Bye Bye My Sweet, Sweet Soda

If you know me in real life, or follow me on Twitter, you know I struggle with my love of (addiction to) Coke-Cola and Pepsi. Regular full strength sugar, no Diet for me. I love the taste. I love the pick-me-up. I am not only addicted to the caffeine but also the sugar and fizz. And now that I have tried the new Pepsi version made with real sugar instead of corn syrup – I know I am actually addicted to the High Fructose Corn Syrup, because the real sugar just does not taste as good to me. I love the syrupy sweetness of HFCS. But I do know and understand how bad it is for me and have been trying to quit drinking it. All that extra sugar ruining my diet. Carbonation stretching my stomach. Chemicals doing God knows what to my Liver & Kidneys. I have seen Coke clean battery acid off my husband’s truck battery. I know this cannot possibly be good for me in any way and have read of the addictiveness of sugar. Heck, I live it. Then when my mother recently had a scare with her kidneys, I really wanted to cut it out of my life. At first I was just limiting myself to one a day. Or only when I eat out. But some days I would slip and have three. I know it has to go completely. Even one soda a day puts me over my sugar consumption and calorie goals and I do not lose any weight. I’ve even read that the carbonation is bad for my asthma. I have tried quitting a number of times. I usually only make it 2-4 days tops before I go back to that sweet deliciousness that makes me happy and keeps the headaches away.

This time, I actually feel like it is going to be different. I think I had my “ah-ha” moment finally. We were at my 9-year-old son’s baseball game last Thursday. There were two families sitting next to us that had a bunch of little kids walking around & playing in front of us. This tiny little boy (about the size of mine when they were 6 months old, but I had tall babies) was maybe 2 years old (because he could walk & talk) is standing in front of us with a Mountain Dew can tipped up, all the way back just guzzling it as fast he could. It looked SO WRONG! It looked as wrong to me as if he’d had a cigarette in his mouth. I was thinking how proud I was that we never let our kids have soda and even today at 9 & 12, they don’t drink it at all unless they might try orange soda at a birthday party where they aren’t offering any non-pop alternatives. I was so glad we had made that healthy decision for our children. They’ve never wanted pop. They drink water or fruit juice or Lemonade, which do also have sugar but not all the other chemical ingredients. My youngest had a taste of my Coke one time and thought it was disgusting. I am so glad. There are plenty of junk foods they love that can give them obesity, at least I don’t have to worry about that one right. So as I am thinking this, then a little girl from the other family finished off a can of Pepsi and asks her mom for another one. Thankfully the Mom tells her No, that it is too close to bedtime. This little girl was a tiny pale skinny thing, maybe 4 or 5 years old; cute as could be. But the sight of these small children drinking these sodas shocked me. I don’t know why, I know that other people let their kids drink pop. Not a bid deal. Everyone’s choice to parent how they see fit. But they were so young and in that moment it looked like a bid deal to me and it made me think. Why am I putting something in my body, that I absolutely don’t want my children putting into theirs? Do I care so little about myself that it makes it ok for me to put junk in my body and ruin my own health? Don’t I want the best for myself, same as I want for my kids? How can I tell them its wrong if I do it myself?

And so there you have it. I have now made it through day 5 of soda-free living. Coke replaced with green tea, cranberry juice and more water than I’ve ever drank in my life. I even passed the hard test of eating out in a restaurant and not ordering a Coke. That was the worst part so far. I really wanted one. But I didn’t do it. The discouraging thing is that I have not lost an ounce of weight yet and still feel really bloated. And I feel happier when I have a sugary Coke-Cola then when I don’t. But I have to believe that if I keep at it forever, eventually my body will be cleansed, I won’t have the cravings, my moods won’t be affected anymore, and will eventually be able to lose weight again with proper diet and exercise. Now I must repeat this to myself every day to keep up the good fight.

Wish me luck.

Cautiously Optimistic About Optimist Football

     My eleven year old son recently traded in his sparring gear and nunchuks for football pads. It was a decision two years in the making. Last year he said he wanted to play youth football but once he found out practice was five nights a week, he decided that didn’t sound very fun and would be too hard to juggle with school. But after another year of playing football at recess with his friends and playing Madden on the Xbox, he was determined to give it a try. My husband was shocked that I was fine with it and not worried about him getting hurt. “I’m from a football loving family, it will be fun to watch him play. And,” I told him,” I’m not one of THOSE moms.” Besides, I always want to give my kids opportunities to try out new things and find what they love. If he signs up he has to play all season whether he ends up liking it or not; we won’t let him quit after paying hundreds of dollars. But if he doesn’t like it that much, he doesn’t have to sign up next year. Simple. I was much more concerned over having to drag him to practice when he didn’t feel like going than I was of injuries. After all, they’re only eleven, its not going to be that hard core. Right?

