Friday, April 30, 2010

Flashback Friday: I am an Extrovert. Deal With It.

FYI, my MO is to OA (over-analyze). noticed? Yeah, I know. This week's posts have been a tad dramatic, eh? A little lame. Self-absorbed, even. Humor me a smidge longer. It's time for (cue the reverb) FLASHBACK FRIDAY!!!

Back in the fall of 1992, Big Daddy and I were engaged to be married. Just a couple of crazy kids in love....fresh out of college...starting our careers...ready to take on the world. We were being married in the Catholic Church, and therefore, participated in Pre-Cana classes with the priest.

"Slick"ipedia has this to say about Pre-Cana:

"Pre-Cana is a course or consultation Catholic couples must undergo before they can be married in a Catholic church. The name is derived from John 2:1-12, the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine."

(oh, that's kinda cool. see, even God knows a good marriage requires good wine.)

"Approaches to Pre-Cana vary among Catholic dioceses and parishes. Often six weekly sessions will be led by a priest or deacon with support from a married Catholic couple. Common topics include: compatibility of the couple, basic principles of Catholic marriage and family life (namely theological meaning of marriage), conflict resolution within marriage, rules the couple are expected to follow."

So, fine. Topics included child-bearing and child-rearing, finances, gender roles, etc. For the most part, Big Daddy and I were on the same page. No big surprises. But the most valuable part of the 6-week course proved incredibly insightful.

Father Bob: A, would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

Me: Have you MET me?

Father Bob: Right, you're an extrovert. And you (turning to Big Daddy) would consider yourself an introvert, am I right?

Big Daddy: Yes.

Father Bob: So what do you think that means?

Me: Is this a trick question? I'm more outgoing and social. Big Daddy is more reserved and shy in big crowds.

Father Bob: It can mean that, yes. But what you REALLY need to remember as a married couple is that you, as an extrovert, make decisions EXTERNALLY. You need to talk your way to an answer. You pose both sides (or many sides) to the question before coming to a conclusion. And you (Big Daddy), as an introvert, INTERNALIZE everything quietly before reaching your conclusion. And then, and only then, will you give an answer.

Me: (squints eyes) who's right?

Of course, Father Bob went on to explain that neither is right or wrong, but that it would be necessary to remember this as we navigated through life as a couple. He warned me not to get frustrated and think that Big Daddy wasn't listening to me just because he wasn't chiming in. And he explained to Big Daddy that as I'm working through my problem, it's not his duty to solve the problem or come to the conclusion FOR ME and blurt it out definitively at the end. Indeed, I may still be talking my way through the issue. Good advice. We still remind ourselves of this lesson often.

Do you see where I'm going with this? This week's posts have been my "out loud decision-making 'to blog or not to blog' extrovert-on-crack-kind of discussion. I've written about my personal hang-ups, discomforts, and even annoyances in the Land of Blog. And judging by the public and private messages I've received on the subject, it seems I'm not the only one who views those traveling awards as the blogosphere's equivalent of an e-mail forward promising that your wish will come true by morning if you just say the prayer and forward to seventy-two of your closest friends in the next three and a half minutes. But if you don't, you will have fourteen years of bad luck. And you will never get a book deal. And your dog will die. But for the most part, bloggers pass those awards on. To be nice. And because they want to be published. And they don't want their dogs to die.

More flashback:

Sonny Crockett: Are you going somewhere with this or just running laps?

Me: Thanks for asking, Sonny. It seems even though I haven't declared who I am as a blogger, or proposed a purpose in my writing, I have filled a niche of sorts. Many of you from the beginning have encouraged me to keep blogging. And this week your words have been especially kind. Thankfully, those who don't care for my writing haven't told me to bug off. There's really no need for that in the blogosphere. If one finds Aleighopolis a bore, a snore, or a chore (like this week), they can simply split town and never return. And for those of you who do enjoy always...we'll leave the light on for ya.

p.s. Father O' would be doubled over in pain that I used Wikipedia as a source for Pre-Cana rather than the Catechism of the Catholic Church. My quick 1am search for the Catechism online resulted in nada.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blog, Interrupted

So, two months and 25 blogs later, I would say I have established myself as a consistent blogger. Fairly reliable. Showing up nearly every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (albeit loosey goosey with the hour of day). I may be voicing my opinion (on all things frivolous); issuing a challenge (yes, I WILL have "after" pictures for the Project 12-in-12 challenge on Friday's blog); or sharing a sappy, sentimental story (a study is currently being commissioned to see if said stories correspond with monthly female hormonal happenings). My personal favorites are usually the anecdotal accounts of my everyday life. Those are the ones people seem to relate to on a deeper level. And by deeper, I mean they feel my pain. Whether it's dog dying, hamster buying, or bats flying, we've all "been there, done that, bought the t-shirt."

