Monday, September 26, 2011

Oh What A Knight

I never thought I would say it but...thank God it's Monday!  This weekend has been pack full of fun and work.  Fun work but, whew! 

Friday night: 

Evita performance followed by karaoke with my brother-in-law and his friends.  Rolled into the driveway around 1:30 a.m.  Guess who has two thumbs and is not a teenager anymore?  This lady!  In the a.m. I had a much needed appointment with my chiropractor, followed by a 3 mile walk and then Caren and I decorated a friends house for a special Vegas style high school homecoming party.

Saturday night:

I was so tired I contemplated guzzling down a cup of coffee.  Being reminded by friends of the detrimental results caffeine has on my body, I opted to splash water on my face and pressed on for another Evita performance.  This was our best yet!  Still so proud of us all.  After our fans let us leave (ha) I met my husband and BIL at an after party for Matt Hughes, MMA fighter.  I again met cheek to pillow at about 1:30.  Ug.

Sunday hurt a little more then Saturday but there was no rest for the weary.  While my BIL made an amazing Castle Cake for the Bug's birthday party, I decorated the house with banners I had worked on all week.  I also tried to finish making gauntlets and shin armor for his Knight costume that he was to wear at his party.  Unable to finish I brought the project to the show with me and managed to complete them while Eva died.  Good thing it's sort of a long scene...

Sunday night:

Evita performance.  My personal best but as a whole I don't think we were as awesome as the previous night.  My BIL and some of my gal pals came to see the show.  It was so fun to see them after!  We had a brief pow wow regarding the main production of the weekend, Drew-Bug's birthday party, and then headed to the house to get the party started!

I had a few more decorations to set up and changed into a Queen costume.  My King was in the backyard grilling the courtly grub we were to serve to the party goers.  I found Drew sitting on the trunk of my car, in full armor.

"Whatchya doing Sir Drew?"

"Waiting for my guests to arrive..."  and then seeing a friend walking up the drive, "Who goes there?!"

Drew's uncle bought armor, helmets and swords for the kids.  He arranged a battle field and had the kids fight in a medieval styled game of Capture The Flag.  The kids had so much fun!  It sounded and looked so authentic with shouts of CHARGE as they ran towards each other, foam swords thumping.

My friends/neighbors, Kevin and Caren arrived with their daughters.  Kevin rented himself a Black Knight costume and Caren a gorgeous Queen's gown!  It was such a fun surprise!  My son is so loved.

The kids had a great time trying to take down the Black Knight.  Kevin valiantly braved the onslaught of enraged mini-knights.  The rest of us enjoyed the revelry from the Royal Box. 

"Is this a rich kingdom or a poor kingdom?"  Caren asked, waving an empty wine glass to me.

"Ha!  I love it!  We are a rich kingdom indeed madame!"

Aaron grabbed a "goblet" for me as well and took care of Caren's empty glass.  One of my favorite lines of the evening, Caren!

Also making Drew's party extra special was that his teacher showed up!  She is a dear friend of ours and was at the Evita matinee.  Upon hearing of the party she schemed to crash it.  The kids loved it!  This lady is like a rock star to these kids.  When the party was over Drew was still talking about how cool it was that she came.

And then there were the Cousineau's!  Thank you so much Stacey for snap, snap, snapping such awesome pictures.  It was so nice to not have to try and do that at the same time as host. 
The kids all enjoyed a yummy dinner of drumsticks, sausage on a stick, fruit and bread.  They had so much fun ripping into the bread which looked so yummy to us adults until the kids touched it...  Ew.  Stacey was also sweet enough to pick up some Root Beer for the kids too so they could drink like medieval knights as well.  Rootskies all around!


There were no injuries.  No sick bellies.  No hurt feelings.  Just fun, fun, fun!   Thanks to all who helped me out this weekend.  Behind every great mom is an onslaught of amazing family and friends.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rave Reviews!

The last two weeks I have finally felt a change in my attitude towards this whole weight loss thing.  Or at least in my self-image.  I have felt lean and beautiful!  It's been so long....  One day at Caren's I stepped on her scale certain of a drop in weight.  Sure enough.  Two pounds down.

I knew it!

I was happy to go to weigh in with the nutritionist on Friday.  I practically skipped onto the scale.

"You are up a pound."

"Come again?"

While we sat in her office I watched her enter my weight into the computer.  I kept looking at that number, one number higher then the last time, and I swear to you that my pants suddenly felt too tight.  My belly began to bulge.  As this transformation from slender starlet to fat slob took place, I knew that it was completely irrational.  Really it's one pound.  The nutritionist reminded me that I ate salty food the night before and that can effect the numbers.  I go back this week just to weigh in to see if it was due to over eating or water weight.

Last nights performance of Evita was so fabulous!  Everyone did so well with everything across the board.  Our Eva was superb!  It was great!  So glad it was to a sold out audience who gave us a standing ovation, thank you very much.  After the show we meet in the lobby with our friends and family who came to see the show.

As I was milling about the lobby an older gentleman bee-lined for me.

"Oh I'm so glad I found you!"

A stalker.  I must've done really good!

"I was hoping I would see you because I just have to tell you..."


"That your..."

Dancing?  Singing?  Acting?

"...costumes are amazing!  That polka dot dress you wore was so beautiful and the way it moved when you danced was fantastic."

My dress moved fantastic?

"Oh thank you so much!"  I beamed,  "I will be sure to pass your compliments on to wardrobe.  They found amazing vintage clothes for us to wear.  They are so fun to wear!"

Standing ovation people and my costumes got rave reviews.  Ha!  I am very proud of my performance last night even though I did continue to dance when everyone else had stopped.  Another grand solo moment...  Hahahaha!

I have to take a minute to brag about my sons here.  I love my boys but I am not one of those mothers who thinks her children can do-no-wrong.  My sons are proud nerds, one is a little on the loud side, they can be whiners and have no athletic ability but their other talents far out weigh their short comings.  (If running like a girl is a short coming.)  They have been so understanding and supportive the last few months while their Mommy has been off playing make-believe with a bunch of folks they've never met.  I have left them with their (amazing) father many nights, including Pizza Night, or with a sitter, missed sport practices and games and I have only received one growl through the whole thing.  I also get rave reviews about them from their teachers, friends and sitters. 

While volunteering at the school the other day a classmate of Drew's approached me.

