Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm Fine!

It's been a tough week.

There was a build up of stress that let loose.  Not in a huge sweeping rush but in a slow trickle that grew and grew until I knew I had to change something.

Back in mid-April, I posted about changes in my job.  My last paragraph is now haunting me.

So I'm going to be pretty busy over the next few weeks as my already full schedule fills up with more weekly meetings and conference calls. I'm worried about my existing responsibilities slipping. It's a whole new balancing act and I'm going to have to really put in some time to figure out the best way to manage all of these new expectations.

Well, I did a pretty good job of not falling apart in the midst of the chaos of that situation.  I was faced with a Huge And Immediate Problem that needed my constant attention.  There was a specific and measurable goal that needed to be achieved as quickly as possible.  I worked my tail off.  I basically quit training for my first ever half marathon as my lunch hour suddenly disappeared.  I was taking work home most evenings and almost every weekend.  I gave up a planned ahead fancy night out with my husband for a last minute work trip to Nebraska.

The numbers started to come down.  The pressure didn't let up.  Even as improvements are made, more and more was needed, more problems crept up, more fires needed to be put out.

In the midst of that, another area of responsibility started to crumble and get a lot of attention from Very Important People.  Now we're adding meetings, expectations, requirements for this other area but the Huge And Immediate Porblem area is still going strong.

And somewhere in there is the stuff I was doing and managing in the first place.

My job had become something I enjoyed doing, was proud of, did well... to something that was high pressure, high expectations, high demands.  I was stretched thin.

I thought I could handle it.  I thought I just had to get through it.  I thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  I thought it eventually had to get better, ease up, normalize. 

It never did.

Last week, I started to realize that it had been 4 months since it all started.  1/3 of a year.  And it had flown by so fast that I'd missed most of the summer fun opportunities.  Suddenly, the school year is about to start and life has slipped by.

Weds, Thurs, and Fri of last week, I had a headache.  3 solid days.  It radiated from tense shoulder and neck muscles.  I'd had a stomach ache for a couple of weeks.  Friday, the stress was cracking and I knew something wasn't right.

It all went away Saturday and Sunday.  And it came back full force Monday morning at work. 

For the past week, talking about work is stressful and I would often break into tears, get choked up, tense up. 

Tuesday, I started to desperately think of answers, solutions, ways out. 

I finally started to share bits and pieces of all the stress I'd been holding inside.  I plugged into my social network and share that I was overwhelmed, frustrated.  I got great support and words of encouragement.  One piece stayed with me more than I even realized:

@eternallizdom When I was in that situation, I found I couldn't change my job, only my reaction to it. I don't know if that applies for you.

At the time, I didn't think it applied for me because I was still feeling like I had no choices.

Weds, I began to shift.  It's like I knew I had found some lower level and had to make a decision.  I either had to start asking for serious help from my boss or other work resources or I had to figure out what to do differently.  Jeff ended up working late so I picked up the kids, brought them home, made dinner, and we hung out and watched TV and just had fun until bedtime.  It was the exact evening I needed.

Thursday was a new day.  My attitude was different.  I had a plan to get to work and take charge.  I wanted to evaluate what I had control over and what I needed to let go of. 

And I had a great day.

The very best part was that I was reminded how much I'm cared about by friends.  Friends texted me, wrote encouraging words on my Facebook wall, tweeted me, and even called to see how I was doing.  Friends at work did little things to take care of me. 

Through all of this, Jeff has been my rock.  I can't say enough.

So my job hasn't changed.  The workload is the same, the demands are the same, the expectations are just as high.  But my attitude and approach has changed.  As my wise friend pointed out on Twitter- I couldn't change my job, only my reaction to it.

I'm no longer waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.  Instead, I'm accepting that I've moved up the mountain and now it's time to figure out how to get past my fear of heights and learn to enjoy the view.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

little Indiana

I was approached recently by little Indiana about being featured as a blogger on their website. I checked out the site and liked it (click the button above to check it out) so I agreed. I answered some questions and was kind of rushed about it because life has just been so crazy lately. So when I went and read all the nice things that Jessica said about me and my blog and saw that she had gone and linked to posts that I hadn't even brought up...

*blush* I'm quite flattered.

So go give her some clicks and leave some comments over there about how I've changed your life and inspired you and all that jazz. Seriously- I expect lots of comments.  I'm kidding.  No, I'm really not.  But I am.  Or am I?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summertime TV

Summertime is typically a down season for TV shows.  You get the cable series that come back over the summer but if you don't have that cable channel, you have to wait.  You get some reality shows that pop up but that's not everyone's cup of tea.

Here are some things I've enjoyed this summer:

Amish on Break  I just happened to flip past this documentary recently and was fascinated.  Recorded it so I could watch it all.  When I first went to Pennsylvania to meet my dad's family, I learned about the Amish people there.  Visiting Amish country was a big deal to me- I was fascinated by the simplicity of their lives and very attracted to the lack of violence or struggle.  Watching this documentary was really interesting since it was such a rare treat to be exposed to the Amish view of the world.  This isn't some "Amish gone wild on Rumspringa" show.  This is a well done documentary that really shows a unique perspective.

Big Brother  I've watched every season.  I'm probably a little embarassed about that.  I liked the first season best- but I understand that the show being more competitive makes for better ratings.  But there is something fun about loving Jeff and Jordan and hating Brendan and Rachel.

