Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Thru The Years

Bah, humbug.


Wrong holiday.

I mean, Happy Halloween!!!! of my most favorite days of the year...the day when you can dress up as anything you want to be, take on a different persona, and get candy from strangers.


Trick-or-treating as a child was always a delight...walking on the sidewalks with my friends, lugging along a pillowcase that would get increasingly heavy as the evening wore on, and counting down the minutes until the much-anticpated "Loot Inspection" once I got home.

Loved the chocolate. Hated the peanut butter thingies in the orange and black wrappers.

But seriously hated the plastic spiders or the pencils that the dentists in the neighborhood would pass out. Ack.

And seriously hated having to share the loot with my parents...but totally seeing the benefit of that once I became a parent myself. Hee.

Here are some Halloween photos over the years at our house...Enjoy!

Me...circa 1966, at the age of 4...a Wicked Witch....

Brad, as a 1-year old race car driver, in 1990...

Brad, as a 2-year old clown, in 1991...

Brad, as a 3-year old pirate, in 1992....

Me and the boys in 1994...

In 1995, Brad was a knight and Taylor was a cat...Taylor was still young enough I could force "cute" on him....

By 1996, the boys wanted "Scary" and wanted nothing to do with "cute." Sigh.

By 2000, the boys were joined by their little sister, who was a decidedly cute Tigger....

And here we are, 11 years after that last picture was taken.

Oldest son is now a senior in college, far from home.

Younger son is 18 and will be working tonight at his dressing up for him anymore.

And my daughter is spending the evening across the lake, at her girlfriends' houses, where she'll trick-or-treat one last time. But not with us. Sigh.

Life goes on. Kids get older.

And yet the kid that's still inside me will always enjoy Halloween.

Be safe tonight, however you choose to celebrate.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Busting A Gut Over My Sister's Gut

My sister and I have a somewhat new tradition of trying to get together every month for dinner, where we can nibble and nosh on such appetizers as jobs, kids and families.

However, with my sister's rectal cancer diagnosis a few months back, our dinner-time conversations lately have focused more on chemo, ostomy supplies and side effects. Fun stuff, I'm tellin' you, and I can only imagine what people around us must be thinking if they could only overhear our talks.

Last night, while sitting at our local 54th Street Bar & Grill, we were discussing some pretty intimate stuff at a decibel level of 125, as the restaurant was very loud and very crowded. Sis is open to questions about how things all "work" in her body - or how they don't work, depending on what part we're discussing - and she decided to give me a graphic anatomy lesson.

Grabbing the straw wrapper (educational supplies are somewhat limited in a 54th Street Bar & Grill, after all), she proceeded to lay out her colon, as well as her rectum...and in case I wasn't overloaded with too much information by this point, she tore off a little, teeny, tiny bit of straw wrapper and used it for her ostomy bag:

She then grabbed her black straw and used it as her pointer, because all good teachers must have a pointer, don't ya' know, and so there, in a crowded and crazy and noisy bar, I learned everything I ever wanted to know about how her body eliminates waste through the ostomy bag.

Fascinating stuff, I'm tellin' ya...and when I realized what we were doing, I couldn't help but get the giggles...and before we knew it, we were both sitting there, busting our "guts" (sorry - couldn't resist an anatomical pun at this point!) with laughter at the absurdity of our situation.

I think we laughed until we cried.

Sometimes, the best medicine isn't a bunch of chemotherapy drugs dripping through a port...but a good old-fashioned dinner with your sister, busting a gut over her gut.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Beatles vs Turkeys

Living at the lake the last two years has given our family all kinds of "lake-living" education...

...lake roads are really, really curvy....

...there are lots and lots and lots of leaves to rake... (guess what we've been doing all weekend??!!)

...spiders and spider-webs are permanent squatters of boats, docks and decks....

...and the local wildlife remind us all of the time that THEY are the true permanent residents, and us human-folk are just "borrowing" their territory...

I was reminded of this last fact as I was driving home from the grocery store, and I came across this sight in front of me:

Somehow, I couldn't help but be reminded of these famous "animals":

Although, I will be the first to admit that a rafter of turkeys gobbling in excited agitation as they scurry across the road doesn't quite sound like the Beatles.



