Licking the air…and other things I do at work

24 Apr

I recently read somewhere that you should eat natural peanut butter over Jif or Skippy. The reasons went something along the lines that Jif/Skippy peanut butter is processed, has lots of stuff added to it and isn’t close to it’s natural state. And then I think I read that you’ll lose weight if you eat the natural peanut butter or something like that. I don’t know…I read too much crap apparently. Whatever I read, I got it into my head that I should try Almond Butter or the No Stir Peanut Butter we have in the fridge at work. Oh. boy.

So first I started with the Almond Butter. There was a layer of oil on the top like two inches deep. I started to stir it and promptly broke the plastic spoon I was using. Fine…metal spoon it is. Promptly bent metal spoon I was using in half. So then I thought to myself, “Screw it…just use the No Stir Peanut Butter instead. So I grab the jar and a new spoon and it’s HARD AS A ROCK. For real…I didn’t need a spoon…I  needed a chisel and hammer. So now I have two jars of “butter” open and all I want is a tablespoon of peanut butter dammit! Then, I come to this realization:

I have been trying for almost 10 minutes to get peanut butter out of jar and have yet to succeed. No wonder they think it’s better for me…I’ve burned more calories trying to get the stuff out than I’ll eat when I finally do get it out.

I think I eeked out about a teaspoon of peanut to eat with my apple. When I finally got around to eating it, it was so thick that it’s been stuck on the back of my tongue for 20 minutes or so. Seriously…you ever given a dog peanut butter? That’s what I look like right now. A dog. Eating peanut butter. Licking at the air.

And yes, I do realize that I just called myself a dog. And for the record…I’m sticking with Jif or Skippy going forward.

P.S. For those of you expecting something more exciting after my 6 month hiatus…I’m sorry.

A Letter to My Daughter

4 Nov

There are so many things I would love to tell you about yourself. How could I ever possibly put into words all that I feel for you? Lately you are so inquisitive…always asking questions and always wanting to know more. What amazes me is that when you don’t understand something I’ve explained, you will ask me to explain each word you didn’t understand. Not the whole thing…just the words you didn’t understand and then you will try to comprehend it on your own. And sometimes when I’m not sure if you understood something fully you surprise me weeks later by repeating it with comprehension of what you’re saying. You, my little doodle-bug, amaze me.

Today you asked how we get goose bumps. I should have known that my response of, “We get them when we get cold,” wouldn’t work. You said you knew when we got them but you wanted to know how. You handed me my phone and said, “Here mom, look it up on your phone.” We were already running late but I could tell you weren’t going to let me get away with not doing it. Wikipedia says goose bumps form when tiny muscles at the base of the hair contact, the hair becomes erect and a goose bump forms. I asked if you understood and you said, “No…what does contract and erect me.” Once I explained those two words to you I saw a light bulb go off. I love those moments with you. You immediately wanted to call daddy and tell him how goose bumps form. I was so proud when you used contract and erect in your explanation to him.

This past weekend while we were in the dressing room at Old Navy, you were dancing and watching yourself in the mirror. You started singing, “I’m Justin Bieber’s girlfriend. I’m Justin Bieber’s girlfriend.” This made me laugh because you’re just barely five and where you get ideas about boyfriends I’ll never know. I have to think it’s from school. When I told you that I didn’t think Selena Gomez would be very happy that you were stealing her boyfriend you stopped, pondered this and then started singing, “I’m Taylor Swift’s girlfriend. I’m Taylor Swift’s girlfriend.” And then you stopped to inform me that it was okay if you wanted to be Taylor Swift’s girlfriend because it just mattered that you love someone. And I told you that was right. I’m amazed at how much sinks in when we talk.

I have always tried to be honest with you. To explain things the best I could in the best way for your little ears to understand. Right now there are all these anti-bullying campaigns going on. And I realized it’s never too early to start talking to you about treating people with kindness and understanding we are all different. So we got to talking about how people are different and that it’s okay for us not to all do things the same way or to like the same things. And you agreed that having friends who were different was good because it would be boring if everyone was the same. So I took this opportunity to talk to you about love. Because one day soon, you may have a school friend who has two moms or two dads and I wanted you to know that not everyone’s family looks like ours, but that just because it looks different doesn’t mean there is any less love in their home. You looked at me and matter-of-factly said, “I know mom. It’s like our family. You have two moms and two dads and you just love them all. Right, mom?” Yes, Ava. That’s right.