Master Chef and Hell's Kitchen   One thing I like about these shows is that I can just catch them here and there or just watch a few minutes for entertainment and then just move on. 

The Glee Project  I am soooo hooked on this show.  Ryan Murphy is a genious.  He has a hit show during the regular season and found a way to continue to feed the Glee junkies over the summer.  It's a reality show with very talented and unique kids trying to win a role on Glee.  It's every theatre kids' biggest dream come true!

I've also recenlty discovered the joy of Hub.  Hub shows all the stuff I loved as a kid.  My kids started watching Thundercats this weekend on Hub.  Last night, I took great comfort watching Family Ties.  They show other greats like Jem and the Holograms, Fraggle Rock, Transformers, Wonder Years, Doogie Howser, Happy Days, and more.  I love it and hope the schedule grows to include some of my other favorite shows from the Good Old Days.

I'm eager to start watching True Blood but am saving it up.  I like watching it all at once.  I'm also watching some stuff online like Degrassi. 

How about you? What are you watching this summer?


Monday, July 25, 2011

That Boy Will Stay With Me

I spent my Sunday standing outside the exit of a Sam's Club (warehouse store), asking people to donate money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

I don't like to ask people for money.  But I have learned that if you don't ask, no one will give.  I can't just set a bucket out and expect people to come to me with their spare change or dollars to donate. 

Fundraising has been hard work.  The easy part has been the initial asking- posting on Facebook, tweeting, blogging, writing and mailing letters.  The hard part has been the fundraisers we've done so far.

We cooked dinner for my church family.  We got donations of some produce and pasta sauce, we shopped, we chopped, we cooked, we stirred, we served.  We made $240.

We wore our team gear and a team of 11 spent 4 hours in a little bar district with a lively night life, asking for donations of spare change, donate a dollar, make a donation to fight cancer.  Over the course of 4 hours, the 11 of us brought in over $600 and we each walked away with $55.

Yesterday, Christy and I spent 8 hours outside that Sam's Club with our table, our Team In Training banner, our pamphlets, our flyers for tomorrow's fundraiser at TGI Friday's, wearing our Team In Training shirts, and asked for donations.  We made almost $600.

There are things I've learned along the way.
  • If you don't ask, they won't give.  It is a small minority that sees the shirt, the sign, the bucket and just walks over to give money.  But if you can ask every person, a good percentage will stop to see if they have some change in their pockets.
  • The appropriate response to someone asking for a donation is either "No" or "No, sorry."  It gets frustrating to be dismissed by people with "No, thank you."  We aren't offering you anything.  We're asking you for something.  You decline with an apology or with an apologetic thanks.  The dismissive, mumbled, no eye contact but I still want to seem polite and compassionate responses are grating.
  • Please don't make cancer a battle bigger than it already is.  We happen to be collecting for blood cancers right now.  "Sorry, I give to Breast Cancer."  I'm glad that you do but please don't make this one cancer vs another.  I didn't realize that we had gang colors with our purple or pink or yellow.
  • While you might think you're being funny or sarcastic, making flippant jokes about cancer already being cured is not appropriate.  One of the biggest reasons isn't so much because it's rude to the fundraisers but becase there is a good chance that someone who is impacted by cancer is also standing there and your words can really hurt.
  • Be prepared to listen. Cancer touches many lives and we had so many who stopped just because they needed to talk.  We had people who didn't donate but who stopped because their loved one had died from leukemia, because someone had just been diagnosed with any kind of cancer, because they just needed someone to hear them and understand the battle.
Of all the people who crossed our path yesterday, there are many that I will remember.  An elderly man with his adult daughter and he's just been diagnosed with myloma in the past year.  He has had to stop chemo because of a leg problem that has to be treated before chemo can start again.  His daughter told me that she and her sister are reeling over all of this, sad and scared and confused.  Another woman stood by and wanted to know about who we were doing this for, who we'd known that had impacted our lives.  Another woman who stopped to donate all the change she had because her young niece died last summer- leukemia. 

But there was one small exchange that had a deep impact on me.  Of all the donations we received, of all the interactions we had, it was the single most powerful for me and it's going to stay with me throughout this journey that I'm on.

A dad and his little boy came up to us.  The boy looked to be about 5 years old.  The dad handed the boy the money and told him to put it in the bucket.

"Put it in the bucket, buddy. This is to help with the cancer Mommy has."

I didn't get to talk to him.  They donated quickly and walked away.  And I watched them walk hand in hand across the parking lot and a lump was in my throat and tears were in my eyes.

That little boy is the same age as my kids.  That little boy's Mommy has a blood cancer.  That man is watching his wife suffer.  These two might lose this woman, this wife, this mother.  But they still made a point to stop and give us a dollar.  That dad still taught his son an important lesson about generosity and charity.

I told many people yesterday that I would pray for them.  Those are never empty words for me.  And I have prayed for each of them and I sent up quick prayers as I said the words.  I didn't get to tell that Dad that I would be praying for them.  But I will be, I am. 

I haven't had a deep, personal reason for fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I saw an opportunity to do something Big and Good with the running thing.  Cancer is something that hasn't hit close to home and I realize just how blessed I am in that regard.  Friends of friends, loved ones of friends, people I've known in passing or in my past... but not someone close to me.

But a brief exchange with a father and his son reminded me of just how close cancer can get.  Of just how much cancer can take away.  Of just how much there is to fight for, to raise money for.