      Practices started this week. My husband had bought him all the best gear and he looked SO COOL in it. I was a proud mommy and I was confident he’d do fine. But once we got there and he lined up with the other kids for warm-ups, the nerves hit me. “Look at some of these meatheads,” I thought to myself. It wasn’t even really the size of the other kids that scared me, as my son isn’t the smallest, he’s right in the middle, but it was their demeanor. They were cocky and mouthy, acting like they were the bomb. One boy was already talking about having girls over to his house. Who are these kids? My eleven year old doesn’t act like that. One month left before he starts middle school, I guess I better get used to this.

     So in a team of 22 kids, 16 have been doing this for multiple years. My kid is obviously green. My A-student, normally confidant, black-belt is looking not so confidant out there. Or competent. It was less than pretty. His foot work is clumsy, he has no balance, and he drops every ball thrown at him. I don’t care if my son is the best, or wins at everything, I  really don’t. But seeing him be the worst isn’t easy either. But don’t worry, I won’t tell him that. I am going to be supportive and encouraging and help him get better. This is the first day and he has nowhere to go but up. He will improve and learn and get stronger. I am already impressed with his coaches and believe in them. And if at the end of the season my son tells me he doesn’t enjoy football, I am completely fine with that. If he says he loves it and wants to play football every year, well, I guess we’ll be training year-round to catch up to these kids that have been playing since they were six. Am I still not worried about my kid being injured? Ha! I have changed my mind and am totally paranoid he will get hurt. Night 2 he twisted his knee and limped for two days. Night 4 he twisted his ankle. Nights 4 & 5 were their first practices in full pads in the 95 degree heat and he acted like he was going to pass-out from exhaustion. After a full week he’s admitting what he is good at and what he’s not good at. He told me it is a lot harder than karate. I think we are all being realistic now and we all have an even greater appreciation for how hard football is and how athletic football players are. But I am confidant my son will grow and improve greatly over this first season. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a new adventure for all of us.

Housework Blues

I don’t know how I could explain this to a “normal” person/a “full energy person”/a “neat freak”, or even to my husband, who you’d think would understand after fifteen years together but apparently does not. But I’ll let you in on a secret…I hate to clean. My house is a mess 85% of the time. To me it feels like some kind of condition rather than a conscious choice, although I know I am in charge of my own actions and decisions. But let me try to explain it.

I look around my house. I see the kids’ NERF guns they left out, NERF bullets scattered throughout the house, the couch pillows they messed up and didn’t put back in their rightful place. I see the last meal’s dishes in the sink waiting for me. I see the tub needs scrubbed again and that the kitchen floor needs mopping. The walls need repainted and the carpet is stained. I see the filth and I hate it. I want it to be clean. I want it to be uncluttered and organized. I want a perfect beautiful house ready for company to swing by without notice. But I know all the hard manual labor it will take to get it as clean as it needs to be, as clean as I want it to be, as clean as a clean freak’s house. And that is when I freeze. The pressure of it all starts to overwhelm me. Suddenly I have no energy to clean. Oh my favorite show it on. I want to read a book. I want to play with the kids or go to a movie, or anything but clean. But I know it needs done. I can’t live this way, I am not a slob. I am not this person whose house is embarrassing. I can’t be. I’m a smart, successful, thriving, social person – I can’t have a pig-sty house. But somehow I ended up with one. Because when other people would just clean up a mess as soon as they make it, I procrastinate. I rationalize it. I have hobbies to fit into my rare spare time. I need to workout. I need to write. I pay more attention to my kids than moms who clean all the time. I can clean when the kids are gone, they’re just going to mess it up again anyway. I keep telling myself after this show, or I’ll start after lunch, or I didn’t get it all done this weekend so I will do some each night after work. But after work I have to take the kid to baseball, and then cook dinner and make sure the kids’ camp shirts are clean for tomorrow and I am tired and have four more episodes of Orange Is The New Black to watch. I keep putting it off and the more time that goes by, the more pressure and guilt I feel and the harder the job seems as things stack up, until I give up and do nothing.