"Ms. Michal, I don't know if you give out Tickets at home but if you do I think you should give Drew one for just being himslef!" 

The class nominated him Most Positive.  *tear*  Yes, this is the same boy who repetedly ran from the bus stop last year and grumbled and growled the whole way home when he got off the bus.  This new attitude is in part due to bing more comfortable in CO and in school but also I must give credit to his amazing teacher, Julia, who has the kids check the negativity at the door. 

The week of the opening of Evita, my husband was out of town and I had rehearsals every night.  The boys had sitters for a week.  (We have one sitter named, Alex.  Speaking of her Gabriel says, "Alex is really great but she has a strange name for a girl." Um...really son?) After watching the boys one night Alex thanked me for allowing her to watch my sons.  "They never give me trouble.  It's so fun!"

One of my friends offered to watch the kids for me one evening.

"I won't get home until 11..."  I warned.

"No problem.  Let's just have the spend the night."

"Gabriel has soccer practice that evening..."

"I can take him to soccer."

"...and band in the morning..."

"I can take him to that too."

*Applause to my amazing friend!*

The morning after this mid-week sleepover, my friend called me to report to me about their night.

"Your sons are so hilarious!  They have beautiful manners and were such a joy to have.  My husband is usually not on board with having other kids over but he had so much fun with your sons.  They won him over completely."

Later I saw her husband.  "I had such a great time with your sons.  That Gabriel is going to be a Senator one day and I'm sure Drew will be running his own kitchen."

Our contractor was over the other day and his partner played "Nerf guns" with my boys in the basement while The Boss and I discussed the bathroom re-model.  They were laughing and having as much fun as if he was one of the neighbor kids.

My brother-in-law is in town this week and he had a friend over who made sure to compliment me on the boys.

"I have nephews about the same age.  I love 'em but I have to say your sons are amazing.  So well behaved and funny."

Thank you boys!  I'm so proud of you and that meeting you is a blessing to people.  Everyone can tell that you both have great purpose about you.  You are well mannered, smart, witty, (loud), beautiful, ambitious and loving...did I mention smart?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Let's Do The Time Warp

Baking Day started with an e-mail from Caren:

"Hey guys, I cleaned my oven yesterday and now it's not working.  This means NO BAKING.  We could still do stove top stuff or maybe make some things to freeze and bake later..."

Well a broken oven is a bit of a dilemma for a baking group but as anyone who knows Caren would guess, she would have some sort of solution.

"I have a convection oven we could bake a few things in."

"A what?"

If you are as unfamiliar with cooking tools as I am you may not know that some ovens are convection and some are not.  The kitchen we use for baking day has a stacked oven with both convection and....regular...I don't know what it's called.  I also have no idea (after a year of baking) what the difference is or why some things should be baked in convection or not.  The spare convection oven that Caren has is a bit larger then a microwave.  See below:

That looks pretty old...

As we begin to bake and prepare foods Caren suggests coffee.  She whips out her coffee grinder.  See below:

"Caren, I'm going to give you a piece of wisdom I received from my friend Shalah: Appliances are not heirlooms.  I'm guessing this is your parents?"

"It is!  It's probably from the 70's."

"Dear Lord..."

I'm adding, "your appliances should not be older then your friends," to the list of sage advice.

Taking a page from our fellow baker Patti's page, I decided to make veggie pancakes.  I found this recipe in Family Fun magazine.  It has cornmeal, eggs, flour, carrots, zucchini, and corn kernels.  You can dip it in a pesto/sour cream dip or ranch dressing.  They turned out really yummy!  As other bakers arrived I lost my post at the stove and was moved to:

"What is this?"

"It's an electric fryer.  Are you telling me you've never seen an electric fryer?"

By this time Caren's Oven Man (and our eye candy) had arrived.  He found it quite humorous that there was a group of ladies who met to bake and at least one had no apparent knowledge in the kitchen.

The veggie pancakes were delish BTW.

Look what Kathy brought from her garden!    Scads of Beets!

This isn't the half of them!

Pickled beets were also on the agenda.  Cooked in a pressure cooker no less....another appliance I had never seen, used or heard of. 

Since we seemed to be in a time warp I suggested Caren plug the 70's into Pandora.  It was perfect!  People need to listen to some of that vintage stuff every now and then.  One forgets how good some of that is...

Caren and Stacey made a peaches n' cream pie:

We had to taste it because it was a new recipe.  The verdict? 

"Yes Ma'am!"

Oh my lands is this good!

We also had a huge box of plums to make something out of....  We tried a tart and there is some plum jelly about.  I took some home to maybe add to the yogurt I made.

Or maybe I'll paint a picture of them.  I think they are so pretty...

So it turned out to be a pretty interesting baking day.  Mountain Women: innovative, spunky and using the same appliances since 1973.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Though I love to wear make-up and do my hair it feels so fabulous this morning to be completely au natural!  I'm on my cozy couch in jeans and a long sleeved shirt.  There is nothing on my face but moisturizer and my hair is a mess of tossled, product-free waves.  Ah!  So refreshing!  This will be me for the next four days and then it will be back to red salsa lipstick, false eyelashes, hair pins and aqua net.

Opening night of Evita went really well.  I never encourage folks to attend opening nights because they tend to be glorified dress rehearsals.  This night had it's typical glitches but the energy was great! We had such a fun and involved audience.  Applause to them! 

On Saturday, my oldest son had a double header in soccer games.  We sat in the cold and rain cheering him on, even though, God love him...not the greatest soccer player.  But The Boy loves it!  He is smiling while running around (kind of pointlessly) and he high fives his team mates when they score and helps up the fallen.  It was great to be sitting there with The Nug-Bug in my lap, husband at my side and my little David Bekham doing his thing.  The time with family was re-energizing.

Night two of the show was weak.  We all seemed off in Act I and the audience was "blah."  I felt like we redeemed ourselves in Act II but I'm not so sure the audience ever woke up.

Note to future audience members:  Evita is a hard show to respond to.  There is hardly any dialogue and often the songs move seamless of one another.  A good rule of thumb for an audience of any show is that if you like something APPLAUD!  Don't try to adjust to what's happening on stage.  Let the stage adjust to your applause, not the other way around.  Believe me, we would much rather hear your applause then not.