On Monday, I returned after a week and a half hiatus with an excused absence slip. The slip said something like, "Big Daddy is home, and when Big Daddy is home Big Daddy demands my attention and Big Daddy deserves my attention." It could have also read, "Damn! After eleven baseball/lacrosse games, eight Zumba classes, three track meets, two girls' night's out, two parties to attend, one sacrament to celebrate and entertaining out-of-town guests (yes, all within ten days) - Mama is just too tired to type!

All of this is true, but there are a couple of other reasons why Aleighopolis was under quarantine...

First, I give you blogger's remorse. Why am I spending my days writing fluff for no apparent reason other than entertainment (most, of which, is mine)? I touched on this Monday, and many of you came to the defense of blogging, and eloquently commented on the needs of us to do so. Blog. And comment. We just do. Okay...good enough for me.

Secondly, truth be told, I became frozen stiff in cyberpeer pressure. Short story long, one of my blogging buddies is a real-life buddy who happened to have a real-life career as a writer in a real-life newspaper. Think Marley & Me with no dog. Well, actually, there IS a dog, but he wasn't the constant focus. I digress. She has been blogging for awhile, and has come into contact with many fellow writers. It's natural that writers would find a home in the blogging world. They trade insights and inspirations all of the time on their posts and comments. They use jargon like WIP's and queries. They hold contests for judging critiques and do guest-blogging at each other's sights and so on and so forth.

What the ?!?

How did little 'ole me with no focus or purpose get mixed up with this astute cluster of scribes?!? Don't get me wrong. These people are FABULOUS and I enjoy them immensely. I "follow" several of them who have caught my fancy. I am giddy with delight when one finds their way to Aleighopolis and takes the time to sign my guest book (leave a comment).

But there's this other thing that austere bloggers do. And here's where the pressure got to me.

They give out awards.

Lots of them.

For best doodle and sweetest remarks and prettiest handwriting and all kinds of things.

They give out awards, and if you receive one, you're expected to pass it along. Like a chain letter. It all seemed very sweet and encouraging in the beginning, but then it took a peculiar turn. It felt a bit gratuitous. And then a little incestuous.

YIKES! Now I've done it! I've offended the cool kids! They'll never let me sit at their lunch table again!!!!! What was I thinking?!?

Lucy, let me 'splain...I get that we're all just sharing the blogger love. Helping to promote each other's sites and their subsequent works in progress. Keeping things real, all the while rosy. Please.
I am a former cheerleader who's favorite tv show is Glee and all kidding aside, I truly love my life. Positivity is a daily goal of mine. A splash of sarcasm and a love of dirty dancing are the only things that keep my skin from glowing like a neon pink sign. Rose-colored glasses? I got your roses.

But the passing around of clip art awards was wearing me down, peeps (may I still call you peeps? do you hate me now? the cheerleader past was the nail in the coffin, am i right?). I am still trying to understand blog etiquette (is that a mushroom cloud above my head where a light bulb should be?) It was feeling like a "you scratch my blog and I'll scratch yours" kind of deal with the followers and following and contests and giveaways and awards and acceptance posts. I blame no one but myself for these overwhelming considerations. Again, it was just that kind of week. General chaos leading, interrupted.

I needed to catch my breath.

I have.

I needed to remember why I bother doing this.

Actually, I still need to FIGURE OUT why I'm doing this.

I think I'm just having a conversation, one-sided as it may be.

I'm hanging with friends and family. And with you. If you're still there. Hello? Are you still there?

I wish I had a WIP.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Mayonnaise Jar Runneth Over

Often times when people find out that I have a blog, they respond with one question:

Them: Who has time to blog?

Me: Uh.....

I'm sure they mean no offense, but truth be told, it feels like an insult rather than a question. It seems to imply that I have nothing better to do with my time. That I'm not as busy with life as them. Or that I choose to waste my time on meaningless rants and raves while they do much more worthwhile things - like watch reality television or shop. Not that those things aren't incredibly important.

