Em and Uncle Ted's.  I can see their kids spending the night at our place.

I can see me having a sister.  I can see me being a big sister to a sister.

I can see a future filled with my non-rhythmic brother Just Dancing with my kids.

I know I shouldn't get ahead of myself.  And I know they can't make decisions based on what I want.  But if Ted and Em were to announce that they were engaged, that they planned to get married in about a year and a half (when Em finishes grad school) and that they want to live in Indy... it would be a pretty happy day for me!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I love when a blog post stirs up some discussion!  Yesterday's post on my new magic words learned from the Duggars (The first time I say it, you obey it.) ruffled some feathers.  I suspect (and hope) there will be more discussion today. 

I have to admit that 2-3 years ago, I bristled at the word obey, too.

Then I ended up with a daughter who has the defiant attitude practically perfected.

One commentor noted that to require children to obey means that the kids get a message that theirs wants comes second, that they don't matter as much.  Another said that obey is used for dogs and is such a strong word that she can't use it with kids.


I always like to grab actual definitions and not just the feeling of a word when I really dig in to understand it.

Obey- to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of: to obey one's parents.

That came from

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with that definition.  Obey means to follow the rules.  Obey means to meet expectations.  Obey means listening and following.

We have rules and guidelines- like most homes, I assume.

We also have kids that push limits- like most home, I assume.

In the past few months, there has been a slow increase down a hill that came to a head over the past few weeks leading up to Christmas. 

These kids of mine haven't been listening.  Jeff or I will ask or tell them to stop or to do something and they completely disregard what is being said.  Consequences haven't mattered or simply result in a child blowing up (usually the older one). 

(Ironically, as I am typing this, my kids were laying on the floor coloring.  Then one child got mad at the other and scribbled across the page of the other.  Scribbling child is now in "time out."  No talk of obeying anything since there wasn't a request just given but there was a family rule broken.)

We have basic family values.  1. Be kind to one another.  2. Be kind with your words, with your hands, with your face. 

Obedience isn't one of the tenets of our family foundation.

But there has been a problem brewing for a long time.  If I ask you to put away the toys, I do not expect to have to ask you 5 times.  If I ask you to not jump on the bed, I expect that you will not jump on the bed. 

When Jeff or I ask the kids to do something or to stop doing something, it isn't usually at a time when they are in the midst of doing something pleasant that they have chosen to do.  Trust me, if my kids are playing quietly or getting along nicely, I'm not about to disrupt that.  I'm not the kind of parent that is a "my way or the highway" type.

But if I ask you to stop jumping and hanging on my back- you need to respect my personal space and stop.  If I ask you to throw your trash away, I expect you to respect our home enough to pick up your dirty tissue and put it in the trash.   

I found a nice little rhyme that helps my kids realize that I'm serious when I ask for something to happen or for something to stop.  "The first time I say it, you obey it." 

Yes, there are times when I expect my kids to follow my wishes, to do as I instruct them, to follow rules, to do what they are told when they are told to do it.  I'd venture that most parents feel that way.  I've heard most parents complain at one time or another about their children not listening, not following directions.  It's one of those common concerns in the world of parenting- one of those complaints everyone has had at one point or another. 

I've got a strong willed 6 year old who has had a problem with bullying other kids.  This same child likes to simply "not hear" requests made by parents.  If it were a matter of her agenda or desires being squashed- I'm willing to evaluate that.  She has reached a point where she will truly flat-out disobey, simply to test boundaries.  Not because she is standing up for her cause or following her true desires.  I've walked a fine line with her for 2 years now- carefully choosing battles, trying to determine when to ignore, when to respond.

Maybe if she was an only child, it would be different.  I've wondered that so many times before. 

Maybe if my kids were simply of the personality types to be more docile, more cooperative, less strong willed, it would be different.

Maybe if I was a stay at home mom or we were a less busy family and did nothing much more than focus on just these 2 kids, it would be different.

But none of those Maybes suit us or our circumstances or these personalities. 

For now, we found something that works.  We found something that reminds our kids that the things they are asked to do are important things.  Bottom line is that there simply are times when we expect our kids to do what they are told, when they are told to do it.  Without being asked 20 times, without arguing with us about why or what or when, without fights erupting or meltdowns ensuing.   Obedience is necessary in the world.  If I choose to not obey my boss at work, there are consequences.  If I choose to not obey laws, there are consequences.  Teaching my kids about obedience and about when obedience is necessary is appropriate.  And there will also be times when my kids will be taught that disobedience is appropriate (those lessons are already ongoing- when a grown up asks you to do something that is against the rules, you are allowed to disobey that grown up, for example).

Obey isn't a bad word.  Obey isn't a negative word.  Obedience isn't just for dogs or trained dolphins.

(Someday I should write a post on the similiarities between dog training and child rearing.  Everything from reward systems to treats to clickers to discipline to time outs... they are more similar than you might realize.) 


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

With Thanks to the Duggars

I have to admit that I've been intrigued by the Duggars before.  In all honesty, I don't care how many kids they have.  They love all of them and they take care of them.  I find it remarkable that they live debt free (although I imagine that to be a lot easier with the TV show paycheck coming in).  I've never watched a full episode of their show but have caught pieces here and there when flipping around.

The other day, I caught a few minutes of an episode and it changed my life.

No seriously.  Don't laugh!

It was a "question and answer" type of thing and the subject of discipline came up.  The dad was talking about how the mom is such a quiet and gentle voiced woman and that the foundation of discipline in the home just doesn't require yelling or lots of anger.  He said other stuff to but I was transfixed on the scene of the mom sitting on the bed with a child and saying the words that changed my life.

