Monday, January 31, 2011

Drake's Boo-boo

My poor Big Beautiful! 

If you read "DraaaAaaaAAaake!" then you know that he got out for a brief adventure Saturday night.  I mean, every now and then you've gotta cut loose right?  Well, Drake returned with a limp.  We kept him in on Sunday (which was a shame because the weather was gorgeous) and he slept on his dog bed most of the day.   Ever the lover, he kept his sweet disposition despite obvious discomfort.

First thing this morning I called the vet and brought him in.  He won the staff and Dr.'s hearts immediately.  We finally have his official weight which is 77.4 lbs.  That's 77 lbs of muscle.  The vet went on and on amount the muscle in this dog!  He is a gorgeous specimen.  Luckily, he is also a sweetheart and keeps his strength in check.  I had Drake sit, then lay down and roll over so the vet could take his temperature and examine his paw.  I must say he was much more cooperative about the whole thing then I would've been.  (I mean, you know how they take a dogs temperature, right?)  Even while our vet examined his hurt paw, Drake looked up at him and gave him a big lick on his chin!

The vet showed me how one of his toes was spread out from the paw a bit and was likely broken.  An x-ray was taken to be certain.  I could hear Drake crying while they did so.  Must've been uncomfortable... Sure enough, he has three fractures in his outside toe. 

"We are going to need to sedate him and then cast it or splint it."

I was surprised that my eyes welled up at the thought of Drake being sedated.  He's not been with us long but I am head over heels for this dog and he is a solid member of the family.  They said it would be about an hour and so I went to buy our groceries before the snow predicted to come rolled in.  (P.S. the high for tomorrow is predicted to be -2.  Fun.)

When I came back they had splint the foot.  He was still waking up so I had a little bit of a wait.  They basically made a cast and then cut that in half.  They bound his toes and then put the splint behind it.  It is wrapped in a forest green bandage and then an empty IV bag is tied over it as it needs to stay dry.  That will be difficult in the snow...  He is to wear this get-up for 8-10 weeks.  (Ugh!)  He needs to stay off of his foot for 10 days and then we can go for a short walk to the bus stop and work our way up from there.  I'm thinking our 3 miles hikes up and around the hill will have to take a hiatus.  Poop.  That was a major source of work out for me.  I mean, I can go alone but I know I will easily talk myself out when the weather is the slightest bit uncomfortable.  I was willing to deal with it for Drake because he needs to exercise. 

The vet helped him into the truck.  He slept with his head in my lap the drive home.  Once home, I managed to get him out of the truck myself.  I tried to lift him but he growled a little.  I think it was...I don't know.  He sort of purrs when you hug on him and it sounds a touch like a growl.  So I was not sure if he thought I was hugging him or if he was uncomfortable with me lifting him.  Regardless, I was uncomfortable lifting him and so I helped him to gently hop out of the car.  My plan was to have him stay in his bed in the mud room as I did not think he should take the stairs.  Even doped up, however, Drake had his own plan and took to the stairs.  I ran up behind him helping him once when his grogginess caused him to miss-step and then again when his bagged foot slipped on the wood floor.

I got him to his bed but before laying down, he peed!  Oh he looked at me with such a sad face!  He's never had an accident in the house. 

"It's OK buddy.  It's the medicine.  Lay down." 

I got him down but he was sort of half way on the bed.  He's gotten up one other time because he had a delayed reaction to the cat that he still would've liked to chase but is too drugged and too painful to do.  While up though, he peed again.  Maybe being upstairs where the floors are wood was a better plan then the carpeted basement....  I called the vet just to make sure this behavior was normal.  He agreed with me that it's just from the sedation and suggested that I take him outside and try to support him while he goes to the bathroom.  Seriously?!  Where are Theodore's old diapers....

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Drake is a big strong beast.  It's not that I'm little and weak because grown men of all sizes feel matched if not bested by Drake's strength.  I think he is actually part bear.

Last Saturday I took him for our walk.  The route we take is about three miles.  It's up, around and down the "hill."  Aaron and Drew were at the Pinewood Derby Cub Scout event and Gabriel was not feeling well.  When I got down to the bottom of our driveway I realized I did not have my cell phone.  I contemplated climbing back up to get it but laziness won over.  Gabriel would be fine and I would be safe because I had Drake with me.  As we started our walk there were a few snow flurries.  I had thought about turning around but guessed that the snow would stop and then I would've wasted our walk.  The snow was rather a nice touch on that beautiful morning. 

I am working on training Drake right now.  The Dog Whisperer has said that the dog needs to be on a short leash.  If the dog is walking in front of you then he is walking you and he is showing his position as Alpha dog.  I am trying to show Drake that I am the Alpha.  When we exit the yard for our walks, I go out the gate first and Drake is to follow.  Same on the return.  I am to keep him on a short leash and then when he starts to pull, yank the leash back.  In time he will learn that he is to walk by my side, if not slightly behind me.  For several weeks now we have been walking this way.  I put my wrist through the leash and wrap, wrap, wrap the rest around my hand.  So far the results are that I have one really buff right arm from all of the steering and jerking I'm having to do.  Drake....still seems to be leading.

As we walked last Saturday, Drake kept fighting the leash.

"Heel," jerk, "heel," jerk.  At one point I pulled Drake to the side of the road to re-wrap the leash because it was so tight on my hand. 

"Listen Drake, I am the Alpha.  Got that?  I am the boss here.  I am walking you.  You are not walking me.  Right?"  Right...  We headed off again.  Drake could smell something though and so he kept pulling me.  At one point he took off hard and fast into a snow bank.  I thought I was going to lose him but I dug my heels in and yanked hard on his leash.  I regained control and we continued on our walk. 

There is a part of the hill where the snow and ice never melt because it is always in the shade.  We were at that point and I was having to be very careful of my footing.  Then came the deer.  This deer came hopping, like a rabbit, across the road.  My mind quickly calculated, how pretty! It's just like you see on tv!  Drake is going to go after it...   I got a tight grip on the leash and calmly told Drake to stay.  He did.  We walked on.  We did not go very far when the deer came boing, boinging back across the road right in front of Drake and I.  I swear she was taunting him!  And it worked because that was too close for Drake and he ripped away from me.  My arm went with him and I quickly assessed that I was would be next so I  let go of my grip and let the leash unravel.  In seconds, Drake and the deer were gone.


And of course I did not have my cell phone, because what I wanted to do was call Kevin to come help me round him up with his truck.  I walked on with out Drake, calling for him all the while.  At one point I saw his tracks in the snow.  There was his big ol' paw print accompanied by a slash mark.  The slash was his leash.  It dragged next to his paws leaving exclamation points all over the snow. 


One time he came bounding back to me! 

"Drake!  Come here big boy!  Good boy!  Come here!"  Drake was galloping right towards me.  I prepared myself for the hit and then...he turned around and took off again before I could get a hold of him or his leash.

"Arrrgh!  DraaaAaaaAAAAke!"

When I got home I called Caren.  (What would I do with out Kevin and Caren?  Seriously!  How often do they bail me out?)  Caren was preparing for the Soup Party and so Kevin met me at the bottom of the driveway with his truck.  I had microwaved some hot dogs to try and lure Drake home.  I apologized that my dog and I had once again disrupted Kevin's household.  He of course, claimed to not mind at all.  He loves the Drake.

We drove around the loop calling for him and waving the hot dogs out the window.  We met another walker on the road.

"We are looking for Drake, " Kevin informed her.  "He looks a lot like that," he said pointing to her yellow lab mix.

