30 Aug

To those who know me, it is no shock I try to live on the bright side of life.

Yes, there are disappointments and challenges, but I have always thought that it is those moments that tell the true strength of your character.

While I live a very blessed life, I don’t have it all and never will. Some days are just plain rotten, but it is not just what happens to you. It is how you react to it and how you influence the world around you.

Sadly, I think it is the society we live in today. People become very absorbed in their life as they see it. The perspective of the whole is lost.

Recently, I found out that someone had been talking about me behind my back. It felt like I was punched in the gut. Did they have no other outlet, than to run their mouth? Did it make them feel better? What did they think they would accomplish?

My first roommate, other than my own siblings, had a negative outlook on life. She would exclaim that her life was ‘in shambles’ if anything went wrong (or more correctly – not according to her plans). If life went as planned, I think there would be a few more millionaires, and a lot less homeless in the streets. Life is unpredictable.

I know I can’t control people and their attitudes and behavior. I am never going to be able to. I just wish I could make them realize what they are missing out on, with the perma-scowl, breathy huff and the constant negativity.

At some point, something will change, and it will most likely be me, walking away.


Anaphylaxis (and other great ways to spend your afternoon)

29 Aug

Every year, my work plans a group outing. The ‘outing’ is part team building and part fun activity, with a side of a free lunch and possibly cocktails.

This year, it was canoeing. Even through we were going down a river with an excessive amount of portaging around  (and through!) downed trees, I was looking forward to it. It was time out of the four walls we call our office, so I called it good.

For the team building part – we had to successfully navigate through the waters.  Check.

For the fun activity – I had a mojito. Check.

For the unexpected – I was stung by a bee as we we pulling the canoes out of the water. And, check.

Now, I am allergic to bees, which explains my obsessive avoidance of them at all costs since my last sting, at the age of 10. It was then that I was diagnosed as ‘allergic’. Apparently, where I was stung swelled to comically appropriate size and required medical attention. I am hazy on all the details – but when I got stung on the back of my leg that day, I wasn’t quite sure how I would respond.

I made it back to my car and decided it would be best to seek medical advice, if not assistance, to decide what to do. After all, I had to pick up my monkeys from the sitter, as The Man was working late.

Me: Hi, I’ve been stung by a bee in the back of my leg and I am allergic. I haven’t been stung in 19 years, so I am not sure if I need to come in, or just take some Benadryl.

(Totally expecting them to say – take some Benadryl and call us after you wake up from your drowsy allergy med haze)

Them: You need to come in immediately.

Me: But, I need to pick up my kids.

Them: Forget them, and come in now.*

It was at this point that I started to freak out. So I did what any normal person would do – I started crying (somewhat from the pain, which was now radiating through my whole leg) and then called my Dad. I started rattling on, crying, what had happened, the call with the nurse, the kids needing to be picked up, when he abruptly stops me and says uh, your Mom would know more, let me get her.

I appreciate the dry run he gave me to perfect my spiel when my Mom comes on the line, when I happen upon the crossroads to turn and either go to:

A. The sitters house

B. The emergency room

C. Walgreens to get an immediate dose of Benadryl to help until I have the kids (Thanks Mom!)

I head to Walgreens (should I say local pharmacy instead?) and it is at this exact moment I realize I am sitting in my truck wearing nothing but my swimming suit from the canoe trip yet. Luckily, I packed a sundress in my bag – and quickly threw it on in the parking lot. I limp all the way to the back of the store (why is the pharmacist hidden all the way in the back? No I won’t buy any of the merchandise I have to walk by – I am only coming for ONE THING!) Shakily I tell the pharmacist what I need, and they even help me open the packaging and remind me, again…I need to go to the Emergency Room.

I limp back to the truck, then race on to get my kids. At this point I felt a little bit better, knowing I had a dose of something, even if it does nothing, it showed good effort, right?

At the sitters, I walk in and do what most normal people do – start crying immediately. I barely choked my words out, and we were back in my car and she was driving me straight to the emergency room.

(See, nurse, I did make it back!)

Three hours later, and an undisclosed amount of money yet to be billed, I am the proud new owner of an Epi-Pen. Do you want to see it?

