Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hornets Nest

Dear  Athenians,

We've got ourselves a hornets nest.

know a thing or two about hornets because my son is obsessed with hornets intellectually curious.  Did you know the Asian giant hornet kills 40 people every year in Japan?  Can you imagine? Those things are ruthless!  Breathe a sigh of relief they aren't in Ohio yet.  We don't live in Japan, but it looks like we still might have a giant hornets nest in our backyard.

School funding.

I'm sure it's totally not complicated and can be easily explained using common core math principles.

None-the-less, silly little me is just a wee bit confused. Just a wee bit.

If I were cooking in my kitchen which wouldn't happen because I am married to an awesome guy who prefers to cook because he's tasted meals prepared by me and knows that this is not something he wants subjected to, but I digress. Where was I?   Right!   I'm cooking and a fire starts on my stove.  I call 911.  They would dispatch fire fighters who would hopefully come into my kitchen and attempt to put out the fire. 

Imagine my confusion if instead of coming with a lengthy hose and water, the fire fighters arrived with a bulldozer and just decided to bulldoze my kitchen. This would leave part of my house in rubble and I would be shocked and speechless.

It sadly seems our children's school district is on fire. I'm not trying to fuel the flames, but I don't like the idea of bulldozing the school district either.  

I'd love to know the plan. I'm a type A personality planner. With all the rumors buzzing about, a plan would help stop the rumors, clarify the facts, and continue the discussion.  As I hear the buzz and fret about the school budget, I wonder what the answers are to some of these questions:

How many teachers and aides who are currently teaching in Athens City Schools won't be teaching next year? 
Of those not returning, how many are retiring, how many are resigning, and how many have been told they must go?
What grade levels and/or subjects do these departing teachers teach?
How big will the class sizes be next year as compared to this year?
What electives will not exist next year that exist this year?
What alternatives were tried prior to this decision to reduce the workforce?

According to my son, you must be careful and patient when removing a hornet's nest. You don't want to injure yourself or those around you. However, hornets nests are best destroyed at dusk when the hive is less active. I'd like to see our hornets nest exposed in broad daylight. I want to hear all sides of this issue. I'd like time to weigh options. 

Those of us who love our little town, and everything it has to offer, need more information and transparency. 

Join me at the May 19th school board meeting to hear the buzz. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Eggs Love Bacon

Dearest Bacon,

Researchers and physicians are saying bad things about you on the news.  I know it's not true.  I still love you. 

Those rumor-spreading scientists can say what they want about your friends, Hot Dog and Bologna. I just want them to stop talking smack about you.  You are salty, crispy, and worthy of a little more respect than those mystery meats you hang with in the grocery store. You're pork, damn it. Give the pig some cred. 

Hotdogs may have traces of human DNA in them.  Yes, that's disgusting and wrong, but it has NOTHING to do with you, Bacon. 

Bacon, you want people to get along. No one has ever heard of a fight or argument erupting while people are enjoying Bacon. Plenty of fights occur at picnics and BBQs. That ain't Bacon's fault. Once again, it's Hot Dog causing a commotion. Bacon just wants everyone's day to get off on the right foot.  Bacon, you are a lover not a fighter.  They even started flavoring vodka in honor of you. Clearly, there are no plans in the works for a Bologna flavored vodka.  That would be wrong. You know what's, right? Bacon flavored flavored anything. 

Let's just agree that nobody looks forward to an L.T. sandwich at the end of the day. If there is no B in that sandwich you're basically eating a salad.  You make salads better. Bacon, you make everything better. 

Bacon, you had me at sssazzizzle. You are what's right about a pig. Bacon, you are the best!  

The FDA seems to forget that everybody dies from something someday.   Bacon, I'll go down with you.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Go Bulldogs!

Dear Bulldog Nation,

Can we take anymore of this excitement?  I mean, really, is it Thursday yet?

For the first time in the history of the universe, Athens High School Bulldogs are playing in the Division III State Football Championship game.  They are taking cheerleaders, the Marching Green and Gold, and most of Athens County with them.  

