Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rainy Afternoon Ramblings

Random ramblings on a rainy Tuesday afternoon:

*Training for my upcoming race is going well...however, it is frustrating to see the numbers going UP on the weight scale, instead of down. Is this because muscle is heavier than fat? That is what I console myself with, anyway...and occasional bursitis in the hip can be a bitch....

*Hug your families close...a girlfriend of mine lost her mother recently, and I spent this morning at the funeral...and I can't even imagine what the parents of the Ohio schoolchildren are going through....

*I still love Chai Tea brewed in my Keurig...

*Was anyone else as bored with the Academy Awards as I was? Billy Crystal...meh. The fashion...meh. Everything was predictable. Yawn.

*My current book on my Kindle is "The Litigators" by John Grisham...slow-moving, tedious sometimes, and yet I am still plowing my way through it...I'm up to Chapter 19, and I keep hoping it will take off down an exciting path - but no luck yet.

*Thunderstorms in February are a rare treat here in the midwest...

*Daughter is recovering well from her horrific gym accident a few weeks back...a trip to the orthodontist is in store tomorrow, and we may be done - for awhile - with doctor visits. My checkbook will celebrate, as these office visit co-pays are adding up....

*Speaking of doctor visits, I got an "all-clear" at the skin cancer center...the first time I have received this in two years. I fist-pumped in the office, much to the doctor's delight....

*My oldest son will be home this weekend for his college spring break, and it will be good to see him...if only briefly....

What are your ramblings on a rainy Tuesday afternoon?



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Teenage Temper Tantrums

His body prostrate on the floor, he beat his fists and kicked his heels, wailing and whining and screaming, "Oh my GAWD, whaddya' mean, 'Nooooooooo'????????? My life is OVERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!"

This was the response from my son recently when I told him we weren't going somewhere.

The problem with this little temper-tantrum tableaux is that my son is 6'5", almost-19 years old, and we were discussing the upcoming Cirque du Soleil's "Immortal World Tour" tribute to Michael Jackson. And how I couldn't get tickets.

Yeah. It was pretty pathetic.

Just like most parents, I somewhat created this monster myself.

It was me, after all, who exposed my kids at a young age to a very wide assortment of music genres - everything from pop, country, jazz, rock 'n roll - even a bit of classical music thrown in - and consequently, my kids were HUGE Michael Jackson fans.


And I apologize for that.

Anyway. Ahem.

So, when we heard that Cirque du Soleil was bringing their show to Kansas City this week, my kids - especially my son - commenced to begging and pleading to go. Every. Single. Day. He begged. He pleaded.

And my answer was no.

In my defense, I had TRIED to get tickets...but months ago, four tickets were hard to come by. They were pretty much either the impossible dream, or a dream to be had for a few hundreds of dollars from the over-priced ticket brokers. I seriously didn't want to take out a second mortgage just so we could watch some clowns dance to "Thriller."

It was when I broke the news to my son that I couldn't get the golden tickets that brought on the full meltdown, which would probably have made for a great new reality television show on TLC: "Teenage Temper Tantrums."

But then a funny thing happened.

Last Friday night, with nothing really better to do, I tried ONE MORE TIME to get tickets by visiting trusty old Ticketmaster.com.

And instead of the usual, "There is nothing available per your request" message - or some such similar blather I had been receiving for weeks - a miracle happened.

Four seats popped up. That were extremely reasonably priced - and NOT in the nosebleed section. I wouldn't have to second mortgage the house, and I wouldn't even have to serve bread and potatoes to the family for the next month.

After recovering a bit somewhat from the shock of winning-the-golden ticket-lottery, I quickly seized on the opportunity presented and snatched up those tickets.

Hey. I am a self-confessed Cirque du Soleil junkie, and who am I to not seize an opportunity to see them when they're in my home town?

Moving on. Ahem.

Last night was a delightful evening spent with Hubby and the kids...heading down to the Power and Light Entertainment District for first, dinner...followed by some delicious gelato at Balsano's, and then, strolling up the street to the iconic Sprint Center for:


My kids were grinning. They were happy.

Hubby was tolerant. He is a wonderful man.

