Monthly Archives: February 2013

Little ditty about Bob and Diane

I knew she was a Texan the minute she opened her mouth; that friendly twang was unmistakable. We were waiting in the hotel lobby for friends to join us for dinner and to pass the time, struck up a conversation with the couple standing nearby. He was a little on the reserved side, friendly, but not super chatty. She, on the other hand, had clearly never met a stranger.

“What brings you to Mexico?” I asked. She told me that they loved staying in Cancun and had just purchased a club level package at the hotel. I noticed that her resort bracelet was imprinted with diamond symbols and mine was not and very soon found out (she was a sharer) that their package included stays in the presidential suite, privileges at other properties and even access to the hotel yacht (!). I concluded that they must be retired so be able to travel so frequently and she confirmed that he had retired but that she owned several companies and had no intention of slowing down.

“Life’s too short, honey, and we want to pack as much as we can into it because we’re not promised tomorrow.”

She went on to tell me that not too long ago, he began to show signs of mental confusion and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The symptoms had progressed rapidly and he’d been forced to retire. Once home, he degraded quickly, sitting in his chair, increasingly unable to carry on a conversation. She was desperate to do anything to help him (“I love this man!” she told me, over and over) and after visiting several clinics over the course of two years, wound up at an Alzheimer’s facility at Baylor University where after a series of tests they were stunned to find out he was simply experiencing side effects from his daily Crestor pill. Within a week of coming off his medicine, her husband was back.

I mentioned that it was no wonder that they were taking full advantage of this second lease on life and then she told me the rest of their story. “I’m a salivary cancer survivor, sweetheart. Six years ago I was told I had two years left to live. I’m living on borrowed time every single day of my life because the cancer will most definitely come back, and when it does, it will be with a vengeance. That’ll be it.”

I’ve been thinking about Bob and Diane since coming back from my trip. Their story, far from being sad, is so very encouraging to me. They’re looking life (and death) square in the face and wringing every bit out of it that they can, while they can (as I write, he’s headed to Haiti on his third mission trip). While some would curl up in a ball and wait for the end to come, they aren’t. He’s staying busy (and out of her hair, she said) while she’s working and doing what she loves (which apparently includes winning court cases and raking in million of dollars in settlement fees and spending some of it on some very nice jewelry that I just had to try on while we were visiting).

I was so inspired by the two of them – by their clear love for each other, their gratitude for time together, and their zest for life – and they’ve added to my life by showing me what it means to fully experience and learn from the joys and the sorrows.  I’m sure I’ll be unpacking lessons from my brief interaction with them for many months to come.  For today, I have just this one:

Carpe diem, y’all.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings. In list form. Shocking.

1.  I’m late posting today because I had to go to the dentist for a torture session six-month cleaning and my brain was on the fritz because when that appointment rolls around on the calendar, I can only self-medicate with Cheetos and rock and in a corner until it’s over.  My hygienist, Karen, is a lovely person but she’s chatty and I am NOT chatty while I’m in the chair because 1) my mouth is stuffed with sharp, pointy things and 2) see above re: brain on the fritz and 3) I’m worried about having someone so close to my pores and 4) I have to be listening to music through earbuds at WHO concert levels to drown out the pick-y sound of the scrapey thing.  But bless her heart, it did not stop her from being talkative and so I lowered and raised the volume a thousand times so I could grunt “uh-huh” and “vslkgn;owhvljnlak sekdlignownd” and carry on some semblance of a conversation because I do not like to be rude and I was wearing my “Tell Me Your Life Story” sign today and so we managed to make our way through the ordeal and I’ve lived to tell the story.

2.  I have to have ANOTHER crown.

Shoot me now.

3. Craig and I had a little date night on Saturday night which consisted of wandering the aisles at Walgreens.

Fanning the ardent flames of love, we were.

And getting an early start on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.

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4.   I did not watch the Oscars last night since I hadn’t seen any of the movies nominated and I find the whole program to be a little self-serving and, yes, I’ve become a curmudgeon at the ripe old age of 43. We instead watched quality counter-programming on the Cooking Channel where I was riveted by an episode of “My Food Obsession” about a girl (who looked exactly like Christina Aguilera) who was afraid of mayonnaise.  And when I say afraid, I mean she couldn’t even walk down the mayonnaise aisle at the grocery store and wouldn’t let her poor fiancé eat tartar sauce.

