While waiting at the AT&T store the other day, I came across a website that has been more entertaining to me than Pinterest. You see, Pinterest is all this perfectly beautiful food, craft projects, closet organization, and lists of delightful and entertaining projects to do with your children over the weekend that include more than ten supplies you do not have on hand and will end with you feeling like a terrible parent. Who needs that? Nobody. What we need are gift ideas that don’t suck and that can be ordered online.

As I’ve been perusing my new addiction,, I’ve come across some items I thought would either make GREAT Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers. In the interest of good deeds and the brotherhood of man, yadayadayada, I’m sharing the ideas I’ve found. They’re mostly very affordable and often are not alcohol related. (Gasp!)

Except this first one. This is a carry on cocktail kit, capable of making two delicious old-fashioneds.










Then there’s this – what guy doesn’t want a switchblade mustache comb? You can bet he won’t already have one, that’s for sure.


Selfie sticks are all the rage, but the next big thing? The bike selfie. This can’t possibly go wrong.


This is in honor of someone I know who apparently used to spend some time at work doing exactly this, only without the handy-dandy nap apparatus.


Know someone who’s artsy or a Warhol fan, or both?


Have a friend or family member who likes walking in the rain? Give them their own rainbow. Or color wheel. Whatever.


This heart shaped umbrella is adorable. Looks like a scene from a Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie. Yes, I’m old.


Goth coffee lover? Pirate pal? Try this spoon.


Okay, here’s another alcohol related gift. You know there had to be at least one more.


Personally, that glass is almost cool enough (no pun intended) to make me drink liquor straight like that. Almost.

Let’s just get the last wine-o gift out of the way. In my defense, it’s also coffee related.


Let’s say someone has had a few cocktails and is stumbling to the bathroom later that night, but doesn’t want to turn on that BRIGHT bathroom light. I give you the toilet light. The light also alerts the ladies to the potential for that horrible moment we’ve all experienced at some point in life. (Shiver.) Priceless.


I have no idea who to give these to, but I love them and you should too.


Everyone has that geek friend. Watch them go nuts for this. I thought it was a fancy belt buckle at first.


Just plain silliness? Yes, please. Pizza nails, anyone?


How about cupcake liners that tell your fortune?


And if you just give up and don’t purchase anything for your friends and family, distract them by wearing this.


I think I’ll buy 7 of these to wear every day of the week.















Every family has their little hereditary health gems. Ours appears to be atrial fibrillation.  Mine started in my post-twenties. (Vague enough?) I always considered it a panic attack until it conveniently occurred while on the way to my doctor for a check up.

I was driving along doing a little mental inventory on my health and well being when suddenly my heart went thuddy-thump. Then thuddy-thuddy-pause-thump-pause. My old Mustang used to do the same thing when the fuel filter was clogged.

Of course I shared nothing of this with the doctor’s staff until the third time they tried and failed to take my blood pressure because the machine kept giving them an error message. “Would my heart flipping out cause an error like that? It seems to be skipping beats.”

Next thing I knew I was lying on an exam table with electrodes attached to my chest. Official diagnosis – atrial fibrillation.

This is pretty popular in my family. My brother underwent a cardiac ablation just the previous year. That’s a procedure in which they go in and burn or freeze a part of the lining of your heart to intercept or block the electrical charge that is coming in and making your heart skip beats. (Of course, this is a very simplified explanation, because I don’t want to think too much about it.)

My Afib strikes randomly – sometimes when I think everything is fine and that I’m relaxed. Other times, I can feel that little electrical current hovering, just waiting for something to stress me out so it can zap my internal Ricky Ricardo into his 4 hour rendition of Babalu.


During that 4 hour period of time (give or take), my overactive imagination pictures a fluttering chamber in my heart where blood is pooling rather than circulating properly. I picture a thin layer of coagulated blood forming on top of the pool – like the skin that forms on pudding when left uncovered in your fridge. I imagine a clot of that goo making it’s way through my bloodstream and causing a stroke.

In other words, it freaks me out. Totally.

