What’s Cookin’, Good Lookin’?

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

mother ~ bike ~ photo ~ hamburger ~ salad ~ blood pressure

They were submitted by: http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/               

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

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I am a terrible cook.

I don’t enjoy cooking. It actually gives me anxiety.

When I embarked on my weight loss journey, I knew one of the bad habits I was going to HAVE to change was the amount of times per month we were eating out. I needed to cook more if this was going to stick.

Ugh.

Nothing I make every looks like the picture. If I’m lucky, it’s edible. Feel free to question my daughter about the “Green Shrimp Soup” fiasco of 2004.  I think I may have blogged about it, but I’m too lazy to go search my archives. I suck at timing. By the time my main course is ready, everything else is cold and congealed. I often leave out important ingredients or steps, not on purpose, I’m just not good at following direction. I’m bad to buy the ingredients without reading the recipe and then find out when I set out to prepare dinner that the chicken was supposed to marinate overnight… So I wing it, often with disastrous results. Do you see what I did there? 😀 “Wing it…” “chicken…” Yeah, okay I’ll stop.

My husband is a much better cook. I don’t cook because I’m the mother, I cook because my husband works 2 jobs and goes to school full-time. No gender specific roles being assigned up in this house. I’m sure there is a small part of him (a very tiny, minuscule part) that sometimes wishes he was the stay-at-home dad, homeschooling our son and cooking dinners, doing laundry, meal planning, cleaning…oh wait, he does a lot of the cleaning actually.  In truth, I’m the worst housewife ever. But I try. I get an E for effort.

I’ve been wanting to try these new food delivery companies that seem to be flooding the marketplace. Places like Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Green Chef, Home Chef, etc… There seem to be a billion of them. A friend of mine was giving out 2 free meals through the Blue Apron company, and my favorite thing in the world is free anything, so I jumped all over that opportunity.

Despite the fact that my husband spends HOURS at the gym, on the exercise bike, lifting weights, sweating it up in the sauna, staring at himself in the myriad of mirrors and reflective surfaces…genetically speaking, he is still at risk for High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol. His strict exercise and diet regime don’t so much lower his risk for those factors as they lower the risk for the side effects…like death.  As I kind of like having him around, I’ve recently switched us over to a more pescatarianesque diet, more salad and fish less hamburger and chicken. Basically, trying to lower his exposure to animal fats.

For someone who doesn’t cook well and doesn’t enjoy it, getting creative with fish dishes is extremely difficult. It can also be expensive.  We can’t eat salmon every night, and not just because I have a tendency to dry it out so it resembles something more along the lines of salmon jerky. I refuse to buy tilapia. If it can’t be found in nature and it’s breathing, I’m wary. We have to avoid the high mercury fishes like Ahi Tuna, Orange Roughy, King Mackerel, etc. Not because I’m pregnant! Don’t want to start any rumors…

Anyway, back to my Blue Apron experience.

I ordered the “fried” Catfish with spinach and sweet potato fries and the black bean and quinoa burritos. I thought both options were pretty safe, both for me in the kitchen and to satisfy my son’s picky palate. The kid LOVES beans. I haven’t been able to sell either my son or my husband on the benefits of quinoa. They just don’t like it, so I was a little nervous about the burritos, but I thought if you smother enough cheese and beans on it and cover it with a tortilla, maybe they won’t notice. I will admit that I don’t find quinoa all that aesthetically pleasing either. It looks like bugs.

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Having never used one of these meal services before, I didn’t really have expectations, but I thought it would be more prepared I guess.

For example, I had to grate my own cheese… Luckily, we had a cheese grater. I wasn’t sure if that particular kitchen utensil made our recent move. I was throwing out everything. Yes, I know the benefits of grating your own cheese versus buying the packaged grated cheese. I like to live dangerously. And lazily.

On the upside, I finally know what a shallot is and what it looks like! Whenever a recipe asked for a shallot, I could never find it in the grocery store, so I always just bought green onions instead.  Same thing right? I think you’re maybe starting to understand why I’m so terrible in the kitchen.

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THIS is a shallot, if you didn’t know!

By the looks and smell of it, I’m thinking a red onion might be a better substitute. Yes? No? Anyway…

There was a ton more prep than I expected.

I laugh at the instructions they sent allotting a 10 minute prep time for each dish.  It took me that long to find the cheese grater. I grated like half the cheese block, got tired and cut the rest in chunks…I mean it’s gonna melt, who will know?

I apologize for the stock photo‘s. I completely forgot to document my Blue Apron cooking journey in pictures, which is too bad, because the burritos actually turned out kinda pretty. You’ll just have to take my word for it this time.  Next time, I’ll remember to take those important Instagram moments!

Despite the amount of prep and cook time, both meals turned out pretty good. There were clean plates all around, and even the KEENWAAAAH went down the hatches! It was nice to not have to grocery shop or meal plan for those 2 days. The convenience alone would be worth the price. I think both meals were around $60 and are supposed to feed a family of four. My husband eats for two or three, so there wasn’t much in the way of leftovers which sucked because I use leftovers for lunches.  I could probably duplicate both recipes on my own for cheaper but it was fun to try it out.

