Thursday, December 29, 2011

Maybe Next Year.....

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ On the fifth day of  Christmas my true love gave to me...... nothing yet, he left super early for work. ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

So I spent the day going on a walk with the Things and Red Dog (and her monkey noises). Then Thing 1 taught me a bunch of Knock Knock jokes that didn't make any sense, which made them even more adorable to me.

Knock Knock

Who's there?

Apple.

Apple who?

Appletree orange banana! Blahahahaa!

So in light of there being nothing to talk about, I decided to make my goal list for next year. It may seem a bit early to be posting my New Year's Goals, but I say "do what feels right!" and also I say "I may forget if I don't do it now!"

In the coming year of 2012, I have some pretty big ideas about what I would like to be doing, so I'm going to WRITE IT and then DO IT. Can I get a WOOT WOOT? I even have a classy title....

Johi's Shit to Conquer in 2012:

1. Continue my reign as Ms. Wag the Dad 2012 with dignity and grace. *belch* But seriously, I'm going to think a lot more about World Peace.

2. Get Thing 1 to stop urinating in public. Like the other day, when I lost track of him after preschool and I found him outside, in the middle the front lawn with his pants around his knees and his tushie bare in the breeze, watering the grass. Did I mention his preschool is at a church? Yeah, that needs to stop.

3. Get Thing 2 to evil laugh his way onto the Ellen Show. Totally doable, I say. (I just really want to meet Ellen DeGeneres, so any way to do that would be acceptable.)

4. Get on The Babble Top 100 Mom Blogs list, like my girl Elizabeth (Flourish in Progress) did this year. Go Liz! In fact, you can help me right now please click here and hit the like button! Go ahead an share on Twitter or facebook if you are feeling particularly loving! Don't forget my ho Jen, vote for her here! xxoo

5. Secure a career that pays well GREAT but allows me to work on my own time and be there for my kids. What? I'll do it, just watch.

6. With my new income, pay off all debt then take my family on an awesome vacation- preferably somewhere warm where the drinks come with tiny umbrellas. (Then buy a newish vehicle that wasn't made in the 90's and fits more than two adult humans.)

7. Foster Thing 1's emerging interest in Art with patience and encouragement. (I'm no teacher, people)

8. Be more involved in my incredible church and give more back to my community.

9. Get Thing 2 to stop spitting on all the mirrors in the house.

10. Never again pay bills while PMSing.

11. Eat less sugar. Eat more vegetables.

12. Fix the mothereffing garage. It is so hideous that I sometimes (okay.... always) want to cry when I look at it.

13. Meet some of you fellow bloggers in person. (You'll recognize me, I'll be the one in the Green Suit) Go here if you are confused.

14. Buy new shoes. (I'm sure this won't be a problem.) Wear said new shoes with the Green Suit.

15. Get a baby goat. Or a herd of baby goats. And film them while they are doing adorable baby goat things.....and then add peppy music. Like this:





What are YOU doing next year?


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ah, good wine and good friends.

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...... a raging hangover and an hour of sleep. ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

Don't pity me, it was totally worth it.

Honestly, is there any greater Christmas gift than time spent with wonderful friends? (Time that included chocolate dipped strawberries). Me thinks not.

My friend MADE these all by herself! And I ATE them all by myself!
Okay, I begrudgingly let other people have a few....


Once upon a time, there where four classy women that worked together at a veterinary clinic. We loved animals. We loved making fun of people. We loved to talk. We loved to drink. We loved to laugh. We were the best of friends. To honor that friendship, we got together every Friday night so that we could drink beer and fart. Sometimes we were funny, other times we probably weren't, but we always had a great time.

Then we all scattered across the country like dandelion seeds. One went to the west coast, the other to the east coast and another moved across the Great Divide. Only one remained, sad and listless for her long lost Friday night gathering. (Okay, she fell in love and got married, but that makes the story less dramatic, now doesn't it?). Finally, TEN YEARS, five kids and three husbands LATER, three of the girls were reunited! There was laughter! There was snorting! There were people yelling "CUT IT OUT" in the direction of children! There was a dinosaur helmet!  There were venison tenderloins! There was WINE!
It was a magical reunion that only happens to the most special of friends. The kind of relationship where one can literally pick right up where they left off ten years ago. It was awesome, and so worth the hour of sleep and the battered liver that I am suffering today.

And what, you ask, could be as glorious as that kind of gathering?

Why, only another visit today with my very bestest friend in the whole world who cruelly left me and moved to San Francisco! I was so excited to see him that I forgot that I am functioning on an hour of sleep! Fleener neener neener....pickle. I drank liver detox tea while we munched on fresh veggies and caught up on each others' lives. All in all, it was a great day. Thanks to everyone who made it magical~ you know who you are. xxoo No Black Dog, not you. You smell like open ass and you kept barking all day.

And I have to give a shout out to Mary Kay's Ultimate Mascara- one application is going on it's 18th hour and I don't even look too scary! Can I get a fist pump?

I think I am running on adrenaline or maybe I'm delirious. I will need sleep soon.....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Third Day of Christmas

♩ ♪ ♫ ♬  On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me.... a crate in which to put my baby.... er... I mean the baby's toys.♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

The toy storage situation in this house leaves a lot to be desired. I have a charming picture in my head of how the toys should look. Something along the lines of cute matching containers, preferably baskets or metal bins, that are all clearly labeled so that we know where things go when we are singing the 'Clean Up' song. I imagine the toys in my house to be stored like this:

Image from gosimplysavvy.com
 Instead, I have a bunch of mismatched baskets and bins that only hold toys if I put them inside of them (then promptly set them on a shelf that is out of reach of the Things). We were a bit short on containers since the mega-gift opening happened here, so Brock went out (with out my approval) and picked up some containers for things. Giant containers (not of the charming tin or basket variety) that won't fit anywhere but the center of the room. Then a miracle occurred! My husband actually picked everything up and placed it in the bins..... I know. I almost crapped myself too.

It didn't last long, as this is what the big bin has been used for today:

First: Right side up with Toys + Thing 2.



Second: On end with no toys, only Thing 2.



Then: The Magic Show!
Toys on the floor and Thing 2 still inside.


Lastly: Note how the big bin is empty, yet there are toys, clothes and food everywhere,
including underneath the now empty storage bin.
Ta-Dah! The reality of  storage ala Johi's house.

Hey, I can't be expected to clean everyday- especially today, with an injury sustained PRIOR to coffee consumption. Hell, I can barely type this. You see, I stabbed myself between the knuckles with a knife when trying to open a fricken fracken DVD shrink wrap. HEY PEOPLE WHO SHRINK WRAP CD'S AND DVD'S: HOW ABOUT A FUCKING PULL-TAB?????

I think the cute bracelet that my mom got for me really distracts from the
clearly professional tape job. Don't you?


That is all.

Peace, Love and Tidy Spaces,
Johi


P.S. I realize that at 19 months, Thing 2 is officially a toddler, but I'm done having crotchlings so as far as I'm concerned, he is and will always be 'the baby'.


--

Monday, December 26, 2011

Crap. I started thinking again.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me.... a giant kick in the ass.