I mean, God forbid we put Snooki and "The Situation," out of work due to poor ratings. And certainly we can all do our part to ignite this country's sagging economy by purchasing last year's Coach wristlet from the Poppy Collection at your nearest outlet store.

For most, discretionary time is a luxury. Those minutes come few and far between. And how one chooses to fill that time is their business - and they should own it. When people ask me why I blog, or what I blog about, I tell them it's a creative outlet for me. As my facebook page states:

"Apparently, couldn't get enough of myself on facebook, so I started a blog. How original."

I like to share. Sue me. Some people get a kick out of me. Sue them. Some people don't give a crap what I have to say. Screw them. I mean - c'est la vie (even though it doesn't rhyme).

My time to blog is usually late at night, after the kids are in bed, and often times when Big Daddy is out of town on business. In fact, that is EXACTLY why I have not been spending time in Aleighopolis, or on anyone else's blog site lately. Because Big Daddy has been home for two straight weeks. Not straight like, 24-hours a day; but fourteen straight days of no business travel. And no business trips again this week. I don't think he's spent three straight weeks in his office since we moved here over two years ago. I am enjoying turning the computer off by 10pm and spending some QT with Big Daddy. See how one must sometimes choose between leisure time activities (when in doubt, always choose your big daddy).

I have missed Aleighopolis. I have missed the other blogs that I visit often. I hope to get caught up this week, all the while remembering the story of The Mayonnaise Jar. Thanks to my friend, K, for sending this to me recently. Words to live by. (you know what other words you can live by? words like snooki and poppy. those are fun words. that's why i blog)

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle,
When 24 hours in a day is not enough;
remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class
and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly,
he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
and start to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again
if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand
and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded
With an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table
and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things - God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions
Things that if everything else was lost
and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else --
The small stuff..

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued,
'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are
important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play with your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time
to clean the house and fix the dripping tap.

'Take care of the golf balls first --
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand
and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.

'I'm glad you asked'.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend..'

Amen, Professor. Amen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Color Me Coral

I have absolutely no time for anything today, other than teaching my three Zumba classes and preparing for my daughter's Confirmation on Friday night.

So, I shall blog about ZuZu's Confirmation! (don't tell Big Daddy I'm blogging today. he'll start his speech about time management again)

Family will be arriving from the midwest in approximately 27 hours to witness and celebrate my daughter's Confirmation, a sacrament in the Catholic Church. The introduction to the Rite of Confirmation states:

"by the sacrament of Confirmation, (the baptized) are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."


It seems like it was just yesterday that we were cutting lace and trim off of my wedding gown and detachable train to embellish her First Communion dress. It was four years ago, to the month. Time flies. And without getting too religious or spiritual or philosophical, I'm happy my baby will be aided by the Holy Spirit to get her through this world.

Speaking of dresses....that was our mission last night (yes, three days before said event). We had a backup dress, but it was black. We wanted something more springy and Holy Spiritish. The Holy Spirit would imply red. But CORAL seemed a little more the season.

Behold, the dress of ZuZu:

I know, right?!? So cute! And it pretty much lays on her exactly the way it does on this hanger...slim and straight.


And it's got this beautiful little detailing on the hip with this satin bow and rhinestone clasp doohickey. Which is why we MUST find a pair of sandals with rhinestone accents! Of course, a coral pedicure will then be in order. Lucky thing the dress was on sale!

As was the necklace. $2.40 at Boscov's, to be exact. Holla!

Funny thing hit me as I was propping up the dress for the photo op....coral has been a go-to color for special nights for me and the ladies of my family. My mom found a beautiful coral suit with pearl and rhinestone buttons to wear on my wedding day. I was wearing a stellar coral dress and jacket on the night Big Daddy proposed to me. And now ZuZu will wear it as she professes her faith and experiences a rite of passage (yeah, it will be under a big white robe, but still).

Coral is the color of ocean reefs. Alive and vibrant. Bright and cheerful. Crisp and fresh. And apparently, nostalgic and sentimental.

So other than the whole cleaning the house and washing the linens and stocking the fridge and wrapping the gifts and finding the shoes and meditating on the signifigance of this special day for my daughter - I'm good to go!

Good thing I didn't waste time blogging about something meaningless today. Right, Big Daddy?!?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Home Alone (Wishful Thinking)

Many people abhor Mondays. People with jobs they hate. People who don't spend the entire weekend trying to catch their breath (and a sandwich) running from baseball fields, to lacrosse fields, to track & fields. People who are awakened before sunrise, and remain trapped in their own home with tiny minions that need constant diaper changing, feeding, and attention.

