Friday, February 28, 2014

Why Pacific Rim Will Win an Oscar

photo credit:">zennie62> via">photopin>">cc>
We all know what the truth is about Oscar night.

I don't care if anyone agrees or not. There will be the movies that SHOULD win and the movies that DO win.

Pacific Rim should win.

Because of all these reasons. (I hear you all saying "I think it should lose" so what)

Slam baggin' action movie of the summer.

More giant robots and stuff per second than any other film.

It has cool speeches from Stacker Pentecost.

"We are canceling the Apocalypse!"

Epic speech.

The epic colossal Kaiju are awe-worthy.

Giant monsters vs Giant Robots.

It should win best Special Effects for the robots because of cutting your way out of a Kaiju's stomach.

It should win the longest before pre-title introduction ever. Action before the movie even started.

All the sound effects and all the light shows.

Neural loads that cause insane nosebleeds.

Groupie Kaiju Rock Star nerd scientists are the heroes.

The jerk bully gets it right on the jaw so hard it spins him around. His dad tells him to be good but he stays a jerk and then POW by Raleigh Beckett. Cause he's a bully jerk.

"Empty the clip! Empty the clip!"

Good action of all the movies.

Deep trenches, like deepest trenches ever, of the Pacific Ocean.

All the nations represented so CULTURAL IMPACT.


Save the world action.

Save the planet action.


Other Universes.

The robots were like walking buildings stompin' ground huge.

Lots of punching that sends guys flying into space.

The nerds were the heroes.

If people are honest they will give an Oscar to Pacific Rim. Unless they want to lie again and you know they're lying with their votes because Golden Compass won one year.

*This blog was not hijacked by kids of any kind from this mom.
  So don't think we they wrote this.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee Cast Announcement!

The Listen To Your Mother Show Milwaukee 2014 has its cast!

LTYM Milwaukee will take the stage again on April 27, 2014, at Alverno College's Wehr Hall, and the stories our community is about to hear are truly wondrous.

Jen and I are thrilled to announce the cast of LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Milwaukee 2014!

Elizabeth Braatz
Christi Craig
Linda Dindzans
Colleen Hayes
Rebekah Leger
Nancy Ellen Martin
Mel Miskimen
Sini Mulloy
Lane Pierce
Mandy Reilly
Alexandra Rosas (co-producer)

Mark your calendars for Sunday, April 27, 3 PM at Alverno College’s Wehr Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Tickets will go on sale soon so check back here often!

Congratulations again to the 2014 Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee cast. We’re proud and honored to be sharing your stories!

Jen and Alexandra
Listen To Your Mother/Milwaukee

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sweet Golden Comeback

Just before Christmas over a year ago, Twinkies were pulled off the market.

And I cried.

Because I thought I'd never see them again and I couldn't bear that thought. When I was little, I would watch for my father to come home from work every day. The sight of his familiar short-waisted grey wool coat would send me tearing out of my front door and down the road like a horse from a gate. I’d run down the front steps, holding onto the railing so I wouldn't fall and I'd go, not thinking about temperature, rain, shoes on or not, crying out his name, "Papa!” He'd see me and stand still. He would smirk, knowing just why I had run down to meet him.

Grabbing the speckled grey lunch box from his hands, I’d unclasp the firemen’s latches and look for what he always had inside the bucket for me: a set of my panecitos, Spanish for "my little breads." That's what I'd call them, but they were Twinkies. I couldn't read yet and to my four-year-old eyes, the two golden cakes side by side in a clear package were tiny loaves of bread to me, albeit with delicious cream inside. I wondered why they didn't make the large loaves of bread with this same kind of filling. My Papa knew I loved Twinkies, and he’d save the tiny package of two for me out of his daily lunch. Every day. I had no doubt how important I was to him - his delight in me was clear. He told me not with words, but with the grandest of actions, letting me know he thought of me in his day.