Last night's show was the best of the weekend!  I personally had a near perfect performance.  So close... The mistakes made are not things the audience will really even notice and so they become the funny bloopers that you get to see in the Out Takes of a DVD. 

I had a sneaking suspicion that my friend, Caren, would be there last night as she was avoiding me all weekend.  Not even a text. Thinking something was up, I was nervous to perform for the first time this weekend.  I tried to push it back because it would be really lame if I was nervous and then there was no one there.  After our first big dance number someone shouted my name.

Yep.  They're here.

My nerves bubbled a bit more and then simmered down by the time I made my costume change.  It was the wondering that had me nervous, not the knowing.  I was able to go through the rest of the performance relaxed. 

When the show ended I headed out to the lobby.  The first face I saw was Caren's oldest daughter.  She had a huge smile on her face!  Made my night!  I hugged her, her little sister and my friend Kathy's son, who I was very surprised to see there.  In fact many of my Mountain People came with their families yesterday.  Yea!  We went out for a steak dinner and wine.  Perfect.

When I returned home, my youngest was in the tub. 

"Mom!  I had a great time at football!"

"Awesome Bug!  Did you win?"

"Nope but I almost scored a touch down.  I ran with the ball and when they would come at me I would turn the corner on them.  I was like, 'You're not going to get this guy!' and I ran and ran and then some guy got my flag when I only had about 5 feet to go!"

"Man Buddy!  That sounds awesome.  I'm so sorry I missed it."

"Me too.  You will get to see me do it again sometime because I learned that I just have to keep turning corners to get away from those guys.  How was Evita?  Did you sing good?"

"It was great.  I was happy with my performance too.  No touch downs but close!"

Last night, I was laying in bed wrapped up in husbands arms.  I was warm all over.  And tired all over.  There was a light ache in my feet, legs, back, face and arms.  (Why my arms? Weird...) 

I'm so tired and so content. 

The Evita soundtrack kept looping through my head.  My body was ready for sleep but my mind was still running. 

Quiet you!  There will be plenty of time for all of that the next three weekends.

I love every bit of it.  I love rehearsals and hate when they end, even though I am ready to go and sleep at the same time.  I miss my family while I'm working and I miss my cast mates when I'm not.  During the day I'll be running errands, baking, cleaning and half my mind is in Argentina.  The whole cast has put in so much of themselves into this show.  The feedback I got from friends tells me it really shows.

On three separate occasions this weekend I was told I was made for, meant to be, or a natural on stage.  I have always felt that way but always thought it may be a grand illusion and I never knew other people could see that.  I think it's important for us to use our talents (no matter how small) that God has given us.  Just like any other part He's equipped us with, arms, legs,  He never intended for them to hang limp but to be utilized.  I sure wish I would've done something with what talent I do have earlier in my life but I'm glad I'm doing something with it now, no matter what the scale.  It just feels...natural.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time to Spank the Baby

The other night I dreamt that I was at rehearsal and the whole cast had a baby in their arms.  A sweet, chubby legged baby!  Dreaming of babies is a symbol of new beginnings.  We have carried and labored for weeks and now our baby is just about ready!

We had rehearsal every night this week.  The last two nights were dress rehearsals.  I was a good girl and kept my joking around to a minimal.  (So many good one-liners that were lost...)  I love dress rehearsals, especially for this show because it's set in my favorite time period!  The 40's!!!  I love to wear my hair pinned up in victory rolls and the red lipstick.  The whole look is so clean, put together and feminine! 

The costume people xeroxed a bunch of different hairstyles for us to choose from.  Apparently I have quite the knack for these hairstyles and styled almost all of the female casts hair.  It's so fun!  I'm going to let the "powers that be" know that if they ever need/want anyone to help with hair and makeup for a show to let me know.  I'd love to do more of that.  Because I'm doing so many heads of hair, I've taken to getting ready at home so that all I have to do to get myself ready is get dressed.

The first dress rehearsal I felt was the best.  We all did really well!  Last night was good but there were some issues.  I think it was a across the board a slightly off night.  For me it started from the very beginning.  For whatever reason I had no balance.  It was like I was walking in heels for the first time.  I was wobbly through the first two dances.  Musically I was off a few times too.  I would sing the wrong part or not have the right timing.  Poop.  I had two favorite faux pas though.

The first was in a scene where we sing/chant "Peron!"  There are three different times when we do this. The entrance is not cued by music so it's a little tricky.  I hit every entrance but we are only supposed to chant "Peron" eight times.  Once I did nine....  It was a lovely solo.  Loud.  Clear.  Wrong.

The other may not have been my fault exactly but...I could have avoided it.  At the back of the stage are double doors that are opened for a few grand entrances (mostly made by Eva and Juan.)  If one exits stage left but then needs to enter stage right (or vise verse) one needs to run through the back stage area.  These doors open to the back stage.  So in one really quick exit and entrance that I need to make I dash across and right as I do I realize that the back stage doors were wide open!  I don't know what is going on on stage but the audience may have been a tad distracted by a mad woman running across the back of the scene.  Actually, I was running through and right as I'm in the middle of the doorway opening I felt the light hit me and thought Crap and stopped like I had hit a wall.  Just as quickly I took off on my run again.  So the audience saw a woman run, stop with a grim expression on her face and then run again.  Ha! There is a large screen in this back stage area, that I should've gone around.  It would've made my transition a little longer but it would have solved this whole problem.  That door should not have been open at that time but I needed to have been aware of whether it was or not and dodged behind the screen.

Other than that...I think everything went smoothly! 

I am tired and sore but I love, love, love it.  I love everything that goes on back stage and enjoy being involved in making sure every one's props are where they should be and that the children know their cue to enter and "Oh my, the person who is supposed to take that chair off stage is not here yet so someone else needs to grab it."  I love that stuff!  It's fun to be a moving, functioning cog that is making the Machine work.  A good show is not just in our showmanship or our voices it's in the little things, the details.  Big hugs to the technical people who add the icing to the cake!

Yea, to the costume people!  The lights and sound crew!  The set design!  The orchestra!!  Yea to all of us!  We are going to rock the kasbah at opening tomorrow night!

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Own Worst Enemy

Last night's rehearsal was poop.  Let me rephrase that: Rehearsal, as a whole, went really well.  The show is right where it should be with 5 days out.  I, on the other hand, was poop.  And not so much due to bad performing.  Let me e'splain.

