9-11: I’ll Never Forget

10Sep2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
9-11 Collage

For several years now, on 9-11, I’ve used a variation of this picture as my profile pic on Facebook.

Almost 3,000 tiny dots all jammed into a space, a mosaic of black, white and brown.

It takes a moment to realize that each white line frames a face.

And that every speck of color is a person.

I use this photo because it offers a haunting perspective of how many innocent people were murdered on that bright September morning.

When the picture is thumbnail-sized, it doesn’t look like anything but a solid gray smudge. And when you consider how most of these victims died, that’s rather appropriate, in a terribly morbid way. So much of New York City was covered in ashen gray for such a dreadfully long time.

I share these two thousand, nine hundred and seventy-seven tiny, tiny squares, because I worry that we’re beginning to forget that each one holds someone’s child, spouse, parent, sibling, lover, friend. The evil that gleefully slayed them grows with every passing year and they have never stopped lusting for more of our blood.

I fear that my government is far too eager to appease those who would love nothing more than to wreak an even greater havoc on my beloved nation. On me. On you. On our babies.

So, I don’t forget what we’re up against. I won’t. I can’t. I pray that you never will, either.

I want to share one of my favorite pieces ever written about 9-11. It’s from what I refer to as “my” book, because it includes a piece that I wrote. Operation Homecoming is one powerful collection of true stories that I believe belongs in every American’s personal library. It will make you weep, probably infuriate you and will definitely crack you up. And since Kindles weren’t around when it was published, I think you should click that link and order the Kindle version for yourself. There’s no better day than today to begin reading it.

Because this is how it begins…

I remember the golden globe in the vast courtyard between the two buildings and a spattering fountain next to cold stone benches. Inside, I would look up in awe at the cathedral-like glass, the suspended walkways, and the grand, vaulted ceilings rising ten stories, crowned with a diadem of crystal chandeliers. I remember the large fabric hanging artwork. I can still smell the concourse level’s red carpets when they were new. I was eleven. I remember sitting on those red carpets with my schoolbooks, imagining I was in the city’s most elegant reading room.

Now, up there on floors so high no hook and ladder could ever reach, a man in a tattered and burned white business shirt stands in a broken window with flames licking at him and smoke billowing around him. I see someone let go, briefly flying. I read later hundreds did the same. Hundreds.

I remember spending many summer afternoons and twilights as a teenager sitting on top of the South Tower, sometimes reading poetry or a book, the raucous sound of the city muted and far below. I was listening only to the air passing by me, my mind wandering.

A second plane slams into the South Tower. The explosion sounds like thunder.

I remember closing my eyes outside in the open air up there and feeling the sun’s warmth on my face. No matter how hot it was on those city streets below, there were always cool breezes at more than a thousand feet up. The Tower would gently sway from the wind. It was unnerving at first, but after a while, I remember feeling comforted like a child being rocked back and forth. I wasn’t worried she’d tip over. Ever.

The president addresses the nation and the world. He says to us, the armed forces, “Be ready.”

I am.

-Petty Officer First Class Gregory S. Cleghorne


Moving My Clip

10Sep2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

At Jonah’s school, they use this type of behavior management chart:


As you can see, each student’s name is written on a clothespin, or “clip” as they call it. Every child starts the day off on green. But misbehavior can lead to the child moving his or her clip to yellow, or even the dreaded red.

The other night, it was very quiet in the house. It used to be that if Jonah was quiet, it meant he was into some serious mischief. Now, it can still mean that, but more often than not, it just means that he’s busy with some activity.

When I found him, he was busy writing on the clothespins he found in the laundry room. When I asked what he was doing, he said, “Every person in this family needs a clip.”

Then he held them out for me to see.

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He explained that, instead of a clip chart, he was going to put them on the edge of the white box. If he moved our clip onto the brown box, we were in BIG TROUBLE!

So far, so good…


I asked him what we had to do to get our clip moved, and he said that it was when we were being mean.

“Like, when you won’t take me to McDonald’s or when you tell me I can’t watch TV. That’s not being very nice.”

“It’s not? Oh, OK.”

“Or when Zach and Eli are yelling at each other, they will get their clips moved.”

“They’ll have to move them a lot, then, huh?”

“Yeah,” Jonah said. “There’s a boy in my class who has to move his clip to yellow ALL THE TIME!”

“Really? What does he do that gets him in trouble?”

(I’m expecting to hear something along the lines of arguing with the teacher, teasing other kids, not doing his work, etc.)

“He doesn’t follow directions!”

