Sunday, April 28, 2013

Journey to 26.2

Yesterday I had the opportunity that I have been waiting for since I started running.  I had the amazing chance to run with my friend who was running her first full marathon.  Ironically, she and I met exactly two years ago when I ran my first marathon and she ran her first half marathon.  We both were running in a group to honor a friend's sister who was battling breast cancer.  We met  right before the race started and I will never forget how bubbly she was.  After the race we became Facebook friends, then we couldn't get enough of each other so we started finding reasons to meet each other in Nashville or at other races to spend time together.  We have since decided we were twins separated at birth.  Face it, two people who put on lipstick to walk downstairs?!  Twins...

The reason I had waited my whole running career for this moment is because I have had so many give me the little extra umph that I needed to get me to my goal.  I have had folks to run with me to pace me to a goal.  I have had so many friends who have sacrificed to help me and to help others in their running goals that I always wished for the opportunity to give back and be that to someone else.  Yesterday I had that chance and it was without a doubt the pinnacle of my running experiences.

Not everyone is cut out to run a marathon regularly.  I personally have decided that I am a bit of a "Wham" type marathoner.  The one hit wonder.  It was on my bucket list.  Something I wanted to accomplish before I kicked the bucket.  My friend pointed out to me that the general population that has run a marathon is .5%.  I am proud to say that she and I are both in that small percentage, but I don't plan to become a regular there.  My reasoning to only do one is multifaceted.  The training was rough.  I trained by myself, not because I didn't know anyone who was training for a marathon when I was training, but because no one that was training was my pace or anywhere near it.  I had planned to run my marathon by the Jeff Galloway method which involved intervals and no one I knew at that time was interested in my methods.  So, training for 18 weeks and running for hours at a time by yourself was difficult.  I will never forget the day that I had on my running clothes when the kids got on the bus and was about to get in the shower when they got home and my son asked me, "Mom have you been running the whole time I was at school?"  The answer was yes, but I began to scratch my head and wonder what in the world I was doing.  That was plain stupid, running the entire time my kids were in school.  The fact was that 2 years ago I was slow enough that it took me that long to get my long training runs in when I got up into the 20+ miles.  But I was registered, and I am not a quitter.  So I persevered and finished my training and ran my marathon.  I ran the Country Music Marathon 2011.  I finished.

The day of my marathon in 2011 the weather was mild then got hot for the second half.  The first 11 miles ticked away like nobody's business.  They went by so fast because I was running with the group who was running for my friend's sister with cancer.  They were a super fun group to run with and we laughed and talked and enjoyed the atmosphere so much.  Then we got to the split and on the CMM course, it goes from feast to famine.  In the first half, there is tons of crowd support, lots of bands, entertainment, distraction, you name it. As soon as you get to the split, there is nothing.  The crowd support drops off, much less bands, less entertainment, less distraction.  Some of the course is through the projects and I was a bit scared in parts of it.  It was long and lonely.  My wonderful husband met me at mile 17 and ran the rest of the race with me.  I was never so glad to see him in my life.  However, I was in so much pain and so tired that I could hardly walk, much less run.  I remember at mile 23 I stopped to use the port o potty and I literally thought I would not be able to get back up, I was stiffening up that fast.  I was able to finish that race and I was so "DONE" that I immediately turned around and went to the car after I crossed the line and got my medal.  I was beyond exhausted.  I told my husband when I got in the car that I was not going to do that again.  But no one can ever take away from me the fact that I DID run a marathon.  I am in that .5% and always will be.

Which brings me to yesterday.  My friend also had it on her bucket list to run a marathon.  She trained like I did and yesterday was her day to become a member of the .5%.  I told her I would come run the last 9 miles with her.  When I told her this, I did not realize it was going to be torrentially downpouring rain almost the whole time.  But, it didn't matter.  I was gunna go anyway.
While I was waiting for her I had the chance to cheer on the other runners.  I had more fun doing that than I have in other races because the weather was so bad that the runners were exceptionally appreciative of cheering fans because they were so few and far between.  

  I brought her chicken nuggets from Chick Fil A because it was what I had for lunch the day I ran my marathon.  I had packed them in my fuel belt and carried them with me.  I did this because I was going to be on the course so long I needed some lunch :D  I also brought her some Advil.  She and I discussed the weather and how crazy it was to be running in the pouring rain.  I had mentioned that I was thinking that this was a small price to pay when you think of the kids battling for their lives at St. Jude's, who is the main sponsor of the CMM.  My friend mentioned that she always thinks of her cousin who has been in a wheelchair all his life and who would love nothing more than to have the capability to be out here running in the rain.

 We decided it was fun to run in this rain.  Somewhere around the time we entered Shelby Bottoms Park was when I hallucinated and thought a piece of concrete was a duck.  We laughed about that all the way to the 22 mile marker.  Then we started with funny stories because, well, we had time and nothing else to do except talk and laugh.  In the mean time, the miles were ticking away.  Round about Mile 23 was when the lady passed us with the clod hopper shoes on.  Somewhat in the flavor of "What in the World was in the man's backpack" at the Relay Rutherford race last year, What in the World? were those shoes that woman had on her feet?!  On to the man who had an obsession with women's size medium tech shirts, then immediately into the subject of recipes.  Oh the thought of some fine carrot cake will distract even the most focused person to forget that they are running to Egypt and back and attempting to live to tell about it.

 And mile marker 26.

 Those first 26 miles are ok, but that .2 will kill you every time I tell ya.  In the .2 we were blazing it whether my friend wanted to or not.

