Monday, March 31, 2014

Guest Post

Worship not shadows
but a goddess
who sleeps
in peace
death himself.

That poem is by Zoe. I told her I thought she had an inner writer inside. She, as twelve-year-old girls are wont to do, rolled her eyes.

I'll take what I can get, and in this case, it's a poem.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I've Finally Done It

I've gone off the deep end, I tell you.

Every book I read, I access the punctuation. And lately, I'm fixated on the colon. When is the proper time to use it? And how should it be used? Furthermore, is the author's usage consistent?

I'm so caught up in the punctuation, I'm not holding onto the stories these days. Argh. It's enough to make me go batty, right? (And didn't I just imply that with my first sentence? It's worse than I thought!)

So what are the rules on colon usage? It depends. Are you following the Chicago Manual of Style? Or the Associate Press Style Guidelines? Or maybe you use the Modern Language Association Style? I'm not going to bore you on those rules because you might as well just look them up. Find out which style you are supposed to use and then use it. Consistently, please, so I can go back to enjoying the story.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Divine Desserts

Tim had a birthday last week. Even though it went unnoticed on the blog, it did not at home. In fact, I made gnocchi from scratch for dinner and a lovely ganache pie for dessert. That's what I'm here to talk about. THAT PIE.

You just have to try it. Here's what you need and what you need to do:

For the crumb crust:
1 and 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup white sugar
6 Tbsp butter, melted

Mix the ingredients until well blended and press into a 9 inch pie pan.

For the pie:
3 packages (4 ounces each) semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 and 1/2 cups whipping cream

Microwave the chocolate and cream in a microwavable bowl on high for 2 minutes or until the chocolate is almost melted. Check on it and stir after the first minute. Beat with a whisk or fork until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well-blended. Stir in 1 Tbsp (more or less) honey or brown sugar to help sweeten the chocolate (see note below).

Pour the mixture into the crust and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Store in the refrigerator.

Note: The original recipe called for the addition of 2 Tbsp raspberry jam to be added to the chocolate mixture in place of the honey/ brown sugar. My kids don't like raspberry in their chocolate, but I knew that we'd need to do something to cut the bitterness down, so I chose honey. You can add any type of jam or sugar, I would imagine. Be careful to add a little, then taste, then add more, if necessary.

When you serve the pie, if you chooe to use jam, you can heat up a few more spoonfuls of jam, brush it over some fresh berries, and place them on top of the pie. Or, you can use some freshly whipped cream to top of this delectable dessert. The taste is divine. Trust me.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Running and Ribbons

I love my family. I really do. Oh snap, didn't I say that already this week? Yes, yes, I did. But this time, I'm not talking about my parents. This time, I'm thinking of the four chatty kids, one forgetful husband, the whiny cat and the needy dog. I love these guys; I can't imagine life without them. They are fodder for good stories and the inspiration for this blog. But by golly, I need a break, a vacation if you will, from them. From all of them.

(Tim will balk at that statement and inquire whether or not he can go with me if, indeed, I were to schedule a vacation. And Tim? I'd normally say yes, but this time honey, I have to say no. Because I'm not really scheduling a vacation anywhere but in my mind. Because it is the beginning of a new quarter. Not a good time to go anywhere. And where would you all be without me?)

So my mind is open to jetting away, but my body can't quite do it. Instead, I say to myself, let's see about a "virtual vacation." If one Googles those exact words, one of the first hits that appears is this. I checked it out. Apparently this guy says he convinced his wife to spend some time with the Google Maps function for visiting the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Egypt, and Venice, to name a few. Great, I thought, as my finger clicked on the mouse. Perhaps I can escape the insanity of my life for a few moments.

And like a book that has been adapted for the screen play and falls painfully short of its mark, so too, did my virtual vacation. I didn't care that I could see the streets of Paris, or the blue skies of Egypt. I couldn't hear the honk of the cars or the heat of the humid air. Even with my creative writer brain, I had trouble transporting myself to that world.