And me? I was the Best. Mom. EVER.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giving Myself A Little Love

This...my friends...is The Week of Me.

I'm being totally selfish this week, and putting the spotlight on me.

Me. Me. Me.

(For some reason, Toby Keith's "All About Me" keeps singing in my head...go figure.)

"Wanna talk about me
"Wanna talk about I
"Wanna talk about number one
Oh my me my...."

As a mother, wife, friend, daughter - it's sometimes very difficult to think about yourself...we often put ourselves dead last - behind our kids, our spouse, our friends, our parents...

...but this week - It's All About Me.

Because...this is the week I take care of all of those "must-do" things when it comes to my body.

OB-gyn? Check.

Skin cancer doctor? Check.

Mammogram? Check.

Every year, I pick a week in February where I make my annual appointments with all of the necessary evil doctors...and this is that week.

Why February?

Because...it's easy for me to remember, as it ties in with Valentine's Day. Which reminds me of love. Which reminds me to love myself. Hey - it's reaching, but it works for me.

Me. Me. Me.

And to reward me for putting up with all of the indignities that some of these appointments bring (gotta' love those little gowns that open in the front!), I have a relaxing facial waiting for me tomorrow with my favorite aesthetician.

In the next few weeks, here's praying for good results from all of these doctors and appointments...I don't anticipate any problems, but you just never know.

If I seem a little anxious or out of sorts, you'll understand, as I wait, with bated breath, for the "all-clear" from every one of these little visits.

Do you have a Week of Me? Have you given yourself a little love lately?



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Valentine Paradise

As we walked into Finishings for Her, a woman's boutique here in town, Hubby generously waved his hand and said, "Pick out anything you want - I'll get it for you for Valentine's Day."

Intrigued, I sought confirmation...."Anything?" I repeated...somewhat disbelievingly.

"Anything," he stated.

Wow. Alrighty then.

So...what would I choose? Surrounded by gorgeous clothing...blingy Brighton handbags...glitzy jewelry...it was a cornucopia of feminine delights, and knowing that I could choose "anything" was exciting, in itself.

So, what did I choose?

Diamonds? A new couture handbag?

Well, we'll get to that...after I show you the rest of our Valentine's Day extravaganza.

It began that day in the kitchen, where I gathered the following ingredients:

...and put together these darling little Valentine's treats for the family:

These Valentine's Buttons were delicious, as the Hershey's chocolate oozed its sweetness around the saltiness of the pretzel. It was fun to have a homemade treat waiting for everyone as they came home from school and work that evening.

Knowing my love of chocolate, Hubby handed over a box of chocolate delights when he walked in the door from work:

We then headed up to North Kansas City, where we dined at an Argentinean and European-fused restaurant, Piropos Grill...

Waiting at our table was a beautiful bouquet of delicate pink carnations and white roses:

After feasting on succulent crab cakes, creamy lobster bisque soup, and savory filet, the restaurant handed me a yellow rose (which I stuck in my bouquet, above), and it was time for us to head back home.

But first...this shopping trip.

What to get? A new outfit? A new purse? New shoes? New bling?

To be honest, I had to follow my heart...and my heart told me to get this:

That's my team. My Missouri Tigers. A new watch and earrings showing support for my beloved black and gold.

It doesn't take much to make me happy...I don't need diamonds or platinum mines or Bentleys...

Just some chocolates...simple flowers...a nice dinner...and cheap jewelry rockin' my team....

And one more thing...a heartfelt, handmade card from my daughter, waiting for us when we got home:

"Roses are red, violets are blue...there's no way I could stop loving you.
Your like the world, and I'm like the wind. We're together until the end.
I just want to say thanks. And this is no prank. I love you."

"Dear Mom and Dad: Thank you so much for taking care of me, feeding me, watching over me, and most of all, loving me.
We're always together through good times and bad. And we'll always will be loving each other."


Could Valentine's Day have been any better?

I don't think so.



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Day in the Life: Snow Day

Our first significant snow fell yesterday morning, and although it only amounted to about 2", it was enough to shut down schools and find excuses to hunker down indoors.

