One incredible perk about writing this blog (besides getting to know all of you, of course), is that I receive many offers to review products. At FIRST, I was accepting anything I could get my hands on. I won’t lie.
Then, some great friends over at BlogHer helped me developed this review page, which is where I typically post any giveaways or reviews that I do of products I actually USE.I have learned over the last few years, that it’s only prudent to accept freebies if they are something I actually buy and use, or something I can give to a friend.
I receive emails daily about products, books or apps that PR companies think might be of interest to me, or all of you. Frankly, I have to admit I trash MOST of them.
But I am so, so happy that I didn’t trash this one. Let me set the stage a bit more eloquently.
I have been trying, since the birth of Bitchy 21 years ago, to shed the baby weight. It didn’t help that I confused that process by having TWO MORE CHILDREN. That seriously put a wrench into, and it’s been a struggle. Add to that two horribly used old gymnast knees, and it became even more difficult.
While the personal turmoil has resulted in a pretty great weight loss, I’m pretty sure that it was not a healthy way to lose. (Who knew that tears weighed SO MUCH? Gives the term “water weight” a whole new meaning.) I’ve been going to the gym for years, and while I try to avoid actual sweating, it hasn’t helped as much as I would have liked.
Now I am finding that not only do I have to work harder on the final 15, my son has decided to join the “Vodkamom Shape Up” program. He starts football soon, and wants to be in the best shape possible.
Then, I received the email. For some crazy reason, I actually READ IT.
It was from WINDLFYER company, and they were offering to send me a scooter with pedals! They would send me one to use and keep, and one to GIVE AWAY! (It's $299!! And it works!!)
Surprisingly, because I always trash this stuff, I clicked on the link to the video and was so excited!!! I immediately thought of Golden Boy, and our pact to get in shape, and zipped them an email. I told them I was in, explained in more detail our plight, and they sent me TWO OF THEM!
We opened the boxes, put them together and they have kicked my @$$.
I am telling you that I have muscles in my legs and various other regions that are jumping for joy! Here they thought I’ve been ignoring them all this time, when really I forgot where they WERE!!
So, here’s the deal. I am able to give away ONE of these- to any of my readers. If I weren’t the poor, white Oprah, I’d give you ALL ONE! But alas, I cannot.
I will keep this contest open until AUGUST 9! (That was my father’s birthday, and that will help me remember when to choose the winner.)
Here are the rules. Try to do as many as you can but let’s face it, I’ll NEVER KNOW!!
1. Make me laugh. PLEASE. Can you share a funny story about the first day of school? Your kids? Your neighbor’s kids? (Yeah, I’m working on my column about the beginning of the year and I need some material. Sue me. Wait. )
2. Twitter this contest. I LOVE this scooter, and know that others might want to learn about it.
3. Tip the barrista at Starbucks as much as your drink costs. DO IT. (When Bitchy told me the other day that I couldn’t afford to be tipping when we went- I looked at her and said “You are NEVER too poor to tip. NEVER.”)
4. You can enter as MANY TIMES as you want. What the heck. I’ll use the random number thingy, and then it’s up to the fickle finger of fate.
5. Vote for two blogs over at Babble. There are many other people over there that you know- search through the lists- you might even find yourself!
6. Tell me at least two ways I can save more money. I am beginning to despair. (But no mac and cheese, or ramen noodles. I am NOT a pasta person.)
Okay, let the madness begin!!!
(And now to announce the WINNER!!!!! Sara Henry - all those entries PAID OFFF!!! Randomizer finally landed on your NUMBER and you WON!!! WOOT!!!)
Are you talking to me? Are you talking to ME? (aka we’ve still got it. Sure, it sags, but we STILL got it.)
I was given an amazing gift this weekend.
I am blessed with some amazing friends, but one in particular has been an important part of my life for about 18 years. Her name is, um, Thelma, and we first met while teaching together here at Smythe Elementary.
Our oldest children, both girls, are almost the exact same age. They spent many years thrust together as a result of their mother’s wonderful friendship.
They've spent these past 18 years giggling, laughing, crying, pulling each other’s hair, stealing each other’s boyfriends, talking behind each other’s back, perhaps getting into a BIT of trouble with the LAW together, studying, growing apart and coming back together. And while they are both 21-year old seniors at universities at opposite ends of the country, they come together like two old ladies completely at ease with each other.