The game will begin at 7:30 PM in The Ohio State University's Horseshoe.  Many a battle has been fought there, and we expect another battle Thursday night.  No couches will burn if we lose, but we aren't planning to lose.   The stadium is the last stop for the A-train in what has been a historic, phenomenal season. 

The Mayor declared Thursday Athens Bulldog Day and is asking everyone to wear green and gold. Did we need to be asked?  School will end early on Thursday, not as early as it should, but early, and the town is being invited to line the streets as we give these young football players a proper send off.  

There's been all sorts of scuttlebutt about school ending early the day of the game and school delays the following Friday morning.  It reminds me of words my imaginary BFF once said, or at least nearly said:

"The A-Train keeps cruising
Can't stop, won't stop winning
It's like they got this music
In their mind
Saying, "It's gonna be alright."

"'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Toledo Central Catholic's gonna break, break, break, break, break

"Bulldogs never miss a beat
They are lightning on their feet
And that's what the fans see, mmm-mmm
Yes, that's what we see, mmm-mmm"

Where was I? And is it weird that I love Taylor Swift?

As we know, this isn't just a football game.  

This football game is a lesson.  Yes, as cliche as it sounds, this is a life lesson.

Our town is great about supporting our children.  When an elementary school girl's recipe won a national contest that took her all the way to the White House, our school district decided to offer her winning meal for lunch.  When the city celebrated Nuit Blanche earlier this year,  Athens Middle School students had their art displayed in local businesses.  These are just a couple examples.  There are countless others.  This is a great community to raise children.  We are are a community committed to supporting one another.  

Sure, we cancel school when there is a chance of snow no harm in being cautious, but there is a rationale for also letting children out of school early when there is a valuable lesson to be learned.

When a group of young people work hard, follow directions, stay focused, work as a team, A-mazing things can happen.  This isn't about top recruits or the importance of football.  This is a lesson about work ethic and character.  This is a lesson about supporting one another, and this reflects on the culture of our community.  We should be proud of this and celebrate it!

When we hear criticisms about how much attention we are giving this game or how it's interfering with education, then we will just have to shake it off.  Shake it off. 

But the feeling of pride we have for this team and this community is something we won't and can't and shouldn't shake off. 

Go Bulldogs!

A Band Mom who isn't even originally from these parts and is so happy her teen is gonna play the trumpet in the Horseshoe that she could explode with gratitude. Please don't tell my daughter I just said that!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Baby, We Were Born to Run?

As Bruce Springsteen's "Baby, We Were Born to Run" blares from speakers at the annual Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon, I have a moment of exceptional gratitude. I am confident enough to believe I can actually complete my first half marathon, I am physically healthy enough to be standing at the starting line on my own two feet, I am surrounded by some of my best friends, and I am in the company of over 18,000 people who helped raise over three million dollars for pediatric care.  The feeling of gratitude and awe is intense.

That moment of gratitude and awe will soon be replaced by the pain and suffering that can only come from running 13.1 consecutive miles.  As for those running the full marathon?  I am not worthy of their company!

Of course, I didn't wake up that crisp October morning and just decide to go for a long, long run.  Nooooo, I spent 12 weeks preparing for that morning's run.

It all started with a well-intentioned friend.

We all have that one friend who is smart, organized, and level-headed. When that friend speaks, people listen.  My friend who is smart, organized, and level-headed suggested we train for and run a half marathon.  Turns out she's not as level-headed as everybody thought!

Here's the thing about running a half marathon:  as you train, you learn quite a few things about yourself and your dear, sweet running buddies.

For example, some ideas sound really good in a hypothetical sense.  Ever sign up for something months in advance and then regret it when the time comes to actually run 13.1 miles without stopping do it?  Yeah, me, too!  During the half marathon, I most appreciated the sign that read, "This sounded like a good idea 3 months ago!"

I totally and 100% blame my good friend for this, too.  I refuse to take any responsibility for signing up to run 13.1 miles because everybody knows I would normally travel this distance by car.  Clearly, the peer pressure was too much for me.