“What kind of directions doesn’t he follow?”

“Well, Mrs. J tells him not to, but…he eats paper!

And he tells me this so dramatically, with such wide eyes, I can’t help but laugh. Apparently, to him, paper-eating is way worse than any scenario I’d imagined above.

“Wow. Back when I was in kindergarten, kids ate paste. And we didn’t have any clips to move, either.”

“What is paste???”

“Something that really, really old people used instead of glue sticks.”

“Wow. Glue sticks hadn’t been invented yet?”

“No,” I said. Then I adjusted my reading glasses and rolled off in my wheelchair to make a glass of Metamucil, before I said something that would make him move my clip.

Dear Entitled Offspring

9Sep2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

Dear Entitled Offspring,

I’ve got a little newsflash for you: your parents’ purpose of existence isn’t to make your life as pleasant, easy and indulged as possible.

I realize that’s going to come as a shock to some of you. Maybe even most of you. As you spent long summer day after long summer day draped over furniture, spread across your bed, your face perma-glued to some type of screen, your parents were still working at their jobs to make that leisurely lifestyle available to you. And now that school’s back in session, I can see how eager you are to reclaim your slothfulness every moment you’re at home.

But y’all need a wake-up call.

That air conditioning that’s keeping you cool? It doesn’t pour out of the wall freely because magical little frosty fairies thought you should never break a sweat. Those clothes on your back? I stayed up nights writing so that you could wear something up-to-date and fashionable, even though you already had 100+ other options in your closet that you were “tired of” or “couldn’t find” or were too unmotivated to sew up. That Diet Coke you just pouted about because I claimed it, the one you HAD to have because you don’t “like” the other choices available to you (even though I saw you fighting your brother for that “disliked” brand yesterday), who do you think paid for that? Who drove out and bought it? Last time I checked, it wasn’t you.

See, Dad and I have the right to claim things that WE work for. Did you know that in some cultures, kids aren’t even allowed to have food until their parents have eaten their fill? We don’t really HAVE to give you anything frivolous. We don’t. And neither one of us has to share if we don’t want to. But we almost always do share, we almost always put you guys first.

And y’all have just come to expect it.

But when I don’t give up something I want, when I’m having a bad day and I’d like to indulge in a little fizzy happiness to take the edge off of worries that you don’t even begin to know about (and shouldn’t) and then you go and act like your little entitled self deserves that drink, and I don’t? Yeah. Selfishly steamrolling outbursts don’t go over too well with us Moms.

We’re also not real fond of that sigh/huff/stomp reaction when we ask you to do something around the house. You know, when we have the utter audacity to request that you actually pause that hard work of 24/7 relaxation for a mere fraction of an hour so that dishes can be cleaned or a bathroom wiped down or some laundry put away? I know, I know….it sucks that we don’t have a staff to do this stuff for us. I’d love nothing more than a maid, groundskeeper and nanny to keep it all together, but guess what? It ain’t in the budget.

And even if it was, newsflash! You’d still have chores. Because you used those dishes, you dirtied that bathroom, you’re old enough to clean your own clothes. And none of y’all have yet mastered any of those tasks. It’s my job to make sure you master them before you move out of my house, and you sure aren’t going to learn it through osmosis.

I know you tell me that your friends don’t have any chores, but even if that’s true (and I doubt it), you’re going to contribute to the running of this household whether you like it or not.

Oh, and let me throw you another clue: I don’t give a rat’s behind what your friends’ parents let them have or do. Thankfully, people’s homes are like independently-ruled islands. What’s on one doesn’t have to cross over to the next. That’s why I just laugh when you whine because little Timmy up the street has a golf cart, dirt bike and 4-wheeler, all of which he’s allowed to speed through the neighborhood without wearing a helmet. I’m not ashamed when I tell you that I must love you more than his family loves him, because you’re not getting the keys to crack open your skull on my watch, kid.

I also don’t care that Miss Thang can wear short-shorts and backless tops, a crap-ton of makeup and 6″ heels, and has her hair and nails done regularly at a salon. God help the man who is going to have to take over her maintenance someday. I also don’t care that she gets to play softball, take guitar lessons, do gymnastics and cheerleading all at once. You may choose one activity per semester. Choose one, or do none. “None” is a lot easier for me, so please, feel free to choose that option! And if you do opt for an activity, just be grateful for it. A lot of kids never get to experience paid recreation at all.

