Friday, May 27, 2016

So Ready for Summer and Some Other Things

McDaniel finished her last final yesterday and Ellie graduates from the 8th grade this afternoon.

Yes, McDaniel is in her pajamas. Her back is to the camera because she just
woke up and she was nursing a bloody nose. Again. (She has a cold.)
But I took the picture anyway because these are the pictures I love the most.


After the graduation ceremony at the middle school,  it’s SUMMER!

I’ve been singing “School’s Out For Summer” all week. 


Yeah, the one by Alice Cooper.

I’m not an Alice Cooper fan.

But I’m very fond of summer.

We’ve been knee-deep in all that is the marathon of May.

On the third night in a row of meetings at the middle school, one of the dads mentioned to us that May was turning into the new December.

I just couldn’t agree.

Because where are the parties 
and presents 
and food 
and good cheer
and peace on earth wishes
and celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior?!

Because all we’ve had over here are choir concerts 
and track meets 
and sports banquets 
and meetings 
and school trips to pack for 
and pay for 
and finals.

On top of making lunches 
and normal homework
and an enormous amount of laundry. 

Here are a few things I want to mention since it’s been so long since I’ve posted.

• TURN

I may have mentioned once or 45 times that Monte and I are reading "Alexander Hamilton" (very slowly).



Just to make that process even slower, Monte came home from the library with the first season of AMC’s TURN.


It’s a TV series about the use of very normal people as American spies during the Revolutionary War. It goes along well with Alexander Hamilton. Except we’ve gotten so hooked on the show that we aren’t reading as much.

It’s intense and I have to look away during ALL THE KILLING. 

It’s war, after all. 

But the storyline is so good!

And one of the British soldiers is so well cast as a villain that I may or may not have screamed at the TV for the Patriot to “KILL HIM!” when he had the chance during a duel.

Bad guy.

Alas, he did not because it was just the first season.

It really shows how even the Loyalists got sick and tired of the tyrannical rule of King George.

He was NUTS. 

And all those pompous soldiers in white wigs barging in 
to live in American homes and ceasing their guns
without much courtesy or gratitude.

It’s no wonder our amendments are what they are
and the order in which they were written.

 It’s so interesting to see our country in its infancy and how it was being molded and shaped. I see some of the same struggles are resurfacing today as our country is growing into adulthood. 


• Cats

McDaniel’s good friend, Charlotte, who played Mary Poppins a few years ago in the high school production, was in a local production of Cats recently.

McDaniel and Charlotte.




So the girls and I went.

Monte said something about being allergic to cats 
and stayed home and hosted poker with the guys on our street.

We went to a beautiful theater and had second row seats!

Look at the theater ceiling.


We did not know what Cats was about.

I know!

You’d think with the amount of times I sang the signature song from Cats in choir concerts in middle school and high school, I would’ve picked up a few plot points from the musical.

Nope.

We thought maybe it was a metaphor ABOUT cats.

I know that I’ve seen the actors all made up like cats but I didn’t realize that they’d be 
ACTING LIKE CATS THE ENTIRE TIME.

Like, never breaking character.

Ever.

We were right up there in the second row--they didn’t break character.

Ellie was so shocked by this fact that she could not stop laughing. The woman beside her gave her a few side eye glances and the woman in front of us, flat out gave her the stink eye.

Judging by how much she cried during the entire musical, Cats was very personal for her.

Ellie meant no disrespect. 
She was just caught off guard.

The outfits they wore were basically leotards. The girls were quite uncomfortable with our good seats when a “male cat” was up front and close to our eye line.

I never did figure out what the plot was but Charlotte sang and danced beautifully.

The woman/cat who sang “Memories” blew it out of the water!! Amazing!

It was definitely worth it to see.


•  Chewbacca Woman




What a hoot! 

I love seeing someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and has an obvious joy for life. 

Jennifer Dukes Lee is a gifted writer/blogger who wrote a wonderful article about the mask wearing woman and how her instant viral video shows our thirst for joy and laughter.