Feeling a bit stir crazy, I grabbed the camera and decided to capture the day in photos...and so I present to you:

A Day in the Life of the Drama Queen - with Snow:

Knowing the snow was coming, I wanted to show the lake before the storm - so this was a shot from Sunday, which was an absolutely, gorgeous beautiful day:

By Monday morning, our backyard looked like this:

Our bird feeder was empty, so I pulled on some snow boots and quickly filled it for our feathered friends:

This little guy was patiently waiting for his lunch:

With the birds taken care of, it was now time to take care of the humans...so I whipped up a steaming crockpot of chili:

Daughter decided that we needed a bit of dessert for after dinner, so she baked some chocolate chip cookies:

I trudged out to the mailbox, hoping to find that check from Publisher's Clearing House, but finding nothing but bills:

With my boots now drying by the garage door,

I headed down to the exercise room to put in some mileage on the "dread"-mill:

...while Daughter drank hot chocolate and watched Disney movies:

After my workout, I brewed up some delicious Raspberry Chocolate Truffle coffee:

...and took one last shot of the beauty of the day that God had given us:



Monday, February 13, 2012

My Time in Dullsville

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

That is pretty much my life the last few weeks...and hence, the reason I haven't blogged very much.

My life is in a rut.

In some ways, it's rather nice to be in SUCH a routine - and to have a relatively boring life - that nothing would rate a blog post. Boring can be a good thing.

The kids are all doing fine...five of the seven are in college, and so it's a bit hectic trying to keep up with everyone's schedules - but it's all good.

The pets are all doing fine...they're spoiled rotten and eating well and enjoying life, as only spoiled, pampered pets can.

Hubby is doing fine...if he's not working, he's volunteering weekly at a local nursing home, where he leads a worship service each week...and if he's not working or worshiping, he's investing. Yes, my hubby's mistress is the Stock Market, and I have learned that she can be a bitch sometimes, but he loves her. Sigh.

We've had a few nice dinners and nights at the theater lately, but nothing out of the ordinary. Same ol' stuff.

I'm doing fine...my running/training has kicked up a notch, as I am determined to run that 10k before my 50th birthday in June.

I'm in the gym a minimum of six days a week, running on the treadmill and lifting some weights - pushing myself harder and harder to get in gear. The only thing that could possibly hold me back would be an injury (shudder), and I'm trying to focus so an injury won't even be a possibility.

If I'm not working out, then I'm working on Red Cross activities...Girl Scout activities...and keeping everything organized and managed on the home front.


Nothing exciting. Nothing earth-shattering.

Boring stuff.

Yup - you know your life is in a rut when a little bit of snow this morning creates huge excitement. Sigh.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Legendary KC Restaurant Cuisine

Last weekend, Hubby and I had a wonderful culinary experience....

We participated in a dinner entitled, "Legendary Kansas City Restaurant Cuisine," where seven courses of famous dishes in the Kansas City area were presented and explained. This was held at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, one of our favorite gastronomy experiences.

The chef, Richard McPeake, is a local legend...developing over 30 restaurant concepts in his 35-year career. A lot of the restaurants are now closed, but the dishes live on - and we jumped at the opportunity to feast, once again, on some of our favorites from yesteryear.

We began the evening with steak soup - a recipe that was developed in 1968 and served in the Plaza III restaurant. The Plaza III, in operation since 1963, is a Kansas City landmark - and their steak soup is an award-winning recipe that is FABULOUS.

You'll find lots of copy-cat recipes on Google, but none really capture the true essence of the soup. The Plaza III has a secret ingredient, and unless you know what it is, you won't be able to duplicate the unique taste of the original soup.

This soup did not disappoint - it was as creamy & savory as I remembered. If manners would have allowed me to lick the bowl - I would have.

Once the soup bowls were whisked away, out came the next course - Champignon Magique...or, crabmeat-stuffed mushrooms.

These were also served at the Plaza III, beginning in 1978. Along with the rosemary & thyme-flavored stuffing, the mushrooms are topped with a decadent cheddar cheese sauce, flavored with a hint of Worcestershire sauce. I am not a mushroom fan - at all - but these were very tasty.