I need the real thing and I can't seem to get it right now. Just typing those words means that I'm hovering on the brink of the blues, something that most likely can be fixed (oddly enough) with sunshine, a step-up in running, and my striped fleece. The rays of sun might be hard to come by today (it's like monsoon out there right now) and my fleece is out somewhere in the world (hope it's having a great time), but I'm pretty sure I can find the time to put a few extra miles in and look for something else to substitute for the fleece.

Vacation? Who really needs one of those? You'll find me on the jogging path. I'll be the one dressed in black with a pink ribbon in my hair.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Set on You

I've got my eyes set on a few new items these days. Let me show you:

Exhibit 1:

Exhibit 2:

And the pièce de résistance, Exhibit 3:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Stop the Politics

I love my family. I really do. But there are certain topics we just don't see eye to eye on--at all. I find these topics to crop up when I speak to my parents. They live in a conservative town and have very conservative views. I don't mind that they have more "right-wing" ideals than I do, except when they tell me that my own, more liberal views, are wrong. Sadly, that happens often. Maybe it has to do with them being parents--they feel as though they can tell me what to think. Or maybe that's just how they are. Yet they're the only parents I have, so no matter what their views, I love them. And I try to accept them as they are. (That's very hard, don't you know?)

Sometimes, though, I find myself rolling my eyes at some of the gems that come out of their mouths. I guess that is my way of saying I don't agree with what they say. Perhaps I should try a less judgmental way of saying it, considering I always say that I'm not one to judge. But I'm only human, right? Anyway, here's a lovely example of what I mean by way of a conversation I had with my dad yesterday.
Dad: Your mom had her check up today.
Me: Oh yeah? How did it go.
Dad: She's all good.
Me: Great.
Dad: But do you know what the doctor asked her?
Me: No, what?
Dad: The doctor asked if she had any guns in her house.
Me: Oh really? Huh. That's a good question.
Dad: Do you know why the doctor asked her that?
Of course, I had my suspicions as to why the doctor asked that question. I suspected that it had to do with safety and was a question that should be asked for more elderly people (sorry, Dad, but you fall into that category now). But I had a feeling what dad was going to say. In fact, I knew what he was going to say before he said it. Despite the trepidation I felt in my gut, I went ahead and bit the bullet. I asked the question he wanted me to ask.
Me: Well Dad, why did the doctor ask her that?
Dad: Because the government wants to know!
You guessed it. My dad is not on board with the government right now. Actually, when anyone on the Democratic ticket is in the Oval office, he's not on board with the government. And the current president? Well, my parents think he's a socialist. I have my own misgivings about our current president, but heck, I'm not sure he's going to try to find out who owns guns by asking doctors to do his bidding. I'm sure the government has other, sneakier, ways to unearth all the information they want on guns, who owns them, and what they do with them. (Now, I'm starting to sound like Dad.)

Just to see what was out there, on the internet, I did a little search on patients and guns. The first hit was a article denying the claim that "Medicare regulations require that doctors ask patients whether they own guns." Further investigation showed that many articles exist (mostly written by people supporting the right) on how the government now falsely has the right to ask about gun ownership. It sounds to me like the media has pushed this topic to the forefront, including Rush Limbaugh, who stated the following: "Now doctors are being ordered, instructed to talk to patients and get information from them about gun ownership."

I thought to myself, let's get to the bottom of this. Who would know if a doctor was being ordered to do this? Well of course, let's ask my sister, the nurse practitioner. In case you don't know, a nurse practitioner is not "just a nurse." He or she has completed an advanced education, both clinical and didactic, beyond what the RN degree requires. The NP can (in some states) work independently, without the supervision of a physician, although (and you can correct me if I'm wrong, Gina) I believe in many practices, the NP is a part of a group of physicians and other NPs such that, if the need arises, the physician can be summoned. The NP can prescribe and take care of you much like the physician or physician's assistant (PA) can do. If a doctor is required to ask about guns, then an NP would be, too.