*Dramatized for effect, but what I actual interpreted.

The Boy Who Didn’t Want Any Presents…

6 Aug

Today, my oldest son will turn six. It just so happens to also be his golden birthday. When asked earlier this week, what he wanted for his birthday he replied – nothing.

He doesn’t want any presents.

The boy who always finds something at the store every. single. time. Doesn’t want one single thing.

Happy Birthday to Wolverine!

Miles (not mission) completed!

3 Aug

Do you know what they say about New Orléans? Their tourism brand tagline is ‘Your Different Here’.

In the elevator at 3:45am, on our way to check out of the hotel and head to the airport, I told The Man I do not agree completely with that tagline.

Yes, New Orléans is an amazing city. It’s history, arts, architecture, culture and who can forget the culinary side (I know I didn’t!), it is amazing. It is like being in a completely different country. With the exception that Arby’s – in a completely standard French Quarter building – stood just across the street from our hotel. (Note: I did not eat at Arby’s during our time there.)

The view from our room - overlooking the French Quarter.

But, when we stepped off the elevator to find a lobby littered with Arby’s Curly Fries (I guess some people do go, apparently), saw a crowd of people posing for drunken photos in the large fountain and patrons still sat laughing and talking loudly at the hotel bar, my point had been made for me.

Me: Wow. This is exactly what I was saying in the elevator.

The Man: What?

Me: You aren’t just different here. You are drunk here.

And, yes we were.

Well, of course I went for work, so a majority of the time (Hi Boss!) was spent in educational sessions, at the trade show and networking diligently with my peers. But do you know what? Networking with peers also occurred on Bourbon Street. In fact, it was at a special networking event that I had my first Hurricane’s and my first bloody mary oyster shooter with my first ever pickled okra, on a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street. It was really delicious – but it could have also been the side effects of the Hurricane’s.

The world will just never know.

We sang Karaoke at a bar called the Cat’s Meow, and had a blast singing and dancing. Our drinks were never empty but, perhaps we should have eaten dinner. Nevermind, the oyster shooter and pickled okra totally count as dinner.

In the mornings, I would summon my most angry of angry glares to look at The Man, all cozy in the wonderfully over-sized king bed, as I trudged sideways to the bathroom. I had to get up and go to work – while he got to sleep off the night before and spend the day sightseeing. I was just a tiny bit jealous.

Through the joys of social media – I would see him gallivanting through the city. I was happy to see him up and enjoying himself, honestly. It was better than him watching the clock and getting angry eyes for me, and he also scoped out the area and knew where we were going each night.

Things like…

Beer tasting at a local brewery...

The original muffaletta from Central Grocery...

Did you know they serve Hand Grenades here?

The last day in town, was our only full day together and we took full advantage. We stopped at Cafe Du Monde for beignets (where we were asked if we were on our honeymoon – they looked shocked when we told them we have been married for seven years). We took a cooking class, which was awesome (and again, we were asked if we were on our honeymoon)! Then, somewhere between where we should of had lunch and the rest of the night, we got lost in a dark bar at the bottom of tall glasses filled with hurricanes. It goes without saying we were asked again, if we were honeymooners.

I guess we looked happy.

Round One!

We spent the majority of the last day sucking back sweet (yet, dangerous) drinks at the original Pat O’Brien’s. Until this trip – I thought it was a chain restaurant/bar that was Irish. Little did I know it originated in New Orléans, and they in fact created the sweet concoction that had treated me so well during my trip.

Ummm, round (cough, cough) I don't remember...

We took full advantage of the time in New Orléans, going to the full extent of not sleeping before leaving (probably a mistake). As we made our bleary-eyed way to the taxi, past the discarded curly fries and random intoxicated strangers, we took one last look at the city.

The only way to say goodbye to NOLA - with a glass of bubbly overlooking the French Quarter...

A city that has been rocked by mother nature.

A city that lives content with its way of life.

A city like no other.

It was a great trip. I can’t wait to go back.

One more mile…

29 Jun

Do you know what 1630 miles feels like? With 13 people, driving straight through?

Or what 2,782 miles feels like? By yourself, on multiple planes, over your 7th wedding anniversary and your birthday?