Our salad course consisted of a Sliced Tomato Salad, a recipe from The Bristol Restaurant, first developed in 1980.

A light black pepper vinaigrette dressing dusted the top of this, and it was zingy, but refreshing. Served with some blue cheese, it brought in some zip, as well.

The fish dish was a pan-sauteed lemon sole, again from Bristol's...an almost "fish-pancake", if you will, and it was crispy and tasty. Very lightly-seasoned, I found it delightful. Hubby thought it was almost bland, but I thought it was perfect.

I rejoiced in the lightness of the fish dish, because the main course, pan-seared chicken Saltimbocca, with sauteed spaghetti squash, was rather heavy. And the entire plate was very beige. I wish it had some color:

These dishes came from a restaurant long closed, Fedora's, which was a European bistro in the heart of Kansas City. The restaurant at one time had been named as one of the Top 10 bistros in America...but "bistro" and "Kansas City" don't exactly go together - and it eventually closed. Kansas Citians love their steaks, and European bistros aren't going to make the grade.

As far as the dish, I liked the sauce - consisting of a veal demi-glaze, mixed with marsala wine and reduced with butter - but the chicken itself was just too massive...and along with the squash, I was feeling a bit bloated by this point. A half-serving would have sufficed, at this point.

For dessert, a classic from Fedora's was served - chocolate truffle cake.

This is a very dense, flour-less cake, and a little bit goes a long way. Topped with a chocolate ganache, this dessert was just the right finale for a very good meal.

During the dinner, Chef McPeake entertained us with stories behind the dishes and behind the restaurants themselves...it kept us laughing and intrigued as we heard all the "kitchen gossip".

A very delightful Saturday night, indeed.



Thursday, February 9, 2012

R-Rated? As If...

As one of my responsibilities as the Volunteer Chairman of the Kansas City chapter of the American Red Cross, I have the unmitigated pleasure of hosting the monthly meeting we have with our disaster volunteers.

Yup - it's my job to put together the program each month that will draw the volunteers in and keep them interested....fun, huh?

Yeah. Not so much.

Over the last several years, I've brought in various guest speakers, who've all given interesting presentations to our group. We've had firemen, rescue dogs and handlers, emergency operation managers, underwater rescuers - even local television weathermen. It all makes for fascinating meetings...but it takes a lot of work on my part to put it all together.

This year, I decided to change the focus a bit - and concentrate on training. (Frankly, I've pretty much plumb run out of people who can come in and talk - and have it be something we haven't heard before...but don't tell anyone I said that.)

As I was slogging away at the presentation I'm putting together for next week's meeting - it dawned on me that I could have a bit of fun with it.

Instead of getting up and just lecturing - or showing the tried-and-true Powerpoint - I decided to do something new & original....because new & original is always good.

And I couldn't begin to tell you how many lectures or Powerpoints the average Red Cross volunteer has sat through. Let's just say, "Too many."

I came up with a BRILLIANT presentation that mimics "Family Feud" - complete with buzzers, questions, prizes - the entire bit.

Cheesy? Yes. But unique? Yes. And certainly more fun than a lecture. Or another Powerpoint. Yawn.

I'd like to think that the points will be made - but in a fun and engaging way that keeps the interest.

At yesterday's leadership meeting, I put in a plug for the volunteer meeting next week by telling the group, "I'm not going to tell you what it's all about...but let's just say that it's something that's NEVER been done before in the history of our Disaster Meetings! You will NOT want to miss it - and let me just say, it's going to be fun AND exciting!"

Well, that certainly put a buzz in the leadership council...as the meeting concluded, people were walking out of the room and discussing what could possibly be on the agenda next week.

One guy hung back, and approached me with a bit of a worried look on his face.

"Sherri," he began...a bit hesitantly....and I waited for him to continue, while gathering up all my meeting crap.

"I'm just wondering about next week..." he continued, the worry increasing.

"Yes?" I prompted.

"Um....what you're doing...it's not...like...R-rated or anything, is it???" he whispered.

Say WHAT??!!

Do I LOOK like the type of person who would do R-rated entertainment??!!