The little boy with the dark hair and the big brown eyes... his dad with a tiny hint of sadness and a huge amount of bravery in his voice... they represent why I am doing this.  They are why I am asking people to donate money.  They are why I am working on running 13.1 miles, 1 step at a time. 


Friday, July 22, 2011

Losing It: Fragments Edition

Sometimes, life feels overwhelming.  It feels like the balance is getting wiggly and that the things that you barely have a grasp on are about to crash to the floor and shatter into a million-billion pieces.

I'm hoping getting some fragments out might help me hold the tray up a little longer.

Mommy's Idea

I'm on Google + but not sure how I feel about it just yet.  I do like the auto load of pics from my phone to a Google album.  I already use Photobucket to do the same thing but it's good to have a back up plan in place.  Other than that, I haven't fallen head over heels with Google + because I don't feel like I'm getting something different than I get elsewhere.  I also haven't put tons of time into it.  I'm not giving up- just not 100% sold.

Like so many other places in the country... it's friggin' hot outside.  I'm very proud of and thankful for my husband- he had a guy come out and take care of our AC on Monday and our system is running better than ever (if you need a recommendation for a heating/cooling guy in the Indianapolis area, let me know- I will definitely reccomend this guy!!).  Basically, the furnace was in massive need of this clean out and the stuff the guy got out was pretty gross from what Jeff tells me.  Our AC has always struggled.  We keep it set at 72 but we're in a bi-level and we don't have shade trees around our house at all so we get direct sun.  On really hot and sunny days, the AC will run non-stop and the temp in the house will stay around 80.  It's not horrible and it's better than not having AC.  But walking into the house at the end of the day and the temp is 74 is a much appreciated improvement.

Sometimes, my mood depends too much on other people.  It's like I'm a sponge and suck up bad attitudes or illnesses or whatever else brings down positive energy to negative levels. 

In an effort to boost my motivation and commitment to staying active and making healthy food choices, I started a group of friends on Facebook called "Start It Up!"  We share weekly goals and also check in whenever we want to share about our workout that day, our plan for the day, our struggles.  It's been really awesome to have this group and share ideas and motivation and support.  If you want to join and we are already friends on Facebook, let me know! 

FUNDRAISING UPDATE! I'm more focused on fundraising than on training for my half-marathon. In some ways, that's good. Part of me is starting to feel like... once I get to my minimum required fundraising, I can really focus on training for the run. I've got cash and checks to deposit into my fundraising bank that should be around $200. I've got around $50 that should be deposited from a fundraiser I was part of this past weekend. That brings me close to $900 raised. Christy and I are going to be asking for donations outside of Sam's Club (on 96th St in Fishers- stop by and bring us cold drinks and yummy snacks and money!) all day this coming Sunday. We're also having a fundraiser at TGI Friday's on TUESDAY JULY 26. Come for lunch, dinner, snacks- 10% will be donated if you present the flyer (contact me for info). There's a chance that these 2 fundraisers can get me to my minimum. BUT HAVING A FEW MORE DONATIONS WOULD HELP ME EVEN MORE! No pressure or anything...

Another very busy weekend is ahead of us. There will be fun but the schedule is cram packed. I desperately need to find a way to get a break. Tonight, Jeff is going to see Captain America with some of his friends. He'll get home just after the kids go to bed and I will take off for a fun night out at a bloggy friend's house. Tomorrow morning, I really really really should get my booty moving in the morning to go run with Team In Training at 7:00. Then home, shower, and head to the Farmer's Market (we didn't go last weekend so we MUST go this weekend). Off to shop for school supplies for Teagan! I think she's going to implode if we don't start shopping! Saturday afternoon, I will be working in the kitchen at church- we are hosting Dan's Fish Fry as a fundraiser for our mission team going to Guatemala this fall. I'm going to spend 3 hours doing prep work- breading fish and chicken. I'm signed up with some people I really like in our congregation so I'm excited to spend time with them. Saturday evening- we will eat at the Fish Fry. Saturday night, I've been invited to a Girls' Night Out downtown. Sunday, I'll be outside Sam's Club for 8 hours, raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (Jeff will bring us lunch and the kids will hang out with us for some of that time). Sunday night, we podcast. And I wonder why I'm teetering on the edge...


Thursday, July 21, 2011

14 Days. Or 359 Hours. Or 21,547 Minutes.

It's coming.  It's only 2 weeks away.  It's almost here.

The anticipation is building.

It's my favorite time of year.

If you've been around for the past few summers, you already know that I'm just a little obsessed with our State Fair.  I love it.  I don't even know that I can find the words for how excited I get about the Indiana State Fair.

This year, I've got to plan carefully.  My favorite day of the Fair- Farmer's Day- is already not going to happen for me because I've got so many things going on that day that I've got to sort through (work commitment, Teagan's first day of 1st grade).

But I will make the best of it.  I will find the other days I want to attend and I will seek out the hidden treasures that the State Fair offers me each year.

