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Showing posts from 2006

Okay, not that we thought it was dead--yet, but the news we received (from two sources, just to be sure) was such a relief. Our lightning scarred old Sycamore is going to make it! We didn't believe it at first and are still somewhat skeptical but mostly grateful that we won't be watching, or paying for, our tree to be hacked into pieces and then thrown into a chipper. Along with our hearts (stay with me here).

I'm afraid I'm guilty of telling anyone willing to listen the sad saga of possibly losing our tree. But I'm reluctant to take it all back--it doesn't seem true. Yet. There's a country music song about this knocking around in my head begging to be written. Funny, I don't particularly like country music, but I'm convinced one about loving a tree would be an instant classic.

The girls are so happy with the news that it's still on the short list at prayer time. "Thank you God for saving our tree".

We're considering s…

Halloween is huge at the Hartranft house. It's one of many family traditions that I brought to the marriage. As a child, my family reveled in the creative process of dressing up in homemade, clever costumes. I never owned one of those store-bought plastic boxed costumes. Maybe once or twice my brothers wore a purchased mask, but I don't think I ever did. Halloween was an expression of ingenuity, an outlet for a very creative family. My grandmother still helps us put together our outfits. It's just in our blood. Speaking of blood, my Halloween experience never included any. Halloween wasn't scary at our house. There were no creepy talking skeletons or hands that grab you when you try to sneak a piece of candy from a bowl. We never had a graveyard in our front yard with dry ice. Halloween was full of hobos and gypsies and firemen and cowboys and Raggedy Ann--not a single one of which was gashed open and bleeding profusely.

A few years ago we started dressing up a…
Tree Hugger

This past week has been full of beauty and natural wonder and sadness. Walking to school on Monday, we saw a double-rainbow so bright in spots we could barely look at it. It wasn't raining and hadn't rained. A father crossed the street and commented to us that it was scary, "What does it mean?" he asked. This concerned McDaniel. Why would something so beautiful scare a grown up?

Last Thursday around 4:00 p.m., while enjoying a rare moment of quiet on the couch reading, I heard an explosion and the room flooded with a bright white light. A storm had blown in suddenly, forcing us inside from the backyard where we were playing. I sent the girls downstairs to watch TV so I could enjoy some quiet time. It lasted about 1 1/2 minutes.

Quickly, I thought the house or transformer had been struck by lightning (the power in the den and living room only went out) I rushed to check on the girls downstairs. They had heard nothing and were content, watching their show. I m…

It really goes without saying that Monte loves football. It started back when he was 5 and he realized the bond it created with his dad--at times it was the only bond. He studied it, memorized stats and fell in love with the Miami Dolphins and then later the Florida Gators. But it's more than just facts and plays swirling around in his head, he is passionate about the game, whoever is playing. Too bad he never played it. Instead he played soccer. So when the time came for McDaniel to be eligible to play, there was no question, she was going to play.

He started last fall as the assistant coach filling in when the head coach was traveling for work. This year he decided to sign up as the head coach. As the father of 2 girls, Soccer Sundays is as close as Monte is going to get to Football Friday nights. But he'll take it--it's not without its highlights.

Last night, Monte had the first practice. The team is divided into two: 1st graders on one team and 2nd graders on anot…

As a parent we pretty much assume that our routine is going to include predominantly giving. Giving our children love through hugs and kisses. Giving our children nourishment through food and drink. Giving our children shelter, clothing, medicine when they are sick. In general, giving them a safe place to grow. Except for the occasional splinter and pretzel up the nose, we're not really prepared to extract things from our children. At least WE weren't.