I need to get serious for a minute. I have this super special thing that I do. I call it self-doubt. Whenever things start going well for me, my first instinct is to embrace it. Then after the feeling of newness and relief has worn off, I start feel super nervous and I question the positive change. "Why are good things happening?" "How long will this last?" "I don't know if I deserve this....." and so on and so forth. And I don't stop there, oh no. I'm all in. I like to serve my self sabotage up with a heaping side of "I'm okay at ______(name a task/skill that doesn't involve thinking dirty).... but I'm really not as good as _______ (fill in the blank with someone more talented, more focused, harder working; someone with better grammar....). Why should I get to be successful when there are thousands of others that are probably more deserving?".  I have to be honest. Here is the bottom line: I think that I'm not good enough. There it is. This is not a new thing, as it has been a problem for my entire life. Neat huh? Weird how I haven't achieved my definition of true personal "success" yet....

I was actually laying in bed last night, talking with Brock about this. I was telling him how much I love him, those incredible Things that we made, my family, my friends and my life; and how it all seems so fragile that sometimes I am paralyzed by the thought that it could all be taken away from me in a heartbeat. I may have even been tearing up a bit. He said, "I'm glad that I don't live inside your head. You must be exhausted." I laughed at that, but only that dismal laughter of shame, because he's right. I am tired of questioning everything. I would be nice just "to be" for a change. I would be refreshing to find enough focus to let things happen in an organic way--- things that lead to some kind of success, peace and bliss in my life. You see folks, this former Art Student who really doesn't make art because she thinks that she sucks has been living in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear for the sake of fear. Add the worry that comes with being a mother and a financially dependent wife and what started as one tiny fear has now morphed into a life eating monster which can be debilitating.  And I. am. tired. of it.

And to answer your question: No. I'm not PMSing.

Then I log onto CrackBook this afternoon to find that Dr. Wayne Dyer has typed this jewel as his status update: "Be patient and loving with every fearful thought. Practice observing your fears as a witness, and you'll see them dissolve."

When is this guy going to get out of my head????

So I will take this as a sign and approach the rest of the day being patient and loving of myself and my stupid motherflipping fears. I have already practiced my new guitar twice today, and I totally suck at it so I guess that is a minor success (not the fact that I stink, just that I keep trying). I think I'll shoot for a nap as well, while I'm at it for I "fear" that I am over tired.
P.S. My fingers hurt.
P.P.S. I'll bring some funny soon- maybe even with cartoons.


So here are four questions for the coming New Year:

What are your fears? Have you overcome them? How? And does anyone have a sedative?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I love Christmas!

Part 2 of the Tis the Season for Family Post.

Merry Christmas my friends! The Wagner's had a much needed low key pajama day today. After a month of nonstop preparation, we finally got to enjoy the fruits of our labor (including the leftover turkey from dinner the other night.) We opened gifts, we lounged, we ate a wheat free version of Wicked Opinion's Oatmeal pancakes and bacon, and we watched It's a Wonderful Life. Perfection! Santa brought Thing 1 the "Bumblebee Transformer with Wheels on it!" that was requested, and it only took Brock two hours to transform it. (It would have taken me longer, I assure you- I never could figure out that damned Rubix Cube.) Thing 2 got his own semi truck and trailer set, which was so insightful of Santa since the little guy was coveting the one that Auntie gave Thing 1 a few days ago. Brock got some much needed new duds and I got a huge surprise. A flippin' guitar! I know! Now I'm officially cool!*

* I just have to learn how to play it..... details details.

As I mentioned in my last post, my sister and parents visited last week for a pre-Christmas Christmas Celebration. Aside from tons of food and laughter.......

Yum.
 My favorite part of this was the pears with cranberries poached in white wine.
Heaven. Pure heaven.

....we also had a small gift exchange. And when I say 'small', I mean that my children received a ridiculously obscene amount of presents from my family. Crazy filled the air and the gleam in Thing 1's eye was brighter than Rudolph's Nose on Christmas Eve's flight.

I had a feeling that my delicate suggestion for 'unobtrusive toys that encourage quiet play' would be ignored, but bless my special heart, I tried anyway.

I requested the parental units to get Thing 1 a LeapPad so that he could learn and play independently and quietly. They came close; they bought him toy weapons. He received two guns and a bow and arrow set, to be precise. They even gave my tiny Thing 2 his own rifle, because everyone knows that 19 months is the proper age to learn about guns. And BONUS! All of the guns MAKE NOISE!!!! Yessssss. It's like a mother's dream come true. And as you all know~nothing says "we love you Baby Jesus!" like stocking up your house with a full arsenal of guns! Can I get a YEEEHAAWWW?

This is sheer and utter JOY on my face.


I fully expect that the guns will have a limited shelf life here, just as all of the toys guns (all bestowed upon my children by people that are not me) have in the past. Actually, most of my kids' toys have a limited shelf life, because they either break the toy or break something with the toy. Even an innocent Cowboy Doll that we call The Big Woody (thanks for that Michelle) was used as a cannonball and hurdled into one of my favorite pieces of artwork. The glass broke along with my tiny heart. You see, I have BOYS. Boys DESTROY things. It's a fact. Google it.

And I'm really not as annoyed as I let on about the guns, because between you, me and the wall; my boys can take a fallen twig and make it into a mighty dragon slaying sword. So I'm in for it either way. I could give them pink angel wings and tutus and Thing 1 would end up MacGyvering a restraining device out of them and using it to tie his brother to the porch railing. Hey, I didn't wire them, I just incubated them until they were pried out of my uterus by a team of medical professionals.
Boys like to hit and shoot things, and they like to do that while making loud noises, because what is more awesome than explosions and hunting and aggressive games involving stabbing your friends? To a boy~ not much. Again, google it. I'm merely just reporting the facts.

So what did I say to my parents for all of the noisy AWESOME loud OBNOXIOUS shooty crazy toys? Why, only the most heartfelt of thank yous. And I sincerely was mortified and scolded Thing 1 when my dad big cowboy guy got him all riled up and my precious child yelled "You Old Idiot!" at him. I am absolutely certain that I don't even USE those words together, so that means the kid is really thinking for himself these days, which makes me proud and sad at the same time.


If I had the perfect photograph to describe my family dynamic, it would look something like this: Big cowboy guy looking ornery and being caught in the act, my mom looking blissfully happy~ in a sort of Mrs. Claus way, and my sister and I looking... well.... bitchy in a potentially unapologetic "we're ganging up on big cowboy guy, again" sort of way. Of course Brock would be taking the picture and all of our heads would be slightly cropped. But since I don't have the picture..... oh wait! But I do.


If this isn't the poster for Family Disfunction, I don't know what is....
And yes, my sis and I are wearing matching vests.
Enjoy.

I hope you are all having a blessed Christmas! And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope that you are having a pajama Sunday, like mine (complete with wine). And look how I can rhyme!

Peace, Love and Joy,
Johi

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tis the Season for Family!

Part one....

My parents and my sister were in town visiting for an early Christmas celebration. We had a great time. Lots of food, laughter, screaming children and dogs. Pretty much like normal but with more people and dogs. My father told me that I wasn't allowed to blog about him and I laughed and said, "If you say it, I just might write it". Then he said something about 'getting my goat' and I said "whatev, I don't even OWN a goat yet." Then he blabbed on something about 'women being seen but not heard' but I wasn't paying attention because I was too busy talking. What I do recall is him saying that he didn't want me to mention him at all so instead of 'dad' I will refer to him as 'big cowboy guy'.