I am not one of those people.

Monday mornings, my house empties by 7:40am, and I am alone. At peace with my coffee, my computer, and my to-do list (insert "happy dance" here). It's my prerogative to either deal with the list, or not. I may find a good movie "on demand." I may camp out in front of my computer, bouncing from website to website. I may even get a phone call from a long-distance friend and spend an hour or more catching up. Don't judge me. I've paid my dues.

None of that is happening today. Today, I have a gentleman here to wallpaper my powder room. After two years of being "a work in progress," it's time. Summer is just around the corner (we refer to it as, "visitors' season"), and I'm thrilled to cross this project off the list. And since neither Big Daddy nor I have skills in this area (obviously....not even good at getting the stuff down, let alone, back up), we have hired out the job. The gentleman came highly recommended. He does great work, is quick, and is cheap. SOLD! However, he likes to strike up conversations with me as he works. UGH!!!

Don't look now, but he's about 12 feet behind me, preparing a strip of paper. I'm good for the 10 minutes he's in the powder room, but just as I'm about to get my mojo rolling, he comes back to cut another strip and the small talk begins. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice guy, and I'm the Queen of Small Talk, but IT'S MY MONDAY! MY DAY! MY QUIET, PEACEFUL, DO WHATEVER I WANT DAY! And I don't want to explain what Zumba is or discuss how the neighbor with cancer is doing or hear about where his daughter goes to college.


So this is it, people. Here's my Monday blog. If I had a laptop, I would retreat to the deck (out of ear-shot where it's sunny and mid-60's) and be a little more creative, thought-provoking, or entertaining. But alas, I do not. So, instead, I will grab a book, my iPhone, and an iced coffee. I'll be close enough for emergencies....far enough for some privacy.

Monday sucks.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flashback Friday: Like Mother Like Daughter

I was a child actor.

No, not in movies.

Not on television.

Not commercials (well, actually, there was that SuperValue Supermarkets spot I did my junior year in high school but good luck finding a copy of that!)....

No, I got my start where many of the classically-trained began their careers - in the theatre (or, theatah, if you will). Granted, it may look like a decrepit barn to the unknowing, but believe me people, this was a bona fide summer stock theatre in Syracuse, Indiana, with a paid company and everything. Unless, by everything, you were expecting air-conditioning. Because in the summers of '84-'86, there wasn't any. Nothing says, "sweatin' my ass off" like pancake make-up in August. I know. For the love of the craft, baby. Anyhoo, as I said, EHP did have a paid company of actors and musicians and the like. And then they had "the others." Local, young kids who came to fill bit parts and beef up the chorus. (Enter me)

My journey to the stage began when my dance instructor told me and a few other students about an open audition for the musical Carousel. They were looking for a 14 or 15 year old to dance a ballet solo (Julie and Billy's daughter). I remember the audition vaguely. I told them my name and how old I was. I was taught a dance by the choreographer and performed for the director. And I sang. "Happy Birthday To You." That's right. I came to an audition with no prepared music, therefore sang "Happy Birthday To You." No one ever called me a triple threat, but if they had, the order would look something like this:

1. Dancer

2. Actor

3. Big smile ("singer" would have been more like number twelve on the list)

Anyway, I did not get the part. None of us did. The role of 15 year old Louise was played by the 25-ish year old choreographer Leta (who reminded me a lot of Joan Jett with her mid-80's bi-level cut - which was a good thing back then). Whatev, "Low-Leta." I did, however, get a chorus spot, which led to playing Don Quixote's horse, Rocinante, alongside my more petite, waif-like friend (and Sancho's donkey, Dapple) in one of my all-time favorites, Man of La Mancha. That was it. I was smitten and bitten and all things thespian (read carefully, Big Daddy...Thes-pi-an). There was The Music Man and 'Lil Abner, West Side Story (I had to play a Jet. No "I Want to be in America" for me. Boo). My last role at EHP was as one of the title characters in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Here's a company photo from 1986. I'm the one slouching by the guy who thinks we're taking the wrestling team photo.