Then there’s nothing but shame. Shame that my toilets are still dirty, dishes are still in the sink and the weeds in my back flower bed didn’t pull themselves. My weekend was my only spare time to be productive and get things done around the house and I wasted it. I had time to do it but nothing to show for my time. I failed. Again. The shame of my wasted time later exceeds the joy I originally got from hanging out watching movies or reading books, because if anyone were to come by my house at that moment I would be humiliated for them to see it. This is not a relaxing feeling. This is an overwhelming drowning that feels like I lose either way. In my mind, a clean house means constant cleaning. Constant cleaning means no time for things I love to do. Doing the things I love, means no time for cleaning. Even when I get bursts of energy and get a bunch of stuff done around the house, it often still isn’t everything, and I know that “clean freaks” (which half of my friends are) wouldn’t see it as clean even though I am comfortable with it and actually proud that I got it done. So I can’t feel proud for long because it is never enough.

I want a nice home; the kind of home that is always clean enough for people to stop by anytime to say hi and its no big deal. The kind of clean to easily host a party. The kind of clean where someone can feed my cat while I’m on vacation without me worrying about them judging me for any messes I left. My house is the opposite. If someone calls and says they are coming over in twenty minutes, I am running around like a crazy person putting stuff away as fast as I can. My house might be clean enough for company once or twice a week for very brief periods of time, but sure enough by the time my mom or someone swings by, my son’s socks are in the floor, the dog tracked in leaves, and we just ate so there is a pan in the sink. If only we never ate. If only we never played with toys. If only we didn’t have pets. Or kids. Then the house could stay clean. And boring. And loveless.

The more I worry about the state of my home, the more desperate I feel that the work isn’t done, and the madder I get at my husband and kids for not helping. And the more I hate myself for being a lazy slob. Soon I am so overwhelmed, all that comes out is anger towards my husband. I yell at him that its his fault because he never helps, and why can’t he throw away his partial train set from his childhood instead of it cluttering up the garage? We both work full time, each bringing in 50% of the family income, so we should also split the household chores 50/50. Sometimes I daydream of divorcing him just so the garage is emptied out because that is the only way he’d ever do it. That is the only way I could ever be free of his hoarding tendencies and get the camping gear out of our bedroom closet. He’s the only one lazier than I am when it comes to chores. Even if I don’t do them often enough, at least I do them. When I’m not angrily cleaning, I slip into a depression where I don’t want to talk to anyone or see anyone. “No, you kids can’t have a friend over, the house is too messy.”  And then I feel isolated and more depressed and more guilty. All because my home is not worthy. I have failed in keeping it nice. I am not perfect. I am not successful.

I am not like this in other areas of my life. I have many great friends and go do fun things with them often. I have a great job that I am good at. I am not lazy at work. There I can get things done efficiently and on time. I have great follow-thru at work. At home I feel hopeless. And yet I am physically able to do it. I am not handicapped in any way. All I’d have to do is get up and DO IT! But getting up and doing it feels SO HARD sometimes. This is the vicious circle of every-other weekend of my life and the #1 thing that throws me into depression and makes me retreat from the rest of the world. Does anyone else out there feel like this? Do I put too much importance on what others think of my house? If I was a stay-at-home-mom would my house be better taken care of? Am I the most lazy person ever because I love to do everything else more than I love to clean? When my kids are adults are they going to think of their childhood home as messy or as loving and fun? Does it even matter if my house is clean or will people still love me anyway? These are things I ponder when I am NOT doing the dishes.

Navigational Nag

I am pretty sure there is some study some where that says a couple’s communication on a road trip is indicative of their entire relationship. If that is the case my husband and I are in even more trouble that I thought. Here is a conversation from our final day, day 7 of our family road trip vacation this summer. The kids were in the car as my witness. 

Me: “It says to take exit 37A in 3 miles.”

Hubby: (driving)

GPS: “In 2.2 miles take exit 37A/I-80 East.”

Hubby: (driving)

Me: “Exit 37A is in 1 mile, 37A”

Hubby: (driving) “What exit do I want?”

Me: “Exit 37A. Its the next exit on your right.”

GPS:  “Use the two right lanes to exit 37A to I-80 East.”

Hubby: (driving in the inside right lane, in ok position to exit correctly, but looking iffy)

Me:  (pointing to the exit on right) “You’re taking that exit right?”

Hubby: (swerves left off the exit ramp at the last second to take 37B instead of 37A.)