I ran to greet my father after a long day's work for far too short a time. Much too short for a little girl who adored him. He died suddenly when I was in the first grade; a shocking, unexpected suicide. His death so abrupt that no one could get me to stop looking out of our front screen door, waiting for him to come walking down the street, swinging his lunch box.

After his death, I would ask my grandmother to fix my lunch with my "little breads." And she would. She'd set up a small saucer, one Twinkie in the center, and a miniature cup of coffee -- the scene looked exactly the way it did when I'd sit and share my panecitos, my little breads, with my father, who'd carefully slice the little loaves and pretend it was toast.

Knowing this, you can imagine how I gasped that day when I heard the television reports that the makers of Twinkie would be no more. No more panecitos. I went to the store the morning I heard the news and bought the remaining Twinkies on the Hostess shelves, two boxes of 12. But I didn't like having them all at once and knowing there would soon be an end to my supply of 24 filled me with even more sadness than if I had none.

But then in January, I saw the golden bread again. I had gone to the drug store and while I stood in line near the cash register, my mouth dropped open. There with the other snack items, was a single pack of Twinkies! There were Twinkies! The golden loaves of doll-sized bread were back on the store's shelves after the longest months I can remember. I cried at the sight of their beautiful golden color in the same way I cried when I heard they would be no more.

I brought the single package of two home, and sat, in the midst of memories. Every day since, these little loaves of bread are part of my day. I drop my youngest off at school and I stop at the store on my way back home. I pick up my pack of two, my side by side panecitos. From the cabinet at home I pick out a saucer and set out my coffee. Then, I sit down for breakfast with my father.

* * *
Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:

Huffington Post

Aiming Low

MetroParent Milwaukee

Purple Clover 

Friday, February 21, 2014

SOC for The Rest of Us

photo credit: Steve took it via photopin cc
Friday night, time to declutter and make way for the new week's thoughts. A weekly brain cleanse, aka my LIM, Loose Inner Monologue brain dump -- since I'm too chicken for a brain drill. I've set aside Friday night to let out the week's crazy, like a good turn of the century blood letting. My thoughts aren't linear enough for the more representative Stream of Consciousness, so this is a SOC for the rest of us. That's pretty much the reason I started my blog to begin with. (The role of blogging as a mental health tool is seriously overlooked.) 

This Week's LIM, Loose Inner Monologue:

-because streaming thoughts? Not so much. More like a karate chop response to my immediate environment

My slippers are getting all bad.

Slippers just don't last long.

I guess that happens when you wear them all day. Every day.

But my running shoes are in great shape.

I wonder why that is.

I think about cupcakes all the time.

Why don't my kids believe me that I just don't want their eyes fried out, that's why I don't let them do video games 24 hours a day.

This is the longest winter on record.

I love making my nail tech guy laugh. He screws up my manicure and has to start over but I love making him laugh in the middle of that brush stroke.

How can my shins hurt if I don't do anything. I would understand if I played soccer or something.

I want some donuts.

I hope the winter Olympics are somewhere nice next time.

Sweden would be very nice.

The summer Olympics are always in nice places.

Why do the kids wait until I come home from the grocery store to tell me what needs to be on the shopping list.

How come more people don't love coffee. I fell asleep today and dreamed I had a good cup of coffee in my hand and I was so happy it woke me up.

There's so much cinnamon on these frozen French Toast sticks you could scoop it up with a spoon. It's like they're trying to be a homeopathic cure for diabetes.

It seems chicken nuggets never taste good. Never. Even when they're small. Why do kids love them?  I'm half tempted to show my kids that Pink Meat video but I don't want them telling their therapist about that ten years from now.

All those political ads have a testimony from some old man saying the opposing candidate ruined their life and relates some off-handed issue like, "Budget cuts = doesn't want to support veterans!"

Like, Tammy Baldwin hates people from 9-11! Because she didn't want to campaign in New York.

And there's always a dramatic picture they take, like with a camera on the floor, or the camera on top of a book case, hiding a camera in their appetizer plate or something, catching them saying "nooooooooooooooo" in slow motion. Through a blue filter. No, a red filter, to show how evil and fresh out of hell they are.

