Monday, August 25, 2014

back to school humor

I don't think you had to be school-aged in the 70's to appreciate this hysterical comparison about going back to school between "then" and "now". 

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Hello readers,

I have a couple of posts simmering and sitting in draft mode.  Just can't finish 'em up.  One is about the fabulous movie The Giver that I saw last week with my kids and one about the beginning of school--the good, the bad and the ugly.

But for now, I'll just get a few things off my chest.  Just some random questions for the universe. I am currently hanging out with 3 boys and am lacking for adult companionship.

a glass of wine and a book--solitude

1.  Why the hell do people go camping?  I spotted a Volvo in a camping spot today with a sorry looking tent next to it.  If you can afford a Volvo, can't you afford a hotel room?  I don't get it.

it's hot and humid and muggy--this doesn't look fun

2.  Have you learned a practical life skill lately?  It's fun.  At age 48 I learned how to flush a toilet when the water is shut off.  Saved my weekend!  

3.  Can we stop with the hashtags?  #overused

4.  Can we stop pouring water over our heads?  #donate$

5.  Do we agree that having a teenager is God's way of paying us back for the crap we put our own parents through?  #karma

Over and out.  I am about to send some disgustingly dirty 11 year old boys (and dog) into the creek to wash up. #momsruinthefun

How about you?  What burning questions do you have in your heart right now?

Friday, August 1, 2014

food dichotomy

We were at the cabin last week and I brought some magazines to catch up on:  Garden & Gun's current issue "The Southern Food Issue" and the new National Geographic.  I read two articles back to back that struck me as sadly at odds.

not the current issue

Kim Severson's article "Southern Comfort:  the value of the table in the digital age" explores the rise of the food culture. 

"As the golden age of jazz defind the fast moving 1920s or film helped us unpack the harsh realities and changing sexual mores in the 1970s, food has become the cultural currency of our time . . . How we eat has become our cultural organizer.  Fast food used to be a novelty, then a necessity.  now it's a symbol of class division.  Homemade sausage used to be the stuff of a peasant class.  Now it is the new luxury food.  A country ham and the person who smoked it are as revered as an haute couture dress and the woman who designed it."

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be caught dead at a McDonald's. 

It was a well written article, and I agreed with a lot of the points regarding the pleasure and value of sitting down together at the table.  In a crazy, digital world, it's nice to share a meal with your family with no distractions, even nicer when it is a good one with fresh, wholesome ingredients.  It's a chance to slow down and reconnect.

What a privilege it is to be able to buy fresh, organic food.  And to have the time to prepare it.  Not everyone can eat this way; it is not sustainable for the planet.  Someone has to eat crap, food out of cans, GMOs, and it falls hard on the poor.  I don't think the farm to table movement means much to someone buying groceries with SNAP.

In the August issue of National Geographic, Tracie McMillan raises the question, "Why are people malnourished in the richest country on Earth?"  There is a new modern term for hunger:  "food insecure".  And there are 48 million Americans living under these conditions, more than half white and living in rural areas.  Many are families where one parent is working.  They are not deadbeats.

When you call up an image of someone living with hunger or food insecurity, you might be tempted to think of someone scrawny and malnourished.  The sad fact is that many are overweight.  Melissa Boteach, vice president of the Poverty and Prosperity Program of the Center for American Progress, points out "people making trade-offs between food that's filling but not nutritious may actually contribute to obesity."  Would you rather give a hungry child a bowl of mac and cheese or some roasted kale?  And when I say hungry child, I mean the kind of hunger that comes when you don't know when your next meal will be, or it's a Friday and you know your kid won't get a hot lunch until Monday at 11:30 in school, and even then it will be crappy.  Or the food pantry is empty.  Or you've used up your grocery budget.

I would also add that from my experience working with low income children, many are not going to sports activities after school, instead transitioning to daycare or home to sit in front of a screen.  No exercise = sedentary lifestyle = obesity.

It IS possible to eat cheaply in America, but oftentimes people don't have the resources or education.  It takes planning and resourcefulness.  That is why programs that teach students, and parents, how to cook and grow food are beneficial.  In Roanoke, we are lucky to have some programs that are doing good things.  Two such programs are Food For Thought and Happy Healthy Cooks.  You can read about some of the success that the Happy Healthy Cooks program in the schools is having here.

Does your school system have something like this?  Do you have community gardens where you live?  I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

28 hours of solitude!

I am in my last 4 hours without my family, and I admit I have loved every minute of this weekend.  Rob took Sophie to a recruiting lacrosse tournament in Richmond.  I didn't want to make the drive since I had been in Richmond a few days ago for a doctor appointment.  Plus I figure there will be many more since she is only 14. 

Sooo, I begged off and stayed home with Percy.  My Saturday was about cycle class, manicure, a hair appointment, TJ Maxx, watching 5 episodes of Girls and going to our cocktail club party. 

