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A Great Rapper

I like to fancy myself a great rapper. Not because I am one, by any stretch, but because… Actually, I don’t know why.

I just do.

So, kiss my shoe.

See how I spit a rhyme there?

I’ve blogged before about hosting family rap battles. These involve sessions of awkward rhyme around the dinner table. None of us even beat box, although I frequently threaten to. And over the past year we’ve added Hamilton to the mix, so we don’t have to make up all the words anymore, which helps.

You haven’t lived until your seven-year-old has broken into a spontaneous rap solo about the constitution.

All of this is a lead-in to me receiving the greatest compliment of my life a couple of weeks ago. Several friends purchased gifts to donate to the International Rescue Committee in Seattle to celebrate “Winter,” which is suspiciously like Christmas, but for refugees from various countries and religious backgrounds.

I was nominated to drop the gifts downtown because all my kids are in school and I am now a lady of leisure. It took me a fair amount of time to find a non-parallel parking spot near the drop-off point, only about 4 blocks away.

Luckily, I’d brought my wagon, still full of sand from the softball field. So, I loaded it up with food and gifts and started to slowly, slowly, ever so awkwardly, make my way over the sidewalk cracks and crosswalks to the building.

As I inched across one crosswalk, holding the presents onto the wagon with one hand, pulling it with the other, a woman pulled up in front of me, gave me a huge grin and a thumbs up. It was as though she “liked” me on Facebook, but IRL.

She unrolled her window and yelled out, “YOU ARE A GREAT WRAPPER!”

There I was on the streets of downtown Seattle and people were calling out to me about my great rapping skills. I prefer to spell it without the “W”. As does Lin Manuel Miranda.

It made my day.

Save Lunch Time and More – Great Deals from Familius

I’m not sure how much longer the mega sale is going to be running at Familius. 50-70% of some of their bestselling titles. For example, they’re selling both of my books for cheaper than I can buy them with my author wholesale discount ($6 each!).

There are also a ton of other great books, fun, quirky, useful, interesting, well-designed books that would make great Christmas gifts.

I have no affiliate link with Familius. Hey, wait, why don’t I have an affiliate link with Familius? Not that it would do me much good with this sale that’s going on because they’re practically giving the books away for free.

Here are a few I purchased that I recommend:

Unplug and Play – 50 Original Group Games that Don’t Need Charging ($8) – With family coming in for the holiday this is a great resource for fun, original activities to do with all kinds of groups.

Mix and Match Lunchbox ($12) – This is probably my favorite. It’s divided up into cards that you can mix and match, a protein, a whole grain, and a fruit/veggie course for thousands of creative lunch combinations.

Shakespeare for Kids boxed set ($8) – My kids had a great time at the Shakespeare Festival last summer and this is an awesome way to help them learn the storylines of some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

The Stevia Solution Cookbook ($5) – We are so sugar addicted. I love this moderate approach to replacing some of the sugar in your diet with a natural alternative. To be honest, I’m just digging in and haven’t tried the recipes yet, but I like what I’ve seen so far.

Happy shopping!

Love and Fat-free Cheese – Book Tour

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I got the chance to devour Crissy Sharp’s romantic thriller Love and Fat-free Cheese this month. It was a fun brain vacation and distraction from the all-too-serious life that’s happening around me. I was honored to be part of her book tour and excited to read something outside my usual genre.

From the Cedar Fort website: “Fat-free cheese is okay—unless you’ve tasted real cheese. Juliet Easton learns this about love too as she uncovers who truly loves her, and who is using her to get to the secret she knows about the disappearance of her sister’s fiancé and the pharmaceutical conspiracy he plans to reveal. Can she protect her loved ones’ lives and her heart? You’ll be hooked from Asiago to Zamorano cheese in this suspenseful and hilarious romantic thriller.”

Juliet is an out-of-work statistician, looking for a job. She stumbles across employment, romance, and some unexpected mystery and intrigue in this light-hearted novel. I like her character. The world of the book comes alive for me. And the mystery is engaging enough to keep me turning pages, without being so heavy that it stresses me out.

I’ve read chick lit and I’ve read mystery/suspense but I’ve rarely read the two of them together and I like the combination. I don’t love the predictability of most romance novels so the mystery in this one is a nice added oomph to the usual girl meets boy office romance.

Where chick lit usually leaves me feeling pretty meh, this one kept me guessing and It was a fun departure from the non-fiction and historical fiction I’ve been reading lately. If you’re looking for a beach read, or something to read on the plane as you head home for Thanksgiving, give this book a try.

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Make America Engage Again – Santa, McMullin, and Me

santa (2)I’ve often been asked, “How do you tell your kids that Santa isn’t real?”

Actually, I don’t.

As my kids mature, I just change the way we talk about Santa. When they’re little, they think of him as a powerful entity with endless resources and the ability to make their dreams come true.

Frustratingly, he doesn’t always use his powers to fulfill their fondest wishes. Sometimes he brings socks or a boring lunchbox. And they grieve. But their power is limited so they write letters and wait and hope for good things to happen.

But, as they grow, we have a frank discussion. Santa is real, but he’s not just one guy. He’s millions of people who use their time and resources to make magic happen. I’m Santa. They’re Santa. And they become actively engaged in spreading holiday joy.

It’s an earthshattering and exciting transition.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced a similarly disruptive and thrilling change in the way I think about presidential elections.