"The first time I say it, you obey it."

Woah.  Wow!  I love it!

So I started trying it with my kids.  And they took to it crazy fast. 

I was in a store with Zach, doing a little Christmas shopping.  I was paying at the register and he kept wandering off to look at other items on shelves nearby.  I asked him twice to stay by me and he kept walking off anyway, insisting that he wanted to look around on his own.  I looked at him with my Mom Eyes and said, "The first time I say it..."

He looked at me and gave a big, disappointed "AW!" and marched over and stayed by my side.

Today, I was asking Teagan to clean up something and she was starting to argue with me about wanting to do something else first.  Before I could even say the words, she says, "The first time you say it, I obey it!" and did what I was asking!



Monday, December 26, 2011

The Aftermath

Whew!  What a whirlwind!

It was an interesting holiday.

There were some gifts that were a huge hit that I didn't expect to be so popular.  There were gifts that I thought would be a hit that were... meh.

With our kids, we followed the little poem "Something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read."  Then a main gift from Santa and a stocking full of smaller goodies.

Want: Rapunzel from Tangled
Need: new sneakers
Wear: bathrobe
Read: set of first four Magic Treehouse books
Santa: Princess Celestia from My Little Pony
Stocking: Goldilicious (book), markers, headbands, nail polish, Scooby Doo spin brush, Little Mermaid bath scrubby.

Want: superhero action figures (Jeff picked out 3)
Need: new sneakers
Wear: superhero undies (he has Marvel undies and this was a set of DC)
Read: 3 books with a common theme of having something to do with space (Aliens Wear Underpants, Skippyjon Jones Lost In Spice, There's No Place Like Space)
Santa: Thor action figure and foam Thor hammer, Yes Day (book), markers, Scooby Doo spin brush, bath scrubby (Spiderman).

Jeff and I decided to not do big gifts for each other this year.  The kids had each gotten him a jar candle in a scent he's been looking for.  I went with the odd and silly route and got him food storage containers (since he's been cooking more lately), a mini megaphone (so we can always hear him), and a whoopie cushion (because Jeff is funny).  I got a new nightgown from Teagan (she picked it because it has coffee and donuts on it).  Zach got me a pint of homemade strawberry jam from my favorite breakfast spot- Sunrise Cafe (locally, family owned business) and a Tervis tumbler from there as well. 

We also have a whole new pile of toys from friends and family- Barbies and superheroes and vehicles and puzzles and treats.  Today, we try to sort it out and organize and put away. 

Jeff's birthday is a week away... now the stressful buying decisions have to be made.  It's hard to buy for him.  I have some ideas but nothing that I know he wants.

But the biggest part of today is recovering from our Christmas hangover.  The past week has been filled with candy and treats and presents and family gatherings and late nights and celebrations.  While Jeff and I have tried to remain consistent in our discipline, we've also let a lot of things go because they've been operating under Grandma rules or whatever.  So today isn't necessarily a fun day.  Today is a work day.  Today, we get caught up on dishes and we throw out bags and bags and bags of trash.  Today, we do laundry and clean bathrooms and floors.  Today, we figure out if we have any toys we can donate to Goodwill.  Today, we get back to healthier food choices.

Merry Christmas Aftermath.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh! There it is!

I posted earlier this week about struggling to find my Christmas Spirit.

There is no big change.  But there is change. 

There were some wise comments left on that post.  And I also had a great conversation with Christy about how I was feeling.  And then I might have had a minor breakdown on Tuesday evening as all of the stress, exhaustion, being overwhelmed, and so on just came to a head. 

The heart to heart with Christy got the ball rolling.  She understood exactly what I was feeling and validated that I wasn't making it up or overstating my stress load and that my feelings were completely valid. 

Tuesday, I was rushing from a long day at work to get home to rush through something with the kids and rush off to my next thing and then I hit a major traffic jam and just had a break down.  I called Jeff and the stress overflowed and I cried a little on the phone and a whole lot more after I hung up.

Then I spent 2 hours at church assembling lasagnas with a small team of people and I started to feel connected and plugged in again.  One of those people was a guy who was part of our church before I joined.  Then he and his wife had moved away for a while.  And now they are back.  And I've missed them!  And I had an opportunity to share with him the impact he and his wife had on me the first time I visited our church- that they were part of the reason I kept coming back.  It was a great part of my day.

I was still kind of fragile on Wednesday.  The kids went off to school and my husband took some time to hold me and talk to me and reassure me and just love me.  And I needed that recharge more than I realized.  Off to lunch at a friend's house with a fantastic group of women that I was involved in a special holiday project with the past month... and my heart started to open up to the joy that was all around me.

And what really got me was a gift given to me by the friend hosting our luncheon.  It was a set of spices from Penzeys but it was the card that came with the spices that warmed my heart and soul.  It comes with this lovely printed card about being kind and showing kindness to others.  I loved it.

Thursday brought Lazy Day.  The kids were excited for it but the excitement lead to a lack of being lazy.  Thankfully, I was still able to spend most of my morning at home in bed while they played in the playroom. 

And then something happened...

I was on Facebook and a mom friend posted that if you are in her area and are the first to respond, she had a tray of cinnamon rolls to bring over.  I posted "YUM!" and next thing I know... arrangements are being made for her to bring me the cinnamon rolls!  It was fantastic to see her and her kids for a few minutes and even more fantastic to snack on those tasty treats with my kids!