Feels like my shins are splitting. I could pretend it's from exercise. That would be awesome.

Children's books are so strange. Whoever writes them really makes a killing.

First person Humpty Dumpty from a long time ago. I bet if they had copyrights back then that guy would just be rolling in money. (It's not even that good)

I want some donuts. I'm going to eat some of those 100 calorie packs of Lorna Doones. I feel like they just put *100 calorie* to make you feel good about eating it and there's only two cookies in the package.

I miss the days when my littlest used to call them "naked mole rap."

Come to think of it, how come I'm the only that stayed liking The Backyardigans. "My focus must be sharp, My paddle must be steady, but most of all... I must be ready. I must be ready to face that bandit. I must be ready, my friends demand it."

Out into the universe and out of my packed head. Feels good.

Have a mind that's more choppy than streamy? I invite you to write up your own Loose Inner Monologue post. Admit it--just the mention of a brain dump and your thoughts are all jamming the aisle, like the last chopper out of Vietnam.

"One at a time, thoughts, one at a time ..."  

* * *
Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:

Huffington Post

Aiming Low

MetroParent Milwaukee

Purple Clover 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Milwaukee Listen To Your Mother Auditions This Weekend!

Our Listen To Your Mother Show auditions are this weekend!!

From the first time we held our LTYM auditions last year with our opening slot, I felt like one of the most privileged people on the planet. Able to hear these words, some never spoken to anyone before, made the day eye opening, mind altering, heart rendering. After our weekend of listening to people who had brought us their stories and seeing glimpses into who they were, I felt electric. I read and reread their submissions, repeatedly….  I was in awe, both at what I heard and what our future Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee audience would be hearing.

All and any fear I had about the LTYM Milwaukee show coming to fruition, melted away. Anxiety, doubt, were no longer issues. These feelings now replaced with excitement and chills. The people who entered our doors on Saturday and Sunday for auditions, made us feel every inch of who they were, we felt what happened to them, their love, their joy, their discomfort, their losses. But these wonderful readers weren’t afraid, or without determination — they came in charged, on the edge of that cliff, taking a leap and believing, they had something to say that needed to be heard. I felt it. I felt their life, and the lives of those in their midst.

It took me a while to put all this into words – Listen To Your Mother is the megaphone, but these people already have their voice. It comes from their feelings and their words. I understand, to what best I can, what they want us to know, what they want to share.

Sharing our triumphs, the minutes that happen within our lives, this is what makes our existence so much richer.

Holding auditions is life come full circle for me, and I embrace every aspect of it. The humor, the dark moments, tales of fear and triumph, and throughout, deep, deep love, for those that mothered us, nurtured us, and for the role of having such a person in our lives. I love these people for that, their understanding of love, and their gracefulness, even through the stories that are difficult.

So much love and grace. You bring us your hearts, Milwaukee, and we are fortunate to have you share your stories.

Thank you.
**You can still email for a spot to audition. Contact us here: LYTMmil at gmail dot com.
It'll be a thrill, I promise you.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Is It or Isn't It. Only Her Asp Knows for Sure

I never could concentrate on anything as a kid because my mind was always too cluttered with worrying about things. And not just normal run of the mill worries, either, oh no, I had phobias. Different assortments, like one of those cheap boxes of candy from the drug store, not uniform creamy chocolate phobias, but random chalky waxy fake chocolate worries. Some perilous and founded, others a quick sign of the cross usually took care of.

Amassing these phobias, which came into full bloom by age eight, was gradual. I never noticed that, like cotton, they were the fabric of my life. My phobias formed quickly, whereas someone else might hear of a frightening situation, think nothing more of it, and move on, my way was to consider it a gift from God that I had been alerted to this occurrence, because what if?

