Friday, July 31, 2015

I Am Pro-Life

I know it might surprise you.  I'm pretty loudly and proudly liberal, right? So why on earth would I ever identify as Pro-Life?

First of all, I hate that there are divisive labels that force you into one side vs the other. And the divisions are seriously hardcore and extreme, it seems.

I've long identified as Pro-Choice. With a broad definition of what choice means. Contrary to one-sided belief, it doesn't mean I love to kill unborn babies. It doesn't mean I'm ignorant or unfaithful about when life begins. It doesn't mean I'm running around telling women to get knocked up so they can have an abortion. Pro-Choice doesn't mean Pro-Abortion.

I believe that Pro-Choice means there needs to be a focus on CHOICES.

But I'm getting off track. You're clicking over to find out why I'm stating that I'm Pro-Life.

In the past days, weeks, months... my news sources have been overwhelmed and over flowing with stories that show me just how much this country doesn't value life.

Bunches of people can show up at an abortion clinic or in Washington D.C. to rally and protest in behalf of unborn babies... but not so many of those same folks are standing up and saying they are truly Pro-Life.

Because being Pro-Life, to me, means that I value life. All life. All aspects of life.

And my heart breaks and mourns when life is trashed. Whether it's a black woman at a traffic stop, a black man at a traffic stop, or the life of a lion.

Lives matter. Black lives, Asian lives, White lives, Phillipino lives. This country is so very very very broken when it comes to race and how we see each other. I'll admit that I've ridden the wave - the one that once said we shouldn't see color but now says we should validate our differences.

When it comes to Cecil the lion... I value the lives of animals but I'm also realistic about animals and the lives they lead. What concerns me, as someone who is Pro-Life, is that someone was so unappreciative of the beauty of living that he violently and haphazardly took the life of another living creature.

When I see people trolling the internet, leaving mean and hateful comments... when people post their opinions on Facebook without realizing the hurt they may be causing... it makes me realize how many people who use the label "Pro-Life" maybe aren't as "pro" about the lives of others as they claim to be.

So I'm claiming "Pro-Life." Not because I want to jump into the abortion debate. I'm still firmly pro-choice (and anti-abortion) an that one. But I am trying to live my life as someone who is pro-life in bigger and more ways.

Wanting equality in rights for all people.

Wanting children to be free from poverty.

Wanting everyone to have access to affordable and quality healthcare.

Wanting a justice system that is actually just.

Wanting a prison system that actually provides rehabilitation.

Wanting animals to be respected, treated with kindness.

Wanting senior citizens to have safe, happy lives in their final years.

Wanting women to live lives of equality in all ways.

Wanting all lives in the world to have access to clean water, ample food, safe and comfortable dwellings.

Wanting all people to be free from abuse.

Wanting all people to have hearts free from whatever drives them to be abusive or hateful or violent.

Life should be valued and protected and held dear in all aspects. That's what I strive for. And sometimes, it's the only way I find any hope amidst all of the murder and violence and fear and anxiety in the world.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

@IndyStateFair - Planning My Days

I'm carefully studying the Indiana State Fair program online and figuring out the best days to go this year and the things to do while I'm there! I have learned that having a plan is best - even if I end up not following it. Ha!

When I look at the program, I have to figure out the days that work for taking a day off of work, if there are specific things I want to see (specific entertainment, for example, or specials going on that day), whether or not I'm taking the kids, what discounts are available on tickets.

Opening Day, Aug 7

This year, I'd really like to go Opening Day. Without my kids. I want to be at the fairgrounds by 6 so I can be there for the hot air balloon launch. I want to see the Calgary Stampede Show Band (free in the Grandstand). But the biggest draw for me on this date is seeing the Indigo Girls on the Free Stage at 7:30!

Family Day, Aug 10

I love going on Family Day for one reason - it's the best Midway deal of the summer. Teagan started enjoying rides a couple of years ago. Zach hasn't found a love of rides. But with the Midway wristband deal on Family Day, I can get them each a wristband at a price I feel good about and Teagan can ride as much as she wants and Zach can ride a couple things if he wants and it all works out in the end. Wristbands on Family Day are $15.

I'm also excited to take my kids to the rodeo! It's free and runs at 7:30 but there is a "fan interaction" event at 1:30. The Peking Acrobats are back this year and I'm very eager to see them again. And I'm always a fan of the dog trick/stunt shows - and my animal loving daughter will love it, too.

$2 Tuesdays, Aug 11 and Aug 18

I love $2 Tuesdays! Vendors all over the fairgrounds offer foods for $2. It might be a drink or corn dog - or it might be a smaller portion of a funnel cake or something unique. Midway rides are $2 per ride and this is the day we ride the ferris wheel.