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Extreme Homemaker: Joplin

"MOVE!" "THAT!" "BUS!!!"

Know that phrase?

If you've ever sat down and watched an episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, than you've heard the ebullient host, Ty Pennington, scream those words through his ever-present megaphone, prior to a well-deserving family getting a home of their dreams.

Pretty cool stuff.

Even more cool is that my Hubby got an opportunity to be one of the lucky volunteers today, working on those dream homes.

Extreme Makeover has been in Joplin, Missouri this week...doing an unprecedented "Seven Homes in Seven Days" build for their upcoming 200th Anniversary episode. (Set to air probably in January or February)

On May 22nd of this year, Joplin was the scene of the most destructive tornado in U.S. history - a monster storm that killed over 160 people, leaving thousands of homes and businesses destroyed. I spent almost 3 weeks in Joplin immediately afterwards, with the American Red Cross, providing food and other supplies to the people affected.

A few months ago, both Hubby and I applied online at to be selected as volunteers to work on the seven days...for seven different families.

What a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would be, we thought....

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that we had both been selected...Hubby had been chosen for the October 22nd shift from 2:00 - 8:00 pm...while I had been selected to build a house at a later Maine.



Maine. Or possibly Massachusetts.

Either way, it was a long way from Joplin, and a long way from Kansas City.

I'm not sure how that mix-up occurred, but oh, well. Probably best that I not be hammering out construction so soon after the gallbladder surgery....right? That's what I'm telling myself, anyway, as I worked through my disappointment at the mix-up.

So, Hubby set off today for his unique volunteer experience...and he called a bit ago, on his way home, bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement on all that he had been a part of today.

Very well organized, he said. Lots of volunteers - hundreds, if not thousands. From all over the country.

All seven houses are in a row...on the same block...but all with different themes.

And yes, he DID get to see Ty Pennington - several times, in fact - as Ty walked around the job site...but he never got to hear Ty screaming into the megaphone.

We can't wait to watch this episode and "meet" the families who'll be moving into these special homes...and knowing all of the love that went into them from all of the volunteers....

Now...if only I can get myself to Maine...or Massachusetts...and work on the house that I got selected for....




Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Telephone Line

There's a famous quote by Mark Twain that says, "The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

I'm feeling a particularly close kinship right now with Mr. Twain, as I have heard of a rather exaggerated rumor regarding myself that I must squelch.

A few weeks ago, I had to leave my Red Cross work in New Jersey early, so that I could come back home to Kansas City and have gallbladder surgery. A nasty business, to be sure, but all is well in Post-Gallbladder World, I am happy to report.

Over the course of my recovery, I received numerous "Get Well" cards in the mail...from friends, church members, and fellow Red Cross volunteers.

One card, though, in particular, caught my eye:

This card was signed by numerous volunteers who I had been working alongside in New Jersey after Hurricane Irene...and their personal messages were...well...puzzling.

One says, "Sorry to hear of your loss."'re sorry for the loss of my gallbladder???

That's kinda' weird. But....okay.

Another message says, "Prayers for you and your family."

Wow. I lose my gallbladder, and my family needs prayers?

Okay...I guess they kinda' do need prayers, having to deal with me post-surgery. I could give the devil fits when I'm being whiny and needy and not feeling well.

And then I saw this message:

"We are so sorry about your fire."

Mystery solved. Kinda'.

It appears that these volunteers didn't hear correctly on why I left New Jersey early. They didn't hear that it was "gallbladder." They heard "house fire."

They thought my house had burnt down.

If it weren't so tragic, it would almost be funny. I mean, I feel awful that all of these people think that I lost my house...but how the heck did the message get so turned around??!!

Remember that game we played as little kids...Telephone Line...? Where we would sit in a circle...and one person would whisper a message in someone's ear...and then that person would whisper it to the next person...and so on, and so on...and it was always funny to hear how outrageously wrong & mangled the original message was by the very end?

This was Telephone Line in real life...and now, how to go about correcting all of these people so they don't think I lost my house??

Just a little old gallbladder.

Big difference, huh?



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Going Topless

My 50th birthday is approaching...