Things I am eagerly anticipating this year:

  • $2 Tuesdays. I want to take the kids on Tuesday, Aug 9.  With a special voucher from Turkey Hill, admission is only $2.  Many food vendors will have special smaller portions of their foods for $2 and the Midway will offer rides for just $2 each. 
  • Having the kids' handprints done at the Pioneer Village by the coppersmith.
  • Seeing, again, Howard Helmer, The World's Fastest Omelet Maker.
  • The Peking Acrobats are back this year! They were incredible the last time I saw them!
  • Big horses.  I love going in the last week of the Fair and seeing the Percherons and draft horses.
  • The Fido 500 / Weiner 100.  I have no idea what it actually is but I'm guessing it involves racing dogs.  And weiner dogs racing each other just sounds adorable.
  • Food! Ice cold chocolate milk from the Dairy Bar, roasted and buttery corn on the cob, tomato juice that I fix up with worcester sauce, celery salt, and tabasco, deep fried cheese, pork burgers from Indiana pork producers, a ribeye sandwich from Indiana beef producers, and I must track down those tomato ball things we discovered before!
  • Visiting the 4H Buildings to see the projects that 4H kids from around the state have done.
  • Visiting the Home & Family Arts building to see the sewing, quilting, photography and artwork done by Hoosiers.
  • Watching a Habitat for Humanity home being built by volunteer crews.  I love seeing the early stages at the start of the Fair and the finished product at the end!
  • Riding the Fair Train! My kids are already talking about riding the train this year.  It's a little pricey but it makes the day really special for the kids and we don't have to worry about getting into a steamy hot car at the end of a long day of fun!
  • Goats.  I seriously love visiting and feeding the goats.  My tip- get up to Goat Mountain early in the morning before the goats are hot and overfed for your best goat experience!
  • Riding the tractor shuttle.  It's a fun way to get a glimpse of the Fairgrounds- it takes the big loop all the way around the Fair.
But the part I'm most geeked about is that I will have media credentials at the Fair this year!!  I'd really love to find something unique or different to share with my readers so if there is anything you've always wanted to know about the Indiana State Fair, please let me know! 


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rudeness Is Not Welcome Here

I understand that people get frustrated.

I understand that people feel angry.

I understand that people sometimes make choices that they regret.

I understand that the written word sometimes comes across different than intended.

I also understand that sometimes people choose to be snarky, pushy, bossy, or flat out rude.

Starting my day with an email from a Rude Dude who expresses their frustration about a situation is not a nice start to my day. 

I want to throw my own email hissy fit back at them.  I want to call them up and chew them out and force them to see this from MY side of things, from my supplier's side of things. 

The impact of the stress of the changes to my job in the past few months bubbles to the surface when I get these kinds of emails- where I feel like the sender is obviously sneering down their nose at my lack of understanding.  I want to scream at people that I didn't choose these responsibilities!!  I didn't ask to take this on!  That this was quite literally dumped in my lap one day and I had to hit the ground running faster than a pack of lions already at my heels.  I want to explain that I never wanted to have to work with this group of people and that my life was perfectly fine not even knowing they existed.  I want to cry and maybe even wail a little bit at the unfairness of the workload.

And if I start to tap into that, there is a lot of emotional response that has built up in the past 3 months.  These job changes have left me drained and numb.  3 months has gone by faster than I'd expected and I feel like I've sacrificed a lot in that time.  I'm learning to come to terms with the new workload but I've not found aw ay to be at peace with it.  I used to do my job and leave at the end of the day knowing I'd accomplished things and knowing I'd given people what they needed.  Now, I leave at the end of the day because I just can't take anymore.  I leave projects half done, spreadsheets sitting open, piles of paper on my desk, emails unresponded to, voicemails not listened to, and I feel overwhelmed. 

Worst of all, my job actually took over my life for a while.  I was bringing work home, the stress was impacting how I acted around my family, and my work became a Number One Priority.  Had it been that way for just a few weeks, no big deal.  But the stress level and workload continues.  I have found ways to balance it a little better.  I'm no longer bringing work home every single night and weekend.  I'm doing better about leaving the stress at work.  I've stopped thinking almost non-stop about work when I'm at home.

So when I get a snarky email, a lot of feelings start to bubble and brew from deep inside.  While I want to be able to unleash all of my emotional baggage on this poor Rude Dude who sent the email, I know it isn't the right thing to do.  He's got his own story on his side of the screen, his own family, his own work stress.

Instead, I sent out a new email to a different group of people and excluded Rude Dude and his cohorts.  I started fresh with people that I think will be more helpful and far less snarky. 

But deep down... there's still a full on hissy fit brewing.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lessons from Basketball

I know this isn't some huge revelation but my kids are different from each other.  We all know that- we might be parents and see the differences in the personalities of our kids or maybe you have siblings and can feel the differences in how you perceive life compared to them.  Or maybe you knew sibling sets in school and were amazed at how different kids from the same family can be.

I know that my kids aren't little cookie cutters of each other.  I know they have different ways of viewing the world, of dealing with conflict, that they have different talents and interests.

Sometimes, we have experiences that make the differences a little more clear.

Zach just finished up a 4 week preschool basketball clinic at our local YMCA.  A parent participates with their child and each 45 minute session focuses on different basic skills.  There aren't any games and nothing is competitive- it focuses on the basics and on having fun.

But it wasn't fun for Zach.

Where Teagan has always loved to have rules and structure and wants to know exactly what the expectations are so she can seek out approval from adults and peers, Zach wants to just have fun and not be in the spotlight.  Teagan wants to shine.  Zach just wants to try it out.

The first 2 weeks were hard.  A challenge.  We arrived at the gym 15 minutes early and Zach and Jeff would free play for 15 minutes with other kids and dads before the class started.  Class would start with stretching and then move into some basic dribbling or defense drills and then the class would divide up into groups to practice some shooting at hoops that had been lowered to 3 year old heights.