Me: “Why did you do that? That was the right exit!”

Hubby: “You said 37B!?”

Me: “No, I have been telling you exit 37A for the last 3 miles. I think I said it 4 times.”

Hubby:  “Well I heard 37B.”

I look at kids, they shake their heads and agree with me. Then a fifteen minute long argument ensues where he blames me and my horrible navigational skills for him missing his exit. His Taco Bell nachos slide off my lap while I am reaching for the Atlas because Google maps has still not caught up to recalculate our mess up. He yells at me about spilling his food “You need to concentrate on holding my food!”

Me, laughing, “Really because you just said I needed to concentrate on navigation. You can’t have it both ways.”

 We finally get on the correct path in the correct direction while I get a stern lecturing that I need to be very specific, clear and loud in my instructions, and I cannot use words like that or there or use pointing. Twenty miles or so down the road, his story is that it is all the kids’ fault for him not correctly hearing me because they misbehave so much that I am always yelling at the kids so he has learned to tune me out over the years and so now everything I say goes in one ear and out the other. I tell him its nice he finally admits that out loud, I’ve already known that for years.

A couple hours later we get off the Interstate to gas up, use the potty, and turn onto Highway 95. I make sure I am very clear in my instructions this time, and say them as if I am the GPS voice. (Which by the way the GPS is still going and is visible to the driver.)

Hubby turns onto the main street. I tell him “you’re next turn is going to be left in 1 mile, so you’ll want left lane.” He waits until a truck gets out of his way then changes into left lane. Within less than a minute he switches back to right lane. The truck in front of him was slow so I assume he is just going around him, then will get left again in time to turn. When he has passed said slow truck and still hasn’t switched lanes I say loud and clear, “turn LEFT in 0.6 miles”. He still does not change lanes. I look at him and say “turn LEFT in 0.4 miles”. I am greatly emphasizing the LEFT. He is smirking. So I repeat again “turn LEFT in 0.3 miles”. He is still smirking. So now I think he is messing with me on purpose and assume he wants to drive through town to see something or something. He does this kind of stuff all the time where he has an idea to do something but doesn’t tell me what it is until after he does it. As we’re almost to pass our turn off onto Highway 95, he gets a panicked look on his face and says “isn’t that our turn?” swerving left to make the turn at the last minute. I’m exasperated! “Yes. That is what I have been telling you for the last mile. You were smirking so I thought you were messing with me.”

“Well its a good thing I saw the sign when I did or we would have missed it. You’re a horrible navigator.”


And even the kids cannot believe it and come to my defense as we all bust up laughing at how ridiculous he is being today. We decide he needs to get his hearing checked and we might also get him checked for a possible stroke. His defense again is his natural tendency to tune out my voice. That’s real comforting. So I say “fine”, I turn up the volume on the GPS and promise not to speak to him the rest of the way. Good grief! Next time we’re flying.

Pool Time

Any family vacation with my kids quickly turns from a sightseeing tour of our Nation’s beauty to a tour of hotel swimming pools. “What was your favorite part of vacation kids? The Beach? Hiking trails?” They always answer, “the pool”. Consequently they will of course judge a hotel on its most important feature being the swimming pool. I know this and so I now shop for hotels with the pool atmosphere in mind. Not just do they have a pool, but will the kids have a blast at that pool, and will I enjoy being there too? And here is their history I base it off of:

1. My children have only spent one night in Las Vegas but they honestly think people stay at the Luxor for their fantastic four-pool glory, not giving a second thought to gambling, shows or cuisine. Luxor-Hotel-Las-Vegas-Pool

2. This photo is of one of our favorite hotel pools experiences at a Best Western Seven Seas in San Diego in 2011, where we spent our down-time (in between the exhausting famous parks and attractions), as our room was a tiny claustrophobic outdated room with barely enough space to walk between the two double beds. The kids had fun doing cannonballs, the weather was perfect, and I remember it as the most peaceful part of that whirlwind trip. Poolside San Diego

3. And after a day and a half at Lego Land, they begged to leave the Lego Land water park early to go back to this hotel pool at Carlsbad By the Sea. Pool view Carlsbad

4. This year’s summer vacation across Oregon to the majestic Crater Lake, then the Redwoods of the Northern Coast of California found this gem of a pool at the Best Western Plus Humboldt Bay Inn in Eureka, whose basketball hoop, indoor/outdoor seating areas with heater lamps and billiards table, will go down in their all-time favorites collection: Eureka, CA: Best Western Plus Humboldt Bay

 5. And after a full day in the car on what must have been California’s most winding highway (36-East) where we had three separate tearful vomit incidents, we rewarded the road-weary kiddos with this fancy pool-topia at the Peppermill Resort & Casino in Reno, Nevada.