So I called my sister and recounted my story. To which she replied, "It's a safety issue. We're not required to ask that question, but we should ask that question out of concern for a patient's safety."

Just as I thought.

Gina didn't have the time yesterday to give me a more thorough, medically oriented answer, but my other sister, Tara, did. She is a social worker who works with many PTSD survivors. Here's what Tara said:
It is ethical to ask people of all generations [about a gun in the home] given the fact that suicide is an epidemic in this country. Assessing for firearms is especially important given the fact that every 17 minutes an elderly person in the US kills themselves.  At the VA we ask everyone and if they have a firearm, we give them a free quality gun lock for enhanced safety.

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in the young and is beginning to trend more in the geriatric population. People think if you ask someone about suicide that you will “plant the seed” so to speak. This is not the case,  by not asking the question you are allowing the individual to ruminate on their own time alone. Isolation will only increase this as a risk factor. I applaud her physician for asking.

This isn’t about squashing rights and you know I’m a gun toting 2nd Amendment defender. This is about communication, education and prevention.

Well said, Tara, well said.

I'm not really sure what this post set out to do. I'm not trying to slam my dad for spreading what I think might be "inaccurate beliefs" but I'm also tired of letting conversations like this slide under the rug around here. If and when he reads this, Dad will probably mutter something to the effect of, "Hasn't she heard the old adage about respecting your elders?" And when he does so, I'd like him to know that yes, I can respect those elders. But those elders sometimes need to back down and to walk away from pushing their own thoughts onto everyone else. The elders need to remember that an independent mind is just that: a mind that gets to make its own decision, based on the information around me. And one other thing. This elder in particular needs to stop the politics.

Let me say again, that I love my family.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Facts About Twins

I sat down this morning to read a nice little article on twins. It gave a few facts that some people might not realize about people who came from the same womb. Twelve years and some change into being the mother of identical twins--coupled with my science background--I already knew many of these facts. But the article, of course, got me thinking. About all the things other people might not realize, unless you're the mom of twins.

1. People will look at you with pity when they say, "Boy you've got your hands full!"
2. Other people will exclaim, "I've always wanted twins! Aren't you lucky!"
3. Identical twins can look a lot alike.
4. Identical twins can look completely different.
5. People will assume, incorrectly, that you underwent IVF.
6. With twins, it is always a party. ALWAYS.
7. Twins often eat together, sleep together, and poop together. (I stole that from the receptionist at the Multiples Clinic back in 2002).
8. You often speak in terms of "they" instead of "him" or "her" and you don't even know you are doing it most of the time.
9. Twins have a really good knack for asking the same question at the same time.
10. Despite what everyone thinks--that it would be hard for one person to handle two babies and establish a good bond with each of them--I think we successfully did it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Neverending Winter

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Elsa from Arendelle came to visit our fair city.

And someone pissed her off.

The end.

(To be fair, I'm not sure if I read this somewhere or made it up, but by golly, I'm done with winter. Aren't you?)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekend Fun

I haven't posted a picture of my older sister and I ever. At least I don't think so. And since I finally have one, here were are. That's a glass of water in my hand, by the way, but yes, we were on the way to the hotel bar. At 4:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon. Good times.

The only way this picture could be better is if Gina's long, dark hair was real (sorry, but this is a tell-all blog you know) and if instead of the gray sweater, I had on my lovely, striped, currently-kidnapped pullover fleece.

And I guess I should post a picture of the three sisters, mid-drinking. We've got (left to right) a chocolate martini, red wine, and (for me, of course) a frozen margarita. We must do this more often, ladies.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Thoughts

A few days ago, an author I've had the pleasure to meet wrote a post about a dress that she found. It was a sleeveless dress, and she wasn't sure if she should buy it because, to paraphrase her own words, she has chubby arms. Chubby arms be damned, she thankfully decides to buy the dress. I can imagine her saying Take that! in the direction of all the people who think arms should be skinny every time she wears the dress. And when I see her, should she be wearing that dress, I think I'll give her a round of applause and a giant hug. We should all have the courage to wear what we want, especially the items of clothing that make us feel empowered.

