Monday, September 29, 2014

A Wedding

We went to a wedding this weekend--Lucy got political with the priest during the ceremony, my boys only splashed the Holy water on each other a couple times, we danced with glow sticks at the reception and we had dinner together as a family for the first time in a few weeks, it was a good wedding.  I would expect nothing less though, because it was a Kimball wedding.

Wade was a ring bearer in the wedding. He wasn't thrilled, in fact before the wedding he was nervous and unsure.  I wanted to tell him he had nothing to worry about and that weddings are fun and this was a Kimball wedding so he REALLY had nothing to worry about.  

Two weeks after I moved to Michigan a million years ago to be with my then-boyfriend/future husband/Tim, he took me to a wedding, his cousin's wedding, a Kimball wedding.  The ceremony was long and Catholic and formal, but full of love and smiles and tears.  As we were leaving the church, all the talk was about the dance floor at the reception.  

"Are you ready to see old Swivel Hips in action?," my future husband/Tim's brother asked referring to their father.  "Oh yeah, wait til you see his moves on the dance floor, they are legendary," another brother laughed.

The reception was full of a million cousins, a lot of booze and a hopping dance floor.  Old Swivel Hips (my future father-in-law) was out on the floor, along with his wife (my future mother-in-law), and a million little kids and other guests.  When the DJ played the Sister Sledge classic "We Are Family" all the aunts and uncles and cousins whooped with joy and took over the dance floor.  It was their song.

Since then, I've been to a lot more weddings with this family.  I always look forward to a Kimball wedding.  It's like a Midwestern, middle-class Kennedy wedding.  Matriarchs, patriarchs, first, second and third cousins. A million Catholics taking communion at the church and then drinking insane amounts of alcohol at the reception. Little kids stealing candy and playing pranks on each other just like I'm sure those cute little Kennedy's did/do.  It's all about tradition, ceremony, so much laughter and celebration and love and most importantly, it's all about family.

"Why should these two get married?," asked the priest during the ceremony this weekend.  I'd never heard a priest interact with the audience like a talk show host and I kind of liked it.  He encouraged people to answer aloud, I kind of liked that too.  Someone said "because they're in love."  Another someone said "to honor God."  And then I saw Lucy raise her hand, my 10-year-old daughter, um, what in the world was she going to say?  I wasn't sure if I liked this whole scene anymore.

"Because it's a free country and they can do it if they want to," Lucy stated boldly.  People laughed but I could tell some people were nervous that she was going to add "And my mother tells me that everyone should have the right to get married in this country, straight people, gay people, everyone."  As the only non-Catholic in the family and being an outspoken liberal who truly does believe that should be everyone's right, I have sort of a reputation.

But Lucy didn't say that.  The Priest asked her if she was a Republican or a Democrat and quickly moved onto the next person with an answer. 
JT helping Wade get ready for his ring bearer duties.
JT knows his stuff, he was a ring bearer a couple years ago for the bride's older sister, a Kimball second-co

I wasn't sure if I was relieved or disappointed that Lucy hadn't gotten even more political and radical.  Then I started to think about why I thought they should get married and why I think they should have a wedding, a ceremony.  

I looked around the room filled with family and friends and thought about the fun that was going to go down at the reception.   After being around this family for almost two decades, I know that life isn't always a party, it's not always a dance floor.  It can be messy and hard and complicated.  People disagree about politics, life choices and all sorts of little and big things.  Feelings are hurt and toes are stepped on.  But no matter what, these people come to celebrate at weddings and grieve at funerals.  They support each other, honor each other, celebrate each other.  They agree to maybe never see eye-to-eye or understand completely, but they also agree to love each other forever.  And dance and have fun and laugh.

Wade and the cutest flower girl ever, yet another Kimball second cousin.

That's why they should get married and have a wedding ceremony.  To keep the tradition of love and dancing alive.  To give us all a reason to dress up and celebrate and be happy and supportive and hopeful and be together.

An amazing, meaningful favor in honor of the groom's battle with Leukemia.

Here are my boys acting like either little gangsters or little Kennedy's walking around the reception playing jokes and filling their pockets with candy.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Too Much TV & What I Know For Sure

Football, homework, traffic, make all the dinners, get child here, get child there AND find time to clean, be creative, stay up to date on world events no matter how disturbing, have/create romance, teach life lessons, learn life lessons, apologize for messing up, dance and laugh. There's so much to do and see and learn and feel.  Ahhhhh.