For starters I had the call time wrong and was 30 minutes late.  There is nothing I hate more than being late.  It completely sets me off wrong.  It gives the impression of either not caring or being unorganized, which I am neither.  Turns out it was not such a big deal because we were doing the costume parade.  This is where you try on your costume(s) for the director to preview.  This allows them to see if you are wearing something period and character appropriate.  Does anything need to be altered?  This sort of thing.

I have all of two costumes.  One is a formal and the other is an everyday sort of "worker" dress.  My every day dress was not there since it needed to be hemmed a foot.  I kid you not.  This left me with only the formal to show.  (This is why being late turned out fine.) 

My formal is a lovely, bronze sort of gown.  It's shorter in the front then in the back and has lots of pretty material that drapes elegantly from off my shoulders.  Sort of a Grecian effect.  At least on top there is flowiness, the bottom half clings to my hips and toosh.  It also has a tragically low, plunging neckline.  Yes, the front door is pretty much wide open bringing a whole new meaning to "who let the dogs out?" 

I step out onto the stage in my gown.

"Could you step more into the light please?"

I take a few steps forward until the spotlight warms me.  It quickly starts to burn me up.  This situation is my nightmare come true.  There are 4-5 people in the audience whose eyes are on me as directly as the spotlight.  I feel like they are looking me over as critically as I do myself. 

"Turn around please."

Dear God.  Here we go.

I think I threw up in my mouth a little while I presented my dimpled, un-toned, had two babies ass to The Eye.

"That works.  Thanks."

I returned to the dressing room and practically dove back into my yoga pants and shirt.  It took everything in me to not sit in a corner, rocking and envisioning my Happy Place.  This would have been a perfect time to do the scene where Eva dies.  I could certainly have mustered real tears.  But why?  Nothing went wrong.  The dress looks good.  Oh but that awful feeling of being judged!  Ug!

If I can't do that how could I possibly perform on a stage, you ask?  Whole other game!  The song and dance distracts from the mess.  People are paying more attention to the performance you give then to you.  It's also like how I can perform in front of a large group but to sing for one or two people is very scary for me.  I guess I feel more exposed. 

I laughed at myself for being horrified by showing my clothed backside when one of our cast members was just in The Full Monty.  That's courage my friend.  Obviously that is a show I would never attempt.  Ha!

After the parade we proceeded with a run through of the complete show.  This went pretty darn well.  I was having so much fun!  No kids!  No dishes!  No laundry!  Apparently I was having too much fun and was scolded for talking too much in the wings.  Obviously in a real performance I would not be carrying on and cutting up but "they" don't know that.

My Grandmother has always said that you should dress for the position you want.  So if you want to be a manager you dress and behave like a manager even though you are only the receptionist.  In the work place I have always heeded this advice but I certainly have not done so with this show.  I don't think of it as my work place.  My work place is at home.  I am the manager there.  The house, the kids, the husband, PTA (or O.  Whatever it's called here) are my job and I am all over it.  Organized, mature, serious.  (Serious-ish.)  The show is my playground!  It's where I get to play make believe and dress up.  I dance around and sing and there is nothing heavily weighing on me.  I mean, I'm working hard and I want to perform my best  (sometimes I really beat myself up about that part) but for the most part this is my escape and my fun-time.  The problem is I will likely never get a more meaty role if I don't show that I can be serious and organized and professional.  Not that anyone there is a professional actor but a show full of receptionists acting like management would be as top knotch as a show full of professionals.  Clear as mud?

I've said it before that I felt like this show was a big audition for me but I blew it.  I've spent more time and energy trying to make new friends instead of showing the director(s) what a hard working showman I can be.  What a waist of Christina's time!  She made sure I gave a professional audition and then I just went and "played." 

Part of it is inexperience.  Touring for 3 years in one show over 20 years ago is not experience.  The latest thing I've done is the role of Seamstress.  I had two lines and was such a sad dancer they staged the two tallest dancers to hide me in the one small dance part I had.  At least I could sing.

I told Christina that I've pretty much blown it and that I shouldn't audition again with this group. 
"There does not seem to be interest.  I doubt they like working with me."

"You should audition anyway," she said.  "It's good practice and experience."

Both of which I am short on.  Wish I could let THAT hem out about a foot.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

$#@&! It's Coming Right For Us!

I feel that I should write a retraction of sorts to my previous blog Return of the Bear.  In my blog I stated that a bear would be killed if reported to be in a neighborhood more than twice.  I have been happy to learn that I was misinformed.  They will relocate a bear if it visits a neighborhood more than twice but not kill it.  Yea!  Happy news!

I was also told that you can not shoot an animal on your property unless it is threatening you.  Now this can make for an interesting discussion because there are different opinions as to what is a threat and what is not.

"Well sure!  We wouldn't shoot a bear because it's going through our trash or passing through our property but if it's in my house..." I reasoned.

"Nope.  It has to be threatening you," said the Mountain Woman.

"Um...a bear in my HOUSE is pretty damn threatening." 

However...I kind of get it. 

There is a story that I was told by one of my Mountain People about one of their neighbors.  A bear entered their house through the basement door.  Once inside the bear bumped the door and it shut.   Poor thing could push the door in but could not figure out how to make it open to let itself out.  (My dog, Drake has the same problem.)  Feeling trapped and scared the bear pooped himself.  Repeatedly.  The bear pooped all over the basement and was sort of running about/pacing through it all, mashing that poo into the carpet real good.

It sounds like the floor plan of this house is similar to mine in that you can enter from the basement or from upstairs.  The owner of the house exited his home from upstairs, went down to the basement door, and opened it for the bear to exit.  The bear followed the cue and ran out the opened door.  Now I don't know all of the details of this story.  I don't know if the owner of the home loaded his shotgun first, then went and held the door open all gentlemen-like for the bear to exit through but if it were me, that's the way to go. 

I think this home owner handled the situation perfectly.  First of all if he had shot the bear he would not only have poop to clean out of the basement but a huge dead bear and a bloody mess to boot.  His home was preserved (some what), family safe and the bear can also live happily ever after.  I like that.  However, I would not have thought poorly of him if he had shot the bear because it is in his house and that would make me feel quite threatened!  If a human broke into my house and pooped all over it I'd shoot him.  Actually, I would probably try to sneak out of the house while talking to 911 on my cell phone but the point is, if someone breaks into your home you can shoot them.  At least in Texas.  I guess I should find out what the law in Colorado is in this regard.  Maybe you can't shoot them until they hit you first or point a gun at you first. 