As a moderate conservative, human person, who believes in equality and civility, I watched with horror as Donald Trump snagged the presidential nomination before the Washington State primary.

My last choice Democrat was running against my last choice Republican. And I felt completely powerless. It was like hiding and watching Santa fill my stocking with lima beans. Slowly. For months. And there was nothing I could do about it.

Because Santa is in control. And we say, “Thank you,” and move on.

I turned off the news. I blocked friends who posted political rants. I gave up.

The two major parties are like our parents, telling us that Santa is The Man, and we are welcome to write him letters but they probably won’t make much difference.

The major media outlets are like that mean kid in first grade who tells you there is no Santa.

In September I started hearing about Evan McMullin, an independent candidate who’s gaining ground quickly in Utah and other western states. I clicked on a link. And I could not stop clicking.

Evan McMullin actually has the momentum and credibility to say, “There is a Santa. And we’re all him. And if we work together, we can realign America with its founding principles.

His chances of winning the White House are slim. He needs to win enough electoral votes to stop both Trump and Clinton from reaching 270, sending the decision to the House.

It is the longest of longshots, but I have never seen anything like the groundswell of support that follows whenever he opens his mouth. Americans recognize truth. We crave it. And he’s in a virtual tie with Clinton and Trump in Utah and gaining supporters daily. In a tight race, that could be the ballgame. If the race isn’t tight, it still sends a clear message to the Republican Party that we demand candidates who reflect our values.

So, suddenly I transitioned from discouraged and apathetic to outspoken activist. Many of Evan’s supporters are people who have never taken a public stand politically, attended a rally, or drummed up political discussion at the bus stop. But, suddenly we are engaged and we are on fire.

And every day I hear, “A vote for McMullin is a vote for Clinton,” and “A vote for McMullin is a vote for Trump.” The truth is, when you realize your actual power as a voter, you can’t vote the odds anymore. You can’t practice statistical democracy.

A vote for Evan McMullin is a vote for civility, patriotism and a new generation of American leadership. A vote for Evan McMullin is a vote for Evan McMullin.

I don’t tell my kids there’s no Santa. I explain what Santa looks like to caring, engaged adults.

I won’t tell you there’s no hope for change in American politics. I’ll tell you what hope looks like to caring, engaged adults.

Hope looks like Evan McMullin and his millions of supporters who are proving it is possible to Make America Engage Again.

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Bucket of Awesome – Childhood Firsts

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What Do You Know About Your Childhood Firsts?

What do you know about your early life? How about your childhood firsts?

What was your first word?

Your first foods?

How old were you when you reached your first major milestones? Were you an early or late walker? Did you talk much as a young child? How old were you when you lost your first tooth?

Today is almost like another list day, but you can add more details to these stories if you like. What other important childhood firsts can you think of?

**We can change our lives by how we tell our stories. Journal along with me as I excavate my past for the joy, the goodness, the Awesome. When we’re done, we’ll have a whole Bucket of Awesome, a story to inspire the people we love, and a brighter perspective of who we really are.**

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, I may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase something from a link I post. Don’t worry, it costs you nothing but it helps keep the Awesome flowing. Thanks!

What’s Your Longshot? 

It’s not cool to admit this, but there are things in my life I don’t attempt or I attempt half-heartedly because I’m pretty sure I won’t succeed.

Weight loss is one. Growing my business online is another. Consistently making healthy breakfast for my kids is a big one. We are a cereal family most of the time. Cereal with a side of fruit for a sense of moral/nutritional superiority.

Sometimes I make lists about breakfast, but when 6:15 rolls around each morning, the chances of me following through grow slim.

There are so many things I avoid. Because success in these areas is difficult for me. Because nailing them would be a longshot.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about this for the past several days. Because I’ve found myself ALL-IN promoting a political candidate for public office for the first time. And this is very unlike me.

In the past, I’ve been quick to hide people from my Facebook and Twitter feed for posting too many political posts. I always vote. But privately and with dignity and respect for all the other parties and candidates.

But, if you looked at my social media feeds before October 5th and then after, you’d probably think I’d been hacked by an unemployed 30-year-old man podcasting from his mother’s basement. It is all Evan McMullin all the time around here. I’ve taken my previously-underused Twitter account to new places, hashtagging the crap out of Evan McMullin and retweeting and liking anything that promotes his candidacy. I talk about algorithms and “retweet limits” and twitter strategy with my new online friends. Political nerdery and fanaticism is in full swing over here.

And Evan’s candidacy is a massive Hail-Mary play.

But I. Do. Not. Care. This process is reminding me that it feels good to do hard things, even if success doesn’t seem likely. Because, if we only fight the battles where victory is certain we’ll miss out on the victories that really matter.

And I want to apply this thinking to other areas of my life. I want to dig in and think about what I’m avoiding doing because I think it will be too hard or because I don’t think I can succeed.

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”    

So, we won’t be successful unless we’re willing to push through the times where we’ve lost all hope of succeeding. We won’t be successful if we give up. And we have to be willing to do the right thing, even when, especially when, the odds are against us.

I believe that some of the most important undertakings begin not because they are bound to succeed but because someone feels bound to do the right thing.

What “right thing” in your life are you avoiding doing because you don’t think you can succeed? Can you try one more time? Can you stand up and make a change?

Breakfast. Tomorrow morning. Overnight oatmeal in the thermal cooker. Never surrender.

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