Suddenly- the Christmas Spirit was sneaking in.  I started reading about that project those moms and I have been working on and realizing the impact the project had made and would be making this season.  I wrapped a few presents with the kids.  I made plans for a special "last minute shopping day" for Friday. 

I started to realize that our traditions were starting up and it was time to sit back and enjoy.  I enjoyed some time at church at music practice- just some time singing traditional Christmas carols (my favorite Christmas music) and also laughing with friends.

And now I am sitting at home, watching various Christmas specials and concerts on my local public television station.  I'm about to wrap some more presents. 

I'm starting to feel some excitement about Christmas.  There are still times that I struggle with some negativity- I'm not fully recovered or miraculously healed from the stress of my workload or whatever.  But I'm feeling a bit more like myself right now and that feels great.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

FitCity: Forgiveness

Go... read... comment.

Please and thank you!


It’s that time of year- the time when treats and meals and pitch-ins and potlucks and cookies and baked goodies abound.  It’s that time of year where we get so busy running errands, making lists, wrapping gifts, and so on that there just isn’t time for our usual priorities.

Unfortunately, my priorities slipped months ago and I’ve been struggling to recover.

I’ve gained a lot of weight.  I’ve stopped working out.  I was starting to get back on track but then the holidays hit and everything was a struggle again.  There is a long list of reasons and excuses as to how I’ve gotten back into this unhealthy lifestyle.

Part of me wants to be angry with myself, to beat myself up, to sit back and wonder how I could let this happen.  Part of me wants to be optimistic and look to the future and how I will get back on track.

But I think the first thing I have to do is forgive myself.

I have to forgive the days of not going to the gym and not getting up early to workout and not finding any time in the evening for some exercise.

I have to forgive my shopping habits that went from being prepared for a healthy lunch and breakfast to relying on fast food and treating myself to meals out.

I have to forgive myself for giving in to laziness and exhaustion.

Life changes happen.  There is a reason why changing your life from one of unhealthy choices to healthy living is full of challenges.  There’s a reason why it isn’t easy.  I’ve spent the last few weeks being pretty angry with myself over getting to this point.  I’ve been depressed about the condition my body is in again.

I helped a friend clean our church and my arms were sore after washing windows.  The idea of running makes me cringe.  When I try to play one of my dancing games, I see the reflection of my rotund self and feel pretty gross.  My energy has plummeted.

Life has gotten crazy.  My schedule is overwhelmed with higher requirements at work, with commitments I’ve made to my church family, with commitments I’ve made to my kids, with attempts at quality time with my husband.  I don’t think I’ve ever known how it felt to truly be so busy.  And the thing that went first was my exercise plan.  After that, it was a fast downward spiral back into night time snacking, junk food grabbing, and even a stint of a daily stop at the vending machine.

Last night, I saw a picture of myself and realized that I have to make some serious changes.  Immediately.

Making big changes as I face the holidays is a plan to fail- I know that.  But after the holidays, it’s time to start planning on getting my diet back in check.  I need to focus on fresh fruits and veggies.  I need to start tracking what I consume throughout the day.  I need to get my eating habits back in check- no more eating after the kids go to bed, no more grabbing a drive thru dinner full of unhealthy choices to ease my stress level. I need to get back into a regular exercise regiment.  That might be getting back to running or it might be finding some group exercise classes.  No matter what, I need to make a plan and stick to it.

I forgive myself for the bad choices I’ve been making.  I forgive myself for not keeping my health and well-being a priority.
Once I have forgiven myself, I can move forward and make it right.  I can make better choices and I can stick to it- I’ve proven that to myself before.

Forgiveness.  It’s what this holiday season is all about for me!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Wanted: Christmas Spirit

I've been hesitant to really talk about this because it makes it truly real.  I mentioned it on my Facebook page last week.  And my blog buddy 4th Frog blogged about it today so I'm going to out myself, too.

I can't seem to find my Christmas Spirit this year.

Every year, I get really excited about Christmas.  I love the holidays.  I love the lights and the baked goodies and the Christmas carols and the generosity and the gift giving and the time with friends and family.  I've often been the bearer of Christmas Spirit to family gatherings.

This year... it's just not there.  I'm not feeling it and I don't know why.

We've done a lot of our traditional holiday things this month.  We went caroling with our church to a nursing home.  We've gone to see the fantastic light displays in our neighborhood and in our town.  We've been shopping and gift-giving and planning.  We've been practicing for our Christmas program at church.

I've been part of some amazing generosity this holiday season and that usually warms my heart.

But this year, something is missing.

The sermon at church yesterday was all about the gift of Joy.  I've been doing a devotional series and the focus right now is on Joy.  And yet... my Joy is missing.  Not completely- my foundation is joyful, my faith is still founded in Joy.  But on the surface this Christmas, my Joy seems to be lacking.

I have little moments where I stop and smile. But my heart is normally bursting with love and joy by this time of the year and it just hasn't happened yet.

I saw something someone posted on Facebook recently that talked about steps to happiness and the first one was to think less and feel more.  Maybe I'm thinking too much and not feeling enough?

Maybe it's the stress of the job?  Maybe I'm too tired?  Maybe I'm not focused on the right things?

I just know there are some great things going on around me, great things I've been a small part of, great things happening to great people... and I can't seem to find the joy inside of me.  I've had moments of joy when my kids spontaneously sing "Rudolph" together and I've had my spirit fill up when I read of those Layaway Angels and I've been deeply touched by the outpouring of support when needs are brought to the surface.