I’ll definitely order again, just to spice things up.  If you’ve used any of these types of services and have recommendations, send them my way.  Especially if they have a “free to try” option 😀

Grab that mug, pull up a chair and read how my friends used their particular words this week ❤

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                       http://theblogging911.com

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Confessions of a part-time working mom         http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Climaxed                                       http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Warning: Instructions Not Included

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

How are you most like your parents? How are your most different from them?

It was submitted by: http://thelieberfamily.com    

Reading my secret subject this month literally made me cringe. I procrastinated writing for days, when I finally did write, I wrote…I deleted…I wrote again…I deleted again. Now here I am at the last minute trying to throw something together. The thing is I’ve been estranged from my parents for almost 6 years. This topic hit me hard, it took me back to places I’d rather not visit, emotions I thought I’d gotten in control, feelings I positively believed I’d handled. I’ve always prided myself on my transparency. What you see is what you get, and I’ve strived to always be honest about my struggles in pretty much every area of my life, except this one. It hurts too much. I don’t know that it will ever not hurt. Has what I’ve been through and experienced changed the way I parent or view parenting?  Absolutely. Someday I might be ready and willing to talk about familial estrangement and how it not only changed my life, but changed the way I think and feel as a parent.  I’m just not there yet, and I can’t figure out how to write about this subject without going there, and I’m just not ready to go there. Forgiveness is a tricky thing. I’ve learned it’s not something you do just once and all is forgotten. Forgiveness is a daily practice.  Some days I’m better at it than others. Today is not that day.

So, I decided to focus instead on questioning whether parenting is harder today than it was when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I saw this meme on Facebook and it made me laugh and gave me this idea for a spin on my secret subject this month.

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Can you relate?

It’s enough to make your head spin.

Is parenting harder today? The short answer is no. Parenting IS hard, regardless of decade or century, time or place. In my opinion, the biggest difference that exists today that makes parenting seem so much harder is the judgment. Everyone has an opinion about how YOU should raise YOUR kids and they aren’t shying away from feeling they have the right to tell you all about it.

I remember riding my bike to the local 7-11 with my allowance money and buying all the candy I could afford. My sister would ration hers out so that it lasted a long time, but not me. I ate all that candy in pretty much one sitting and then plotted and schemed to figure out how to get into my sister’s stash. I saw a mom on Facebook get absolutely reamed as a bad mother because she bought her daughter the infamous unicorn Frappuccino at Starbucks. Because it was her daughter’s birthday. Because her daughter loved unicorns. This poor mom was forever stamped and labeled by strangers as winning the title for Worst Mom Of The Year award. Clearly she doesn’t love her kid, otherwise she would NEVER let her have a beverage filled with so much sugar and artificial ingredients and colors.

Everyone is an expert on how to raise YOUR kids, except you.

I’m sure everyone remembers the tragic death of the gorilla, Harambe, in the Cincinnati Zoo that was killed after a 3 year old climbed into his enclosure. The mother that took her eye off of her child for probably 2 seconds, received death threats and screams of outrage that her children be taken away from her.

We are so quick to jump on the parenting fail bandwagon. Is it because it makes us feel better about our own parenting? When did we become so unforgiving and harsh to each other? Certainly there are bad parents out there that probably deserve condemnation, censure, critical and harsh judgment and shouldn’t be allowed in the presence of children ever. I’m not talking about those parents and I think most of us know the difference. It’s become almost an olympic sport to publicly eviscerate any parenting style that differs from our own or what has been acknowledged as politically correct.

I don’t know about you, but I fail as a parent ALL THE TIME.  Like many other parents, I’ve felt the sting of judgment from my peers, the looks, the “well-intentioned” advice and opinions. I’ve somehow resisted the strong urge to punch all of them in the face. I feel that entitles me to an award of some kind! I don’t need you to tell me how I’ve failed, there are hundreds of articles published daily all over the internet to ensure I never feel good about the decisions I’ve made as a parent, how I’ve failed my kids on some level and how messed up they are in general.  I mean I’ve raised three millennials, and apparently they are the WORST generation EVER. (insert sarcasm)

I think most of us are doing the best we can. I believe two basic things as a parent.

  1. I neither deserve all the credit nor all the blame for how my adult children have turned out, the decisions they make, the people they’ve become.  They are autonomous creatures unto themselves navigating the same murky waters, making similar mistakes or inventing new ones all on their own. They are human. I am human. We are perfectly imperfect and made in His image, meant to be loved, cherished, protected, accepted and embraced for not only our similarities but also for the things that make us beautifully unique and different.
  2. Forgiveness. Unfortunately parenting is a learn as you go type of education, and it’s not one-size fits all. Forgive yourself. As a parent, show your kids you can admit when you are wrong. You can own your mistakes. The words “I’m sorry” go both ways.  They will fail you as children, and you will fail them as parents. Forgiveness. It’s one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal. There needs to be more of it in the world today. We are quick to judge, slow to forgive. We need to turn that concept on its head, judge less and forgive more. No one has it all figured out. No one.

