Friday, October 30, 2009

Waiting for tricks or treats

spock costumeImage by carbonated via Flickr

Growing up, few nights held as much anticipation in our house as Halloween. My earliest memories of costumes were the plastic aprons that tied in the back, kind of like putting your arms through a Hefty bag, only the plastic didn't hold up as well as a trash bag. The accompanying masks were formed of a thicker plastic with edges sharp enough to be used as a weapon. I speak from experience. The eye holes never seemed to go right over your face, and the holes for the nose were so small that your breath was recycled through the mask all night. In cold climates, like Montana, at least that meant your face was warm.

Speaking of cold, this added another element to the costume. It was nothing unusual for temperatures to be at, or below freezing by the Devil's night (oh how we wished the Devil would show up with fire and brimstone some of those nights). Because we were determined to be Barbie, Darth Vadar, He-Man, or whomever, our mothers would put our heaviest winter coats on first, and then try to put the plastic aprons on over the coats, inevitably tearing them before we got to the first house.

No matter. With pillow cases in hand, we started out for a night of doorbell ringing, candy eating (because who waited until we got home to check for razor blades), and praying that somebody would give out quarters or better yet, coupons for a Frosty at Wendy's. It was almost better than Christmas. In fact, there were years when I think it was.

I understand that neighborhoods may not be as safe as they used to be and childhood obesity is on the rise. I get that my 5 year old wants to be Taylor Swift and that little boys probably don't dream of being fire fighters any more. But don't you just wish you could give your kids one Halloween like you had it? Plastic masks, pillow cases and all?

What are your favorite Halloween memories and new traditions that your family loves?
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Waiting for Julio

One of my five year old daughter's greatest loves is singing and her favorite artist is Taylor Swift. Usually I am pretty good about keeping up with my daughter's current trends. But this one threw me. She had just turned four we were riding home from school and Taylor S

“Love Story” coverImage via Wikipedia

wift's Love Story came on the radio. From the back seat I heard my daughter singing along. When I asked how she knew this song, she replied, "Kristen taught me. We love Taylor Swift."

We do?

From that day on, every time Love Story came on in the car, the grocery store, an elevator, or the dressing room at the mall, our princess sang every word . . . kind of.

For those of you not familiar with the song, it is a modern day story of Romeo and Juliet.

For our little princess, it is the story of Julio and Juliet.

Every time someone new hears her sing they look at her dad or me and mouth, "Did she say Julio?" We smile and nod, but it's so darn cute that no one can bear to tell her that Juliet's forbidden love was a Montague not a Mexican.

I feel her pain. I sang my own share of wrong lyrics. Most were hymns and Sunday school songs. Here is a sampling.

- Roll the old cheerio along (Roll the old chariot along)

- In the song "Mr. Noah Built an Ark" I was sure the line was "Down came the rain in Torrence" thinking that Torrence was the city where Mr. Noah lived. It was only a few years ago that I learned that it was actually "Down came the rain in torrents."

- And my favorite misunderstanding. Although it's not a song, it comes from a musical, so I count it just the same. For about a decade I thought that in Grease when Rizo said she "missed a period" that she just skipped a class. I was amazed how much trouble people could get into in high school for skipping school. That movie didn't teach me much about pre-marital sex, but it definitely taught me important lessons about truancy.

What Julio songs do you remember from childhood? Do you and your family still sing the wrong words? Share your stories here because let's face it, we could all use a little less Romeo and a little more Julio in our lives.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Waiting for fashion to destroy the world

In 1989, leg warmers, stone washed jeans, and parachute pants ruled the runway. But perhaps nothing defines the decade better than big hair. And how did we get our hair so big? Come on ladies - do it with me - flip your head upside down and blow dry our hair while spraying it with aerosol hairspray (Rave was my preference). Tease it sky high. Once more with the spray. Perfection.

Big hair 80's model on white background, 1986Image by | El Caganer via Flickr

At 13, I was not an environmentalist. I cared about more important things like Kirk Cameron and Bon Jovi. Unfortunately, they weren't included in the curriculum at East Junior High. Instead my seventh grade honors biology teacher introduced me to two words that would change my life, and fashion sense, forever - ozone layer.

More specifically, he implied that my hairspray, my aerosol hairspray, could be depleting what seemed to my 13 year old brain to be a pretty necessary part of our little planet.