Now, to fast forward...there was high school theatre and a minor in theatre at Indiana University (as a theatre minor, the closest I got to the stage was seating people in the front row as I fulfilled my twice a semester ushering duties). I was stage-less for years after college and as a newlywed, but fell into a local civic theatre in Grand Island, Nebraska after Big Daddy was transferred for work. Who knew I'd be reculturefied in the middle of corn country?!? Several years later, we're back in central Indiana, I'm a stay-at-home mother of three, and I'm wondering what ever happened to my Broadway career? Are there any casting agents in my playgroup? Will my kids give me a standing ovation after a well-delivered reprimand or a gracefully prepared snack? Well, time to start living vicariously through my children! (enter ZuZu)

I remember taking ZuZu to her first ever show. It was a children's theatre production of Charlotte's Web. She was almost 4 years-old. I remember keeping one eye on the performers, and one on ZuZu's face throughout the first act. Her big brown eyes were fixated on the stage. She was completely engaged, and I was thrilled at her response.

When intermission came, I was hoping she didn't think it was over and expect to leave.

Me: Now there's a break and they'll come back and finish the story! Do you like the show?

ZuZu: (smiling, energetic) Yeah!

Me: Isn't it fun? Do you think maybe, you might like to be in a show like this someday? (nervous nodding and crazy stage-mom smile on face)

ZuZu: (smile gone. face looks serious) No.

Me: (backpedalling) I mean - not NOW....not like, right now, but when you're the girl that's playing Charlotte? (again with the nodding)

ZuZu: (complete straight face so as not to be misunderstood) No. (short, reflective pause) But Deuce could be the pig.

Me: Yeah....he is a ham. (settles back into seat defeated)

My ZuZu went on to be a somewhat reserved girl for several years. Never wanting to stand out too much. Shying away from the limelight (seriously, if she didn't look just like me, I'd wonder where she came from).

And then it happened. Out of the blue. During a school project. She was bitten by that same bug that got me when I was just a couple of years older than her. Long story short (what? too late?), her school's drama club asked a couple of students from each class to be recorded answering insightful, subjective questions. Things like, "what makes a person beautiful," and "what qualities do you admire in your friends?" Apparently, my little ZuZu gave some impressive answers. She was told by her friends in the drama club that the director raved about her on-camera antics.

Those accolades spoke volumes to my daughter, and something changed in her overnight. Her smile was brighter and more frequent. Her stride was bouncier, and more graceful. Her comments were more forthcoming and wittier. I'm not writing this to brag about my daughter (although, that is totally allowed. it's my blog). But my point here is this. Most of us can think back and remember an authority figure (a teacher, a coach, a mentor) that uttered just the right words at just the right time in our lives. The words that gave us our confidence. Our belief that we could do something we loved doing. For me, that was my dance instructor. She had me believing I could go anywhere and be anything. No, I'm not on Broadway. Or a topless showgirl in Vegas. But, the confidence and skills Miss Marcia gave me followed me through many, many activities and stages in my life. I think the first person to do this for my daughter is Miss L.L., and for that, I am eternally grateful. Unless, of course, she becomes some Drama Diva Divine Miss Z. Then I'm suing.

If you play a part in an adolescent's life (not as a parent...that doesn't work in this scenario. Remember? Charlotte's Web?), go be that spark for them. They'll be a better person for it. And so will you. Maybe one day, Miss LL will get a shout-out at the Academy Awards. Or at least a bouquet of roses after this weekend's performance.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"One Blogging Moment"

I'm a sucker for a great sports story. Remember the Titans...Rudy...Field of Dreams...Rocky...

I grew up in a small town. So small, we didn't have a football program. Well, not an American football team. Our boys played the European version - soccer. And while Bend it Like Beckham was also a great movie, this story is not about soccer. You see, the boys in our school played soccer for two reasons and two reasons only.

1. Because it was the only fall sport.


B. Because they wanted to be in great shape come BASKETBALL season.

Did I mention that small school I came from was in Indiana? Where basketball rules. The state that brought you one of the greatest sports movies ever - Hoosiers. The Land of Larry Bird...Bobby Knight...Gene Keady...Reggie Miller...and now, the Butler Bulldogs.

A couple of weeks ago, none of us knew the names Brad Stevens, Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. Many of you out there probably still don't. But a new wave of basketball fans indeed do. They were key figures in Monday night's final game for the NCAA National Championship. The game that matched up a legendary coach and his team of Blue Devils against a "mid-major" from the city of Indianapolis, IN. A school with about 4200 students and a home-grown head coach.