Ellie has been playing the "holding it" game since July. She holds it and holds it and holds it and HOLDS IT until she literally can't sit down and then she tries to hold it some more by doing what we finally recognized as the "Poop Walk". She would pace the floor, going from room to room occasionally leaning against a chair or table to try to fight her body's needs for just a little bit longer. The game finally timed out when she would wet herself (always on the dining room ru…

I was in Target last night by myself (a rarity--not that I was in Target, but that I was there by myself). Going at night is such a different experience than going during the day. During the day, I usually run into many other moms with kids doing the same thing I'm doing: buying the 24-roll pack of toilet paper and a kid's birthday present for an upcoming party. At night there is a much different crowd--more college and young professionals. If I had had the time and stomach for it, I'd park myself in the snack bar with whatever they sell there as food, and people watch. But I was on a mission and I tried to stay focused. I had toilet paper to buy and Ellie turns four on Thursday. My people watching skills was reduced to eavesdropping due to EVERYONE talking on their cell phones. It was not just two or three people using their phones but rather, just two or three of us NOT using them. Perusing through the dollar spot, I caught part of a conversation of a woman tellin…

I am truly blessed to be surrounded by incredible people. Everyday people. Extraordinarily diverse in every way people. And I am better for having their company.

We have Orkin come and spray for bugs and critters every other month throughout the year (it took us six years before we figured out that we should leave some things to the professionals). Greg, or "Bug Man" as the girls and I call him, is someone that I always look forward to seeing pull into the driveway. He always is smiling and he seems to thoroughly enjoy his job--no kidding. Yesterday I was blessed with his company and I asked him about his summer. He said he cooked 900 chicken wings last weekend for his son's graduation party. He went into some detail about how he carefully arranged them on his five grills and the multiple homemade sauces he prepared when he stopped in mid-sentence. "But if that is all I have to complain about in my life, then, I am truly blessed". I have been thinkin…

After six states and 2500 miles, I'm back from my trip to New England. It was awesome. It's different driving with a friend than driving with your spouse and two kids (all which have extremely small bladders). No, it's WAY different. Even though we drove a lot of miles, we took our time, we noticed the scenery, and more importantly, we got off the interstate.

Taking the road less travelled started in New York when we decided we needed to see Lake Erie. We got off on a highway and drove by the most amazing wineries. Field after field of grapes--in New York! When we finally made our way to a beach so we could stick our toe in the lake, we saw several people lying, fully clothed in the sand with no beach towels. As Shirley snapped my picture, I noticed the enormous dead fish inches from my feet than the dirty factory just yards away. Hmmm…I wondered the rest of the trip if we should've checked to see if those supposed sun bathers were breathing.


I'm leaving tomorrow on a road trip. I'm going with my 4th grade teacher Shirley Snapp. She is retired, single and has no children so her schedule is much easier to work with than other friends in similar mommy boats like me. Plus, she is a hoot. Her laugh is loudly uninhibited and completely contagious. Last year I convinced her to accompany me to Portland, Oregon to visit my brother and we had a ball. I'm not sure when I've laughed that hard. This year, I convinced her into another trip but I allowed her to choose the location. Tomorrow she's picking me up and we're driving to New Hampshire, Vermont and possibly Maine. She wants no itinerary, no hotel reservations just her and I on the open road ready to pull over and check out anything that interests us. Shirley loves the off-the-beaten path points of interest. Last year, she made my brother pull over to see the second tallest cypress tree in the world. Not the first, but the second.

As much as the …

Atlanta has always had a special place in my and Monte's heart. For me it was where I developed into a post-college adult, made a name for myself in my career and fell in love, all in the steamy hot, magnolia-scented, southern drawl of a fast growing city.

Monte and I met at the corporate office of Waffle House. He was in risk management and I was in corporate communications. I wrote him into my Waffle Chatter newsletter as a reoccurring character called Safety Man. As glamourous as it was to have my own column called Dear Karmen along with a hotline for questions that drunk grill operators would call and leave lewd messages on at 3:00 am, after a year I had to get out of the Waffle House. It wasn't until I was picking up my last paycheck that Monte revealed his love for me. But I moved back to Indiana anyway and left all my belongings in a storage unit in Atlanta (Monte's idea).