Farmers' Day, Weds Aug 19

Farmers' Day used to always be the day that Christy and I would take off work together to enjoy a day at the Fair. You start out early by enjoying the fundraiser Pancake Breakfast that benefits the FFA, I think. Everyone is friendly and you get a great start to the day with a yummy breakfast. Then a ride on the tractor pulled shuttle all the way around the Fairgrounds - I love that early morning wake up time as vendors open up and start to prepare for the day.

$5 Foodie Friday, Aug 21

It's another great day to enjoy the FOOD at the Fair!! If you think the Indiana State Fair is only about corn dogs and deep fried anything, you're wrong! There are some really yummy and unique foods offered at the Fair each year. One of my faves are Ya-Ya's Tomato Balls. These are near the Home & Family Arts building. It's like a hush puppy with a greek twist. I'm a huge fan of supporting the Indiana producers - Pork, Beef, Dairy. Few things are better than a pork burger or steak sandwich and nothing beats the chocolate milk at the Dairy Bar.


For me, any day is really a GREAT day to go to the Indiana State Fair. I can always find something new, interesting, entertaining, educational. Even to just sit and people watch is fun! What days are you planning to visit?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's A Love/Hate Thing

Last night, I actually felt proud and satisfied of myself as a parent.

Teagan was having major anxiety about an opportunity for an overnight camp at our tae kwon do school. Teagan doesn't do overnights. And everything has stacked against her for this one - none of her TKD friends will be there, it's at a different school than ours, her teachers will be there but not any of the staff she knows from our location.

But she still wanted to go.

So we worked through it in various ways last night. We made a pro/con list. We communicated with the school owner about what she was nervous about. And when it was finally bedtime, Teagan thanked me. For supporting her and understanding.

It was a very lovely moment.


This morning, she wanted to ride her bike to the library by herself. She has a special tutoring session there for 90 minutes. Then ride home by herself. I said no. She's only 10. She doesn't have a cell phone so wouldn't be able to contact me if she got in trouble, got hurt, needed help.

I didn't agree to her plan. So she turned on me. She wanted dad to be home. He's nice, I'm awful. She hates me. I'm not the boss of her. She was sent to her room, she was defiant, she packed a bag to run away.

It's like the rubber band of the bond between us from last night had been let go and snapped back and launched in the opposite direction.


Parenting is hard. It's hard in ways that can't be described with words. Last night, I was winning. This morning, I'm totally failing.

I have cried this morning. But can't fully let it out because Zach still needs me to be his mom. He doesn't need to pick up the pieces that his sister broke off.

And what terrifies me is hearing from so many that it will only get worse.

I'm a hopeful person and it isn't a hopeful thing to think about the drama and angst of adolescence. To see the spark of rebellion and angst and even hate in her eyes already and to know and be affirmed by others that it will get worse.

Maybe we all need to change our language.

Instead of downgrading a mom's experience and putting the fear of the future in her, maybe we need to just say - "I've been there. You're not alone!"

For this morning, I will keep working through the knots in my stomach. I'll keep trying to figure out how to heal and correct the hurts from this morning. I'll plow ahead and get through this day.

And I know I'm not alone. I know other moms, other parents, have kids in their lives who cause pain with words and attitude. Other moms doubt themselves, question their choices, fear the future.

I've been there. You're not alone.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

An Interview With Morris the Cat: Live Well & Prospurr

Yep, you read that right. I had the opportunity to interview Morris the Cat of 9 Lives cat food fame.

You know you're jealous.

Thankfully it was a phone interview. My cat allergies break my heart. I'd love to have a kitty but it isn't meant to be. If you're a cat lover, I encourage you to visit your local humane society and adopt a feline friend - so you and your kitty can Live Well and Prospurr!

Morris the Cat is known throughout the world as the star of over fifty 9Lives cat food commercials from the 1970s up through today. He gained even greater notoriety when he became an advo-cat for kitty adoptions with his “Million Cat Rescue” initiative, and just this year, he took a trip to South by Southwest as a feline technology correspondent.

It seems America’s favorite ‘charmingly choosy’ feline is always on the go, but I recently had the chance to catch up with him to talk show biz, naps, and how he’s giving back through his new effort called ‘Live Well & Prospurr.’

You’ve been a TV star since the 1970s and yet you look as vivacious as ever. How do you keep your youthful glow?

