Thursday, April 28, 2011


Sidney is turning 8 next weekend and I can hardly believe it.  It doesn't seem that long ago that we brought our Tarheel home from the hospital.  Or, that we were celebrating her first birthday in our new home.  Seven years later, the house is dented and dinged and Sidney is a bright, beautiful little girl.

This is a girl who knows what she wants and will stop at nothing until she gets it.  Exactly how she wants it. 

She is an avid Wheel of Fortune watcher and insisted on a Wheel of Fortune birthday party.  That is what she shall have.  The focal point of this party will be her cake. 

I've done much research online - looking at cakes, pictures of the Wheel set, determining what is doable and what requires more planning than I have time.  I arrived at what I thought was simple, yet cool.  Effective yet creative.  I cut and glued pictures to a piece of paper laying out each item and documenting "do's" and "don'ts" for this very special cake.  I handed the storyboard over to Aaron to take to The Cake Lady.  Yes, that's her name, The Cake Lady.

After he delivered the drawing I checked in with him to see what her thoughts were on the design.  What he said didn't leave me extremely confident that Sidney would find this cake to be all she hoped it would be.  He said and I quote, "she'll do the best she can."  What?!  What does that mean?  She'll do the best she can?  How about, "I'm totally going to rock this cake.  Pat & Vanna's set can't compare to this cake."  ...No, rather I got a 'best I can do' comment.  Swell!

I get it from a selling perspective.  Underpromise and overdeliver is far better than the alternative scenario.  But, for the record, this cake better rock it!  ...stay tuned for pictures to follow!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

Chocolate Bunnies.  Peanut butter eggs.  Jelly beans.  Easter eggs.  Marshmallow Peeps.  That's Easter, right?  ...not so much.

I have grown tired of commercialized holidays - annoyed that my kids have expectations for "things" with each holiday.  That's our fault as parents.  We let it happen.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-gift.  I'm just anti-gluttony. 

All week I've been reminding the kids of what Easter means.  "What happened on Good Friday?"  Sidney:  "Jesus died on the cross for us."  "What happened on Easter?"  Ashton:  "Jesus came back from the dead."  "Is Easter about candy and gifts?"  Both kids:  "No."

Sunday morning we went to church as we always do.  The place was packed.  Wall to wall people - no place to sit, no place to park.  The sanctuary was so full that it closed and people were routed into our worship center, Resonate.  Resonate is a very laid back, modern place of worship.  Coffee, iPads, smart phones, jeans and a rockin' band are staples to this Sunday morning gathering place.  There were a number of visitors who both purposefully came to our class and those who were directed there due to overflow.  When I looked around the room it seemed that people were truly enjoying themselves.   This wasn't a fire and brimstone environment.  This was all about grace and joy.  People responded to that. 

It's Easter, it's a joyful time!  We don't need chocolate and sugar-coated marshmallows to remind us of that....although they do sweeten the day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fun & Games: The Sequel

At the urging of a couple of good friends, I bring you Fun & Games:  The Sequel.  Please keep in mind, it pains me to think about it, let alone write about it. 

As the day started on Saturday morning, I was off to the races.  But, not before I grabbed a cup of coffee.  As I made a beeline to the Keurig, the fish tank on the counter caught my eye.  It's not what was happening in it that grabbed my attention.  It's what wasn't happening that made me stop in my tracks.    Not only was Sidney's fish not swimming - it wasn't in the tank. 

I don't know about you, but when I roll out of the feathers, I'm not on my A-game immediately.  It takes me a little time to wake up and process what is going on around me.  That being said, I wasn't sure where to look for the fish, but I started with a yell to Ashton & Sidney.

"Sidney & Ashton, get in here!  Where's the fish?"  Sidney thought I was crazy and said, "in the tank" while Ashton turned around and walked away as if he knew nothing about what I was saying.  "Ashton, get back here.  Where's the fish?"  As I turned back to the tank, I looked down to the counter.  There was a puddle of water, a pitcher of room temperature water (which was to be used to clean the fish tank), a green spork and a dead fish. 

The fish was quite dead lying on the counter.  What a fantastic early morning discovery.

My kitchen served as a crime scene and an interrogation room.  Is it possible that my sweet angel face boy could have done this to his sister's fish?  Isn't this the stuff you hear about serial killers doing at a young age?  Does he need therapy?  Is there salmonella on my counter now?  Did he really kill a goldfish with a spork?  ...all I wanted was a damn cup of coffee!

What to do now? 

After Ashton finally got through his tears and my anger, he told me he was trying to get the fish into the pitcher.  "The fish kept flipping around and it wouldn't stop.  I used the fork to try to pick it up."  The head was barely attached to the body.  "Ashton, do you understand that you should not have taken the fish out of the tank?  And, do you understand that Sidney is very sad now?"  "Do you understand that the fish is dead now?"  More tears.  More remorse.  I'm glad for the remorse...otherwise, we would be on our way to the child psychologist! 

Sidney and I headed off to Pet Supplies Plus to find a new fish.  We came home with a pink Neon fish, at the bargain price of $5.  Since I'm tired of cleaning the tank every two days, we also bought a bubbler and tubing.  This serves a dual purpose.  It makes it more difficult for inquiring minds to open the lid!

What started with two ten cent goldfish and a carnival quickly turned into a saga of funny stories.  A $30 investment in fish and supplies.  A burial at sea.  Death by a spork.  A pink Neon fish.

It's all fun and games until you have to write a sequel to a blog entry entitled, "Fun & Games."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun & Games

My kids were so excited to go to a school carnival with their cousins Aiden & Paige.  Junk food.  Face painting.  Hair color.  Games.  What kid wouldn't want to go to the carnival?  The focal point of this carnival was winning goldfish. 