  Peppermill Upper Pool

So for fellow parents out there, those are some ideas for your next road trip. And for anyone owning, building, or remodeling a hotel…if you want family business, next to the beds & fridge, the swimming pool is where it is at.

Bachelorette Andi – episode 2 – Male Dance Review

After eating my weight in potato salad this Memorial Day, I then partook in more gluttony with our favorite guilty pleasure: the Bachelorette. Episode 2 of Andi’s season is the first round of dates.

First individual date: “Eric the Explorer”. We already know from last week’s prelude that since filming the show, Eric has tragically passed away from a paragliding accident. Which means I would be a horrible person to say anything bad about him. Luckily, I don’t have anything bad to say. I found him to be cute and likeable and Andi seemed to have both comfort and chemistry with him. Explorer – is that a paying profession? Or does this mean he has a giant trust fund that allows him to do all this world traveling? I don’t know but I’m not going to hold it against him either way. An adventurous thrill-seeker is always hot to me, but I’ve also always known they are out of my league. I would never be enough for a man like that, constantly on the go looking to conquer the next big thing, because I like to chill too much. I can’t snow ski, or mountain climb or wear a bikini. “Explorers” are good at everything, and I am good at almost nothing. Luckily Andi is not me and she looks great in a bikini. However, she does have a pretty awesome career that requires her be there. Could they be a good match? We’ll see. Date grade: A. This date was perfectly geared toward Eric with snowboarding so it was fun instead of awkwardness. They look good together, actually had great conversations and seemed to have chemistry.

Group Date: “Bare our Balls, I mean Souls, Bare our Souls”
Is it just me, or does it seem a little early in the season/relationship to be in such a intimate situation as a public male strip tease and see thirteen of your potential suitors almost naked? I mean sure I see the benefits to it, but I also felt a little embarrassed for them all, and that it was degrading to men. Just as I would have felt a similar event with women on the Bachelor would be extremely degrading. BUT, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the scenery. For the second time so far this season Andi admits she is extremely attracted to Marcus and picks him for a solo act. I do not disagree! Marcus is not as excited to strut himself as some of the others and seems a little shy, which scores him even higher points in my book. Cody is annoying (this seems right up his alley). Craig is annoying and oddly aware of Josh. Patrick has a butt-chin, which I kind of like, because he reminds me of Austin from Young & Restless, but not quite as cute. I think Bradley the Opera singer should pair up with Charlene from last season. Craig gets drunk and makes a fool of himself, no surprise, but I think Andi is a little over dramatic about it. She gives Marcus the group date rose, which I completely agree with. Did I mention there were firefighter strippers? Yum! It was not horrible. Could you imagine if you were to do this dating challenge in a real life dating pool though? There would be a lot more truffle shuffle and body hair. Qualified to be a stripped must have been one of the boxes to check on the Bachelorette application. And once again the media makes us drool for a type of man none of us could ever get in real life. (because most of them are dating each other)

Date #3 – Country Chris. Chris is the farmer from Iowa. He seems very nice and is good looking, but I just don’t foresee him making it to the top 4, and I don’t see Andi living on a farm in Iowa. The date is to the horse races, with a personal concert afterward. I give the date a grade of C+ because it went fine, but was nothing spectacular. She looks like she is feeling good about the fact that he is a nice guy but I don’t think she is falling in love or lust with him. She does kiss him however, and did I miss her kissing Eric or is this her first? I predict Chris will be friend-zoned.

Rose Ceremony: Andi enters in a fancy low cut gown, Josh’s eyes are on her boobs, Craig’s hand is on Josh’s shoulder. Hmmm. Also, it says Craig is a tax accountant. I know many accountants, none of which are that outgoing or goofy. I’m pretty sure he is lying about his occupation (just kidding). A thought about Tasos…are there really straight men that are wedding planners? If so, why? If not, I’m pretty sure he is lying about his sexuality (just kidding). But not kidding that Brett is on the verge of a mullet, and Nick V. is nice but Nick S. is creepy, so their last initials are very important. Nick V. asks Andi what she is looking for in a man and she says she doesn’t know. WTF? I think women say that only when they know the man that is asking doesn’t fit the profile. Not only should she have made a list for the show, but if she’s like most girls, she’s had a list since 8th grade that has been edited many times over. I agree with Andi tossing Craig & Nick S out, but I would have kept the glasses guy over the Opera guy. Glasses guy was Carl the firefighter who has a slight Ryan Gosling factor going on. Bummed he is gone already. So far my watch list consists of (in no particular order) Brian, Marquel, Eric, Marcus & maybe Dylan (looks wise I’m interested but haven’t seen his personality yet). What are you guys thinking? Until next week…