I am also aware that our technology is terribly below-par. You must be awfully sad that you only have one Xbox complete with Kinect, one tablet, access to a desktop and laptop, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and SlingTV. It’s also just a horrible, awful, no-good thing that your smartphone isn’t the newest, or that you don’t have your own phone number for your little friends to call.

Man, I don’t know how you face the day with such terrible obstacles in life to overcome. But one day, if you get past this world-owes-me phase, you’ll get a job and can foot the bill for your own phone number! And maybe then you’ll be happy, because you’ll see what BIG FUN it is to pay all those bills?

But even then, you probably won’t be happy. Because from what I can see, your generation and work don’t seem to get along very well. Y’all need to think about changing that attitude, though. Because as much as I love you, as much as I have (probably wrongly, sometimes) indulged you, as much as I enjoy your company (when you’re not whining and pouting)–the truth remains that you’re not supposed to live here forever.

And all of this perceived meanness from me, all of these “unreasonable” things I make you do, every desire I have that you behave in a respectful way, are all attempts at fulfilling my duty to create citizens who can stand on their own two feet and actually do something worthwhile with this ever-too-brief gift we call “life”.

But until that day that you no longer have to live in this matchbox house, governed by our oppressive regime and our totally far-fetched expectations, here’s a little advice: be grateful for what you have. There are literally billions of kids in this world who would be happy with even a fraction of what you’ve been given.

Love (yes, seriously),



$1 Root Touch-Up

6Sep2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

I know, I know. Some of y’all, including my hairdressers present and past, will cringe while reading this, but here’s the deal:

I have four kids, each of whom needs approximately 467 things every day. I don’t have the money (or the luxury of time) to get my hair professionally done every 6 to 8 weeks, when my roots start glistening in all their chrome glory. So, for a long time now, I’ve used those root touch-up kits to extend the length of time up to 16 weeks between salon visits.

(Or, in my case, having the salon come to me–P.S. I love you, Sandy!)

However, is it just me, or does it peeve you to pay $6+ for a diddly amount of hair color? I mean, the price is almost the same as a full-size box. Not cool.

Frugal me figured there had to be a better way. And I found it.

Let me introduce you to my $1 root touch up regimen!


(Please ignore my retro-fabulous, battered, old countertops. This house was built in 1971, and they are original!)

You’ll need:

  • A box of Revlon Color Silk in a shade close to your base color. Mine is Dark Auburn.

Color Silk retails for about $4, but as you can see, I scored mine at Big Lots for a whopping $1.90!

You’ll also need:

  • A small plastic bowl for mixing (a clean margarine tub works great)
  • A plastic medicine cup that measures in milliliters
  • The brush from a root-touch-up kit (or really any small plastic brush)
  • Rubber gloves
  • A timer

Check your math before you do this, because we know how product sizes shrink almost daily, it seems. But today, each bottle contained 2 ounces, or just shy of 60 ml. You want to mix half of each bottle. So measure out 30 ml. from each bottle and pour it into your mixing bowl.

Recap the bottles and put them back in the box for next time.

PicMonkey Collage

Just a note: while you can’t keep color that’s been mixed, it’s perfectly fine to open the individual bottles and recap them to use again later.

OK, so…stir your color til it’s really well-mixed.


Brush it on your visible root areas. I also swipe a few stripes through my hair so that it blends in better.

PicMonkey hair Collage

Let it process for the amount of time on the insert (in my case, 25 minutes for resistant grays).

While you’re waiting, wash out your bowl, measuring cup and brush and store it away with the box of color for next time.

BTW, look how much was left over! I might try mixing only 15ml of each next time.


Holy cow, that would make for a fifty-cent root touch up!

(Be still, my frugal heart!)

Shampoo, condition and style as usual.

Then amaze your friends with your beautiful, frugalicious self…and share this post so they, too, can save their money for something more fun than hair color!


Or, spend what they’ve saved on groceries, socks and pencils, like I most certainly will.

But he’s cute. I don’t really mind.

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I’m a Chick-fil-A Mom

5Sep2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
CFA Mom Panel

Does this make me a moooover and a shaker now?

I was excited to learn the other day that I was selected to participate in this year’s Chick-fil-A Mom Panel!

Basically, this means that I’ll get to be among the first to hear about inside Chick-fil-A knowledge and happenings, and share these things with you guys. I’ll also share them on my social media networks, which I am currently working to expand. It also means that I get to network with an amazing group of moms who also love to “Eat Mor Chikin” while supporting an amazing, community-focused corporation that does a lot of good in this world!

So, stay toooooooned for future updates!

(And more cow puns, I’m sure. Because y’all know I can’t help moooooself.)