 The end was in sight.  Because I ran in a rain poncho, no one knew whether I had a number on or not, so no one pulled me off the course and I was able to cross the finish with my friend.  It was my finest hour getting to watch her accomplish her dreams and make it a reality.  Paying it forward, having a chance to do what others have done for me.  It is the best feeling in the world.

My friend and I decided that if we could give any advice to those who want to train to run a marathon we would tell them to do some strength training for 6 months before beginning the run training for long distance.  It helps tremendously to have a strong core, back and arms to be able to endure 26.2 miles of running.  You don't realize this until you have done it.

 There are so many things we can do for others that won't cost a dime.  Encouraging a friend is one of them. Whether it means running with them, sending them a card, taking them to a doctor's appointment, or just sitting on the deck and listening to them.  The encouragement you try to give will always come back to you in triplicate.  At least it does for me.  I challenge us all to do something to pay it forward this week.  And congratulations, my Friend, for reaching membership into an elite .5%.  I love you and am so happy that I was able to share that moment with you.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Breakfast on the Porch-A Dog's Story

I have had pets.  I had a cat named Muffin growing up.  I loved that cat.  I dressed her up and she took whatever I dished out to her.  She was my friend.  I would shudder to count the number of pets we have had since we married 23 years ago.  It is probably in the 30's.  They have come and gone for one reason or another.  They were all bubble pets meaning they were on the bubble pending pottying on the carpet and then they were out!  We got a dog.  For the boy.  He was a good dog, a bulging, beastly dog that protected my boy and served his duty well.  He kept the boy from being scared in the house.  Where the boy went, the dog followed.  I guess I loved that dog, but not for myself, I loved that dog for who he was to my boy.  And then there was Zoe.

Once our boy's dog died, and our last cat passed on, I said "No More".  In my deepest thoughts I was thrilled to be done with the mess of animals.  Then one fine day my oldest decided she wanted to get a dog.  About to go to college, I said, "Oh NO!"  We ended up making a deal.  If she would stay away from a toxic situation she had involved herself in then she could have the dog.  It was worth a dog if she would stay out of a bad situation.  Well, she held up to her end of the bargain and she picked out a dog from a breeder.  I thought this had disaster written all over it.  I was gunna be caring for a dog and she was going to graduate and leave for college.  What in the world??  SHE picked out the dog, SHE paid for the dog, SHE called and checked out the breeder, SHE did all the legwork.  I was totally not involved and not interested. Amen.

Well she was cute.

But whatever, I was not involved.
Then she came home and I was determined to teach her to potty train.  She was really cute.  And cuddly.  And sweet.  But whatever, I was not involved.

She was really sweet though.

Which brings me to my story today.  I love the dog.  I don't know what I ever did without her.  I dress her up, play with her, hold her, feed her a bottle.  It's crazy really.  I never thought I could care for an animal like I do this one.  So this morning I was about to feed her breakfast which consists of a fourth of a peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread with a half teaspoon of Angel Eyes(which keeps her face white).  She won't eat the Angel Eyes any other way.  And that is A-ok because, well, she is my baby.  So I sit down on the couch, where I usually do, to pinch the sandwich and feed it to her, and she won't come over to me.  She keeps twisting her head and body toward the door.  I think, well, we have a revelation and the dog needs to go potty.  So I take her out and she stands on the porch then sits on the porch.  She proceeds to look up at me.  I said, "Did you want your breakfast on the porch this morning?"  She jumped up and down and I sat down on the porch and fed her breakfast to her.  Breakfast on the porch.  Alrighty then.  Every animal deserves to be loved like my Zoe.  She found me.  She adopted me.  Thank you, my oldest, for the gift of Zoe, for she brings me great joy every day.  I am involved.  I love her.

I hope you have a fantastic day today!  Hug your loved ones a little tighter today because we don't know if we will be given another moment with them.  Thanks for reading my blog.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Becoming an Angel

Yesterday was a heartbreaking day.  A young friend of mine was taken all too soon.  Fine one day, gone the next.  Those left behind scramble to find comfort, reason, answers.  The fact is that there may be no answers this side of heaven.  Comfort will be found in the warmth of a touch, the smile of a friend, the words of someone who has experienced this kind of loss.

As memories flood back, I can't remember ever meeting her.  We grew up knowing each other.  She was a few years older than me, so we didn't run in the same crowds in the youth group, but we knew each other.  Our families were in small group Bible study together years ago and that was when we really connected.  We had common ground with trying to raise Christian boys.  We talked about educational struggles with our boys and hard decisions we made along the way concerning our children.  She and I made some of the same decisions about our boys together as we put our heads together thinking about the greater good of our children, not just what was good for the moment.  The last long conversation we had was a few weeks back when we had lunch together for folks who wanted to become World Bible School Teachers.  We were both excited about this opportunity.  We talked about how hard it is to talk to others about Jesus in person and how some people have that gift and some don't.  We both joked that we didn't have that gift, but that we could teach online.  We talked about our boys.  We talked about my oldest graduating.  We just talked...I treasure that talk.

When tragedy strikes, we wonder why?  I look at this situation and cry for her mother, for her husband, for her twin boys, for her step-daughter.  I cry for her friends, for her family, for everyone here on earth who is grieving her loss.  But I don't wonder why.  My faith tells me that God took her for a reason.  He is writing a story here that we can't see the ending yet.  We may not see the ending this side of Heaven.  Why not Her?  She was a perfect candidate for God to take.  She loved Him, she was a baptized believer, she was a faithful wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter  child of the King.  We are all here on earth in the appetizer phase of our lives.  This is not the main course, folks.  Hang on to your fork because the best is yet to come.  My friend is there.  No doubt in my mind.  She is sitting at the table of the main course.  We all want to be.  Take me too, Lord!  Come quickly.

