Friday, January 30, 2009


This really gets my goat. I have several friends and family (whom I adore!) who use this term often in text messages, emails, and even in the spoken language. Now, to me, to actually speak the word “’kay” (short for okay) is, in my opinion, a slight dismissal toward the person with whom you are conversing. For example:

Me: “Did you remember to put away your gym bag?”
They: “No.”
Me: “Can you please do this for me now?”
They: “’kay…”

The word “’kay” is usually muttered under the breath and accompanied by an eyeroll. This type of behavior is most often associated with my teenager, to which I usually respond with a matronly sigh conveying my annoyance that I am being dismissed .

To read this as a text is equally unnerving. For example:

Me: “hey there. just wondering if we were planning to go out 4 dinner 2morrow.”
They: “yes!”
Me: “call me and we will line up details. lookin 4ward 2 it”
They: “k”

What is that??? Better yet, there is this:

They: “k np” (this stands for “k” “no problem”, which is short for “Okay, no problem”)

“K” might, to the sender, be communicating in the affirmative. It indicates that they have received and analyzed your message and they will react to it. But in my translation, I view the word “k” is that the person I am conversing with doesn’t even have the time to spell out “OK”, much less the full word “okay”. And with no accompanying body language, it is hard to even place the letter “k” into any kind of emotional context. Does it mean, “Hey, that is really great!” or does it dismissively say “Whatever…” ? To me, the word “k” in a text is the same as an “emoticon eyeroll” – you know, one of those little smiley faces where the yellow-faced image looks frustrated? “k” is dismissive and tells me that you don’t even have one extra second to waste on me for you to type one other letter – perhaps, like the letter “o” in front of it.

If you don’t have the time to text “ok”, then I don’t have the time to text you back.

Computers and cell phones and email and text messaging are destroying the way we communicate. It takes away an element of human interaction and lessens the level of personal contact. I feel it strips away some element of emotional interaction and replaces it with some kind of gobbledy-gook DOS language that only allows robots and computers to speak to one another. Perhaps, in a small way, maybe that is what we are becoming: a society of robots and computers interacting. To me, this level of communication simply “does not compute”.

With the advent of blogs and Facebook and My Space, Twitter, and Flickr, we are able to speak and represent ourselves in words and images. We brag about the multitudes of ways that we are now able to connect and to reconnect via technology and cyberspace but let’s not forgot the most important way we connect with others: With feeling. With emotion. With compassion. With passion.

I am not recommending that we give up the means in which we communicate but maybe we should simply MEAN what we communicate. If it is “okay”, then it is ok but it isn’t “k”. Don’t take a shortcut if you are speaking to another individual. It is disrespectful and they may not appreciate it. So before you flip the letter “k” my (or anyone else’s) way, think about how it is being interpreted. You may not be giving it a second thought but I will guarantee that the person on the receiving end might be thinking pretty hard about it.

In the words of Forrest Gump – perhaps the most effective communicator in his own unique way, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ode To Moms

(Photo by sharaff, from flickr)
Last night, as I was tucking Peanut (my youngest son) into bed, he announced, “You are the best Mom in the whole world.” To which I replied, “Well, thank you! Why do you say that?”

“Just because I love you and you are so good to me.”

I couldn’t have been more taken aback. Then he followed up by saying, “Even though I bet all kids in the world say their mom is the best mom, I think YOU are the best-est.”

He gets his brains and good sense from me…..

But, this morning, I read a news item that a woman in Southern California gave birth to octuplets. Yeah – that is right. Eight babies and all are doing very well, including the smallest one – just 1 pound and eight ounces – who was proclaimed as being “very feisty”. Each baby is named with names from A to H, for each consecutive letter of the alphabet.