(Wait. Don't answer that. Maybe I would do R-rated for a bachelorette party...but for the Red Cross? I don't THINK so!)

Was he KIDDING me???!!!

No. He wasn't kidding. He was genuinely worried.

After I recovered a bit from the shock, I reassured him that no, it was not R-rated, and it would be very fun and very clean.


It did leave me wondering, though...is this what people think of me??! I DO like to have fun...and I like to laugh...but really?

R-rated entertainment at a work meeting?

Is "Family Feud" R-rated? Please don't say yes. Ack.



Saturday, February 4, 2012

Where's My Red Cape?

I've been looking over my shoulder quite a bit this week, expecting to see my bright red Super Hero cape fluttering behind me.

Okay, not really.

Wait. Let me think on that....

Yes, damn it. Really. Where is my Super Hero red cape??!!?

I guess you don't get one unless you do something truly heroic, like saving the world from evil and mass destruction and aliens, which I am far, far from doing...but I DID manage to get quite a bit accomplished this week, and all for the good, I think.

By getting my daughter in to the dentist immediately after her accident, I did save mass destruction in her mouth...right?

I took my sister to a cancer support group this week, where she met several fellow cancer patients and survivors, and was able to laugh, giggle and share stories of her battles against the Ugly C....so, that saved her from dwelling on the evils of cancer, right?

I spent one evening this week at a local elementary school, where I talked 1:1 with several dozen children about fire and tornado safety...I think working with children qualifies as dealing with aliens, right?

The rest of my week:
- a visit to the ENT doctor for my own battle with my ear issues
- a visit to Urgent Care to get daughter's concussion checked
- an evening spent training brand-new Disaster volunteers with the Red Cross
- and an afternoon spent on a national conference call with the National Field Director of the NAACP, discussing cultural competency in working with the African American community during disasters....whew.

AND....AND....I worked out. Every. Single. Day. in the gym, pushing myself to that 10K this summer. Well...and Super Heros have to keep up their muscles, you know. ;)

Not be left out, my brain was 'exercised', as well, by reading one of the best books I have ever read, entitled, "Me and the Ugly C" by Becky Dennington - a first-hand account of a young woman's battle against breast cancer. I laughed, I cried, and I cheered for her every step of the way.

The week is not over yet, and I'm already near exhaustion. It's not easy being a Super Hero - but I'm sure there's magical, restorative powers in that bright red cape...if only I can get my hands on one.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Aftermath

We've had a day, now, to somewhat process what happened to Daughter on Monday...and to regroup and begin the long healing process....

The accident was in gym class, where she was playing - ironically enough, "No-Contact Basketball." As Daughter was leaning over to pick up the basketball, a fellow student tackled her...driving her face into the gymnasium floor. The boy weighs well over 100 pounds - so imagine 100 pounds of moving force slamming your nose & mouth into a hard, concrete floor.

My daughter's face was the loser, obviously.

Her two front (permanent) teeth were badly chipped, and her nose is broken. She has a mild concussion, as well.

The teeth are fixed...for now. There will be more dental work needed in the future, as well as orthodontia.

Yesterday, we were at the pediatrician's office, checking out the concussion.

The ENT physician can't see her until next week, as the swelling in her nose needs to be reduced before they can take x-rays and begin any treatment.

She's still applying ice packs four times a day to the nose, and she's on soft food, as her gums are still very tender. She's also very sensitive to cold food, so ice cream is out. Unless it's melted and at room temperature - bleh.

This is one of those situations where you shake your head and wonder, "What the heck happened? In gym??? Really? In a basketball game???"

But we also tell ourselves that in the scope of things, there are worse things that can happen. She wasn't in a bad car accident. She didn't lose a limb. She wasn't paralyzed (which is amazing, considering the boy landed on her neck).

We keep trying to focus on the positive, and not the negative.

I've told her she's going to get fabulous, white pearly teeth out of this. And she's going to get a fabulous, celebrity nose out of this.

She's an amazingly strong young woman, and we know she'll get through this and come out even stronger...but it's always hard to see your kids in pain, knowing you can't really do much to take it away.

Onward and upward. Sigh.