Oh, how I missed the city, and the way it empowered me to spread my wings. In …

I am an equal opportunity ice cream eater. It was brought to my attention that my earlier blog on ice cream was not fair and balanced. While I do love my cheesecake ice cream at Graeter's I do have other local/national favorites that I failed to mention. It was also brought to my attention that I needed to try out a new shop that has been doing some very inventive things with ice cream. Of course I was game and we tried it Sunday after an afternoon of yard work. Oh my! I was intrigued with Jeni's shop the second I walked into the Grandview location with its milk glass bottle lights (from Jeni's own collection) and the barn siding wall salvaged from an Ohio farm (that she planed and brought back to life with stain). But bring on the ice cream! As a family we probably sampled 10 flavors before deciding on our combinations (2 flavors are encouraged as they work together to please the palette the same way fruit does in a good Chardonnay). This…

My daughter Ellie announced to us the other day that when she is 16 she is going to drive a "vertible" (convertible) and be on American Idol. She's 3 and she's not at all embarrassed to share her dreams.

My other daughter McDaniel did a presentation in front of her first grade class where she announced that she wants to be an illustrator and author of children's books. No self-consciousness whatsoever.

When I was elementary school age I used to write articles all the time, some illustrated, and post them on our refrigerator for all to see. This had nothing to do with homework or school, just something I would do for fun. My uncle was visiting once and commented on one particular article I had written on a theory of why the dinosaurs became extinct. Not only did he read my writing crudely tacked to our harvest gold fridge with large alphabet magnets, but he said he actually learned something new. I was glowing! Thirty years later that memor…

I love ice cream. My involvement is deep and goes way back. I have early memories of PaPa (my grandfather) cranking by hand the wooden ice cream maker containing my grandmother, MaMa's, fantastic vanilla ice cream with just a hint of lemon.

One summer when I was young, my father even opened an ice cream shop called The Big Dipper with the high school principal. The Big Dipper served hand-scooped ice cream among them the best peanut butter flavor I've ever had. I had forgotten how much I adored that ice cream until we went to Vero Beach last year and had a variety of peanut butter that came pretty close--I tried it several times to come to that highly sophisticated conclusion.

The Big Dipper only survived one summer in my small hometown due to the soft serve place that opened down the street. They had arcade games. What can I say, it was the 80s and there was just no competing with Pac Man and Asteroids.

When we moved to Ohio seven years ago we were introduc…

I've learned so much from my daughters. There is such a pure unjaded truth they have that I feel I've lost somewhere in adulthood. You know, all those things you once knew but somewhere along the line forgot. Important things, like enthusiasm, wonder and pure joy for life. Along with that my daughters have a fear of things that don't figure into their simple understanding of life. Like flies. I'm not sure why, but they are terrified of the household fly. My daughters are 7 and 3 1/2 and McDaniel (who is 7) recently went through a series of questions with me regarding flies.

"Do they help make flowers grow?"


"Do they eat bad bugs?"


"Do they sting?"


"Why are they here?"

I have no idea.

The very idea that I had no idea on why flies exist scared my girls. If we are really honest with ourselves, isn't that what keeps us up at night--the unexplainable? Isn't a li…
(I'd like to thank my sister-in-law Gretchen for giving me the idea to start a blog. I've enjoyed reading hers and feeling a part of her life even though she is far away.)

Some people hear melodies in their head or rhythms bump-bump-bumping begging to come out. Some people count, calculate or reorganize numbers in their mind for comfort. Some people type out every word they say on an imaginary keyboard in their lap.

I'm not one of them.

In my head I constantly answer questions talk show interview style. You know, a funny story, a clever comment and a quick profound insight that isn't too totally a "what I know for sure" moment. Then I edit the whole response over and over. I've done this for as long as I can remember--lying in bed, sitting in class, driving the car, mingling at parties. Sometimes I've actually tried them out on people and not all of them bombed.

It took me sometime to realize that I wasn't fantasizing about being famous (which I wo…