But her post also brought me back home. (Sorry, mom, but here comes some revelation. Stop reading now.) Because my mother has never liked her arms. I can't tell you how many times over the 18 years I lived at home, and then again if we'd go shopping when I no longer lived there, that I heard the sentence: I can't wear that--it shows my arms. I'd roll my eyes and tell her she looked fine, good even, in the sleeveless shift she had tried on. I attempted to compliment her by saying that the dress lent color to her cheeks or that the cut of the bodice worked with her curves. And while I was making much of it up, because I know nothing about fashion and the jargon that goes with it, I wasn't making up the fact that really, Mom did look nice in the article of clothing. If only she had the confidence and peace to realize that those arms, no matter what she thought, were fine. Good even. A part of her.

They were the arms that held three babies. The ones that loved to garden, help turn pages of a book, and move furniture. They were the same arms that stirred the polenta for hours or rolled out dough for cookies. They shoveled snow, scrubbed toilets, made sure that algebra homework was done, and rolled curlers into Grandma's hair. They are strong, even now as my mom gets older, and really, something for which she should be grateful.

It's very difficult to come to terms with who we are and what we look like. Pages of society tell us one thing, an ideal to which we try to hold ourselves. But that ideal is completely unrealistic and unattainable. Happiness within ourselves is not, especially if we listen and learn from the strong women in our midst.

Take charge! Love your arms, your legs, your nose, your bum, whichever part tends to give you the most grief. Bathe it in love, find an accessory you can't live without, and march on. I, myself, am going shopping today. And I just might find a new shirt that shows my arms.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Only One

I'm pretty certain that I'm the only one that dislikes Pharrell Williams' song, Happy.

It ain't that I'm not happy. I'm just not happy about that tune.

So sue me.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Music Video

This was shot almost two years ago, but Aaron resurrected it the other day, and I thought, heck, why not post it? We need a good laugh from time to time, right? This sort of thing happens a lot around our house. (And I think I'm glad about that.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hitting a New Low

I just graded the lab exam I gave today. Let me start by saying that I do not make the exams (I've probably told you that countless times, and if I have, I'm sorry). I wish I did, but for lab, the individual lab instructors are not allowed to write the questions. Instead, one full-time faculty member makes the exam that everyone is to give to the students.

But I've been teaching at this place long enough to give hints of what is to come when I teach. Yes, you heard me, I almost teach to the test. But not quite. Because sometimes, like today, the exam can surprise you. However, even though some of the questions were surprising, I did go over the material at the appropriate lab time--all the material.

It was apparent from the exam scores that the students did not have one single clue of what to do with all that material, for the average grade on this second lab exam was a whopping 51.83%. Yep, it was that low. Furthermore, the students couldn't even use what they might know from another class to answer the question. Case in point? Someone asked me what an antagonistic muscle was. I couldn't tell her, since she was supposed to know that definition as well as how we discussed it in class. Had she remembered what she learned in high school, in English class, she would have been able to at least narrow down the answers to the question on the exam.

So what to do? I have a mind to go in next week and ask them what happened. Find out if they've finally pulled their heads out of their asses (pardon my French) and if they plan on doing any studying for the last exam. But I'll get fired if I do that in the way that I want to. On second thought, I'm not sure I want to do this for the long haul anymore, so maybe getting fired wouldn't be that bad.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Little Preachy

I just finished reading Divergent, by Veronica Roth. (I probably didn't need to add the author there, as many of you might also have read the book.) It was my second attempt at finishing the novel: the first time around, the story didn't hold my interest. But this piece isn't about the book. It's about the fact that no matter what else I might think about Divergent, Roth was successful at keeping the story relatively clean. Tris and Four, two of the main characters, hold hands, kiss, and, at one point, manage to grope one another, but for the most part, I didn't find much that was inappropriate about the book.