Last night in the kitchen we were listening to your favorite Selena Gomez song and I said, “Hey Ava, you know the girl singing this song? She’s Justin Bieber’s girlfriend!” And you ran up to the iPod, put your hands in prayer position and said, “Please Selena Gomez can I PLEASE just have your boyfriend for one day?” It’s moments like these that I wish I could bottle up and show you in 30 years because it’s moments like these that make my heart grow just a little bit bigger in my love for you. Moments where your complete innocence takes over and you really believe that Selena Gomez can hear you through the iPod AND will give up her boyfriend for you.

This morning while I’m brushing your hair you start singing,

“Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to my heart
Happy Birthday to you”

And I asked, “It’s your heart’s birthday, is it?” Without missing a beat you say, “Yeah mom. It’s November 3rd, so it’s my heart’s birthday. Tomorrow it’s my brain’s birthday and I’ll sing Happy Birthday to him tomorrow.” I said, “So your heart is a girl and your brain is a boy.” And you said, “Yep.” No elaboration…it made perfect sense to you. But I love that you sing your organs Happy Birthday…it’s almost like you’re thanking them or acknowledging them at the very least.

These moments are just a few from this week. Moments that make me smile, make me laugh but most of all, make me so proud to be your mama. Love you doodle-bug!



P.S. As of last night your favorite songs (in this order as stated by you) were: 1) Who Says by Selena Gomez 2) Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & the Waves and 3) Anything by Taylor Swift

I’m Going to Karate Chop Someone

28 Oct

Normally I try to be all Zen-like toward people. Today is not a normal day. I gave up meat. Shut it…I don’t judge you for eating it, don’t judge me for not eating it. I just don’t like it that much. Except bacon. But bacon is not a meat. It’s so awesome it’s like it’s own planet.

So, this week I stop at the store and buy carrots and hummus because let’s be honest, if I’m giving up beef jerky I have to have some sort of snack. On Monday I put it in the fridge at work with my name on it in black permanent marker. I was out of the office on Wednesday. When I came back I had five carrots left. FIVE!!! Clearly I wasn’t even in the office to eat them and I would kind of remember eating a WHOLE BAG OF CARROTS (minus the five leftover for me). So I was kind of pissed, but thought, “Maybe someone just didn’t see my name on the bag. It happens.”

This morning I go to get my last five carrots, a few crackers and some hummus and this time…SOMEBODY ATE MY DAMN HUMMUS!!!! This is no mistake. I am being targeted for my food. I know it…I can feel it in my bones. So, I’ve come up with some ideas for handling this:

  1. Leave a note that says, “You’re an asshole. Love, Janice”
  2. Leave a note that says, “You owe me $7.82”
  3. Leave a note that says, “Hope you enjoyed my carrots and hummus. P.S. I double-dip like a mo-fo”
  4. Leave a note that says, “P.P.S. My daughter has the croup and I let her lick all the carrots.”
  5. Hide in the fridge and when they open it explode out and yell, “Caught ya sucker!”
  6. Put some eye drops in the hummus and see who spends the most time in the restroom next week.

Or I could just do this:

What I Learned While Microwaving Dinner

20 Oct

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I’ve seen this quote a thousand times. It’s always resonated with me. I’ve always liked it. I pretty much like anything that’s all, “Hey…be nice to people.” A funny thing though, every time I’ve read this quote, I’ve always thought of the people who have caused me to feel hurt. Because let’s be honest…it’s really hard to forget (and forgive)hurt and we hold onto the hurt for much longer than is healthy for anyone involved. As if holding the hurt creates a cloak that will prevent us from ever being hurt again.

Last night Ava and I went to the grocery store. It was late. She was asking to buy everything and I was too tired to say no. As we were checking out, our checker, Milton, was talking Ava up. And Ava was, of course, hamming it up. As we were finishing up he said, “You have a beautiful little girl there. You really should put her into acting. She’s full of personality.” I thanked him and went on my way. As we walked across the parking lot, a man sped by and came a little too close to Ava and I. In my anger I said, “What an idiot!” And Ava said, “I know. I stuck my tongue out at him!” And I quickly stopped, knelt down and explained to Ava why I shouldn’t have called someone a name and why she shouldn’t have stuck her tongue out at him. As I loaded the groceries in the car, I thought, “Man this compassion thing takes practice and so much work.” How quickly I had replaced my good feelings from Milton with negative feelings from a stranger.