The Bachelorette: A new season – Andi episode 1

Hey Bachelor fans and anti-fans, it’s been a long time. Over the last few months I’ve been everywhere BUT on my blog, and I’ve missed it. A new season of the Bachelorette snuck up on us, with the return of Andi Dorfman, Assistant Attorney General from Atlanta – the girl we cheered on last season as she called Juan Pablo out on the carpet for his ridiculous self-centered, chauvinistic ways. Here’s what we like about her:

She’s smart! She’s assertive. She’s accomplished. She’s not a bimbo. She seems like substance over fluff. I’d like to think she’s someone who’d prefer an after work beer with male coworkers or college friends over a trip to the mall. Or at least that is what I am imagining. Her hair is one color this season, and I love that she says “y’all” a lot. There is potential for a great season.


Here are my first impressions and observations of episode 1 – the intros.

Andi seems genuinely excited and humble on opening night prior to introductions. No one instantly jumped out at me as my favorite during the 25 introductions. I liked the soccer guy but didn’t even write down his name. The Opera singer is cute but for whatever reason, singing opera is a turn off for me. Cody reminds me of Mackelmore on steroids. JJ creeps me out. I picture him being a ventriloquist. There’s a bartender, you can’t marry a bartender, they sleep around. And as cute as Chris is, I wouldn’t marry a farmer either, their job is their life and they never take a day off. Guys wearing bowties should be sent home on principle alone because I hate bowties!


So now that I’ve thrown my judgmental, stereotypical impressions out there, I’ll lay down the positives. Josh, Eric and Ron are good looking. Nick V. is super sweet, has tens siblings, and gets the 1st impression rose. Of course, I can’t tell yet who is going to be great for Andi, but Marquel is who I’d pick for myself. Not only is he hot, but the cookie test tasting – are you kidding me?!? I could totally hang out with this guy. He seems down to earth and fun, so he’s my guy. Andi didn’t eliminate all the bowties, but did send all the surfer looking dudes with long blonde hair on their way. She says the tall, dark and handsome, athletic, cocky-looking Josh M is her typical type. Apparently the blonde surfer look is the opposite of that.


Although I am not hugely enthusiastic about the new season yet, it should be interesting to see where it goes. Who am I kidding, it will be exactly same as all seasons: helicopter dates, dancing to a personal concert, someone gets stupid-drunk, drama, someone has a girlfriend, repelling from scary heights, tears, and every episode will be the most DRAMATIC episode ever. Or maybe our producers will realize they’ve been on repeat and mix it up some….Naa, don’t hold your breath.

Bad Things Happening Creates Good People

I read this quote that stuck in my mind: “Not so much that bad things happen to good people, as sometimes bad things happening creates good people.”


We see this during times of national tragedy, when events such as hurricane Katrina or Sandy, or Sept 11th, have moved people to band together, helps others, donate to causes or strive for change. I have also witnessed hard times creating better people in my personal life.

When the frustrations of drama in the workplace and a bad apple making my life stressful drove me from my old job, I made sure I was a different person at my new job. I kept an emotional distance from others in the beginning, I kept work and personal life separate and stayed away from gossip and negative people. I became a better coworker and had no troubles. Only after I had left the bad situation did I realize I was at least half of the problem.