Oh wait, there is that one section where Tris is in the midst of an induced hallucination, one in which she must face her fears. Yep, you guessed it, one of her fears is basically...intimacy. Tris says, "This is the fear I have no solutions for--a boy I like, who wants to...have sex with me?" Tris goes on to take control of the situation, in a somewhat lighthearted manner, when she speaks to the hallucination and says, "I am not going to sleep with you in a hallucination. Okay?"

I laughed at that section, but then thought about how the girls might view it. Because yes, they want to read the book. They know about kissing; they know about sex; they know things I don't know, thanks to middle school these days. But do they know what is appropriate and what's not at this point in their lives? Do they understand that sometimes, despite what you feel, that you don't act on the feeling? Do they know that intimacy can be downright scary?

I thought I'd tackle that topic yesterday, when we were trapped in the car together on the way to Kohl's, just the three of us. (We had to return a few things, on a Sunday. I had my doubts, and I won't be doing that again.) The outing gave me the opportunity to speak with the girls, uninterrupted. I told them that if they wanted to read Divergent, that we needed to have a chat. (Walk away now, my friends. Walk away. Or stay, and learn from the best.)

"Okay, mom," they said.

"All right then," I replied.

And then I launched into subjects of which they were already aware and some of which they weren't. About how sex should be between two people that love one another, and that having sex at 16 really isn't a good idea. We talked about how the whole process can be scary and uncomfortable; we talked about what can happen when people have sex--a baby can result and so can some pretty nasty diseases. We then segued into protection and how it should be used EVERY SINGLE TIME, unless you want said baby or diseases. And then, get this, we managed to get onto the topic of conception in our house.

It's my fault, really. I told them that they are the products of we only did it one time without protection. (Say it, girls, we're a poster family!) They laughed, until I then said that after they were born, and I wasn't yet ready for another baby, that Tim and I went back to using protection. And that the one other time we didn't use anything, Aaron was the result. I could hear the gulps from the girls, who were two rows behind me. When I looked in the rearview mirror, their eyebrows were lost in their hairlines.

"Well, what about Melina?" they asked.

"There's a story there, too, ladies," I said, and launched into the details of the monthly cycle, what ovulation is and when it normally occurs, and that you can predict ovulation, if you are very careful and study the cycle.

"I know about when I should ovulate, girls. So if you avoid that time of the month or use protection, it's usually okay. But sometimes, your cycle starts to change. Like mine did. Only I wasn't aware of it at the time. And instead of ovulating on Day 15, I probably ovulated on Day 7 that month."

"And so you got pregnant with Melina?" they asked.

"Yep," I said.

"So she accident?" Talia said. Zoe twittered at the question.

"In a way she was, but I can't imagine life without her. Can you?"

"Nope," they both said and sat back, watching the scenery fly by.

No one said it at the time, but that conversation proves it: my conception stories are both funny and something to learn from, all at the same time. It really does only take one time, people! And some of us are so lucky, that one time happens again. And again.

I say this is jest, because it all happened within the confines of marriage, so of course, we were open to the idea of children. (I put that in there for my dad, who sometimes reads this blog. If you want to have a baby outside of marriage, I am not going to stop you. You should be old enough to take care of that baby, though.) But seriously, as usual, there is a lesson to be learned. It really doesn't matter how educated you are. Sex = baby. And if you aren't ready for baby, then don't have sex.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Friends

Don't you wish you all had a new friend like this? (Sorry, Sandra...I had to steal the picture!)

Her name is Ginger, and if we're lucky, we'll get to babysit someday.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Who Knew?

You know what? I learned something yesterday. Most of my days, I learn something, so I really shouldn't be surprised. But most of the time, that something that I learn comes from one of the children, and it involves Minecraft trivia or Wii information or facts they learned in school. This time, I read a book and came away with a new appreciation for my one intact uterus and one vagina. Because, and I probably always realized this could be true, it is possible to have two of each of them.