On Friday, I go in to have a cardiac ablation of my very own. My brother has been telling me all sorts of things to prepare me. Like how they let him sleep on his side and therefore all his internal organs swelled up and he could feel them rubbing against each other. And how the incision oozed for days.

This alarming exchange reminded me of when we were kids and he’d make scratching noises from his room and say, “Can you hear that? That’s a werewolf trying to get in.”

Yesterday he texted me regarding my upcoming pre-surgery CT scan.

Him: “Ever done contrast before?”

Me: “No.”

Him: “It made me feel itchy. You like IVs?”

Me: “I don’t have a problem with IVs.”

Him: “Well, okay. Mine creeped me out. Especially since I had it for so long.”

Me: “Had what for so long? The IV or the CT scan?”

Him: “IV. Overnight. During and after procedure.”

Me: “Oh, okay. No, not a problem. I’m familiar with that.”

Him: “Pirate’s Booty is yummy.”

pirate booty

It’s conversations like this that lead me to believe our real concern as a family should be mental issues – not heart problems.















For those who read A Pain in the Neck, you will understand that there is no possible way to take five prescriptions without there being some side effects. Mine range from heart burn, nausea, blurred vision, slurred speech, hallucinations, drowsiness, and a sudden desire to be crafty. As in MAKE CRAFTS.

It all began when Derek arrived home on Tuesday from Mizzou. I knew he was home because he’d parked the car in the driveway which makes it impossible for me to drive UP the driveway and pull into the garage. Austin arrived Wednesday. Once the boys are here, the world revolves around football. Wait, I take that back. Whether the boys are here or not, the world revolves around football. College football.

Despite the drug cocktail, I knew I was licked. As I tossed back a Valium with a glass of Chardonnay I had a brilliant idea. It normally takes a wild pack of dogs to get the boys to bring the trusty artificial tree out of the garage and set it up. This time, I would motivate them in a way they’d never expect.

“Guess what we’re going to do this year with the Christmas tree?” I asked the three statues in the den whose eyes were focused on the TWO television screens that were maniacally playing marching band music as inane announcers solemnly intoned, “They’re really going to have to come out in this next half and take control of the ball or they’re going to lose this game.”

Obviously riveted by this insightful commentary, I tried the dazed trio again. With an enthusiastic holiday frenzy I did not feel I enthused, “You’ll never guess!”

Sigh. “We’re going to forget all about those precious, handmade Christmas ornaments my late grandmother made from SCRATCH and INSTEAD have a football themed Christmas tree. Mizzou, Baylor – all the schools that accepted my sometimes under-achieving yet personable men (including Robert’s TCU) would be represented. Alabama would also be included by default as it is “grandfathered” in. (For a formal ruling, please contact Ralph Holt.) NOW I had their attention. For about 30 seconds.


“But how?”

“Is this a trick?”

Indeed. How I was going to carry this off was anybody’s guess, but when you’re a Valium and a painkiller into the day, the details just tend to take care of themselves. First, the color theme. We needed to incorporate black and gold, green and gold, deep red and white, and purple and white? Or black? Whatever.

I didn’t even have to Google or Pinterest to know I would have trouble with the black Christmas ornaments. I did the only thing that made sense. I left the house the next morning before the boys were awake and made my way to Michaels.

I still had no plan. Michaels is no place to be without a plan. I headed for the Christmas ornaments, elbowed an adorable gay couple out of my way, and found packages of eight for 50% off. (50% off ornaments, not gays.) I quickly scooped up red, purple, white, green and opted to pick up a couple of packages of clear ornaments as well. In order to destroy the clear glass, I grabbed a can of glossy black spray paint and a nifty glitter spray called “twilight.” A few glitter pens of gold, silver, white, platinum, black and handsful of red, silver and gold letter stickers signaled the end of the shopping trip – until I spotted thick wire-edged ribbon in red, gold and purple. Because you just never know.

I returned home and spread my bounty on the dining room table. Then, I strung the clear glass ball ornaments in the garage and began to spray paint like there was no tomorrow. (And before Robert could come out and tell me I was doing it wrong/and or was going to blow myself up.)