"Yes, he was following us just a bit ago.  I told him he needed to go back the other way."

"Thanks!"  Kevin headed in the direction she told us she had seen Drake and we both laughed.  What made this lady think that a dog running around with a leash but no owner attached to it is going to do what she said?  Ahahahaha! 

Not long after we parted from the Walker we spotted Drake.  He came running up to the truck.  I did not want to give him the hot dog because he was naughty but Kevin (the push over) said I should give it to him to reward him for returning.  What?  But I did...  Drake jumped into the back of the truck and we went home.

Thursday we went for our walk and he did great!  I felt like we were finally making progress.  He did not pull often and my poor arm welcomed the rest.  We even saw some deer and though Drake desperately wanted them, he heeded my commands and stayed with me.  It was a great walk until....we came upon another walker with a long haired dachshund.  Drake started pulling and whining.  I assured the other dog owner that Drake was friendly to people and other dogs.  I tried to keep us walking but then Drake jerked away toward the little weenie dog.  I kept hold of the leash but it unraveled and was long.  The dachshund jumped into his owners arms and Drake wrapped his leash (and I) around that poor lady.

"He is very friendly and very strong."  I told her as I regained control of my dog and my self. 

"I can see that," she said.  She was cool enough about it.  We parted ways and the remainder of our walk was uneventful.

Last night we were invited to a dinner party at Kevin and Caren's.  At a school fundraiser they auction off this dinner party and Kevin and Caren won it last year.  Basically two chefs come to your home and prepare a 6 course meal for you.  Wine is served with each course.  I have been very good on my diet this past week, knowing that this dinner party was coming.  I was going to have all of it!  I'm not gonna lie to you: I'm hurting a bit today.  After not having any alcohol for two weeks and then having a glass with each 

When we left for the dinner, Aaron lost Drake.  When he leaves out the gate, he holds Drake at bay by the collar and then slips past.  Last night though, Aaron said he could hear dogs barking.  Something was out there and Drake was on the up and up about it too.  He tore away from Aaron and made a break for it.  ("That is the strongest dog I've ever known,"  Caren had said when Aaron told his story.)  Aaron drove around to try and round him up.  He said that Drake would come up to the truck but when he opened the door to get out and get him, the dog would take off again.  He finally let the dog be and returned to Caren's for the dinner. 

The meal was very, very good.  One of the cooks' daughters plays the violin and so she played for us a bit during our meal.  It was a lovely touch.  I of course cried a little as I do any time someone performs.  We ate some more and then all of a sudden there is a dog at Caren's side. 

"Drake!  Oh my gosh!  He let himself in!"  We all laughed and were relieved.  The chefs had cracked the sliding glass door to cool the kitchen a bit and Drake opened it further to let himself in.  I am so proud of him for knowing how to get home.  It's funny that he came to Caren's though.

"He probably went to your house first," Kevin said.  We guess the smell of the cooking reeled him in.

He has a limp now though.  I don't know what happened on his little adventure but we will need to go to the vet this week.  It's time he meets our new dog.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sweet Success

Tuesday's Baking Day was a bomb.  One of Caren's daughters had requested that we make the "Hostess" Cupcakes that we made before.

Yeah...those.  They turned out so beautiful!  But not this week.  Caren could not get the creme filling right.  It was all soupy instead of marshmallowy...  Patti was making sweet potato french fries.  Caren has this potato peeler that is the pits!  She thinks its fine because she can still peel things with it but no one else has any success with it.  It is not sharp.  At all.  I think she likes that she is the only one that can work it.  She was giving Patti a hard time for not being able to work the peeler and I gave her a hard time for keeping it.

"Caren, you have sauce pans from Italy and special tools for everything and then you have this crap peeler!" 

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.  I can peel with it just fine."

I was making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  I have never been able to understand why recipes will tell you to mix the wet ingredients first and then add the dry.  It's all getting mixed together in the end so what's the big deal?  Well, cooking with Caren is like being in a cooking class:

"If you add the flour at the same time as everything else you will tire the flour and have tough dough."

Who knew?

So I followed the directions as they were written.  It was time to mix the ingredients and so I got a spoon and commenced mixing.  As I am trying to get everything stirred together, Caren starts giggling.

"What?"  I asked.  She didn't answer because then she was just laughing so hard until finally she asks,"Would you like to use an electric mixer?"

Soon Patti is laughing too. 

"Why are you using a spoon?!"

"I just...well, I've gone a long time with out an electric mixer.  People have used spoons a long time."

"You are kind of hypocritical telling me to update my peeler when you are using a SPOON to mix!"  She was howling now.  I was too. 

"Give me the mixer."  I mixed.  Electronically.

"Look at you go..."

"Shut up."

After my cookies were "properly" mixed, I put them in the oven at 350 per the directions.  I forgot to set the timer though and....

Caren was on the phone when they burned and so Patti and I tried to get them outside before Caren knew.

"Yeah...we're baking today.  My friends just burnt some cookies but they think I haven't noticed..."  Caren snitched to whoever she was on the phone with.

Poop.  We were busted.  Caren examined my cookies.

"You need more flour."  How she knows this I don't know but before any of us could figure it out she had added the right amount of flour, re-mixed the dough and had another batch in.  They turned out great!

I was also going to make Caren's daughter a coconut creme pie.  We had each received one coconut in our co-op.  Caren does not like coconut but her oldest daughter does and so I promised her a coconut creme pie.  When I cut open Caren's coconut though it had mold.  Boo.  The pie was a no-go.

It seems like there were other debacles though I can't recall them.  We went home with very little Baking Day booty.

"That could be a good thing," Patti said.  Small booty out, small booty back.

At home, Aaron had opened the  coconut from our co-op box and it was beautiful and so I made coconut chicken for the family.  It was a hit!  I had lots of left over coconut meat and so I decided to try the pie for my little friend on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning I called Caren and told her we were having a Baking Day Do-Over.  I retrieved my extra coconut from the fridge and began shredding.

It was so pretty!  So white and pure! 

I brought my shredded coconut to Caren's and made the pie.  I'm so glad I did it with her because there were things that I did not know.  The recipe looked simple enough, not many ingredients, but it asked me to do things like "temper" the eggs and "fold" stuff.  Caren knew what all of this meant and helped me through it.  (BTW to temper the eggs means to add hot ingredients, a little at a time, to the eggs so the eggs will not be cold when you add them to the rest of the hot ingredients.  Otherwise, the eggs will cook in the hot mix and you will have something more like egg drop or scrambled eggs in the middle of your custard.  I'm still not sure what folding is....gentle stirring?)  Oh and it asked me to make a "slurry" which set me off singing Oklahoma's "Surrey" song.  (It's nothing about slurry but it gave me an intro to musicals....)  In the end I was able to turn out a gorgeous (If I do say so myself) coconut creme pie!

The details on making this is on my recipe page.  Click the tab above.
Oh!  And I learned the difference between soft and stiff egg white peaks.  Big learning day!  But it didn't stop there.  Wednesday is our pizza night and this diet makes pizza night torturous!  I bought ingredients to make Spanakapita. 

Spanakapita is a Greek stuffed pastry.  (Did I word that right?  It's not a pastry stuffed with Greeks.  It's a stuffed pastry originating from Greece.)  It's basically spinach and feta cheese stuffed into phyllo dough.  I can have some breads now and I thought this would be a healthy alternative to pizza.  I told Caren I had to go home to make it.