Aiden had lobbied to go to his school carnival for one purpose and one purpose only.  To win a goldfish.  He had brought his cousins up to speed on the possibility of bringing home a fish in a cup and how wonderful that would be.  They were stoked.  They each tried several times to get that quarter through the water and into the very tiny cup (a shot glass, really).  The first lucky contestant to score a fish was Ashton.

Soon each of them secured their prize and they were on their way.  Four goldfish each in their own McDonald's cup.  A very exciting day for all.

We're (Aaron & I) not fish people.  We have a cat, that's enough.  Saying we were unprepared for these fish was an understatement.  I headed into Pet Supplies Plus wandering the aquatic isle aimlessly.  My mission was to find a cheap fish bowl, a net to transport them from cup to bowl and some food.  Mission accomplished!  I walked out having spent $15 for these two fish that cost twenty cents.  We were officially ready for fish.

We've done a great job of keeping these new additions alive.  At least until tonight.  One minute Ashton's fish was eating, the next it was arched and floating. 

"Aaron, the fish is dead."  Ashton comes running over to the counter.  "Can we flush it?!"  No child should be that excited to dispose of a pet.  "Yes, buddy, you can flush it."  After Aaron & Ashton had the burial at sea, Ashton came bouncing back into the kitchen to check on the other fish.  "Can we flush Sidney's fish too?"  "No, Ashton, Sidney's fish is still alive."  "I can't wait until it dies...then I can flush it!"

I guess it's all fun and games until your fish dies.  ...then it's more fun!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Running the Hills

Today I ran...and as much as I hate them, I ran some hills.  I loathe them and I know they are waiting for me, laughing.  Waiting to suck the last bit of energy and breath from me.  Today, I conquered them.

Training on hills is a must if you want to build strength, power and endurance.  It's not easy - quite the contrary.  Hills make your legs burn, your breathing heavy, your body exhausted.  But, what a feeling of accomplishment when you've made it to the top.

As I was running, I was thinking.  If you don't "run the hills" in life, you never really can know what you are truly made of.

I've had a lot of hills over the past several months, but I keep running.  It's painful.  It challenges my will-power.  The burn sometimes gets the best of me and I slow my pace.  But I keep going.

Funny how a bit of running advice from Runner's World translates into a real world application.  I hope some motivational speaker out there has taken this nugget of wisdom and tucked it into a book or used it in a speech to inspire people.

Everyone should train on least once in a while.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6, 1920

Isn't it ironic that my Granddad, the most modest person I know, was born into what was arguably the most boisterous and richest decade of history.  The roaring twenties.  The era of the flappers.  The rise of technology.  The introduction of the Model T.  A period of volatile politics. 

Granddad, you just didn't fit that mold.

Today we observed your birthday...your 91st birthday.  It seems hard to believe that only a year ago we gathered nearly one hundred of your family members and friends together to celebrate 90 years of your life.  What a great celebration that was!  The surprise on your face to watch each and every person enter the reception hall.  Catching up with old friends, distant family members.  They all came to celebrate one thing.  You.

We miss you today.  Oh how I wish that I could have called you today to say "Happy Birthday."  To ask Grandie what time we would get together on Saturday and what I could bring.  Wondering if you were going to have a fruit pie or a coconut cake and hoping there was whipped topping so we could pacify the kids who preferred a fruit-free dessert. 

Instead of talking to you today, I walked with you.  I went to the park over my lunch dressed in your Columbia pull-over and we walked.  I needed some connection that was tangible, not just memories.  Your cologne lingers on that fleece.  If offers a piece of you, even if you aren't physically here.  It was warm comfort on a cold, rainy day.  On a fairly sad day.  Just as your pictures scroll across my digital picture frame, so did the memories.  They do everyday, but today especially.  Your picture fills the April 6 box on my calendar.  My reminder of your if I could forget.

Tonight we had Grandie over for dinner, because we enjoy her company and because I can see the pain on her face every time we are together.  She misses you dearly.  We talked about you.  We talked about family.  We tried to fill the void. I miss you everyday and think of you at least ten times a day.

While we aren't having a party this weekend, you are close to our hearts and always on our minds.

 I hope that today, on your 91st birthday, you get a slice of rhubarb pie and a steamy cup of coffee. 

Monday, April 4, 2011


No, not the kids. 

In my previous post I wrote about the game that I created on the fly to keep the kids from picking each other to pieces and from make us crazy!  This game was quite a success.

We went back and forth with gaining and losing points.  Only once did Ashton drop below the baseline of 10 points to 9 and after he stopped crying because he lost them, he listened intently to learn how to redeem more.  All in all this point system worked well.  There was only one catch.  It was used against me.

After driving for several hours on the way home fatigue, boredom and general irritation set in. I am speaking for myself.  Not the kids.

I loathe car rides.  I would rather stick a fork in my eye then sit in a car for hours on end.  I am not a person who enjoys the open road and taking in the scenery.  I much prefer to take it all in from 30,000 feet at take off and descent. 

My exhaustion got the better of me.  That in combination with the chemical that Aaron's brain produces to block out my voice, caused the first series of car-ride arguments to erupt.  Of course the argument was very important--all relating to the time change when we crossed the magical point in Indiana that divides Central Time from Eastern.  Like I said, important stuff. 

As we bantered, we were brought to a halt by a little voice in the back seat stating that we had lost points for fighting.  What???  Lost points? 

Miss Mini-Me was turning the tables on us.  Of course, that stopped the fighting immediately.  The "picking" was replaced with laughter, although she was quite serious.  I am fairly certain that was the last adult argument of the trip.

Touché, my little Smartie Pants... Touché!