What I don’t understand is why so many people feel the need to be unkind to this mask wearing, laughing, joy-filled woman?

To poop on her parade and say hateful things on social media? 

It’s so sad how cynical people can be over something so innocent.


• Bitmoji Mishap

Monte and I enjoy playing around with the Bitmoji app on our phones. It allows you to make an animated version of yourself that you can send with messages.



Usually my Bitmoji is in workout clothes but I decided to shake things up and go with a pantsuit
since I’d never wear one and why not make my Bitmoji a more daring version of myself??
Julie encouraged the bright red lipstick. And other things I won’t get into right now.
Here’s Julie:
There are SO MANY things that I love about this!
But mainly the fuzzy furry vest because Julie has
one exactly like it.
We were in Miami for Monte’s 50th birthday when my girlfriend back home sent me a Bitmoji with a message.

The animation looked EXACTLY like her! 

I asked her to tell me everything about how she came about this and she pointed me to the app. For the next hour, Monte and I sat in the lobby of the hotel laughing and designing our Bitmojis. It went from a crowded pre-dinner lobby to just us. I’m sure people thought we were nuts, staring at our phones and laughing.

I like to send Bitmojis to Monte at work. Especially if I know he’s in a long meeting or conference call. It breaks up the day.

I’m tap dancing.
And apparently winking or sporting a black eye.
Either way, this makes me laugh.


Monte likes to send me Bitmojis back.

Well…

McDaniel and I were in Barnes & Noble last week looking for a graduation gift when I decided to show the sweet older lady up front the title of the book on my phone so she could help me find it.

As she was typing the book title and author name into the store computer with my phone in hand, I heard her say,

“Oh!”

and her expression changed 
and she started tapping my phone.

I thought maybe she lost the image of the book so I took my phone back to see this:

Monte!

I just clicked off of it quickly and said nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Luckily, McDaniel had walked away 
to check out the journals.

We shared a long, wordless stare and the woman finally said,

“So that book is going to be in the Christian section…”

I bet she put me on her prayer list.



• Nose Band Aid

Monte had something removed from his nose yesterday at the dermatologist’s office. He sent me a picture of himself with a band aid on his nose.



There really is no hiding a band aid on your nose.

It’s an attention grabbing zone.

We have Ellie’s graduation today, two graduation parties tomorrow and a wedding tomorrow night.

All with Monte wearing a nose band aid.

I tried to comfort him by reminding him of me wearing ALL THE BAND AIDS on my neck when I gave myself a chemical burn trying to rid myself of a mole with some Frankincense.


It didn’t help.

So I resorted to Bitmoji.



Seriously, what are the odds that Monte got a nose band aid on the day called Red Nose Day?!



• Crying Soldier




I saw this picture online today and it made me stop and read the article. This soldier was captured on film crying at his graduation from West Point.

He was overcome because he was realizing in that exact moment the camera clicked that he was the American dream. 

An immigrant who moved to America with the hopes of a better life. He was accepted into a prestigious school and will go on to be a pilot after graduation.

His gratitude for the opportunities and freedoms of America spilled down his face. 

His willingness to serve and protect America is apparent. Not because it’s perfect but because he is a proud citizen.

I love it.


We need more of that.

There are people threatening to leave America 
if Donald Trump is elected president.

Read “1776” 
or “Alexander Hamilton.”

We have survived so. much. worse.


•  Ann Bogel’s Summer Reading List

Ann writes a blog called Modern Mrs. Darcy. She recommends and reviews books.



Each year, she releases a summer reading list that is full of great books ALL of which she has read.

Here’s a link to this year’s list:



I’ve picked out a few that I’d like to try.

Happy Summer!



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mother’s Day


I could dedicate an entire post to how much I love Bitmoji.
Monte and I have too much fun sending these animated versions
of ourselves to each other.


We have a tradition of going to a place on the university campus right by us for brunch each Mother’s Day.

It’s a wonderful brunch!

They give me a flower and take our picture with a choice of 4 different backgrounds.

There is always some discussion of which background we should choose

 and let’s face it,

it’s Mother’s Day, 

I win.