My mind is heavy thinking of why.  Then the why not's invade my brain.  Why not a perfectly healthy woman, young, vibrant, for she is an organ donor.  Her organs can save many lives.  Possibly unbelievers.  They will have more time to come to know Jesus through this life-giving act.  My friend didn't need more time.  She knew Jesus.  Now she has met him.  Others who lay in the hospital sick with terminal disease can find the gift of time today as they receive a new organ from my friend.  A healthy organ.  God is on the throne and His message is being sent to nonbelievers in the form of organs today.  My friend lives on, and she is able to spread the Word to others, something she wanted to do and did so while she was here on earth.

Mourning is for the living.  I mourn today, not for my friend, I am excited for her, sitting at the throne of God and worshiping His Holy name.  I mourn for her family.  I am sad for those of us still on earth who my friend brought a ray of sunshine to their lives.  I am sad for her boys.  May they truly feel how proud their mom was of them.  If ever they forget, I can give them an earful.  I know because my friend and I talked about our boys a lot.  Today is a sad day here on earth.  One of God's greatest has left us to go to her eternal reward.  When we have been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we have no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun.  I am so so sad.  So heartbroken.  So lost.  Lord, Come quickly and get us all, give more time to those who need to know you and let others come to know you through my friend's gift of life.  Amen.

I have lost a friend, and heaven has gained an Angel.  Save me a seat, My Friend, I am coming!  I am going to watch over our boys.  We are raising Christian boys just like we wanted to.  You did good with your twins.  They are awesome!!  I will hug them and tell them how proud you are of them. I will comfort them as best I can.  They are good boys.  The best.  You did great.  Tell Jesus hello for me!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

No Reading for Me-A Story of Prom Hair

We made an appointment for my oldest to get her prom hair and makeup done at the local beauty school. Upon checking around, the average price for just fixing hair for an event, not even cutting it, is around $80. We are folks on a budget so this was not going to work thus we chose the local beauty school. Reasonably priced, and no cutting to be done, we felt confident in this decision.

The school told us the appointment would take 2 hours so I packed my iPad so I could read while she was getting her hair and makeup done. I also brought my camera to capture these moments on film.
We arrived and waited for our hairdresser. Time passed and our hairdresser was still busy with her previous head of hair. Being at the beauty school I began to pray for whoever was still in that chair for fear the color went awry or the cut was bad. Soon, they called us back and said "she still isn't done so we are going to let you go ahead and get started with this girl." I am from the south and a firm believer that you can say what you want to as long as you include "Bless her/his heart". The girl that was to fix my girl's prom hair had voluntarily made herself the ugliest hairdo I had ever laid eyes on bless her heart. She had shaved half her head and the rest of it she had sewn hair into and you could see where the hair had been sewn into it. It was a sight to behold. I recognized right then that I was not going to get any reading done here today lest my daughter end up with some experiment in terror that the poor hairdresser defined as an updo. And so it began...

My daughter showed the picture of the hair that she wanted and it was confirmed that it could, indeed, be done. She then proceeded to get the can of hairspray announcing that they keep that kind in stock just for her because she singlehandedly goes through cans in a day. Oh my.

Still holding out hope that some reading may be had during this time, the updo was started with the part. She parted my daughters hair just over her ear somewhat in the flavor of a bad combover. I said "oh no no no, we want to go with her natural part up here" and proceeded to show where we wanted the part to be. I also proceeded to put up my iPad resigning myself to the fact that not a word would be read today. Amen.

The teasing commenced, the hairspray blew, the announcement was made that "I don't believe in bobby pins, I just use hairspray, this hair ain't goin nowhere". Indeed it isn't. Now her hair actually was looking fabulous even though there was not a bobby pin 1 in her head and an F5 tornado was not going to move a strand of the hair. It became comical. If you tried to pick up a strand, the entire head of hair would lift up. She looked gorgeous!! Even though you could have thrown a brick at her head and it would not have damaged her skull. She even did a prom jumping picture and her hair stayed totally in place :)

On to makeup, our bless her heart girl was good at makeup. But we didn't escape hairspray. She was spraying my daughter's face with hairspray to set the makeup. What in the world?? Again, when it was finished, she looked gorgeous!!

Our experience at the beauty school was just fine. We got the outcome we desired inspite of the appearance of the gal who did the work. But, I never did get a single word read while I was just can't read while a bless her heart girl works on your girl's hair for fear that in one blink of the eye your daughter may end up half bald or with a part reminiscent of a bad combover. So the moral of the story is: Keep both eyes open when you get an updo at the beauty school! ;)

Enjoy your day! Thank you so much for reading my blog and be sure to go to the Facebook link on the right and "like" my page.

I was telling this hilarious story live and in person to a friend and he wanted to know where I get my books that I read on my iPad. Go to and set up your reading preferences and each day they will send you free or deeply discounted books to choose from. You can also set up which device you have whether it be kindle, iPad, etc. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Enjoying the Silence, and Practicing Being Still

I grew up as an only child.  I wanted more than one child so they had brothers and sisters around so that there was always noise around my home while my own children grew up.  Not because I didn't enjoy silence growing up myself but because I revel in noise.  I enjoy organized chaos.  I am a master of multitasking.  I was the child who could listen in class to everything the teacher said while I was listening to music, reading a book, looking at a magazine, and checking out the new hairdo of the person sitting in front of me.  But if you asked me a question, I could tell you in detail everything that was said or done in that class that day.  Organized chaos, I reveled in it.  So I am a perfect mom of more than one child.  God blessed me with three.  He also made me a kindergarten teacher.  I revel in that organized chaos also.  I can paint handprints, listen to a story of how your dog pooped on your carpet and your mom cleaned it up, acknowledge that one needs to go to the restroom, sharpen a pencil, write down a phone number, and keep paint off of a boutique outfit all at the same time without losing my mind.  I like noise.  I always have.  I am not a quiet person.  I recently found out I am hard of hearing in my left ear.  I am not surprised because I am such a loud person there must have been a reason.  Now I know why.  I couldn't hear too good, so I had to be loud enough to hear myself think.