I'm still not sure what constitutes a threat by a bear or mountain lion or deer.  (Deer can kill you.  I know it sounds crazy but they can.)  At this point I am taking my cue from South Park (written by Coloradoans).  In one episode Uncle Jimbo explains to the kids that if an animal is charging you, you are being threatened and you may shoot to kill regardless if said, critter is in season.  Jimbo uses this to kill what ever he likes. 

A bear:  "$@#%!  It's coming right for us!" 

A deer: $#@%!  It's coming right for us!

A squirrel: $#@%!  It's coming right for us!

Please note that by taking this cue it does not mean that I'm going to shoot and kill animals willy nilly and "claim" that I was threatened.  It means that I think that the animal has to be "coming right for you" to be considered a threat.

Also note that in regards to my first blog where the bear shows up, I said that my husband was planning to take a day off from work to sit on the deck and shoot any deer that came on the property and tried to eat his trees.  He did in fact say this.  He was in fact joking.  Maybe we have a rather twisted sense of humor but these things are in jest.  The truth is we love the animals and we love to see them.  My husband is the first to say that we are in THEIR territory not the other way around. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rose hips and Raspberries

Goodness!  I had such a full day it's hard to decide if this should be one blog or two.  I will do my best to condense.

The past few weeks (nutrition wise) have been tough.  My body has felt exhausted!  The rehearsals on top of workouts have left me feeling tired and worn.  Despite all of the work and the conscious effort to make healthy food choices, I have felt sluggish and fat.  Every time I caught a glimpse of my reflection I was repulsed and my clothes felt tight. 

Last week I had a relapse in my diet because of a bad day with my son.  That's the day I let myself buy the Lime Tostito Chips (soooo good) and it started a little bit of a snowball.  The following day I figured I had ruined everything from the chips so I ate hazardously and did not quit until about half way through the day after that!  It can take two weeks to lose two pounds and just one day to gain it all back.  So the rest of the week I felt defeated and certain that I had sabotaged and failed myself.

"I just feel gross, fat, grumpy and all I want to do is eat.  It's like I'm on my period," I half joked to Caren.  I don't have the equipment for such a thing so that could not be it.  "I do have the one ovary though...maybe I'm ovulating."

"Still?!"  Caren laughed, "You've been saying that for over a week now."


This morning I met with my nutritionist.  Even though I was careless with my diet a couple of days the rest of the 2 1/2 weeks I made very conscious and careful choices and I've worked out hard.  I felt certain that there would be a loss on the scale.  I hoped for 5 but knew that it would likely be more like 2 or 3.  Sure enough...

"You're down two and half," my nutritionist announced.

"Good,"  I said but I was still a bit disappointed.  That was a lot of work for very little movement on the scale.

We discussed the previous weeks and I included the tale of the Lime Tostitos.

"When I hear you talk I hear a lot of negative and a lot of unrealistic expectations," my nutritionist began,  "A pound a week is excellent and it's the pace you want for weight loss.  This sort of pace is the kind you want if you are going to keep it off permanently."

"Well that's good but it is disheartening to work so hard for so little results."

"It is.  No doubt.  It's so much easier to gain the weight then to take it off.  But you have to be prepared for a long hard fight and not expect a 6 pound weight loss at a weigh in.  Tell me about the day you bought the chips.  What was going on?"

I retold how my son had been sick and was in a bad mood and ugly at the doctors office.  I was tired from the long week of daily chores, activities, work outs and rehearsals.  At the grocery store I had to wait 20 min. for my sons prescription to be filled and so was left to my own devices. 

"I knew it was a bad idea to buy the chips but I just needed to feel better."

"What did you say to yourself when you saw the chips?"

"'Screw it.'"

She made a chart that said Event with an arrow to Thoughts to Feelings to Action.  She wrote "delay at grocery" under Event and "Screw it" under Thoughts.  She also pointed out that the thoughts come before the feelings.  So true.  I always tell my children, "You control your emotions.  It starts in your head.  Decide how you will feel about things."

"Really your first thought when you saw the chips was 'I need to feel better.'  You thought the chips could do that.  And they did but maybe a hug from your husband when you got home would do the same.  You need to tell yourself encouraging words and TRUTHFUL words.  You said when you work out you are mad afterwards because you don't feel better and you don't feel like there are results but there are.  Even if you can't see them, there are so don't think, 'this isn't working.'  Think, 'I can't see it but I know inside big things are happening and I'm getting results.'  Don't think, 'screw it' in defeat to your diet, think 'that would make me feel better for a short time but for days, weeks, possibly months after, I will be unhappy because of that one bag of chips.'  Why did you feel that there was not any progress this week?  Because there was.  Two and half pounds is excellent."

"I just felt big and someone took pictures at rehearsal and posted it on Facebook.  When I saw it I just thought I looked gross."

"But you don't.  That is not true.  You are in great shape!"

"I feel that way today, I have no idea why I woke up this morning feeling svelte and cute when for the past two weeks I've felt disgusting."

"You have to stop telling yourself lies.  You have to replace the negative and discouraging thoughts with positive and encouraging ones."

I will.  I can. I do. I want, I thought.  This is something my friend and Drew's teacher, Julia, always tells her students. 

"When you wanted the Lime Chips you said that you knew you should resist, that it would be sabotage.  So instead of 'screw it' what could you say?"

"I will. I can. I do. I want.  I will resist the chips.  I can make a better choice.  I do have the will power to walk away.  I want to be healthy."

"That's perfect!"

"My sons teacher says it.  Also there is some verse in the Bible that just came to me about having control of your thoughts....?"

"It's take captive your thoughts."

"That's it!  That just came to mind."

"You should put that on a post it somewhere you will see it. Also there is a verse that says 'Whatever is good, whatever is TRUE..."

"Yes!  Yes!  I know that one!"

"So you have to stop the negative thoughts."

I again thought of my Pillar of Positives on the kitchen wall.  I did not need to write positive things about me on it.  I needed to write encouragement.  At home I wrote Julia's words on the chalk board "I can. I will.  I do.  I want.", 2 Cor 10:5 "Take captive EVERY thought," and Philippians 4:8 "Whatever is noble, whatever is TRUE, whatever is right, pure, lovely, whatever is admirable, think (meditate) on such things."