"Why don't you make that over here,"  Caren suggested.  I thought she just wanted to hang out but now...I know why.

Phyllo dough is not what you think it is.  Or at least it's not what I thought it was.  I thought I would be akin to handling something like a puff pastry or pie crust.  No. 

I followed my recipe for Spanakapita (P.S. this is my new mobster name.  "Spanky" for short.)  and then I got out the phyllo.  The box had it's own instructions.  As I'm reading them I realize this phyllo dough is pretty delicate.

Melt butter and brush onto phyllo sheet, the box read.

"Melt butter?! Why do I need to melt butter?!"  I could not understand why I could not  just take out the dough and put my spinach mixture in it.

Caren was cracking up again.

"Oh Michal!  I love how you won't let anyone tell you what to do.  Not even a recipe!" 

"It's not that!  I just thought....why can't I just take out the dough?!"

"Phyllo dough is very temperamental, " Caren explained as she moistened a dish towel.  She then unwrapped the phyllo and layed it out on her counter.  I looked at it but all I saw was very thin paper, almost like typing paper.  I started thumbing threw it a bit looking for the dough.  What I thought were paper dividers was actually the dough!  It's that thin!

Caren took one thin sheet of phyllo and laid it out on her island counter and then covered the remaining dough with a moist dish towel.  Then she brushed the dough with olive oil.  We used olive oil instead of melted butter because I was using a low fat recipe.  She then sliced the dough, long ways, with a knife to divide it into three sections.  Next she took about a tablespoon of the spinach mixture and placed it at one end of a strip.  Then she "flag folds" the dough around the spinach until she had this neat little triangle pillow.  As she is doing this she tells me how her daughters have races to see who can roll theirs the fastest.  I think how lucky they are that they know what phyllo dough is before the age of 34.

After showing me a few times, Caren turned the folding over to me.  I wrapped a few that turned out beautifully and then there were some...not so beautiful ones.  There were ends that stuck out a little.

"Now, those ends will burn," Caren explained, "so you need to take a little of the oil and press it down." 

I took the brush and dabbed it on the fragile dough that was sticking out.

"No, you've got to man handle it a bit,"  Caren said as she took the brush and forced the dough to adhere to the rest of the pillow. 

When I tried to "man handle" some of my others, it only tore and made frayed ends.  My folding went on at a slow drag but I got them done.  We had some dough left over and so Caren whipped up some mushroom with feta cheese thing and asked me to stuff the rest while she took her oldest (who had come home during the process) to her youth meeting.

I did as asked and it went much faster.  Then I got to the bottom 3 sheets and it all went wrong.  They were just so thin and frayed and they got tangled.  One sheet was too moist from the damp towel. I got frustrated trying to work with it so I just crumbled it up and tossed it away from my work space.  After I got the other two sheets stuffed, there was still a bunch of the mushroom mixture left. 

Caren would have been able to use that crumbled piece...  I took the crumbled up piece of phyllo and opened it up again.  I was able to make three more little mushroom thingies from it.

Tonight's pizza night was muc more enjoyable since I had a healthy option to eat.  There were lots of compliments about the Spanakapita and the Coconut Creme Pie was a hit.  Caren's daughter loved it!  I think she thought my attached note was a bit lame though: I am CocoNUTS for you Valentine!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Julie and Julia

Last night there was a neighborhood Soup Party at Caren's.  Basically everyone brings over a crock pot of soup and we all get to know our neighbors while tasting their culinary offerings.  It's a party that Caren hosts annually and that the neighbors all look forward to.  I met lots of people that I hadn't yet and got to get to know many who I had.  It was a nice time though I did not get to eat many of the soups because I was still on the very strict end of my diet.  I did have wine, however. 

Last night there were a pile of dishes in my sink since Aaron and I both made soups.  When I came home from the party, I just did not want to face them.  Instead I watched a bad movie ("When in Rome") and went to bed.  Of course the dishes were still waiting for me in the morning, much to my chagrin.  I still was not ready to do them.  It's Sunday.  My husband and children are playing and reading and I want to relax too.  Problem is that I have laundry to do and a dirty kitchen to tend to.  Argh!  Housewifery is never done.  Boo.  I ignored it anyway and watched another movie.  "Julie and Julia."  (Are movies in quotations or underlined?  I've forgotten...)  Anywhoo...

I had not heard much of anything good about the movie but it kept me from the dishes and it was very relatable.  After all, I blog.  And I cook.  Sort of...  The main character (played by Amy Adams who looks just like my old friend Sarah Miner) has taken on a challenge to cook all of the recipes in a Julia Child cook book and to blog about each one.  (I'm not sure how this came about because I missed the first 20 minutes of the movie due to the war games Aaron and the boys were having.)  She has many disasters in the kitchen that hit oh-so-close to home for me.  (See blogs Poop, Its What's For Dinner and Thanksgiving ProDUCKtion.)    In one scene Julia Child advises to never give an excuse for how your meal turned out.  Basically act like that's how it's supposed to look and taste.  Caren has similarly told me to never let on that someone else made it or to how many times it took you to get the recipe right. 

The part that pulled on me the most though was Julia's quest for publication.  I've written several children's books.  Two that I have actively tried to times.  I get weary of it after a year of rejection letters and I set the manuscripts aside and then something, like this movie, will spur me on again.  Both characters also had supportive husbands who truly believed that their wives talents would come to something.  Much like myself.  Aaron is always encouraging me to write and paint and to do something with them to make money from.  (Ever the capitalist!)  The thing is, he really thinks that people would pay to read my stories.  My mother is a librarian and she believes my stories are publishable too.  It seems the only people who disagree are the publishers. Boo to them. 

One of the stories I've written is a historical fiction about Rosa Parks and the bus boycott.  It's told from a fictional characters point of view, a little boy named Adali.  Twice my book was picked up by publishers.  The first time was when I was still in high school.  A small press picked it up and I signed a contract.  A year later I had not heard anything regarding my book.  I sent the company a letter to which I got no response.  I tried to call and the number was "no longer in service."  I was a little panicked about this.  Someone had my manuscript and I had no idea how to contact them!  After some research by my mother we found them.  Shaken by their unreliability, we broke contract with them. 

Fast forward about a decade.  My husband gave me a printer for Christmas with a note attached that read, "Get that book published so that I can retire and open a Starbucks."  So I tried again.  (I also wrote another story during this time.  A fractured fairytale of The Little Red Hen.)  I got another taker with in the year!  It was another small press.  As contracts were written up I discovered that they had no "brick and mortar" access.  This means the book would not be in book stores.  They had no means to advertise the book either.  Basically what it came down to is that the press was actually a vanity press and they were trying to publish some other authors to become a publishing company.  (I think you have to have 12 authors that do not include yourself, to qualify as a publishing company.)  I would need to do a lot of the selling, which was fine because I was pretty sure lots of schools would be interested.  The thing that deterred me from this press was that when I questioned the brick and mortar and what they would be doing to sell my book, they became defensive and Aaron and I felt this was rather unprofessional.  There was nothing accusatory or wrong with the questions I had asked.  So we passed on the contract.  (I still wonder if that was wise or not...)

There is a scene in "Julie and Julia" where Julie finds out what Julia thinks of her blog.  I had a similar occurrence with Rosa Parks.  Rosa Parks came to Texas Woman's University while I was attending there.  She came to promote her own book and to sign them.  I really hoped to give her a copy of my manuscript and to maybe get her input and a possible autograph on one of my copies.  Alas, you could not see Mrs. Parks unless you had purchased her book.  I had not and could not.  (Those were lean times for me.)  So I cried outside of the room where she was signing books.  I did not even get a glimpse of her.  My RA was assigned to chauffeur Mrs. Parks about and offered to give my manuscript to her.  I was thrilled!