If you see a mom or dad struggling with their kids today, give him/her a word of encouragement. Even a smile. A sympathetic nod. Let them know and feel that they are not in this parenting thing alone, they are not doing it all wrong, and that you’ve got their back. Remember that golden rule we learned in Kindergarten? If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything at all. Resist that urge to make a snap judgment about a parenting style you witnessed at your kids school or in line at the grocery store or at a restaurant and then post about it on Facebook so all your friends can jump on the parenting fail bandwagon making you feel justified and vindicated, confident in the knowledge that you are at least better than one parent out there. If you’re like most parents, you beat yourself up all the time about the mistakes you’ve made, you don’t need someone else swinging that bat for you. You need someone to take the bat away and give you a hug instead. Tell you it’s going to be okay. You are not alone. You are not a failure. You’ve got this. We’ve got this. Together.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                   http://theblogging911.com

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                   http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Confessions of a part-time working mom            http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Not That Sarah Michelle                    http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Climaxed                                    http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

 

Momma Got Schooled

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Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

Office ~ great ~ pillows ~ cat ~ hat

They were submitted by: http://www.southernbellecharm.com

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

If you’ve been following my blog at all then you know that we recently decided to homeschool our son.  We’ve only been doing it since feels like forever January and it’s definitely taken some getting used to on both our parts.  I would definitely say it’s been very positive and I’ve seen so much growth in him already.  I just miss my free time.  A little.  Or maybe a lottle.

I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.  We’ve definitely bonded over this experience and I’m proud to be such a positive influence in my son’s daily learning environment.  The confidence he’s exhibited in his abilities and the leaps and bounds he’s growing both emotionally and mentally just can’t be measured, but…

I am never alone.  NEVER.  Like ever.

And we downsized so now there is even less space for me to never be alone in.  Sometimes, if I’m being honest, it’s a little claustrophobic.  I long for the days when I could walk around the house stark naked eating ice-cream and watching soap operas with absolutely no one around to judge me.  Not that any of those things actually happened…that you can prove anyway…but you get my point.  I knew that sacrifices would be made, and apparently spontaneous nudity and ice-cream bingeing are the proverbial lambs in this scenario.  Anyway, this blog isn’t about my nudity (thank goodness!), it’s about using words in a sentence or a collection of sentences that form, in this case, a blog post.  Words I don’t get to choose.  Much like my son’s weekly spelling assignments in which he has to make sentences out of a few of his spelling words.  This has got to be the worst segue ever but I really struggled with how I was going to use these words, and then this week my son had a spelling assignment and suddenly I knew exactly how I was going to use the words I’d been given!

In his “brick and mortar” school (I’m so down with the home-school lingo), my little man HATED writing.  And reading.  And math.  Ok pretty much everything but recess and lunch.  Now, one of his favorite assignments are turning his spelling words into a paragraphical work of art (his words).  He is supposed to write individual sentences for each word choice, but he’s taken liberties with this assignment and turned his spelling words into a mini 1 to 4 sentence story paragraph.  I let him go with it, because he’s never been this creative when it comes to writing.  He loves to read to me what he comes up with and it’s fun to see him excited about writing and spelling.

In this weeks assignment the words were: trustworthy, desert, competition, dessert, qualify and flame.

“The trustworthy kids were in the desert in a competition for dessert but you had to qualify by putting your foot in a flame!”

I mean genius right?!?!

Ok, here’s another!

The words were: handsome, accountant, minimum, adjectives, blindfold and gentleman

“Once on a dark cold winter day, there was a very handsome gentleman named Lazy Larry.  Lazy Larry was an accountant making minimum wage, even though he also studies the art of amazing, awesome adjectives and before he sleeps each night he puts on a blindfold and that is the end of the story of Lazy Larry.”

And my personal favorite!

The words were: muscle, muscular, customary, quest, principal and principle (spelling danger words (homographs) are so fun!)

“Once there was a very muscular man and even his muscles had muscle and his name was Man, which was customary back then.  He lived in a cave.  He was a caveman on a quest to be the best caveman with the principle to never hurt anyone, either large or small.  Unfortunately, Man served a principal named Guy, also customary. Guy was mean, but Man got to leave on this amazing adventure and was never seen again because there was a meteor.  The end.”

I asked for his help on my words and he respectfully declined.  Apparently, he’s done HIS work for the day and he can’t be responsible for MY work and I shouldn’t have procrastinated.  It really sucks when your kids use your own words against you.

So, in the spirit of channeling my inner 5th grade boy, I present to you my most magnificent paragraphical work of USE MY WORDS art!

My words again are:  Office ~ great ~ pillows ~ cat ~ hat

“In the office of the land’s great seat of power sits a cat, on a stack of pillows because he’s a cat and otherwise wouldn’t be able to see over the desk without it, wearing a hat so tall they had to build a special skylight above the desk to accommodate it’s great size which is fitting for the cat’s great responsibility in the office of the land’s great seat of power.”

Clearly, my son comes by his gifts naturally.  So I read my work of genius to him and I got…silence.  Nothing but silence.  Then he says, maybe I should help you.  And pats me gently on the back, shaking his head sadly.