We got home, unloaded the groceries and I threw my dinner in the microwave. I stood at the microwave and checked Facebook. I saw the following message posted on my wall from a great friend:

“I’ve had a REALLY trying week, and every time I’ve wanted to tell someone to “shut the hell up” (or at times WORSE…lol) I thought of you…and found my compassion. Thanks for always being the inspiration that you are! I love you dearly! MUAH!”

And you guys…I seriously did a little happy dance…I felt so surprised and grateful. And then I thought of the Maya Angelou quote up at the top of this post. I learned an important personal lesson yesterday. It’s more important to remember the good that people make me feel…I need to practice that more. It’s a burden to carry past hurts. And yet so uplifting to carry around all those good feelings.  

And I’ll end with this…do not let anyone, ever steal your joy. It’s never worth the energy it takes to get your joy back.

Where I’m From

22 Sep


I am from the last day of the 70’s, from a land of Cabbage Patch Kids and slap bracelets.

I am from the brick house with a white front porch swing.

I am from the timber behind my grandparent’s house, the trails made by go-cart tires and laughter that can still be heard all these years later. I am from blackberries picked right off the bush and the taste of honeysuckle in the summertime.

I am from sweet iced tea and blue-eyed blondes, from a man who asked my grandfather to be his daddy when he was four and from grandmother who spoke her mind and stood up for what she believed in and from my southern mama.

I am from the woman who cooked in cast iron skillets and a man dedicated to serving his country.

From the place where the car would fly if us kids would sleep and pregnant bellies were the result of swallowed watermelon seeds.  

I am from the blue bus that took me to and from Sunday School. I am from a family of  Christians. Believer that kindness is a way of life, not just a random act.

I’m from the white sands of Daytona Beach, from the military tanks at Fort Knox, from the cobblestone roads of Charleston, from the gateway arch in St. Louis, from the city of the angels. I am from fried chicken dinners and grits with cheese.

From the grandfather who has hands that could turn a rusted out bucket of metal into a classic car that would take so many first place trophies at the car shows it would make him the man to beat, from  the father who could play just about any song on the guitar to make his little girl dance and from the mother who put the playpen in one arm and me in the other and spent every day on the warm sands of Pensacola Beach.

I am from pictures tucked up in my closet, photo albums with yellowing pages and a baby book filled with mementos from my childhood. I am from forgiving hearts, warm hugs and love.

Falling for Fall

19 Sep

I don’t know about you but summer is my least favorite season. Part of it is, I am not a fan of being hot. I despise it unless I’m in the water, then it’s okay. I also hate wearing shorts. People always ask, “Why? Do you not like your legs?’ I like my legs just fine…I don’t like the skin on the back of my legs touching anything sticky, like vinyl booths or plastic chairs. I think it’s a little weird but whatever.

My favorite season is Fall! I know summer is not officially over but I can feel the change a comin’. Top ten reasons why Fall is my favorite:  

  1. Pumpkin spice lattes
  2. Football
  3. Crisp morning runs
  4. Cold nights meant for snuggling with the family
  5. Sweaters, boots and scarves
  6. Desert camping with friends and family
  7. Running season begins again (for me)
  8. Bathing suit season is O-V-E-R!!!!
  9. Christmas is coming!!!
  10. The foods of fall…chili, beef stew over rice, pumpkin pie and apple pie…Thanksgiving dinner!

Sometimes I feel like Summer and Spring get all the love. Anyone else love Fall or Winter?


Suicide Prevention Week

7 Sep

It’s suicide prevention week. I think it’s great that we recognize it, but sad that we only make it a big deal one week out of the whole year. I was born full of sunshine…for this I am grateful. Even in my darkest hours and hardest times, I never once thought it would be better if I were dead. I’m grateful for that. I’m thankful that there is a voice inside of me that says, “It will get better. You will make it through this. You will be okay on the other side of this.” But, I have had experience with suicide. I’ve lost a friend to it. I’ve seen it attempted more times than I’ll ever be comfortable talking about. And once I helped someone without even knowing it. I got that thank you about eight years after the fact from a girl I barely knew.

I remember the girl from middle school. Her name started with a “J”…I can remember her face, but not her name. That quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle,” comes to mind with her. I remember seeing her outside at lunch. I remember the way she walked…wounded somehow…even at 13 I knew there was a certain sadness there. We had physical education class together. And I remember one day she was crying in the locker room…I don’t recall why. And I don’t recall the words I said to her. I know it was something along the lines of, “This will pass…it will get better.” I left that school that year and moved to Florida.