I do.

I have spent so much time traveling lately, for fun and for work, that I have not had any time to write here. So, instead, I created a fun little graphic that shows an artist rendering on my state hopping activities. Afterall, pictures are a ton more fun to look at.

No applause is necessary, for my AMAZING graphic skills...

(I feel kind of bad for neglecting the east and west coasts…oh well, next trip!)

Because I left for my first trip in early May, and Trip #1 and Trip #2 are already completed, let me entertain you in bullet form and photos of highlights from my trips…

Things I learned during/from trip #1 –

  1. It always takes longer to get there, than it does to get home.
  2. Becoming a vet requires a lot of time and effort and money. Congrats to my little sister for making it through – and getting a job!🙂
  3. Being in the vehicle with all the kids is not as much as fun as one might think…in fact anyone who thinks it is fun is messed up.
  4. Places that are mountainous are very unaware of the steep grade of their roads and driveways.
  5. Fun fact – scorpions are non-lethal in Tennessee, but that doesn’t make them any less scary.
  6. A pack of coyotes attacking its prey in the valley near-by was a very awesome and frightening experience.
  7. Tubing can be fun, despite water temperatures being in the 50’s. After your butt goes numb, you can laugh about it. And, laugh as other people in your party get stuck by rocks and roots.
  8. Brakes are extremely helpful when trying to get down from the top elevation point. Not so much on the way up though.
  9. Said-brakes will smoke and smell if you don’t shift into a lower gear.
  10. A group of people wearing orange shirts attempting to do a photo-opp will create a scene.
  11. Moving someone cross-country is a lot of work. No, scratch that, the distance doesn’t matter. Moving someone is a lot of work.
  12. Despite our youngest son, Crash, being a souvenir from Orlando, no children will have the nickname Knoxville…

Crash really doesn't have any fear...(the rocks were huge!)

The Smoky Mountains really were smoky...

Things I learned during/from trip #2 –

  1. It is amazing how great friends can just pick right up where they left off. Even more amazing, is getting to meet a dear friends children and hang out with their family, while missing yours back home.
  2. My midwestern body is not equipped to handle temperatures of 94 degrees – at 11:30 p.m.
  3. Swimming (or rather standing/laying in the water interacting) with Beluga Whales, named Otis and Luna is eye-opening.
  4. Making guacamole table side is the only way it should ever be done. (And served with a Prickly Pear Margarita – and calling it lunch, would be preferred!)
  5. I remembered the Alamo.
  6. Learning to read Spanish, while reading a recipe for Chocolate Flan was pretty cool. (And the dessert was delicious, too.)

    I'm touching sharks...in this particular case, size doesn't matter!

What are you doing on your summer vacation?

Lost: Patience, Perspective and perhaps the entirety of my sanity

2 May

Lately, I’ve been sweating a lot of the small stuff. I’m missing the big picture.

If I were to be any other item, I think it would be a match. Quick to ignite, and then quickly cool off – if I don’t catch on anything else before then.

My patience has taken a vacation. I hope it went somewhere nice. I really need to get it to come back. This weekend, while many parts were wonderful, many were pock-marked by outbursts. Mine. The monkey’s. The Man’s.

I hate yelling, especially over the dumbest things (like to just get the monkey’s to listen!). I hate repeating myself 98,553 times, just to tell them to get their shoes on or to complete a simple chore.

Is this the way it is? Seriously? Is this the way child-raising has to be?

Or, are my expectations out of line with where they should be?

And of course, the cherry on top this weekend, was as it was winding down, I got a bath started. The Monkey’s hopped in, and I got them settled, then went about my tasks, getting ready for the week. I went to put the art supplies away, and stepped in a puddle in the dining room. I huffed, somebody spilled their juice. Went and got something to clean it up, and went back to prepping for the week. I checked on the boys and they were fine. Then, back to the kitchen.

Not even two minutes later, I head back to the bathroom, to wrap up  bath time. I come around the corner to a flying cup of water, and a floor covered in standing water.

I lost my cool. (Parent of the year, over here)

I quickly dried the monkey’s off, and sent them to their room. Scolding. Yelling. Beyond frustrated.