Zach wouldn't stretch or dribble or shoot.  He had just been doing all of that but now it was an expectation and I think he was concerned about being watched.  He would shut down and refuse to participate.

Week 3, we asked the coach if it would be ok to have Teagan join them because Zach loves to do anything Teagan does.  In fact, having Teagan play with him was his idea.  And it made all the difference in the world.  He participated for the majority of the time and by the last week, he was actually having fun.

We've seen it at school, too.  Teagan responds very positively and strongly to reward systems and to the "Wows and Reminders" system where you earn a green card for good choices or a red card if you've needed a reminder about your choices.

Zach is not motivated by these cards in the slightest.  In fact, I think red cards make it worse because he isn't motivated to earn green cards instead.  So if he's got red cards, it doesn't matter if he keeps on having a bad day because he sees that he's already gotten the red card.

Teagan is very motivated by praise, by being the star, by excelling, by striving for perfection.  Teagan likes to practice and practice until she feels strong in whatever she's doing.  We've seen this with handwriting and reading and soccer and gymnastics.  She likes one on one help from an adult because she feels like a star- especially in front of others. 

Zach isn't motivated by praise.  Zach responds at home to love but in a way that is hard to pinpoint.  He doesn't want to necessarily be called out for good choices or doing something well.  He wants to be left alone to figure it out and when he feels comfortable, he'll share it with you.  He doesn't mind you helping him but if others are watching you help him, it's not ok with him. 

But one of the biggest lessons we learned during basketball was just how much Zach and Teagan love each other.  And just how much Zach depends on Teagan.  And just how hard the school year transition will be when Zach doesn't have the security blanket of his Big Sister being around. 

At the end of the last session, each kid received a medal from the coaches.  The families were lined up at one end of the gym and each child was called forward, one at a time, to the center of the practice space (the practice gym is half a basketball court) to give the coaches a high five and receive their medal.  Zach wouldn't even set foot towards them on his own- Teagan had to take his hand and walk him out to the center.  He wouldn't come close enough to the coaches for them to touch him.  He stayed behind Teagan.  Thankfully, the coaches understood and didn't try to force the high five thing.  They handed him his medal and he raced back to Daddy.

He is proud of his medal.  He enjoyed basketball.  But the experience of it was overwhelming while he was in it.  He loved to talk about basketball and he loves to talk now about having played it and he liked going to watch Teagan start gymnastics last night.  He just doesn't want that spotlight for himself.  Right now, he wants to operate the spotlight and let Teagan shine while he just has fun pushing buttons and figuring out how things work behind the scenes while the attention stays focused on Teagan.

If our kids would just have personalities like our own, this parenting thing would be so much easier.  Both of our kids have pieces of us but also have these weird mash ups of me and Jeff.  If we pay careful attention, we can learn about ourselves and each other as we parent these two little people. 

If we pay attention, we can learn the most about our kids by observation of things like basketball.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

6 Words: Treasure

Favorite garage sale finds:

Old Books


Friday, July 15, 2011

Frantic Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

Gotta start with a vent.  Parenting is a seriously hard job.  Being a mom is the single most rewarding and most stressful thing I've ever done and once you start it, it never ends.  So I'm a little frustrated today because I've been inundated with links lately... links which are designed to tell me all the things I'm doing wrong and all the ways I should feel guilty as a parent.  Headlines like "7 Discipline Mistakes All Moms Make" and "9 Things to Never Say to Your Kid" and "Give Up the Guilt: Your Worst Mommy Moments Solved."  The kicker is that one of the main messages is to be more positve and stop focusing on the negative.  Tips like "tell your child what to do instead of what to stop doing."  But the headlines don't seem to follow that very advice.  Where are the articles that start off with "7 Things That Moms Do That Are Always Awesome" or "9 Things to Always Say To Your Kid" or "You're Doing the Best You Can So Skip the Guilt and Pat Yourself On The Back."


I am so overwhelmed by our summer schedule and so nervous that we are going to forget something that I actually printed out a Google Calendar Agenda to carry with me (even though I access my calendar through my phone) and I emailed a pdf of the agenda to Jeff so we were sure to be on the same page.  Lots of fundraising going on for Team In Training / Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Lots of activities as we gear up for the *gulp* start of 1st grade.  Lots going on with church activities. 


It's almost my favorite time of year!!!  STATE FAIR TIME!  If you've been around for the past couple of years, you know that I'm a bit of a nut when it comes to the Indiana State Fair.  The preparations and announcements and information streams are alive and I'm getting very excited for this year's big event!  My only complaint... a few years ago, the Fair started to have a signature Indiana product featured for that year of the Fair.  One year it was corn, another year it was tomatoes.  For many years, Fair food vendors have entered a tough competition to have their new and exciting dish be granted the title "Signature Fair Food" for that year.  Once the Fair started having those produce themes, the foods were expected to go along with it.  As an avid Fair Fan, I love checking out all of the nominees and I usually have my own opinion about what should have won.  Last year, I had to give up a chance to be a judge for the decision because we were out of town.  This year, the theme is Soybeans.  Big Indiana crop.  I'm a little put off by some of the food entries, though.  Beef kabob marinated in SOY sauce- I agree.  Spicy deep fried tofu on a stick (tofu is made from SOY)- I agree.  However, I take issue with a grilled cheese sandwich and a special pork burger that have been entered because the hogs were raised on soy feed and the cows that produced the milk to make the cheese were fed soy feed.  I DISAGREE.  Surprisingly, not a single nominee had edamamé as an ingredient.


