Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Betty Crocker

Something that I love to do is bake.  I used to do it a lot more frequently than I do now.  In fact, I cannot point to the last time that I baked.  But, it's on my agenda for the weekend. 

One of the folks on my team is notorious for bringing in baked goods.  I love it when he comes up to my desk and sees me about to pound a pack of smarties and says, "Wait!  Don't eat that...try this."  It's always some fabulous bakery item that his wife carefully prepared.  I love it!  Today's tasty treat was a snickerdoodle bar.  Sheer bliss is what it should be called.  He shared the recipe with me.  The plan is to make it over the long weekend. 

I'm passing it along for your baking (really eating) enjoyment.  Spread the love in the form of a block of calories!

Snickerdoodle Bars

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended.  (The recipe didn’t call for it, but I also mixed about a tablespoon of cinnamon into the batter before I put it in the pan) Spread evenly in prepared pan. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool and cut.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The First Day of School

Enter a new era:  both of my kids are in school.  Sidney in third grade and Ashton in kindergarten.  Can it really be so? 

It seems so cliche to say "It seems like only yesterday..."  Well, cliche I will be.  It seems like only yesterday I was fretting about Sidney going to kindergarten.  Would she know to get off the bus when the bus arrived at her school rather than getting off at a different school?  How would she find her classroom once she got to school?  Would she miss her bus once school dismissed?  ...the list goes on and on.  Of course none of my fears were founded and not a single one of them came to fruition, but it didn't stop me from worry about it. 

Fast forward three years and here we are with Ashton.  My baby starting kindergarten.

I was on edge for nearly a week leading up to his first day.  Okay, some may have thought medication was in order.  Nonetheless, I was stressed. 

School supplies.  Agenda books.  Book bags.  Uniforms.  Schedules.  Classroom rules.  ...lions and tigers and bears, oh my!  My brain was on overload.  How is it possible that it Ashton could be old enough to embark on the school age journey?  (how am I old enough to have a third grader and a kindergartener for that matter?!)  Reality cannot be contested.  The time had arrived.

Ashton completely embraced his kindergartenhood and walked into school. Head high.  Captain America backpack hung over his shoulder.  Uniform perfectly pressed.  He was ready for this new adventure.  I was not.  I must have said "goodbye" to him three times.  Each time beckoning a hug and a kiss (or three).  He was very tolerant, but I could see that his patience was wearing thin.  His face was getting flushed.  It was time for sappy mommies to hit the road.  So, that's what I did.  I turned around, bid him farewell for the day and bravely walked out the door.  I held back my tears, bit my lip and put the car in drive.  I kept telling myself, "Lisa, you will survive this...don't ruin his big day by being a neurotic parent." 

I'm so glad for speed-dial.  Through my watery eyes, I spotted the letter "J" on my phone and hit talk.  I talked to my friend Jill on the way to work that morning - as I do every morning.  Life started becoming a little more normal again. 

The day wrapped up with Ashton having a spectacular day.  Reunited with his best buds.  But, now, as a kindergartener. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Who writes a blog about blogging?  I do.  I looked at the date of my last post and thought to myself, "has it really been that long?"  Well, yes, it has.  These past two weeks have been borderline chaotic.  Chaos is my kryptonite.  It makes me crazy when I have too many plates spinning, running in too many directions and being constantly driven by the clock. 

Over the past several months I have found blogging to be my therapy.  My release from dark situations.  My vehichle for documenting the many funny (and not so funny) stories of my family.  Not having the time to do it has not gone unnoticed. 

I'm here to say I'm back on the wagon.  The glitches of ironing out my own schedule and the schedule of not one, but two, school-agers have been refined.  I'm back to pounding the keys and rejoining my therapy session.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"The Blessing"

Sidney and I were settling in for the night, Diary of the Wimpy Kid, Rodrick Rules was on tap.  Bed time is always a good time.  It's like herding cats.  "Five more minutes."  "I need water."  "I need to go to the bathroom."  "Turn on my music."  "Shut my closet."  ...the stall tactics go on and on. 

As I was working through the routine with Sidney, she started mimicking me and said, "I'm going to mouth sync everything you say."  I looked at her puzzled and said, "What?  Your going to mouth sync what I say?"  She said, "Yes, mouth sync."  Apparently I was the one with the issue because she knew exactly what she was talking about.  I, however, was clueless.  "Sidney, I have no idea what you are talking about.  I don't know what 'mouth sync' means."  "Mouth sync, Mom.  You know how people sing on stage and someone is playing their music but they aren't really singing?"  Ah, the lightbulb finally went off in my head!  "LIP SYNC!  You mean lip sync, Sidney."  "Yes, limp sync."  "It's not 'limp' sync, it's lip sync."  "Right, limp sync, Sidney said."