People ask me all the time if I’ve had work done. But in fact, my whiskers stay perky thanks to a disciplined regimen of napping, sleeping, napping some more, eating (9Lives, of course), and just generally hanging out. I want to emphasize this last one because even though it’s categorically important for our health and happiness, it’s also the easiest to forget as we go about our busy lives. That’s why I developed my Official Guide to Relaxing, Chillin’, Unwinding & More. (I had to take some time away from hanging out to write it, but I hope you’ll agree it was well worth it.)

Are humans allowed to know what’s in this guide or is it for felines only?

Oh no, the guide was written for all species, both two- and four-legged. And let’s face it, cats are pretty good at hanging out already. I know relaxing can be daunting—what with work, kids, errands, and chores—but that’s why I created the 5 levels of hanging out. Even the most stressed out person can master Level 1: Kicking Back. Then, as people get more comfortable with the idea of just relaxing, they can move on to the higher levels and ultimately achieve what I like to call Prospurr.

How does someone know when they’ve achieved Prospurr?

Excellent question, Liz. Prospurr is the Holy Grail of hanging out. It’s not so much an action as a state of mind, but purr-haps I could describe it best like this: It’s like the moment you flop onto the couch after a hard day, mixed with the tingling sensation of getting scratched behind the ears, rolled into the drool-inducing taste of a bowl of 9Lives. You humans out there probably haven’t tried 9Lives, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. For more tips on hanging out, go to this website that I built with my own four paws:

I know working in show biz can mean very long hours. How do you keep to your hangout regimen while you’re on set?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Just like Brad Pitt or Liam Hemsworth, I have a stand-in who sets up all my shots for me. That way I can rest in my trailer—ahem, carrying case—until the cameras start rolling. My stand-in is polyester and has a tag that says “Made in the USA,” but he does the trick. All I have to do is show up and look handsome… which is easy since I’ve spent the whole day getting my beauty rest.

Certainly the entertainment industry, and the world in general, has changed a lot since the 1970s. How do you keep up with the times?

I chase the times like a red-laser dot, and I’m always on the lookout for cool new tech gadgets that help cats and humans live well. One of my new favorites is the Apple Watch—it lets me track how much time I spend ‘napping’ versus the time I spend ‘sleeping.’ AND, today it told me that I took 19 steps going from my bed to my food dish—nothing like working up a sweat before a big meal.

What is the best advice you could give to someone who wants to live a better life?

Watch cat videos! A recent study conducted by some really smart people at Indiana University found that after watching a clip of Lil Bub, Nora the Piano Cat or of course, yours truly, participants felt increased levels of joy and energy. Science doesn’t lie, people! Bonus points if you watch said cat videos curled up in bed or on a fluffy couch.

If a cat watches cat videos, does it have the same effect?

Yes—in fact, the effect is multiplied. It’s like topping 9Lives Super Supper with even more 9Lives Super Supper. Some days I’ll watch cat videos the entire four hours I’m awake.

It seems like you’ve got a pretty nice life, Morris.

I’m very lucky, but to me, being a celebricat isn’t about paw-ty hopping or head-booping Hollywood royalty. It’s about enjoying the simple pleasures that let me live well—and helping others to do the same. You may not know this but I was actually a rescue cat in Chicago before I was ‘discovered.’ This year, with your support, I’m donating a million meals to the ASPCA. Every time you tweet using #MorrisFeeds I’ll donate a bowl of 9Lives to a kitty in need. And I haven’t forgotten about my human fans: Go to for a chance to win $300 towards a relaxing getaway… You deserve it!

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Monday, July 13, 2015

@IndyStateFair - Saving on Admission 2015

It's time to start preparing and planning!!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Step one to planning a great day at the Indiana State Fair is to choose which day you can go!

Or days. Just sayin'.

There are lots of ways to choose your big day at the Indiana State Fair. Maybe you always go on Marching Band Day. Maybe you always go for Farmers Day.

And maybe you choose your days based on what works best for your budget.

Admission to the Indiana State Fair is $12 at the gate this year. And when you've got a family, that can add up very quickly. Especially when you know you'll be spending money on food, maybe hitting the Midway for rides, and possibly paying to park in the infield.

Here are some of the best deals for discounted admission to this year's Indiana State Fair!