Middle school was not kind to me. Those years were filled with braces, over-sized glasses, and a few extra "baby weight" pounds still hanging on a decade after I had shed the last inkling of babyhood. Not being athletically inclined, honors classes and band filled my days, which, as you can imagine, made me quite a catch with the middle school boy.

Big hair was kind of all I had.

Except a conscience.

And so it began. After a week of researching chloroflurocarbons (the chemical in aerosol cans that damages the ozone), my Rave went in the trash and my big hair went flat. Several months later I went on to win in the local and state science fair with a project that showed the negative effects of CFC's on kalanchoe plants.

Looking back it may seem that my sacrifice was small compared to what others have given for the cause, and I agree. I didn't leave my family to study climate change in Antarctica or become a vegan to protest animal cruelty. But for a 13 year old girl with rockin' bangs, my sacrifice made me more aware of how one little change can impact the place I call home.

Have you ever taken a small step toward improving the environment? This is the place for you to be proud. Face it, we aren't going to Africa or giving up bacon (can I get an Amen?), but maybe we can turn off the light in the closet in the morning.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Waiting for the St#%id Birds

The following is a conversation that took place between me and my five year old daughter while driving home from church. The background information will put the conversation in context.


1. Every fall approximately one million grackles descend on Fort Worth. Grackles are nasty black birds whose soul purpose in life is to ruin what would otherwise be the best season in Texas.

2. I hate birds. I believe they can, and want to, poke out your eyes. I have not seen Alf

The Birds - Alfred Hitchcock themeImage by Digika via Flickr

red Hitchcock's movie, The Birds. There is no reason for me to see it. I am already scared of birds. The only thing I hate more than birds is clowns. A hawk flying at me dressed like the clown from It; that is my idea of hell.

3. To our daughter, stupid is a four letter word.

My daughter's initials are AK.


AK - Mommy, look at all the birds!

Me - Yep. The stupid birds are back.

AK - Mommy, why did you say stupid?
My husband nudges me and smiles - Yeah honey, why did you say stupid?

Me - Mommy doesn't like. . . Well, you see, mommy is afraid of. . . Mommy is sorry.

AK - Will you promise never to say stupid ever again?

I pause. I think of all the birds, those darn birds. I also think of the Texas Legislature.

Me - No. I can't promise never to say it again. But I will try harder.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Waiting for Answers

At a young age we are trained to believe that questions come with answers.

- Who's the cutest baby in the whole wide world? You are.
- And what is your name? Kristen.
- What is two plus two? Four.
- How do you spell Czechoslovakia? Ummm . . . Chec . . .No, wait, Czek. No, Czeh. Is that even a country anymore?

Even questions to which our own political, religious, or philosophical beliefs bend us on

QuestionsImage by Oberazzi via Flickr

e direction or another still have an answer. For example, the question of whether the earth was created by an intelligent designer or by sheer chance may have different answers depending the textbook, professor, or preacher with whom you are speaking, but each would, no doubt, offer you an answer of some sort.

With our comfort rooted deeply in questions coupled with answers it is no surprise we become anxious when we find ourselves holding one without the other.

It is my experience that the most frequent flier in the answer-less question arena is "Why?" This three letter word can apply to events as profound as life threatening illnesses, job loss, deaths, catastrophes, acts of God, and wars, or things as simple as failing a test, ending a relationship, bad hair days or being stuck in traffic.

In his book The Case for Faith, agnostic journalist turned Christian Lee Strobel investigates what he calls "The Big Eight" objections to Christianity. Of these, the first one he tackles deals with unanswered questions about pain and suffering in the world. To help answer his questions Strobel interviews Billy Graham's former evangelist partner who became a self-proclaimed agnostic author, Charles Templeton. When asked if there was one thing in particular that caused him to loose his faith in God, Templeton answered that it was a photograph in Life magazine.

"It was a picture of a black woman in Northern Africa. They were experiencing a devastating drought. And she was holding her dead baby in her arms and looking up to heaven with the most forlorn expression. I looked at it and I thought, 'Is it possible to believe that there is a loving or caring Creator when all this woman needed was rain?'"*

That is a question without an answer if I've ever heard one.