They cried and went to bed quickly after getting dressed.

Then the house fell quiet.

And, the guilt kicks in.

I don’t want to be that monster. Yelling over water? Really?

I’m pathetic.

So, in case I was in the running for mother of the year, there are no worries now. The honor can go to a mom who doesn’t yell about shoes, not running in the parking lot of a busy store, and a few cups of spilled water out of the tub.


And, in case I didn’t feel bad enough…As I was writing this post, my dad called. He asked where everyone was (since he could tell the very OBVIOUS silence, since I was holed up in my room with the door shut). I told him what happened, in tears, as I listened to him laugh on the other end of the line. He kept reminding me he remembers a little girl who would do the same things…and ended the conversation saying “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.”

I need to get my sh*t together.

Roughly 4,015* days…

1 May

Roughly 4,015 days ago, The Man and I made it official. It being, whatever our relationship was.

I wasn’t big on labels for relationships at the time. I thought that a label might wreck what we have going on. (Don’t laugh, it made sense to the 17-year-old me.)

He asked me out for weeks before I said yes. I didn’t say no because I didn’t like him (obviously, since we are still together). I didn’t say yes, because he was my best friend. How could someone who I felt so completely comfortable around, be the same person who gave me goosebumps just with his touch?

Since I had impeccable taste in boys at the time (*ahem* not the best judgement *ahem*), there was something completely different about The Man when compared to the rest of my dating pool. I mean, I have written about some of them here (like ‘Hank’), and they weren’t horrible people. I mean, there was one horrible person, and some horrible “things” but it wasn’t like they were serial killers. Um, maybe. I didn’t fact check it today, so maybe they are serial killers or puppy-kickers, but I am not looking now…


The Man was pretty much the complete opposite of every other boy I had dated. He was nice to me. He cared about me. He actually listened to me when I talked. He didn’t stare mindlessly at my boobs…oh, wait…nevermind. Regardless, he was first and foremost a friend. A friend who I spent hours and hours with every day.

When we first started hanging out every night, it was for a reason. We worked together, and we often met to do homework and then prepare work projects. Our nights would usually end watching television in his room. Shows like The Simpsons or Gargoyles were pretty typical background noise. But, the night was winding down when we watched this…

Then, the relationship started taking a turn for something more. I started to like him, more than just friends.  In December, we both were involved in an event. Because, I was in charge of counting the money at the end of the night, I was always the last to leave. Everyone filtered out to the post party, but he waited for me. He stood at the top of the stairs, and I was never more happy to see him waiting. There is a picture of us from that night, taken around 2:00 a.m., that I still have. We are spooning in a recliner, it seems ridiculous, but I knew something was starting.

In January we were at a dance. That night, someone was shoved into him (it was the late 90’s early 2000’s – people were ‘moshing’ – do they still do this?) and it broke the large sunglasses on his face (that matched his 70’s ivory white leisure suit – um, this made sense then) and cut his cheek, just below his eye. As the blood ran down his face, he ran to the bathroom. I followed to make sure he was okay.

In March, we were in the play ‘Death of a Salesman’ together. It was during that play, when we spent even more of our free time together that something sparked. We sat slumped down in the theater during rehearsals, next to each other. But, I was dating someone else.

It didn’t take long and it finally dawned on me. There was something distinctly different about The Man. It was then, as I passed notes back and forth with a friend, that I realized why.

All of the other boys I have brought home to meet my parents (a requirement before dating, although I found a few loopholes…) I felt embarrassed by. Perhaps that doesn’t explain it correctly. I didn’t feel comfortable having that guy around my family. There was just an unspoken vibe that make it awkward. At the time, I thought that was normal.  The Man made me feel something indescribable.

On April 15, after the post-party for the play, he drove me home. We sat in the shadows of the street light in my parents drive-way talking. It was then, that The Man leaned in and asked, with a nervous tone, if he could kiss me. We moved closer, and our lips met. I will never forget that kiss.

Finally, on May 1, I said yes.

And, I’m so glad I did.

*Mostly an estimate,  because I can’t figure out if we had a leap year in the last eleven years, to warrant additional days…