The most monumental change in my life came from my Dad passing away when I was thirty-one. One lesson I learned was the importance of being there for others in their time of loss and how much it can mean to them. Or how much the lack of support, empathy and grieving time can also hurt. And as crazy as it sounds, I think my father’s death also made me a Democrat, or at least a more generous compassionate person. The struggles my father had in his last few years and my guilt over wishing I could help is what started the change. My Dad was a hard worker and had instilled in me the same work ethics. He was also a staunch Republican that passed on his view that the government should not take care of people, people should work and earn their own way. Homeless people were just lazy con-artists. Towards his end, my father had lost everything and became essentially homeless, living in his camper or motel room. I wanted to give him money and help him but any time I gave him money he went on a bender. His mind was going and I couldn’t have him around my small children possibly being a threat to them or our home. One evening, months after my Dad had passed, my husband and I were downtown on a date night. Walking from the restaurant back to the parking garage we passed a homeless man begging on the street. I walked past him looking him in the eyes – the same brown alcoholic eyes like my father. I smiled at him hoping to bring some miniscule happiness to him but everything inside me wanted to stop, hug him, give him money, pray for him, or tell him something – anything. I did nothing as my husband (who also does not believe in giving money to homeless people) dragged me quickly to the car where once inside I started crying and shaking in a panic attack. Maybe that homeless guy had an estranged daughter somewhere that wished someone could help her dad. Maybe he hadn’t meant to become homeless but had made bad choices and taken it too far to turn back now like my father had. Maybe that was my Dad inside that man’s eyes calling out to me, seeing if I would notice him. I wanted to go back and do something. But maybe he was a psychopath that would hurt me if I did. I cried all the way home, missing my dad, feeling guilty I couldn’t do anything to help, memories of my father’s predicament haunting me. That was the turning point in my life where I no longer viewed all homeless people as lazy druggies that should just go get a job. I now realized that many had physical or psychological issues that prevented them from working. Yes, mostly caused by their own bad decisions, but just because they had taken a wrong turn in life didn’t mean they didn’t have someone some where that missed them and loved them and mourned for their old life. The next week I donated all my Dad’s clothing to the men’s shelter. It took my father dying for me to become a compassionate person.


Recently a friend of mine lost her mother to suicide, something we would never wish on anyone. The traumatic experience has been hard on her, of course, and I cannot imagine the grief and guilt that accompanies it. But I have noticed a change in my friend. I notice her now outwardly loving and enjoying her friends and family even more than before. Reaching out to others more than before. Her father and her have become closer than before. And you can bet that she will always be sensitive to those who have shared similar circumstances. These are the positive traits that have developed out of a horrible experience.


That which does not kill us makes us stronger. And it is not so much that bad things happen to good people, as sometimes bad things happening creates good people. That is why with each passing year as we experience more in life, we grow better and wiser.

Spiders Are Ruining My Yard

Spiders are out to get me! I fucking hate spiders! I had to use the harsh “F” word for emphasis because that is how severely I detest them. And lately I feel like spiders are trying to ruin my life, well parts of it at least. The last two summers have been especially bad spider years in our yard here in Idaho. I don’t see many in the house (just their annoying webs) but anytime I weed the flowerbeds (which I have many of and wish to enjoy) or work in the yard, spiders and their webs are everywhere. I kill as many as I can when I see them. But usually get grossed out by their presence and give up returning to the safety of the house. I wanted to have a professional come spray for spiders this year but my husband wouldn’t let me. He is a cheap skate who also happens to not be bothered by spiders and says let them live. He rarely gets the whole phrase out of his mouth before I am stomping the shit out of it with my shoe. I don’t let any of them live if I can help it. And now they are out for revenge. Let me tell about my freak-out experience yesterday.

This is the first year we’ve had edible grapes on our vine as it took three years to establish itself apparently. We now have eight delectable bundles of perfectly ripe red/purple seedless grapes waiting for us. We had tasted them for the first time the night before and they were delicious. Really small grapes, but very tasty. So I went out to our yard to cut some fresh grapes to have waiting for the boys when they got home from school. I cut a bundle, carried it in my hand, rinsed them at the sink briefly then set it them on a paper plate on the kitchen counter. After all these are organic, grown in my own yard with no chemicals, so just have to rinse off any dust. I grabbed a couple and popped them in my mouth while I rinsed out the sink. Then turned around to the plate to grab another grape but there was a white spider escaping the wet bundle right by where I was grabbing. Holy Hell! I rushed the plate back over to the sink and rinsed him down the drain. Yuck! I just ate some of those grapes. So I rinse the grapes again. Set them down on counter again. Look back to find two more of the white spiders, tinier ones, scurrying from the grapes. OMG! I rush plate back to sink rinse them down the drain, leave the grapes in the sink and take the high-power sprayer to them. By the time I was done I had found a total of 4 spiders (2 adults, 2 kids I think) and a very small white web/nest in between the grapes. There had been a family of these little fuckers living in those grapes. The nest had been hard to see. Now I had a full-blown case of the heebie-jeebies. Yes, that is a real thing. What is the heebie-jeebies? It is that feeling you get when you see a spider (or insert bug or creeper of choice here) and it freaks you out and the rest of the day every time a hair touches the back of your arm or neck you think a spider is crawling on you and you’re so paranoid about it you have to go shower to get rid of that itchy feeling. Now I don’t want to eat those grapes. Dammit, those were yummy grapes too. Damn you spiders ruining my appetite for the goodness of homegrown fruit. Now I’m pissed and feeling a little anxiety attack coming as I cannot think of anything else but the spiders on my food. 20130828_125257