Who wanted the stupid purple bubble 
background anyway?!

Not when you could stand in front of the biggest picket fence with practically human head-sized flowers climbing up it!

McDaniel is so full she can barely open her eyes.




I think I’ve mentioned it before,

this brunch is a buffet.

And we go to win.

The girls didn’t eat breakfast in preparation.

I am not a skipper of meals.

I just can’t.

We always do a walk around to assess the the buffet stations.

This year they had several seafood options.

Shrimp.

Mussels served cold with a veggie sauce.

Salmon with some sort of crab mix stuffed inside it.

There was roast beef, mini BLTs and a chicken stuffed with pea risotto or something as well.

I learned that I like mussels cold. It was a first for me.

This was the second plate I destroyed.
I also learned that I don’t like meat stuffed with other things.

I love salmon. 

I love crab. 

Don’t naturally assume that shoving the crab inside the salmon will make me love it even more. 

In fact, the opposite is true. 

Didn’t like it at all.

Ditto on the chicken stuffed with pea stuff.

Meat is a stand-alone for me.

I’m all about the sides. 

Go crazy creative on the sides. 

Just don’t shove the sides 
INTO the meat.

I’m looking at you, Facebook videos that keep shoving cream cheese and all manner of cheese and butter into all the meats.

It’s not necessary!

Or healthy.

Ever notice that they don’t include the fat 
or caloric count?

And, while I’m pointing at you, Facebook, 

stop pushing crescent rolls so much in all your recipe videos!

Geez!

I’d love to see a recipe that isn’t shoved inside a meat 
or a roll.

Just once.

Sorry.

Back to brunch…

McDaniel went after breakfast hard.

Then she discovered the kids buffet.


It’s hard to see in that plate of brown, but there are dinosaur chicken nuggets, smiley face potatoes, bacon and a few waffles.

She decided later that she didn’t do the earlier waffles proper justice.

Pretty.
We left happy and full and then came home and napped.

Monte surprised me with the biggest bag of Gummy Bears I’ve ever seen.



He knows me so well.

Hope everyone had a wonderful mother’s day!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Disturbing My Peace

On the way to school this morning, Ellie and I could not find a single radio station that was actually playing music.

Not. One.

So she turned on the classical music station.

Classical as in Handel, 
not Sammy Hagar.

She and I have a thing where we listen to the classical instrumental music and set the stage of what we imagine is happening.

A bunny is chasing a butterfly then, OH NO, 
a mountain lion is now chasing the bunny!

It’s a lovely ball and everyone is dancing the minuet.

A man is ice skating on a pond. He’s about to fall down 
but he saves himself. No! He fell.

This morning the music was the soundtrack for a lovely wedding in my head of food and laughing and dancing in a grand ballroom.

I dropped Ellie off and went to the grocery store, still listening to the lovely wedding soundtrack.

I was in a peace-filled mood.

It was early.

I wanted a quick in and out at the grocery store.

No one would wait on me at the deli.

I couldn’t even see that anyone was anywhere near the deli.

No one would wait on me at the bakery even though I made eye contact with a lady pushing a cart full of goods behind the counter.

There were no checkout lanes open.

Not. One.

I had a half-full cart and had to go through the self-checkout lane where the lady on the computer screen kept telling me a cashier had been notified because I removed a full bag from the carousel before I paid.

I was really hoping to see a live cashier because other than the lady in the bakery, I had not seen a single grocery store employee my entire visit! 

And I had a few things to say.

I got back into my car and looked at the clock.

It was 8:24 am.

That is not 5:24 am crazy early.

When do grocery store employees clock in these days?

It made me think of a headline of an article I read recently about a woman fighting for a later start time for schools because “it was just too early for teenagers to learn.” 

You need to say that last line with a bit of whine in your voice.

I did.

I have to admit, I did not read the article.

I was too busy shaking my head.

I know teenagers need sleep. I have two of them and I remind them all the time to

GO. TO. BED! 

But that’s at night. When all people should be asleep. Not up texting or watching Netflix or doing who knows what.