Back at the dining table, a Christmas miracle happened. Derek and Austin pulled up chairs and began “crafting” right along with me. It took us HOURS, and some creative slogans, but I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable times I’ve spent with them in ages. The best part about it was we weren’t really DOING anything. There was no TV. Derek played some Christmas music, and we just CHATTED. Truly, I thought they’d drift in and out as I did the work, but they were right there the whole way. We laughed, we encouraged each other, we helped each other spell challenging words like “Missouri.”

Who’d have thought I’d be hosting a Christmas ornament decoration committee with my 20+-year-old boys? For proof, lest it actually be one of those hallucinations mentioned earlier, I have evidence.

Derek and Austin “crafting.”

Christmas miracle number two? By the time I got home from errands this morning, the tree was up and lit. The two TVs were still in place – or out of place – but every miracle comes with a price.

I have no idea how the tree will actually look, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s our first tree to make as a family. I’m just sorry it was overdue. I’ll post pictures when complete. In the meantime…



Update: I was pleased to see the boys insisted on adding some of Grandma’s old ornaments. I guess those little felt and sequined ornaments remind them of their childhoods as well.

Now, if we can only find a Heisman Trophy replica to place on top of the tree, we can all burn in hell together.


I was thinking about death recently -because that’s one of the weird things I do – and I had a strange vision of my funeral. My husband had selected the music for the service, resulting in a medley involving Rush and the Foo Fighters.

That’s when I came up with a genius idea: Rest Assured.

In the “As Seen on TV” ad for Rest Assured, we’d freeze frame as the Geddy Lee vocal goes full throttle into “Fly by Night,” then a trusted celebrity pitchman (maybe someone like Dan Aykroyd in Driving Miss Daisy) would step into frame and say, “Don’t let this happen to you.”

DAN: Do your loved ones know what you want when you’re gone? Do they know what music you’d like at your funeral? What flowers? What type of casket? Can they compose an obituary?

(Dan looks directly into camera doubtfully.)

DAN: Do they even KNOW your birthday? Really? (He shakes his head.) Do they know if you want to be buried, cremated, shot off in a firework, or donated? Do they know what you want to wear? No. They don’t. Trust me, I’m an actor. Your family knows none of this. That’s why we’re offering you, Rest Assured. Rest Assured is the all-in-one kit that assures you a funeral that won’t make you die of shame.

(Dan makes his way over to a small table that holds a decorative box.)

DAN: The Rest Assured kit includes a questionnaire that asks the pertinent questions your family needs answered before you croak. And, best of all, it’s in the form of a game, so you can make your wishes clear while enjoying a little light-hearted competition.

If you purchase now, you’ll also receive this companion mini-kit, Friends to the End. The mini-kit contains a key ring, trash bags and notebook. Give this kit to a trusted friend who will act on your behalf in case you’re taken from this world unprepared. ‘Unprepared’ meaning you didn’t have advanced notice and need your friend, upon notification of your death, to race to your home, use the house key you’ll have attached to the key ring, and follow the instructions, also noted here.

(Dan taps the notebook and smiles.)

DAN: …Important instructions like, open drawer to bedside table and remove anything battery operated, inflatable, or ingestible. Go to spare bedroom closet and remove box of videos, magazines and DVDS. Go to kitchen drawer and remove emergency ‘cigarettes’ and matches. Place empty wine/vodka bottles in neighbor’s recycle bin.

That’s right. Friends to the End enables your friend to protect your reputation after your death. Think about it. Your family members rummaging through your possessions. Think hard. Do you want that? Haven’t they been traumatized enough by your death? Do they need to know about your late night snack stash? Your collection of attractive yet impractical women’s shoes? No.

Do they need to read your journal? ABSOLUTELY not.

That’s why you need Rest Assured, and the companion mini-kit, Friends to the End.

(CUT to Dan looking sympathetic.)

DAN: What would YOU pay for peace of mind?



Great idea, right?


A few sample questions included in the Rest Assured kit include:

Where do you hide the GOOD jewelry?

What is the combination to your lock box? Do you have money hidden in Swiss Banks?