I also would like to reference another of my favorite “mom of multiples”, Kate, of “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” on the TLC channel. This is a mom, who with her hubby, Jon, had a set of twins and then a few years later gave birth to sextuplets. The show chronicles life in the “Jon and Kate” household with eight of their own kiddies. Admittedly, I have become a big fan of this show and have forced my own two boys (who will reluctantly admit that they also enjoy the show) to watch it as I exclaim, “See? Imagine having four more brothers and sisters exactly like you that you have to deal with!!”

I give a lot of credit to these parents. It takes lot of guts to raise kids these days. After my first one, we were totally shell-shocked with the amount of work that went in to raising him. It took us four years to begin considering a second child. I love these two boys of mine more than life itself but every day is a new challenge.

From birth to “terrible two’s” to first days of kindergarten. Then progressing to pre-teen-hood, ‘tweenhood…then (gulp!) the dreaded teens. Even after they are out of college, there are more worries. A girlfriend of mine has a 23 year old daughter who just left to visit a “friend” (of the opposite gender) in South Korea, where he is working. My girlfriend, despite her wanting her daughter to live a full and “juicy” (this is her word) life, has her own set of reservations. So…the worrying never stops.

My own sister and her new hubby are now going down this road with their own VERY recent announcement that she is now expecting. They are young and have lots of energy to raise children…which is good, as they want a big family.

Me, on the other hand, am totally complete with my two charming and handsome “handfuls”. They provide me with a very satisfying amount of joy and heartache and all, usually, within the same day.

As my “2009 Intention #17” states, “Being a mother is the hardest job on earth. Women everywhere must declare it so.” Whether it is 15 children, 8, 4, 2, or a single wonderful child, I wish all the mom’s (and dads) of the world a hearty “Well done!” and a firm “Keep on keepin’ on!”

P.S. I also have to give a shout out to my OWN mother, who proofreads all my blog entries. She has served as my own personal proofreader since high school. And while I am at it, I also have to credit her mom, my grandmother, for everything she does for me, too. As Peanut so cleverly observed, ‘Even though I bet all kids in the world say their mom is the best mom, I think YOU are the best-est’.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


WARNING: This blog entry is sappy. If you don’t much care for “syrup-y sweet” patriotism served with hot fudge, sprinkles, whipped cream, and a cherry on the top then I suggest you stop reading immediately and return to this blog on Friday. Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

Today is a special day not only for Americans but for the world. It is a day which reflects the liberties of an American people who have the right to choose their leaders and to be able to honor a President who gracefully transitions the power of the office to another. It is a day for the world to consider how “doing business with America” may change a little.

Today, our nation will pause to revel in the pomp and ceremony of the Presidential Inauguration, as it has done for the past forty-three American Presidents.

Aside from the obvious, this day is historical. It symbolizes change. It symbolizes hope. It symbolizes a new day in politics for our country.

Sometimes I think we take for granted the fact that we can choose our leaders and also to choose to disagree with them. No matter which candidate we supported over the past 18 months, we all, now, must move forward with respect for the office and the things that are being legislated from it.

Last November, when I returned to the states from my trip to the Bahamas, a woman (a Bahaman native) was on our flight. She was travelling to this country just to be a witness to the election. She told us that she just wanted to “feel a part of it”. She could not vote. But she wanted to experience the event, first hand, within the borders of the United States of America.

Life is most certainly sweet when you stop to consider that we live in a place which despite its recent bumps and bruises still affords us the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today, of all days, is the day to remember these freedoms and to honor the hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans who have altered or given their lives in order to maintain them.

God Bless America!

(Senator Barack Obama enjoys Blue Bunny Mint Chip Ice Cream in a waffle cone at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars, Iowa, during the campaign)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eat Ice Cream To Lose Weight?? The Benefits of COLD

Yesterday morning when I arrived at the corporate offices of Wells’ Dairy, Inc., my workplace, I glanced at the car dashboard. I knew we were setting record cold temps that day and wanted to see just how bad it was. To my horror, my car dashboard read an astounding 22 degrees below zero! At this temperature, I read, flesh freezes in 10 minutes. As it takes me two minutes to walk from my car to the building, I figured I better hustle up and get inside but not before snapping a photo of the dashboard LED readout with my cell phone. And here is the evidence:
I figure when it is this cold outside, there has to be some advantages to being exposed to the cold. Some dermatologists are exploring the benefits of cryogenically “freezing” bare skin (naked people step into a freezer for three minutes - sounds like my kind of fun) to preserve the skin and prevent its aging process.