Caren and I decided to take the kids to lunch today (they were off for testing.)

"I thought a hike would be fun but the boys always whine..." 

"Let's do it!" Caren encouraged.  "We won't say we are hiking.  We'll tell them we are mushroom hunting."

"I'd really like to try.  I need some exercise today and I want them active."

It was a gorgeous day!  The sun was warm but tempered by a cool fall breeze.  We took our time enjoying scenery and tales of fairies and natives.  The kids collected interesting flowers and leaves.

Drew and Caren's daughter kept running ahead to Aspen groves to rub the tree bark.  The trunks of Aspens are white and it is said that Native Americans would rub the white off Aspen trunks and then wipe it onto their own skin as a sunblock.  Drew and his little friend would rub their hands all over the Aspens and then onto their sweet round cheeks.

"This is great sunblock!" Drew shouted, "It's like rubbing powdered sugar all over!"

Mushrooms are found at the base of trees.  Up the trail Caren spied some trees that she thought could have some mushrooms afoot. 

"Hey guys!  Look at this!  It's like a little fort!"

The children ran to Caren and slipped under the reaching branches of the trees.  The trees were growing in a small circle and provided a perfect little hiding spot.  No mushrooms but lots of idea about who might use such a spot.

"Maybe deer take shelter in there..."  Caren prompted.

The Aspen leaves are just beginning to turn and had sprinkled a few golden trinkets on the trail.  The kids gathered up their favorites and we schemed to make an art piece with them.  Unusual for Colorado this time of year, we came upon a clearing of butter colored snapdragons. 

"It's like a Fairy Land,"  Caren's daughter sighed.

The kids saw another grove of Aspens and ran ahead to reapply their "sunscreen." 

"Caren, check that out," I said pointing to a little container partially hidden under a tree and some bark.  The tree it was leaning against was scorched by fire at some point.

"What do you think that is?  You don't think someone tried to start a fire there do you?"  I asked her.

"I don't know...what is that?  Maybe someones pot stash?"

"Ha ha!  Could be!  Get it!"

"You get it."

I bent under the tree while Caren held back the curtain of branches.  There was a small Tupperware container with a note attached to the outside.

"Oh!  I bet this a Geo-caching thing," I guessed.  It was actually something called Letterboxing.  It's similar to the Geo-caching but instead of a treasure inside there is a little book where the finders leave a stamp.  The supplier of the "hunt" also leaves a stamp for the finders to stamp their own books with.  We put everything back and called the kids over to let them "discover" it.

While examining the letterboxing an elderly couple approached. 

"Quick!  Put it back!"  Gabriel instructed, "They might be hunting for the letterbox!"

They were not hunting letters but raspberries.  The couple had little luck with the raspberries but had a bucket full of ruby red rose hips.  The woman said you could make jam with them.  We asked to be shown what the raspberry bushes looked like.  Maybe we could find some next summer.  The couple carried on, as did we.

Caren and I paid more attention to the raspberry bushes this time and I found a few scrawny ones.  The kids were delighted and began focusing their attention on berry picking.  We gathered all of 5 raspberries and loads and loads of the beautiful rose hips! 

Our pockets full and shirt fronts cradling berries, flowers and leaves; we headed home to examine our treasures. 

"This has been an amazing day!"  Drew cheered.

Caren and I had to agree.  What a delicious afternoon!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Return of the Bear!


"The bear!"  I whispered

Aaron and I jumped out of bed and ran to the window. 

"Hey!  Get out of there!"  Aaron shouted to it through the open window.

The bear wrestled with the trash can a little longer and then took off up the hill with a bag of trash.  He stopped just a little ways up the hill, picking a spot under a tree for his smorgasbord.  Once again, it was too dark to get a look at him.  All I could make out was a huge round shadow and a white mass that must've been the trash bag.  From the place of the large round shadow came the sounds of lip smacking and low bear-toned "nom, nom, noms."  Between those sounds was a blast of breath every few seconds that sounded like a whale clearing his blow hole.

"That trash HAS to go in the garage!"  I hissed at Aaron.

"He had not come back all week."

"Yes he has.  He has come back every night since the first just not necessarily to us.  He's hit Caren's twice and I've seen other neighbors with trash dumped everywhere."

The other night when we were at Caren and Kevin's playing Risk, we heard the dogs of the hood barking up a storm again.

"Maybe the bear is back!"  Caren said.

We ran out to the front deck together. 

"I don't see anything..."  Caren said.

"Me neither but I hear something."  We could hear the faint crunching sounds of something/one walking up the road.  We got spooked and ran into the house squealing and giggling.

"You girls are silly,"  Kevin said.  "It's too early for the bear to come.  He hits around 3."  And then to Aaron, "Glad you guys drove over though."

We had brought the car because it was raining at the time that we left.  I was glad too because I did not want to walk home in the dark with a possible bear about.  There in lies the problem with the bear returning.  We don't want him to get too comfortable in our little area and start showing up when we are out walking our dogs or hiking up the hill with our children.  The other thing is that if a bear is reported in an area more then twice, they kill him.  That and if he's on someones property he can be shot.  I think this is very sad and unfair.  After all WE are the ones living in HIS world.  I am happy to share my trash with him's the safety factor that is an issue.  We would never report him but I don't know about the rest of our neighbors.

Aaron left me at the window and grabbed his shoes. 

"Where are you going?"  I stage whispered.

The bear continued to nosh and I waited to see what Aaron was up to.  I heard Aaron walk out the front door.  (Our door is fenced in.)  The motion detector light came on and the bear and I held our breath as Aaron emerged onto the scene, still with in the fenced part of our yard.  The bear blasted his breath again.

Just like a whale, I thought.   I decided to name him Moby.

Just then something went hurling through the air and hit the back board of the basketball goal.

"RAWHF!"  the bear sort of gasped and he darted up a tree.  I say "dart" because he shimmied up the trunk as fast and as agile as Mowgli but with the girth and "bababoom" of Baloo.

"Aaron!"  I hissed.  "Do NOT do that again!"

"Just trying to get him to move on.  Did you see how fast he got up the tree?"

"Yes.  I'm sure he could get over the fence just as fast."