Over the past 9 months I have been doing an experiment in silence.  I retired from my teaching job this past year.  I wanted to stay home with my children since my oldest was about to go to college.  I wanted to spend some extra time with my children.  I was happy with that decision.  When I came home, I turned the television off.  I have not voluntarily turned it on since.  It is the best decision I have made in a long time.  The Bible says "Be still and know that I am God."  I wonder sometimes how often I take time to be still and know that He is God.  In all the noise I get lost sometimes and fail to hear God.  So I turned some of the noise off.  There is nothing worth watching on it anyway.  I have not missed it one bit.  I have been able to hear so many other things in these 9 months that I would not have heard otherwise.  Sometimes the tv is on just for background noise.  What in the world??  Why do we need background noise?  To drown out our lives?  Are we that miserable?  I for one am not.  I do not need background noise to fill my life.  I want to fill my life with important things.

I ran a race in Atlanta a few months ago.  A total stranger came up to me and said, "I like your hair!"  I said, "Thanks!"  After a pause she came back to me again and said, "Do you run with it like that?"  I wanted to say, No, I put it in a ponytail when I run.  But I didn't give that remark.  I politely said, "Yes I do.  It is a very heat, humidity, and wind resistant hairdo for me."  I thought a lot about this conversation for days afterward.  It occurred to me that people nowadays are uncomfortable with silence.  We feel we need to fill the air with words.  The lady couldn't be content to end the conversation with she liked my hair and that be enough.  Because we were still standing there, she continued talking and ended up saying something that was a bit silly.  Why are we so uncomfortable with silence?

I challenge us all to take time to crave silence.  To enjoy silence.  To sit in a room and actually talk to our family without a television on to engage us.  It is very freeing.  Take out the background noise from your life. We don't need it.  All it does is clutter our lives with useless conversation that takes away from more important interaction with people who are important.  Be still.

Now that is a point to ponder.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One Day at a Time

I have not blogged in a bit longer than normal because I have had my head buried in Memory Lane.  I have been digging through things for graduation pomp and circumstance for my oldest daughter's high school commencement.  It has been a bit consuming.  At first it is overwhelming because some pictures are physical pictures and are in scrapbooks because that was popular years ago, then some are in boxes, then we went to digital and those pictures are on disks or on the computer.  Oh my goodness it made my head spin.  And how does one condense 18 years into 10 or less pictures when they are all so important and you took tens of thousands because she was your first??  Well, you just do.  But it takes you days to do so, and many tears along the way.  It took me three days to find one particular picture of my daughter's kindergarten graduation cap and gown.  I had the thought that I could make it into a split screen with her high school graduation picture.  That is when the waterworks commenced.  It hit me in the side of the head how fast the time flew.  One of my best friends said today that "The Days are Long but the Years are Short."  So true, so true.

Today I am reminded of one of the best Bible classes I have ever sat in and one of the best Bible teachers I have ever had the privilege to sit at the feet of.  He doesn't speak his own words, he let's God speak through him.  The reason he has this ability is because he is a broken man.  Broken people are real, they are transparent and they let God live in them and speak through them.  He taught a Bible class on how to take one day at a time. He told us exactly how to do that.

There are three parts to life:  past, present and future.  The past is gone.  We can't do anything about what has happened in the past, we can't change it, we can't get it back, we can't redo it.  If we are baptized believers living a faithful life then our future is secure.  The tomorrow that we look forward to NEVER comes.  Think about it.  When "tomorrow" gets here it is "today".  So tomorrow never comes.  So all we have is the here and now.  Right here, right now.  The reason God only gives us this moment is because he knows that if we knew our future, we would be overwhelmed.  If we could do something with our past, we would be overwhelmed.  God made us and he knew that we could only handle right here, right now.  So that is what He gave us to handle.  And yet we try to handle everything else too.  

So when you become overwhelmed think on these things:  The past is gone, we can't do anything about it.  Our future is secure, it is guaranteed.  So all we need to focus on is what is right here right now.  God gave us that much to handle because it is all we could handle.  We are His creation and He knows what we can handle.  We are the ones that take on too much thought and overwhelm ourselves.  God wants us to think about right here, right now.  The past is gone, He has secured our future.

What a wonderful feeling to know that I only have to handle my right here, right now.  Thanks so much for reading my blog!  Please leave comments below or like my page.  Go to link at the right to subscribe to my page so you will receive updates.  Have a great rest of the day!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Inner Fat Chick

Today I have a dose of my reality for you. I share these things today because I want you to know you are not alone.

Yesterday I was in Walmart looking at summer clothes and they had rearranged some things so that the plus sized clothes were where the workout clothes used to be. I didn't realize it and picked up an adorable shirt only to discover it was plus sized. I have worn plus sized clothes many times in my life. I actually thought to myself, "I could eat what I want and wear this and it's cute." My inner fat chick was coming out. I quickly had to shove her back under the covers and smother her. It is sickening to me to think that this is my day to day reality-to shove a fat mentality down on a daily basis. Shouldn't I be home free once I figure out to eat less and move more?? I guess not. Every moment I have to make up my mind that I am going to eat less and move more. When I have a bad moment and eat something I shouldn't or eat too much then I immediately start over and regroup and say to myself "I'm starting again now".