This morning I woke up and ran the dog, went to Lowe's to buy a new showerhead, installed said showerhead, did laundry and am now reading my new issue of Garden and Gun.  We are going to a friend's house for dinner tonight, so I am making a blueberry cobbler with some berries we picked last week in Blacksburg.  Someone at the party last night was talking about how the farm uses pesticides and they would NEVER pick there, but I was all like, get over yourself and wash the berries.  Whatever.  Don't need the judgment.

I have been reading up a storm--finished 4 books during our trip to Texas.  Will report on that tomorrow.  Back to quiet before the zoo returns.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I think I have discovered a potential new job market:  ambush haircuts.  My son and many of his friends are sporting long hair (or "flow" as the lax bros call it), but the mamas aren't wild about it. 

For the third time in a row I have lured Jack downtown for pizza or an ice cream only to stop by the barber on the way.  Last time he was on to me, so today I brought in my reinforcements:  his father.  I had to slow to a stop at the barber, forcibly drag him out of the car and then send in Rob to be a "presence" so he didn't make a break for it like he did the first time my girlfriend and I took the boys "out for frozen yogurt".  Luckily the gal who cuts his hair is very cute and knows how to flatter 10 year old boys.  We topped off the ambush with pizza today at a place that serves ridiculously giant slices.  Everyone was happy.

all's well that ends well

Monday, June 30, 2014

off the grid!

Today's agenda includes cleaning up the dog who has had diarrhea for a few days (gross!!), mountains of laundry, picking up the house a house and a swim meet.  So not the perfect summer day in any regard, but the light at the end of the tunnel is near.  We are flying out super early Wednesday am for West Texas and the 06 Ranch.

Packing won't be too hard--Sophie and I have cowboy boots and she has a real cowboy hat from our last trip.  There is a pool there and if we aren't going on an excursion, we tend to stay in our pj's a lot.
I think we are planning to do Carlsbad Caverns as our big event and the Ft. Davis 5K/10K.  When we were there 4 years ago I ended up winning the whole 5K for women (had to go head to toe with a 12 year old), and was eligible to ride on a float in the 4th of July parade.  I can't remember why we didn't do this, but if by some chance one of us wins the race, we will be all over that.

I am going to leave all electronics behind--and have been weaning myself off of them this week.  It will be a very welcome change!  Bringing lots of books.  I reluctantly started our book club pick for August and don't hate it, which I thought I would.  Who wants to read about Nazis in the summer?
In The Garden of Beasts, Seattle writer Erik Larson has written from the perspective of Americans living in Berlin, and it is through this lens that the reader learns about the rise of Hitler's Germany.

We learn how things unfolded in Berlin from the unique perspective of William Dodd, the down to earth, somewhat unsophisticated newly appointed Ambassador sent to the post that no one wanted.  He brought along his family, and their initially na├»ve responses to their new city and the growing powers of Hitler's regime from his wife and two adult children are most interesting.  I am only 100 pages into this long book, so I can not say how they will change as Hitler takes control.

I am also packing up something on a lighter note, The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, a book given to me by a friend months ago.  It's set in Australia and tells the tale of a lighthouse keeper and his wife, who discover a shipwrecked boat with a dead man and a living baby.  The wife, who has suffered two miscarriages and one stillbirth, insists that they keep the baby and not report the accident. 

 Jack finished Johnny Tremain so I have to rustle up something for him to bring.  Sophie is reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.  She is going to have a serious hard time going cold turkey without wifi. 

Wishing you a happy 4th of July!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Necessity, part 2

When I hit publish on my last post, I knew there was more to the story than meets the eye, but I didn't elaborate.  But after reading Suburban Matron's post yesterday, I can't get the thoughts out of my head, so here you go. 

When you go through cancer, or any other scary major life event, you can't but help to emerge a different person.  I am a girl with a scar on her neck who will take a pill every day for the rest of her life.  I often think I got off easy.  But I do find myself seeing life through a slightly different lens.  It's as if my eye prescription changed, not too drastically, but just enough to require a new pair of glasses. 

I think differently about how I spend my time these days.  What's worth doing and why?  How can I do something meaningful with my time and how can I not squander it?  

Same thing with relationships.  I will never forget the people who helped me get through life last year.  I tried to keep things under wraps for the most part, so not a lot of people knew about my thyroid cancer, but my good friends knew what was going on and they were there taking me to appointments, bringing me meals, sending little gifts, checking in.  My husband who held down the fort.  My sister and sister in law who sent me care packages.  My kids who saw me cry and stayed strong.  They are forever in my heart.  And then there are the family members (on my husband's side, not mine) who didn't bother to communicate at all.  Not even a "hey!  glad you are cancer free!" kind of toss away greeting. Nada.  In the words of mob boss mother Liv Soprano, they are dead to me. 

So 2014 has been a year to live life fully, try new things, make new friends, quit jobs, let go of things that just weren't working for me.  And I thank cancer for that.  Suburban Matron asked, "why me and not her?"  Why do some people get struck down and others survive?  I think about this more than I care to. And I think it's a good thing.