I honestly don't know if she really did give it to her.  I asked her what she thought and she said Mrs. Parks had liked it but I really don't know that she even read it.  I did read, years later, that she said it bothered her that people tell her story saying that she did not give up her seat because she was tired.  That's just not how it went down.  It was a planned and deliberate protest.  She was specially picked because of her background of being a pristine citizen.  Reading that made me sad because my little story did say she had been "tired."  That's what all the research had said.  But my research was over ten years old.  So I re-researched and have considered re-writing the book.  Every time I start to though I get sick of it.  I've had this stupid manuscript for almost 20 years.  I'm tired of looking at it!

Seeing Julia Child rip open a letter of acceptance from a publisher and then later a big envelope with her book in it....*sigh*  How I wish I could have that experience!!!  It seems unlikely...but I still hope for it and I will still probably send out my Parks story and Hen story.  I'll get more rejection letters.  Nothing wrong with a little humility. 

And so I blog.  It's really not that I'm narcissistic...well, not completely.  I've been told you are not a writer if you don't write.  This at least keeps me writing and anything that is too personal I write in ink in a journal.  I try to keep it very real and open though.  I once confessed to something to which the other person than confessed to me that they too thought the way I did.  I have since found that lots of people think, feel, do things the way I do.  There is great comfort in knowing that you are not a nut.  It's great to know that you can love your children while wanting nothing more than to get away from them AND you are still considered to be a good mom despite it!  Everyone likes knowing that you too have questions about your faith or can't cook or have unreasonable angst about your weight.  So, I let it all out there assuming that someone else can relate or, if they can't relate, that they at least find it amusing. 

I don't expect to become famous from my blogs but it would be super cool if one day a publisher read it.  Wouldn't it?  In the mean time I have 8 subscribed followers.  Unless they read my blogs over and over I actually have close to 30.  Thirty people who actually take interest in my writing!  It has changed the way I view my day.  I used to loathe when people would ask "what's new and exciting?"  It seemed to me nothing was.  I was on another diet.  I did laundry.  My kid threw tomatoes down the stairs.  Maybe that is still pretty hum drum to some but I have been seeing more of the humor in my every day things, more of the romance and color.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Party! Party! Party! Party!

Since we learned of our mutual love of parties, Caren and I have been whipping them up about once a month.  For Halloween we hosted a spooky-fab bash that was talked about (and recovered from) from for days.  Then there was the Gingerbread House Competition born from my desire for a Who-ville Christmas and Caren's longing to bring back an old tradition.  Around the same time I learned that most of my friends husbands enjoy playing Poker.

"What about a Poker Party?"  I suggested

"We should totally do that!"  Kevin got excited and suggested a western themed Poker Party.

"No...I got it," quipped Caren, "We should do it for Valentines Day and call it 'Love is a Gamble.'"

Of course this was the best ever!  Yesterday Caren and I brain-stormed.  She thought it would be fun to deliver cookies to the guests with the invite attached.  I suggested we make double-heart cookies and ice them like dice. 

We had plans for lunch and shoe shopping today.  Since it would be a long day, I brought Drake to play with the Pack (Caren's 3 dogs.)  When I arrived, she had already made and iced 30 cookies. 

"The frosting will harden while we shop and then we can add the little dots to make them look like dice," she said.

We had an awesome time at lunch with the ladies and had much success on the shoe shopping trip.  Home we went, happy and full!  When Caren opened the door to her house she screamed and laughed.

"What?  What is it?!" 

"The dogs are in the house!"

Two of Caren's dogs and Drake were in the house.  (I should've locked the sliding glass doors...oops!)  I suspect Drake opened the door and then ushered his buddies in.  We surveyed the Unauthorized House Party:

The 30 iced cookies Caren had made were completely gone.  Though I have to give them credit for the clean up because there was not even a crumb left behind.  There had been a bowl of icing on the counter as well, that had been covered in Saran Wrap.  Not only was the icing gone but so was the Saran Wrap.  We found a half eaten marker and someone had peed on the floor.  The biggest mess was the popcorn.  Caren had a brand new bag of popcorn kernels (because she does not microwave anything) and the dogs had ripped it open and spilled the kernels all over the floor!  It was a mess.  The dogs, always wound up when they greet you, were super hyper from all of the sugar they ate.

"Oh Caren, these dogs are going to be so sick!"

"Who ate the Saran Wrap?!  I mean...who ate the Saran Wrap?!"

To her credit she just laughed and laughed.  I am glad she could see the humor in it because I feel totally responsible.  I did not lock the door and I know that Drake can open doors.  He's worked knobs at my house a couple of times so a sliding glass door was no sweat.  It was hilarious and kind of a fun way to wrap up a delicious day!  I better head to bed now though because tomorrow I have cookies to bake... : /

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Red Faced

All week I have kept to my diet.  I fought the urge to weigh myself and I exercised daily.  I also prepared for a visit from dear friends of ours from our neighborhood in Texas.  They were to arrive on Saturday. 

Our friends have two boys who were buddies with mine and so we were all really excited.  There would be someone for everyone!  The youngest announced to his class that he was going to see real snow for the first time in his life.  We still had some snow on the ground but it was quickly melting with the unusually warm weather we were experiencing.  Drew and I prayed for snow.  Drew specifically prayed that the snow would melt so that our friends flight would not be delayed and that the next day it would snow up to our thighs so our friends could see snow fall.  Ha!

Saturday morning I got busy.  I needed to clean the house, start a stew in the crock pot and take Gabriel to a birthday party.  Aaron wanted to take the boys out to shop for supplies for their Pinewood Derby cars as the Cub Scouts were having a race in a week.  I thought this was a great idea!  It would allow me to clean undisturbed. 

"I think I'm going to buy them some paint," Aaron told me.

"Um...really?  Paint?  You know I have tons and tons of acrylic paints, right?"

He and the boys went to the hardware store and returned with 6 cans of spray paint.  OK... 

By now I have the upstairs clean and looking lovely.  I still needed to start the stew, clean the basement bathroom, make the guest bed, and vacuum the basement.  Oh and a shower would be excellent!  Before starting that I needed to take Gabe to his friends birthday party.  Aaron could take him but the birthday boys mom had just had a baby and I wanted to congratulate her personally and deliver a gift to her.  After I got home there were only 2 hours until our guests were to arrive.  Eek!

I surveyed the basement.  I noticed that Aaron left the spray paint he bought on the pub table.  He would need to put those away before the guests arrived.  I needed to get the stew started first and then I would tackle the mess downstairs.  I headed up to get things started.  Drew was playing in the basement.  Aaron was cleaning the garage.  I heard him coming in and out and at one time instructing Drew not to mess with the paints. 

I got all of the ingredients out for my stew but found that I was out of red pepper flakes.  I was just about to call Caren to see if she had any when I heard Drew making a hammering noise downstairs.  That can't be good...  I decided to invite him up to help me with dinner.

"No thanks.  I'm playing."

"What are you playing?"


Just as I thought that I should find out just what "nothing" is; I heard a Pssssssssssssssssssssssst sound coming from the basement followed by Drew screaming "OH NO!!!  Aaaaaaaaagh!"