About eight years later I moved back to that town in Illinois and was going through the drive-thru at McDonald’s. I didn’t recognize her as she passed my food through the window. She stopped and said, “Janice? Janice Busbea?” And I looked back and said, “Yep…that’s me.” And she said, “I don’t know if you remember me but we had PE class together.” I recognized her face and said, “Oh yes! That’s right we sure did. How are you?” She said, “I’m good. I’m good. You know, I never thanked you for that day in the locker room…you saved my life that day. I thought about suicide so much during junior high and that day you gave me hope. So thank you.”

Just seeing that it’s suicide prevention week made me think of her. It made me think about how we are all connected and we all have the power to change not just our lives, but other people’s lives, even when we don’t know we’re doing it. Reach out…be kind…you never know how it might help.

Like The Old Days…

30 Jul

Today was one of those rare days. A day where nothing was planned and yet everything happened. The kind of day where the joy is found in the impromptu. The moment at the end of the day where you go, “I want to etch this one in my wall.” For no other reason than it was made up of the good stuff. A day filled with laughter and love and joy.

It started with a posted status on Facebook of a friend “missing the south bay.” I thought he was reflecting…yet he was here…and what turned into a “come visit” from me, thinking it was a date in the future, ended up with him and his gorgeous twin girls stopping for fun on a Friday night. Mike, Ava and I are homebodies on a Friday night so this was a wonderful, unexpected bright spot in our normally routine week.

Carpets were painted, stickers were stuck to hardwood floors, toys were everywhere, parades happened, bean bags were thrown in a pillow fight…as were zebras and lambs…it was beautiful chaos. It was the kind of chaos that only happens when three little girls are up past their bedtimes and we parents just let it go. We just sat back and took pictures of the fun and let them go completely wild…encouraged it actually. Because at the end of the day…it’s just carpet…it’s just floors…it’s just…stuff. But what they got…what I got…that was  joy I wish I could bottle and sell to everyone. The giggles…oh my…they were enough to keep California sunny all through June.

Three hours past Ava’s bedtime and uncontrollable laughter takes over. There are girls hitting the hardwood floors as they miss the bean bags they aim for…there are no tears…just belly laughs…the kind that make you think you are missing a great inside joke…but it’s just delirium setting in. And it was just plain wonderful. Annie and Sophie left amongst a bunch of hugs and promises to “hang out soon.”

Ava was too full of giggles to calm down, despite it being two  hours past her bedtime. Every time the room would get quiet she would bust into a fit of giggles. Giggles that I would catch and that left Mike shrugging his shoulders…because really….only girls understand those kinds of giggles. And though I usually never stay in her room to put her to sleep, she asked if I would. And I knew the only way to stop the giggles was to snuggle her up and let her fall asleep.

As we lay there together, I was brought back to the times when she was a teeny, tiny baby…when I used to rock and rock and rock her to sleep. I felt her head start to get heavy….every minute or so she’d open her eyes and make sure I was still there and just like when she was a teeny-tiny baby, she inhaled three quick breaths, exhaled and was alseep. And I couldn’t bring myself to move for awhile. I knew she was asleep…I knew she wouldn’t wake up when I got out of her bed…but it became clear…my  baby was growing up. As much as that teeny-tiny baby is still there, it became clear that she is a little girl now. One that adores pillow fights and giggles and staying up way past her bedtime. And I realized, as hard as it is to let go of my teeny-tiny baby, I’m so excited for the pillow fights and giggles and staying up way past her bedtime. I just hope that every now and then she’ll let me sneak in her room and snuggle her up like the old days.

Why do we treat the subject of obesity with white gloves, yet launch a full-blown war on tobacco?

13 Jul

DISCLAIMER: I’m going to preface this post with saying I am a former smoker. This post is a generalized and broad statement. This is not meant to be an attack on smokers or people who are overweight or anyone for that matter. I also understand that each person is different in weight and reasons behind their weight. This post is about lack of physical activity combined with overeating and our failure to help stop it. If you are overweight because you have a medical condition, please don’t send me hate mail. Please. I’m pretty sure this disclaimer will still have left someone out and I’ll get some sort of hate mail.  