Why do people always assume that MORNING is when all the good sleep is being interrupted?

If we all just went to bed at a reasonable time, mornings wouldn’t be so hard for teenagers or for us.

I heard on the radio that a large percentage of Americans do not get enough sleep and there are all kinds of medical and mental health issues that are stemming from it.

To wrap this rant up, fighting to have school start later in the morning won’t fix that.

Going to bed earlier will.

Making our kids go to bed and get an appropriate amount of sleep is helping them, equipping them.

The future employers of your teenagers will thank you that they can get to work on time.

And not look like something the cat urped up
doing it.

I was half-way home with all this banging around in my head when I realized that I didn’t have on the classical music anymore.

I turned it on and the feeling that I was becoming 
a ranting Dennis Miller melted away.


Kind of like those Snickers commercials when you “aren’t yourself when you are hungry” 
and end up playing football like Betty White.


Except I was Dennis Miller.
And my Snickers was classical radio.

You probably picked that up.
Sorry. 

I might need a Snickers.

It’s easy to trade in our peace for a pound and a half of Boar’s Head turkey (that I STILL don’t have) and a few cupcakes (don’t have them either).

But it’s nothing a little prayer, Bach or a solid good night of sleep 
can’t handle.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The One About the Rabid Raccoon…

Once upon a time my friend Shannon went to church.

Her daughter didn’t feel well and her husband was tackling some house projects.

As Shannon was singing along in worship, she noticed her neighbor was calling her.

She texted her back stating she was in church and then turned her phone off.

Shannon felt a peace and intention about being at church.

Like she was supposed to be there.

And not in a legalistic sense.

As she was driving down her street after the service, she noticed two cop cars in front of her house.

Her neighbor, baby stroller in tow, was in her front yard.

As Shannon approached him he said,

“Well, it’s over now.”

Not. Comforting.
Or even remotely explanatory.

I’m not sure if I have all this completely straight and in the right order, 

but at some point Shannon ran inside to find her daughter pretty shaken up saying,

“Six times! They shot it six times!”

It’s important to mention also that they have 
a brand new puppy named Rowan.

Shannon was able to locate Rowan with her daughter safely inside.

Whew!

She went back outside to her neighbor just in time to see two cops carrying a body bag down her driveway.

One cop still had a gun in his hand pointed down by his side.

I imagine smoke was still coming from it.

Even if it wasn’t,  
I still imagine it.

A car slowly drove by as all this was happening.

Shannon wondered to herself what that person in the car was thinking had happened in her backyard.

She didn’t even fully know yet herself.

Of course, I wondered if it was a human body bag. 
Which, OF COURSE, it was 
because this was the police not animal control.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

So Shannon went to find her husband and get the full story.

He reminded her of their coffee time earlier that morning when they saw a raccoon in their backyard.



Raccoons are NOT a normal presence in our neighborhood.

And they are nocturnal.

Shannon’s husband, noticed right away that the raccoon was acting erratically.

As Shannon was leaving for church he was calling animal services only to find out our town got rid of animal services.

He was told to call the police.

Shannon’s other neighbor (the one who called her during church) was helping her husband track the whereabouts of the rabid raccoon.

After the police arrived, 

made sure all the neighbors were safely inside 
and the raccoon was cornered, 

they took their aim at the varmint. 

Just then, Shannon’s husband received a call from the neighbor lady.

She pointed out that the raccoon was right on the location of their buried gas line.

One missed shot could puncture the line.

He was able to get the cop’s attention and ran out to explain the situation.

The puppy, Rowan, decided to follow him into the backyard.

The next thing you know, the rabid raccoon and the puppy Rowan are inches apart in a full-on stare-down.

Shannon’s daughter screamed and Rowan ran to her.

Whew!

With everyone back inside and away from the gas line, 
the police fired at the raccoon.

Apparently, raccoons don’t freeze with their paws up when a gun is pointed at them, 

at least not rabid ones, 

because the police missed.

A few times.

Raccoons must be cagey when they are slipping into madness.