I flew downstairs to see a geyser of red spray paint shooting off from my coffee table.  I grabbed the can and ran to the sliding glass door to chuck it out onto the deck.  The door was locked.  So while I fumbled with the door, paint sprayed in my face, getting in my eyes and splattered the glass door.  I finally got it open and tossed the can on to the deck.  As this is happening Aaron, having heard the commotion, comes charging in.  I have to say that I loved, loved, loved his response to seeing the mess that had been made by his son's disobedience of his direct order. 

"Buddy are you OK?!"  he said as he ran to Drew's side.  Then he noticed the can spraying on the deck.  Aaron ran out to toss the can into the yard (Duh.  Much better then repainting the deck) then he rushed back to Drew.

"Settle down buddy.  Did any get in your mouth?  Your eyes?" 

I was trying to blink out the paint that was in my eyes and assess my home.  Before that could be done though Drake came charging through the house.  Aaron had left the door open!  Drake always heads upstairs to hunt for the cats.  Aaron ran after him (You can imagine the shouting and cursing at Drake!) and I ushered Drew into the bathroom and started the tub.

"Take your clothes off Drew," I instructed over his wailing.  Inside I felt like the exploding paint can.  Anger spewed over his disobedience, worry for his safety, empathy for how bad the little guy was already feeling (not to mention that he was scared about the consequence) and stress because in less then two hours I would have a house full of guests.  I looked in the mirror and saw that I would be meeting these guests with a red splattered face.  I went into the living room to what appeared to be a scene from a slasher movie.  Red paint was puddled on the coffee table and splattered across the sliding glass door, dripping down, down to our new carpet.  Not to mention the Zorro sprayed on the front deck. 


Aaron tended to Drew while I tried to clean the sliding glass door.  I was going to need paint thinner.  I also needed red pepper flakes for my stew.  I commenced calling Caren.

"Do you have paint thinner and red pepper flakes we can borrow?"

It was Kevin who answered, "We do!  Come on over, I'll open a bottle of wine."

"I can't.  My diet."

"Aw..." he teased, "...too bad!"

I headed over thinking how much I would really enjoy that glass of wine right now.  When I got to the door I knocked and let myself in.  Our friends Dave and Melissa were there too.  Kevin, Caren, Dave and Melissa all looked at me with horror struck expressions.

"What is that?"  Caren asked.  (She late confessed to me that she thought I had a terrible rash and was thinking don't bring that rash in here!!!)

"It's paint."  I proceeded to relay my story to them.  It was hard to be heard however, over the gales of laughter. 

"Wait a minute,"  Kevin snorted, "let me get a picture of you.  I've got to send this to my mother!"

"Nice, Kev.  Nice." 

"Hey, aren't your friends here?"  Kevin asked.

"They will be here in less than two hours."

"Oh well this is an emergency!"  Kevin ran off to get the paint thinner.

While we waited for Kevin, Caren got her iPhone out for pictures as well. 
"This is the funniest thing ever!  I must say, you are handling this much better than I would be!"

My friends all laughed as I posed with the paint thinner and the GoJo that Kevin brought up for me.  I got the red pepper flakes and took my walk of shame home.  It was later reported to me that the four laughed all night about our little...accident, and took turns telling how they think they would've reacted.

When I got home I handed Aaron the GoJo to start scrubbing Drew's face with.  It has pumice in it so this was none to pleasant for him.  I could hear him in there apologizing profusely the whole time.  Before Aaron got to scrubbing though I got tickled with my friends response and thought a picture had to be taken.  Drew was not so ready to laugh about it but I told him he owed us this picture:

I left Aaron to the Drew-mess and I took the thinner and set to work on the sliding glass door and then the coffee table.  It messed up the coffee table a bit but it's an old beat up one as it is.  The carpet has splatter and drips on it but I left it unattended.  That would have to be tackled another time.
Amazingly, we got it all done.  The bathroom was clean, the bed made, the basement vacuumed and dinner prepared.  I also got my much needed shower though it was not the leisurely one I had hoped for.  Instead I was scrubbing my face with the pumice.  I have to tell you, that stuff made my skin so shiny and smooth!  I may have to add it to the beauty regime...

This is the best we got with Drew:

It took all weekend but the paint is finally gone from his face.  Mostly....
Everything was finished just as my friend text that she was turning onto our street.  WHEW!  We had a wonderful visit with them with a lot of laughs at Drew's and I's expense.  The Texas kids were much impressed with our patches of remaining snow.  The boys had so much fun sledding and building snowmen.  My friends youngest boy kept rolling in it and wrestling with it.  It was hilarious.  We never got the thigh deep snow fall though we did see some flurries.  God answered our prayer for fun in the snow and snow fall but did it His way.  Of course!

I stayed on my diet though I confess to having a piece of popcorn and a glass of wine.  I forgot all about the scale until this a.m.  I was getting another diet friendly breakfast together when it hit me It's TUESDAY! Biggest Loser tonight and Team Purple gets to weigh in!!!  As an unofficial member of Team Purple,  I was so excited that I could finally weigh myself!  I ran into the bathroom and stripped down.  I had a glance over at myself in the bathroom mirror.

I think I look trimmer....Yes!

I just knew I'd see great numbers!  I hopped on and...the dial moved pound.  I couldn't believe it.  I immediately recalled my Aunt Marilyn saying "remember that muscle weighs more than fat."   I tried to give myself a pep talk all morning.  I text Caren who cheered for my loss.

After I got my friends off to the airport and Drew off to school (Gabriel had to stay home sick) I headed to Caren's for Baking Day.  I was going to make an Asian Chicken Salad. 

"You don't seem like your usual self..."  Caren assessed.

"Really?  I guess I'm sad my friends left and I'm really bummed that I only lost one pound."

"Here,"  Caren said as she placed four sticks of butter in my hand, "this is what you lost.  Now put that on your butt."

"I wish I could put it on my butt.  That's where I need it." 

I was so mad about the measly one pound that I went ahead and had a cookie today.  So...take that you stupid diet!  Now I'm back in the saddle but if I don't lose at least two pounds this week then I quit.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

O, The Biggest Loser

One of my oldest and dearest childhood friends, Olivia Curlee Ward, is a contestant on The Biggest Loser with her sister, Hannah Curlee.  I grew up with these ladies though I was closer to Olivia than Hannah.  Hannah was the baby sister so mostly I just remember a lot of "Hannah!  Get out!" and the door closed behind her.  I'm so proud of them both and inspired by the whole cast of the show. 

Seeing truly fat people has been good for me.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and can like what I see.  I used to work out a lot so even though I've not gained too much, I see that all the tone has left and turned to fat.  Than I think I'm fat.  (In fact I felt bad for calling the contestants of TBL fat, yet I have no qualms about labeling myself as such.)  In the last 3 years I've gained about 5 lbs a year.  I have to put the breaks on that.  I also have to put the breaks on my language because I am not fat.  I am out of shape to be sure, but I am not fat.  I'm trying not to cry even as I write this because I'm still not sold on it.  When I see the contestants on The Biggest Loser though, I KNOW I'm not fat.  I do not have that commonality with them physically but inside I think we are very similar people. 

On this weeks episode one contestant, Arthur, was presented with the challenge of not eating donuts (even one that had fallen to the ground.)  He said the donuts were calling to him, Eat me!  I know that voice and yes, I have considered eating something that has fallen on the ground or even a piece of cake wrapped in a napkin that someone carelessly threw away.  I will hide that I am eating something "naughty."  Like an addict.  Then there is the constant weighing in.  I'm so afraid that I will get as fat as the fat person inside me.  I have a weight that I will not cross so I check everyday to see how close I am to it.  Just before the move I crossed it by 5 lbs., further reinforcing my belief that I am fat.  Thankfully, the lifestyle here has helped me to get rid of that 5 lbs but I am at "that weight" and so I am in constant concern for the crossover. 