But what about all the eating I have been doing lately? All this cold has caused me to enter into some sort of hibernation behavior where I am driven to eat everything in sight and adopt a more dormant lifestyle (ergo: replace 40 minutes of treadmill exercise with 4 hours of stretching myself out on the couch eating Hershey bars covered in peanut butter) – my body’s way (I can only surmise) of telling me to layer on the fat to keep myself from freezing to death.

But why, in all of these intensely cold temperatures, do I crave ice cream? I cannot get enough of it and my latest weakness is Blue Bunny® Peanut Butter Panic ice cream. In trying to justify this ice cream addiction, I have been doing a little research to support why I should continue to eat ice cream, even though I must do it while huddled under my electric blanket in order to prevent me from going into hypothermic shock.

To my delight, here is what I found (and I do want to thank my friend, “J-Vo”, for helping me locate this very relevant information!):

As we all know, it takes 1 calorie to heat 1 gram of water to 1 degree Celsius.

Translated into meaningful terms, this means that if you eat a very cold dessert (generally consisting of water in large part), the natural processes which raise the consumed dessert to body temperature during the digestive cycle literally sucks the calories out of the only available source, your body fat.

For example, a dessert served and eaten near 0ºC (32.2ºF) will in a short time be raised to the normal body temperature of 37ºC (98.6ºF). For each gram of dessert eaten, that process takes approximately 37 calories as stated above. The average dessert portion is 6 oz, or 168 grams. Therefore, by operation of thermodynamic law, 6,216 calories (1 cal./gm/deg. x 37 deg. x 168 gms) are extracted from body fat as the dessert's temperature is normalized.

Allowing for the 1,200 latent calories in the dessert, the net calorie loss is approximately 5,000 calories. Obviously, the more cold dessert you eat, the better off you are and the faster you will lose weight, if that is your goal.

Frozen desserts, (ice cream!!), are even more beneficial, since it takes
83 cal./gm to melt them (i.e., raise them to 0ºC) and an additional 37 cal./gm to further raise them to body temperature. The results here are really remarkable, and it supports stretching out my couch eating ice cream to running on my treadmill hands down.

Happy ice cream eating.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January 15 Is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day!! Woo-hoo!

At the time of this writing, Tuesday, January 13, 2009, at 8:42 a.m., the actual temperature outside is negative five degrees. This does not factor in any wind chill at all. Tomorrow’s forecast is that temperatures here in northwest Iowa could reach the “coldest temperatures on record”. What does that mean, exactly?? Seriously….I know what it means. It means it is too darn cold outside. Yesterday afternoon, the corporate offices at Wells’ Dairy, Inc., closed early so that employees could get home safely – we were experiencing a blizzard (you know….winds of 30 – 40 miles an hour, horizontal snow, zero visibility….fun stuff like that). Fellow employees who crawled home in their vehicles reported this morning that “it was the worst they have ever experienced”. Yikes.

I say all of this because today’s blog is dedicated to strawberry ice cream….an odd topic to cover in the dog-days of winter. Still, it is worth mentioning that Thursday, January 15, is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day!

I am especially interested in celebrating this day on Thursday BECAUSE of the weather. Of course, if you know me, you know that I love ice cream…and I am lovin’ the idea of celebrating strawberry ice cream because strawberries make me think of summer. And….what better way to eat ice cream than when a record-breaking cold is settling over the region? Strawberries remind me of summertime, when the air almost sizzles with the sounds and smells of the season: lawnmowers running in the neighborhood, kids playing in the yard next door, hamburgers on the grill…..late sunsets and early sunrises. THIS is the time to eat strawberry ice cream….but why not on Thursday, too?

