I did it. Epic parenting fail this week. I left my child. Just left. Forgot she was with me and got home, flopped on the sofa, talked to the hub. Then I asked, “so where’s the Princess, I promised her a book tonight?” The Man of the House looked at me as if I’d lost my mind and said, “you had her.”


That was all I could say as I raced to the car, coatless and panic-filled. I said it 74 more times as I drove the handful of blocks to our church.

Well, 74 is a good estimate.

Luckily, my singing group had gotten out early that night and when I arrived, the Princess was just finishing up and heading out to look for me. If I hadn’t parked crazily by the door as I sprinted into the church saying a little prayer that all was well, she might never have gotten a confession out of me.

And despite the fact that I got “busted,” all was well. If you’re going to screw up and leave your kid somewhere on accident, church is probably the best place to do it. I would trust the women who run the evening program for kids the same age as the Princess with her life, to be perfectly honest. They are spectacular moms. If I had forgotten her completely, the worst thing that would have happened would be that I caught some hell from them. I suppose they would tease me every time they saw me until roughly the end of time. As it is, I hesitated to post this as I suspect my minister is already compiling some zingers at my expense as he reads it – a hazard of becoming friends with the holy ones in charge, especially if they are particularly ornery.

But, it made me think: WHY did I forget her? It is simple. My routine changed. The Princess hadn’t attended the evening activities for some months, I was used to motoring to and from rehearsal solo. A simple change of routine. And that can be deadly.

A quick Google showed me that, on average, 40 kids die each year when their parents accidentally leave them in the car – mostly due to heatstroke. That’s a big number for deaths and, just as bad, 40 families each year who will never recover from the accident. I’ve tried to imagine how I would handle the guilt and utter despair those parents must live with for the rest of their lives. I don’t know if I could survive it – I’m not that strong.

When the girls were tiny, strapped solidly into car seats and vulnerable to that type of disaster, I always placed my purse beneath their feet in the back of the car. I forced myself to get in the habit while pregnant. I figured I wasn’t going anywhere without my purse and that I had decades of experience remembering it, but not much time to adjust to having a newborn or toddler. In just about every news report about children left in sweltering cars there was one common thread – a change in routine. Mom had to pick up doughnuts for a meeting at work and then, in work mode, headed off to the office. Dad usually doesn’t take the little one to daycare, so he got into his morning routine on the highway into town and forgot his child was sleeping soundly in the backseat. Routines change and we’re creatures of habit after all, so that’s when things can turn bad.

When Doodlebug was little, the Man of the House would take her to my mom’s for daycare. We called it the House of Spoils Daycare. A decade later, yep, still spoiled. But, one day he was home ill with the flu. I called and told my boss I’d be in late. Got all packed up for me, for Doodlebug and set the Man of the House up with soup, tissues and some good drugs. I felt energized, organized, like I had just accomplished something as a wife and mother. I was ready to tackle my day at the office – and as I pulled into the parking garage I hear “ooooooo!” from the backseat. Doodlebug, at about eight-months-old, had never been in a tunnel or parking garage before. She was impressed. I was distressed. I had completely forgotten to take her to my mother’s house. Now, I had put my purse in the floorboards beneath her feet, so I believe I would have discovered her in moments. But, the panic that flooded me of what might have been? Pretty hard core.

That’s the same way I felt last week. Hard core guilt. Thank goodness she was at church, surrounded by people that I’ve known for almost 20 years and that have literally known her since birth. She was safe. And lives to tease me about it. And still loves me. She also thinks I’m a good mom, so I’m going to carry that in my heart. But somehow I still feel like I should wear a scarlet hashtag on my forehead for all to see…



Yep, I’m from Kansas. Bite me.

As I gear up and plan for another international trip, I began to  think about our place in the world. Not me, not my family, per se, but Kansas. My larger family. I’m consistently surprised at the misconceptions people have about our state.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some things they get right:
We’re hard workers.
Generally warm and gentle folks.
We are welcoming to strangers within our midst.
Family is important to Kansans.
We love the wide-open spaces our lovely state provides. No claustrophobic and crowded cityscapes for us. Even our cities have enough room to breathe and view that expansive, blue sky.

But there is a lot they get wrong about us. And I hear it. Every. Freaking. Time I leave the state.