I love shows about people’s weird behaviors.  It somehow makes my own food choices seem a bit more normal.

Grilled banana mayonnaise sandwich, anyone?

5.  Speaking of people who are off (and off their rocker), parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart.  One minute they’re the sweetest, funniest, kindest of human beings, and the next minute they are snapping at you and, um, how shall I say it, NOT BRINGING THEIR “A” GAME  and you swear aliens have invaded Earth and chosen your kids as the entry point.

I’d be lying if I said we weren’t in the thick and the throes of it in our house and we’ve had a few situations where I thought I was going to pull my hair out (or put someone out on the porch and change the locks) but then there are moments, precious, precious ones like last night where time stands still and that half-child, half-man plops down on the couch next to you and puts his head in your lap and lets you brush the hair back from his forehead for just a nano-second and all is so very right in the world.

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And then you take a picture because everything’s all warm and fuzzy and he groans and rolls his eyes and says “You love me too much, Mom.  You need to cut that out.”

Have a nice day.

Lettuce and Water

It’s lettuce and water and broccoli/flax smoothies for the next few days as I try to undo the damage wrought by hanging out in Mexico with unlimited access to guacamole and tortilla products for four days.  Oh, it was delightful.

We left Friday morning at 0:dark:thirty and were soon settled in our seats with the customary death grip on the arm rests though this time I was a little calmer since I figured my recent brush with death when landing in Oklahoma City probably meant that I’d met my yearly quota for airplane malfunctions. That, and it was too early for Starbucks at the airport and I didn’t have enough energy for drama.

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We had smooth connections through Atlanta (didn’t see anyone famous this time.  We ran into James Brown at 4:30 in the morning on our way back from our honeymoon and ever since then I feel disappointed if we don’t have a celebrity sighting) and landed in Cancun by 10:30 in the morning.  After running the gauntlet of taxi drivers and tour operators, we found our shuttle and within 20 minutes arrived at our hotel.

We stayed at Le Blanc Spa and Resort, an all-inclusive property located in the Hotel Zone of Cancun.  I knew we’d be in for a treat when they greeted us with chilled scented towels at the door and heated neck pads for relaxation while we registered for our stay.

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Since our flight arrived so early, our room wasn’t quite ready so we went out and lounged by the pool for an hour or so and ate an early lunch beachside while we waited.

The view wasn’t shabby.

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After gaining access to our room, we changed into swimsuits and stayed poolside for most of the afternoon until the wind chased us off.  I’m all for exfoliation but getting sandblasted was a bit much.  Besides, I didn’t want to oversun on the first day and wind up charred like Craig did last year in St. Lucia so discretion was the better part of valor and we left and explored the property, booked massages at the spa, and actually exercised in the gym for about 45 minutes so that we could justify eating whatever we wanted for the next few days.

Saturday morning was a carbon copy of Friday afternoon and by noon we decided to head into town to do some shopping (Craig has ADD when it comes to sitting on the beach and can only hang out there for so long before he’s ready to get moving).  We were going to catch a taxi downtown but our waiter shook his head and told us we’d get ripped off by doing that and suggested we grab a bus instead.  There was a bus stop less than a block away from our hotel and for $1 it took us to the craft market about 20 minutes away.

We bought a few souvenirs for the family and I had to give myself a stern talking to avoid buying all the Talavera pottery they had on display and after wandering around for a while, we wound up at a little comedor/eating spot in the market where we had some street food and enjoyed the sunshine and the marimba music in the background.

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photo (95)I ordered some tostadas for the table and violated my mother’s cardinal rule about not eating lettuce in third world countries. Just to be on the safe side and to kill whatever bugs might still be hiding in the produce, I added a copious amount of what I thought was pickled onions and carrots to the tostada and munched with abandon.

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Turns out it was sliced habaneros and cabbage salsa.

Also turns out it was very hot.