Suppressing my inner fat chick is incredibly frustrating especially when you feel like you do the right things and still gain weight or are still wanting something you shouldn't have. Distraction or drinking water, well, that works if you have will power to do them. Most times I do, but sometimes I don't and I cave.

One of the things I do to keep myself from eating things is I ask myself, "is this worth the calories?" Most of the time it is not. So many things we eat are not even all that good. But we are eating them anyway to fulfill some need we have whether it is comfort or emotion or perceived hunger or we are in a social situation and everyone else is eating and we feel we should be too. So ask yourself, "is this worth the calories?" If the answer is no then shove the inner fat chick or dude and smother her or him.

My other technique is different. If I decide to eat something I shouldn't then I say to myself "Now you have to run three miles to work that off, is it worth it?" Sometimes it is worth it and I get out there and run to work it off. Other times I refuse to eat the dessert because I don't want to do the work to maintain my weight.

Here's the deal: EVERY DAY IS A STRUGGLE. I keep up with my weight so that it won't creep back on me and one fine day I wake up overweight again. If I'm a pound or two heavy one day then I make adjustments in my eating that day and hope tomorrow will be better weigh day. I used to be anti scale. Now I bought a scale a few months ago for this very reason. So weight won't creep back. So I have an idea every day how my day needs to be. Now if you are trying to lose weight, stay off the scale!! But if you are trying to maintain, I have found it to be a good tool. If you are trying to lose weight then the scale, I have found, will be a problem in that you will give up more easily if you don't see results you want. Muscle does weigh more than fat so as you lose and get more active you will build muscle so the scale is not your friend to lose. The scale is a friend to maintain.

I share these thoughts today for validation, for reality, and for strength for another day. I hope they have helped just one person. Share my blog and leave comments below. Thanks for reading! I love to know who is reading. I have no way to know who is reading unless you comment or like my page :) Have a fabulous day and eat less and move more today!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting in Touch with your Inner Groovy-Making Your Own Fruit Arrangement

Spending money on things that don't last is not one of my favorite things to do.  So when my daughter's 18th birthday rolled around last week and she asked for an edible arrangement, I thought, well ok, she is 18, I will get her an edible arrangement.  I stuck with that plan until I went into the shop and saw the price sheet.  My diabolical mind immediately went into action to figure out how in the world could I make one?  One trip to the grocery and a few dollars later and I am ready to create my own edible arrangement.  You can make one too.

First I gathered the fruits she would want from the produce department, bought a flower shaped cookie cutter, some wooden skewers, a metal "pot" from the dollar store, a piece of floral foam to put in the pot to hold the skewers, and a tray of almond bark to dip the strawberries in to make them chocolate covered.  
 I washed the fruit then cut the apple and orange into wedges.  I dipped the wedges into sprite so that they would not turn brown.  It worked because two days later the apple wedges were still nice and pretty.  I dipped the strawberries into the almond bark after melting it according to the package directions.  I opened the pineapple and cut the circle pieces into flower shapes using the flower cookie cutter I bought at the grocery store.  When you finish cutting the pineapples into flower shapes, stick the skewer into it and through the center hole.  Fill the center hole with a grape and it makes an adorable flower with a grape center.  I also cut a number 1 and a number 8 freehand from pineapple for the arrangement.  After I stuck each piece of fruit on a skewer, I trimmed some of the skewers lower than others so the arrangement would be pleasing to the eye.  The arrangement lasted and was fresh until it was all eaten in about 24 hours.  Sprite worked beautifully to keep the fruit fresh.  Here is a picture of the finished product.  I put a dab of Easter grass in the bottom of the pot just to make it look pretty.  Voila!!  For a fraction of the price of an edible arrangement, she got an edible arrangement.

Of course if you want to order an edible arrangement, they do have a website :)
Theirs are very nice and beautiful.  I would love to have bought one, but I am a woman on a budget.  They have an arrangement for every occasion and a nice catalog to pick out of.

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Love!  I can't believe you are 18.  I can believe you are beautiful, you are smart, you are kind, compassionate, you are a Christian.  I am proud.

Get in touch with your inner groovy with this project!  Thanks so much for reading my blog.  Please leave comments if you are so inclined.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Being Authentic Part 2

Being authentic involves realizing you are not perfect and neither is anyone else no matter what kind of persona they like to present. It is incredibly freeing to admit and advertise your lack of perfection. I like to put an amusing spin on things that happen. After all, if we don't laugh about life then we would all sit around crying. I choose to laugh. Your attitude is key to living an authentic life. You will feel trapped if you try to keep putting on an air of perfection.

I love a picture that one of my friends posted on social media today. They posted a picture of their mound of laundry that needed to be folded and characterized it as "Art Deco Laundry Sculpture". Folks, that is a real example of living an authentic life. All of us have a mound of laundry just like my friend, but I pillow my head tonight knowing I am not alone in the struggle to keep up with washing and folding. So many don't feel free to post everyday life. It keeps it real, makes others feel a sense of commonality, and helps us realize we are not alone. Not just with laundry but with life.