Tornadoes. No, a tornado doesn’t touch down every day in Kansas. And when it happens, we band together like the strong Midwesterners we are and get that shit cleaned up and our towns rebuilt. It doesn’t take us long. We’re resiliant. Oh, and tornadoes never pick up houses and sit them down gently elsewhere. Sorry, the Wizard of Oz isn’t real. Get over it and stop romanticizing tornadoes. They are powerful and destructive forces of nature – we can attest to that because we stand on our front porches and rooftops to watch them go by, if they aren’t too close, that is. (If they are close, we do head for shelter, we’re not stupid.)

Dorothy. Let me start this section by stating that I love the Wizard of Oz. I’ve loved it since I was a tiny girl, hiding under a blanket every time the green-hued witch came on the screen. Now, as an adult, I enjoy sharing it with my girls and watching the wonder in their eyes as the story unfolds. Even at my age, the original Oz movie still has the power to enchant me. Judy Garland … well, she was just perfect. However, since I’ve actually left the state a time or two in my life, I can guarantee with certainty that I have HEARD EVERY WIZARD OF OZ JOKE THAT IS IN EXISTENCE. Sorry. You’re not funny. My dog is named after a Beatle, not Toto, and I cannot skip my flight and simply click my damn shoes together to get home.

We’re a bunch of hicks. Oh, I love this one. Let me make this clear. I’m not married to my cousin. Surprise! We live on a city street and we have sidewalks and running water and electricity. There’s a tiny kitchen garden out back, but no sign of wheat anywhere on my property. I don’t hunt varmints nor do I eat squirrel, although I do know some folks in Oklahoma that do (ugh). I do own a pair of shitkickers (that’s cowboy boots to those of you who can’t two-step) but they’ve never seen any shit – just sawdust on the dance floor of a country music bar. And while we’re on the subject of country music, Garth Brooks lives happily beside Jay-Z and Metallica on my iPod. We’re well-rounded and just as in-tune with the rest of the world as anyone else.

Beef. In addition to growing wheat, Kansas is also cattle country. We harvest locally and eat it locally. Tofu sucks. We like beef. It’s what’s for dinner. Deal with it.

Clothes. Wichita was recently ranked as the worst dressed city in America.  Yee-haw. It’s true. At the airport, you can always tell which gate has a flight leaving for Wichita because that is most casually-dressed bunch in the whole airport. We don’t dress up for silly things like running to the grocery store or to Home Depot. You’re lucky if we put on our good Wichita State Shockers tee-shirt and clean jeans to go to church or the theatre – in fact, I’ve seen my own minister deliver a sermon in a WSU tee. We are a relaxed, comfortable, laid-back kinda folk who don’t need designer clothes and $500 pairs of shoes to make us happy. Not to say that some of us don’t have those for the office or hanging in our closets (guilty) but, for the most part – if we’re not working, we’re dressed for comfort.

No Sports. We don’t have a bucketload of professional sports and athletes here in Kansas. A couple of soccer teams, some lower-level baseball teams, sure. What we do have is college sports. And, in general, they consistently do well. And I know that ticks off fans of bigger conferences, say the SEC, when a team from “lowly” Kansas kicks their ass. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll know that Wichita State is currently the top basketball team out of Kansas. I could spend another 1500 words here, heckling our friends from KU and K-State, but I won’t. I’ll just say Go SHOX! #playangry

The Kansas City Chiefs are ours, too. They may officially play on the Missouri side of the border, but we don’t hold that against them. Every fall, we trot out our Chiefs sweatshirts and ballcaps, tune in and faithfully watch them tank yet another promising start or blow a barely-grasped wild card playoff berth. The Chiefs are the reason my two children know all the good swear words and can properly use them.

Flyover state, my ass. Personally, I think Kansas is just as beautiful as any other state in the Union. And other countries, too. I remember taking a train north of London a year or so ago and thinking that the rolling hills looked a lot like the Flint Hills in the spring. Except they have sheep and not cattle. And they spray-paint them, which our cattle would not stand for. But my point is, if you can’t stand in the Flint Hills in the green of spring or on the plains of Western Kansas when the wheat is golden and reflects the sun – and appreciate a sky that goes on forever and the most beautiful sunsets on earth? Well, you don’t deserve the beauty that is Kansas. Go away.

To all the foods I’ve loved before…

I’m on a diet.

No, scratch that, not a diet. I’ve changed my lifestyle.

Shit. That sounds worse. As if I’ve deserted my children and taken up residence in some hippy-dippy commune where we eat nothing but lentils and couscous and spend our hours doing Bikram yoga and chanting praise in honor of the Flying Spaghetti Monster…

…ooooh, spaghetti! I miss spaghetti. Large portions of it smothered in something cheesy. With mushrooms. And cheese.