Six shots later the problem was solved.

Shannon’s church isn’t far from her home 
but blessedly out of ear shot.

In my mind I see the juxtaposition of her sitting peaceably in church being enriched in her spirit, feeling close to the Lord, while ALL HELL was breaking loose in her backyard.

I can almost hear the music montage of the movie version.

And that’s a movie I’d pay to see.

When Shannon called to tell me the story we laughed that this sounded like something I would be telling HER because, rabid raccoons in the backyard?

That totally sounds like a Hartranft story.

And you know the raccoon would’ve bitten Monte. 
And the 1% chance of a human getting rabies from a rabid raccoon 
would’ve turned into a 100% chance for Monte.

I love God’s sense of humor.

But I love EVEN MORE that he spreads
 it around to multiple families.

And not just ours.

I got a text from Shannon later in the day after she’d told me "the one about the rabid raccoon.”

It said that the gas company had just spray painted all the areas in her backyard where the lines were buried for the fence that was going to be installed soon. 

Shannon said something to effect of,

“Wouldn’t that have been helpful to the police yesterday??”

Of course, I’m like,

“Did they ask about all the blood stains?”

THE END




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My Favorite Online Workouts

I am not a good gym goer.

I get bored.

Fast.

And I’m not super patient with waiting for a machine, 
a class to start 
or for the super sweaty guy to hurry up
and wipe off the bench.

For the love of Pete.

I’ve always been better at working out at home but after our basement flood last spring,

Monte asked that my exercise bike not come back in from the garage.

I loved that bike!

I knew I had to come up with a different exercise plan.

My brother told me that he’s been successful finding workouts online.

So I started an exercise board on Pinterest and downloaded (Ellie did it for me) some exercise apps onto my Apple TV and subscribed to a channel on YouTube.

I’ve been very happy with the variety I’ve found.

I can do something new every time if I want.

Whenever I want.

With no wait and no sweaty guys.

Okay.

I did not get the benefits of a Smart TV when Monte was researching, shopping and explaining them to me.

I just nodded and looked interested.

But what I heard was:  Complicated. Expensive. Too much TV viewing. I have a computer, why do I need my TV to be another one?

It really wasn’t until I started these workouts that I got totally bought in.

That and being able to pull up clips from Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show.
We do that on a regular basis now.

I love being able to pull up YouTube on the big screen and search my Apple TV apps.

I can even listen to my workout play list.

I had McDaniel put that together since I. have. no. clue.

I don’t even know who sings the songs.

Maybe that’s for the best.




Here are some of my favorite online workouts:

• Zova


You can download the app Zova from the App Store onto your iPhone or Apple TV.

You can even coordinate your workout to your iWatch to monitor your steps and caloric burn.

You can do the free workouts or pay a fee to “unlock” some of the longer series of workouts.


Of course I don’t pay.

• Tracy Campoli

This is a shot of my laptop but I can bring her videos up through YouTube on the TV too.

I found Tracy through Pinterest and now I subscribe to her YouTube channel where she adds new workouts every week.

There is such an interesting variety of HIIT (high intensity interval training), cardio, yoga or just spot area workouts.

Tracy was a dancer and I love how she incorporates the discipline of movement into her workouts.

Who’s ever seen an out of shape ballerina?

Her videos are short and she instructs you on how many times to go through the workout or what other workouts to pair it with.

I usually do 3 or 4 at a time. And they are never boring.

And they never include Burpees.

Which I appreciate.

Her arm workouts are killer.

Light weights (sometimes none at all) but high repetitions.

My arms are noodles when I’m done!

• Pinterest


I have quite the Pinterest exercise board now.

I need to organize it by type:  abs, HIIT, cardio, yoga, arms, etc.

My iPhone does it automatically.

Does anyone know why that is so on my phone and not my laptop?

I found some great stair workouts.

Nigel thinks it is playtime city when I do the stair workouts and he hurls his tennis ball down at me usually when I’m exhausted and struggling to run up the stairs for the 75th (or 5th) time.