He tells me to sit and he’ll show me how it’s done…

Here is his contribution:

“The amazing office with the great pillows had a grand cat but an odd cat.  This cat was wearing a hat and this cat was called the cat with the hat.”

I mean…  There is a very clear winner here.  Right?

Dr. Seuss either of us are not.  Obviously.

But I still think we both make the grade and the best part of my day is when we get to be silly like this and laugh with each other.  Way better than spontaneous nudity and alone time is overrated.  I’ll cherish these moments forever and ever.  Amen.

(maybe I can join a senior retirement nudist camp in my twilight years…so there’s that)

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                        http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Bookworm in the Kitchen             http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Simply Shannon                           http://shannonbutler.org

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

The Angrivated Mom                      http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Climaxed                                      http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Not That Sarah Michelle                 http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Make A Wish

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is: 

You’re minding your own business, out for a walk in the lovely Spring weather. You run into a magical bunny. As you’re scratching behind his ears, he says to you… In gratitude for the lovely ear scratching, I’m granting you three wishes for yourself, and an additional wish that must benefit someone other than yourself. 

What are your four wishes?!  

It was submitted by: http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

My favorite TV show growing up was definitely “I Dream of Jeannie”.  I fantasized often about finding a genie bottle on the beach and being granted 3 wishes.  The wishes themselves have changed over the years though.  I will admit, in my fantasies, my genie never looked like this…

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It was more this…

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or even this…

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Maybe a sexy cartoon Aladdin come to life to rescue me.  I’m not complaining (I mean I am a little), a wish is a wish is a wish, I suppose the vehicle of a wishes deliverance matters not.  Just to be clear, wishing that my wish-giver was hot and half-naked is not my 1st wish.  I’m just thinking out loud.

(3 hours later)

Who knew thinking of 4 wishes could be so difficult.  I don’t want to squander them.  When wishing for things, I tend to be short-sighted.  I’m probably way overthinking it.  Eggs sound really good right now.  Maybe I’ll go eat breakfast and mull it over.  I make better decisions on a full stomach.  I’d hate to wish for a house made of chocolate because I’m starving and it’s shark week (that time of the month).  These are the kind of rash decisions I need to avoid.  So eggs.  More coffee.  Then wishes.

(2 days later)

So, those were some really good eggs.  And I got distracted by life.  And I still don’t know what my wishes should be.  When I got my topic, I thought it would be so easy peasy.  Yeah…not so much.  Thinking of one wish leads me to another wish which lead to an even better wish which reminds me of my initial wish.  It’s enough to make a girl dizzy and confused.  I really need to wash my sheets.  BRB.

(5 days later)

So…this post and these wishes may never get made.  I’m no closer today than I was a week ago to narrowing down these wishes (hashtag firstworldproblems – amirite?) You know what helps me think?  Chick-Fil-A!  I know what you’re thinking, just another diversion, but no really, nothing beats Chick-Fil-A when I need to get the brain juices flowing.

(6 hours later)

Also, Chick-Fil-A makes me full which makes me long for a nap which totally happened.  Then I started watching Scandal, and OHMYHUCK…  I won’t elaborate in case no one reading this actually watches Scandal, and I don’t want to be accused of rambling…  Oh wait…too late.  Sigh.

All is not completely lost, I do have good news.  While ordering at Chick-Fil-A, I did come up with one wish!  I know!!!!  So exciting, that food is magical, I’m telling you.  Why is it though that I usually only crave it on Sunday and it’s CLOSED?!?!?!?!  Oops sorry, veering off track again.  It happens.  I’m kinda hungry again, but I’m going to finish out this wish first, I promise.  I won’t leave you hanging.

So, I’m in the forever long line that is the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru seriously considering blowing my first wish on instant gratification, but I reign myself in just in time.  I finally get up to the window and holy hotness batman, the cashier/order guy is hot.  Not little boy hot and by little boy I mean high school age and not that I notice hot high school boys or ever drive slowly by high schools as football players are running around topless, but I mean really, boys did not look like that when I was 18.  It hardly seems fair.  ANYWAY, no this guy is like old.  And by old, I mean late 20’s, early 30’s?  My eyes are eye level with the best looking backside I have ever seen.  I mean…is it hot in here?  I need a fan.  I can’t stop staring.  Then I look up and he’s staring at me.  I’m thinking, “oh shit did he notice I was totally checking out his ass?”  Why is he staring?  Why am I smiling like this?  I look deranged.  My lips have disappeared.  Did I brush my teeth today?  Maybe he’s noticed the coffee stain on my shirt?  Or the fact that I left the house without a bra on and quite frankly THAT should NEVER happen.  My reasoning was that I wasn’t getting out of the car, but it’s very awkward to have to pick up your boobs so as not to accidentally buckle them into the lap belt portion of your seat belt.  You think I’m joking…  And now you have a weird visual…sorry, go back to hot butt not in high school Chick-Fil-A guy.  Breathe.  In and out.  In and out.  Visual gone?  Whew.  Then I realize he’s asking me if I want any sauce.  Is it wrong that I thought of this movie line in “Wayne’s World?”