What’s your favorite flower? (List names and colors.)

Who do you want to give the eulogy at your funeral? (What if that so-called friend of yours – the one with no brain-to-mouth filter decides to tell the Vegas story?)

Do you really want to spend eternity in a suit? Wouldn’t jeans be more comfortable?

What kind of casket do you want? Wood? Fiberglass? Eco-friendly? Decorative?

Where do you want to be buried – or scattered? (Do you think it’s wise to trust your kids to keep you safe in an urn on the mantel?)

Bag pipe or non-bag pipe interment?

Music: Rainbow Connection or Highway to Hell?

Amazing Grace?


THESE are questions that, once you’re gone, some funeral director will fire at your bereaved relatives. And they’ll HAVE to answer. Even if they don’t know. THINK ABOUT THAT. If it scares you silly, place your order now. Operators are standing by.

If you don’t get things sorted out now, you could end up the victim of an overly enthusiastic funeral director with an overstock of these:

It could happen.


Every two weeks, another LetsBlogOff topic is introduced and we scamper off to compose our responses. This week the topic is, “What are you looking forward to in 2012?”

First things first.

2011, thank you for the year of recovery. We marked the one year anniversaries of the passing of my father, Bill Rogers, and my friend, Leah Siegel. I appreciate the opportunity to experience the healing process that strengthened other relationships and for the ability to add a little perspective to my life and work. I don’t know that I would have taken the trip to Wales (my first out of the U.S.) if not for the realization that we don’t always have next year or even tomorrow to carry out our plans.

(Thanks, Sandy, for the best trip ever!)

2012 has the potential to deliver big in lots of ways – or to be a complete disaster. We can control our fate to some degree, but some things are outside our power to command. But, hey, a girl can try, right?

So listen up 2012. Here’s what I need you to do for me.

I will be needing a complete and total cure; a clean bill of health – for a child I know. I can’t go into more detail, as the situation is still developing, and it’s not my place to do anything but put the universe on notice. I just know this: It needs to be fixed. Universe – Pick on somebody your own size. Or I will cut you.

Employment. For my husband. It’s been a difficult few years for him in IT/Channel sales, and it’s time to turn things around. Really. He needs to get out of the house. The dog has gotten way too attached to him. And too spoiled. Observe.

Otherwise, 2012, I expect the same thing from you that I do from myself. I am looking forward to new opportunities, a little rejuvenated attitude and more than a small boost of energy.

I plan to continue this blog, which will be a year old in May. It has been fun and therapeutic, and has introduced me to some wonderful people and talented writers. Who knew complete strangers could be so supportive?

There’s also a possible trip to France in 2012 which should rival my Welsh adventures. I look forward to seeing my friends and family more often, and to the complete recovery of my mother’s pelvis. (That sounds as if she lost her pelvis, rather than broke it, doesn’t it?)

I also look forward to never discussing my mother’s pelvis in public again; as I am sure, does she. (It’s healing nicely, by the way.)

Okay, apparently my obsessiveness and paranoia is going to continue in 2012, because now that I am thinking about the trip to France, I look forward to someone loaning me Rosetta Stone – French. Hint-hint.

I think I may be confusing 2012 with Santa Claus.

Au revoir, 2011. Bring it on, 2012.

What is everyone else expecting from 2012? Read on.

Click here:


In the spirit of helping my fellow-man (and woman), here is what I have learned this past week. You’re welcome.

1. Never trust a teenager who tells you what time your mother-in-law is expecting you. The result is arriving 30 minutes AFTER she intended to “serve.”

2. An unwrapped gift will remain unwrapped until I wrap it. Seriously. DAYS after Christmas. Right now, in another room, a certain individual is staring at the gift in question and saying to himself, “Geez, when is Ann gonna’ wrap this?”

Actually, we’re in a stand off. He wants me to wrap the gift (which I agreed to do because he used the classic, “I’m a guy and I can’t wrap presents well,” ploy.) However, I am not going to wrap it until he completes the gift by putting the photo in the frame. He’s 18 and should be able to manage that himself. Apparently, that gift is going to live in my kitchen unwrapped and un-given FOREVER.