For years I have mentioned that I was out for Mother of the Year. One day I may be in for serving donuts for dinner, another day I may be out for forgetting I told my daughter I would come eat lunch at school with her. The fact is that the illustrious status of Mother of the Year is a tedious honor that walks a very thin rope. One minute you are a shoe in for saving the science project from certain doom when your son's volcano erupts and the lava is melting the paint but you swoop in with your mother of the year cape on and save the day by helping touch up the paint. The next minute you are out because you forgot today was 4-h and you didn't make muffins with your daughter. Own it. The fact of the matter is that we all are Mother of the Year in our child's eyes. Even though we fail and succeed on a daily basis.

Admitting you aren't perfect is like releasing the valve on a pressure cooker. It's just too much effort to try to be perfect. Embrace your imperfection and share it with other imperfect people. Putting an amusing spin on everyday life is just like smiling: it's contagious. Let's create an epidemic.

Now that is a point to ponder.

Tool Belt Diva Report

Once upon a time there was a lovely family who bought their adorable son a basketball goal for his birthday. Realizing that basketball goals are very durable, they cemented it 3 feet into the ground and then filled the post full of concrete just for extra posterity. What the family underestimated was the ingenuousness of a bored son.

A year later the son was bored one afternoon and decided that the backstop was a lovely target for shooting hockey pucks and BB's. Mortified, the son did not tell anyone that he had not only shot holes in the backstop but also shot hockey pucks through it. Sadly for the boy, the mom had not just fallen off the turnip truck and noticed right away that the backstop was compromised.

Another year later, the family was still trying to figure out how to get the goal down. The mother tied a chain to the goal thinking she could pull it down with her truck. Well she did but the stump that was full of concrete still remained. After several months of pondering, a contractor was called and his only suggestion was call a bobcat and have them lift it. Well there is more than one way to skin a cat so the Tool Belt Diva borrowed a sawzall. Since it was battery powered, it wasn't strong enough to saw through the heavy metal and concrete. Each day, the mom went out with a hack saw and worked little by little on the hideous eyesore. After 5 days of sawing(the mom works out so apparently is stronger than a sawzall) the Tool Belt Diva noticed she had compromised the integrity of the metal enough to possibly push it with the truck. The truck was put into 4 wheel drive and driven ever so gingerly up to the post. Then with one push of the gas, the score was as follows:

Stump of a Basketball Goal: 0
Tool Belt Diva: 1

The mom proceeded to put the truck in park and get out to admire her handiwork then jumped up and down with arms in the air looking around just hoping a neighbor was looking out the window to admire the handiwork to no avail. The Tool Belt Diva is a "Can Do" kind of girl.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Learning Sign Language

I have never been a lobbyist.  I have never picketed anything.  I have never been a part of a peaceful demonstration.  I have my opinions, and everyone is entitled to hear my opinions and make them their own, but I have never openly gotten involved in a "cause".  Until now.  The situation with my oldest daughter and her hearing has kicked me to the core and helped me realize what a real need there is in our community.  Do you realize there are exponentially more people who know Spanish and French than there are who can casually communicate it sign language?  I never thought about it.  Out of sight out of mind, I suppose.  We do not live in Spain or Mexico, and we don't live in France, but here in the United States more people can speak those foreign languages that can communicate with a hard of hearing or deaf person.  I can only imagine how dark their world is when the world can't talk to them and they can't talk to the world.

Since I can't change anyone except myself, I decided to learn sign language along with my oldest daughter who has been a lip reader her whole life.  We got a book and DVD and off we go.  I have been working on this for about a week now, and my goal for this week was to learn enough to say hello and "make nice" with the deaf and hard of hearing community that I am driving to an educational event this afternoon.  Goal accomplished.

Wednesday I was in Sears and saw a young man who was clearly deaf.  He had cochlear implants.  I walked up to him and said hello in sign.  Then I said, My name is J.  J was good enough for a name for myself for now because I didn't have time to learn my whole name in sign.  He lit up like a Christmas tree when I talked to him in his language.  I rest my case...  He said His name was_____.  I said what I thought was Nice to meet you.  His interpreter corrected me and said, "No, you just told him it was nice to divorce him."  WHOOPS!!  The young man laughed and I laughed and the interpreter showed me how to sign Nice to meet you.  One finger off and you have a whole new meaning in sign.    I went on my way very pleased to be able to converse with this young man when three weeks ago, I would have not thought another thing of it, would have continued my shopping and he would have continued on his way.  I ran into that young man again out it the parking lot and he (with a large smile) signed, "Nice to see you."  I signed nice to see you back to him.  My life is complete.

Wednesday I went to my first sign language class.  Needless today I was as lost as a BB in a boxcar.  But I picked up a few words, and next week I will pick up a few more. is a fabulous website to learn sign language.  There are also books that can help you learn.

The Sign Club Co. is the local not for profit organization that's goal is to create a community of casual signers as well as bring awareness to the community about abuse of the deaf and hard of hearing.  Like them on Facebook.

I hope today that I get my signs right, but if I don't, it is just alrighty!!  Because the fact of the matter is that I had the courage to try.  Let's all be lifelong learners and learn something new today.  I have a long way to go with my sign language, but I am determined to learn it and make one more person in this community that can talk to those who can't hear.  Maybe this time next week I can be Jen.  Then I can be Jenni.  Then I will finally be Jennifer.  I don't care what they call me, I just want them to call me.  Today, I am J.

Now that is a point to ponder!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Autism, Special Education, and ADHD Awareness Month

The month of April has been set aside to bring awareness to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Special Education, and Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity.  All of these important words have significance in my life.  I vow to bring awareness to all of them and bring us all together to appreciate all people and all of their special talents.