Yeah, I know…all kinds of wrong.  Sorry not sorry.  If anyone could ruin a perfectly good topic like being on the receiving end of 4 anything you want wishes…it’s me.  Now that I’ve taken you places you never ever wanted to go and from which you may never recover, let’s FINALLY get to my first wish.

WISH ONE

I wish for the boobs of my youth.  Vain?  Yes.  Shallow?  Yes.  Necessary?  Absolutely.  I want perky.  I want to be able to leave my house without a bra occasionally and not horrify a nation.  I don’t want surgery or drainage bags or future ruptures or dots and lines drawn all over my chest by a plastic surgeon that does NOT look like McSteamy from Grey’s Anatomy and has cold fish-like hands.  I want beautiful boobs.  I want boobs I don’t have to scoop up to fit inside my bra cup.  I want boobs that don’t fall into my armpit when I lie down.  I want boobs that don’t peak out from the bottom of my t-shirt…that hangs down to my knees.  Forget about the pencil test, I could hold a set of 120 colored pencils under each breast.  Now that you’ll never be able to look me in the eye again…let’s move on.  I think I’ve exhausted this topic.

WISH TWO

Coming up with one wish was exhausting and terrifying.  I’m depleted.  Can my 2nd wish be unlimited wishes?  I mean, the only rule was that at least one of my wishes be for someone else.  Is there a wishing rule book?  I need the facts!  I can’t work under these conditions.  I have to understand the RULES.  I’m assuming I can’t wish for unlimited wishes because that feels like cheating, then again it’s my blog, my post and maybe the rule is that you can make your own rules?  This level of thinking this early in the morning hurts my brain.  Honestly, I bet the wishing genie bunny wants to punch me in the face right now.  I bet he’s sorry he stopped for me.

The truth is I feel like I’ve got everything I could ever possibly want.  I’ve got an amazing husband, the world’s greatest children.  I’ve been blessed with a family that supports and loves me.  I’ve been blessed with 4 healthy and beautiful children.  While my life is never perfect and comes with it’s fair share of challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I wouldn’t wish for it to be any different.  I love my life.  I love my family.  It’s perfectly imperfectly tailor made just for me, and I wouldn’t change a thing.  Not one thing.  Well…

I still want the boobs though.  I’m not giving up that wish.

WISH FOR ANOTHER

This one is easy.  I wish that my son passes the STAAR test the FIRST time.  We pulled him out of a brick and mortar school in January, which is another blog post entirely that I’ll get to eventually.  We decided to homeschool him, but I stuck with public online schooling because I just didn’t know enough about homeschooling to feel I could completely tackle it on my own.  It’s been an amazing and positive experience thus far and I have no regrets.  The only downside is that he still has to pass the STAAR test to continue on to 6th grade.  He’s come a long way in just a few short months, but he still has some catching up to do.  I pray and hope that what we’ve been able to accomplish in these last 2 months has been enough to pass him.  We are proud of him no matter what, because I know how hard he’s been working, but if he passes the 1st time, the boost to his confidence…well it just can’t be measured.  I want that so badly for him.  So that is my 4th and final wish for another.  Please Mr. Genie Bunny grant me this wish.  You can ignore everything else I’ve rambled on about here today, and just make sure my son passes that STAAR test the FIRST time.

Thank you for indulging in my nonsense for what might have felt like an eternity.  Hopefully you made it to the end!  I’ll be sure and let you know how my most important final wish turns out for us (fingers crossed) ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

 

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Bookworm in the Kitchen                 http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Never Ever Give Up Hope                 http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Simply Shannon                             http://shannonbutler.org

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Not That Sarah Michelle                    http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

A Little Piece of Peace                       http://little-piece-of-peace.blogspot.com

The Angrivated Mom                         http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Climaxed                                        http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

When I Grow Up                              http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

Memory Lane

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Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

My words are:

mail ~ light ~ processing ~ ready ~ flea market

They were submitted by: http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

As you may or may not know, I’ve had a long-standing love affair with Adam Levine.  If our relationship were a Facebook status it would read “it’s complicated.” We’ve certainly weathered our fair share of storms over the years.  We had some really good times, Adam and I.

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Our Christmas photo from a few years back

Ours was truly a star-crossed love, timing was never really on our side.  Fate can be a cruel mistress.  I’m still processing our separation these past few years, but it all inevitably comes surging back as “The Voice” airs on television each season.  I haven’t really felt ready to face the pain of the distance forced between us by circumstances beyond our control.

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Our romantic beach hideaway vacation

 

I was reminiscing about my twitter campaign for Adam love a few years ago, back when I had twitter followers and was quite active on twitter.  He can’t follow me on twitter for obvious reasons, you know the whole secret part of our epic love story, but I thought what better way to throw the paparazzi off the scent than to pretend I was desperate for Adam to follow me on twitter, so I launched the “follow me Adam” campaign.  I had the majority of my followers tweeting Adam begging politely requesting that Adam should definitely follow me on Twitter.  He’d pick random normal every day people to follow from time to time and while there was nothing ordinary or every day about our love, he could have pretended and followed me back.  He’s overly cautious my Adam, and didn’t want to throw a giant spotlight on our romance, so alas I have to report that he never did follow me on twitter (sad emoji).