My second favorite thing in the world, right behind watching David Caruso 'act', is when my dad the big cowboy guy keeps teasing me about the ginger squash soup that I made two years ago (I assure you, it was delicious- big cowboy guy thinks that if it isn't made of something that was once bleeding, it is some kind of sissy food). He has been teasing me about this soup for two years now, and let me tell you it is not even close to getting old! In fact! It is the funniest thing EVER! *crickets*
Okay, so it wasn't funny the first time and two years have not added any flavor to that joke, but what was funny is when mom was giving my sis and I a lecture about "respecting your father the big cowboy guy" which obviously made my sis and I laugh. Shockingly, my laugh was a bit more mocking and evil than hers. You see, "allegedly", my sister and I are kind of mouthy with the big cowboy guy and "allegedly" we tend to gang up on him. Nooooo.... that can't be right. Then our sweet mother was quiet for a moment. She shook her head, sighed and solemnly said, "He hopes that he dies first because he is not looking forward to that wild wheelchair ride down a hill into the pond."

Seriously, the delivery of that line was pitch perfect and the mental imagery in our heads is priceless. One of the sisters may or may not have snorted. I don't think I have laughed that hard since "Schweaty Balls" on SNL.

Poor big cowboy guy. He raised himself a couple of forward, bold, sassy daughters. No shrinking violets here. We wear our boots to the dance, command the floor, eat all the food, laugh too loud and kick the assholes in the shins. As it should be. But if I had any room at all for pity in my heart for bratty grown men who cheat at Candyland and tease children until they cry, I would pity him. For reals. I would. Since I can't find pity, I will probably just continue to give him a hard time, because I feel it is my obligation in this life and golly gee whiz! I almost always follow through with obligations!

Me and the sis- just a couple of delicate flowers....


Here's the damn soup recipe. Please please please make it if big cowboy guy is coming to your house for dinner. Tell him 'Johi said it was your favorite.'

Delicious Fucking Soup
a.k.a. Ginger Squash Soup

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 packages (10 oz each) frozen cooked winter squash, thawed (or 20 oz. of fresh cooked squash- I use butternut)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or coconut milk for dairy free)

In a large saucepan, simmer broth and squash. Add applesauce, sugar, ginger and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, stir in cream. Cook for 30 minutes or until soup reaches desired consistency, stirring occasionally.
6 servings
Serve to big cowboy guy with a smile.

Peace, Love and Unicorns,
Johi

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Spirit of the Season

I truly love Christmas~ the music, the decorations, baby Jesus, the gift giving, the reindeer, the baking, time with friends and family, the over eating.... all of it. Especially the "I believe" and the twinkle lights. It is friggin' magical. One of my favorite things was Thing 2 putting his toy Mary on top of his haunted Halloween castle and making her laugh evilly, "AH HA HA!" Add a wide eyed four year old, a Christmas tree and an Elf on the Shelf and watch as you turn into a kid again too.

I'm pretty sure this is Dasher and Vixen. Although one of them should be named
Grumpy Little Adorable Bastard, and of course that was the one
that I wanted to take home with me.


But as any human does, I occasionally lose sight of the true spirit and meaning of the season while in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Particularly when I am "hypothetically" in Toys R Us looking at overpriced hunks of plastic which are sure to break (especially when one of my children uses them as a sword and picks a fight with a tree- a common activity at my house), or be used as a weapon to clock someone else in the head, or be left in the middle of the floor so when I get up for a glass of water I step on it and quietly- so as not to wake any one's peaceful slumber- curse while holding my wounded foot jumping up and down on one leg. And if I happen to be in Toys R Us while PMSing, all feeling of "Christmas" have exited my body and been replaced with a sweaty, annoyed disdain. For "hypothetically", all I can think of is how many different kinds of flu viruses can be housed in one building, how obscene the amount of cash will be spent and why the aisles are not big enough to fit one cart down, much less try and courteously pass someone without it turning into a passive aggressive game of "I was here first bitch, just back the fuck out and go around" .....

I'm not saying this happened, it's just a hypothetical situation.

Okay, it all happened. Add to that a teething, screaming toddler and an "I CAN DO IT MYSELF! (but he doesn't actually DO it at all) 4 year old and my nerves were RAW by the end of last week. I felt as if I have consumed 16 cups of coffee and topped it off with the blood of a rabid squirrel. It was not good.

I pulled myself together a bit by going to book club on Saturday and then taking the opportunity to go to the store ALONE afterwards. While there, I breathed air without someone clinging to my leg and screaming or arguing with me, and I purchased a few items that were something like 80% off for myself- one being the best sweater ever which I assume I will wear until it rots off of my body. I know that buying for oneself is not exactly "the Christmas Spirit" but when I get the chance to be out of the house without children during blowout sales, I'm taking advantage of that shiz. And the only guilt that I feel about buying for myself is the guilt I have for not feeling guilty.

So, in short, I lost my way, as I tend to do at least once or twice a week, and something happened yesterday that snapped me into the Christmas Spirit so hard that I think I have whiplash.

As I was preparing the house and myself for the arrival of my parents and my sister (I was wearing my awesome new sweater for the third day in a row), I noticed that a package had arrived for me. I looked and saw that it was from a friend that I had made while at camp when I was 12 years old. We had reconnected a few years ago on facebook and were having fun following each others lives and blogs. She and her twin sister are from Kansas and are fellow moms, horse women and lots of fun, so we all have quite a bit in common. She had asked me for my address so that we could exchange Christmas cards, but instead of getting a card, I received a gift. As I opened it and starting reading it, tears welled up in my eyes. The girls sent me a book that was signed by the author- an author that I tried to meet last February at a book signing but the meeting never happened and it broke my heart. The girls wrote me a note which is now permanently affixed to the inside cover. I was seriously the best gift ever.

For the background story, go here.

Do you like my sweater?
 Yeah, I don't really care. It is freaking warm.
 If you do know me, you will grow to hate it because until winter is over,
it might as well be sewn onto my body.

All it takes is one moment, one small act of kindness, one smile..... to (in the words of my minister from his sermon last Sunday) Magnify God, and all of the meaning of spirit of the season rushes back into my heart.

Give it up for Baby Jesus. Can I get a fist pump?
Image courtesy of the graphics fairy.


I am so fortunate and so full of gratitude for my life and all of the freaking amazing people in it, and you can bet your booties that I tell God that- even when I have raging PMS.

So I encourage all of you to give an unexpected gift this year, whether it be to a friend, a relative, an acquaintance or someone you've never met. We gave anonymously to a family in need, and those where my favorite gifts to buy- hands down.

Thank you to my friends whom I haven't seen in person for 25 years. Thanks for being so thoughtful and generous, I LOVE the book and didn't even own her cookbook yet (years of hints to those around me and no one listened). Thank you for making me feel special and loved. And most importantly, thank you (and Pamprin) for bringing the true spirit of the season back into my sight.

Merry Christmas to All!

Love, Johi

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Teething at Christmas

Poor Thing 2, he is cutting four teeth right now. He's been a tad cranky. Just a wee bit. Okay, a lot cranky. Actually, I can think of nothing that screams (literally SCREAMS) "I'M UNSTABLE!" more than a teething baby/toddler at Christmas.

Peace and Joy. Peace and Joy.

Notice how Thing 1 is totally enjoying himself- I sometimes think that he LIKES it when his little brother is naughty and he gets to wear the halo.



So what does an intelligent woman like myself do when the baby is teething and angry and doesn't want to sit with a stranger? Why I take him to a barbershop to get his first professional haircut! (Cut to me running around behind him with scissors and deciding to let someone else "handle it"). It worked out great too. Naturally.




I'm waiting for my Stellar Parent of 2011 award to arrive in the mail any day.

I love him so much that I even think he is precious when he is angry and howling.
P.S. Suckers don't taste so great with hair on them.