...well, okay...not for another 8 months...but who's counting??

Um, me, perhaps??!!

Anyhoo, a momentous birthday deserves a momentous present, because, after all - half a century is half a century.... with that in mind:

Happy (early) Birthday to Me....

I picked up this little baby yesterday. And it is now sitting quite happily in my garage, soon to be moved to Florida.

Call it a mid-life crisis...

Call me crazy...

But life is good when cruising around in a bright red Mustang...with the top down.



When Is It Going Too Far????

A real-life "What Would You Do" situation....

Just when I think I've seen it all, something happens that absolutely blows me out of the water.

Such an event happened last Sunday...and I'm still shaking my head with bewilderment, on what I witnessed....

I was working a booth at a local KMart store here in town on behalf of the Red Cross, because once a year, KMart will bring in various organizations to promote National Health & Safety Week.

I had various brochures, as well as coloring books for children, that I would pass out to interested people as they shopped. Fun times, right?

I was stationed right across from the Customer Service desk, so in-between "interested people", I would have an opportunity to watch the goings-on at the counter...again, fun times, right?

So, as I'm standing there, a young mother, along with three small children, and who I assumed to be either her husband and/or the children's father, approach the counter.

The mom is taking care of business at the Customer Service desk, while the young father is entertaining the kids - which included two toddlers and an infant.

The oldest son - who can't be more than 5...has a Halloween prop in his's a life-size plastic bayonet, that has fake blood slathered all over it...and of course, my first thought is, "Well, now THAT'S an appropriate toy for a 5-year old to be playing with...."

However, it was what happened next that sent shock waves through my system...and had me reeling....

The Dad grabs the plastic bayonet out of his son's hands, and then proceeds to "pretend" to cut off the head of his 3-year old son...he literally grabbed his son by his hair, threw his head back, and "sliced" his neck with the bayonet...all the while saying, "I've just chopped your head off, Dude!" And then laughs in a chilling, hysterical manner.

The 3-year old doesn't see the "humor" in this, and begins to scream and cry...understandably, in my opinion.

Does the Dad then apologize and show remorse?


He did it again.

As if perhaps the 3-year old didn't understand the "humor" the first time and needed the horrific play-acting to be repeated.

The child just cries harder, which has now upset the 5-year old, who joins in the the Dad turns to HIM and proceeds to pretend to behead HIM.

And I'm standing there, speechless.

And did I do anything?


I just stood there - shocked at the stupidity of the father, and feeling helpless and hopeless for the children...and wondering if this was being filmed for an episode of, "What Would You Do?", our modern-day "Candid Camera."

It was about this time that the mother turns around, finished with her business at the Customer Service Desk, and obviously wondering what the heck has happened that has set off two of her children into hysterical fits...all the while, the Dad is just standing there, looking innocent and confused, himself.

So, what would you have done? Should I have intervened? Or was I right in staying out of it?

Or am I overreacting? Is there nothing wrong in the Dad's actions in pretending to behead his toddlers?

Maybe I'm just extra-sensitive, as we've had a missing baby here in Kansas City now for over a week, and as a mom, I just want reassurance that the baby is okay...and as a mom, I would never - EVER - pretend to behead my own child.



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hot Times in the Kitchen

They say the way to a man's heart is through his with that in mind, I thought I'd plan a rather "different" date night for Hubs and I last weekend....

We went to our Culinary Institute here in town and participated in Friday night's "Cooking for Couples" class...which can either be a great bonding experience, or a terrific and sure-fire way to start a fight as we each try to assert our prowess in the kitchen.

We began the class by making a tasty scallop tostada appetizer, topped with homemade sauce crema and salsa verde...Hubby got a little bossy about how much salt to put on the scallops, but otherwise, we worked great together as a team:

Heating up those little slippery devils...

EVERYTHING about this dish was homemade...we deep-fried the tortillas; we made the tomato relish; and we made all of the sauces on top...

Here's the finished product on the appetizer - and I'll have to say, these were YUMMY!!!!

Next on the agenda was making dessert.

I know - it would have been wonderful to just EAT the dessert next, but we had to get our little chocolate bouchons in the oven so they could bake...and then take them out so they could "rest."