Pay homage to the time of year when you can kick back and feel the sun on your shoulders and taste the sweetness of those yummy, fat berries that are the best when tasted straight off the plant after they have been warmed by the sun in a late August afternoon.

Forget the winter doldrums. Forget the wind chills. Treat yourself and your kids to some Blue Bunny® Strawberry Sundae Crunch® Bars or the super-delicious Blue Bunny Champ! Strawberry Cone (by the way…if you haven’t tasted this…..three deliciously enthusiastic words: OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!), or the old favorite: Blue Bunny Double Strawberry ice cream. Wow. I can’t wait!!

Your family might think you are crazy but surprise them with a “Summertime Picnic Dinner” on the living room floor followed by strawberry ice cream for dessert. Then, watch as the winter chills melt away – Celebrate National Strawberry Ice Cream Day on Thursday, January 15!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tell Me A Story

(Photo credit: A.W.A.N., from )
Mr. P.O.D. (remember him? If not, please refer to my blog entry from Tuesday, September 2, 2008) is a very thoughtful and insightful person. He enjoys getting to know people and will even strike up conversations with interesting-looking individuals just to get their “back story”. A fan of military history, he will approach elderly veterans (often identifiable with ball caps and jackets bearing their infantry groups and/or reunion patches and marks bearing battle or warship information) and ask them about their experiences. P.O.D. delights in the learning and re-telling of this information.

Just recently, P.O.D. went to a college reunion dinner party with some old school mates and their spouses. Given that many of these individuals have been out of college for thirty years, and have a lifetime of experiences, one would surmise that there would be a plethora of stories. When asked to share some, according to P.O.D., most of the folks around the table got that “deer in headlights” look and proclaimed that they had no stories.

No stories??

P.O.D. had to coax his former classmates into timidly sharing details from their lives, which ultimately, made them realize that they might, indeed, have a story or two.

But this has now become his mission. In fact, it has now become his favorite “party game”. “Tell Me A Story” has become a fantastic way to get to know people better…even some of those people who we have known for a long, long time. In fact, this past New Years Eve, P.O.D. and I sat around the table with my brother, his wife, their two daughters, and my sister-in-law’s cousin. We told stories for hours, each one getting progressively humorous as the night drew on. The best was hearing my sister-in-law imitate her grandmother’s British accent as she regaled a story from her youth.

What I take from the “Tell Me A Story” game is that there is so much to learn and so much to share and if we all took a few minutes to do this every day with one another, the world might be a much better place.

In fact, I met a dear friend of mine on an airplane (and I am definitely known to NOT be a “plane talker”) by sharing stories over Bloody Marys. At the end of our two-hour flight, we had developed a wonderful friendship. She is 75 and I am 40 and I might have never, otherwise, spoken to this woman but the story game broke down the walls of social indifference. This has been nearly three years ago and we still call and visit each other as often as we are able.

Imagine the wonderful people on the planet that you might be missing. Stop and listen. You might actually find a commonality between you. The world is not that big of a place. In fact, sharing stories will, no doubt, make it feel much smaller and friendlier. I tell stories to all of you twice a week. Now it is your turn.

Tell me a story….

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don't Let The Parade Pass You By...

Ever since I can remember, I have been a fun-seeker. This being said, I love a good parade – heck…I even love the not-so-good ones. Line up a few cars and a drummer or two and I am thrilled.

I can sniff them out and often will drag my family and friends to see them. You never know what great sights and sounds await you during a parade but all I know is that I am never unhappy during a parade – and I have not known anyone else to be unhappy either.

My favorite parade is, without question, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – the foremost parade event on the planet. It has been a dream of mine to hold the job as Parade Director. My kids know that during the broadcast of the parade, they are to leave Mom alone to clap and cheer along the balloons, floats, marching bands, etc. as they make their way through the streets of New York City in all their commercialized glory.