That is all.

Have a great weekend. That's an order.

Peace, Love and Screamy Meamies,
Johi

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Announcing the WINNER!!!!!

I was so excited about selecting one of my awesome readers as a WINNER to last week's Old Navy sponsored giveaway that I popped out of bed at 5:45 a.m.!

Actually, Brock was snoring, then his clock radio started playing music (I blame Thing 2, aka, The Gremlin) which he didn't hear so I was laying there listening to him snort and loud breathe while Karen Carpenter was singing and I was feeling all annoyed and ready to kill and then I remembered! It's time to pick the WINNER! So I sprang out of bed and sprinted to the coffee pot, only to be greeted by the darling Red Dog with her monkey impression.*

*That is a mostly true story.

SO, WHO IS IT??? You ask.....
Who gets to wear this adorable shirt? (I hope they pair it with those grey shoes and that owl necklace, just saying......)


*drumroll*

Did anyone see Glee last night?

OMG, I almost forgot.... TODAY IS ALSO MY OLDER SISTER'S BIRTHDAY!
I only have the one sister but I like to mention that she is older, especially since that random douche canoe thought that I was HER MOTHER.
Bastard.
Happy thoughts, Johi.... happy thoughts......

Happy Birthday Sissy! Love you! And now I will show your picture to the entire Internet!!!! muahahaha!

The hotness.
Geez- some one's been working out again....
Do you all remember my Halloween costume? Great minds obviously think alike. And I'm pretty sure she and I have properly frightened our father until the end of time. Super Sister Powers- ACTIVATE!


That's my imaginary BROOM, people.
Sheesh.
Somehow sissy pulled off "sexy witch"
far better than I did. Shocking.
Maybe it was the lack of the mullet wig?
I don't know- I guess it will remain a mystery....



Oh, sorry....the contest.....

THE WINNER IS:


AMY SCHAU PRICE!!!

Congratulations Amy!
 It looks like Santa will be bringing you a little
something extra this year!
Thanks for reading and commenting!
And look at how pretty you are!
xxoo

I'll contact you and get your address so that I can follow you home and smell your hair ship you the prize! Yay Amy!



Peace, Love and Unicorns,
Johi


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Johi's Quick and Easy Ways to Feel Joy

Alternately titled: 12.5  joyful things for 2012

Since this is the season of giving, I would like to share with you some 'secret' ways of mine that I use to feel happy. I'm writing this here because I have been feeling happy lately, probably because this is the first time since school started in September that I haven't been plagued with illness, but whatever. I'm just going with it. Also, I can reference this list in January when I'm all depressed and I want to punch Unicorns, hiss at children and throw rocks at random passers by.

1.) Exercise, and make sure to do it hard enough to break a sweat.

I try to do this 4-7 times a week, but sometimes it only happens three times and that's okay too, because of number 2 (not "number 2", just keep reading...)

Yes, this is me exercising in high school. I've been
in the habit for some time now. (not running, just
exercising in general)
Guess which one I am!


2.) Cut yourself some freaking slack.

It's 2011 and we all have more to do than time to do it. Between kids, work, meals,  housekeeping, and  relationships, we are all stretched thin. It's Christmas, which means that there is extra tasking on every one's plate right now. Even if it isn't a holiday season: make yourself  list of only three major things a day to attend to, no more. Three things to start AND finish. Maybe it is 1. laundry 2. shop (at one store) 3. crafts with kids (I effing hate crafts, but the kids like it). A list of three things is attainable, more can be overwhelming. You will most likely be able to accomplish the three things in a day, and if you get more done than it is a bonus and you deserve a PRIZE (like new boots or a baby kitten)! And by the way, I haven't baked one holiday treat this year, and I'm okay with that! (Brock's whining a little, but I feel fine.) And for the Love of Pete, if someone offers to help you when you are overwhelmed, FUCKING SAY YES.
Laundry- check.




3.) Shower and make yourself look decent.

I'm the first to admit that I spend a lot of time in frump mode- no shower, no makeup, pj pants, slipper and a sweater. While I believe that that is fine occasionally, I also believe in the power of putting some effort into your presentation, if for no one other than yourself. I ALWAYS feel better if I look decent (not FANCY, just like I didn't pull clothes out of the dirty laundry).

Tah-da! I showered and dressed myself!


The same rule applies to my home- I always feel like I can breathe better when my home is somewhat in order..... not spotless, just functioning.

4.) Laugh. As hard and as often as you can.

I love me some comedy. Nothing is more cathartic than a good belly laugh that makes your side ache and tears stream down your face. This is why I surround myself with charming, witty and funny people. I read humor blogs. I watch comedies on TV and rent them from Netflix. I randomly put on outdated clothing and insist people take my picture. I video my children when they are being silly. I ocassionally listen to my husband talk. I love to laugh. I also need to laugh. So find whatever/whomever it is that toots your whistle and chuckle away! This does it for me....



5.) Eat healthy.

Duh. Put good stuff in your body and you will get good results. Your skin will look better, your hair will look better, your waistline will thank you and you will feel better. I firmly believe that different eating plans work for different people, but we basically subscribe to a simple minimally processed/whole food plan. Because of our issues with wheat, we tend to eat a little more low carb than I like too, but it is out of necessity. Lots of lean protein, fresh veggies and fruits go a long way. And the Crock Pot is my best friend in the cold months, that way I am not trying to fix dinner directly after naptime (also known as The Demon Hour at my house).

Round steak with peppers simmered in a tomato-y sauce,
served with steamed green beans and baked potatoes.
Yes, that is REAL butter, certain things I
won't skimp on.

"Who Who Who wants this recipe?"


6.) Indulge a little.

We all have things that we love that aren't necessarily great for us, but I believe (for the most part) that if it brings us joy, then it can't be all bad. For instance, I love red wine and dark chocolate, this will come as no surprise to most of you. And I eat chocolate and drink wine, but not nearly as much as it seems. I have wine no more than 3-4 nights per week and it is rarely more than one glass when I do. I also eat chocolate, but no more than four pieces per day (and I'm talking Dove pieces, not entire candy bars). I'm not sharing this to sound pretentious, I just wanted to let you all in that I indulge with LIMITS that I impose upon myself and follow. This is the only way that I am not a raging alcoholic or extremely overweight with rotting brown sugar-infested teeth. So whatever your "thing" is, enjoy it in moderation.

Hello Lover.


7.) Give Love Openly.

Ahhh Love. Isn't it the best? I think so. That is why I am generous with my "I love you's" when talking with family and friends. If I care about you, you are going to know it. Life is too short not to let your awesome people know just how incredible you think they are. And what goes around, comes around. You can't spread joy without some of it coming back to you. It's a fucking fact. Look it up, you gorgeous and intelligent human, you.

I dare you not to feel all warm and fuzzy.


8.) Always be honest.

People will be grateful in the long run. I think..... Well, at least they won't call you a liar.

It's true. I wanted to be a Solid Gold Dancer
when I grew up.


9.) Snuggle with a furry animal.

It's hard not to feel happy when Smelly Cat is cuddled on my lap, purring. Even if he stinks, I still like it. I also always smile (even though it is through gritted teeth) when I just dig my fingers into Red Dog's silky coat or stroke Black Dog's head (the only part of her that she doesn't rub in cat shit). That's the good stuff, right there.

"I like tummy rubs."


10.) Sing and Dance, even if you suck.