For instance, in the third grade, during my Cleopatra obsession. Why I was allowed to read every book ever written about this bewitching woman is a story for another day, but whatever, she held me transfixed. I would outline my eyes with black washable magic marker and wrap my mother's costume jewelry around my head so it would dangle between my eyebrows. I was having a good time being Cleopatra until I got to the part where I found out it was an Asp's bite that killed her.

That’s all it took for me to spend that next weekend's afternoons at the local library, living in between the bookshelves and memorizing every photographic depiction of *Asp.* I needed to know what they looked like in case any of them found their way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And if you think this is something to laugh at, describe an Asp to me now. You can't, can you? My prayers are with you.

On the days I wasn’t walking to school with my eyes glued to the ground for suspicious moving sticks that might actually be Asps, I spent my mental energy worrying about Mondays. On Mondays, I had to worry about the lunch lady. I always started the week with a five-dollar bill that I’d have to break because Monday was Hot Dog Day. Our class had just studied counterfeit bills in school. The one-dollar bill was the most commonly traded paper currency, ergo, the lunch lady was going to be giving me back counterfeit change. But, not if I could help it.

It was exhausting being on top of everything that threatened to take me down, and I was tiring of the heightened alert of the perceived threat. I wanted peace. One day, I decided to assign my worries a schedule, like a work schedule. I would only think about them on their day.

--Mondays would be counterfeit money/Asp worry day.
--Tuesdays I would worry about my pen running out of ink mid class-note taking. 
--Wednesdays were for worrying about not having enough tissues in my desk for a bloody nose.
--Thursday's dilemma was what I would say if Lisa, the most popular girl in class, were ever to talk to me.
--Fridays, I would worry about Sister Josephine calling me up to the board to diagram sentences.

My schedule worked. Saturday, I worried about nothing. Sunday, my mind was as quiet as the 11 p.m. *This concludes our broadcasting day* screen.

This schedule tamed my worry state of mind. Having done my homework on anything that could threaten my world, this put my concerns to rest. I had taken the appropriate steps of arming myself with knowledge and thereby minimizing any risk. Recognizing an Asp in a minute? No problem. And I knew the way to identify a counterfeit one-dollar bill was by texture.
Just by having the answer to these questions, I could finally relax.
My only worry these days is how all of you fall asleep at night, not knowing whether an Asp really does look like a stick or not.
* * * 

 Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:

Huffington Post

Aiming Low

MetroParent Milwaukee

Purple Clover

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Not All Hear the Call of Chocolate

Today is better than yesterday, because February 15th is the day that all the chocolate is on sale, practically given away. And that stuff can keep forever. So put as much in your dainty little shopping bag that you can, because chocolate is worth it.

Unless you don't hear the call of the chocolate, and not all do.

But for those of us powerless at its sight, then you'll understand my story here, about how chocolate belongs to the one who can resist it the least.

On purple clover today, The Dark Art of Chocolate.

*happy valentine's candy sale day!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Worst Date Ever or A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Spaghetti and Meatballs

This post is part of a Valentine’s Day blog hop started by the star storyteller, Nancy Kho of Midlife Mixtape. The theme is "My Worst Date Ever." Follow along with some superbly talented bloggers, you'll find them on the list at the bottom of this post. Don't miss More Tales of Dating Misery! Check them out! Happy VD everybody!

* * *
What's a crime without a partner?

And if that partner in crime also is your date for a meal, well, then, you've just got The Worst Date Ever. 

My PIC and Worst Date Ever story happened in 1984, and it was with my brother. That's the beauty of a dysfunctional family, PIC's and dates, always within easy reach. Together, we not only kept each other company on holidays and birthdays, but we kept each other alive during my lean, hungry years in college.

My brother had gotten wind of an off-campus outreach church. This church promised free meals in exchange for church attendance. All you had to do was be there. Come, listen, and BOOM, hope your plate is stronger than Chinet brand because mac and cheese is UP! So, one night, while I counted out 99 cents for the all you can eat pancake night at IHOP, my brother suggested we try Will Go To Your Church For Food.

Brother: "It'll be easy, come on."