I read an article in the LA Times a few days ago about obesity. The title of the article was “America just keeps getting fatter.” I won’t rewrite the article, but I will point out the big parts:

  • 30% of America is obese or overweight.
  • Only one state has an obesity rate under 20% (Colorado).
  • Two decades ago, not a single state had an obesity rate above 15% (READ THAT AGAIN!)
  • In the last 15 years, obesity rates have doubled or nearly doubled in 17 states.
  • Obesity costs our country $147 billion in medical related costs every year.

The information is only slightly shocking to me. If you look around, it’s not hard to see that our nation is expanding at the waistline. What troubles me even more is that we hear talk about how things need to change, but I don’t feel there’s a big push. I don’t feel there is any aggressiveness in improving the situation.

We launched a full-blown attack against the tobacco industry…and rightfully so in my opinion. Remember the Truth commercials? How about the commercials with the lady who had a hole in her throat and smoke coming out of it warning you about the dangers of smoking. Horrible, right? That commercial was so hard for me to watch…smoker or non-smoker…it made me uncomfortable. What the anti-smoking campaigns did is make us stop to think and informed us. Then the government stepped in and taxed cigarettes to the point of ridiculousness. The next anti-smoking step is to print terrifying tobacco warning labels directly on cigarette packs. We declared war on big tobacco. We said, “No more…if people want to smoke, then we’re going to make sure they know in the most graphic way, that it can and probably will kill them.” People will smoke anyway…I know this. I was one of those people. I quit when I was ready but I can say…all of the campaigns did make me want to quit.

Why aren’t we doing this for obesity? Because statistically, obesity is costing  our country $51 BILLION more a year than smoking. The CDC cites smokers cost the country $96 billion a year in health care costs, while obesity costs the country $147 billion a year.

This makes me so sad. I don’t know how to change a nation…and people, this is what keeps me up at night. I think about how I can change schools, change families and change thoughts. Because what we’re doing to ourselves is a slow suicide…just like smoking.

Don’t Panic

7 Jul

“The ultimate key to freedom is recognizing that everything is a choice.”

I read this today and it caught my attention. I struggle with anxiety. Ninety percent of the time, I am fine. It’s that other ten percent that grabs hold and really takes control and causes me to reach a point of panic. Have you ever had a panic attack? If you’ve ever been in labor, it’s kind of the same sensation as a contraction. You can feel the panic building and your mind is saying “No, no, no, no, no…not now….please stop,” but there’s not a damn thing I can do to stop it. I have to let it come and know that it passes…pretty quickly at that. But it’s embarrassing. Having them in front of my husband is embarrassing. I feel weak and completely irrational.

So what brought this on? Well, Ava has a field trip to Sea Side Lagoon next week and I’m worried. Mike’s worried. There’s water involved. And Ava, well, she “thinks” she can swim. She’s in swim lessons and she’s learning, but I still don’t consider her safe in the water. So while we were lying in bed last night, we started talking about whether or not we should let her go. And Mike said, “I don’t want her to go. I don’t want to end up with a dead child.” And so the contraction began. And don’t mistake me here, I’m not blaming him at all for the panic attack. It just happens and it’s not easily explained other than when he said “dead child” my brain processed it and saw it as if it would happen. My mind imagined her dead, imagined the feelings I would have and then actually had the feelings.  And then my heart sped up and my breathing became erratic while my Mike looked on. Awesome.

This is the part of parenting that I have the hardest time with. As I’m sure most parents do. I want her to go on her field trip. I want her to have a great time with her friends. I want her to come home from school smelling like sunshine and saltwater. I want to hear all about her exciting day. I want to be the parent that doesn’t have the long list of things that could go wrong playing on repeat in my head.I have a daughter who is adventurous. She doesn’t dip her toes in the water…she cannonballs into the deep end. She doesn’t know quiet or slow or be careful. It’s not in her nature. She is so much like her daddy in this respect…let’s go as fast as we can, as hard as we can and get as much out of it as we can.

How do I keep her safe without completely sheltering her from the entire world? How do I make sure that the people I trust to watch her know how much it would devastate me to lose her? How do I make them promise to keep her safe? How do I control everything because clearly that’s the only solution? Haha! More importantly, how do I free myself from these fears? Because that’s the issue here…my fears are justified…but I can’t control them and I can’t let them control me. I can’t shelter her so much that she can’t do anything. So after talking to my own parents this morning and talking to Mike again, we are letting her go on the field trip. We decided she has to wear a life jacket at all times and that one of us may even go to chaperone. So while I can’t control the fears that I have, I do have control over the decisions I make to try to put my mind at ease.

How do you handle parenting fears? I’m not the only person who has them, right?