I'm not talking about auditioning for a reality song and dance show (actually, if you are horrible, please don't), but most people have a space large enough to accommodate a person or two for some singing and dancing. I do this with my kids all the time and EVERY TIME we are all smiling. And we all suck.

He isn't really a unicorn, but he doesn't know that.


11.) GO OUTSIDE.

Sunshine and fresh air. Enough said.

No, stay on the couch. This looks horrible.


12.) Focus on someone or something other than yourself.

Things might be total shit in your life and you may feel like you are in a flushing toilet bowl going no where but down, but if you stop focusing on yourself and help or do something for someone else, you will be amazed at change within. A shift of focus and a change in perspective can make all the difference.

My friend Sarah and her friend White Owl....
I'm pretty sure he is homeless.


12 1/2.) Do something that is JUST FOR YOURSELF every day.

Whether it is meditating for 10 minutes, or sitting in your favorite spot with a cup of hot tea and a good book, or listening to your favorite music, or painting your toenails, or sketching, or writing a blog.... DO IT. No one else is going to do it for you.

Johi time....



Okay, I'm done here. Thanks for letting me be happy and not getting all judgy and annoyed with me. I'm PMSing, so there is no telling how long the feelings of goodness will last. I'll get back to the funny tomorrow, when I announce the WINNER of the giveaway!

Peace, Love and Joy,
Johi

Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Feel All Christmasy and Shit...

In preparation for Christmas, I have been experiencing a variety of things to get me "in the mood".
I.)Three Weeks ago:
  1. I was walking through the mall with a glorious head cold when a salesgirl popped out of her little island and sold me a magic Dead Sea manicure set. Then she leaned forward, put her face in mine and stared at my eyes. She was all kinds of up in my personal space, but she was pretty so I didn't mind as much a I normally would, and then she asked "What are you doing about that skin around your eyes?" and I was all "Er... I'm sick. I don't normally look this bad." Then she whipped out some Dead Sea miracle eye serum that was normally $897 an ounce and smeared it on my right eye and said, "It is like the surgery or the buttocks...."       *Screech* WHAT? And then I realized that she meant BOTOX. I didn't buy it, but I did walk around for the day looking 36 on one eye and 34 on the other and repeating Botox in her accent to anyone who would listen.
  2. When I was back in Iowa, I was getting ready one morning at my parent's house. My dad walked by and demanded " WHAT ARE YOU EATING?" and I replied, "Nothing! I'm curling my eyelashes!" and he demanded, "YOU NEED TO EAT MORE!" and stomped out of the room. I had been awake for two hours and had eaten toast, bacon and eggs and drank orange juice and two cups of coffee. I'm pretty sure I'll be alright. I think he has spent too much time judging the condition of his livestock.

II.) Two Weeks Ago

  1. I didn't end up shopping on Black Friday because Brock went out instead for a new TV that was priced super cheap. He waited outside for three hours in freezing cold weather in the pitch black night. He said that he couldn't act cold because there were a couple of 20-something twits wearing fucking shorts so he stood like a MAN and braved the cold. At night. In single digit temperatures. Only he didn't get there soon enough for the mega TV deal so he picked up a different one. When he went back to return something later in the week and noticed that the TV he purchased had only been marked down $20. "Never again! NEVER AGAIN!" he swore while shaking his fist (not really, but I thought it was more dramatic with the fist thing.)
  2. Thing 2 was napping and I hadn't yet showered, so I said to Thing 1, "I'm going to shower. Come and get me if your brother wakes up." He replied, "Will you tell me 'Hold on a Minute'?"    I fear I tell him this a lot.
  3. I spent four days decorating my house for Christmas. My house looks like a white trash version of Macy's, complete with green twine holding up the tree. Especially after I bought myself my family a bunch of gifts from there.... like these new boots that I found on sale for $66 (with my coupon) originally priced at $170!.... Merry Christmas honey!
Merry Christmas!
Tree, Eleanor, me, Baby Jesus and Boots.
I thought I was pointing at the boots.... oops.


    C.) Last Week


    I woke up one morning to discover that not only had Black Dog slept on the (new) couch again, but she also left a couple of butt nuggets behind. Cozy. Nothing makes you want to sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" like dog shit on the couch.


    Later the same morning, I spilled coffee all over Eleanor.


    I went to a Christmas Card Party with some of my friends. We ate chili, drank wine and addressed our Christmas cards. I know. We's a bunch of cRaZy bitches. I think I gave myself Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  I still haven't finished my cards and I can't even pick up a can of tomatoes off the shelf at the grocery store. Special.

    It started out fine.....



    and then, some time after K..... owww.


    I have yelled "GET OUT FROM UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE!" and "STOP THROWING TOYS AROUND THE TREE!" and "FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, GET OFF OF YOUR BROTHER!" at least 12 times per day. Hence, the presence of the Elf of the Shelf has become critical to my sanity. Now I just hiss, "He's going to tell SANTA!"
      ROMAN NUMERAL FOUR) This Week
      •  I passed this lady dressed in sports gear, snow boots and hot pink pajama pants on the way to preschool. She was walking down the road with a lit cigarette hanging from her lips. I thought of Misty's Weekly Whacked column and wanted a picture for her.I considered circling around the block, but I can't steer, shift, and take a picture while laughing, so I decided to draw you a picture instead. Sadly, I did not exaggerate, not even a little. Enjoy.
      The dangling cigarette always takes away from the
       "I'm walking for health and wellness" potential.

      • I won a MOTHERFUCKING PAGEANT armed only with some seriously lazy wit and my rockin' green suit! I now hold the title QUEEN for a year. Ms. Wag the Dad 2012= ME! Fo shizzle. I'll be printing pictures to autograph soon. Maybe. If I get around to it.....my hand hurts, maybe my assistant can sign them for me.
      Queen B.
      What do you think the B stands for?


          That's it, in a nutshell.

          Thanks for reading, and remember- I will draw and announce the winner for the giveaway Wednesday so there is still time to enter!

          Peace, Love and Buttocks  Botox,
          Your Queen,
          Johi

           

          Thursday, December 8, 2011

          LOOK!!! It's my first GIVEAWAY! Get OVER HERE!

          Because it is the Christmas season and I'm a giver.....
          and because I love you all for staying loyal to me, even after you heard me sing....
          I am hosting my very first Corn Fed Girl Giveaway!

          You all know that I love style, fashion and clothes. And you all know that that I am poor on a tight budget. And I hope that you all know by now that there are certain stores that cater trendy and cute fashions to the budget conscious, like myself; one of my favorites being Old Navy!

          My gal Freda from the Old Navy in Grand Junction, Colorado, has generously offered to sponsor my first ever give-away. She told me to pick anything for you, my lovely readers, and she would simply GIVE IT AWAY TO ONE LUCKY BASTARD, FOR FREE.

          I looked all over their website http://oldnavy.gap.com/  and found so many wonderful items that I had a hard time choosing, but I settled on......

           This Top

          "Hi, I'm adorable!"
          It is super fly and the tailoring works on almost any body type.
          Plus, I felt it was versatile and could lend itself to many different looks...
          Keep reading....... (all items pictured below can be found at Old Navy)



          For example:

          Look Number One, aka. "There is NO WAY
          that you have children!"


          I would totally pair it with
          these great skinny jeans in
          white and these killer
          campus boots.
          Then I would toss my 18 pounds of
          "Mom Stuff" into this fresh bag and people
          would think that I had actually showered.
          Plus, the top is that forgiving kind that
          you could eat a large meal while wearing
          and NO ONE would  ever know!
                                                           




          Look Number 2: I call it "Book Club with the Gals".