This is where Hubs and I had a very clear understanding of our roles in the kitchen:

Hubs' role is to whip up the chocolate batter...

...while my role was quality control and clean-up. I'm doing a DARN good job cleaning up this spatula of chocolate batter.

After we'd lovingly put our delightful chocolate bouchons in the oven, we tackled our salads next. We prepared a delicious spinach salad with goat cheese and a peppadew dressing...

Here's Hubs and our friend, Mike, toasting the almonds for our salads (Mike's wife was "cleaning" the chocolate spatula at this time, as well....we worked GREAT together as a team!)

...and our finished product: (and again, YUMMY! Especially the dried cherries...delish!)

After our salads, it was time to tackle the main course: a potato-wrapped tilapia filet with prosciutto, drizzled with a champagne beurre blanc.

We began by wrapping the tilapia in prosciutto, and then wrapping the entire filet in a "nest" of purple potato strings.

While Hubs prepared the fish, I diced the veggies and prepared the sauce...between the artichokes, onions and butter - this sauce was to DIE FOR.

Our finished Main Entree:

It may not be much to look at, but it was very tasty...many layers of flavor that tickled our palate...

Our chocolate bouchons were now ready, and we drizzled them with a homemade vanilla bean anglaise:

I seriously died and went to heaven when I took my first bite of this...

Altogether, it was about a 4-hour evening, and we pretty much walked out of there stuffed to the GILLS (hee, a fish joke!) with wonderful, aromatic, delicious, delectable food.

Still together...

We actually had so much fun, that Hubs is ready to do it again.

I'd do it again, as well - especially if I get to do chocolate clean-up again.

Hey. It's a dirty job - but someone has to do it.


P.S. I have complete recipes for anything and everything, so if you're interested, let me know, and I can shoot you off an email with the recipe for what we made.


Friday, October 7, 2011

An Apple A Day...

My introduction to the wonderful, wizardly world of Apple began with my first iPod.

How amazingly cool was it to have thousands of songs all contained in this itty, bitty box....? I had never seen anything like it before, and I was instantly hooked.

The iPod proved to be wonderfully adept, compact and reliable...traveling with me as I sat on airplanes, soothing me to sleep when visiting worlds abroad, and pounding out a beat as I jogged down the street.

It wasn't long before I was buying more things labeled "Apple."

Next in my collection came the iTouch...however, the iTouch wasn't quite enough, soon leading me to go "all-out" with the iPhone.

"There's an ap for that" became part of my everyday lexicon...and there's a weird sense of fun when exploring new applications...Angry Birds, anyone?

My first Mac laptop was purchased about 5 years ago, and it still runs perfectly, although it has now been passed down to my daughter. I received a new and improved Mac for my birthday this past summer, and it is a thing of beauty, indeed.

And it wasn't long after the iPad was introduced that it, too, became part of my Apple collection. The iPad is a wonderful tool to take while traveling - it has served its purpose very well, being able to read, play and communicate while traveling, and not having to lug my laptop with me.

And iTunes? I live there. There's not too many days where I am not visiting iTunes and searching for some new music to add to one of my millions of Playlists.

Just a few of my "Apples" in my collection....

The old adage, "An Apple a day...." takes on new meaning when there's not a day that goes by that I am not touching, using or utilizing an Apple product.

The fact that I can remember a world when there weren't "i-words" in our vocabulary dates my kids have never known such a world.

RIP, Steve once said that you made products that YOU wanted...and it appears that the rest of us wanted them, too. Or at least me.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pants On the Ground

Oh, how boring.

Another medical post.

Just an FYI so if you're not into medical posts, you can move on....nothing to see here.

But in the interests of full disclosure, I thought I would share how my post-cholecystectomy life is progressing.

That's "post-gallbladder surgery", in case you didn't catch my official medical jargon. Before this is all over, I expect to have an unofficial degree in medicine. Hee.

Over two weeks out since my Coming Out Party, and I am adjusting to my new normal.

The good news: I have been 100%, unequivocally, absolutely pain-free. Woot!

The bad news: I am experiencing a common, but frustrating side effect known as...