Brad Stevens was a standout basketball player in Zionsville (Indy 'burb) who went on to play at a small Indiana university (DePauw is about half the size of Butler). He had a cushy career started at the infamous Eli Lilly, but gave it all up for his love of basketball. Stevens began as a volunteer with the Butler program, and after only three years as head coach, was only three points away from a national championship.

If you're even remotely a sports fan (or, your hubby or children watch Sportscenter twice a day), you've seen the last second shot by Butler forward, Gordon Hayward a bazillion times. The half-court shot that hit the backboard, hit the front of the rim, then bounced out - saving the Duke Blue Devils from the BIGGEST UPSET EVER in college champsionship hoops. The entire game was a nail-biter. One of the most intense NCAA championship games I have ever seen. And it couldn't have been more of a David and Goliath story.

Now, I ask that a Hoosiers sequel, or what? Yeah, probably more so if the ball would have actually went IN the basket and the place would have erupted and Gene Hackman and Barbara Hershey started dating. (FYI Genie, no way you're playing Brad Stevens. Maybe Coach K?)

A quick dye job
and some brylcream - good to go!

In all fairness, the Goliath side had some stuff that good movies are made of, too. Yes, this is the school's fourth national championship, but the first in nearly a decade from a coach who has been loyal to the school for thirty years. And it's not at all lost on me that 6'2" Duke guard, Nolan Smith won his championship ring in the same city his late father, Derek Smith won his exactly 30 years prior (while playing for Louisville against UCLA at the old Market Square Arena in Indianapolis). Good for you, Nolan. You did your dad proud (also a sucker for a good father/son storyline).

Just one more thing to note about Monday night's game (wake up, Julie! I'm just about done talking about sports!). The song, "One Shining Moment" has been the anthem for the NCAA champsionship game since it was first played when my alma mater, Indiana University beat Syracuse in 1987. Legend has it (and by legend, I mean according to Wikipedia), it was written by Michigan singer/songwriter David Barrett after seeing Larry Bird play in the 1979 NCAA championship game (Bird for Indiana State against Magic Johnson and his Michigan State Spartans - CLASSIC GAME). It's the last thing played after trophy presentations and locker room interviews, and includes a video montage of all 64 teams in the Big Dance. It's one of the highlights of the night. And this year, the esteemed Jennifer Hudson (of American Idol, Dream Girls fame) sang the newest version of the song. Way'da belt it, Diva! You're quite the Cinderella story yourself!

To conclude, congratulations Duke and Coach K. Hold your head up high, Butler and Coach Stevens. And to Butler mascot, Blue (officially, Butler Blue II), better luck next year, you chunky little bunch of bulldog love!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kick-Off & Kick-A$$

It's Monday, April 5, 2010. Do you know where your clutter is?

I do! I know all too well. As promised, I am delivering photos today for the first "zone" targeted in my Project 12 Rooms in 12 Months. I'd like to go on the record here, stating that I took these photos last Friday after a typical, busy week, and I left them EXACTLY as I found them (don't judge me):

This is the first thing you see entering through our garage. It is the "information center." It is informing me that I should turn around and run while I have the chance.

As you can see, much effort has been made in order to keep this mudroom functional. I have the Ikea bookshelf, the corkboard, The vertical filebox on the left to hold "'portant papers" where did I go wrong? Well, first of all, as we grab everything out of the car and drag it into the house, where do you think it lands? Right on the make-shift credenza. Water bottles, gift bags, receipts, etc. That's an easy fix. A quick daily sweep will keep that in check. But the big problem here is the plethora of paper. I took a good look at all the paper tacked up there, and I'd say about 98% of it could be filed appropriately in a real file box (more like 68% with 30% being filed in the trash can). THAT is my first task to tackle. Won't those cute corkboard disks that I found on the internet be more appealing holding kids' artwork and fancy invitations?

This is inside the mudroom closet. Those pockets are very handy to hold scissors, screwdrivers, hole punches, etc. Clever, right? But a mess, none the less. Needs editing.

Ugh. Undersized closet for oversized kids. Please tell me this, why don't kids want to stick their shoes in those convenient little cubbie holes? What is it about those neatly squared-off boxes that repels high tops and crocs?

The laundry room is barely bigger than the closet, but it works. The focus in this room will be making sure the clothes get transfered from this rod to the closets upstairs, and purge unnecessary things in the boxes above. Those boxes are my "gift closet" with gift bags, ribbons, and an assortment of knick knacks to throw in for presents. It's a very handy solution, but it only looks tidy when everything is kept INSIDE those boxes.