And now add watch all the shows.  New shows are back on network TV this week and I'm all excited because it's pretty much like a holiday to me, one that I've celebrated since I was a kid.  But here's the thing, I still haven't caught up on shows that I started binge watching, like Friday Night Lights.  We are in the final season and honestly, we don't really want it to end.  Tim and I want to keep hanging out with the Taylors.  Oh, I can't forget about the Roosevelts.  I've fallen asleep to the Ken Burns documentary a few nights now and I'm so frustrated.  It's good, but dude I'm so tired.

Now, Scandal, Parenthood, The Good Wife...I feel overwhelmed with so much good, new TV.  The only problem is there just isn't enough time to watch all the shows.  It makes me sad in a way that I have such a busy, full life that I can't watch everything.  Oh my god, that sounds so ridiculous, but you get it right?

I have loved TV in such a huge way for my whole life, it's tough that it's not the center of my everything like it was growing up.  Back then TV was my best friend--it kept me company, made me feel less alone and helped me escape.  Shows like Dallas and Knot's Landing were my favorite.  I loved The Cosby Show, Gimme A Break, The Facts of Life, Family Ties. Don't even get me started about my love of soap operas and daytime talk shows.  I could seriously go on and on.

I speak TV, I could kick your ass at the TV Guide crossword puzzle.  I don't know why it sounds like I'm bragging, some people may think it is sort of sad.  Some people just don't get it I guess.  When I was a kid, TV didn't let me down or leave me.  Waaaa, but as long as I'm overanalyzing I'm just going for it.

My life is full of real live people, busy people, that I love very much.  
Yeah, I own and wear a shirt that quotes Friday Night Lights.  Tim surprised me with it and I sort of think it was one of the most romantic things he's ever done. 

I feel grateful, but I will still fill up my DVR with all the shows and try to watch as much as I can because TV is part of who I am always and forever, I know that for sure.

What shows are your must-see TV?  Are there new shows you love already this season?

Here are a few other things I know for sure:

  • I love that my great-grandparents' bench is on my front porch and that it's where JT tells me about his day at school.

  • Storytelling is some kind of powerful.  I wrote about my experience last week with The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers in Detroit and the healing power has just kept on all this past week.  I've gotten messages and emails from people that have similar stories and can relate.  One person told me he "felt better" after hearing my story because he didn't feel so alone.  YES!!! Making him feel better made me feel better and that's the power of story.  Here's my story.

(Click here to watch the video.)

  • I love this song--"Stolen Dance" by Milky Chance.

  • Jeter is retiring from baseball and I officially feel old.   Not sure if I've ever written about my Jeter connection before.  I knew him in high school.  He played on the same summer baseball team as my high school boyfriend.  I would sit with his then-girlfriend and we would watch our boyfriends play baseball while the scouts and parents talked about college and futures.  I told this story when I was visiting friends on the Jersey shore during Jeter's rookie season with the Yankees.  I liked the attention I got when I told people I knew Jeter.  After an hour or so into the party (and the keg) a guy came up with me and asked in the thickest New York accent "So is it true, you slept with Jeter?" And I said, "yes, yes that's true." WHAT?! It wasn't true, I got carried away.  What is true is that he was a nice kid with a great work ethic and a great family.  He was a good kid that we all kind of looked up to and knew was going to have a pretty great future.  Did you see the game last night, his last game at Yankee stadium?  Um, amazing.  Anyway, he's retiring and that means that he's old and so am I.

  • Wade is a reluctant ring bearer.  He cried down the aisle at the rehearsal last night, but I'm hoping he can be a happier bearer at the wedding tomorrow.

What do YOU know for sure right now? What TV shows do you love?  Share here or over on my Facebook page.  

Come play with me on Instagram. Click here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cinnamon & Sugar & Amazing My Kids (A Pinterest Poser Challenge)

Happy Fall ya'll.  Yup, I just said that.  I am not above being cheesy.  And it is indeed Fall now.  In honor of Fall, I decided to bake up a special, Fall-y afterschool treat for my kiddos.  Who wouldn't want to come home to a house that smells like cinnamon and sugar? Right?

For this week's Pinterest Poser Challenge* I attempted to make Gluten Free Fried Cinnamon Apple Rings and amaze my children.  Well, one of those things happened.

*In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,** every week I detail a new project/idea/recipe inspired by Pinterest.
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and ran to the store to get buttermilk so I could make the treats before the kids got home from school.  I had all the other ingredients in my pantry.

Here's what you'll need:

For The Apple Rings:
3-4 large apples (I used Gala)
1 cup of flour (I used Betty Crocker gluten free flour blend)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
vegetable oil for frying

For Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon


Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.  Add the egg and the buttermilk.  In a separate dish combine the 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Slice the apples.  The recipe I found on Pinterest suggested using biscuit cutters, but I don't own biscuit cutters so I kind of just hacked into the apples with my knife and attempted to make rings.