Now, I'd already heard of what is called a bicornuate uterus. This is a condition in which the uterus is "horned" and the two horns are separated by a septum. Just as with a normal uterus, if one travels south, the bicornuate structure leads to one cervix. With the uterus didelphys, though, the uterus and the vagina can be paired so that there are, essentially, two of each. Sadly, the twin uteri tend to be smaller, so that the possibility of carrying a fetus to term is slim for women who have this condition. Therefore, it might not be surprising that a woman with uterus didelphys might not find out about her condition until she has reproductive issues.

Might this condition find its way into a book? You never know. Stay tuned to find out. In the meantime, the uterus didelphys will at least become a topic of conversation when the reproductive lab rolls around. And now, hopefully, you've learned something, too. That's a great way to start a Friday.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Important Clauses.

PMS, for many women, is never fun.

I'm lucky, though, because PMS for me means very little. In fact, the only symptom I do get is a craving for junk food that extends into an intense eating binge the night before my period starts. I usually reach for chocolate, cookies, or ice cream, but I've been known to push large amounts of fatty foods (cheese puffs, for example) into my mouth as well. Usually after I'm full, I sit back and smile. No feeling guilty about my once-a-month binge because, heck, eating that much makes me feel, psychologically, better.

This month, however, I can't reach for the baked goods and sugary foods I'm craving, because by golly, I gave them up for Lent. Doh! So for me, last night, I ambled around the kitchen with a look of complete scorn on my face. I grumbled and moaned as I peeked into the cabinets and closed them again, without extracting anything. I even went so far as to open the lid of the ice cream container just so I could get a whiff of the creamy dessert. What did I end up with? A couple of peanut butter crackers. Oh, the shame!

You can guess where this is going. Next year, I'm putting a clause in my Lenten promise: No desserts except for that time period where I'm suffering from PMS. If God is a woman, she'll understand.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

That Kind of Day

It's a striped fleece kind of day today.

Too bad I don't have it.

Update: I just received a replacement garment in the mail from FRN. I'm sorry to report that it is black and gray nylon and spandex, not cozy fleece. However, I will give the new pullover a chance tomorrow, and of course, I'll report to you. Just to give you an image to compare, though, remember the picture of the fish and my fleece? This new one would be well hidden on a shark.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Well Played

As most of you regulars know, I have a fleece I like to wear. I've described it in another post. It's a Goodwill find that I love, a garment that originally came from Old Navy. Would I have paid full price for it? Probably not. But I didn't have to, it's warm, and ever since I found out that Tara didn't like it, I've worn it more often. Not that she can see me or anything. It's the principle: she doesn't like the fleece, therefore I wear it.

Well, late last week, as I looked for something to put on one morning, I realized that I couldn't find my fleece. I knew that I had washed it, but also knew that I had scads of other sweaters I could use. I thought nothing of the missing fleece and went on my way.

But I thought of it again, yesterday morning, when I wrote my oh-so-lovely poem. That poem might not be a prize winner, but writing it proved to be very useful. After reading it, my lovely sister, Tara, sent me a message. Apparently, she had hijacked my fleece. It was currently hiding itself on a fish.

Here's what I came to find out.
  1. Tara called and asked Zoe to set my fleece aside. Zoe had reservations, but caved to the evil ways of her aunt and did as Tara requested.
  2. When my friend Cindy came by for dinner, Zoe gave said fleece to Cindy.
  3. Cindy sent the fleece to Tara.
  4. Tara put the fleece on the fish.
Where will the fleece end up? Who knows? It might travel the world. In fact, I think it should. Send the fleece on a journey and see where it might go. I can handle the loss of the fleece, because I have my sights set on something else. That fish. Someday, I will get that fish.