          Comfy, casual but with a funky edge!
          This just screams, "I'm intellectual but I love to have fun! Pass the wine, bitch!"

          For the record- all of this is on my Christmas List. Especially that Owl necklace.


          So, once again, THANK YOU for reading my dribble, THANK YOU for commenting and making my day, and THANK YOU for the online friendships that I have made. You people rock! So one of you awesome people (or your awesome loved ones) might as well be wearing this awesome striped top while being so awesome in general. Sensational!

          But how do I enter? You ask.


          Oh yeah, you can enter up to four times!

          1. Simply leave me a comment here. For those of you in Google Reader, click here.

          2. Join me on facebook. Click HERE.

          3. Post a link to my site on Twitter or your own blog (and leave a comment here telling me about it).

          4. Go visit the Grand Junction Old Navy and tell Freda that I love her (or you can like her page on facebook and tell me about it here).

          Good Luck! Winners will be chosen next Wednesday (Dec 14, which is also my OLDER sister's birthday) and announced HERE! Woohoo! Good Luck!

          Merry Christmas and Ho Ho Ho!
          Johi

          Monday, December 5, 2011

          Dear Becky. Here is your #$&@*#& video message.

          Dear Becky,

          Because I wanted to make your arse clench and flutter again, and also because I like to ignore those "things that happen for a reason", I stubbornly continued to try and upload my video. The winner was Take 5 (which was done this morning with my camera, since I broke the webcam), so imagine how horrendous the first four were.

          For those of you who are confused, go here, also known as "today's other post".





          You are welcome.

          I hope this at least earns a  *s l o w c l a p* from Jen.

          I'll just be here, cleaning snot and dog hair off the furniture, and waiting for Hollywood to call.

          Peace Out Sister,
          Johi

          P.S. I'm still waiting for a video of you singing..... *tapping fingers*.....

          For Becky. It Has Blue in the Title. I hope it pleases you.

          My Dearest Becky from New Zealand,

          How are you? I am fine. <----- as a child, this is how I started every letter that I wrote. I was clearly a genius.

          You asked me to sing for you~ yes I remember and I like to honor the requests of my friends. However, I don't think that you realize that not everyone can sing, such as your wedding singing self. Fortunately I am one of those special souls, who although knows I cannot sing, insist on singing, and not just singing, but attempting to do things like harmonize with the radio. It truly is spectacular. Well I have big news. I finally got a new computer and my new computer has a frightening feature.  don don don.... A WEBCAM! I know. SCARY.

          Be afraid. Be very afraid.

          To all of you reading this highly personal and private letter to Becky that I am posting on my public blog (shame on you!), let me explain. A while back,the gorgeous and talented Becky from I'm Just a Girl and I've Had it Up to Here answered a burning question I asked about how to properly identify a Hoe/Ho. It was in this post that she not only answered my question, but also requested that I perform Willie Nelson's Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain while strumming a guitar, roping cattle and indulging in "Willie's Nelson"..... or something like that. Although none of that actually happened, this did. I apologize in advance.

          To Becky. I "heart" you.


          And this is where I wasted countless hours trying to upload a short masterpiece created by ME.

          I think the video speaks for itself. Too bad it won't upload. It was genius.  In the time I spent attempting to upload the video (two and a half mother effing days...) I also managed to break or disable the webcam on my one week old computer. I am awesome. Anyway, it was me doing a monologue and performing an a capella version of Blue Christmas- and all of it was dedicated to Becky- who now needs to fly to Colorado so that she can watch it for herself on my brand new stupid laptop that doesn't work. I guess the rest of you will just have to use your imaginations.

          disclaimer: I don't know if it is actually white at Christmas in New Zealand and I am far too lazy to Google something for educational purposes because I am much too busy {watching funny cat videos on YouTube}, so this song may in fact be completely wrong. If that is the case I will take requests, as long as I can sing them in the key of flat. Thankyouverymuch.

          Enjoy your Christmas season Becky! And remember, even though your man left you alone during The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I still love you. And I'm sorry about what I just tried to do to your eardrums.

          Peace, Love and Twinkle Lights,
          Johi

          Friday, December 2, 2011

          Winter Schminter.

          This happened today.

          Isn't it serene and lovely?

          Don't be deceived. To my left, just out of the picture frame was a flailing, screaming, snot covered Thing 2, who had lost one boot in the snow and was frustrated by his mittens. Miraculously, he left his hat on his head (probably because the mittens didn't allow him to whip it off and toss it over his head; currently a favorite move of his.) but he was crying so loudly that I had to put the ponies back in their pen and get him inside. And when I say "put" the ponies in their pen, I mean I had to DRAG Blizzard across the yard because he had found green grass under that snow and was protesting the lock up. Nothing looks more sane and graceful than a grown woman dragging two stubborn little ponies through the snow. Moments earlier, Thing 1 had a full blown meltdown because Brock and I insisted that he wear a long sleeved shirt to preschool. I know. Torture. Good thing no one else was in the house because it was cRaZy up in here. Oh wait, Isai, the Dish Network guy was here. In fact, I heard him use the word "loco" when he was on the phone. I really don't speak Spanish, but I'm sure he followed it up with the Spanish word for "awesome", because everyone knows that we are "crazy awesome"..... right?  Hello?

          I hate winter, not so much the snow or the cold, but because my children are a couple of tiny terrorists and going outside with them is painful for everyone involved. Especially me.


          It really is pretty. Look at that blue blue sky.
          No one does whore frost like Colorado. And do you see that satellite dish?
          It's new and I now have access to Project Runway. Hell yeah!
          Hey kids, mommy is busy. Who wants cereal for dinner???

          So what do I do, with two screaming children and a raging hangover from those devilishly delicious Ginger Crescent Martinis that I discovered last night on our date night? I invite my friend over with her two screaming children and we sit in the kitchen in a mom coma, ignoring our children, drinking water and talking about clothes. Occassionally one of us would yell "No tattling!" or "Work it out yourselves!" in the general direction of the noise. That's right. Crazy Awesome.

          And then there is this.....


          Enjoy. He's a total turd. And he's all mine (and Brock's, of course).

          Peace, Love and Evil Laughs,
          Johi

          Thursday, December 1, 2011

          Oh Life, You Precious Tricky Bastard

          I realize that I have been fairly absent online for the past two weeks, but what a two weeks it has been. A lot can happen in 14 days. Two weeks ago today my Uncle Rich passed away after a sudden and unexpected massive heart attack. He spent three days in the ICU, surrounded by doctors and hospital staff who were working hard to get his heart to pull through. Outside of his room, his family gathered; waiting and praying for the best, but apparently it was Rich's time to go.

          In a fog of mourning my uncle's seemingly untimely passing with tears of sorrow, confusion and pained laughter from stories that were shared around his dining room table, we all have to find our own ways to deal with such a great loss. Many times in the past week and a half, during my daily tasks I have to stop, just fill my lungs with air and try to regain some focus. To say that we are all deeply saddened is a gross understatement. Rich's passing not only affected his wife and three sons and their families, but also his father, his brothers, his sisters, his in-laws, his 20-some nieces and nephews, his other extended family, his friends, his colleagues and the entire community where he spent the majority of his life. He was a highly driven, intense, serious, generous, passionate, devoted and honest man. He served not only his family, but also the community and our country. The impact he had on people was evident in the six hour long wake that was held at the church. Six solid hours of people lined up, waiting over an hour to speak with the family. It was incredible.