  • You can pre-buy your tickets NOW. Up until Opening Day (Aug 7), you can pre-buy tickets online for $8 + processing fee ($1 per ticket). $9 instead of $12 is a definite help! You can buy tickets online or at the Indiana State Fair Box Office. You can also save on Midway wristbands by pre-purchasing. Most days, the wristband will be $30. Pre-buy and the wristband is $20 + processing fee ($2 per wristband). 
  • AUG 7 (Opening Day): College ID Day FREE admission for students currently enrolled in college with an active ID. Must present ID at the gate. One valid student ID per person.
  • On Monday, Aug 10, pick up as many copies as you need of the Indianapolis Star for your ticket for free admission on Weds, Aug 12!
  • Monday, Aug 10 is also Family Day! You can buy wristbands at the Midway for just $15!!
  • Monday Aug 10 is also MILITARY DAY: Free admission for all armed forces and family members. Must present a military ID at the gate.
  • Tues, Aug 11 - Springleaf Financial $2 Tuesday!!! Go get this voucher: Admission will only be $2!! And you will find vendors offering smalle rportions for just $2 at various booths around th Fair!
  • Thurs, Aug 13 - Discount DayGate Admission is only $6 with voucher presented at the gate from
  • Mon, Aug 17 - Load up the van and bring the whole crew!! It's Meijer Family DayGate admission is only $20 per vehicle for up to 10 people with voucher printed voucher. Must present printed voucher at the gate. Click Here to download your voucher today!
  • Tues, Aug 18 - It's another Springleaf Financial $2 Tuesday!! Get the voucher and enjoy your day! I forgot to mention - on $2 Tuesdays, Midway rides are just $2. So if you don't do the wristband because you just don't ride that many rides but you always ride the ferris wheel... this is your day!
  • Thurs, Aug 20 - AAA Day: Hoosier AAA Members receive FREE gate admission when presenting their valid AAA membership card at the gate. One valid AAA card per person.
  • Fri, Aug 21 - It's $5 Foodie Friday! Gate admission is only $5 and you will find discounts on food all around the Fair! No vouchers needed!
  • Finally, Sun, Aug 23 is the last day of the Fair and is also Wild Cherry Pepsi Gospel Day and you can receive a $2 discount of your gate admission by bringing any Pepsi branded can with you.  
Now, my favorite days to enjoy discounts are $2 Tuesdays and Foodie Friday. I'm also a huge fan of Family Day with the Midway wristband special - which becomes an even more awesome deal if you're in a military family.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Privilege - I'm a 7

There is a Buzzfeed video making the rounds on the internet about demonstrating privilege. A group of people stands in a line, holding hands. As statements are read, each person steps forward or back or stands still. Handholds eventually break because of distance. Some move forward, some end up stalled in the back.

I don't have a quick way to bring together a group of people and do this exercise - but I was really curious to see how it would play out for me. A friend of mine searched and found the list of statements used. I have adjusted it so that the instructions have you add or subtract a point instead of moving forward or back one step. Go through the list and see what score you come up with. Did any of these statements make you think differently about privilege and where you are in life?

 1. If your parents worked nights and weekends to support your family, subtract one point.
2. If you are able to move through the world without fear of sexual assault, add one point.
3. If you can show affect
ion for your romantic partner in public without fear of ridicule or violence, add one point.
4. If you have ever been diagnosed as having a physical or mental illness/disability, subtract one point.
5. If the primary language spoken in your household growing up was not english, subtract one point.
6. If you came from a supportive family environment add one point.
7. If you have ever tried to change your speech or mannerisms to gain credibility, subtract one point.
8. If you can go anywhere in the country, and easily find the kinds of hair products you need and/or cosmetics that match your skin color, add one point.
9. If you were embarrassed about your clothes or house while growing up, subtract one point.
10. If you can make mistakes and not have people attribute your behavior to flaws in your racial/gender group, add one point.
11. If you can legally marry the person you love, regardless of where you live, add one point.
12. If you were born in the United States, add one point.
13. If you or your parents have ever gone through a divorce, subtract one point.
14. If you felt like you had adequate access to healthy food growing up, add one point.
15. If you are reasonably sure you would be hired for a job based on your ability and qualifications, add one point.
16. If you would never think twice about calling the police when trouble occurs, add one point.
17. If you can see a doctor whenever you feel the need, add one point.
18. If you feel comfortable being emotionally expressive/open, add one point.
19. If you have ever been the only person of your race/gender/socio-economic status/ sexual orientation in a classroom or workplace setting, please subtract one point.
20. If you took out loans for your education subtract one point.
21. If you get time off for your religious holidays, add one point. 
22. If you had a job during your high school and college years, subtract one point.
23. If you feel comfortable walking home alone at night, add one point.
24. If you have ever traveled outside the United States, add one point.
25. If you have ever felt like there was NOT adequate or accurate representation of your racial group, sexual orientation group, gender group, and/or disability group in the media, subtract one point.
26. If you feel confident that your parents would be able to financially help/support you if you were going through a financial hardship, add one point.
27. If you have ever been bullied or made fun of based on something that you can't change, subtract one point.
28. If there were more than 50 books in your house growing up, add one point.
29. If you studied the culture or the history of your ancestors in elementary school add one point.
30. If your parents or guardians attended college, add one point.
31. If you ever went on a family vacation, add one point.
32. If you can buy new clothes or go out to dinner when you want to, add one point.
33. If you were ever offered a job because of your association with a friend or family member, add one point.
34. If one of your parents was ever laid off or unemployed not by choice, subtract one point.
35. If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke or a statement you overheard related to your race, ethnicity, gender, appearance, or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, subtract one point.