Me, skeptical, but hungrier: "Nope. Nothing's free."

Brother: "What could happen? We go. We walk out. Or we get fed."

Me, still skeptical still hungry: "Okay, I choose go." And I put my coins back in my hippie purse.

We walk the 1/2 block from campus to the rented out church and we soon spot two fresh faced broad-smiling young adults that we call Ken and Barbie. Ken and Barbie are opening up a sandwich board sign with a shape of a heart drawn out in chalk and the word LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, written inside it. They see us walking toward them and their faces explode into smiles, “Welcome! W E L C O M E ! Welcome to the hour of salvation. Today's soul saving message brought to you courtesy of spaghetti and meatballs!”

Throw in some garlic bread and salad, and you've just bought yourself a soul, I think to myself.
Ken and Barbie: “We invite you to join us tonight, we're glad you're here!"

My brother and I feebly smile back, partly due to low blood sugar, but mostly due to the guilt of knowing we are eating here with no intention of having our heart in their services. What we want is their food in our bellies. I can feel that this is not going to be as easy of a kill as my brother thinks.

"Hey! thanks," my brother greets the lovely duo. "We're glad to be here, too!"

Me: ::mumble mumble Crappity crap crap crap this is soooo not going to work mumble mumble::

Brother: ::hiss Shuttup. We'll be fine. Sit, listen, eat hiss::

Ken and Barbie: "You and your lady friend can join us for fellowship! We'd love to share the message of loving one another!"

I am shaking my head and I already don't like this, but we follow the couple inside anyway. How can things get any worse? I don't want these people thinking my brother is my boyfriend BUT not as bad as I don't want them to think I'm alone and hanging out with my brother. We're only half way down the stairs to the kitchen basement when we smell the meatballs simmering in tomato sauce, and our knees almost buckle. We grab plates and heap them up with steaming pasta and protein-laden meatballs. We take our seats with the rest of the crowd at the red clothed tables, and we listen.

Pasta has never tasted so good. *Side note: if you ever find yourselves bored with life, starve yourself a little. The way food tastes after 12 hours or so of not eating, makes you fall in love with life all over again.* We finish our plates, get up for more spaghetti, and we listen.

We finish our second plates, get up for a fresh salad with red, ripe tomatoes, along with some crusty bread slathered in butter, and we listen.

Dessert time comes and we load up on home-made brownies prepared at the hand of enthusiastic co-eds, along with cheap institutional coffee. We eat, we listen.

We sit and listen while our plump bellies almost lull us to sleep. And then, as we struggle to keep our bobbing heads upright, we're jolted awake. Somehow, between the meet and greet and the boxed brownies, our dinner for free has suddenly turned into the Disappearing Languages Alliance, because we begin to hear sounds unfamiliar to my ear.

Me: "Oh my god, let's go!,” I say because in addition to Nell sound-alikes, there are people collapsing to the floor and doing a stop drop and roll better than any newly fire-film trained second grader. “I think I have four quarters at the bottom of my purse," I say to my brother, "If you're still hungry, we'll go get pancakes at IHOP."

Brother: "Shit. What the heck. Let's GO."

I pick up my purse, my brother puts his shoes back on his feet. We both start sliding our bony butts out of our hard metal church chairs. We stand.

Then, silence; the hands to the skies and house-on-fire demonstrations halt. People see us getting ready to bolt. And the sale's not closed.

Church of the Almighty Meal: "Hold on, hold on, brother and sister! You've nourished your body, and now it's time to nourish your soul! Come join us in spirit and hear what your starving soul led you here today to hear. Let us feed you in a way that you have not been fed before!"

Me: ::hissing at my brother:: I knew it. What did I tell you? Now what!?

Brother: ::hissing harder back at me:: I don't know. Let's just level with them. Tell them we're Catholic and don't move when we pray.

Brother: "All right, then, friends. Fair is fair. We're all ears."

Church: "Listen to the spirit inside speak. Let us know you've heard our message today!"