With each verbal transaction the volume continued to increase.  "Sidney, it's LIP SYNC!  NOT LIMP SYNC."  By now, she's annoyed and I just want to read the book so we can call it a night.  She looked at me frustrated and annoyed, pointed to her lips and yelled, "THE BLESSING!"  There was an eruption of laughter...I could not control myself.  I was nearly hysterical laughing which is contagious.  We were both laughing uncontrollably. 

For those of you who are scratching your head wondering what's so funny, go watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation.  Specially the part where Uncle Lewis yells "THE BLESSING" at Aunt Bethany!  Now, Sidney has never seen this movie, but on more than one occassion has heard us say (complete with hand motions) "THE BLESSING!" 

Oh, these kids of mine.  My source of constant entertainment.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reality Checks

I feel like I've had my fair share of reality checks in the past 12 months.  Maybe what is different about them in this period of time is that I have actually sat up and paid attention to them.  Learned from things.  Applied my learnings into my every day life.  At least I've tried to. 

At 5am today the alarm clock went off.  Not a morning person by any means - certainly not on a Saturday morning.  I can say with great certainty there isn't much that would motivate me to get out of bed that early on a Saturday.  Actually, nothing that I can think of outside of an early morning flight or a trip to an amusement park in my younger years.  All that to say, today was the exception, not the rule.

I had the great privilege to assist with fundraising efforts for Wishes Can Happen's largest event - the Wish-a-thon.  Two days of two radio stations promoting and educating their listeners on Wishes Can Happen and the impact they make on families in this community.  As you can imagine, people just don't open their wallets "because it's the right thing to do."  We are all human.  Give me a story that I can relate to or sympathize with and you're another step closer to a donation.  That's what this morning was all about.

My shift started at 6am.  I was uncaffeinated.  Using every twinge of will power to keep my eyes open.  My greatest wonder was, "why am I doing this at this hour?"  Within a half hour - and one testimonial in - the tiredness gave way to a different mindset.  "Did I really just have a thought of complaint that I was up this early when these parents are fighting for the lives of their children?" 

A wish recipient family came to the site to share their story with the broadcast area.  Imagine this... You've adopted a newborn baby that has life threatening health issues.  You're not even sure if you will bring him home from the hospital because the doctors have told you that it's likely he won't make it.  Fast forward three years.  This little boy Nick has beat the odds.  However, he's on a ventilator.  He's fed through a feeding tube.  He cannot walk.  He does not talk.  He's confined to a chair that carries his equipment and his little body.  The hospital that you frequent has referred you to an organization called Wishes Can Happen that will grant your child, your family a wish to help make your days a bit brighter.  To bring some joy to a situation that is otherwise overwhelming. 

I had the privelege spending time with this family and learning of their challenges.  Their heartbreak.  And, surprisingly enough, their joy.  It's a challenge to take a car ride.  Not because they have to fight with their little man to get him buckled into his car seat like most parents experience, but because he may pull his ventilator out during their journey.  He may get a clot in his airway that stops his breathing entirely and requires immediate attention.  Yes, this happens to them.  It's not uncommon.  It's their reality.  They told me this with great sincerity.  With a smile on their face and followed it up with, "We are so blessed to have Nick in our lives."  ...let that one marinate for a while.

I spent several hours taking donations.  Listening to stories.  Seeing children who have benefitted from the generosity of this incredible organization.  I walked away feeling thankful.  Humbled.  Privleged to be a part of something that impacts so many lives for the better.

Next time life has you down, think about little Nick, his parents and his sister, Raegan who's greatest worry is actually life and death.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  Be thankful for all you have.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Looking Forward to It

There are events that are "fun" that I look forward to.  There are occassions that have great meaning that I mark on the calendar and eagerly anticpate getting to that date.  There are standing committments that may not fit the fun category, but definitely fit the meaningful one.  For me, it is the night I work at The Haven of Rest. 

Finally, after being gone for two months I will return to the Haven tomorrow night.  I have been looking forward to this night for a couple of weeks.  Because of vacations and prior commitments, I have not been able to serve in my regularly schedule position.  Not surprising, I've missed it tremendously. 

I started volunteering at the Haven with my friend Jill a few years ago.  My life has been forever changed.  The preconceived notion was that I going there to "help them."  I assure you, those folks have been helping me.  My life is more focused.  The value of family has never been greater.  How fortunate I am for all I have is a daily realization to me.  It's doubtful that I would have experienced such an epiphany without this experience.

While, yes, I give my time to serve meals to and clean up after the "have nots" of the community, they have given me perspective.  Something far more valuable than my three hours of time.