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Our winter wonderland kind of love

Sometimes I think perhaps I should mail in my singing demo to “The Voice,” just to get on the show so I can see him again.  Not that I can sing.  At all.  But I mean this is my fantasy so obviously I would get on the show.  I’d be wearing some cute vintage 80’s outfit I picked up at a flea market outside of town.  I’d even krimp my hair (is that back yet?) I’d be some hybrid Cyndi Lauper/Madonna type performer.  Obviously, he’d recognize me instantly.  The shock of seeing me again turning his hair blonde…(not a good look).  I’d get a four chair turn where I’d pretend to be giddy about Blake and those dimples, but really I’d only have eyes for Adam.  And he wouldn’t be able to look away (obviously).  We’d have a moment.  A lingering full body hug.  He’d whisper secret things in my ear.  I can’t tell you!  It’s a secret.  I’d feel all warm, fuzzy and validated.  It would be just like old times.

(Adam, if you’re reading this and why wouldn’t you be (duh!), you can follow me on Instagram.  I won’t tell…hardly anyone.  Much. Ish.  I promise (fingers crossed). You really should.  You know you want to.  Why deny yourself life’s little pleasures?  Doooooo eeeeeeet.  <3)

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One of my all-time favorite pics of us!

Thanks for indulging me on this walk down memory lane. I’ll leave you with these pics of our children, or what our children would have looked like rather had we had them together.  Assuming of course we didn’t have a love child or two.  Or did we?  Stay vigilant, you never know…

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

 

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy             http://dinoheromommy.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom       http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

The Angrivated Mom                          http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Climaxed                                        http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Not That Sarah Michelle                    http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

I’m Proud To Be…

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Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

What nationalities are you comprised of and how do they reflect on the person you are?

It was submitted by: http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

“Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.” Walt Disney

I’ve been thinking that if I’d gotten this question a year ago, or even 6 months ago, I would have approached it or thought about it quite differently than I do so today.  To be honest, I’ve never really given much thought to my heritage or nationality.

I’m an American.

I’m white.

I’m parts Native American (Osage and Cherokee), Scottish and maybe Irish (probably wishful thinking, but with my name being Shannon and all…)

I’m a woman.

I’m a mother.

I’m a wife.

I’m a daughter, sister, aunt and cousin, etc…

Some of those things define me more than others.

I’ve probably felt as if I belonged more to America than a particular ethnic group.  What does being an American mean?  These days I wonder.

As a general rule, I avoid politics.  I’m too emotional, passionate, defensive, strong-willed and opinionated to enter into such discussions lightly.  I tend to take differing opinions personally, as if my very personhood is being attacked or threatened.  I know my limitations.  I’d like to keep my friends, so I keep quiet.

I can tell you what being an American means to me.  I think that how I personally define what it means to be an American defines the kind of person I am or aspire to be.

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.” Barack Obama

I feel we’ve entered into an era of extreme Nationalism, where the idea of patriotism is being confused or misconstrued, twisted into something self-serving, hateful and largely based on fear and bias.

“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” Charles de Gaulle

I love my country.  I love her beautiful diversity, a rich tapestry of different cultural and ethnic identities, religions and faiths.  A rainbow of colors and ideas, explosive and expressive, reflective and representative of the freedoms that brave men and women have fought, bled and died in pursuit of since the birth of this great nation.  I’m not threatened by that which is different, I embrace it, it inspires and motivates me.  I don’t believe in a world that divides people into an US versus THEM.  I don’t worry that God is on my side but whether or not I am on HIS side.  I’m pretty sure Jesus asked for a longer table, not a higher wall.  Ideologies built on hate and fear aren’t destroyed by the policies, philosophies or ideas based upon those same emotions.  Ideologies constructed out of those negative and destructive emotions are destroyed brick by brick only by love, by acceptance, by inclusion, by forgiveness and by understanding.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.” Clarence Darrow  

America, for all her imperfections and faults, IS a great nation.  Patriotism should not be confused with jingoism, which by definition refers to a country’s advocacy for the use of threats or actual force in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests.  I rebel against the idea that there is “only enough” for SOME people.  America embodies the hope that anything is possible for anyone willing and able to dream.  Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” The American dream is an iconic part of our identity.  It is our promise.  Our hope. Our past, present and future.  Being American means we embrace and accept our imperfections as a nation, as a fallible and fragile people, but we work to overcome our faults, right our wrongs.

Being American defines me.  Being American means I strive to learn that which I don’t understand.  It means I embrace inclusivity and acceptance from people or ideas that might be different.  I see the value in the uniqueness of expression.  My growth, spiritually, mentally and emotionally is sparked by sharing ideas and experiences with cultures both ethnically and culturally diverse.  My belief in God is strengthened by these differences, not weakened.  America embodies hope.  Being an American means I’m an extension of that hope which should be reflected in the love and respect I hold for those that may not look like me or think like me. I believe in the free exchange of ideas, beliefs and experiences because it contributes to the vitality of our great nation and enriches humanity as a whole. As corny as it sounds, I do believe good trumps evil and that love conquers all.