Brother: ::hand to heart my brother said this:: "You guys just want to see if we've heard your message tonight, is that it?"

Church: "Yes, brother, show us you have been fed in all the ways you need to be fed."

And then I watch. Horrified. My brother bends his knees and then chest first, drops to the ground. He rolls around as if Texas Red Fire Ants are on him. He goes rigid and starts clicking the roof of his mouth while staring blindly into space.

I stay standing, not knowing what is going to happen next, and then, my brother has the nerve, mid-roll, to lock eyes on me. He whispers, "You. Now. On the ground. And don't be a lady about it."

I am scared and desperate and guilty enough. He's right, I owe them this. I put my purse down. Then I do it. And based on my brother's reaction, pathetically.

"Eyes to the back of the head! More moaning, let it come from your throat!," my brother roars while he turns himself into a human rolling pin.

I give it all I've got, I mean, as much as I can with one hand holding my dress down, and the other one reaching for the heavens.

We must've earned our noodles because suddenly hands are helping us up and patting us on the back. The soul rockers seem satisfied that they have rocked our souls. We stand up, bewildered. I brush the carpet lint off my clothes, smooth my hair down. Everyone files out of the church as if nothing has happened.

They invite us back next week Wednesday. Italian night!, they tell us. Because evidently a carbo load is what's needed when you've worked your soul into a frenzy.
* * *
The list here includes some of the funniest women I have ever read. Don't miss out on these awesome storytellers. (And tell me of your Valentine's Day plans, my plans this year include ordering myself up one of those love poems that you usually request for someone else. I'm having them call me.) 

Hop on over to these sites for Dating Woes you can't help but love:


Earth Mother just means I’m dusty

The Mama Bird Diaries

Midlife Mixtape

Ann’s Rants

Wendi Aarons

Monday, February 10, 2014

JC Little's The Last Snowman

She goes by The Animated Woman, but her name is JC Little. JC is a talented animator who draws of what she knows. Life, moments, the in-betweens of our day. We were sent a copy of her latest published release, The Last Snowman.

The Last Snowman is for the youngest to the oldest among us. My 11-year-old son spent a morning flipping through the boldly outlined illustrations, while I read it aloud -- as well as to myself -- for the heartbreakingly tender moments that I, as a parent, found myself lost in. It's  a delight of a book to see and hold in your hands. As for the younger crowd, Auggie reviewed it for us here. He enjoyed The Last Snowman, every bit as much as I did.

Auggie's Review: It was a good book. It was very touching, and I liked the analogy at the end. I loved the look on the girl's face when the snowman fell on her. I like the lots of blue in the book and how the people's faces have surprises on them. I like the big black printing in it and that makes it like reading comics. My favorite part is how you feel you are watching the girl build the snowman and someone isn't telling you a story about it. I like the book. 
You can buy The Last Snowman here on amazon . com (*a steal at $3.00 on kindle-- the story is designed to 'animate' in the page flips of Kindle. People of all ages love this. It's a different reader experience from the paperback version and I think it's pushing the boundaries of eBooks)


JC is also doing a book giveaway! Leave your name here to enter and I'll forward the winner's name along to JC. (psst. click here and see the other fun stuff* you'll get)

JC Little is The Animated Woman. Blogging her life with drawings and animation. Mom of three, wife, animator, TV series director, and indie film-maker, she spends her free time fighting the overwhelmption. Find JC at 
"This afternoon it snowed. It was probably one of the last snows of the winter, so it was lovely sticky snow…perfect for making a snowman.” So begins the funny and poignant tale of a teenage girl and a dangerously tall snowman.

From the kitchen window, a mother watches her teenage daughter build one last snowman in the fresh spring snow. The girl works diligently, and, with some help from her little brother, she constructs a dashing giant. But wet snow and gravity take their toll, leaving a young girl who has perhaps loved and lost for the very first time.