Out of 35 questions, I came out with a 7.  What I find interesting is that if I add and subtract every single time, the end result is a 7. There are 14 lines that subtract a point. 21 that add a point. I had 7 subtractions and 14 additions, the rest being no action lines.

How did you score? By sharing scores and talking about the statements, I think we grow in our understanding of what privilege is and how it impacts us.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Weekend Getaway: @VisitFortWayne

We didn't plan any big trips for summer vacation this year. Instead, we've been focusing on doing fun things around home and also exploring the state with weekend getaways and day trips.

Fort Wayne is one of our favorite places to visit. It's a small city and is easy to get around and most things to do are all close to each other.

We actually stayed 2 nights in order to have down time and not be rushing through all of our activities. We stayed at Hotel Fort Wayne just outside of downtown. This is a great option for families. The hotel is large and older and many updates have been done. There is still a lot of work needed but it was comfortable and made for a good home base for our weekend. I was most impressed with the customer service. And I say go for the concierge level - evening snacks, fridge with soda and water, breakfast, a great view of downtown, and a concierge there to assist you if needed.

Our first night, we headed straight to Parkview Field for a Tin Caps baseball game. We are big fans of minor league baseball - I personally like going to minor league games way better than major leagues! And the Tin Caps know how to make it a fun evening! We were there for "Saturday Night Live" night. The team wore jerseys based on the "Spartans cheerleader" sketches. Every player had an SNL clip that played. It was really fun! Also, this ball field had the best cotton candy I've had in a while. It might sound silly- but so many places these days just sell it in bags and you don't know where it came from or when it was bagged. Parkview has a vendor by the lawn section that makes it fresh right in front of you! Ours was so fresh that it was still warm! And I highly recommend the lawn seats - bring a blanket and have a little more freedom than you get with the seated area.

Sunday morning, we hit the pool. Lots of folks check out on Sundays so we had the place pretty much to ourselves! This was really fun family time. We brought a beach ball and some dive sticks and we spent a good 90 minutes just playing together.

Lunch was at a 101 year old hole in the wall hot dog place called Coney Island. The menu is coneys, burgers, baked beans, chips, soda. Very basic, very fast. There is a big counter to sit at or tables that are a cozy fit in the space. The kids had never experienced coneys so it was a fun adventure. It's rare for me to like hot dogs but I will almost always go for a good coney!

Sunday afternoon, we headed to Science Central. This was the first time we'd gone where the kids were really at the right ages and interest levels to really get a lot out of it. Teagan especially loved it. She participated in demonstrations, tried out all of the displays, interacted with various employees. They also offer weekday camps and if we lived in the area, I'm sure my kids would love to spend a week at a science camp!

Next we headed for a quick visit to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. This is a small museum and the displays didn't hold the interest of my kids. We did walk through and we were able to talk about some of the pieces of art. But the real winner is the kid area - a room that shows a video that teaches something about art and there are stations for creating! There is an area for drawing and coloring, an area to sit and read, and an area to build with blocks or legos.

We stepped outside of the museum with the intention of heading over to Ribfest but instead we found Fort Wayne's Make Music Day. The park/arts area outside of the museum had varous tents set up with different stations. Each tent had a different music experience. Teagan played a ukelele for the first time and I got to play a scale on a hammered dulcimer! There was a drum circle, a tent where you could all be part of a band, a guitar area, and more. There was also live music on 2 different stages. And there were food trucks!! Jeff and the kids loved Pizza Bomba (so did I - some of the best pizza crust I've had) and I fell hard for Affine Food Truck.

More pool time (that's what makes it a vacation for my kids - a hotel with a pool) and we called it a night.

Monday was dedicated to one of our favorite places - the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. I always enjoy this zoo and I always feel like I get closer to the animals here than at most zoos. This was our third trip to this zoo so I also love the memories over the past few years!

Fort Wayne is always a favorite weekend getaway for my family - it's almost like home but different enough to feel new. You should Visit Fort Wayne! You can check out even more pics from our weekend here!

We were provided with hotel accomodations and tickets to various experiences around Fort Wayne. All opinions are completely my own!

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