We listened for awhile to Moby's heavy breathing and he made a few more "rawhf" type noises, then Aaron returned to the house and to his post next to me by the window.

"I wish I had the boys night vision goggles so I could see him better,"  I said.

Aaron took off again and returned with our video camera.

"Oh yeah....genius!"  Our camera has night vision.  It couldn't even pick up a visual of the truck though.


"Piece of crap!"  Aaron mumbled and he tossed the camera aside. 

Moby finally felt the coast was clear.  He maneuvered down the tree a bit and then jumped to the ground.  He's huge, y'all.  I really hope it's a "he" and not a pregnant Mama.  The last thing I want around here is a Mama Bear and her cubs.

Moby was still a little nervous and he moved up the hill to sit in some shadows.  We couldn't see him but knew he was there by his distinct air blasts he kept making.  Does this guy have asthma or something?  So loud!  No longer detecting movement, our motion detector light went out. 

"I bet he goes back to the trash bag now that it's dark again."  I whispered to Aaron.

Sure enough a shadow emerged from the shadows and bobbled back toward the tree.  As he did so it set off our neighbors motion detector light.  Moby froze and held his breath again.  After some internal deliberation (I assume) Moby turned and headed up the hill away from all of our homes.

"The trash stays in the garage,"  I lectured again as we returned to our beds.


"I kind of think you left it out on purpose.  I think you are fishing for him.  Ahab."

No answer.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Resistance is Futile!

The " Pillar of Positives" has come down.  It made me uncomfortable looking at a list of my fabulousness from the inside-out, all over my kitchen wall.  Part of it was from having a hard time believing all of it but the other was that it was in the hub of my home and anyone who walked in was going to see it.  I considered moving the list to a post it in the bathroom but we don't have a Master Bath and so it would again be in a place that is well trafficked.  The other reason I had originally put it in the kitchen (besides the fact that the chalk board wall made it easy) was that I thought it would remind me to make good choices, with it being where I would be making and choosing foods.  It did just felt weird so I erased it all.

I have been trying hard to record my meals.  The first week I did meet my goal of 5 a week but this past week I have not been so diligent.  I've still been very conscious and aware of what was going in and the working out has not slowed down.  I do best when I have someone to work out with and Caren is usually a willing participant but due to injuries and then a sick child she had been unavailable most of the week. 

One day she set up a circuit training in her basement.  I went over and we worked out together using knowledge she had learned from her trainer.  I grunted and sweat while her sweet little daughter sat on the couch watching on. 

"Oh!  Don't you just feel wonderful now?!"  Caren exhorted after our work out.

But I didn't.  I found that I would be grumpy and sort of mad after my work outs.  I think I am mad that I have to do it because of this silly pre-diabetes thing.  Apparently that's what it's called.  I've suddenly been seeing it everywhere, in Fitness Magazine, on Spark People.  Spark People had an 8 week challenge posted for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes.  I clicked on the link to view the challenge.  I looked at it but didn't read it and then closed it out.

That's not wise.  You have a tool that could amp up your weight loss and get you to your goal and you are ignoring it!  I also have a nutritionist, I argued with myself, and I'll just follow her advice,  I justified.

Evita rehearsals were in the evenings and on the evening I had off there was Back to School night.  I felt so tired this week.  My body was just exhausted.  If I'm not working out, I'm at a rehearsal or baking, or cleaning or at a meeting.  I just wanted to stop and rest but when the opportunity was there I didn't know what to do with myself.  I'd grab my music instead and work on it.  Another time I started an art project.  It's like when I was little and I'd spin and spin in the living room and then when I stopped it felt like I was still in motion.  I'd start to get dizzy.  Then a little sick.  The only way to make it stop was to start spinning again.  I knew what I needed was to rest but laying down for a nap my mind kept racing on. 

It'll all calm down after the show.  I thought to myself while laying on the couch trying to nap.  Of course after the show the Holidays begin.... 

I tried to rest on Thursday.  Caren was stir crazy from being cooped up at home with her sick little nugget.  She offered to get groceries if I would keep her daughter.  This seemed to be a fair trade!  She dropped her off and as she was leaving my kitchen she stopped at the chalk board wall. 

"What's this?"  she asked while gesturing to the empty wall.

"I had to erase it.  It was too weird."

And to her daughter she said, "Write some positive and nice things about Ms. Michal on the wall."

I gave her the colored chalk and told her she did not have to write about me but could draw whatever she wanted and then sat on the couch and tried to read.

I had mild success at baking day this week in some double chocolate brownies.  I had hoped for something moist and chewy and instead ended up with anything but that.  Still they must've been tasty enough because the Evita cast inhaled them.  Another cast member brought me a bucket of blackberries from her garden to bake something up with.

Friday my plan was to hike, bake and rest.  Thursday however I noticed that Drew had a loss of appetite (a sure sign "the boy ain't right.")  He had been stuffy nosed (as had I) so I gave him some allergy medicine.  That night he slept poorly, crying out in his sleep.  I got him up and found that he was so stuffed up he could hardly breathe.  I helped him blew his nose.  He screamed and fought me like I was shoving sticks up his nose while I tried to get him to blast out some snot.  I tried to be sympathetic to the fact that he was tired and was now standing upright in the bathroom instead of down in his warm bed but seriously:  We're blowing a nose.  It's not that big of a deal.  I finally got him cleaned out and I tucked him back into bed with extra pillows to sort of keep him a little upright.  He slept.

In the a.m. he was a bit of a bear and still had no interest in breakfast.  Not even toast.  I checked for a fever.  None.  I gave him more allergy meds, sent him to school and planned to call the doctor as soon as they opened.  We've had enough sinus infections to know one when it arrives.

My hike was lovely!  I took a trail I've been wanting to learn because I would really like to take guests there.  There are huge boulders for climbing and I think it would be fun.  Plus the climbing gives a little variety to the work out.  I still noticed that I was a grump after the work out.  Where are those endorphins?  I need to change my thinking from "I have to work out" to "I GET to work out."  I can afford the time, I have gorgeous places to exercise at, friends who are supporting me and the good health to do it with.