The LAST Snowman is a book with timeless appeal for children and adults alike. Award-winning story artist JC Little has playfully captured a “moment” in family life, marking the ephemeral grace between childhood and adolescence.

**The Last Snowman giveaway sponsored by Boiron USA and Dot & Lil
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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Colombian Gold

photo credit: Nino.Modugno">Nino.Modugno
> via photopin">photopin> cc">cc>

Growing up raised by my Colombian grandmother, not only did I learn to speak Spanish but I learned the idioms that come along with being a native speaker. The expression "loses a bit in translation" becomes glaringly apparent when a native speaker tries to explain a colloquialism to a book-taught speaker of Spanish.

The literal translation of these quaint sayings is golden. As wonderful as trying to explain "pull someone’s leg" to a non-native speaker of the English language. There are hundreds of expressions that I heard while growing up, and when I sat down to write them, it was hard to stop.

So much Colombian gold, but the ones I’ve culled here are the best.

Colombianisms, for when you find yourself, sitting next to a Colombian:

--Me gusto mi chocolate espeso — "I like my chocolate thick," said about a *lively* to-the-limit style about anything. Chocolate is expensive and thick chocolate is pure luxury. Apply the thick chocolate premise to my shopping style, making the words here mean “I like my shoes expensive.” But I'm sure these words would work just as well while watching Pitbull.

--Con mucho gusto — Said after every introduction, or interaction. It means With much pleasure! Think how much nicer our world would be if every time we had anything to do with anybody, we always ended it with “With much pleasure!” This is especially nice, because one says it, whether you mean it or not. Even through gritted teeth.

--Y quien pidio el pollo? — Literally, “and who ordered the chicken?” A delicious thing to say after someone gets in trouble from their own doing. You go out with that less than desirable character, and your heart is broken, so you run home crying to your mother who has been waiting her entire life to say, “and who ordered the chicken?”

--Sentir fiero — You say this when you are on fire! to do something. Meaning: “I feel the fire to do this!” The Spanish are so gusto grabbing. As for me, I'm hoping to someday sentir fiero! to clean this house.

--Con hambre, no hay pan duro — I say this to my kids when they are less than pleased with my mid-week refrigerator dump dinners. It means, “With hunger, there is no bread too hard.” Hard bread aka my zuchini squash summer salad.

--Ni amarrado! — A handy little phrase. Meaning: “not even if I was hog tied!” Two words, and how it packs a wallop when that mean old thing from a few blocks away invites you to her Pampered Chef party.

--Que mas pues! — After a morning of people rushing into parking spots while you're in the midst of heading for them yourself, followed by a two hour put on hold phone call to your insurance company that eats up your afternoon, you suddenly remember that you need to take flowers to your school's open house that night, so you rush to the grocery story with 10 minutes left and someone with just a touch quicker than you reflexes grabs that last carnation bunch that you needed. You look up and shout to the universe, “and what else? What else?!” Dramatic? Yes, these are Colombianisms.

--Duerme mas que gato con anemia — Oh, how I love this one. Literally, “she sleeps more than a cat with anemia.” My mother used to say this about my brother's girlfriend. If my mother were alive today, she'd still be saying it.

--Mas duro que mordisco de loco — “That was harder than a bite from a crazy man.” Pull this charmer out at the next PTA meeting.

--Entonces? — This is, oh... Only The Best Way To Answer a Phone Ev-Er. The words actually mean “And so…?” So lovely, cuts to the chase, efficient and practical.

There you have it, my Top Ten Colombianisms. Use them in the best way I know how: with a good, loud fake phone call while you wait outside at school pick up time. Give the gaggling hens around you something to cluck about. And doesn't that one over there look worse than a cat with anemia?

*Blog Bonus: pronunciation guide below:

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 Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:

Huffington Post

Aiming Low

MetroParent Milwaukee

Purple Clover

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Lady In France

Jennie Goutet, of  A Lady in France, has written a memoir. And I am celebrating as much as she is, because I remember when Jennie told me she would do just this, about two years ago. I have seen her her work with a focus I wish could be bottled. She came prepared to share her candid and heartbreaking story about triumph, challenge, faith, and joy, and it's all in her book.