There is a lesson to be learned in all of this: you can't trust anyone, even those from your own body. Even those you grew up with. Even those you thought were your friends. I say this in jest, of course. These were actions well played. Well played, indeed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bothersome (Dedicated to FRN)

Because I love you and you are my sister,
I live to bother you.
You knew that was true, didn't you?
That one day, after I'd gone away,
somehow, we'd stay connected.
So I can play the role of the older sibling,
the one that teases the younger.
Despite the miles that stretch between,
clearly, the bothering ceases not.
Because this blog is it, sister.
It is the smirk that crosses my face,
the roll of my eyes,
the finger poking you in the ribs,
all done with words.
Carefully, I can speak in circles,
or throw out terms like subtrahend and minuend;
ask you to perform some addition in your head.
Or I can attempt to get literary on you,
just to make your day.
But I won't, because literary isn't my bag.
What is?
My striped fleece.
Yes, that striped fleece.
Enough said.

(Just because FRN inspires me, doesn't mean I am a poet. This has to be one of the least classy things I've written in a very long time. I think I prefer Melina's A Frog for Lunch.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A New Crazy

I had the opportunity to read my fairy tale again recently because I toyed with the idea of making it a middle grade novel. Right now, it walks the line between middle grade and young adult and I'm not entirely sure where it should end up. I know some nine-year-olds will enjoy it, but I also know some 15-year-olds that might, too. Sigh.

Anyway, the crazy thing is that over the last half year or so, while I've been doing other things and writing other novels, I forgot how much I like my story. How much I believe in that story. So my rediscovery of the manuscript has given me new energy and purpose to get the doggone thing out there, to the masses.

And I simply felt like sharing. Thanks.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

First Poetry

The Frog for Lunch
by Melina and Aaron*

There was an old lady
who found a frog
and dressed him up in green.
She brought him home
to have some lunch.
They ate some tasty beans.

This is Melina's first attempt at poetry. She pretty much wrote the entire piece herself, except for the last line. We told her it might be good to do some rhyming and Aaron piped up, "beans!" and then added the last line.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Weather Reports

As most of you are aware, we here in Southern Ohio have had a very cold winter. In fact, those words really don't do justice to the level of cold that we've seen here. The temperatures were the worst I've experienced here, and while I've only lived in this area for ten years, I come from MICHIGAN. Some of the temperatures were cold even for the region of that lovely state from which I come.

Well, because I like to dress appropriately for running, I listen to and/or check the weather forecast each morning. Twice in the past two weeks, by one meteorologist in particular, I've heard something similar to this on the radio:
Partly cloudy in the morning, full sun by the afternoon. Chilly, with a high of 40.
What the heck? Chilly? After we've crawled out of the depths of despair, where we hovered at -19 degrees, you dare to call a high of 40 chilly?

I thought it was a one-time deal, but she did it again, yesterday. Has she already forgotten how gosh-darn frigid it was not but a few weeks ago? Seriously? A high of 40, at least to me this winter, is cause for celebration.And today? A high of 53 degrees? You just might find me naked in a bikini in the middle of the street. (God help us all if that happens.)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

#111 and Beyond

I'm pretty sure I left off on my reasons to be happy with #110. If I'm wrong, feel free to correct me. It's also been a while, and I have many more reasons to be happy. So here we go.

111. Warm peanut butter toast with nutella.
112. Walking down the laundry detergent aisle and smelling each and every choice.
113. Questions about the earth from a kindergartener.
114. The ability to edit an article and make it better.
115. Knowing someone who believes in X-ray vision.
116. The early morning tweet of birds, the ones I hope will signal the start of spring.
117. My striped fleece.
118. Friends. (I can't stress the importance of that one.)
119. The feel of a completed manuscript in my hands.
120. The exhilaration of dropping off the manuscript to my evaluator.

That last one will only be made better by the actual acquisition of an agent. I need to believe that this latest manuscript is going to be the one that opens doors. I'd take almost any door, mind you. Which means I guess that reason #121 should be open doors.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Denim Conversation Ender

A couple of years back, I received a box of clothes from FRN. Apparently, she'd gotten them from a friend, who admitted that they were his girlfriend's. Well, they were his ex-girlfriend's clothes. She moved out and left much of her clothes; he attempted to a find good home for them.