I weigh myself first thing in the morning before I eat breakfast and then sometimes later on in the day before I take a shower.  Sometimes there is a third weigh in if I've just worked out.  Someone asked me the other day if ones weight really changes that much through out the day.  It does.  My weight can fluctuate from 1-4 lbs through out a day. 

This Tuesday the whole family was watching TBL and we had to pause it half way through and put our kids to bed.  We decided its a little too grown up for them to watch.  A Dr. on the show showed the contestants their inner age.  This really started to disturb Gabriel who was then concerned with when we will die.  Drew concerned me the most though.  While Gabe is a skinny lad (born that way, taking after his father) Drew was born a roly poly boy and he still is.  I have always watched his diet more than Gabriel's in part because he is so obsessed with food.  He also really wants to be a chef though and so I don't want to completely squash that love of food.  I don't like when after finishing one meal he starts to ask about the next meal.  Not that I have never done that myself.  I will go to bed full of anticipation for the awesome breakfast that I have planned in the a.m.  But Drew upset me when while watching the show he announced that he should be on the show.

"What?  No you shouldn't buddy.  Why do you say that?"  I asked.

"Because I'm fat."

"No you're not.  Where have you ever heard that?  Why do you say you are fat?"

"Well, we were going to play Alvin and the Chipmunks at school ant the other kids said I should be Theodore because I'm fat."

"Oh buddy, I'm so sorry.  You are not fat though, OK?"

"Yes I am.  Look at my hands and look at Gabe's.  My hands are much bigger than Gabe's."

"That's just how God made you," Aaron piped in.  "You know when your Uncle Matt and I were kids he was always bigger than me even though he is my little brother.  You and Brother are like Uncle Matt and I."

On that note we shut the show off from them and got them ready for bed.  When the kids were in the bathroom brushing their teeth, Drew got on the scale.  The sight scared me some.  I do not want him to start weighing himself.  He can not start that obsession!

"See, I weigh more than brother."

"Drew, get off that scale.  You do not need to weigh yourself.  We told you, Bug, you are just right.  God made you perfect.  He made you different from Brother but you are just right.  There is not a fat body in this house."  I winced inside.

"Well, I don't want anymore candy or ice cream or any sweets and I need to join some kid exercise classes."

"You can enjoy sweets, Bug, but you are more than welcome to cut them back.  That's a healthy thing to do.  And you can exercise when you play or by playing a sport, like when you played soccer."

"I want to play Little League Football in the fall."

"OK, buddy, that sounds like a plan."

So we tucked everyone one into bed and we prayed for healthy mindsets as well as healthy bodies and lifestyles.  I was washed with guilt realizing my verbage and habits were being picked up on by my son.  I have always thought that mothers of daughters should be so careful of that but now I was seeing the effects of this in my own son. 

"Mom, what do you think of yourself?"  Gabriel asked the next morning, "Do you think you look good or do you think you look fat?  Because I don't think you are fat."

"I think that I am out of shape.  I used to be stronger and healthier and I am dieting and exercising to try to get back to that,"  I said to him as well as myself.

"Good.  Because you are beautiful!"

I am on a mission to lose weight.  I have a wedding in March that I want to look good for.  I do not want to be the fat bridesmaid (I already get to be the short one.)  So, I have been upping the exercise and doing South Beach, which is a diet I have had success with in the past.  The first two weeks are very strict with the goal of breaking the bodies addiction to carbs and sugar.  For two weeks there are no grains, fruit, sugar or alcohol.  After that, fruit and some grains are allowed back into the diet.  (Oh and that glass of wine I love can return.) 

Monday went well enough.  Tuesday was Baking Day.  SO FREAKIN' hard to not eat the big beautiful buttermilk bread, banana muffins, and peanut butter balls.  Even the healthy salad one made had rice in it.  Waaagh!  But my friends would not let me falter. We even picked out South Beach friendly recipes for next weeks Baking Day.  That night we watched TBL and I was all upset about Drew-bugs response to it that I vowed to only weigh myself on Tuesday.  Once a week, just like the contestants.  They work hard not knowing if they are making any progress or not. 

Wednesday I went snow shoeing.  WHEW!  Very hard work out.  The hardest part was trying to breathe really.  It's been six months but I am still not acclimated.  Very frustrating....  My chest was hurting from lack of oxygen and the cold air.  Strangely, the pain radiated to my shoulders and neck.  I thought of Hannah and Olivia and how hard they were working and would not let that hill get the best of me.  Going down hill was much easier, of course, but still a good work out.  (PS I have amazingly patient friends who took a slower pace to wait for me.  They also said I did an awesome job!  So kind!)  When I got home I hit the shower.  That is my usual time to weigh myself.  I had two reasons to want to weigh.  One: I had just had a strenuous work out and two: I was about to get in the shower.  I pulled the scale out with my foot, from under my sink...then I tucked it back under there.  Olivia finds out in a week.  I will wait too. 

That evening is our weekly Pizza Night that we have with our friends.  I wanted pizza so bad!  There was also chips and salsa, cookies and wine.  The thing I wanted most were those COOKIES!!!!  These friends gave me permission to cheat. 

"Have a glass of wine or at least one cookie." 

They argued that deprivation makes the body think its starving and so will harbor the fat.  The thing is I did have a big salad so I did not think that my body thought it was starving.  I knew if Caren were there she would not let me cheat and I knew that Olivia was not cheating.  So I fought the urge.

Today I gave Drake a short walk and then went with Caren to a work out with her trainer.

"It's just like Biggest Loser!  You'll love it!"

It was definitely not the regular program.  We started with a circuit of 3 minutes on a treadmill, pushing a weighted sleigh across the floor and then sprinting down and up (pushing sleigh and sprinting 4X), 2 sets of 8 pull ups and chin ups, 200....whatevers...on this ski thing, and then up and down the stairs 10 times.  We did the circuit twice, lessening the amounts some on the second time around.  The next circuit had us jumping rope 50 times (which apparently I can not jump rope...), bouncing a medicine ball off a wall 25 times, 50 trunk twists with a medicine ball, lunges and squat presses with a tube full of water, 20, 20 and 20 of different exercises with this big weighted rope, and then we flipped a tractor tire down the length of the gym and back, only to slam it with a sledge hammer 12 times with each arm.  We also did that circuit twice.  But that's not all!  We then went into a room that had a long bar across the roof.  Hanging from that were stirrups.  We put our feet in the stirrups and did a variety of torturous exercises. 

I was dying from the first circuit.  I was totally ready to go home after that.  I kept thinking of O and Hannah and wondering how in the world were they doing it.  Ladies, my hat is off to you because you are much tougher than me!  Once home I again glared at my scale.

Not today.  When I get on Tuesday though you BETTER have good news for me.

I've decided to take all of this one day at a time.  I'm working on a lot here.  I'm trying to change my thinking, my habits, and my body.  I really can't wait for week three of my diet, when I can have some fruit and that glass of wine....Oo!  I think I can have dark chocolate too!  As I walked down to the bus stop I noticed how the snow was dingy.  Kind of looks like the cinnamon powder that they put on donuts....

Monday, January 3, 2011

To the New Year!