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing.  But why should love stop at the border?” Pablo Casals

I don’t know if I answered the question.  I’m not opting for a soapbox or a sound bite, these are the feelings I truly believe and embrace when I ask myself the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” I might have completely gone off script but these thoughts have been weighing on my heart recently and this topic and/or question felt like a path I could take to unburden myself, share my thoughts and my fears in the little environment I’ve created to experience the freedom of my emotions, such as they are.

I feel that being an American is a privilege, and I don’t take the rights and freedoms I enjoy for granted.  Despite the uncertain and turbulent times enveloping our nation, I feel optimistic and hopeful about our future.  I’m proud to be an American.  It is our differences, our unique voices and perspectives woven together that make up the rich tapestry of our Nation.  We don’t always get it right, but we never give up. ❤

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.BakingInATornado.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy         http://dinoheromommy.com/

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver        http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog                     http://thelieberfamily.com

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope                 http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom       http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Southern Belle Charm                          http://www.southernbellecharm.com

The Angrivated Mom                          http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Climaxed                                           http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Love Actually

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All during the month of February, I’ve focused on the word “love.”  It is the month of Valentine’s Day after all.  I’ve posted quotes on Facebook and Instagram all about showing the love.  I’ve focused my efforts on giving love, whether in service to others or learning to love myself a little better.  I’ve really tried to see the face of God in every person I’ve met or crossed paths with in one way or another.  I’ve even tried to love Donald Trump.  Ok…  So, I’m totally lying about that one.  Sorry.  I’m only human.  I’ve tried to smile more, engage strangers, look for ways to offer kindness and service, live out my faith in my day to day life.

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Well…I was doing really good till the last two days of February.  On February 27th, it all went to hell.  Where you will probably find me…  with my grocery cart of anger and bitterness.  There are two places where I’ve found myself to be at my most vulnerable to react negatively – the grocery store and behind the wheel of my car.  If I’m going to present the worst version of myself, it usually happens in one of those scenarios.  Patience, love, kindness and sanity – all completely thrown out the window when I either enter the swish swish doors of my local grocer or when I slip behind the wheel of my car. I don’t know what happens to me.  It’s almost an out of body experience, I see myself behaving badly but appear powerless to stop it.

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It was a Monday, which should have been my first clue not to leave the house, but did I listen? Nope.  I dropped my husband off at the train station, and decided to stop by the store on the way home to just grab a few things, less than 5, it would take no time at all.  I’d zip in, then zip out.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Right?  Wrong.  First, I talked myself into popping into the easiest grocery store from a navigation/proximity perspective.  After all, I only needed like maybe 5 things, 6 tops.  This is my least favorite location of this particular chain.  It smells funny.  I dislike the layout and parking is always bad.  I knew better than to stop here.  I should have gone just a teensy bit out of my way and perhaps none of this would have happened and I could have closed the month of February feeling as if I’d at least adequately mimicked a good person, full of love, generosity of spirit and a heart bursting with kindness and compassion.

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Might seem a tad dramatic, but you understand my point.  So, I grab my few items and walk immediately to the “speedy checkout” line.  There are two people ahead of me.  The lady checking out is an employee buying some gummy bears and the girl in front of me, has maybe 22 items (even though the sign says 20 or less…but that’s okay, I’m choosing to let it go, if only I’d kept up that mantra).  As it turns out, the employee is buying 2 things of candy, apparently paying for them separately.  She is talking animatedly with the cashier, like they have all the time in the world.  I can feel the tiny pinpricks of annoyance.  I force myself to smile (which was probably more of a grimace really).  Her second transaction gets messed up.  Sigh.  More laughing and talking.  I’m thinking she eats that package of gummy bears faster than she paid for them.  My mood is deteriorating at lightning speed.  I can feel myself deconstructing, my good intentions paving that road to hell.  A road that will be paved before she finishes paying for these damn gummy bears.  At this point, my mask of tolerance has slipped and probably something like this has been left in its place…

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Naturally, she chooses this moment to turn around and look behind her (yeah color me speechless, you aren’t the only one in this line!)  She grabs another candy bar (which I ungraciously think she doesn’t really need…) and includes it with the gummy purchase.  Finally!  She is done.  She turns around and hands the candy bar to the girl in front of me (who has been on her cell phone the whole time probably tweeting complaints about the amount of time this lady is taking btw) and thanks her for being patient, then shoots me a dirty look.  I feel a tiny bit of remorse for my impatience.  Ok, not really.  The slight just makes me more agitated and annoyed.

The girl ahead of me is super speedy (God bless her).  Then it’s finally my turn.  Hours later.  I unload all my items, grab my purse and step toward the cashier when he does the thing that completely sends me over the edge.  He actually beckons to the guy behind me and says, “hey since you only have one thing, I’ll check you out real quick.”

OH NO HE DIDN’T.

THIS IS SO NOT HAPPENING.