Jennie has survived tragic loss, depression, and addiction. Her travels take us to places that aren't the pretty ones on the planet, but instead are the ones that when seen through the eyes of doing God's work, we are witness to beauty that is almost impossible to capture with words. And yet, Jennie Goutet does just that, "... tears were streaming down my face as she washed his body and wrapped it in a clean, white cloth to be buried, the nicest clothing he had ever worn. Then she handed him to me... I held him loosely in my arms, he was heavier in death than he had been in life."

As a world traveler, teaching, studying, and working, Jennie dreamed of marrying a French man. Through life's swift turns and surprises, she marries a man from Paris. It is through the twists and turns that Jennie so skillfully brings us along. We wake with her, and end our day with her. She takes us by the hand and in her vivid, simple language, we are with her through every step of discovery as well as humbling doubt.

With grace for herself, and fearlessness and faith in God's plan, she traces the painstaking process of rebuilding her life after her brother's suicide, from the dark moment of the news to the numb hours and months ahead. She recounts the bond with God that holds her up and brick by brick, she starts her life anew, in Him.

Her new life abroad is full of unexpected challenges, and Jennie offers an honest look at the loneliness she feels as an American in Paris. She endears herself to us and we root for her in her relentless determination to form friendships.

One of the book's most unexpected elements is the level of Jennie's honesty. It's hard to not feel blessed that she shares her story with us. Throughout Jennie's journey, through life's losses and its devastation and heartbreak, Jennie arrives at insights, soul stirring new understandings, and we are the ones right there, gripped by the shared discovery of self reflection, done with a searing openness.

For all its raw emotion and devastatingly honest confessions, this is more than a memoir about faith and God. Delivered in an intimate tone, where you feel you are the one who has found the last translucent person on earth, Jennie gifts us with a celebration of recognizing our riches, even the ones that come wrapped in the package of pain. Jennie Goutet gives us the treasure of both grief and hope.

Jennie shows us, we are stronger than we know. I didn't set out to finish Jennie's book in one sitting, but that's what happened. "Just one more chapter," never turned out to be enough, I had to know her whole story. I loved A Lady In France.

Purchase your copy of Jennie Goutet's A Lady In France on ($5.99 for kindle)

Jennie Goutet was born in New London, CT in 1969, and grew up in upstate New York. Following her BA, she lived in Taiwan and France, and finally Manhattan, where she met her French husband. They now live just outside of Paris with their three children and a naughty dog.
Jennie writes on subjects ranging from grief, faith and depression to the lighter topics of French cooking and culture, her failure at gardening, and the humorous, exasperating joy that comes from being a mom.
She is author of the memoir "A Lady in France" and is a contributing author to "Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother." Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Queen Latifah's website, and her writing was chosen as BlogHer's Voice of the Year two years running.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This Was a Fun Time

I had a lot of fun today talking with Val Curtis, founder of the online magazine Bon Bon Break.

We talked about what came up, bit of this, bit of that, some parenting experiences, and generally, showcasing my corniness.

The dork at the keyboard shall forever remain the dork at the keyboard.

Thanks for the company and the indulging, Val, I had a great time.

If you'd like to peek in on the 18 minutes we spent together, here's the video:

Enjoy, have fun, all on my account. It's no problem. Thank you so much, Val, I had a great time!

**Check out Bon Bon Break: the online magazine featuring bite size inspiration straight from the source.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dear Abby, Tell Us True

My kids are telling me that the Dear Abby letters we read 'round the dinner table as we put off doing the nightly dishes, can in no way be real.

They tell me that teens simply do not speak in the vernacular that is presented in said manner.

Oh, Dear Abby... please let it not be true.

Here's what we think, about who really writes those Dear Abby letters.

My Dear Abby post on Aiming Low... where we aim for mediocre.

*thanks, everyone, for the read*

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