          When such a traumatic loss occurs, one finds themselves cursing the fact that the entire world doesn't just stop for a while so that one can digest their loss. Just a moment of nothing to adjust to their new reality. We want the chaos of everyday to still, the noise to cease, the motion to calm, so that we can attempt to make some sense of our emotions and our thoughts and our sadness, or maybe just so that we can numbly sit and catch our breath.

          But the world doesn't stop.

          The clock keeps ticking off the seconds... and minutes.... and hours. Days pass. Life continues. We still need to eat, bath, sleep and generally "handle our shit". But the fact that things continue to move and progress is really our greatest blessing.

          Every day is different. For me, every day as of late is a day of healing. Every day is a day for reflection. Every day is a day for love. Every day is a day for gratitude.

          Last night, as Brock and I shared some wine after the kids were in bed, I finally had a chance to "be still". In the warm glowing light of my house, which is newly adorned with the Christmas decorations that I spent the last three days displaying in an almost crazed frenzy of constant motion, I had a chance to breathe and that breath filled me with peace. I had a chance to reflect on my life- past and present. For instance, I chuckled about the argument that I had yesterday with Thing 1 about why I, in fact do not think that my Nalgene drinking bottle is the perfect place for his dirty socks. And I felt proud as I marveled at Thing 2's recently acquired knack for making proper animal noises and perfecting an evil laugh. This time was in fact so healing for me that I woke up this morning, yearning to wear hot pink. It was not until later when I was sorting laundry did I realize that I have spent two weeks wearing grey or black.

          So I will tell you soon about our Thanksgiving and Black Friday, but until then, I want to share with you my gratitude for my life. I want to let you know how sometimes I am overwhelmed with my good fortune, especially when it comes to my family and friends. I want to let you know that you all are a part of that.

          Although I truly feel I can best honor my Uncle Rich through living my own life to the fullest, I struggle to find the proper words to do his life justice here on my blog. That is why I am posting the eulogy, which was written and delivered by Rich's brother, my Uncle Kurt. I can say that I am truly blessed and extremely proud to be a part of my family. I love them all fiercely and am grateful for every one of them.

          Without further ado:


          The following was prepared and delivered for Rich's funeral Mass by his brother, Kurt.


          First of all, on behalf of the entire family … I’d like to say thank you for the

          incredible outpouring of respect and support today and throughout the past week. It

          is remarkable … and we deeply appreciate it. … I think it clearly reflects a couple

          of things.

          One … Rich touched a lot of lives…

          And two… he left us too soon… period. We all still want him to be here.

          Rich was special to everyone here… but that special connection wasn’t necessarily

          the same for everyone here. … And that’s what I want to reflect on today.

          How did you know Rich?

          There are the obvious connections… brother… husband… dad… Papa Rich…

          in-law… cousin… uncle… friend… colleague… And while those connections are

          important to those closest to him… that’s not what defined him. … What defined

          him were the character traits he displayed through the roles he played… roles like

          coach… volunteer… leader… organizer… This is who Rich was. … This is what

          Rich did.

          So for the next few minutes… I’d like to share some thoughts… and memories…

          and observations about Rich… his character and his passions… And whatever your

          connection to Rich might have been, I think you’ll recognize threads of these

          things in that relationship…

          I’ll begin with Rich the fan. … And let me start by stating the obvious, Rich had

          something more than a “passing interest” in sports… In fact, if there’s a sports

          chromosome, I’m sure he had one… and I’m also pretty sure he passed it down…

          He was a life-long Cardinal fan, and I think it’s fitting that he was able to see them

          win one more World Series. And I’m sure he had a full appreciation for the way

          they did it… being ten and a half games out of first place with five weeks left in

          the regular season ... seemingly out of contention … only to scratch and claw their

          way into the post season, … then continuing to surprise everyone in their march to

          the title series. … And there was that historic game 6, with the Cardinals twice

          finding themselves one strike away from losing the series, and twice delivering

          clutch hits to win the game and ultimately the series. There was no quit in that

          team. … It’s as if that series was scripted for Rich. He appreciated knowing what it

          takes to win, but even more so doing what it takes to win. He appreciated the

          excellence that can be achieved through hard work and dedication. … In fact, he

          appreciated those things enough that he would… at times… become a fair weather

          fan. It didn’t matter where the team was from. … If they were performing at a high

          enough level on a national stage, you might find Rich sporting a t-shirt or

          sweatshirt bearing their name. … Connecticut … Duke … or whomever. … It was

          his current billboard for excellence. And he would rotate it as needed. But these

          were short term attachments. As his son Matt described it… “He’d be the first one


          on and off the bandwagon” … But there was nothing fair weather about his support

          for the programs to which he was more deeply connected. He was passionate about

          the Iowa Hawkeye football and basketball programs, and his support for Aquinas,

          Holy Trinity, and Notre Dame high schools was unwavering.

          But Rich was much more than just a sports fan… He was a fiery competitor. And

          his competitive spirit was fueled by his work ethic all his life. As a kid, Rich would

          spend countless hours practicing basketball and baseball at home in “less than

          ideal” conditions. His basketball court was an uneven, gravel driveway where,

          when dribbling a basketball, a true bounce rarely occurred… but that only served

          to sharpen his ball handling skills. He would dribble and shoot for hours on end.

          That same gravel driveway doubled as a baseball field, where Rich would stand

          out on a make shift pitching mound, go through his imitation of Bob Gibson’s

          wind-up, and fire fast-balls toward a car tire which had been mounted on the

          garage wall to define the strike zone. Whenever he could talk his kid brothers into

          it, Charlie and I would step up to the plate and try to hit his amazing “stuff.”… I

          think it was probably Rich’s first encounter with coaching… He taught us how to

          hit and how to field. … We’d go out to Rodeo Park… where we had a lot of space

          to run … and Rich would pull out his fungo bat and launch these towering fly balls

          and challenge us to chase them down. He cheered our successes and helped us with

          our fundamentals. … But the point is, even with my earliest memories of my

          brother, he was always ready to practice … always ready to play … always ready

          to teach. It was part of his character.

          His competitive fire clearly showed up as a player. … If someone was taller than

          he was, he believed he could out-jump him. If someone was faster than he was, he

          could often out-quick him. … He constantly pushed his limits. There wasn’t any

          notion of “good enough” because there was always room for improvement. All he

          wanted to do was get better … and there were no short cuts … so he just worked

          harder. … It was part of his character.

          In baseball, I remember watching him take the plate during a pony league game

          only to get beaned by a pitcher… a fastball to the head. … His helmet absorbed

          much of the blow, but it knocked him right to the ground. Now a lot of players

          might call it a day at that point and head straight for the dugout … which seems

          reasonable … but after the coaches tended to Rich, … he got back to his feet and

          wanted to take the base that he’d been awarded for being hit by a pitch. So we all

          sat there and watched while he staggered and weaved his way down the first base

          path. He probably should have headed for the dugout, but Rich had a tendency to

          just “gut things out” … it was part of his character.
          That same character showed up in cross country. Anyone that wanted to play


          basketball at Aquinas in those days was required to run cross country for

          conditioning. Now Rich wasn’t what I would classify as a “natural” runner … yet I

          remember watching a cross country meet at Sheaffer Golf Course. … It was late in

          the race where the runners are coming back into view as they head for the finish

          line… and there was Rich… leading the pack. I think he won that race, though I

          honestly don’t remember. … But what I do recall is what he looked like trudging

          across the finish line. He seemed to be wearing more pain in his expression than he

          did accomplishment. I think he had willed himself to the finish line. But that was

          the way Rich approached things. You see… it wasn’t good enough just to run for

          conditioning… Rich wanted to win. If he was required to run cross country, he was

          all in … It was part of his character.