On the way home I called the doctors office and made an appointment for Drew in the afternoon.  Caren then called and invited my hiking partner and I over for coffee/tea.  We had our tea and then Caren made us an amazing lunch with a Mediterranean theme!  There was some sort of Mediterranean Chicken Pot Pie that had chicken, fruit and a bouquet of spices arranged to my pallets delight!  This was served with a salad of zucchini slices that had been marinated in something...I think I tasted lime and cilantro.  Dessert was a Peach Soup.  We decided the soup was basically a smoothie and wouldn't it be devine with a little champagne mixed in?  Caren's house is my favorite restaurant.

I wanted to bake the blackberry dish using one of Caren's recipes for blackberry bars.  She convinced me to do it at her house so the fun would not end.  I walked home and gathered up my ingredients and then returned to Caren's.  The recipe includes a lemon cream filling.  This is made with sweetened condensed milk.  I love this stuff!  I scraped it all out of the can with a spatula and when I got as much as I could out of the can and into the bowl I licked every drop off of the spatula.  It was de-lish!  I felt a little naughty but quickly gave myself permission.  Nothing is off limits.  I licked a spatula, not drank a can of it.  I then whisked in an egg yolk, lemon juice and zest.  Not being able to resist; I licked the whisk clean too.  (Not as satisfying since a whisk has very little surface area... : /)  The bars were in and out of the oven at the exact time I needed to leave to pick up Drew.  I left it at Caren's to cool (the directions said for an hour.)

I thought Drew would be thrilled to be getting out of school early but instead I had a very Grumpy Monkey on my hands.

"MOM!  You should've come for me during Specials.  Now I'm missing out on my second Friday Funday!" 

Friday Funday is a reward for being good all week.  I think it's like an extra recess, "And sometimes," Drew went on, "there are doughnuts!"

"I'm sorry bud.  I'm sure there will be more of those for you but this is when the doctor can see you and we want to get you well so you can enjoy the long weekend!"  I tried to sound chipper, being understanding of the fact that he got little to no sleep last night and was not feeling very good.  Drew continued to badger me on the way to the doctor.

"How far is this place?" he demanded to know.

"We'll be there in ten minutes."

"How long is ten minutes?"

"600 seconds."

Once there he kindly greeted the staff and was equally a gentlemen to the nurse who let him use the stethoscope.  We were shown into an exam room.  Drew climbed on to the examining bed and began to beat a rhythm on it with his fists.

"Hey Buddy, let's not do that OK?  It's really loud."

Drew continued.

Taking a little more of the "nice" out of my tone I made the request again, "Drew.  I asked you not to do that son."

Drew defiantly looked right at me and began a new drum solo on the exam bed.  Just as I felt my patience rush out of me, the doctor walked in.  Drew's luck.  While she examined him Dew kept looking at me.

"Mom?  Are you growing a mustache?"  he asked.

"No,"  I said through clenched lips.  "My skin there is discolored."  Grrr.... 

So I have discoloration, a darkening, on my skin.  It is apparently very typical in darker skin toned people.  It is also due to being older.  I have other friends who have this as well but they have been blessed with a rather adorable spot on the cheek just near the corner of their eye or something of the like.  Not for me.  As it would be my dark spots are on my upper lip. I have to cover it with heavy duty sunscreen to keep it from getting darker and I usually have make up on over it.  This day that was not the case. 

Gasp.  I went to the doctor's office with no make up.  Every self respecting southerner would not dare to make such a faux pas but can I tell you the doctor was not wearing any herself? 

Anywhoo, after discovering that Drew did in fact have a sinus infection and an ear infection we left to go and fill prescriptions.  Drew opened the door bidding adieu to all.

"Hey Bug,"  I said while fumbling to get my keys out of my purse, "You want to be a gentlemen and hold the door for Mommy?"

The door shut in my face.

Apparently not.

I gave him a lecture on manners and how they do not go out the window just because you don't feel well.  I called Aaron on the way to the store and learned he was at a very nearby gas station.  We decided to swap.  I would give him Drew and then would be able to wait at the pharmacy with out him.

I gave the prescription to the pharmacist who informed me that it would be ready in 20 minutes.  What to do but shop?  I turned around to be confronted with my greatest nemesis: a display of Tostito Lime Chips.  With zero to no resistance I grabbed a bag.

I'll portion them out.  No you won't, you are tired and frustrated and you will eat the whole bag.  Quiet you. 

I grabbed a few other groceries that we might need on this long holiday weekend: Brats, hot dogs, Klondike bars, smore ingredients.  As I did I knew it was sabotage.  I knew it was unwise but I continued to justify every purchase.  Once home, I planned to put the chips in the pantry right away and save them for when we would grill the Brats.  Aaron saw them in the grocery bag and opened them immediately.  Several hands dove into the bag as they are a family favorite.  My hands included! 

"How was Drew?  He was such a turd for me."

"Really?  He's been in a great mood for me!"  Aaron smiled.

I grabbed another chip.

"Fabulous.  His malice must be just for me."

I ran over to Caren's to grab the blackberry bars.  Just as I walked up to her door her husband pulled up.

He is probably thinking, Oh geez, is Michal ever NOT at my house?

When I walked in it was completely quiet.  Caren's girls had all gone to various friends homes, sans the one on the mend who was down stairs watching TV.  I quickly gathered up my stuff and left, knowing how precious these quiet moments alone with your husband can be.

For dinner we had leftover Italian Beef sandwiches (the recipe is under my recipe tab.  Check it out because it is easy and AMAZING!)  I added some steamed vegetables to the side to try and right all the wrong with the chips.  Note: at this point the bag was now half empty.  Also note that the whole family helped with that.  After eating too much dinner the guys all retired to the basement to watch Guy T.V.  (this is what I call the shows they watch.  Basically stuff I am uninterested in) and I sat on the couch upstairs.  I looked out the window.  There was thunder and lightning and then a down pour of rain.  I poured myself a glass of wine.

A perfect night to stay in and drink some wine,  I sighed.

Just then my phone rang.

"Hey!"  It was Caren.  "I've been trying not to call you guys for the last two hours!  Kevin and I were playing Risk and we kept thinking how much more fun it would be with you guys.  We figured Aaron would love a little world domination."

"We are on our way!"

Due to the storm we drove over.

"Does Ms. Caren have a disease or something?"  Drew asked.

"Yes, it's called McDowell-itis," I told him.  "It's when you can't get enough of the McDowell family."

Just as I was thinking that Kevin and Caren had to have had enough Michal in their faces, they call us over!  Yes!  Resistance is futile!