That was a long paragraph and not very fragmented at all.  I'll keep this one short for you.


I'm on Google+ but I'm not yet terribly excited about it.  We'll see. 


I've had a cold all week.  It was horrid on Monday and Tuesday, much better on Weds, and I felt great Thursday and today.  I'm still congested, though.  I'm on a mission to get my blood iron rich and my body strong so I can finally, for the first time in my life, donate blood.  I tried today but didn't even get to the iron test because of this cold- you have to be completely healthy.  I'm on a mission.  I'm spending 2 weeks being dedicated to remembering to take my iron pill each night and to getting my body healthy and strong so that I can make another attempt at donating.


The weekend ahead: Tonight, I have to load my van with stuff from my house that I've been waiting to get rid of.  There is a giant garage sale at my church this weekend (The Promise UMC in Fishers, 8-2 on Saturday, indoors) and I'm donating as much stuff from my house as I can!  Hoping to get to the Team In Training run Saturday morning at 7. Then to the garage sale at church so I can replace the stuff I'm donating with other stuff, of course.  Then we're meeting a friend for a playdate- a mall is hosting a "touch a truck" event and Radio Disney will be there with entertainment.  Saturday night, Christy and I are hanging out in Broad Ripple doing a "bucket shake" to raise money for LLS (Broad Ripple is a hip and happening bar crawl and restaurant kind of area and a bucket shake means having a bucket and asking people for donations of spare change).  Sunday morning I'll be busy at church with music team, giving the kid's message, having a brief helper bit in the sermon, leading children's choir, and then repeating the first few things.  I assume we'll have lunch with Jeff's parents because it's been a few weeks since we've done so.  And Sunday evening there is a picnic reunion for Teagan's kindergarten class at a local park.  Finally, Sunday night we record (and air live) the 2 AM Podcast.  I need a nap just from typing all of that!


HAPPY FRIDAY! I hope you've had a great week and have something fun planned for your weekend!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

FitCity: Fighting Cancer with Food and Training

Find me at Fit City today!!  Read all the details of the dinner Christy and I prepared for about 75 adults and kids at my church last night.  You know me so you know it was a fresh and healthy meal!  Click the image below to check it out!  I'd be most appreciative if you leave a comment there, too!

I'll be even more grateful if you would DONATE to my fundraising efforts with Team In Training to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!  Your dollars support cancer research, drug research, support and education for patients and their families, and even treatment for patients who are fighting blood cancers.  Click the button below to go to my fundraising site and help me get closer to my personal goal!

Another great way to support LLS is to donate blood or see if you can donate platelets through your local blood center.  Summertime is an especially difficult time for blood centers as donations drop off as people go on vacation and have busy and active schedules.  Christy is my personal hero in this one- she donates platelets about as often as she can- and has really dedicated herself to that donation schedule as part of her involvement with Team In Training.  Please consider rolling up your sleeve to help save lives!


There is something very special about using my hands and feet to benefit others. 

My best friend, Christy, and I have been running together for about a year and a half.  We have run 5K’s, did the training series for the Mini Marathon, and did our first ever half marathon with that event.  We celebrated our “run-iversary” by running the Fishers Freedom Festival 5K which was our first ever 5K in 2010.

After we completed our first ever half marathon in May, we weren’t sure what would come next.  Christy had a stress fracture in her foot so she was on the “disabled list” for a while.  I needed a break from running.

But then there was a Groupon for Team In Training.  Instead of paying the $100 registration fee, you would pay $25 for the Groupon and could register with Team In Training for one of their fall events.  We can’t resist a good Groupon.  So we bought it, went to the informational meeting, got inspired and fired up, and immediately signed up for fall events.  I signed up for theIndianapolis Half Marathon which is run at Fort Benjamin Harrison.  Christy signed up for theNike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco (she’s doing the half marathon, not the full).

The hard part of Team In Training isn’t the running.  The hard part is the fundraising.  Team In Training was created as a fundraising program to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  You sign up, raise money, train for a running or cycling or triathlon event, and you end up helping to fight cancer.  What I like about raising money for LLS is that the money is used for more than cancer research- it’s used to fund drug research, education, support for patients as well as family, and is even used to fund treatment for blood cancer patients.  In their July issue, Runner’s World Magazine had a special section devoted to running for the fight against cancerand highlighted the Team In Training experience.

Last night, Christy and I made a healthy dinner at my church as a fundraiser.  My church has a weekly dinner and there is an opportunity for those who partake in the dinner to give money to cover the food expense and also give to the group that is preparing the food.  Christy and I hoped this would be something fun we could do that would not only give us the chance to raise some money, but also give us the chance to offer a healthy, nutritious, delicious dinner.

We made a pasta and salad bar.  We made angel hair pasta and garden rotini.  We had sauce donated by Olive Garden- marinara and meat sauce.  We had received donations and discounts from vendors at the Fishers Farmer’s Market so we also offered sautéed mushrooms and zucchini and yellow squash (sautéed in olive oil with onion and fresh garlic).  Our salad bar consisted of a basic salad mix, baby spinach, broccoli, red onion, green peppers, carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, blueberries, peas, and crimini mushrooms. 

Not only were we fighting cancer by raising money, we were offering a buffet of cancer fighting foods and superfoods.  I put some links in that last sentence that are definitely worth reading so feel free to click them open in new tabs or windows and go learn about these awesomely healthy foods.