3. People attempting to attend Christmas Eve service at church on a rainy, cold evening will lie, cheat and steal to reserve a seat – or an entire pew – for their LATE (not dead but clock- challenged) friends and family. Seriously. Derek and I (who were on time and in the first group to enter) had to march almost to the front of the church to find a pew someone wasn’t planking on or that wasn’t strewn with coat, scarf, gloves – all spread out across every last inch.

4. Either I have no friends, or no one is sending out Christmas cards anymore. I think we received 4. One was from our newspaper carrier and I think they make him do it. I thought everyone wanted to show off their cute kids and puppies. What happened? At least the Kardashian family did their part.

5. Bowl Games have stupid names now. We should protest. Let’s occupy the Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl.

6. Work you take home to tackle over the holidays does not do itself. Although I still hold out hope.

7. Time passes more quickly when you are at home than when you are at work. I know this for a fact because I only seem capable of one activity per day. I scheduled a phone call this morning and it has thrown me off completely. I am still in my pajamas with very low expectations for exiting them. This is bad news for the people I am meeting for cocktails at 4:00.

8. Do not stack that container of olives on top of the container of berries. The olives leak. (This may not be a universal truth, but it’s something to consider.)

9. My husband can watch more football than yours.

10. Save yourself the trouble of reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” because the movie is crazy good. It’s also exhausting. P.S., Sweden in winter does NOT look as charming as it sounds. Join me and the other slackers in skipping ahead to book 2, which according to my sources gets moving faster than book 1.

Oh, and one last thing… did you hear Samoa is tossing today and skipping on to the 31st? No December 30th at all. I didn’t even know you could do that. They are crossing the international date line so they will be available for more trade with Australia. I think they should play a little more hard to get. Australia has that cute accent and all, but really…

Also, does that mean they get more sleep or less? Because I am all about gaining some snooze time.


Today’s LetsBlogOff topic is about Thanksgiving and food. 

I was having a really hard time coming up with anything particularly unique about our Thanksgiving, until last night, when this year’s got canceled.

Okay, that’s a little dramatic. Actually, it’s only canceled for my mother, who fell and broke her pelvis during game 6 of the World Series. I know it was Game 6 because having lived almost my whole life in Dallas, with a baseball team that was a major joke for years, Game 6 nearly killed me. I also know that when I got the call from my stepfather at the hospital, part of me was really depressed that I was going to have to head to the emergency room and miss the end of the game. (I know. I know. I’m ashamed and going to hell. I know.)

However, as it turned out, we were told NOT to come to the hospital. I talked to her on the phone briefly as the sedation was kicking in and got to stay home to watch the end of the game. And that’s when God smited me for my insensitivity by making it impossible for the Rangers to get ONE OUT. ONE LOUSY OUT… 


Sorry. Back to Thanksgiving. We don’t do anything terribly exciting. No cooking all night. No days and days of baking. We used to go to Grandmother’s, (who probably DID cook all night) but once she sold the house, the gathering became more of a moveable feast  – every year at someone else’s home.  The most memorable thing about Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s was not the food so much – though the dressing was AMAZING, but the fact that she jumped up from the table to run into the kitchen for some forgotten item so often we actually videotaped her end of the table one year so we could show her what she was doing.  I don’t know what on earth was so important in the kitchen that kept her popping up and down like a crazed jack-in-the-box, unless it was shots of vodka.   – Which explains why the rolls always burned. And my predilection for martinis.

When my mother married my stepfather a new tradition was created. I call it, “Thanks for giving me a stepfather who knows how to make a reservation.” Each year we eat Thanksgiving “dinner” at a restaurant. For years it was Les Saisons, then they moved or went out of business. (And yes, the French Thanksgiving theme was a little odd.) Then we tried some other location, and eventually settled on the country club.

Let me just say, Thanksgiving at the country club is a glorious experience. The turkey is stacked neatly on a cushion of cornbread dressing, the squash casserole is to die for, and there are cocktails. Shrimp cocktails, crab claws, smoked salmon, oysters. Champagne, Bloody Marys, wine. The only strenuous thing you have to do is wind your way around the buffet tables with a plate laden with 10 lbs. of yummy goodness.