Over the past year I have had a lot of conversations with God that started with the word "Why?" These conversations stemmed from a string of seemingly endless health problems that resulted in chronic pain. My life, which admittedly was somewhat charmed up to that point, was literally turned upside down. We paid thousands of dollars in medical bills, which was complicated by the fact I had to resign from my job. I became unable to care for my children and some days was unable to care for myself.

As I sunk deeper into what I'm sure was a mixture of depression and narcotics, I felt confident that if I could just find some reason, some answer as to why this was happening to me, it would give me the strength to get through it. Looking at it now, written out in black and white, it seems almost silly.

I guess God could have posted this on my Facebook;
Hey Kristen; Just wanted to

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

let you know that your ovaries will be adhered together for the next five months. The doctors aren't going to be able to figure it out and you are going to be in chronic pain. I know it's a bummer, but hang in there because you are going to learn some really important lessons in patience and especially in humility. You will also resign from your job - I know that's going to be tough because you are going to have to trust that I will provide for your family, which will be hard, especially with the thousands of dollars you are going to rack up in medical bills, but this is the only way that I will ever teach you to totally trust me. Big lesson there. Get your Blockbuster card ready - you will be spending lots of time on the couch. Love ya! Oh, and don't forget to take the Wizard of Oz quiz and find out which character you are. I'm betting you're the Lion :-)

Having a reason for the pain wouldn't have lessened the pain, it would have just made me argue with God whether or not I thought his reason was worthy of the pain I was experiencing at that moment. Would a lesson in humility constitute a trip to the ER or did improving my integrity equal a pint of my blood and so on a so forth. How does one begin to argue those reasons. Looking at it now I understand why God didn't answer my Why's.

Not that it mattered. I didn't get any FB posts from God and I didn't know what was coming a week in advance, a day in advance, or even an hour in advance. My husband uses this analogy; We wish God would give us a floodlight, but instead he gives us a flashlight. Some days, he gives us a candle and not even one of those big roman candles. One of those sad little flimsy birthday candles that barely gives off any light at all.

I promise you if God would have sent that FB post, I would have been booked in the next OR and signed up to have those ovaries removed. Yes, I would have missed out on the pain, but I would have also missed out on the path that was set in front of me and the lessons I have learned and I would not be the person I've become. And even through the pain I can tell you, the person I have become is a better person. I have learned lessons in patience and humility that I would have never signed up for of my own volition. I've become passionate about helping people who are suffering from chronic illnesses or chronic pain and their caregivers. Although I resigned from my job, it allowed me to follow my dream of writing. I think there are still more answers to the Why question down the road, some that I may not see for years or maybe even decades.

I've also noticed that I very rarely ask Why on the good days. Like, why do I deserve a roof over my head and three meals a day? Why do I have a family who loves me? Why was I born in a free country while others are oppressed?

I guess there are a lot of good Why's out there too.

What do you do with the Why's you can't answer?

*The Case for Faith, A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity; Lee Strobel: Zondervan Publishing House. 2000

Waiting for Cuts ~ Grey's Anatomy takes on the economy

The following is a cross post on Joe Jenkins' blog joeonthetube. Richie and I were honored to write a guest post for Joe and look forward to contributing to joeonthetube in the future. His & Hers Grey's Anatomy Season 6, Episode 2
After last week’s season premier revealed that Seattle Grace would merge with Mercy West, the entire staff is on edge, to say the least and is worried about keeping their job. This week’s episode revolves mostly around the character’s obsession with proving their worthiness as the chief is keeping tight lipped regarding his plans for any downsizing.

Izzie returns to the hospital, complete with a “Stepford wife” wig. Although she isn't supposed to return to
work for three weeks, her fear of being cut due to the merger pushes her back into the O.R. for a complicated five-hour surgery, forcing Alex to play nurse making sure that she takes her cancer meds and eats throughout the day.

Meanwhile, Cristina decides the best way to secure her job is by asking to be on Arizona's service in Pediatrics. It doesn't take too long (with a little help from Callie) for Arizona to realize that Cristina is using her to save her own neck. I mean, come on, who would really think Cristina should be allowed in the same room with children.