When your children are born, no one expects to sit across a table and have someone say to them, "Your child has Autism".  No one wants to hear "Your child would benefit from services provided in the special education program."  No one wants to hear, "We have eliminated all other possibilities and your child meets enough criteria to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder."  I have a degree in Elementary Education.  I have had the college level classes on all of these diagnosis.  I have sat at a table when I have had to tell a parent each one of these phrases as an educator.  But let me tell you this:  NOTHING that I learned in college, or as a teacher prepared me to hear these words about my own child.  After all, my children are perfect in my eyes.  I thought I would birth the straight A student, the honor roll kid, the valedictorian, the quarterback of the football team, the star soccer player, the softball player with the full ride scholarship, didn't you think you would birth these children?  I was taught so much more by my children about what "perfect" really is.  For this, I am grateful.

If you are unaware of my oldest daughter's situation, go back and read the blog post titled Witnessing a Modern Day Miracle.  Two different times, in the second grade and again in the sixth grade I was told that she should be held back.  I knew that it would damage her self esteem and that her academics would be in no better condition by repeating than being moved to the next grade with her friends.  It was a gut feeling, but in the end, my gut was right.  Had I allowed them to hold my daughter back, she may very well have ended up dropping out of school or had such low self image that she would have never recovered.  The fact is that the school was judging my daughter's ability to climb a tree when she was actually a fish and was good at swimming.  Had I played into the school's hand of cards, the outcome would have been so different than it is.  My daughter was diagnosed with a language processing learning disability in which we were told she could not get to her hand what was being processed in her head to write it down on a piece of paper when in reality, she couldn't hear what was being said so it took her so long to process and piece together what had been said in to something that made sense.  In the meantime she was labeled "stupid", or "special ed", or "dumb blonde".  So many times over the years I wanted to bang my fist on the table and ask if they noticed how intelligent my girl was, or how great a Christian young lady she was, or what a great friend to others she was?  All the while we judge others on the world's scale when we need to be judging on God's scale and accepting everyone and their rainbow of differences.  Instead it seems that we judge everyone based on the world's scale and expect all the fish and the squirrels to climb the tree exactly the same.

We all need to realize that no one is dumb.  That we all are varying degrees of smart.  After all, God made us all perfectly the way He wanted us to be.  Autistic, Learning Disabled, Attention Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity:  these are all labels created by man to describe people who don't seem to be able to climb trees like the squirrels can.  Indeed, we should put the squirrels in the pool and see how well they can swim.

Now that is a point to ponder.

During the month of April, Awareness Month for labels that man has created for our fish who can't climb trees well, let us all take time to realize that all are smart.  Let us teach our children to not only be proud of straight A's, but to be more proud of our work ethic.  Let us appreciate the colorful world that God made with all sorts of birds, fish, cattle, etc.  And let us never judge a cow on it's ability to fly, or a squirrel on it's ability to swim.  Only then will we create this awareness that we so desire.

Please look at this you tube video.  Copy and paste it in your browser.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Saying Goodbye to a Lifelong Friend

I went to a funeral today.  I said goodbye to a family friend that I can't ever remember not knowing.  My heart sunk when I heard she had passed, and then the memories started flooding my mind.  I was Peanut to them.  I don't remember why and it doesn't even matter.  What matters is that I was important enough to have a pet name.  I never went to their house growing up that there was not a fresh cookie offered to me in the kitchen.  They had red and white checked curtains hanging in that kitchen and dark paneling throughout the living room and kitchen.  Love was spoken at that house.  When I ran in as a small child I was always greeted with a "Hi Jenny" from Miss Kathleen, and Uncle Dillon would always greet me with "Hi Peanut".  I don't know if they greeted my parents or not, all I know is I felt special when I walked into their home. Very few called me Jenny and no one else called me Peanut.  They were names reserved only for those who originally called me that and from anyone else's mouth it didn't sound right.  I can hear both their voices now in my head like it was yesterday.

Even though they were my parents age, even a year younger, their children were older.  A girl and a boy.  I thought they hung the moon.  They were teenagers when I was little and that was a big deal.  When we would visit, their kids were going out with friends and driving and stuff.  That was so cool.  I watched every step they made.  They were my idols.  Someday maybe I would be a teenager like they were and drive and have friends like they did.  When they would leave for the evening, Uncle Dillon and I would play checkers while he sat in the recliner reared back with a pipe in his teeth.  It smelled SO good.  He had so many different pipes and they were so super cool.  He also chewed on cigars.  I fell in love with the smell of pipe tobacco at that house because of the man who smoked it.  I loved him so I loved that smell.

They had a golf cart.  Their very own golf cart.  Isn't that just the coolest??

Miss Kathleen always had her Bible with her.  I noticed.

We would go eat lunch after church at Morrison's Cafeteria.  I always ordered a corn stick.  I always enjoyed the conversation at the table.  I was never made to feel like the kid. I was always included in the conversation that was always about something good and right and noble.  I never heard anyone talking about anyone else.  We would go eat catfish in Ashland City sometimes.  Now that was super cool too.

When I was 8, their daughter got married and I was the flower girl.  Another big deal. I dropped rose petals along the aisle as I walked.

 One day I was sitting on the couch and the phone rang.  My mom looked like something bad happened.  Their son had been in a motorcycle accident.  The news was not good.  Intensive care, life support, head injury. I remember sitting at their house and watching as Christian people grieve.  I learned that you aren't supposed to outlive your children.  I learned the steps of grieving.  I learned that you never really recover from losing a child.  I learned that your faith makes you whole.  I saw it.  I know it from them.  Somehow I was a comfort for them for many years to come.  They loved me like I was their own.