We did raise some money towards our fundraising efforts.  On a more personally rewarding level, we received great feedback and compliments from people who greatly appreciated the healthy offerings.  The salad enhancements were so easy to do- peeling and chopping carrots, cutting up mushrooms, cutting cucumbers and so on.  Christy and I enjoyed our time in the kitchen together (and are very grateful for the cutting and peeling and chopping help from our friend, Nancy, and my husband, Jeff) and especially enjoyed the colorful presentation we were able to offer to families.  Moms thanked us for the foods their kids loved to eat- peas, blueberries, spinach, grape tomatoes.  Adults thanked us for the baby spinach along with the salad mix- many find it easier to digest (and it’s incredibly healthier for you!).

Best of all, we were able to incorporate cancer fighting foods into our fight to end cancer.  Spinach, peas, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic, tea- all are foods thought to have nutrients that are beneficial in fighting and even preventing cancer.  It was a night that represented everything that matters to us in choosing to do Team In Training.  We want to be active and strong so we train to run a half marathon.  We want to help others who are fighting the battle against blood cancers.  We want to eat foods that strengthen our bodies.  Serving a healthy meal that benefited our fundraising efforts took all of that into account. 

Running with Team In Training allows me to use my feet for others.  Cooking this fundraising, healthy meal allowed me to use my hands for others.  There is something very special about using my hands and feet to benefit others.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Church Is Different

My little brother came to visit this weekend.  Well, he's not so little anymore.  He's about to turn 22 and about to start his senior year of college.  He's working an internship this summer that is his first real exposure to the working world. 

His girlfriend also came to visit.  These two are crazy in love and it's absolutely wonderful.  She's a fantastic young woman.  She's about the same age as my brother, just graduated from college, and is entering a Master's program this fall.

Last summer, she planned a surprise trip to Indy to visit us.  The surprise was for my brother- she picked him up and didn't tell him where they were going and he fell asleep in the car and when he woke up, they were outside of my house.  We had an awesome time visiting the Zoo and other fun things.

This summer, the weekend was planned.  They arrived Friday night and stayed until Sunday afternoon.  We did lots of fun things- the weekend was insanely crammed with activity.  There was a trip to the Farmer's market, flying kites at the park, bouncing fun at Monkey Joe's, lunch out (sushi for the girls, pizza for the guys), movie time at home (we watched Tangled).

Sunday morning, Ted and Em opted to come to church with us.

Jeff was under the weather so he stayed home.  Teagan was acolyting (she went up with another girl and they lit the candles on the alter at the start of the service).  There was discussion about the church situation ahead of time.

My brother is Catholic.  My dad is Catholic, my mom is Lutheran.  Ted primarily identifies with Catholicism but has also been part of other Christian denominations through their youth programs.  Em is Catholic but is seeking her place and was raised with exposure to many different belief systems.

Em definitely wanted to visit my church.  Partially to see Teagan light that candle and partially, I think, because she knows I love it.  Plus, coming with me meant getting to be a helper for children's choir after early service.

I offered to find Mass for Ted to attend- I have many Catholic friends and there is a Catholic church down the street from our house.  But he opted to come with us.

So I've got these 2 young people with me and I'm very excited to introduce them to my church family.  I don't take those words lightly.  The members of the congregation of my church have truly become my family.  These are people that I know would lift me and my family up in times of trouble, would put their love into action to help us, and are people that I would do the same for.

It wasn't until church had really gotten underway that I realize just how... different... my church might feel to them.  They've both attended Christian youth conferences with contemporary music so that wasn't anything weird.  They've been around people who sway to the music or raise hands when they feel the Spirit.  Nothing too different there. 

My church is seriously, seriously... relaxed.

Something about seeing it through the eyes of these young people I'd brought with me made me realize just how relaxed we are.

Our pastor was out on vacation and a member of the congregation was filling in.  When he stepped up to give his sermon on putting faith into action, he slid off his flip flops and delivered the sermon barefoot. 

There was something about that one move that set a tone.  I was a little concerned that my brother wouldn't be comfortable, that he would feel like we weren't serious enough about our faith.

Instead, he seemed to understand exactly what that barefoot sermon really signified.

My church is my home.  Those people are my family.  We don't show up on Sunday morning out of a sense of basic obligation.  We show up because we truly want to come together to worship God, to pray for our loved ones, to put our faith into action, to grow in God's love together.  It doesn't matter what shoes you wear (or if you wear them at all), what kind of clothes you wear, where you sit, if you take Communion or not, who you sit with, and so on.  What matters is that you are there and you are open to the message being given.

When we say that kids are welcome- we mean it. 

When we say come as you are- we mean it.

When we say there is a place for everyone- we mean it.

I'm sure there have been instances where someone hasn't felt that way or maybe there has been drama that I was unaware of or something.  But my own experience has showed me that if I feel left out or put down, it's usually something in my own mind and not the words or actions of the other side that get me there. 

My church is different.  And I love it.


Friday, July 8, 2011

I Was Angry

For 4 days, I've been angry.

I've been angry with the defense attorneys.  I've been angry with Cindy Anthony.  I've been angry with Casey Anthony.  I've been angry with the jurors.

My anger is still there.

But a realization hit me.  My anger is really deep sadness.

Sadness for the way this little girl's life was reduced to nothingness and no one wants to honor her few short years by telling the truth.  No one wants to set her life at peace by respecting the years of life she had.