...Rapid Gastric Emptying Syndrome.

Also known as "Dumping Syndrome", but that just sounds gross and horrible, so I'll stick with Emptying Syndrome, thank you very much.

Whatever you call it, it kinda' sucks.

Basically, my stomach is rapidly emptying undigested food into my small intestine, leaving me exhausted, bloated, and miserable after every meal. Bleh.

This, in turn, is leading to some rapid weight loss on my part, which is NOT needed at this time, believe me. I'm turning into the Incredible Shrinking Woman, and it is not by choice.

At this rate, I will become the "Pants on the Ground" poster child, as my clothes are pretty much falling off.

The bright side to this is that I have a ready-made costume for Halloween - a walking, breathing skeleton. Boo.

Treatment for RGDS involves trying to eat smaller meals more often during the day, which has been difficult for me to do, as for 49+ years, I've eaten three meals a day. Period. Breakfast, lunch and then, dinner. Period. Trying to break a 49-year habit is a little difficult, as you can imagine.

There are some other suggestions, as well - such as eating fewer sugars, fewer carbs, chewing my food slowly, and not drinking while eating.

That's in, no drinking ANYTHING - even water - while eating.

My habit of chasing my food down with a Diet Dr. Pepper during every meal must end.

Yesterday, I headed up to my local vitamin store, where I picked up some digestive enzyme supplements, which will hopefully aid in the digestion of my food....

I'm hoping these provide some relief...we'll see.

So, there you have it.

I'm only posting this to help anyone who may be contemplating gallbladder FYI so you can know what to possibly expect post-surgery.

And now, if you'll excuse me, its about time to have another meal. Breakfast #2 of the day. Oh, joy.

And no Diet Dr. Pepper.

Oh, the inhumanity of it all.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Sister, Sister

Image from here

Monday morning...

...a day that is chock-full of errands, chores, phone calls to make, and general craziness so that the rest of the week may be calm, serene and zen-like....


Yeah, right.

So, with a To-Do list that looks like a PhD dissertation on "War and Peace", I get prepared to head out the door this morning, when my phone rings.

And it's my sister, Traci.

My sister, Traci

Traci is my valiant and brave warrior sister who is currently battling any plans that I may have are most definitely set aside so that I may chat with my sis.

Which is as it should be.

Traci and I spend an hour on the phone, talking about little but laughing about much...discussing our kids, our lives, our husbands, and of course, our mother, which is always guaranteed to bring us to giggles.

Hee. Hope Mom's not reading this.

Love ya, Mom...

After an hour, we say good-bye and I head out the door, ready, once again, to tackle the monstrous "To-Do" list, which seems to have only grown longer in that hour of chit-chat.

First on my list is a visit to CVS, our local pharmacy, where I am armed with coupons and a battle-plan...and when it's all over, I have spent $125.73, which sounds atrocious, but I have managed to SAVE a fantastic $117.39.

AND walked away with a total of $25.00 in FREE money to use on my next trip.

Yeah, I'm braggin'....

I am so tickled with my savings that I have to brag to someone - ANYONE - and being that my sister is a fellow couponer, she would appreciate what I've just accomplished at CVS.

So, naturally, I call Traci.

"Hey!" I shout, excitedly into the phone. "I know we just talked, but guess what I just saved at CVS???!!!"

We talk for another 30 minutes or so on the phone - discussing the deals I got and our respective stockpiles, and our call is only interrupted as my mother calls me on the other line.

All the while, I've been driving to my next stop on my list, the grocery store. Mom and I chit chat about nothing and everything, and she asks me how Traci was that morning, as she usually does.

"Mom," I say, as I walk into the store, "I gotta' go. I'll call you later when I'm home."

And as I walk into our local grocery store, they have music playing over the intercoms...and the song that is playing is nothing other than "Tracy" the Cuff Links...which was one of my most favorite songs EVER when my sister was born.

If you've never heard the song, CLICK on the link below for the video:

"Tracy" by the Cuff Links

When my sister was a baby, I would croon this song over and over to her...and it was just weird - so weird - that this song was on the speakers this morning....

It is truly a "Traci" day...

Love ya', sis.