After many ignored petitions to The Snow Maker, we finally got a forecast for 100% snow!  Woo hoo!!!  The morning of December 30th was cold but with still no snow.  The boys were invited to a friends house, here in the hood so I took them over and returned home to get my house in order before my guests and the New Year arrived.  Around 10:30 the snow began to fall.  Big, beautiful, fluffy flakes of snow!!! 

"Yea!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!" 

Cleaning house seemed so much more fun when a glance up at the window and the view was of a winter wonderland.  My friend, Lauren and her fiance were flying in that afternoon.  I was so thrilled that there would be snow on their mountain visit!

After the house was clean I went back to get the boys and to visit with my friend for awhile.  She invited me into her garage.  It seems strange, I know, but there was a cozy corner in there with a couch facing a stove.  She had a lovely fire burning and so we were quite warm there with our tea.  (The stove is connected to vents that run into the house so this heats their home.  Isn't that interesting?)  Anywhoo, while we visited the snow continued to fall.

"I hope you don't have trouble getting out of my drive way," she said.

"Oh.  I hadn't thought of that.  Do people often have a hard time with it?"

"When there is snow," she nodded.  Then she tells me that sometimes she even has a hard time getting up her drive with her 4 wheel drive.


I don't have 4wd.  I have a Ford Taurus.  Aaron drives the Explorer because of his commute.  Plus he was going to pick up our guests at the airport that day so he really needed it.

Aaron text that he had my friends and that they were on their way home.  It would be a long slow drive with the icy roads.  I decided to head home.  I wanted to have banana bread baking when they arrived and a fire going in the fireplace.  I rounded up the boys and we headed out.

As my friend had predicted, I could not get out of her driveway.  At the very top of her drive, the car sat and spun her tires.  I got out and sort of dug the snow away from the front of the tires.  I got back in the car and gave it another go.  The little path I dug worked and I went just as far as I had dug.  About 5 inches.  I tried to call my friend to see if she could give me some instruction but she was on the phone.  So I called Caren.

"Try going in reverse back down her drive and park your car.  Then I'll pick you up."

I looked down the steep driveway that was lined with forest on either side.

"Um...Caren, I don't think I can maneuver that."

"I'll try calling her then.  She has an ATV with a plow on it.  Maybe she can plow you out."  Caren was able to get ahold of her and my friend came hiking up her driveway. 

"My husband took the ATV hunting!" she shouted.


About this time a Monster Truck  pulled up.  I kid you not, this thing pretty much roared "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!" from it's exhaust pipe.  The window rolled down and out popped the head of, what appeared to be, a 14 year old boy.

"Do you ladies need help?"  At least it sounded like his voice had already changed.

"Yes!" my friend answered.

"Give me about 5 minutes.  I'll run home and get my chain."

I was glad that it appeared that I would be rescued but leery of my heroes youth.

"Do you think he will know what he's doing?"  I asked my friend.

"Oh sure!" 

True to his word, Baby Face returned with his Monster Truck and chain.  He asked that my friend stand up the road a little, just ahead of the curve, so that if other cards were coming she could let them know what was going on up ahead.

I like that.  That shows wisdom.  Maybe he does know what to do.

Baby Face then arranged his truck to be in front of my car.  He layed down in the snow and hooked the chain to something under my car. 

"You're sure you know what you're doing?"


After that was accomplished he came to me with this huge chain in his hand and says, "I'm going to attach this to my truck.  I need you to hold this end while I drive up a bit to tighten it up."

I whispered a trashy version of "poop" as he placed the heavy chain in my hand and I placed my trust in Baby Face.

As he hooked the other end to his truck my friend up the road yells, "I sure wish I had my camera right now!"

There I stood, ankle deep in snow.  My sons are in my car with a chain attached to it.  I am holding the chain that is now attached to a Monster Truck and the Baby Face driver is slowly pulling the truck up and the chain tightens.  I would've loved for her to have had a camera too.  I had visions of being dragged down the road behind this truck.

Baby Face poked out of the window again.

"OK, now I need you to drive your car as I pull you out.  Don't gun it though or you are going to fly into the back of my truck.  OK?"

"Got it."

I got back in the car and the boys were so excited.

"That is the coolest truck ever, Mom!"  Drew shouted.

"Yep."  I tried to get buckled.  Before I got it snapped though, Baby Face pulled forward.

Poop!  (Except I thought the other colorful version again.)

I quickly put the car in gear and pulled up.  With as much ease as picking a flower, the Monster Truck plucked us right out of my friends driveway.  Baby Face climbed out of his truck and unhooked everything. 

"Thank you so much!"  I called to him.

"No problem.  Good luck getting home!"

Yeah, really.  I still have to get up our driveway...

I followed behind the Monster Truck.

"Mom, don't you think you should do something for him?" Gabriel asked.

"You are right son.  I would love to."

"Don't you have any money?" 

"Not on me dear.  He lives nearby so we will see where he goes and then I'll do something nice after the snow is gone."

"His parents must be so proud of him," Gabe said.

"I'm sure you're right buddy!" I laughed, "I will be sure to let his parents know what he did."

I was nervous the rest of the drive down.  Going up the hill was icy but the car went slow.  I would be fighting gravity and ice on the way down.  I came to the biggest part of the hill.  The part where we would go down.  The part that when I walk up, I try not too talk too much because I need every bit of  breath I have.  (Stop laughing Caren.  I really do try not to talk on that stretch!)  I turned the car and shifted into neutral.  We slowly rolled down the hill.  Everything was so beautiful!  I cheered for the pretty snow that was still falling. 

Our street is at the bottom of this big hill and then ours is up the side of a hill as well.  Clear as mud?  Basically, when we got down this big hill I had to turn my car up another hill.  The car went about 6 feet and got stuck again.  It just could not climb up these icy roads.  I took out my phone:

"Caren?  I'm stuck again."

"Try going in at the second entrance.  It's not as steep.  Maybe you can make that and if not back out and drive down to the fire station.  Lot's of people park down there because they can't get up.  I can pick you up there."

"OK.  I'll try the second entrance.  Stay by your phone though in case I need you to get me at the station."

So, I backed out and slid down to the next entrance.  Caren, was right and my car went up with only little difficulty.  But then....rrrrrr....the car got stuck again.  This time, I'm only about a house away from Caren's.  She has a low spot in her yard that I hoped I could park in. 

In the trunk of my car was Gabriel's Homework Halloween costume.  It was made of poster board.  I got out of the car and used the poster board to dig, dig, dig two trails in front of my tires.  This time I dug them long enough for me to reach Caren's driveway.  I got back in the car and called Caren again.

"It's me.  I got stuck again but I think I can get into the low part of your driveway and park in your yard.  Would that be OK?  Because I know I won't be able to make it up my drive."

"Sure!  If that doesn't work you can at least park down in front of your property near your drive.  But try to get up in my yard because otherwise when they do come to plow, your car is going to be covered."

"K.  I'll call you if there is another glitch."  And then to the boys: "OK fellas.  We are going to try again!"

Drew began to pray, "Lord please, please make the snow stop so we can get home."

"No Lord!  Don't let the snow stop!  We love it!!!!"  Gabriel countered.

"Guys, it's all good.  If you are going to pray anything, pray that I can get this car into Ms. Caren's yard."

But I couldn't.  The trails I dug worked and I got to the base of her driveway but I could not go up it.  I backed out and went to park down near our house as Caren had suggested.  Then the boys and I hiked up the driveway in the snow.