I scored on that day. I found a sweater and some shirts, as well as a few pairs of jeans. One pair in particular I really like. In fact, I like this pair of jeans so much, I have thought about finding them and buying a pair at full-price.

That fact is big. I don't usually buy anything full-price, except for running shoes. And, I mainly head to Goodwill for my everyday clothes. So finding out where the jeans are sold and thinking about buying them? For more than the everyday Goodwill price of $3.99? Huge, I tell you.

Well, I'm not stupid. I know that jeans, for whatever reason, can be pricey. I have another pair of jeans (yes, from Goodwill) that originally came from the Gap. When I looked to see what a new pair of those would cost, I was hovering around $70, but I could get them at a discount rate with all the sales. Incidentally, I spent a fair bit of time at the Gap, trying on what I thought were similar jeans, none of which fit as well as the pair I spent less than five dollars on. Hence, I left the store empty-handed.

So back to my current jeans. They have a nice big tag on the bum that screams the label name. I Google it of course, and find that I can find them at Nordstrom. Uh-oh. And that most of the current versions of these jeans cost $142. Double uh-oh. Really? Over one hundred dollars for jeans. Denim. A fabric I wipe my hands on during the day.

No ma'am. No thank you.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Short

I am consistently astounded by how much blame one can transfer to another person. (Why? I should know this happens by now. And obviously, quite a bit.) If you repeatedly need to tell yourself that you must forgive another person, then have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, there is something within yourself that might need to be addressed? To be changed?

Let's not blame one another. Let's take responsibility for our thoughts, our actions, and our inactions.

Let's march on in peace.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Banana Oatmeal Bars

It's not summer (heck, we haven't even seen a bit of spring yet) and somehow, the bananas went bad. Not a problem, as we all love banana oatmeal bars. I don't know what it is about this recipe in particular, but I have to share it. I originally found it years ago on, so it isn't my own recipe, but I'll take credit for making a good bar when it comes out of my oven.

1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/2 cups raw oats
3/4 cup nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips (optional)

Directions (after you preheat to 425 degrees)
1. Combine flour, salt, soda, and spices and set aside (I've also added about 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa to this mixture, and it is yummy.)
2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and egg until fluffy.
3. Add bananas and vanilla and beat until smooth.
4. Gradually stir in flour mixture and oats until well combined.
5. If using any of the fruit or nuts, add them now.
6. Pour into a greased 9X13 baking pan.
7. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden (this may take less than 25 minutes, depending on your oven).

The only thing I can say about these is that I have trouble not eating them, but I love bananas and oatmeal. I plan on trying them again after I've cut the sugar in half. I'll report back. In the meantime, enjoy!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sound Sleeping

Every once in awhile, usually when the girls sleep elsewhere, I do the unthinkable. I ask Tim to sleep with Aaron, in Aaron's room. So that I can be alone. ALONE.

I choose the dates that the girls are gone simply because I will have fewer responsibilities when I awaken. So that, should I choose to sleep in, I can do so because instead of four sweet beasts to fend for, I only have two. And in order to actually sleep in, say, get up at 7 a.m. instead of 5:30 a.m., I need to oust Tim from the bed.

Why? Because the man can snore. And when I say snore, I mean SNORE. I mean freight train, Mack truck, thunder-booming snoring that wakes me up, but apparently, not the man who produces it. Even after I poke his shoulder and ask him to roll over, in an instant, he's on his back, whistling that ear-splitting cacophony.

Last night was one of those nights. I sweetly asked Tim to sleep with Aaron and drifted off to the land of slumber. The cat woke me at 5 a.m. but I rolled over, spread my arms across the empty bed, and went back to sleep until Melina woke me up again at 7:02 a.m.

It's a great weekend already, thanks to a little bit of sound sleeping.