And yet, there is something missing inside of me and I don't know what it is that's missing.

So if you've got some holiday spirit to spare, I'd love to have some of yours.  If you find some laying around, send it my way.  Or if you happen to find mine, could you please return it to me right away?


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cards

I love Christmas cards.  I love getting the mail and seeing the envelopes that I know contain holiday greetings.

I love cheesy annual newsletters that fill me in on what is going on in another family's life.  I love the cheesy ones, the boring ones, and even the ones that seem like oversharing.

I love the snapshot cards so I can see how families and friends are changing and growing and aging.

I love that someone thought of our family when they made that list and bought those stamps and mailed those cards.


I stink at sending Christmas cards.  Really stink at it.  I maybe get around to it every couple of years.  I did a newsletter the first 2 years of Teagan's life but then I had a second kid and all that potential for being organized went out the window.  One year, I bought the cards and just never mailed them.  For several years, I obsessively bought boxes and boxes of cards on clearance for the next year.  But never sent them and sometimes couldn't even find where I had stashed them.

This year, I have cards to send.  I don't have a lot but they've been getting a very positive reaction so far.  I purchased these last Christmas from Usborne Books and I need to find out if they still sell them because I want to do this every year.

My kids colored these cards.  I've had the delightful experience of handing a card to a friend (twice now, actually) and watching their face light up when they read what's inside:

Merry Christmas!
Jeff, Liz
Teagan & Zach
Colored for you by Teagan (age 6) and Zach (age 4)

It's a card that is also a keepsake, a gift.  I'm going to have to keep one for myself.  They are all sealed up in envelopes and I think I might pick a random one, write the year on it, and store it in my cabinet and never open it until I'm old and gray and my kids are grown and I have grandkids to share them with.

I think I found a new Christmas tradition!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Making Friends

I'm connected to so many people.  And I feel like I always know who I could turn to for different problems or for advice on certain topics or whatever.

But I have to admit that I don't let many people get really close. 

I have so many friends who read my blog and they feel close to me because I share so much.  But this is just my platform, my space, my place to share.  I'm an open book- I live my life authentically and I share my life authentically as well. 

I've been part of great communities for the past few years- my church and an online mom community.  I've witnessed amazing things happen in each of these groups.  In some circumstances, I'm a participant.  Sometimes I'm a leader.  Sometimes I'm a bystander.

I've watched as friendships have grown between others.  I've been happy for friends as I see deeper relationships forming between these moms.  I've been eager to see how they support each other, lift each other up, laugh together.

First and foremost, Jeff is my very best friend.  He and I have gone through some intense emotional stuff that could easily tear us apart or drive a wedge between us.  But one of the things I really love about us is that when things are tough for one of us, the other responds with love.  Even if we don't know exactly what the right response is... we know how to be there for each other.

Christy is my main friend.  She's my best friend.  She knows me inside and out, I think.  As well as she can, I suppose.  She'll tell you that my greatest fault is this independent streak that can prevent me from asking for help or accepting help.  I've always "done it all myself" and it can be tough to stop doing that.  I'm great at getting others involved- but when it comes to handling my own stuff, I'm not so good at reaching out.  Christy can usually see through that pretty well.

I have some women I have become friends with online and through my church- like Nancy and Ashli and Lety and Satch and Stacy and Kirsten and Jennifer and Jill and Linda and Paulette and more.  These are women that I typically see from time to time, for special occassions, or just through church. 

I'm starting to realize more and more that I want deeper relationships.  Or... more relationships being built.  I want more women friends in my life.  I want a bigger social group.  I want a group of women I can laugh with and cry with and turn to and drink with and talk with at any time.  I feel like I have little pieces of what I want scattered in all these different places but there is some part of me that holds back and doesn't fully put myself out there to be a true friend or to seek true friendship. 

For the past 7 years, I've been ok with that.  Jeff and I had a large social group when we did theatre.  It would ebb and flow based on the current show or cast but there was a core group of people that we spent time with on a regular basis.  That core group has changed a bit and we aren't so much a part of it anymore.  I do get to see those people and always very much enjoy time with them from time to time. 

But having kids paused our involvement with theatre.  And our social lives.  And that makes it hard to stay connected to people who continue to be committed to theatre and their social lives.  And it's hard to maintain friendships with other moms when we all have busy schedules pulling us in opposite directions.

For 7 years, I've been content to stay focused on Jeff, the kids, and been immensely thankful for having Christy in my life.

But now I want more. 

I am realizing more and more that I need to be truly connected to others.  Not just have people connect to who they think I am because they read my blog.  I want you to know ME.  I want you to talk to me, laugh with me share your problems with me, connect with me. 

I'm grateful to have a great foundation already with some great women.  I'm excited about some changes that are happening in the upcoming weeks and months that I think will lend to the growth of real friendships for me.

I'm so blessed to have so many fantastic people that I really respect, admire, and like in my life.  But it's time to take it a step further. 

Because now I need my inner Sally Field to be satisfied.  I want to know and be reassured that "You like me! You really like me!" 


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm A Bad Liberal

I don't have any strong opinions on the Occupy movements going on across the country.

I've seen some opinions volley back and forth on the various social networks- clever videos or pictures.  I've read a few articles and listened to pieces on NPR.

But I'm not very educated on the Occupy movements, I'm not very interested, and I haven't really been very concerned.

I think that when I was younger and full of idealistic values, I might have been involved in some of these protests.