We and my fiery gullet made it back to the hotel after taking our lives in our hands jaywalking across the main boulevard to get to the bus stop (crosswalks don’t really exist – step lively, my friends) and then changed and got ready for our team dinner that evening.

I did not take my camera to the event because it was a bit fancy and I didn’t want to be whipping out my phone to take pictures of every course but lemme just tell you I was regretting that decision when the escargots showed up.




Just looking up at me.

I once tried to eat escargots and it did not go well.  Many years ago we were on a cruise with Craig’s family and the waiter served them to us as an appetizer and I thought, “Why not?” and the minute I put them in my mouth and tried to take the first bite, my brain yelled “WHY??????” and I literally could not make myself chew and I wound up daintily spitting it out in my napkin and hiding it in my lap for the rest of the meal.

With that failed attempt in my mind, I thought about refusing the plate but then I dug deep and said, “Susan, you just ate street food in Mexico.  You can do this.” and so I smiled and put one in my mouth and chewed and, amazingly, did not throw up.

Let’s call that personal growth.

And try to avoid doing it again.

After dinner we all went dancing and by dancing I mean they all danced and I did my best imitation of an epileptic hippo but we had a good time and it was fun to boogie in pretty clothes and high heels even though my knees were killing me the next day because I am not 22 anymore.

The weather was beautiful on Sunday and we spent all day out on the beach.  I read a novel and flipped and flopped in thirty minute intervals and we chatted with the lifeguard and watched him dramatically rescue a woman who was getting pulled out by the undertow (the currents were wicked fierce while we were there).  The men played volleyball and there were a few rounds of Giant Jenga which became surprisingly competitive as the afternoon wore on.

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And then all too soon it was Monday and we were packing up to return home.  We tried to catch a few more hours of sun in the morning but it was so breezy and cloudy that I spent most of the time huddled under the beach towel.  It was a sad moment when they cut off the resort bracelet and we piled in the shuttle, leaving the beautiful sand and sun behind.  The happy memories and the extra pounds came with us, though, and I’m already looking forward to going back next year and making some more.

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Have a nice day.


Five on Friday

I’m sitting in the airport with Craig and have no brain cells because it is 5 AM as in the morning and the sun is not up.

I’ve asked C to tell me 5 things the world needs to know:

1. Personal brand management is still your responsibility even if it’s early.

That’s a lot of big words. I think he means dress appropriately when you go to the airport. There’s a lack of visual integrity in a few corners of our waiting area.

2. Not everyone can pull off orange tennis shoes but if you can, you should.

Someone’s feeling pretty sporty about his bright orange pumas this morning.

3. A bowl of bran cereal and a fiber shake before leaving the house constitutes a serious error in judgement.

Why did I say he could write this post? And now you know how to pray for me.

4. Why is it always Big and Tall stores and not Short and Small stores? I somehow feel singled out.

5. My wife is amazing.

Okay, he didn’t say that. But he just got distracted by something shiny and I need to wrap this post up so we can get on the plane and wing our way to sunny Mexico where they’re going to laugh at his shoes.

Have a nice day.



Because you walked in from a two-day business trip and had the grace to immediately save the upstairs toilet day….

Because you braved the complete and utter girly-ness of the Kate Spade store to find a treat for your wife back at home…

Because you cracked me up when you tried the new Moroccan chicken dish I made and said, “It’s really trying to be bad and yet I feel strangely compelled to take another bite”….

Because no matter how hard your day is, you still have a smile on your face and energy left to give….

Because you are truly the best man in the world for me…..

And because you changed out of your Carolina blue tie (which you really, really, really wanted to wear to gloat over their loss to Duke) and into a pink one just to please me and then posed in the driveway in all your smoldering glory as all the neighbors drove by so I could have a picture for this post….

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For this and a thousand other reasons, I love you.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Craig.


A sprinkling of this and that

1.  It’s a miracle I made it out of bed this morning what with the rain hitting against the window and the covers at the perfect temperature for snuggling.  I’ve loved the rain forever.  My childhood home had the most wonderful roof for rain.  When it poured (and it did often – we would get 13 feet of rain a year), I would head out to the covered back porch, climb into the hammock with my kitty Simon (my best friend named her cat Garfunkel), and I would swing for what seemed like hours and listen to the water bouncing off the tin overhead.