I could write a huge rant detailing all the things I don't understand or the things I abhor about what I've seen and heard.  But it won't bring Caylee back. 

I never knew this little girl.

But my son is close to the age she was when she died.  And my daughter is close to the age she would be now if she had lived.  That makes it all hit kind of close to my heart.

However her life ended, the way her body was treated, the way this case has played out, the way this family has been torn apart is not a way that honors her life.

I get angry so that I don't cry.  I get angry so that I don't mourn deeply one of the big things wrong with this world. 

My faith is what brings me peace.  I know that Caylee is in a happy and beautiful place and she is loved and cared for and safe. 

I'm a good mom.  I'm a great mom.  And I'm going to keep on making sure my kids have as much of a happy and beautiful place on earth as possible where they feel loved and cared for and safe.  I wish the same had been Caylee's fate.  But perhaps the tragedy of her life will result in another mom somewhere asking for help when she's about to crack.  Maybe another mom somewhere will realize she's disconnected from her kids and will recommit to her family.  Maybe another young woman will choose to be more responsible about her sexual choices because she realizes she's not ready to risk becoming a mother.

Perhaps there is a silver lining.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I was listening to a radio show that broadcasts out of Atlanta and is now also carried in the Indianapolis area.

The Bert Show

I've been listening for a couple of months now and generally like the show.  They talk- it's a team of people and they discuss personal situations, current events, and so on.  They share their opinions and such.  They have a phone line where people can call in and have their voice disguised in order to seek advice on a personal problem.  Sometimes, those situations are truly odd circumstances.  Sometimes, it's pretty light hearted or embarassing.  Sometimes, it's a really hard situation.

This morning, I got angry.

A woman called in.  She's been married to her husband for 15 years.  They have an 11 year old daughter.  She doesn't love her husband.  She thinks she never loved him.  They only have sex 2 times a year and it's out of her sense of obligation.  She doesn't want to go to counseling because she thinks it won't change anything.

They encouraged her to seek therapy.  I applaud that.

They then went on to convince her that a divorce would actually be a good thing for her daughter.  Because the 11 year old needs to see that mom is strong and confident and seeking happiness.

15 years ago, she married someone she doesn't love.  She waited 4 years to have a child with the man she doesn't love.  And now she wants out and a set of radio show personalities did nothing but confirm that her heart is in the right place.

Will they call her daughter and explain it to her?  Will they step up in court and testify at the custody hearing?  Will they mediate the school activities and family events where they have to figure out who gets to be there? 

It's no secret that this is a subejct I feel passionately about.  I also don't keep it a secret that I've been through a divorce.

There are times when divorce is the right thing to do.  An abusive situation, an addiction situation.  I come from a divorced family and I believe my mom made the right decision in her divorce- he was a deadbeat, a loser, a slacker (and continued to be so and still was when I tracked him down as a young adult). 

But I see so many situations where the adults in the marriage just give up.  Where there is no specific wrong going on, no one is being mistreated, no one is being abused or neglected.

In the situation on the radio show, she even said that her husband knows how she feels and still stands by her, still loves her.  He's a good man, a good father, a good husband.  She just doesn't feel all romantic and smooshy with him- even though she chose to marry him and have a child with him aafter 4 years of marriage.

Instead of automatically encouraging people to divorce because we think that's what it means to support a friend facing divorce... what if we tried to help them salvage their marriage?  What if we stepped up and supported them and also tried to help?  Maybe it' none of my business... but when there are kids involved, they need a voice.

What if one of those radio personalities had reminded this woman that there was some reason why she started dating this guy, why she said yes when he asked her to marry him, why she made vows and said "I do?"  What if someone had reminded her that there is something inside of her that has kept her in this marriage for 15 years?  What if they gave her a plan to really dig in and seek answers inside of herself instead of telling her it's ok to run away?

What if a friend would say to her, "Something attracted you to him all those years ago, something made you say yes.  Something has kept you in the marriage for 15 years.  You can't just htrow it away without giving everything you have to fight for it.  I know you feel tired and run down and unhappy right now.  But if you walk away without truly fighting for it, you'll end up regretting it someday and won't be able to do anything about it.  He knows what you are going through so ask him to be your partner and help you with this.  Commit to 6 months of personal therapy and in those 6 months, concentrate on what it is that has kept you in the marriage.  Don't focus on what you want the end result to be.  Focus on what is inside of you.  Your daughter has had this family as her world for 11 years and to smash it apart now isn't fair to her.  Instead of saying the words "I'd do anything for my daughter," put those words into action.  This is your chance to take a bullet, step in front of the train, do anything for her.  Yes, it will be hard.  But I'm your friend and I'm here for you during the process.  Your husband is here for you during this process.  Don't quit without giving it absolutely everything you have first."

I know I have that kind of friend in Christy and in others.  I know that I can be that friend to people in my life.  I hope you have a friend like that in your life, too. I hope you're willing to be that friend to someone else.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Going Dark

Do you ever think about taking a break?

When you feel yourself censoring what you want to write because of how it might come across... when you struggle to find time to write and throw something out there that doesn't mean much... when you don't have the time to go and visit the blogs you love to visit... when you don't give good comment love...

I think it's time for a short blog-cation.  My intention is just to take the holiday weekend off.  My hope is that I'll be missed and that I'll want to be back next week. 

Kinda scared to post this.