I got out our book “The National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Insects and Spiders of North America” to see what kind of spider we are dealing with. Maybe there are certain spiders that hang out on fruit and they are harmless. Maybe they are not so harmless. I want to know but do not see any pictures in the book that look like my little white spiders. I live in North America dammit, why are they not in this book? Amazingly enough I made it through the night without nightmares of spiders. And today did a brave thing. I went outside with gardening gloves & scissors, a jar, and a giant bowl. I was going to cut another bunch of grapes, purposefully find more white spiders and trap them in my jar so I could find out what they are. I repeated yesterday’s process of rinsing and waiting for spiders to come out. Today I only got one baby one, but did see two other little web/nests within the grapes. They are so hard to see someone could totally eat the whole bundle of grapes before they noticed it. And these Mo-Fo’s are so fast that I cannot get a picture of it so I am waiting for the sucker to suffocate so I can then study it. It is all starting to feel a little scientific to me, but really I am just fuelled by hatred and fear.

I can barely go outside into my yard anymore I am so bothered by all the spiders. I have beautiful flowers, now overrun with weeds. I have a patio I could enjoy but I’d have to hose & sweep it everyday to keep the spider webs away. I don’t even clean the inside of my house that much. I just want my space back without spiders. I don’t care how people say they are good because they kill other bugs. Well they do a shit-ass job because my flowers still have aphids or some kind of little bug on them. Flies are still getting in the house if the door is left open. I really don’t think spiders make a dent in the bug population – maybe in the forest but not in my yard. And how come all these birds in my yard don’t eat the spiders?

So now I will have to research ways of killing spiders on vegetation without killing the plant and poisoning the food. I also need to find out what type of spider this is. It is not the only kind I see around here we also have the black hairy jumpy ones inside, and the brown garden spiders outside. But these little white assholes made it to the top of my most wanted list. And maybe, just maybe I’ll burn all my bushes to the ground this fall and start fresh next year. Now excuse me while I go shower the heebie-jeebies off again…I think there’s a spider in my hair.


I am thirty-seven years old. I think I am at that age where you decide to take good care of yourself to stay healthy , young and active, or to let yourself get older. It is definitely a conscious choice that needs to be made. My husband already decided to let himself go years ago to be old and seems to have no desire to change his mind. Not me, I want to take the you healthier, more active route, but it is not easy. It is a constant life change that I need to practice.

I have weeks where thirty-seven doesn’t phase me. These weeks I do 3-5 workouts of 30-60 minutes each, and I feel great. I feel stronger and more athletic than I was in my twenties (although I am still not athletic). Some weeks I remember to take my vitamins and try to make healthy food choices. Although I am never perfect I certainly feel wiser than in my younger days. These are the weeks I feel like I am taking better care of myself than ever before. Even when I can’t see results on the scale, I feel better and younger inside. I forget my age. I swim or wrestle with my kids. I bounce on the trampoline. I dive off boats. Life is great.

Then there are the other weeks. Weeks where I drag and drag and drag. Getting to bed too late and ditching my early morning workouts for thirty more minutes of sleep or a drowsy bath instead. I forget to take my vitamins. I eat pizza, chocolate and Doritos to settle my cravings. My eyes grow heavy at my desk each afternoon from three to four; until I do the head bob and have to get up to walk around. I am desperate for a nap I never get when I get home at night. These are the weeks I feel my age. I am sleepy, my mind is not fresh or alert, I am sluggish, my eyes are droopy. I don’t have the energy to keep the housework or take the kids to the park. I only want to lounge around. I don’t like those weeks but am having one right now – coming off a vacation and my period, I haven’t exercised in 4 days – and today I am certainly feeling my age.

It just reminds me that I can never stop. Going forward I will always have to exercise and eat right to keep feeling good. Any breaks I take, just take me backward into sleepy despair. That is an exhausting thought.

Well, maybe next week…

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