Another important lesson you learn while training with friends is that your body is completely and utterly unpredictable.  For starters, you will become keenly focused on your bladder and bowels.  What do you do if Mother Nature calls while you're in the midst of one of your long runs in the middle of nowhere?  As I learned from more than one running buddy, you should never trust a fart.  Never ever.

Ladies, you also need to take care of your boobies.  Yes, sports bras are dangerous contraptions.  Many a friend has nearly suffered strangulation in the process of putting one on or freeing oneself from it, but a good bra is the difference between happy boobies and chaffed and bleeding boobies.  Nobody likes bloody boobies.

As for your toes, well, somebody in the group is gonna lose a toenail.  Check out your toes prior to training, and bid farewell to at least one toenail.  Odds are, it's gonna happen.  Incidentally, a shoe half a size bigger can be the difference between keeping all your toenails happy and losing one to the cause.

The night before the half marathon is nothing short of incredible. Everyone knows carb loading is a key component to race preparation.  I may not be happy with my overall half-marathon performance, but I can carb load with the best of them. I would go as far as to say I am an elite carb loader.  Truly, one of the best.  Those who witnessed it would have to agree.

In the course of training, injuries can and will happen. Not everyone you train with will make it to the starting line with you on race day. You may have that one friend who will suffer an "injury" during training.  She will opt out of the race and instead volunteer to cheer you on and take pictures from the sidelines.  This is a clear sign of her higher intelligence.  Make note of this, and vow to suffer an "injury" next time, too, so you can hold hilarious signs like the one that read, "Remember....You paid money to do this Dumbass" or "My New Year's resolution was to hold a funny sign during a marathon."  These people are clearly smarter than the ones pounding the pavement!

The most amazing thing you will see and learn, however, is something so precious it may catch you by surprise like a double rainbow on a Fall day.

You will see compassion.  You will see the human spirit at its absolute best.

I passed a man dressed in full fireman gear. He had to be sweating while running in long protective gear with an oxygen tank on his back and a helmet on his head.  He ran on behalf of a fallen brother.

I saw countless participants running with signs on their shirts stating they were running on behalf of someone who could not run.

Each mile of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon & Half Marathon is devoted to a child who has or is battling a medical condition. These young patients and their families line sections of their assigned mile and provide inspiration and perspective to weary runners.  Their stories are amazing and their smiles are infectious.

Mile 11 is Angel Mile, and this mile recognizes the young patient warriors who lost their battle.  This mile is lined by the loved ones who miss them so dearly. This mile is the longest and hardest mile, but this mile reminds runners of the privilege to run and the honor in running.

Eventually, and to your sheer delight, all the mile markers will fall away and the finish line will approach.

When you finish you will know, Baby, you were born to run.

Monday, July 14, 2014

What I Learned On My Floridian Summer Vacation

Ahhhh....summer!  Sure school is out for the summer, but that doesn't mean you have to stop learning!  My family recently drove to Orlando for a family vacation. The vacation was fantastic despite the fact that I learned some rather interesting things.

1.  Florida is really far away from Ohio, and you may forget the distance when you see the price of airline tickets. If you live north of Georgia, fly to Florida.

2.  When you ignore the free advice offered in #1, you will drive South and pass several large signs offering fresh peaches, fresh pecans, boiled peanuts, and moonshine pickles. Yes, moonshine pickles.

3.  You will ignore these signs until the curiosity is too much to stand.  Curiosity killed the cat.

4.  Eventually you find yourself at Peach World.  You ask about moonshine pickles, but fascinatingly enough Peach World sold out of moonshine pickles earlier that day. Interestingly, Peach World also sells disarmed fragmentation hand grenades, confederate flags, ninja throwing stars, shark teeth, and coonskin hats. It's a long story that involves children, but you leave Peach World after purchasing peaches, pecans, a truckload of boiled peanuts, and a defunct fragmentation grenade.