But now I'm an adult with a job, a family, and responsibilities.

I get that our country isn't the best.  What country is?  I don't know.  I understand that the protesters are standing up to fight against corporate sway over politics- I agree with that.  I understand that the protesters have a list of demands- I'm trying to find that list.  I know that the protesters have been pepper sprayed and that there are videos showing protesters being treated unfairly by police in what seems to be a peaceful protest, a peaceful gathering.  I know that the protesters are a mix of age, gender, race, and religion.

Yesterday, I saw an article and found myself shaking my head at the Occupy movement.  There is a plan to Occupy the ports of the West Coast.

How does that impact the 1%?  How is that going to hurt them?  What about all of the everyday workers who are impacted by that choice?  What about the dock workers who are part of the 99% who won't be able to work?  What about the manufacturing line workers who get sent home because the line gets shut down because they don't have materials- materials that were shipped and now stuck because they can't get in on the West Coast?

I saw a brief news piece on a protester who is now seen as a "traitor."  She said that everyday, people walking by would say things like, "Get a job!"  She felt she didn't have a good answer to that.  So she printed up her resume and made a sign that said she was looking for work.  She went from Occupy Wall Street to occupying a desk on Wall Street where she could end up being part of that 1%.

Maybe I'm "asleep" or maybe I'm "wearing blinders" or maybe I'm just not taking my liberal, bleeding heart seriously.

Or maybe I'm too busy impacting the lives of people around me.  Maybe I'm working my job in Corporate America and I'm saving for college for my kids and I'm blessed that this job offers health insurance and dental insurance and maybe because of this job, my family has a bit more security.  And maybe because of all that, I'm able to help others more than I would otherwise be able.

Part of me is intrigued by the Occupy protesters.  Part of me wants to learn more.  Part of me remembers my own activist heart and the things I used to stand for.

Most of all, I admit to being ignorant and staying ignorant.  Even after doing some reading before writing this blog post, I still feel pretty ignorant to exactly what kind of change needs to be seen to satisfy the protesters.

And the reason for my ignorance?  I'm busy.  Too busy to take time to go and protest something that I don't fully understand.  Too busy to take a day to read and listen to all the coverage and interviews and articles and YouTube videos.  My life is full of commitments and responsibilities that don't mesh well with these protests.

My only hope is that the protests stop disrupting the lives and jobs and businesses of people who are struggling- just like most of the people in this country.  Impacting local restaurants or shops, impacting imports and exports or other transportation, impacting "blue collar" jobs while attempting to make your point seems to defeat the purpose.

Have you had any Occupy experiences?  Are you ready to gather up your drum and dance topless to end corporate greed?  Are you prepared to be pepper sprayed because you stand up against the Big Banks?

Me... I'm just going to keep up with my own movement.  Occupy Liz.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Declaration: Dec 22 is Lazy Day

The kids and I had a really hard time getting out of bed this morning.  We all wanted to sleep a little more or at least lay around a while longer.  But there's work and school and schedules and we just have to keep going.

Dec 21 is the last day of school before winter break in our district.

Dec 22 has been declared Lazy Day in our household!

The only plan so far is that the kids and I will stay in bed as long as we want.

Dec 21, they will be up late.  We have our Christmas program at church.  Afterwards, it might be fun to go see some Christmas lights- there is a home near church that coordinates lights and music and there is a large display done every year at Reynolds (local business).

Dec 22, Jeff might have to get up for work.  Or maybe he'll schedule the day off, too.

Dec 21, I'll even prepare for the laziness of the next morning.  I'm going to stash breakfast foods in the bedroom- we'll treat ourselves to toaster pastries and cereal bars and maybe bread and peanut butter.  I'll make sure we all have our water bottles close by.

If a kid wakes up, they can read quietly in their bed.  Or they can come lay in my bed.  Once all kids have arrived in my bed, the TV will go on and they can lounge in bed and watch TV and eat some breakfast while I keep dozing.

We'll plan out movies to watch once we roll out of that warm and cozy cocoon.  I'll make sure we have popcorn and chips n salsa on hand.  We'll have frozen pizza for lunch.  We'll stay in our jammies all day.  We'll play in the playroom, in the living room.

If we feel like cleaning up, we will.  If we feel like getting dressed, we will.  But if we feel like wearing pajamas all day, watching TV all day, and laying around all day- we will!

Dec 22 is Lazy Day.  Do you need an official Declaration for it in your home?


Saturday, December 10, 2011

6 Words: New Tradition

Nursing home caroling,

Chili at church.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Time Off

The great thing about having been so swamped over the summer is that I was left with vacation time to burn in December!

For the rest of this month, I only work 8 days.  I haven't worked a full 5 day week since the week before Thanksgiving and won't again until the week of January 9.

On the one hand, it adds to the stress of the job because work piles up and urgent things still have to get taken care of.

On the other hand, so many people take a lot of time off in December that the level of urgency has decreased since no one is around.

Here's a tidbit I saw this week- US employees don't use all their vacation each year to the tune of $34 billion of work time! 

Now maybe some people have an employer that gives enough unofficial benefits during the year that losing a couple of days of vacation is a fair trade.  But I'd guess that most jobs don't offer anything special enough to warrant not taking all of your permitted vacation time.

My time off includes 4 days that are without my kids.  That time will be used for some downtime, maybe seeing a movie, lunch dates, and housework and home organization projects, shopping, maybe get a massage.