I do worry sometimes that the girls are going to find me after school 
at the bottom of the stairs 
where I’ve fallen and not been able to get up.

I’m sure Nigel will be right beside me with the tennis ball 
waiting for me to get up already and play.

For the love of Pete.

Nigel also loves to lick my face while I do planks or hike his bottom up in the air for rubs when I’m doing push ups or crunches.

Not super convenient but I’m hoping that just adds 
to the difficulty of the workout 
and thus my overall caloric burn.

These workouts on Pinterest pull from all kinds of sources. Some are magazine articles, some subscription services that will cost you if you want more workouts or videos.

But I’ve found plenty for free.

Like the Carrie Underwood thigh workout.

Which is TOUGH.

I’ve never seen my muscles shake like that before.

Some weeks I’ve been able to work out a ton and some, not so much.

But I definitely feel firmer and stronger.

Now, if I can just stop eating Gummy Bears and ice cream,

(not together, ew!)

I just might be bathing suit ready.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

5 Random Things

I can not believe it’s April already!

Mainly because it’s been cold and snowing.



We had the most amazing Easter weather and then BOOM!


Arctic blast.

Monte sent me a text that pretty much said something like April Snow = Relocation.

That man cannot wait to migrate South.

Now that I’ve complained about the weather, here are a few random things that have happened lately:

1)  Our Keurig coffee maker died. 

It didn’t go out quietly. There was lots of coughing and hacking and spewing. It would stop and I thought it was over and then it would trick me and make a few more cups. 

We had the very first model Keurig ever made. 

Ellie asked for it for Christmas 6 or 7 years ago.

She was still in elementary school.

We had been out West the summer before and one of the national park lodges we stayed in didn’t have televisions in the room but they had Keurigs. 

Ellie was fascinated with it. She’d take our orders the night before on a notepad and asked Monte to set the alarm so she could wake up early and make all our requests. 

She even put a hand towel over her arm as she delivered the cups of tea and coffee and hot chocolate like we were at the Ritz.

We’d had a good run with this Keurig. 

Armed with some research and a 20% off coupon, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond.

I was confused by the models they had and sought out help.

I explained the situation to Bonnie and she asked me if we’d bought our original Keurig there. 

I couldn’t remember.
That’s back when I still had an elementary school kid!

She told me to go home, look at the serial number and to call her with it and she’d look it up. If they had carried that model, they’d let me “return it” and I’d pay the difference for the new one.

Seriously?!

I did what Bonnie said and she told me to bring my old model in.

I picked Ellie up from track practice and we carried in the old machine (it was fitting Ellie was there since it was her Christmas present after all.)

I placed the old machine on the counter and went to get the new model I wanted to purchase.

The saleslady scanned it and told me I owed nothing.

Excuse me?

Nothing.

Not a penny.

She said it was an even trade-in.

How?! 
That old machine had a smoker’s cough 
and only produced a half-cup of anything when it felt like it…
which wasn’t very often.

Ellie and I looked at each other pretty surprised.

It felt like we were stealing to walk out of the store having not paid a dime for something brand new.


There’s an entire sermon in that…


2)  Our girls are crazy brave. Or just crazy.

It’s track season. Both girls are running. McDaniel has had a fascination with pole vaulting for awhile now. Luckily, her coach last year took one look at her over 6 foot frame and said,

“Nope.”

This year she decided to give it a try again and began to work out with the pole vaulters.

The coach asked them to do a series of cartwheels and to walk on their hands. McDaniel heard all that and said,

“Nope.”

Thank. Goodness.

I’ve seen those girls pole vault.

Sometimes they fall back onto the pavement 
or bounce off the mat onto the grass 
or land on the bar on the mat in some pretty painful ways.

I would’ve watched her with a pit in my stomach
 and my fingers ready to call 9-1-1.

Then Ellie comes home with news that she wanted to start running hurdles.

I used to be a sprinter.

It’s great because it’s easy.

You see that line there? 
Stand behind it. 
When you hear GO run as fast as you can to that other line 
and stay in your lane while you do it.