Heat the oil in a frying pan.

Dip the apple rings into the batter one at a time and drop them (carefully) into the oil, turning to brown both sides.

Once they are fried, set the rings on a paper towel to cool.  

After they've cooled a bit, dip them into the sugar cinnamon topping and cover generously.

Then serve and EAT.

I made several of the rings and then just dropped some batter in to fry up some dough balls.  I covered those with cinnamon sugar topping too.

The actual Pinterest-inspired part of this post turned out much better than I could have anticipated.  The rings tasted so good and the dough balls were out of this world.  

The part I failed at and am a complete poser is amazing my children.  They walked in after school tired and cranky from a long day inside.  I was a little pushy with my enthusiasm for my new cinnamon sugar dessert.  I was all "hey look what I made you, aren't I amazing? Don't I amaze you?  It's cinnamon AND sugar AND gluten free.  I mean, come on, isn't your mom amazing?"  And they were all "you are weird and we would rather have potato chips."

Sure I maybe got a few of my feelings hurt, but that's okay because guess who ended up with more cinnamon sugar fried apple rings and dough balls to enjoy....yup, me.  I took my plate inside and ate and enjoyed my latest Pinterest conquest.  Maybe I will amaze them another day. 

Have you made anything that was inspired by Pinterest lately?  Share it here or over on my Facebook page.  If not, take the Pinterest Poser Challenge next week!

Come follow me on Pinterest.

Check out some of the Pinterest projects I've done/made/attempted.
Painted Locers- click here
Melted Beads- DIY Suncatcher- click here
Tissue Paper Pom Pom Garland-- click here
A Delightfully Simple Birthday Party--click here
Make An Awesome Omelette--click here
Outdoor Lights Inspired by the show Parenthood- click here
Herb Garden with Chalboard Pots- click here
Backyard Graffiti Art with kids- click here

Happiness Notecards- click here
Gluten Free Rainbow Cake- click here
Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies- click here
Make Your Own Magnets- click here
DIY Painted Clay Necklace- click here
Dixie Cup Lights- click here
DIY Ornaments-click here
Gluten Free Clay- click here
Make Your Own Stamps- click here
Birthday Shirt- click here

Gluten Free Pop Tarts- click here
Front Porch Kid Art Display- click here
Door turned into Table- click here
Summer Wish List Chalkboard-click here
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Sandwiches-click here
Painted Mason Jar Vases-click here

Cinco de Mayo Paper Flowers- click here
Earth Day Cupcakes- Click here
Nail Art-click here
Homemade Photo Booth Fun- click here
Fake Bangs- click here
DIY Subway Art- click here
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here

Monday, September 22, 2014

Telling My Story

It was my turn to tell my story and I couldn't remember it.  How could I not remember my own story?  It was my life for Christ's sake.  The only thing running through my head were TV theme songs from the 1980s and early '90s.  Theme songs from popular, long-running sitcoms like "Facts of Life" and not so long-running shows like "The Greatest American Hero."  I could remember every single word of those songs but not my story.

Thank god it was only a rehearsal.  I stumbled and fumbled through my way through my story and just hoped it would get better for the big night.

The big night was my opportunity to tell a story with The Secret Society of the Twisted Storytellers in Detroit.  The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers is a production of the The Secret Society for the Re-Institutionalization of Storytelling, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, TSRS has a global mission and purpose to connect humanity, heal and transform community and provide an uplifting, thought-provoking, soul-cleansing entertainment experience that is unique through the art and craft of storytelling. 

I found out about the show from Satori Shakoor, who is the executive director of TSRS.  I met Satori in a coffee shop in midtown Detroit last February when she made me cry with a story.  She was auditioning for the Listen To Your Mother  (LTYM) show I co-produced/directed.  Satori read her story to my fellow producers and myself and we all wept.  She of course was in LTYM in Detroit last May, click here to watch her powerful story and tribute to her mother.

From the first moment I met her I knew she was a force of nature and I knew I was a fan.  I went to her show and became a bigger fan.  The Secret Society of the Twisted Storytellers blew my mind.  It was  room full of powerful stories, brave storytellers, compassionate audience members, music, dancing, self-expression and art and honesty and love.  It was community.  

It was a community that I wanted to be a part of.  So when Satori asked if I had a story to tell I said "yeah, I have a few."

I thought about telling stories about my kids, my addiction to television, my dog, my marriage, my bike, my tour of Southfork...but I kept going back to my mother.  My mother.  I felt like I shouldn't tell that story because I've told that story so many times on my blog, in therapy, to my friends and countless journals.  But I kept going back to my mother.