We almost thought the show was going to jump the shark when a paranoid schizophrenic and his mother are brought into the ER after being involved in a car accident. While the mother was lying on the table complaining of abdominal pain, the camera focuses in on a small fist shaped object pulsating in her abdomen. Just then her son says, "Aliens have impregnated my mother." And break for commercials.

Thankfully, Grey's did not go the way of
the X-Files and we learn the pulsating fist was caused by a large aneurysm in her abdominal cavity. Unfortunately for Lexi, she looses the son while trying to bandage his minor wrist injury from the car accident and that leads to him falling down a flight of stairs and in turn bursts his spleen. Fortunately for Lexi, she comes up with a great idea to do surgery on both mother and son (who technically doesn't need surgery), so they can happily recover together. If not for this great idea, the mother refuses the life-saving surgery since there is no one else to take care of her mentally ill son.

Grey's Anatomy Season 6Image by LiGado em Série via Flickr

In the end, the chief directs HR to send out an e-mail to the first round of employees to be let go (not a move us PR folks recommend). None of the main characters get the axe, not that we expected them to. In fact, the only face that any true fans might remember is the nurse that George and Alex slept with during the syphilis outbreak of the first season. In traditional Lexi fashion, she has an emotional breakdown, even though her job is safe.

But fear not, the writers did not leave this episode on a sad note. Instead they left us with something in
spirational; Beer and baseball. Three of our four happy couples meet out on a baseball diamond with a pitching machine that they just happened to have and a cooler of beer for some batting practice and philosophy. It was a fitting, if not contrived, way to end the episode.
He Said/She Said

Best plotline:
He Said - I'm really intrigued about the dynamic between the chief and Derek. The writers are holding back on some things and I'm curious to see how far they will go to separate the two. She said - The staff's reaction to the proposed merger. I think that in today's economic times it is an unfortunate reality that people are willing to do whatever it takes to keep a job - even one they don't really like.

Best line:
He Said - "H
is name is Mr. Bear . . . He eats kids" |(BONUS LINE) "You need to stop worrying about what's gonna happen, and you need to focus on what is right in front of you." She Said - "Nobody likes a dead baby."

I could have lived without: He Said - The paranoid schizophrenic son throwing Lexi up against the wall. That seemed unnecessary. She Said - The baseball scene. I go back to last week with the scene with Izzie and the girl on the bench outside the hospital. The whole thing seemed unnatural and just a bit too much.

A little something for the fellas:
He Said - The pulsating aneurysm in the mom's stomach. Totally looked like Alien. She Said - Agreed. If an actual alien would have jumped out it would have been perfect. Stupid, but perfect.

Something for the ladies:
He Said - The caring and supportive role that Derek took on at the end with his now former co-workers. That only perpetuates the McDreamy persona. She Said - Watching Alex take care of Izzie. He has such a tough outer image, but now that his wife is the one who is sick, and she is putting on the tough face, he was busting in on surgeries and into patient rooms to make sure she was taking her meds and eating. He really loves her. He's still a jerk and sometimes has a strange way of showing it, but watching him bend over backwards to take care of her makes you realize that is the kind of man every woman wants.

Something for everybody:
He Said - The show has finally taken on the economic climate and how we are all being impacted. It is a classic example of art imitating life. The audience can relate because they may have either lost a job or may know somebody who has. They can relate to the situations that the doctors and nurses were in by either losing a job or being the person who got to keep their job.
She Said -Aside from watching the characters react to the news of the merger, I think the mother with the mentally ill son had a really touching story. When she was willing to forgo a surgery that would save her life because there was no one she could trust to take care of her adult mentally ill son, that was a really telling and often overlooked story. She briefly mentioned that her husband left when her son got sick and friends had drifted away. I think this is more true to life than we want to admit. Even just watching the character for an hour on television, I was uncomfortable, so I can imagine that befriending a woman with a son with that illness would be a challenge. Mental illness, even in the 21st century, is something that people still hesitate to talk openly about or to deal with publicly. It is a shame, because then women like the mother portrayed on this week's Grey's, end up alone and isolated, dealing with challenges which are often more than they can, or should have to, handle on their own.

Who are the bloggers? Richie and Kristen are a happily married one-TV couple with two kiddos. Both have worked in the communications/PR field for the past decade or so. You can check out Richie's blog about all things PR and social media here. You have found Kristen's blog. Please feel free to stay a while and look around.