Anyway, up until last night, Mom kept insisting she was going to be able to attend this three hour food fest, somehow ignoring that broken pelvis / sitting situation. The pain medications must not be keeping her in La La Land anymore because she announced she would NOT be attending our annual festivities. Instead, she proposed that we all go to the club without her, stuff ourselves (or as Granio would say, “Have sufficient,”) and return to the house with a “to go” selection of buffet items.

I was hesitant at first to accept this proposition, but it seemed to be what she wanted, so I agreed. (Part of me thought it could be a trap. People on pain medication can be crafty.) But so far, no repercussions. It looks like Thursday will indeed be a Thanksgiving without Mom. At least temporarily. And for that reason alone, it will be memorable, if a bit melancholy. (Yet still delicious.)

Wait a minute. I just had a horrible thought. Please tell me I wasn’t supposed to volunteer to keep her company while everyone ELSE goes to the club. 

Uh oh.

To see what others in the #LetsBlogOff are sharing about Thanksgiving, click the logo below.


Today’s LetsBlogOff asks, “What is home?”

Boy, has this changed for me.  “Home” has gone from “BEFORE” – an apartment with me and my dog (late, great, adorable beagle/basset Stella), to “AFTER” – a house with my husband and stepsons. (And the emergency replacement basset, Daisy.)

Home is where:

I could watch whatever I wanted on TV.

My husband could “accidentally” delete my DVR recordings to make room for every college football game anyone ever even thought about playing.

My kitchen sink was typically empty and dried with a paper towel to eliminate drips and spots. (Just the way mom used to do it.)

Every time I walk into the kitchen I find another glass, knife, fork, spoon and/or dish in the sink. And a sopping wet sponge. EVERY TIME.  I blame my mother- in-law.  (Sorry, Didi. Love you. But really??) For some reason the boys (and hubby) were never allowed to open the dishwasher and place items inside. When I was first married and tried to “take this hill,” they (the boys) insisted items in the sink made a house look “lived in.” Apparently that is supposed to be a good thing. Whereas my life was spent trying to make a house NOT look lived in, but to look photograph-ready.

I could feast on a dinner of appetizers every night. Cheese & crackers Monday.  Cold shrimp Tuesday, Taquito Wednesday…  I kept my weight in check and grocery bills down.

Dinner involves an entrée, 2 sides and often the appetizer that used to be my whole meal. Plus, for some reason, boys who ask “What are we having for dinner?” are not happy when the response is, “I’m having an apple and some cheese and crackers. I don’t know what YOU’RE having.”

On the flip side, more often than not, it is hubby who is cooking the too large and complex dinner. I’m just the idiot who eats it and then feels terrible because I just ate a steak and baked potato at 8:45 PM.

I could go on and on… but I won’t. Thank your lucky stars I am at the end of lunchtime again.

But in summary, my answer to the question: “What is home?” is apparently, “Where the boys are.”

Dramatic sigh.

Hogging the TV, making messes that amplify the “lived in” look we were SO not going for, and tempting me with too much food that I normally would not even consider purchasing, much less consuming. (Thank goodness most of the junk food gets eaten before I am even fully aware it’s available.)

It’s also where I am never allowed to take out the trash myself, where the yard work is “men’s business,” and I always have someone who knows the score of the game.  ANY game.  I can also occasionally get a neck rub, an awesome old-fashioned, and a really good steak (medium rare).

 For other takes on the What is home? topic, please click here.


Growing up, my family had a reunion maybe every 5 years. We’d meet at some convenient location for the day, and go away again for another 5 years. We stopped the whole thing when I was still pretty young, so I’m not sure what out-of-towners did after those exhilarating few hours. Maybe that explains why we quit having them. That, or all the polyester in one room was a fire hazard and we could no longer secure a venue.

Now, my in-laws have a reunion every year. EVERY YEAR. It’s either in the “home town” or some beachy location. It typically lasts 5 days and this year involves a head count of 36.