My uncle passed away and my parents had to go to Virginia for the funeral.  It was the only time my parents ever left me overnight in my life.  I stayed with Miss Kathleen and Uncle Dillon.  It was like they had left me at Disneyworld.  I had the best time ever for those two nights.  Uncle Dillon played with me and Miss Kathleen had yummy things for me to eat and she took care of me.  I was sad when my parents came back just because I had had such a wonderful time.  Every parent loves it when their children have fun while they are away because they are able to leave them with people who love them.

When I got married my husband started playing golf with Uncle Dillon.  How cool is that?  Lifelong friends.  Nothing beats it.  Someone in your life who you never remember not knowing.  You don't remember when you met them because you never did, they just were always there.  Lifelong friends who live in the promised land now.  Lifelong friends who are sitting with their son now and are catching up on the in's and out's of Heaven.  No more pain, no more sorrow, no more crying.  I want to go.

I bet St. Peter had to go get Uncle Dillon off the golf course to let them know his wife was entering the pearly gates.  Hal rode in on his motorcycle to greet his mom and welcome her to paradise.  God said well done my good and faithful servant.

Funerals are for the living.  I am excited for Miss Kathleen.  She is where we all want to be.  Saying goodbye to a lifelong friend, someone who always made me feel special.  Save me a seat, Miss Kathleen.  I love you.  I want to sit by you and Uncle Dillon and Hal.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Coconut Oil Demystified, and a Healthy Recipe!

Revisiting the topic of Coconut Oil, I would like to go over what I do with it and define what a "chaw" is.  I have had more than a dozen people ask me in person or by text message to clarify.  Honestly, I am just simply amazed at how many people are reading and using the things in my blog.  I am just a regular person doing regular things.  I am so flattered that others like my stuff.  If you missed the blog about coconut oil and apple cider vinegar put either term in the search bar at the right of the blog and it will come up.

Here is how much I define as a "chaw".
When I get up in the morning, before I brush my teeth, I get this much coconut oil, let it dissolve in my mouth and swish it for about 3-5 minutes.  It has no flavor and melts at 73 degrees so it melts in your mouth very quickly.  After swishing, I spit it out.  This kills all toxins that build up in your mouth overnight as well as gets rid of and prevents tartar buildup on your teeth.  When I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago, the hygienist did not scrape my teeth at all.  I felt amazing going in and just getting a quick lookover then getting polished, patted on the head and sent on my merry way.

2-3 other times during the day I get this size chaw of coconut oil and eat it.  Sometimes I just swallow it before it melts, and sometimes I let it melt in my mouth then swallow it.  The benefit here is it gives you energy and it is super good for your body.  Coconut oil is not stored in the body as fat.  It is excreted.  Other oils and crisco are stored as fat in the body.  This is one way I keep my body fat index low.
Coconut oil can be purchased locally as mentioned in the previous blog post, and also online from the link below.  Either one of these is good, but Nutrasource has the better price and you can order your Apple Cider Vinegar from the same place. :)

Apple Cider Vinegar needs to be unfiltered.  Makes it nastier to stomach!!  Seriously, it does need to be unfiltered.  All I can bear to consume is one tablespoon per day.  However, if you have an iron stomach, it is great to take a tablespoon before you eat each meal.  It curbs your appetite.  It really works.  But it sure is gross.  I am working up to a tablespoon each time I eat.  I know why it is good for curbing the appetite: because it is so gross it makes you not want to eat.  Seriously, it balances the ph in your body and somehow curbs your cravings.  Who knows, really.  Google it if you want to know the real reasons, but for me, it works and I don't really care why  :)  It can also be purchased locally, but if you are an online shopper, here is a link to purchase it also.

Tonight I tried a new recipe that was divine and was loved by everyone in the family, even the children. My aunt gave me this recipe while I was visiting there a few months ago. I thought some of you may enjoy it as well.  It is egg salad which is very good for you, has a lot of protein and also gives you the stinkiest gas you have ever hoped for in your life.  However, that is another great benefit of Apple Cider Vinegar.  It actually cuts down dramatically and even eliminates that pesky gas passing tendency we all get from eating eggs, beans, etc.  So here is the recipe for the egg salad.  I also made a black bean and corn salad to serve on the side.  YUMMY!!

Egg Salad

1/3 c. mayo
1T mustard
1/8 t crushed red pepper
8 hard boiled eggs
1/2 c. chopped green onions
flour tortillas
cooked thick cut bacon

Mix mayo, mustard, and red pepper in medium bowl until blended.  Stir in eggs and onion.  Top Tortilla with lettuce, egg salad and bacon.  Fold up and enjoy!

On the left is Black bean and Corn Salad, on the Right is Egg Salad.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
chopped scallions 
chopped cilantro
Tuscan Italian dressing

Now this recipe is my own and I just throw some stuff in the bowl. I suppose I would guess 1/4 cup dressing.  Throw it all in the bowl and stir it up.  Yum Yum!!  I eat this by itself for lunch.  Low cal, high protein, and yummy!  Can't beat it with a stick.

One piece of bacon won't kill anyone and won't make anyone gain 5 pounds.  It is when we eat the whole pound or several pieces that it becomes a problem.  So enjoy the piece of bacon on this dish.  I know I did. Remember, eat what you want, just not a lot of it.

Thank you so much for reading my blog.  I am enjoying writing it so much and am humbled by the growing reader base.  Please share with your friends and subscribe to email updates on the right of the blog post.  I have a lot of stuff rolling around in my head right now to write about.  I am super excited to share my thoughts.  After all, everyone is entitled to my opinion, right??  
Now that is a point to ponder.