Even now when I have trouble going to sleep, I’ll close my eyes and in my mind travel back to that hammock and hear the rain. 

It is my happy place.

2.  The bus waits for no child so I did eventually (4 snooze buttons) escape the confines of my quilt and rousted the ferals for the day.  There is much to be done before leaving this Friday most of which involves getting the kitchen ready for the cook who will be taking over while we’re out of town.

And by getting the kitchen ready I mean throwing out all the food in the fridge that serves as the breeding ground for new strains of penicillin.

My mother-in-law is a most excellent cook and she knows exactly how to win over my crew.  She’s already sent the grocery list ahead of time and the meals she is planning are right in their wheelhouse.  The boys will be thrilled as Mom chose this week to try a few dinner menu items that pretty much tanked.

I really should just accept the fact that there’s no way to make cauliflower attractive.

Hope springs eternal.

3.  Also on the list today is packing because tomorrow is slightly zoo-ish.  Let’s just all go ahead and be praying for Craig because I’m tucking in a cute little pair of black ballet flats that I bought last week while he was out of town (a girl’s gotta’ cope somehow and they’re cheaper than therapy) and he’s gonna’ need some emotional support because I just might wear them with capris and I think we all know how he feels about those.

The ballet flats are Mary Janes and oh-so-darling and Craig rolled his eyes at them and I reminded him that I had not purchased a pair of flats since 1994 which, coincidentally, is when I met him.  And he said, “And yet it still it seems too soon.”

And I smacked him.

Have a nice, rainy day.






Five on Friday: Random Randomness and Travis

1.  Craig will be home from a week-long trip to California in 14 hours and 27 minutes but who’s counting? I am!  Fortunately nothing too crazy happened while he was gone except for the microwave deciding to come on when the door was opened which necessitated me wrapping my hand in dishtowels so as to avoid radiation when I had to pull the food out.

A little radiation never hurt anyone and I’m sure that mutant finger that is suddenly starting to grow out of the side of my arm will soon go away.

2.  I managed to keep busy while C was away with conference planning activities (local friends, have you registered for Life:Extraordinary  ?), homework checking (hooray – I could do the math this week!) and doing a little shopping for my trip to Mexico (thank you, Nithya, for the jeggings suggestion – I found some cute black ones that were long and stretchy).

3.  A bright spot this week was stopping by the hospital to snuggle with my friend Rebecca’s freshly hatched daughter, Lucy.

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Is she not a DOLL?????

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For the record, that is not my hand.  I say that because I am vain and shallow.

I met Rebecca two years ago through Heather who was headed to the hospital to see her right after Bec had her first daughter and Heather told her, “Hey, I’m bringing my friend Susan over to meet you while you’re in a hospital gown, 12 hours after giving birth.” and she was totally cool with it (which is very Rebecca -she’s awesome).  Flash forward and I’m headed up to the same hospital to see her again, this time with another new baby and as a legitimate friend and it was a little bit of a misty moment for me.

And then the misty was gone and I was laughing my head off because she had sushi delivered to her room because girl loves her some sushi and she’d been denied that little delight for nine months.

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And let’s just talk about how thin her face is after having been pregnant for an eternity.


4.  I may have an idea why my face may be a little puffy.

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My love for the processed fish product knows no end.

5.  Travis has been asking me to put pictures of him on “The Carpool Queen” (as he calls it) so today, I’m obliging him.  He downloads the pics and uses them for his movie making and for some reason he’s been asking for pictures of him sitting in the car.

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After taking this picture, he requested to see my phone and proceeded to take 748387529759 pictures of himself while we were driving the short distance to therapy and as I was scrolling through them to find a few to post, I had to laugh a little at what he’d captured in the background, namely, my less than pleasant visage.

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And then I must have gotten really perturbed.

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And, apparently, took a nap.

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Travis, I hope you enjoy your pictures, and as an added bonus, this little video of you playing the bugle in the garage while you wait for the bus.  It’s one of my favorite times of the day.  I love you, buddy.

Have a nice day.