That’s 36 for Happy Hour before dinner. 36 to transport to dinner. 36 for dinner. 36 for beaching (chairs and umbrellas, etc.) 36… well, you get the idea.

Needless to say, a lot of prep goes into this each year, as evidenced by the…oh, about 1000 email I’ve been copied on since planning began. The last 3 days saw a flurry of “Reply Alls” regarding laundry detergent and its exact room number, the disastrous potential of NOT using low suds detergent, (who’s doing laundry on vacation??) what is considered appropriate dinner attire, (well, it IS a beach…) and an unapologetic calling out of the purveyors of the $3 Family Happy Hour wine and insinuation that it will no longer be tolerated. Surprisingly, the complainant WAS NOT ME.

These little missives have kept my co-workers and me entertained for days. They hear me say, “Oh, for the love…” and spring up like prairie dogs to peek over the cubicle and hear the latest news flash.

I would copy all the email trail(s) into the blog directly and leave it at that, but I do have to spend 5 days with these people, and I bet if they wanted, an “accident” COULD be arranged. “Accidents” happen at the ocean all the time. And anyone who can coordinate this group can arrange ANYTHING.

Stay tuned. The fun is about to begin. My hubby (who arrived yesterday) has already texted me the term “bat $#&!”



Meet my Flat Marketing team. They so enjoyed hearing about this trip, they decided to join in “paper” form. You can follow their adventures at the family reunion if you Like the Flat Marketing FB page.


Father’s Day is next weekend, the 19th. In the past that meant going to one of Dad’s favorite restaurants – Outback Steakhouse or Red, Hot & Blue. On Saturday I’d pick up something amusing for him – like lottery scratch-off tickets (always a big hit) or maybe a DVD of some TV show he’d just discovered – like Everybody Loves Raymond. (I don’t know why, but both sets of parents seem to discover TV shows a decade after they’re over.)

To me, family events like this always seem a bit of a chore. Not that I don’t enjoy my family. I’m just selfish and don’t like giving up any of my weekend for something I’m “supposed” to do. Plus, I’m not a great gift giver. I’ve NEVER known what to give people. I also never enjoyed trying to get two boys and a husband out the door in time to meet people half way across the metroplex for lunch – or dinner. (For some reason this is reversed in my house. Men are never waiting on me. I wait on them.) Really, that part alone was such a beating it just didn’t seem worth the effort to even take them along. Lord knows I threatened to drive off without them enough.

Last year, as usual, we had lunch with Dad and my stepmother, my brother and sister-in-law. During the meal, Dad went off on some crazy tangent about how the 50s were the best decade of them all, and why. Then, he moved on to bowling and everything he’d learned about it since he started working on the Bowling Museum. (Both discussions were actually connected, although bowling is NOT what made the 50s great.) After lunch we went our separate ways to await the next holiday that would bring us together. As we drove home with a sense of accomplishment, I sighed, relieved to be on the way back to the house for my other weekend chores.

Dad passed away unexpectedly in July. That makes this upcoming Father’s Day the first that I don’t have to wrangle people into the car or freak out about being late, get annoyed with Dad for repeating the same story I’ve heard a thousand times, OR for asking me (again), “You still haven’t seen Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo? Funniest movie EVER.” I also don’t have to stress over what gift to buy. His scratch-off lottery tickets are with him.

A word of advice: Spend time with the people you love. Don’t just squeeze it in.

Losing a parent is losing a part of yourself. Your history goes too. Who else can say “I remember when you were 4 years old and so afraid of the dark we had to sit in your room until you fell asleep.” Or from MY dad it’s more like, “Remember when you were 8 and I used to pants you in the grocery store?”

You miss those stories once they’re gone. But mostly you miss the person who told them. Turns out, you can even work up some serious nostalgia for being pantsed in the grocery store.

This year, I know a few things I never really knew before:
1. There will never be another individual in my life who finds no real fault with me, despite proof to the contrary.
2. Father’s Day is not a chore.
3. For the rest of my life, I’ll be watching Deuce Bigalow on Father’s Day.