But, I eat very little pasta anymore. Very little of anything, if you ask me. For Christmas dinner, I prepared a beautiful Lobster Bisque, with lots of cream, nearly-caramelized sweet Vidalia onions and huge chunks of lobster tail. A tiny bit of French sea salt cut some of the sweetness and it was topped with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and a pinch of nutmeg.

I got about a teaspoon full.

And the turkey? It turned out beautifully this year, all juicy and tender, with a brilliant rub that made the skin crisp and fragrant. I ate a mouthful. No crispy skin. And the mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and cream cheese smashed into them were a masterpiece, I tell you. Not that I ate much of them. I think I have a cavity that is larger than the portion of them I took.

Oh, and don’t forget New Year’s Eve! Gin and tonic is a lovely drink and I really, really like to imbibe them. They are especially lovely when combined with a nice Valium on a flight to London, I’ve discovered. But, Gin and diet tonic? Well, it tastes so bad that I really didn’t need a second one. Or to finish the first, for that matter. I did discover that black-eyed peas, those most iconic of luck-bringing legumes, weren’t too bad for the weight-loss plan. However, the leftover ham and broth that I simmered them in shot that right in the foot. I got a tablespoon or so of them. Skipped the cheesecake and ate a handful of blackberries instead. Happy New Year!

And forget hours sitting on my big ol’ bum watching television. Except for the obsessive viewing of my Alma Mater’s basketball games (we’re in the Top 10!!), I haven’t seen much television since I embarked on this little endeavor. (Okay, I did take a time-out for the season three premiere of Sherlock, so sue me.) After dinner, I trek upstairs to the playroom/exercise room and either put an old scratched Britney Spears CD in, sneak Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz away from the teenager, or I drag in the computer and find an old movie to watch. I spend so much time on the exercise bike that the lady parts no longer get sore from the hard, unforgiving seat. In fact, I think I might be having some kind of illegal, immoral relationship with that bike at this point. At least it’s probably illegal in Kansas. That notwithstanding, I’ve discovered James Bond flicks starring Daniel Craig to be especially uplifting for my workouts. I don’t know if it’s his rugged good looks and ripped abs or the frenetic pace of the movies, to be honest. I have confessed before that I love movies where shit blows up, so, 007 does it for me. Star Trek films are the old standby – and I’m showing what a dinosaur I am by admitting that I still have most of them on VHS. So, it’s either First Contact or Into Darkness on DVD when I tire of Bond. Seriously, I must go buy Wrath of Khan on DVD soon.

As one of my friends recently said: “Khan > all other Star Trek movies.”

Yep. And I think Khan’s …um… fit physique would be inspirational. His pecs in that film are larger than my own breasts…

But I digress. Don’t let me talk about things like Star Trek and Doctor Who – you know better, dear friends! This post is about the journey I’m on. A new life I’m attempting to form. A new, healthier body and mind and soul.

Aw, fuck it. Truth is, I want to wear skinny jeans again. With stilettos. And a shirt that isn’t crafted to disguise a muffin top from the world. Or, maybe even a mini skirt for my next birthday. What can I say? I’m shallow. I know my blood pressure, cholesterol and all that other stuff will be better when I’m thinner. I damn well know that I’ll feel better when I have to climb more than a flight of stairs at a time, if I lose some weight. I’ll be able to keep up with the girls more. Maybe go two-steppin’ again with the Man of the House. Maybe even develop the stamina to learn yoga – a goal of mine for some time.

But it all pales in the shining light reflecting off those size four Hudson skinny jeans hanging on the closet door. They are beautiful. Oh, yes, I bought them. At 180 pounds, they seemed to taunt me and were very cruel. Going to bed was like being back in junior high, only it was a pair of jeans doing the bullying.

Today, after losing more than 30 pounds during the holiday season (yes, applaud all you like, thank you, thank you, despite all the chocolate and the cookies in my home, thank you, thank you!), they taunt a little less and seem to be saying “go ahead! Buy the shoes! You’re gonna make it!”

So, 30 pounds down, 20 to go.

As I said. I sure miss food. But I like what I see in the mirror even more than Lobster, steak, or a good Chicken Curry. So, I’ll carry on with the bird portions for now and continue my almost-intimate relationship with the exercise bike. Because for some reason, this time, it’s working. And working well. And crazily fast, too.

So, if you’ll excuse me. I need to do some online shopping. There’s a pair of jeans in my bedroom that must have some stilettos to go with them.

I wonder if Zappos has rush orders?