5.  Shortly after leaving Peach World, you discover you are the only person in the vehicle who likes boiled peanuts. Good thing you bought 40 pounds of boiled peanuts.

6.  For reasons that are truly inexplicable, you will feel obligated to eat as many boiled peanuts as is humanly possible. Perhaps it's the endless freeway.  Perhaps it's the bickering children.  Whatever the reason, you will devote a solid hour of your travel time in trying to eat all of the boiled peanuts.

7.  After singlehandedly eating an obscene amount of boiled peanuts, you realize you don't actually like boiled peanuts.  You can't figure out why you thought you did and have only one place to lay blame. Interstate 95.

8.  Interstate 95 is a horrible, no good, very bad interstate. The speed limit varies from 70 miles an hour to 60 miles an hour to 45 miles an hour near some construction zones, but this is all irrelevant. Drivers on I-95 either travel at the speed of light OR they drive 25 miles an hour in the fast lane.

9.  Thanks to the salty boiled peanuts, your fingers will begin to swell and your tongue will feel weird.  This will remind you the cost of airline tickets is worth every penny. Please re-read #1 above.

10.  You will arrive at your destination in Florida, and you will discover that Florida is hotter than you ever truly imagined.  You will begin sweating in places that you didn't even realize had pores.

11.  You will spend a grotesque amount of money at any number of amusement parks.

12.  Dolphins, killer whales, penguins, sharks, sting rays, pink flamingos, sea lions, otters, and sea turtles are all ubercool, but they are no match for the common brown squirrel that will have your children riveted in their spot.

13.  Inevitably all the children within a ten foot radius will watch this squirrel as if they have never seen one. You can't swear to it, and maybe it's the Florida heat playing games with you, but you'll be fairly certain the squirrel will give you a look that says, "Think how much time and money you could have saved had you just vacationed in your backyard where about 150 of my relatives live."

When all is said and done, you are building wonderful memories for your kids.

And that fragmentation grenade?  Worth it's weight in gold!  On the way home your kids will believe you just might detonate that sucker if they don't stop annoying the be-geezers out of each other!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Tooth Fairy is an Idiot

We've known each other a long time so let's be totally honest with one another, ok?

I am not a fan of the Tooth Fairy.  I've accused her of drunkenness in the past and you can read about it here.  Is the Tooth Fairy a Drunk?

I think inviting a stranger into your home late at night to take your children's teeth in exchange for a handful of coins is a gruesome, morbid idea.

However, the Tooth Fairy has never truly slacked off at our house.  Our biggest problem has been the Tooth Fairy's drunkenness dementia.  She'll leave one child 75 cents for one tooth and a week later she'll leave another child $1.25 for a tooth.  You can imagine the kind of familial discord this creates.  Sure, I have friends who report the Tooth Fairy sometimes doesn't show for days, but we've never had that experience at our house.

Until now.

In fairness, my son is eleven years old.  I'm pretty sure he may know where the Tooth Fairy sleeps at night.  You know what I mean?

Never-the-less, as the sun was rising the morning after his gnarly baby tooth fell out, he bounced out of bed and announced, "Look!  The Tooth Fairy didn't come!"

I didn't quite know what to say so I asked, " Hmmmm....why do you think she forgot?"

"Because she's an idiot?"

Well, that stung.

After all these years, I know the Tooth Fairy pretty well.  I know she was feeling exhausted and over worked the previous day and she probably just honestly totally forgot that this precious, sweet child had lost a tooth.

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming urge to defend the drunken flake of a fairy.

"You know, son, she probably didn't come because you didn't actually put the tooth under your pillow.  You put it on your nightstand.  I think she only visits when the tooth is clearly under a pillow."

Yeah, it's HIS fault the flake didn't leave any money for him.

Amazingly, he had no retort to this as my logic was so sound.  Everybody knows the tooth goes under the pillow!  Duh!  This is just another example of my superior parenting skills. Make your child feel as if he is responsible for the Tooth Fairy's irresponsibility.  Brilliant.