Satori scheduled a phone call a few weeks to hear my story.  I read something I had written.  It was short.  It was about my mother.  She told me it was a rich story.  She also told me to give it more details and to find the poetry.  She told me to "dig for it."

I dug.  It was like therapy.  I thought about things I hadn't thought about in a long time.  I added details and tried to find some poetry. 

During the second call, I heard her laugh a little and felt like I scored some points.  I knew I might have dug a little too deep and added too much and made it too long (it needed to be about 15 minutes my story was 20 minutes).  She listened intently and then said "Well, you have something...a short story or something, don't fuck with it."  You might as well have told me I won the lottery.  I felt like Rudolph when Clarice said she thinks he's cute.  Remember when he sing/says "she thinks I'm cuuuuute!"  I wanted to sing/say "she said don't fuuuuuuuck with it!"  

She did suggest I edit it a bit for time for the show.  So I went back to work editing my story.  I went to work memorizing my story--I practiced in the car, in the shower and in the kitchen after the kids went to bed.  


Last spring when I got on stage to read my story for the Listen To Your Mother show I co-produced, I felt like I was sort of home.  It felt natural, good and right.  For that show, I read my own essay (click here to watch it).  

Reading and memorizing are very different.  I was nervous that I wouldn't remember anything I worked so hard to memorize for the Twisted Storytellers show.  My back up plan was to just bust out singing the theme song to "The Greatest American Hero" and encourage the audience to join in...that's community right?

The one and only Satori Shakoor.
Pre-show prep.
I was killing it in the pre-show interview.  Actually I was making stupid jokes and faces because that's what I do when I get nervous.

My story was the second story of the night.  I made my way to the stage and my heart was pounding so hard I felt like people could see it thumping in my chest. "This is happening, you are here, don't blow it, enjoy it, they are all waiting, go for it, oh shit, here it goes," was running through my head as I stood in front of the mic.

I started talking.  It felt like home, it felt good, it felt natural, it felt right.    My story, my truth, my confession, my soul....I let it all out into the microphone.  The audience laughed and nodded.  They listened, it felt good to be heard.  They came up to me during intermission and after the show to tell me how they connected with my story.  It felt good to be understood.  I felt like it was bigger than my story. I felt like  part of this community.  A community full of compassion and love and hugs and inspiration.  I felt less alone. 

Satori helped me find the poetry in the story.  She mentored and mothered me.  She helped me have the courage to tell the story about my mother which is the story of growing up with someone that is mentally ill, and loving them and feeling helpless and lost because of them and being rejected by them. It's the story about how watching her shaped me.  It's the story about my fear that I will become her.

Being embraced and understood and mentored and mothered helped me find the poetry and the courage to not just tell my story but be healed by it.  

If you live in Detroit or plan to visit Detroit, you should go to The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers show.  It's at the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit on the third Friday of every month.  Click here for more details.  And click here to watch videos of ALL the stories.

(The video of my story isn't up yet, but it will be soon.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Lot of Children& What I Know For Sure

This past week I've  had a child with a MRSA scare, ended up in the emergency room for a possible broken finger with another child, talked down yet another child with extreme pre-test-I-don't-want-to-let-anyone-and-everyone-down anxiety and had another child diagnosed with walking pneumonia.  Phew.  All I know for sure is that I have a lot of children.  

That's not all I know.  I know for sure that there is nothing like sitting in an emergency room to know that I'm grateful for my health and my kids' health.  

Here's what else I know for sure this week:
  • My kids think I'm stupid.  That's normal right?  I mean it's happening to you too, right?  Check out my latest vlog and let me know if you are experiencing similar things with your tweens.

  • Sometimes I do know what's best (even though my kids think I'm stupid).  Remember when I signed a child up for an activity that they didn't want to do but I knew they would love?  And remember that child said that I "disgusted them."  Well both my children were happy at the run club I signed them up for because I knew they would be.  I knew it.  It feels good to be right sometimes. 

I knew she'd love it.

Wade in his track suit fully embracing his role as little brother/supporter/volunteer for the big kids' school run club.

  • I love the new Samsung commercial with Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd.

  • I am so happy that we are still hanging on the front porch.  We will be out there as long as the weather will allow, I'm hoping for at least six more weeks. Maybe?

  • I'm trying to be brave and memorize a story to tell in front of 100 people.  Yup, I am in a storytelling show tonight. And I AM SO NERVOUS.  If you are in Detroit tonight, come to the show.  Click here for details.

What do you know for sure? Tell me here or on my Facebook page.

Come play with me on Instagram.