I mean, yes, he only had one thing but I was next in line and I had been waiting longer.  He just got there!  Sure, there have been times, when I’m not in a hurry, that I’ve let people with fewer items step ahead of me, but that’s been MY choice.  I can’t even find words.  I’m just standing there with my mouth hanging open.  Incredulous.  When my brain catches up to the scene playing out in front of me, my face turns from shocked bewilderment to something that I’m pretty sure looks like this –

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He ignores my death stare and sharp breaths that would rival Darth Vader’s.  I know my face is bright red, I can actually feel the rage.  I’m so pissed off.  The only thing that saved him and me was the fact I was too angry to even speak.  I just stared him down.  I didn’t even acknowledge the guy buying his yellow stupid ball; although, in hindsight, why would he accept!  I would have at least made sure it was okay with the person waiting in front of me that I was cutting off!  I can feel myself getting mad all over again, just reliving it here. This is why I would never carry a gun.  I know my limitations.  Yes, I was that angry.  I was in a hurry to get home.  It had been a long day, and I only needed 6 THINGS!  SIX!  I jerked my items off the turnstile and threw them in my cart, finding every possible passive aggressive form of anger I could use against this seemingly unaffected cashier.  To his credit, my anger and eye shooting daggers didn’t seem to phase him in the least.  When nonverbal communication doesn’t work to affectively notify the object of my ire that I’m angry, I result to muttering under my breath.  Which I began to do now.  I think he just thought I was crazy.  Yeah yeah…don’t say it.  I know.

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The next morning, against my better judgment, I go to the same store, different location.  I needed binders and school supplies and it was too early for Staples and Target was too far.  There were no checkout lines open, so I had to use the self-checkout option.  Not a big deal.  I’m pro.  As I scan each item and drop into a bag, I get an error message.

“Unexpected item in the bagging area.”

This happened after each item.

EACH.

ITEM.

I had 6 binders, tab dividers, coffee, orange juice and apple juice, a journal and a spiral.

By the 3rd item, I could feel it happening again.  I get to the 4th binder and it won’t ring up.  It says the barcode is invalid.  At this point, the cashier is practically standing on top of me because she keeps having to enter her code after I scan each item.  She attempts to scan it, even though she just watched me do it, and same error message.  She attempts to manually type in the code.  THREE TIMES.  Same error message.

Then.

She walks away.  WITH MY BINDER.  Saying nothing.

I’m all like…um excuse me?  I need that?

She responds, “the code is wrong.”

Ummm.  Yeah.  I got that part.  But I say, “well, I have another one, the same size…?”

She responds, “different brand.”

Are you freaking kidding me?  They are like 50 cents.  Ok so there are literally 5 employees just standing around talking, maybe she was going to ask one of them to go pick up another binder for me?

Nope.

She walked over (with my binder under her arm) and helped another customer.  Shaking my head, I rang up the rest of my purchases.  Getting an error message each time about the unexpected bagging.  At this point, my jaw is clenched, my hands fisted.  It’s taking everything I have not to erupt.  She clears my errors from her main terminal, not walking back towards me.  So she’s not completely clueless.  After I ring everything up, but the binder in question, I look over at her again.

She’s still holding my binder.

I say, “Umm… I didn’t put that into my cart for looks, I kinda need it?  Can you send someone to get another one, or can I leave my stuff here?”

Her response.

“It won’t scan.”

OMG

I’m done.  I’m need to get out of here. Screw the binder.  I will make one out of lasagna noodles and string!

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The month wasn’t a complete bust.  As a family, we spent one early Sunday morning in service to the homeless population in our downtown area with an organization that faithfully serves this marginalized portion of our society, feeding them physically, spiritually and emotionally.  It’s one of our favorite missions, and a time to truly live outside yourself and your own unique set of circumstances and learn the value of loving and helping others and the true definition of grace.  It’s a reminder to those who serve how much you have to be thankful for in your life.  A humbling experience that reminds each of us how precarious life can be and by the grace of God how much we are loved.

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In reflecting on my behavior in those two incidents, I am reminded of the hours spent in service to others that cold Sunday morning.  I’m brought low by my negativity, my poor behavior, my impatience with others, my anger and my selfishness.  I spent that last day of February in quiet reflection and prayer.  Thankful, that God’s grace has been bestowed upon me.  Reminded that although I will always be perfectly imperfect, made in His image, I’ve been afforded His grace, love and forgiveness, unconditionally and forever and that it is always within my power to extend that same love, forgiveness and grace to others, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.  It’s probably a lesson I will have to learn anew each day as I live out my faith as a flawed and fragile human being.

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I woke up on this new day, March 1st, with the promise of spring in the air, feeling renewed and refreshed.  During this season of Lent, I wanted to give up something meaningful, something possibly life-changing.  Not chocolate or social media or carbs.  I wanted to do something really hard, something that would require daily (heck even hourly) purposeful intention.

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I’m giving up…

IMPATIENCE

True story.  I might have to take up drinking.

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If it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice and I really need to work on this. It’s probably my worst vice and leads to many others.  Wish me luck.  I’m going to need it.

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I’ll leave you with this Irish Blessing ❤

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