My time off includes 6 non-holiday weekdays with my kids.  That time will be used for some holiday fun- visiting the Children's Museum for Jolly Days and Jingle Rails at Eiteljorg and Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum.  I'd like to bundle up this Saturday and visit Conner Prairie - when we went last year (or was it the year before?), we learned so much about how Christmas became a holiday celebrated in the ways we now consider tradition!

Time off is important- even if that time ends up being busy.  Time away from work is a necessity- to disconnect from the mindframe of tasks and emails and conference calls and office politics.  Time to plug in to self and family- to laugh and cook and giggle and play and experience and snuggle and just be still.

What are you doing for time off this season?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Magic Christmas

I originally posted this story on December 10, 2008. It's my intention to share it every year as it's an important part of my childhood.

I believe that Christmas is full of magic. Some of it comes from the things people do and some of it comes from angels, miracles, God, etc. My magic Christmas was full of both kinds of magic.

My mom and I struggled when I was a child. She was a single parent until I was 10. She was in dental school full time, working part time, we lived on student loans and her meager income. Lots of assistance from our church family. But not always an abundance of food. No extras for parties or presents or brand new clothes. Living in a safe neighborhood but not a great neighborhood. So Christmas was never a big deal. I wanted it to be. But there weren't traditions that we followed. We didn't have much family around so that wasn't an option. I remember traveling to spend a Christmas with my birth father's family one year. That would have been when I was 4 or 5. I have seen the pictures of the holidays with my grandparents in their home before they moved away (we lived in Lexington and they moved to Elizabethtown).

So mom and I were sometimes on our own for Christmas. We sometimes went to wherever the family was. And one year, we went to visit a family friend. A husband and wife with 3 boys of their own. The oldest was a year or so older than me and the middle son was a year or so younger than me. The youngest was a baby at the time. They had a nice house. A tri-level. The boys had oodles of cool things to play with. It was through this family that I learned of Doctor Who and He-Man and Star Wars (Jeff thanks them for this). Their Mom was warm and kind and smiling eyes. And gave amazing, wrap you up and make everything else disappear hugs. Dad was a scientific type and had a wicked little sense of humor that fantastically embarrassed his children. Not having a dad of my own at this point, I was absolutely in awe of this man. So we make the drive (they lived in Illinois, I think, so it was a long haul) with plans to spend several days with these friends. I don't remember most of the visit. I do remember Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

I was used to being the kid who didn't have what everyone else had. I was used to masking my jealousy, my desires. I was used to protecting myself and my mom from my disappointment and hurt. So I was prepared for that.

The first part of the memory is Christmas Eve. We kids were sent off to bed after the live tree had been put up. Just the tree, bare. No lights, no decorations. The 3 of us (not including the baby) shared a room and spent a lot of time giggling and snorting and laughing and talking and getting told to hush and go to sleep, being threatened with a lack of Santa... you know the drill. I didn't believe in Santa anymore but kept my mouth shut for the sake of the younger of the 2 boys. As we goof off, we are watching out the window from time to time. It was a cold, clear, bright night. And there was a very bright star right outside the window. The adults told us it was the North Star, the same Star that the shepherds and Kings followed to find the stable... we goof off some more and look out the window... the star has moved to the other side of the window. From the right side to the left side. We holler for the adults... and get the "time passes, the earth rotates, blah, blah, blah" answer. So we keep talking and telling stories and look up again... IT MOVED BACK. Major freakout, adults don't believe us, mini-chaos ensues. The adults brush it off and tell us to get to sleep, they shut the blinds. It's the last I remember from that night. Sleep must have followed soon after. Or we ended up separated, who knows.

Then the morning comes. The oldest son is awake and excited and jumping around, running up and down the hallway, eager for everyone to wake so we can go downstairs and see the presents. No one had been downstairs yet (their family tradition was that the family goes down together). Remember... this is a tri-level home. So you come down from the bedrooms, into the living room, turn the corner to head down to the den... the kitchen overlooks it... we scramble into the kitchen to look over into the den...


I had never seen anything so magnificent in my life. I still haven't. The tree was decorated and lit with tiny white lights. There was gold paper and decorations everywhere. There were stockings overflowing on the mantle of the fireplace. The presents... the pile at the bottom of the tree spilled out onto the surrounding floor and spread all the way down the length of the fireplace. I got very caught up in the moment. No one could see that sight and not get caught up in the magic. Overnight, the room went from a plain old den to a Christmas Wonderland. It was amazing.

Reality hit soon though. No matter how exciting it is to see a huge pile of presents... the disappointment of knowing they aren't YOUR presents does eventually sink in. So while the 2 boys went racing down the steps so they could start dividing out who got what present, I hung back and put on my mask to cover the disappointment. To steel myself for the watching of the boys opening their piles while I probably opened 1 or 2 gifts.

I came down the stairs with my mom. And there was a pile for me. A large pile. More than 1 or 2 presents. My mom had tears in her eyes... she didn't even know how much this family had done for us. There were envelopes in that tree... to this day, I don't know what all was in them but my assumption is gift certificates and cash for my mom. And I sat down and slowly began to open my gifts. So beautifully wrapped, with gold, glowing bows. I wanted the morning to last forever. I wanted the magic to stay with me forever. The boys tore through their openings, ripping through paper, tossing aside ribbons.

It was my magic Christmas. I don't remember most of what I got that year. I believe it was mostly clothing and practical things. But I was given a beautiful doll. Not a baby doll. But a blond haired doll with eyes that opened and closed and she wore a gorgeous brown velvet Victorian style dress with a matching hat and little black velvet shoes and tiny little white lace pantaloons. I never named her but I did keep her.