Bitchy and “Her Royal Highness” spent last week planning a weekend road trip for the four of us. While “HRH” and her mother, Thelma, often go trotting across the country for fun excursions to New York City, San Francisco or Denver, our excursions usually involve Wal-Mart, Target and Big Lots; and not necessarily in the same week.
The girls discovered that Blake Shelton and Brad Paisley were performing at an outdoor venue a mere FOUR hours away. After a secretive discussion with Thelma, they purchased tickets, made reservations at a hotel and whisked me off on Saturday for a road trip. Me. ON A ROAD TRIP.
We found our way to Darien Lakes New York, and parked in a HUGE field next to the amusement park. We were prepared to tailgate, and the four of us enjoyed a wonderful couple of hours sweating in 95-degree heat, enjoying cool beverages all the while watching a gazillion twenty-something country music fans play beer-pong, grill hamburgers and drink many of their own beverages before heading like cattle into the concert.
The girls walked a tad bit ahead of us, wearing brightly-colored cowboy hats purchased from a friendly vendor working the parking lot. We walked briskly, laughing and smiling in anticipation of an amazing concert. We were winding our way through huge parties and tons of cars when we heard the yelling.
“HEY!! WOO HOO!! Great hats!!”
We smiled, not sure who they were talking to. And then it came.
“HEY! YEAH FOR THE MOMS! YEAH MOMS!!!”
We turned, and saw a row of rowdy, somewhat hunky fellas clearly enjoying the day. Their hands were raised, and one was pointing in our direction.
“YEAH FOR THE MOMS!” One of them yelled at us with an amazing smile on his face, the rest of the group pointing and clapping.
We waved and bowed, and with a lot of laughter turned and made our way to the concert.
Yeah for the moms indeed.
I have recently discovered some incredible blogs, and wanted to share them with you.
They called us the “Back Eight.”
The sorority house had a front unit that consisted of two suites of four on either side of the first floor, and their matches on either side of the second floor. The second floor balcony overlooked a large front “living room” that accommodated several couches, chairs, tables and a fireplace. There was also a stairway that led to a basement, which we used for “entertaining.” Tucked near the back of the basement area was a small stairway that led up to a small living area. It had a small lobby, and two double rooms on the first floor and two double rooms above it. It housed eight. Hence, the “back eight.”
They said it in such a way that made us feel like the cousins you wanted to hang out with, but the ones your parents didn’t REALLY approve of. We were the friends that were a bit too much fun to be around, and couldn’t possibly be a good influence.
We became a teacher, a journalist, an accomplished electrical engineer, a corporate loan officer, and a successful investment banker.
Yep. We were not good influences, indeed.
We weren’t treated badly; as a matter of fact we felt love on a daily basis from our respectable sisters, but also knew that often our antics were just too much to bear.
We shared stories last weekend that frankly I wouldn’t have remembered if my heart hadn’t been reminded, or I would have even admitted to had I not lived it myself.
It all came flooding back, rolling in on a sea of laughter.
“Bebop,” Sally said to me, “You DO remember the hairy buffalo punch fiasco, right?” (I had been called Bebop from the first week of freshman year, and honestly I don’t think anyone on that campus ever knew my real name. Save for my gymnastics coach, who had a few other choice names he would call me on those mornings I drug myself to a 7:00 a.m. practice with the slight bit of a headache.)
She continued her story, the group of us waiting with giddy anticipation. “You guys would line a laundry basket with a plastic liner, and dump in anything you could get your hands on. Coke, Ice Tea, Kool-Aid, oranges, apples, peanuts, whatever you could steal from our fridges! Then you would put in other ingredients that may or may not be the same ones that you put into a Long Island Iced Tea. Any of THOSE that you could scrounge (i.e. steal) from around the house.”
“Well, we were having the alumni in for a special weekend, many of the founding sisters, and we had you guys make your famous punch. We had the house all cleaned, and wanted to make a great impression. “
“I walked some of the sisters over to the punch, and started scooping it out into the cups. Imagine my surprise when a SOCK fell out into one of the cups. Yeah. A soaking wet SOCK. We made a GREAT impression that night. And that was the LAST time we asked you guys to make the punch.”
I’ll take one glass of punch. Hold the sock.
Tonight I am preparing for a little trip.
Tomorrow I am driving several hours to spend the weekend wrapped in 1981. Waiting for me in Pittsburgh, Oregon, will be many members of the sorority that was such an important part of my life while in college.
We will meet some of the girls who pledged before us, and many, many, many who pledged after us.
We will talk about midnight kidnappings, pledging challenges, hell night, formals, boyfriends, husbands, children, divorces, loss, life and love.