As difficult as all of this sounds it was so much fun!  The kids and I got in as fast as we could and got the hot cocoa going.  I lit a fire and got started on the banana bread.  It was not even in the oven when Aaron, Lauren and Ryan walked in.  This means, that it took almost as long for me to get home from a house in our neighborhood as it did for them to get to our house on the slow track from the airport!  Ha!

We had a great visit with our friends.  We sled in our front yard and built a snowman.  He's a sad little guy because the snow was not very wet and did not pack well.  We had a pretty pathetic snowball fight too but it was still fun.  Aaron shoveled the driveway while we all played.  Yeah.  He shoveled our 250 ft. long driveway.  That's on a hill.  This is fun to him though so...  New Year's Eve we played board games until midnight.  We had a champagne toast to the year and then I cried while we sang Auld Lang Syne. 

I have resolved to watch my language more this year.  I would like to be more lady-like.  So, I will not say anything that my kids can't say.  Also, I hope to watch how much I talk.  To not delve out opinions unless requested and to watch my mouth in general.  No more negative talk to myself.  That goes for you too thoughts.  At least I hope to achieve this.  New Year's Day was a fail on all of the above. 

Day two of 2011, we took our guests skiing.

Skiing is not something I'm really a fan of.  I have not been in 14 years so I was nervous.  At first I was excitedly nervous but as the car got closer and closer to the slopes the excited part quieted and the nervous part grew.  My kids were nervous too.  Drew said that only idiots would ski.  It's too dangerous.

"Only idiots let fear keep them from doing things in life, son.  It's OK to be scared but if you let the fear rule you, you will never do anything fun in life."  I told my sons this and tried to believe it myself.

Aaron took the boys to lessons and Lauren, Ryan and I hit the slopes.  I made them promise not to leave me.  They promised.

Before we entered the lift we double checked to be sure we were going on a green.  I was shaking I was so scared and cold.  Before I could get out of it though a lift chair scooped up the three of us.  Ryan and Lauren were comfortably admiring the beautiful views.  I clung to the lifts bar for dear life.

"I change my mind.  I want off.  I want off!"

LauRyan just sort of laughed and tried to encourage me to enjoy the view.  Wind kicked up the powder at the top of the mountain.

"Look at that!"  Lauren gushed, "I love that!  So pretty!"

All I saw was strong wind.  Wind that will probably accelerate my descent down the mountain.   I saw cold powdery snow that would soon be whipped up into my face.  The lift was incredibly long.  Even LauRyan was wondering when we would reach the top.  I could see skiers below.  Many were going really fast.  "Shredding" they call it.  Some were falling.

"I want off!  When will they let us off? $#%*, $#%*!  As soon as we can I'm getting off and if it's a blue instead of a green they can drive me down."

"You will be fine.  Remember what you told your kids this morning?"  Lauren reminded me.

I tried hard not to cry.

"Why are all of my friends so adventurous?!"  I lamented, "they make me float rivers..."

"Please.  Floating a river is not scary!  That's relaxing," Lauren said.

"Yeah, well I got dumped and went down the rapids with no $%#@*  tube!  I want off!"

"Michal, that's enough," was Lauren's honey toned response.

Then we saw, what looked like a place to get off.  But apparently it was only for getting on.  I thought I would try anyway.  I called to the guys manning the lift, "Could I please get off here?!"

"Ah... hell no!"  he laughed.

Lauren and Ryan laughed too!  It was kind of funny.  Kind of.

We were only half way up at this point.  The lift ride took 15 minutes, people!  The high that day was only about 20 degrees and it was getting colder as we went up.

"I can't feel my face," Ryan said.  But he said it like that was cool.

We finally reached the top and the views were so amazing and majestic that it scared me even more.  We were waaaaaaaaay up there.  LauRyan let me go as slow as I liked.  It all came back to me.  I was still very afraid but the ski lift ride was more scary then the actual skiing.  There was a couple of moments where things were so pretty and quiet.  I allowed the beauty to calm my spirit a bit.  I tried to go where Lauren went.  Seeing her make it safely was reassuring.  About half way down, Lauren took off on her own and Ryan would go and then stop to wait for me.  It endeared him to me all the more!  Other skiers swish, swish, swished around me.  At one point a father and his 3 year old daughter blew past me.  The humility of that and the fact that I was getting cold caused me to pick up my pace a bit.  Once I got to the bottom Ryan directed me to the bar.  We would find Lauren there waiting for us with Bloody Mary's.  God bless that woman.

"I am sorry I was so slow guys,"  I apologized.

"Not at all.  I am so proud of you!  You conquered your fear!"  Lauren gave me a little hug and passed me my drink.  So good!

The second run was a little easier.  The lift was still scary but better since I knew what was coming.  For some reason when it was time to get off I was not quite ready.  My ski's never touched the earth and I quickly realized that I would have to jump.  It sounds much scarier then it was.  I was only like a foot high.  Still, I fell flat on my back.  It didn't hurt that bad.  What hurt was the snowboarder who was unloading after me.  He careened into my leg.  I have a beautiful bruised egg just above my knee.  Another chair full of people unloaded (and fell while trying to avoid me) before the guys manning the lift noticed. 

"Here, let me help you out of the way so no one runs into you," one offered.

"Too late," I told him.

I got back into my ski's and headed out down the slope.  I had told LauRyan not to worry about me so much this time.  It was agreed that when they got to the bottom they would immediately board the lift again to try some other runs and I would go rest in the lodge a bit.  They would still stop periodically to look up the slope to see how I was doing.  At one point though I lost a ski.  I didn't fall.  I was going so slow I sort of walked out of it.  I don't think I ever got back in it right when I lost it on my jump off of the lift.  So I tried to get it on but the snow was too deep and my ski would just sink into it instead of snapping onto my boot.  I decided to walk a ways until I was in a safer spot and also a more solid spot.  I was way too far up the mountain to try and walk the whole thing.

I was worried for LauRyan.  I did not want them to be waiting for me and I knew they would be worried for me.  Just then a snow "ambulance" flew up the slope. 

Oh great.  They are going to think that's for me. 

I finally got to a place where I would try to get the skis on again.  It was a lot of work.  I kept wondering where ski patrol was.  Shouldn't there be someone coming by to check on people?  It took about 5 minutes but I finally got my skis on.  Just as I snapped on the last one Ski Patrol swooped in.

"Do you need any help?"

"Nope.  Just got it."

"Great!  Have fun!  Skiing is easier then walking."

"You have'nt seen me ski yet."

The ski "ambulance" went by again with a body dragging behind it.  I tried to pick up my pace because I knew Lauren and Ryan would be worried about me.  Sure enough, when I got to the bottom, Ryan was waiting.  They did not get back on the lift for another run.  They too had seen the ski "ambulance" and wanted to make sure I was alright first.  Ryan again directed me to the bar where Lauren was waiting with another round of Bloody Mary's for us.  As soon as I walked in she came running to me with open arms and a relief washed face.

I suck.

(Dang it!  I can't say that either.)

I did not go back out.  I waited instead for Aaron and the boys while my friends went back out for several more quick runs.  It seems the 2 mile run that took me 30 minutes should really only take about 8 minutes.  Hm.

Today I am sore and bruised but very happy to have that under my belt.  My kids did not enjoy their ski experience either but we are all quite proud of ourselves for Doing it Scared.  My guests are gone and I spent the day putting the house back together.  This afternoon I leashed Drake and we went for a walk up the snow covered hill.  A feeling of normalcy swept over me and then just as quickly I realized how un-normal this is.  Again, I find that I am so undeservedly blessed.