We will decorate our tree very soon. And I will bring my doll down from her shelf in my bedroom. And I will remember that most magical of Christmases... when I learned about compassion and humanity and felt included and loved in a way I hadn't ever expected or anticipated. And I will continue to work to teach my daughter and my son that same lesson. To this day, I work to pay forward the kindnesses that were done for me and my mom. Especially at Christmastime. Because every child, every person deserves a Magic Christmas!


Monday, December 5, 2011


I am such a slacker right now.

Not in general.  Just in blogging.  I miss being here.  I miss writing.  I miss having a life that felt balanced.  I was busy but I was managing just fine.

My weekend was busy.  Crazy busy.  Good stuff busy.  But no time to rest- which is the purpose of a weekend.

Friday night, I went to The Belfry (local community theatre) to see a show that Christy is in.  I enjoyed the show and really enjoyed seeing so many of my old theatre friends.  A friend in the cast was hosting that night's cast party so I was bale to crash and hang out with people.  I got home around 1:30.  Yikes!

Saturday, Christy came and picked me and Teagan up and we grabbed some breakfast and hit the road to drive about 40 minutes away to Plainfield High School for the annual Gingerbread Christmas craft show that we were introduced to last year.  It was fantastic and Teagan was an enjoyable addition to our trek.  In fact, we've decided it will be a tradition from now on that the three of us go to this event together and have lunch at the Black Swan Brewpub afterwards.

We were wiped out after that adventure.  Came home for a little down time- which involved a lot of doing stuff at home- and I was out for the evening again.  This time, sushi with a group of mom friends.  I had a fantastic evening!  Laughter, good news, good food.

Sunday- out the door at 8:40 to get to church on time.  Sing at first service, choir between services, sing at second service, luncheon at church to hear stories of the work done by our mission teams in Guatemala this past fall, home to unearth the totes of Christmas decorations so I can grab some ornaments to take to the ornament exchange party that's a fundraiser for our Women of Faith group that I'm co-leading.  Off to the party where I laugh and enjoy the company of some of my favorite women.

Then it's off to pick up the family, dinner, grocery store, home in time for the kids to go to bed, then downstairs to start the 2 AM Podcast live airing at 8.  We end up talking until about 9:30 and then hang out a bit after.

So at 10:00 on Sunday, I sat down on the couch and put my feet up and turned on Desperate Housewives and realized it was the first time I'd vegged out that weekend.  So I stayed there for about 30 minutes before heading to bed.

And somehow, in all that chaos, I couldn't find time to blog.

See?  Slacker.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Verizon's Samsung Galaxy Tab

I've had a most wonderful opportunity for the past several weeks to test out a Samsung Galaxy Tab from Verizon.  It's been really fun and I'm honestly really impressed with the technology.

Here's how I've used the tablet this past month:

- Flash cards for Teagan.  We have "old fashioned" flash cards that are part of her weekly homework.  But we found an app that made a game of flashcards- you get a score based on how quickly you answer and how accurate you are.  The family all took turns playing and Teagan really enjoyed using the app.

- Games for Zach.  He really enjoyed a fun memory game that was jungle themed.  Best of all, if you missed a match, the game farts at you.  He loved that.  He also really enjoyed a wild animal app with pictures of different animals and the app makes animal noises.

- We also discovered Zoodles.  It's a collection of games, books, videos, and drawing tools for kids.  You set up a login for each kid and Zoodles loads up specific stuff that is age appropriate.  Zoodles also has a Kid Mode so that your child is in the app and can't go into other things.  The videos and games seem to primarily come from PBS- lots of Curious George and Sesame Street for the younger set.  My kids love that they each have their own login.  And I like that I get a weekly email that tells me how long they used Zoodles, what activities they did, etc.

- Games for me.  I like to have games on my Smartphone.  There are times I just want some entertainment to kill time or as a little stress escape.  Angry Birds is a well known favorite.  I also enjoy Pretty Pet Salon and it is so much better on a tablet than on my smartphone.  And I found a new game that has become a serious addiction.  It's called Diversion.  Check it out- but be warned that you might want to lock yourself in a bathroom and play for 14 hours.

- Netflix.  Jeff downloaded the Netflix app on the tablet on Thanksgiving.  I wish I'd known to do that sooner.  Jeff has a Netflix account and we watch streaming movies and shows regularly.  With the app, I can  watch shows on the tablet.  I got caught up on season 2 of Parenthood, for example.  I watched it at home on our Xbox and could pause an episode and finish watching it on the tablet later.  I could pause it on the tablet and resume it at home through our Blu-Ray player or Xbox.  I'm totally hooked on having Netflix at my fingertips and want to get a list going of all the shows I want to get caught up on!

Bottom line is that the tablet is fun and impressive.  I got comments on it when I took it places.  I enjoyed, for example, going out to breakfast and being able to read news articles on MSNBC's app or Yahoo's app and not have to deal with a bulky newspaper.  And the guy at the table next to me struck up a conversation about it- he is considering a tablet for work.  He owns his own business and could use the apps and accessibility of a tablet for marketing, invoicing, and so on.

I'm not tech savvy enough to give you all the ins and outs and compare it to other devices.  I can tell you that my kids and I had fun with the camera, the apps, and the mobility of it.