Monday Musings

Well, my team didn’t come out on top in the Super Bowl but I was happy with the snack selection so we’re gonna’ call it a win anyway.  I thought the commercials were uninspiring this year with the notable exception of the Paul Harvey/Farmer spot that was, hands down, my favorite of the evening.  Paul Harvey has a special place in my bank of memories because he was the sole reason that lunch was served at 12:15 instead of 12:00 when I was a kid.  My dad used to sit in his office and listen to the PH broadcast on the Voice of America station and we could not sit down to eat until he heard the closing lines “This is Paul Harvey.  (Pause) Good day.”  Many a day I sat twiddling my fingers waiting for “the rest of the story” so we could scarf down whatever deliciousness my mother had made.

There was no waiting last night.  We had a smorgasbord of treats from which to choose:  Pioneer Woman’s BBQ bacon jalepeno poppers, guacamole, chips and French onion dip, smoked kielbasa, pizza squares, corndog bites and a bunch of other stuff that we didn’t need and yet we ate it.

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Local friends, avocados are on sale 2/$1 at Kroger.  Make haste.

The jalapeno poppers were the hit of the night (to my brothers, these are right down your alley).  I went to bed dreaming about them and even ate the extras cold out of the refrigerator for breakfast this morning along with the leftover guacamole and a fried egg.

Clearly there are new personal lows to be explored.

Have a nice day.

Five on Friday: Shopping With Sus

I’ve been getting a little tired of wearing blue jeans every day because other than the two pair I own plus two pairs of dress slacks, I have no other pants option. (Unless you count the yoga pants I wear most days which aren’t horrible but I’d like to look a little more put together when I leave the house because I’m not twenty-two anymore and can we be real? I don’t do yoga.)

Yogurt, yes. Yoga, no.

Anyway, I was avoiding doing laundry  had a little free time on my hands yesterday and decided to go to the mall and do a little browsing around to freshen up ye old wardrobe and spent three hours breaking out in hives while I tried on clothes. Ranger Rick Fashion Tip: Try on clothes in the summer time when you just have to slide off flip flops and shorts and not in the winter time when you have to peel off and put on eighteen layers and build up enough static electricity in your hair to power Manhattan. But I digress.

I decided to try on clothing I normally wouldn’t wear so that I could expand my fashion horizon, and let’s just say that strategy yielded mixed results. And a few swear words.


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Emerald!  Emerald in the Pantone color of the year (or so Amy tells me and she is my phone a friend when it comes to making fashion selections) and so I tried on this coat.

But it had no neck and I was struck by the fact that it made me look like a turtle so it went back on the rack which made me sad because it would have been 60% off but I think we all know why.


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What about chevrons?  Also, what about making me look matronly?

Back on the rack.

3.  Maybe a dress is too much – How about a maxi skirt?

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Ooh, it was cute and comfortable and long and ON SALE. I was ready to buy the whole ensemble except upon closer inspection, the top was bunchy.

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I thought it was just a hanger issue but, no, it was sewn funny and the seam wouldn’t stay flat and I went to the table to find another one in my size and they were out.

The shopping gods were clearly not with me.

4. Then I thought “Sus, time to be bold.  You need to try on the skinny jean.  You’ve been working out for a month, you’ve lost 15 pounds, you’re ready to step out.”  I picked up a couple of pair thinking I, too, could be like the supermodels in the fashion magazines.  I knew they’d be a slim fit so to boost my confidence, I grabbed a size bigger than I normally wear.

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Dear Ann Taylor:  Some of us are built like Russian weightlifters.  Please design accordingly.

5.  At this point I’d been at the mall for almost three hours and I was a woman on the edge.   I tried to pick up the shattered pieces of my self-esteem and went into Cache to try find something that fit was edgy, trendy, and didn’t scream “Mother of Three.”  I saw this asymmetrical top and it seemed fresh and different and like nothing at all in my closet so I put it one but it looked funny and wouldn’t fit right around my hips and I walked outside and showed the skinny Minnie clerk the top and said “I don’t know about this.”

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And she said “That only looks bad because you’re wearing it with the wrong pants.  You need skinny jeans.”

And then I just gave up, came home and ate cookies.

Have a nice day.