On to the powder room. The week we moved in, I started peeling the dated wallpaper off the walls. Two years later, notice the remnants still lurking behind the toilet? That project got pushed waaaay back when I noticed the walls hadn't been prepped properly and I began tearing into the drywall. Wallpaper. I can't tell you how many layers I've stripped from how many walls in how many homes. The bane of my existence. And yet. I just ordered four double rolls to solve the problem here! Resale shmesale. I'm doing things MY WAY.

Does anyone else still have Christmas/winter decor still looming in scary rooms? No? Just me? 'kay.

Anyone else have random cosmetics hanging out in candle jars? No? Just me, again? 'kay.

In conclusion, P:12-12 is now in full swing. Time to make a plan. I know that I am going to hit the kids' rooms in June, July, and August when they are around to help. I know I will be saving the family room (with the least amount of clutter) for the busy month of December. I know I am going to break each room down into digestable chunks. Lists are good. Focus is key. Drinking is optional.

Post your pics on Aleighopolis so we can all hold each other accountable. It just takes a few minutes. I'm a sucker for a good "before & after."

Friday, April 2, 2010


So much to cover today....where to start?

GOTCHA! I cannot believe how many of you (via my fb pages) actually believed the story that I posted last night, on April 1, 2010! I saved the post for later in the day, because I assumed everyone's guard would be up in the a.m. It worked. Although, I have to admit, that little guy (taken from the interwebs) was so cute. I may NOT have been able to turn him down if the encounter actually happened.

Kudos to my bbf (best blogger friend) Wendy, who not only called my bluff, but inspired the post. You see, on Monday, Wendy awarded me the (Bald Faced Liar)Creative Blogger Award. With the award came instructions to create a list of lies and one truth about myself. I then pass the award on to other bloggers as a way to share info about ourselves and encourage creative writing. Because I am an open book (and because my "fact" is stranger than any fiction that I could dream up), I decided to create one big fat lie, on April Fool's Day, and sell it to my peeps. And many bought it. Thanks to those of you who must have known better, but played along anyway. And because at my core I am a rule follower who hates to disappoint, here is my feeble attempt to complete the requirements of the award (abbreviated approach):

1. I have a teacup Yorkie named Sparky.

2. I have a spark plug named Yorkie.

3. I invented the PedEgg.

4. I have a band and a solo career, and am married to Gavin Rossdale.

5. I am a PC, and Windows 7 was my idea.

6. I host a 30-minute cooking show on The Food Network.

7. My creative writing skills could be improved upon.

The next part is even harder for me. I'm to pass this on to five other bloggers. As a newbie, I am not that well-read (or networked) in the blogosphere. This screen has been up for over an hour as I perused new blogs, trying to find someone I felt a connection to and wanted to follow. It's not that they're not there, but I can't find them when put on the spot (also, Wendy already hit up two I would target). As a result, I am listing only two. One, a person from my past. Secondly, a person I will begin following.

JJ at the Landii,
KLM at A Rock In My Pocket,

If you're in the mood for wholesome family goodness, read JJ's posts. If you'd like to cybermeet a real writer, who seems not only gifted, but gracious (and hilarious), head to A Rock In My Pocket.

And speaking of true authors, don't forget to visit my BBF Wendy:
On'n On 'n On - Because a Writer Always Has Something to Say

Lastly, the month of April is upon us. Spring has sprung and Project 12-in-12 has begun! First up at the Blahblahskis: Mudroom/Powder Room/Laundry Room. That's right. I'm tackling three rooms in one (because they're practically connected and they feed into each other). That's all for now. Just a teaser. Tune in Monday to see the "Before" pics. And take some photos of your own to share on my Aleighopolis fan page. We're in this together, People!!

That's a wrap. Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy Trails.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Blame Betty White.

I am an idiot.

What is wrong with me?

How did this happen?

It started out a normal Wednesday. Send the kids off to school. Empty the dishwasher. Load the breakfast dishes. Grab a cup of coffee. Catch up on emails and facebook. Check my blog. Check my freinds' blogs. Randomly check one or two of their friends' blogs.

Head to my first Zumba class. Head home to shower. Grab a light brunch. Check my emails and facebook. Check my blog. Check another blog or two. Head to my second Zumba class.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

You know the drill. But somehow the drill went wrong. The drill went terribly, terribly wrong.