Easy peasy.

But hurdles?

Hurdles complicate the whole easy nature of sprinting.

 The word hurdle means an obstacle. Something that is IN YOUR WAY.

You see that line there? 
Stand behind it. 
When you hear GO run as fast as you can, counting your steps 
and jump over that hurdle that’s in your way. 
If you mess up your steps 
or don’t jump high enough, 
you will knock over the hurdle and FALL DOWN. 
Try to fall down in your own lane so you don’t knock down another runner and disqualify yourself 
by being out of your lane.
Run to that other line.
If you make it.

It’s complicated!

And diabolical.


Luckily, Ellie hadn’t practiced hurdles enough to compete in that event at her first track meet.

I could barely watch and she wasn’t even running.

One girl fell on her face. 
Her face!

She got back up though and finished.

Another fell so hard that her shoe came off.


Her shoe!

All of us in the bleachers groaned for her.

There’s just no finishing a race 
when you have to retrieve your shoe from another lane.

I had a knot in my throat every stinking heat of the boys and girls hurdles event.

The boys jump an even HIGHER hurdle 
and most of those middle school boys are still 
MUCH SMALLER than the girls.


I’m not sure HOW I’m going to stomach watching Ellie.

Oh yeah, with a pit in my stomach and my fingers ready to call 9-1-1.

And lots and lots of prayer.

3) Monte isn’t always a great volunteer. 

As we were making our way across the field to watch Ellie throw the discus, an official grabbed Monte and another guy to hold flags to indicate that each leg of the upcoming relay race was ready.

Monte grabbed the two-flagged pole (one end had a red flag and the other a white flag) and walked off.

I offered to do it for him since I knew the event and how it worked.

I’m not sure he heard me because he walked to his post.

I stood by the official to watch the event. I was looking for Ellie when I heard the official say something under his breath.

I followed the official’s gaze to Monte who was twirling the flags like he was the half-time show.

I couldn’t help but laugh. Hard.

The official did not join me.


4)  McDaniel went to New York City.

The journalism and broadcasting students in her high school got to go on a class trip to the city. McDaniel had never been before.

They did some really cool things like movie tours, a behind the scenes tour of Saturday Night Live, film museums, a meeting at Sports Illustrated and Tumblr, being in the audience of The Today Show and in the studio audience of The View.


McDaniel’s the one in the floral jacket.

It was a great experience for her. I’m so glad she got to go. She learned so much.

She loved it but decided it would be tough to live there. Especially since she came back with shin splints from all the cement walking.

Check out this text exchange between her and I while she was there:




5) Monte is a 1 percenter.

It would take an entire book, which I WILL write one day, of all the legitimate reasons Monte deserves such a distinction or nickname.

I’ll sum it up by saying rare, unlikely things happen to him. Medical things that show up in the fine print that nobody reads, happen to him.

Things with a likelihood of 1%.

So on that note, it should come as no great surprise that Easter weekend, when Monte was mowing the lawn for the first time of the season, a large piece of bark mulch shot out of the mower and flew straight up his right nostril. Hard.

His natural instinct was to get the large piece of mulch OUT OF HIS NOSE. Yet, he still continued to mow.

I was preparing the food for Easter dinner inside as Monte tried to dig, blow and cough the large piece of mulch out of his right nostril ALL THE WHILE continuing to mow the lawn.

I did not know Monte had that kind of multi-tasking skills.

It was hours later, and with no little amount of blood, that Monte finally dislodged the mulch.

 A few days after that he woke up with a broken blood vessel in his right eye ball.




Monte Googled possible causes and found it could be from stress or sneezing too hard.

I didn’t ask, but my guess is the chances that his eye blew up from trying to blow out a piece of mulch that shot up his right nostril from the lawn mower are about…1%.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Alexander Hamilton On the Brain

Back in the Fall, we watched a 60 Minutes interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda about his new Broadway musical “Hamilton”.



As in Alexander Hamilton.

The guy on the $10 bill.

Lin-Manuel picked up a copy of an Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow several years ago before vacation.