We will listen to Boz Scaggs, The Commodores, ELO, The Cars, Captain and Tenille, Abba, Hall and Oates, Styx and Leo Sayers.
We will remember the end of the world “Three Mile Island” party; the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, the marriage of prince Charles and Lady Diana, and the Friday afternoon trips to Nardos followed by the mandatory Steve Martin album and then the pre-party blasting of The Cars. We will most likely see who can recite the Greek Alphabet a hundred times before the match burns out, and possibly walk across some eggshells. I can't be sure. One of TWO of us MIGHT have a cocktail or two, and there may be a beer or two in the vicinity.
We will return to the very moment in our lives when we were young, beautiful, naïve, eager, curious, and hopeful; the particular moment in time when our hearts were still in tact.
And for these few hours we will bask in the knowledge that we are all still here- continuing our incredible journey. But we will be reminded of a very, very important thing.
We are not alone.
And when you have a thousand sisters? We will be reminded that we should never feel alone again.
Now, someone start the music. This lady is ready to dance.
Watch this TO THE END. Cause I'm feeling like I'm one of these people. The one who just realized that they have managed to avoid something very, very bad.
Life is surprising and incredible, indeed.
I would first like to give you credit for finding this girl who has a unique combination of spunk, athleticism, humor and spirit. Sure, we’ve had our moments, like this and this and this and who could forget THIS; but all in all I would give my life for her in a heartbeat, and am very protective of her heart.
And while I’ve only met you several times, I have heard enough about you to realize that it appears that she is just as lucky to have found you. (She's a bit gun shy. As you might know. )
But, it wasn’t until today when I noticed what you brought with you on this surprise two-day visit.
Gorgeous, bright orange, incredible….Maryland Steamed Crabs. (Oh. My. God.)
Yeah, you’ve already won over the daughter’s heart.
And with that BRILLIANT move- you have officially won over the mother. Frankly, you are IN LIKE FLYNN.
But don’t ask what that means, cause that will only cross out the incredible gains you made with the crabs. (They are such babies, aren't they???)
Now quick, pass me the buttah.
(And those particular kinds of crabs are the only ones welcome in this house. P.S.)
I'm heading to summer school this morning. I'm subbing for a teacher (I won't admit she's an old STUDENT of mine) who is out for the week.
Our friend Abe ran into summer school this morning SO excited about his weekend trip.
"Mrs. Smythe, I was in NEW YORK CITY! Did you remember?"
"Yes, I did! How was the trip?"
He proceeded to tell us about the "very" boats, going to the top of the Emfire State Building, and the amazing hotel they stayed in.
"We stayed in a fancy hotel. It was super fancy!"
"So, Abe, was the the best part of the trip?" I asked, as is recommended in the teacher handbook.
"You wanna know the best part? I didn't even have to wipe my butt. The whole time! There was a little shower for your butt in the bathroom. It was the coolest thing ever."
No matter how hard you try to screw up your kids, somehow they manage to become incredible people. (Who knew?)
Her name was AnnaBelle.
She was gorgeous (they often said she looked like Liz Taylor), generous, a tad clumsy and hysterical.
She was my mother.
When I stumbled upon this house, I knew in my heart that she was guiding me. Frankly, I’m sure she said to my father, “Jesus, do we have to do EVERYTHING for her?”
After spending the winter months enjoying lovely fires and shoveling snow, I was excited about what surprises the spring might bring. In the early morning hours I take my cup of coffee and make my garden tour. I’ve been happy to see such old friends like bee balm, gooseneck loosestrife and lily of the valley.
I was thrilled to discover that there were two hydrangea bushes growing around the house. I’ve always loved hydrangeas but for some reason never had one in my own yard.
There are two different bushes here- one that grows from the ground up and one that appears to be bush that simply goes to sleep in the winter. The lovely white one that is flourishing near the house is peppered with gorgeous white flowers.
I’ve been cutting them and placing arrangements around the house and on the front porch, finding comfort in the beauty of fresh flowers.
My friend, a gardener by trade, was taking the garden tour with me last night. We discussed many flower possibilities, and stopped to admire the incredible hydrangea that was loaded with white blooms.
“That is gorgeous. You know what that is, don’t you?” she asked with a smile.
“Sure. It’s a hydrangea! I’ve always wanted one!”
“Yes, it is. But its name is AnnaBelle.”
And so she wraps her arms around me once again, and I know that I am home.