After my Zumba class at the local YMCA, I made a bee-line to the parking lot because

1) I was starving


B) I wanted to get a shower in before the kids got home and our spring break began!

On my way out the door, I noticed a small group gathered by a table down the sidewalk. Figuring it was a Girl Scout cookie stand, I averted my eyes. Too hungry. Too weak. At this point, I was at risk of purchasing a whole case of Thin Mints and finishing them off on the car ride home.

Little Girl #1: Awwwwww!!!

Little Girl #2: Can I hold it?

Little Girls' Mommy: How old are they?

Betty White: They're 4 weeks old.

Betty White? What's she doing in a Girl Scout cookie booth?

Of course, it wasn't really Betty White. But it was a white-haired grandmother that was holding something precious in her hands. No, not Thin Mints. Not Somoas. Not even Do-Si-Dos. It was a tiny little teacup Yorkie. With black and butterscotch fur and big (realtively speaking) pointy ears. He was absolutely adorable. He had me at "ruff."

The next half hour is a total blur. There were words about the local SPCA. An illegal puppy mill in Lancaster County. Some choice words about Michael Vick. And I do recall Betty listening intently as I told the story of a brave little trooper named Rox (see previous posts...label: Rox). I got all caught up in my grief, and the next thing you know, me and the Yorkie were on our way. He was so tiny, I could have fit him in my cleavage for the ride home. Instead, I put him in my hat, which I put in my Zumba bag, which I safety belted in place in the front seat. Me and the Yorkster. Heading home to greet the kids getting off the bus......

Dear Lord, what have I done?!?

By the time we got home, I had only fifteen minutes before the kids would be arriving. My mind was racing. My stomach was growling. I was wishing I had a sleeve of Thin Mints. I wondered if Yorkie was hungry. Did we still have Rox's special diet food? Forget food. EASTER BASKET! It's close to Easter. I'll stick the Yorkster in an Easter basket and surprise the kids! We run to the basement and look for the baskets. Ah-ha. ZuZu's glossy blue number still has the bright green Easter grass inside. Yorkie tries it on for size. He's dwarfed. I'm afraid they might mistake him for a chocolate bunnyesque mold and eat him. They've been off candy for nearly 40 days. It could get ugly.

Oh! I know! I'll borrow the hamster's green plastic ball and let Yorkie walk around the house until he bumps into the kids. They'll freak out! It will look like the hamster doubled or tripled in size since the morning. That could be fun! I grab the ball. Yorkster's ears aren't fitting through the ball's opening. Strike two.

Maybe I could stick him in the mailbox, and tell Deuce to go get the mail when he -

ZuZu: Mom?!? We're hooome.

Oh, snap.

I turn around in the kitchen and shove Yorkie in my tank top, whip back around and...


ZuZu: Aaawwwww! No way! Can we keep him?!?

Deuce: Mom, what are you doing?

MT is already at the top of the stairs heading to his room to change out of his school uniform. He hears all the commotion, and decides to head back down.

ZuZu: Where did you get him? Is he ours?

MT: OH! Man! Is that our dog?

Deuce: Seriously, Mom? Can we keep him?

Me: Happy Easter!

Big Daddy's reaction wasn't quite as energized. Just two weeks ago, we were on the same page with NOT replacing Rox with another dog. Ever. Although, if you recall, I did leave grieving daddy home alone with the kids for two hours and came back to a freakin' hamster. And - let's not forget that Big Daddy was also the one who surprised me, ZuZu and MT with Rox seven years ago. I figure this little surprise (and I do mean little) makes us even. Especially considering I'm the one that will be doing the potty-training, feeding, and walking. Of course, to the mailbox and back will constitute a walk for this little guy's stubby legs.

We played with Yorkie all night, and debated on a name for the little guy. MT's suggestions were Knox, or Lox, or Shox. ZuZu seemed to recycle names she considered for the hamster. There was "Bear" and "Pickles." Deuce wanted a tough name for the little guy, so he would never be mistaken for a girl like "Roxy" always was. His top choices were Rambo and Rocky. I then suggested Sly and Stallone. Which led Big Daddy to Spartan (Demolition Man) which led me to Butler (as in Gerard, from 300) which led John to Spartacus which led to the kids asking us to please stop.

So, I would now like to formally introduce you to (drum roll, please).......

Freakin' Yorkie.