So if you've got a techie on your list this Christmas or someone who travels often or someone who spends a lot of time waiting at kid events or an older person who could benefit from the lighting on the pages for easier reading - Verizon's Samsung Galaxy Tab might be the perfect gift!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Refining St. Nick

I've been blogging about Santa since 2008.  My questions about what to teach my kids arose when my 2 year old expressed concern that a strange man who had been watching her was now going to come into her home in the middle of the night while she was asleep.  Understandable concerns when you think about it.

In 2009, we chose our path to focus more on the legend of St. Nicholas and less on Santa Claus.  It went so well that it became our tradition for 2010.

And here we are approaching Christmas yet again and I am excited to focus on Saint Nick and the lesson of giving that he represents. 

Here's a little run down of our Christmas / St. Nick / Santa Claus traditions:

1. Just before Christmas Eve, Santa will send a note to the kids, asking them to buy some food for him to pick up and take to other families that are hungry. 

2. On Christmas Eve, we put out a box of food.  After the kids go to bed, I always go to church for the 11:00 service and I put the food in Pastor Jennifer's trunk - her parents work at the food pantry so it's an easy transfer from her to them to the food pantry.

3. Santa leaves 1 present for each kid and a stocking of fun goodies.  The kids are starting to think about what to ask for from Santa.

4.  Previously, Santa has asked the kids to donate toys to Goodwill or a group that needs these for kids.  It was our way of cleaning out toys we don't play with as we got new things at Christmas.  However, we're going through that process already so it won't be necessary by the time we get to Christmas.

5. We don't go overboard on our gifts to our kids.  They get so much from grandparents and extended family and they don't have needss that aren't met throughout the year.  We follow this little rhyme: "Something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read."  Want is easy- Teagan wants more Barbie stuff, Zach wants superheroes.  Wear is easy- a bathrobe for Teagan, a new shirt or something for Zach.  Read is already done- picked up books at the Scholastic Book Fair at Teagan's school recently.  Need- for Teagan will be a bathrobe and Zach has expressed he wants peanuts for Christmas so that could fit into this category. 

6. One of my favorite traditions is our Christmas Eve.  We go to church for a family friendly service.  Then we come home and the kids open specific presents- new pajamas and a special ornament for that year.  Then bedtime- my favorite time of day (heehee).

As we go about our holiday shopping and fun events around town, we don't make a big effort to visit Santa at every place.  We generally pick one special event to see Santa and then any other sightings are by chance and from afar. 

So we do lie to the kids about Santa.  But we also teach that the traditions of Santa are to remember the kind and compassionate things that St. Nicholas did in the past.

At this year's State Fair, there was a celebration of Germany that was ongoing for the course of the Fair.  Most of the exhibit was meh... there were even things I found downright grating (like a fake piece of the Berlin wall that wasn't identified as being a replica so people were getting all emotional and excited to have their picture taken in front of it).  But when I saw the holiday area and I laid eyes on Saint Nicholas, I was like a kid.  I wanted to hug him!  And what's funny is that Saint Nicholas isn't something from my childhood in any way.  I just didn't like the commercialism of Christmas and sought out a way to bring meaning to the season for my kids.

What are your holiday traditions? How do you handle Santa in your home? What are your memories of Santa from when you were a kid?


Monday, November 28, 2011


On Sunday, I shared with you that we had very limited time to do a lot of work in our living room to get things ready for Christmas.

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I had talked briefly about rearranging the living room but then decided it was too much effort.

Sunday, I headed to church for the morning.  Left the house around 9:00.  After 2nd service, I headed over to Jeff's parent's house for our Thanksgiving celebration with them.  Jeff arrived a bit after us- he probably got there around 12:30.  And told me right away that I wasn't going to be happy because the house was a complete shambles.

Instead of just moving the one shelf I wanted moved to make room for the Christmas tree, he proceeded with the total rearrangement plan.  But was only in mid-switch when it was time to head to lunch.

And he was right- it was a shambles.  But he'd gotten a lot of work done so we spent a couple of hours getting the big furntiure moving done and then he spent time working on hooking up all the electronics.

I had today off work and spent my time putting things away, cleaning off shelves, organizing, throwing away trash, and so on. 

It still isn't done.  But here is a picture of that corner- this is the "after" and you can see that it is totally different!

And as you can see, the tree is up.  We haven't fluffed it or fixed the branches or even gotten the decorations out yet.  But we wanted to get it set up.  I did some digging and found some decorations I haven't had out in a long time- my Christmas Village.  Having small kids in the house means not having a lot of breakables around.  But I decided that this year... I think we can handle it.  I left the really breakable things put up.  But I'm happy to have our unique Christmas Village all set up!

Progress is being made and I feel really good about the work we've been doing to our living room.  The best part is that Jeff is talking about getting the dining room cleaned up now that it isn't just hiding behind the couch.  The new arrangement leaves the room more open and I really like it. 

It isn't done but it is progress!


Sunday, November 27, 2011


Putting up a Christmas tree really shouldn't be such a challenge. 

This year, we are eager for a change in our living room.  We want to rearrange furniture to prepare for tree placement.  But then we get tired from that whole parenting thing and once bedtime arrives, we have no energy to even consider rearrangement. 


So my goal for this weekend is to get one specific corner cleared out and the small pieces of furniture set into new spots.  I want our tree up and decorated by the end of today.  This will be a challenge since church will keep me away from home from about 8:45 until... well all afternoon because we will be doing Thanksgiving with Jeff's family after church.  Our day will not be spent at home.

So meeting my goal is going to be a serious challenge.

Ready? Set? Go!


Thursday, November 24, 2011