He could not believe Hamilton’s story. He was so enthralled by it that he wanted to bring it to the stage.

Lin-Manuel actually Googled Alexander Hamilton FOR SURE that someone had already done a Broadway musical on him.

He was THAT memorized by the story.

As it turns out, no one had thought to take that to the stage.

So he wrote it.



Did I mention the musical is done in the style of rap and hip hop?

It’s so popular that it’s been sold out for many months.

Monte tried to get us tickets when we were in New York in November and he got laughed at.

McDaniel just got back from New York with her school and she entered a lottery every day to try to get tickets.

Never won.

Lin-Manuel’s enthusiasm and fascination with Alexander Hamilton is absolutely contagious.

McDaniel and Ellie have been listening to the Broadway soundtrack for “Hamilton.”

Ellie made the comment that it would’ve helped her on a history test 
if she’d started listening to the soundtrack just a little bit earlier.

A week before our spring break trip in March, Monte came home with the Alexander Hamilton biography.

It’s collegiate text book in size.


The bibliography alone is 100 pages.

I quickly read through the book that I had brought to the beach, so I picked this monster up.

I was hooked just a few sentences in.

Monte fought me for reading time.

We worked out a deal that we’d each read a chapter at a time and then discuss it.

Believe me, this is no fast read. 

Each chapter is like an entire class. There’s THAT much information. And action. And drama. 

It’s awesome!

The girls were thrilled we were reading the book so they could share the soundtrack with us.

Lin-Manuel crams so many facts in his songs that we felt like we could only listen to the songs as we reached the appropriate parts in the book.

By the end of spring break, we were only 100 or so pages into the biography and we’d only listened to the first song.



And we were dedicating a lot of time during the day to reading.

The book was so heavy that I started experiencing elbow pain from the weight of holding it!

We told the girls that they could only listen to the “Hamilton” soundtrack with headphones so that we could experience Alexander Hamilton’s life through the book.

They sang so loudly along with their headphones one morning that our hotel “neighbors” wanted to know “who the singer was” when we saw them them by the pool.

We tried to explain what the girls were singing and showed them our thick book but the message was received.

Pipe. Down. 

We let them sing their hearts out by the pool as long as we couldn’t hear them so we could read as fast as we could and then discuss what we’d just read.

I can only imagine what the other carefree, vacationers must’ve thought of us.

They were a mixed bag of folks:  French Canadians, Germans, a few upstate New York families and then the pool guy, Joe, from Boston, who Monte followed around everywhere (while it was my turn with the book) asking him important questions like,

“Whatcha doing now?”

“How long until the dune grass gets bigger?”

“You weed eating, Joe?”

But I kind of understand.

When we weren’t reading the book, we talked about the book.

Waiting for the other person to catch up to where we were was like watching. paint. dry.

Or watching Joe pour chemicals into the pool.

Now that we are back home, we haven’t had nearly enough time to read as we’d like.

We are only up to the second song on the soundtrack.

It’s funny how so many things around me remind me of the book.

I heard someone mention a college visit to Columbia University and I’m all like,

“Alexander Hamilton went there. But it was called King’s College back then.”

Or how my hair dresser yesterday was talking about a recent tour she took in New Orleans and how the French used the city area to house slaves.

“Thomas Jefferson orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase.
Alexander Hamilton was an abolitionist.”

Nerd. 
Nerd. 
Nerdy-nerd.

I’m trying to be realistic on when I’m getting this over-700-page monster completed.

And by realistic I mean, not go into full-on bad mom mode 
and not cook, 
clean 
or shower 
until the book is done.

No. I will NOT do that.

This time.

So I’m thinking by July.

Monte is saying by NEXT July.
As in 2017.

But it did take him over 2 years to read “Team of Rivals."

This was a whopper of a book too.

There was some tense discussion as Monte left for out of town this morning as to who would get to keep the book.

I offered to buy another copy which did not appeal to Monte’s thrifty side,

“What? Are we MADE of money?”

So it was settled.

I kept the book.

I can’t wait to see what happens next…