In our house, teeth fall out in pairs. Once one tooth falls out, his buddy tooth isn't far behind.  Sure enough, days later another tooth fell out of my son's very crowded mouth.  This time he seemed less excited about the Tooth Fairy's impending visit. I, however, was excited.  An opportunity for the Tooth Fairy to get it right!  How many more baby teeth could possible exist in his mouth anyway?  The Tooth Fairy was running out of opportunities to perform her job flawlessly.

"The tooth Fairy is coming tonight!" I shouted while doing a little jig that immediately drew I ridicule from my 13 year old daughter.  Funny how I can embarrass her even in the privacy of our own home.

I was just sure the Tooth Fairy would not forget. Not this night!

Here's the thing about the Tooth Fairy.  She can seem really energetic and excited around 7:00 P.M., but two hours later she can be nearly comatose with exhaustion.  The older these baby teeth get, the harder it is for her to stay up long enough to collect them.  When this exhaustion is too great for her, she sometimes contracts the job out to her sidekick.  You know, Mr. Tooth Fairy.

Well, if I thought the Tooth Fairy was a flake, Mr. Tooth Fairy redefines the concept of "half-assed."

The next day I asked my son what the Tooth Fairy left him.

Without looking up from his plate he said, "Ah, a buck or so, but the Tooth Fairy forgot to take the tooth."

"What?" I asked incredulously.

"Sometimes this happens," my hubby blurted out defensively.

Yeah, my son is right.  The Tooth Fairy is kind of an idiot.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I Survived My First Triathlon

I wasn't sure I'd live through it, but I did!

My friends and I have been taking a triathlon training class since January.  The training started as a simple desire to get fit.  We didn't actually think we would compete in a triathlon.  We just thought the class itself would be good for us.  But our wonderful trainer was dogged in his belief that we could actually do a triathlon.  We also felt like competing in a triathlon would prove that we "passed" the triathlon class.  Who wants to take a class, do all the homework, and then skip the final exam?   Not us!  Although I felt like a total triathlete imposter, I registered for a triathlon despite my better judgement.

Race for a Reason is the largest charity-­based race event in Athens, Ohio.  The race raises funds for several amazing causes.  Race participants pick the cause they believe in, and a portion of the proceeds go to that cause.  There are several race events including a 5K, a mud run, and a triathlon.

I was so on the fence about my prospects of surviving the triathlon, I actually painted my nails and colored my roots the night before.  I didn't want my husband and the mortician to overlook those fine details.  I imagine there aren't many triathletes out there that have those tasks on their list of pre-race activities?

I woke up the morning of the triathlon feeling ill.  If I didn't already know I am a complete psychosomatic mess, I would have thought I was getting the flu.  Alas, I've lived with myself for over 40 years so I've come to better understand what my anxiety levels can do to the rest of my body.  It's pretty incredible stuff, people.

Overall, the race was a complete success!  Sure, I was passed in the pool by a 9 year old, but that future Olympian is part fish!  He should probably be disqualified for having gills, right?

I still managed to miraculously not die.  That was my goal.  To not die and finish the race!  My training has taught me it's important to set reasonable goals.

Most importantly, over $100,000 was raised for 87 different causes!  That's amazingly awesome!

I did not imagine how much fun finishing would be.  The relief of being finished is a glorious thing.  The homemade granola bars at the finish-line didn't hurt, either!  I am also pretty tickled with the medal as evidenced by the 32 million pictures of it I posted on Facebook.

When I really stop and think about it, what could I have possibly enjoyed doing more on a beautiful Saturday morning than consecutively swimming 500 meters, biking 15 miles uphill, and running 3.1 miles?  Gardening, grocery shopping, laundry, painting a fence, 5th grade algebra homework, a root canal, giving a cat a bath, cleaning the house, cleaning the oven, cleaning anything, really.

Nope.  There's really nothing I would have rather done on a beautiful Saturday morning than to Race for a Reason.

Congrats to the organizers and all of the volunteers.  It was an inspiring and blessed day!