I had the privilege in 2007 to be able to view this marvel both from street level and from the top of the Empire State Building – a treat that will always remain a treasured memory for me.

But here's the irony…..I cannot stand clowns. Never liked ‘em. Never trusted ‘em. When the clowns walk by, I make sure that I am standing as far away from them as possible. Not that I am certain that they are lovely individuals but I fail to find the charm in these colorful characters with flower pots on their heads and oversized shoes on their feet.

I digress.

On New Year’s Eve Day, my brother’s family, my fella, and myself were all entertained by “The Outback Bowl” parade on the streets of historic downtown Ybor City, outside of Tampa, Florida. It was happenstance that we stumbled upon this parade opportunity. We went to Ybor City to take in its quaintness and to eat some lunch but were rewarded with a bonus opportunity to enjoy this parade celebrating the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes . As I am an Iowan, I was able to fully enjoy this experience surrounded by several thousand of my fellow statesmen and Hawkeye fans.

But I don’t know if it was the company, the pleasant Floridian weather, the festive atmosphere or the excitement of the parade that evening, but as I watched the bands and floats and bead-tossing pirates pass me by, I took it as a sign. I was very, very happy.

And then it hits me. Isn’t life, after all, one big parade? We all march to the beat of our own drummers, we are able to watch people pass us by – some are princes and princesses, some are heroes and patriots, and some are even clowns and pirates. If we are lucky, we will be able to catch a few treasures tossed out by each of these people. There is music and dancing and picture-taking and celebrating. And the only way to truly enjoy it is to take it all in and clap and cheer it along.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year - New Intentions

My good friend, Emma, a holistic life coach, has told me that she has big plans for 2009. Her New Year “Intention” (she prefers that term to “Resolution”) is simplification. I, too, would like to adopt this in my life. In fact, she and I have pledged to help each other through this process of whittling back the things that clutter our lives – both physically and emotionally.

I would also like to add one more Intention to my New Year’s plan and that is to follow the list of 20 things that “Oprah Knows For Sure”. Please understand that I am NOT an “Opraholic” but I do find a couple of gems now and then in her magazine. This list of 20 things she knows for sure was on page 284 of the November, 2008, publication of “O” Magazine. Her insights are brilliant and I will be posting these to my bathroom mirror for me to read every morning. They are as follows:
  1. What you put out comes back all the time, no matter what.
  2. You define your own life. Don’t let other people write your script.
  3. Whatever someone did to you in the past has no power over the present. Only YOU give it power.
  4. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time. (This was a lesson Oprah learned from the great Maya Angelou)
  5. Worrying is wasted time. Use the same energy for doing something about whatever worries you.
  6. What you believe has more power than what you dream or wish or hope for. You become what you believe.
  7. If the only prayer you say is “thank you”, that will be enough. (This is from the German theologian and humanist Meister Eckhart)
  8. The happiness you feel is in direct proportion to the love you give.
  9. Failure is a signpost to turn you in another direction.
  10. If you make a choice that goes against what everyone else thinks, the world will not fall apart.
  11. Trust your instincts. Intuition doesn’t lie.
  12. Love yourself and then learn to extend that love to others in every encounter.
  13. Let passion drive your profession.
  14. Find a way to get paid for doing what you love. Then every paycheck will be a bonus.
  15. Love doesn’t hurt. It feels really good.
  16. Every day brings a chance to start over.
  17. Being a mother is the hardest job on earth. Women everywhere must declare it so.
  18. Doubt means don’t. Don’t move. Don’t answer. Don’t rush forward.
  19. When you don’t know what to do, get still. The answer will come.
  20. “Trouble don’t last always.” (A line from a Negro spiritual).

I want to thank Oprah Winfrey for her beautiful insights and for giving me a roadmap to how I hope to live my life in 2009. I hope this is helpful for you, too.

Welcome to 2009. May it be sweeter than ever!