          Eventually, Rich fully transitioned from player to coach. He had an obvious

          passion for coaching. It was his gift. And fortunately for an untold number of

          young athletes, it’s the gift that kept on giving. Being the feisty competitor that he

          was, he set the bar high for his players… but he also took the time to develop them.

          … He was as much a teacher as he was a coach … When kids showed

          improvement, he’d raise the bar higher and develop them further. He stressed

          fundamentals … He planned practices meticulously and executed them like you

          would a game plan. … He treated the kids fairly. … Just like he wanted to be better,

          he wanted them to be better. So he worked with them tirelessly to help them build

          their skills, understand their roles, and execute. … He experimented with

          incentives and motivational techniques to encourage them … One of the more

          enduring incentives … for taking an offensive charge … involved a simple form of

          bribery. … I suspect his conversation with the kids went something like this:

          “Alright … here’s the deal … you take a charge … I buy you a Coke.” … And

          inevitably during the course of game action, a defender would stand his ground and

          take the charge … and you’d hear a familiar “that’s a Coke, Rich” as a reminder

          from his players. Then later on after the game, you’d see them at the pop machine

          as Rich made good on his promise. …

          But building their skills was not his only objective. … He also wanted to build

          their character. … He was obsessed with doing things the right way. … He

          instructed his players to play with class … to remain humble … to demonstrate

          sportsmanship … And if they didn’t, they’d quickly find him in their face. … He

          was cautious about celebrating successes … but quick to point out mistakes …

          Even after a good performance, things could always be better. … It was his way of

          keeping their egos in check … of keeping them humble. … Rich knew that you

          could only expect to be successful if you eliminated the mistakes … And he

          expected success, so mistakes would really set him off. … Ask anyone he’s ever
          coached … they’ll probably have a story for you. … But that was just Rich being


          Rich. … It was his never-ending quest for perfection. … And whether his players

          knew it or not, behind the scenes he was doing the things he needed to do to

          become a better coach. He would watch coaching videos and read books … take

          notes … incorporate what he learned into his practice sessions. He would spend

          hours watching game films, breaking down teams … re-charting games …

          accumulating and evaluating statistics … putting together practice plans and

          strategizing for games. … And he loved every minute of it. … It was part of his

          character.

          Now we all know that perfection in sports is elusive… rare in fact… but he was

          relentless in his pursuit. When it came to coaching, he just didn’t have an off

          switch. After Coach Rump coached his boys and their teams through every level of

          sports up through high school… including two years as head basketball coach at

          Aquinas… Coach Rump became Coach Dad as an assistant to son Ryan at Notre

          Dame high school. … Coach Dad was responsible for the scout team … but he

          coached them like they were the varsity. … He set the same high expectations …

          developed them the same … taught them the same. … It didn’t matter. …

          Everyone who wanted to play the game needed to know what it takes to get better

          … what it takes to win. Even this year, with Ryan no longer in a coaching position,

          Rich was assisting his son Matt with his junior high girls’ team. Matt said that Rich

          came into one of their first practices and told the girls; “It’s OK to expect to

          practice perfect” … Then Matt and Coach Dad set about the task of identifying and

          correcting their mistakes. … As terrifying as it must have been for Matt and the

          girls when Rich had his heart attack after the game last Monday, the simple truth is

          that Rich went down while doing what he loved. Coaching was his passion. It was

          part of his character.

          I think it’s safe to say that Rich loved everything about basketball … except the

          part that wore stripes. … For whatever reason … he had a severe intolerance for

          officials. … About the only thing that set him off worse than a mistake by one of

          his players was a blown call by an official … He had a one word description for it

          … PATHETIC … and his use of the term … when directed toward the offending

          official … got him T’d up more than once. … Ryan found the perfect metaphor …

          Rich and officials … it’s like a dog and a mailman. … But the simple explanation

          is that Rich had the same high expectations for officials as he did for his players …

          he wanted them to call a perfect game. … So they never stood a chance.

          But there was a lot more to Rich than sports. … He was also a public servant –

          Rich was selfless in his service to the schools, the church and the community. …

          School boards, park boards, civic organizations, rodeo concessions… it didn’t


          matter what it was … you can read the full list in his obituary … If there was

          something that needed to be done, he was a willing participant. But on closer

          inspection, Rich did more than just participate. … You see, Rich didn’t just do

          things… he owned things. … For him, there was more to volunteering than just

          completing the task; he wanted to improve the process. He was a leader and an

          organizer… He treated his public service assignments the same way he approached

          coaching and playing … He gave them everything he had … And when an

          assignment ended … he’d look back … reassess … and identify ways to make it

          better next time. It was incredibly time consuming. … But he continued to do it

          anyway. And it’s not like he didn’t have a day job. I honestly don’t know how he

          did it. … And then there are the private sacrifices most of you don’t know about.

          … Like the family paper route. … For 12 years … from the time Ryan was in

          junior high to when Andy graduated from high school … they delivered papers in

          the morning … So every day for 12 years … seven days a week … Rich got up

          somewhere between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning and prepped the papers for

          delivery. … There were a lot of papers to be delivered in a short span of time … so

          like everything else, Rich fully embraced it. He determined drop points near

          neighborhoods … and the boys jogged … not walked … from house to house. …

          And he altered the process as necessary for efficiency. … Why would he do that?

          … Because he wanted his boys to have a source of income … and to learn the

          responsibilities of a job. … But he also want them to have evenings free for their

          school activities. …

          Another common sacrifice was for Rich to take vacation or personal days to help

          the school raise money through detassling efforts … How’s that for a fun week

          off? …Always putting other first, … He coached on his own time… he served on

          his own time… but he never sought celebrity or recognition … and he never

          complained. It was just Rich being Rich… selfless. It was part of his character.

          At the foundation of all this was Rich’s faith in God. He was a devoted Catholic

          with a strong sense of morality and tremendous integrity. And in as much as we are

          all human… and sin… and fall short in the eyes of the Lord… Rich walked the talk

          pretty darn well. Consider the instruction that Jesus gave to his disciples in

          Matthew chapter 20:

          But whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your


          servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the

          Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom

          for many.

          I think Rich understood this, and he demonstrated it with a life led in


          service to others. … And I’m clearly not alone with this sentiment. Rich’s uncle

          Mark, upon hearing the news about Rich, shared with me this phrase … translated

          from a ancient Gaelic song … which he felt was appropriate for Rich …
          Some men say Lord, Lord, Lord … Other men do the Lord’s work.


          As Mark then


          said:

          “Rich did the Lord’s work.” … It was part of his character.


          At home … what little he was there … Rich was a devoted husband and proud

          father. … I’m sure Beth would have liked to have seen some of that same passion

          and energy applied to the growing mountain of paperwork on that table in the

          house … or to the yard work … but they were committed to each other and fully

          supported each other … She often served right along side him. … And when not

          serving … she’d be cheering from the stands. His boys all gave him many proud

          moments … Let me give you just three highlights … 1. Taking a Notre Dame team

          to the state tournament with Ryan … twice … while coaching at his side. That was

          the fulfillment a dream … 2. The joy of being Papa Rich to those two, adorable

          granddaughters born to Matt and Lindsey. … and 3. Being there when Andy got

          his wings. Rich’s life was full of blessings.

          So … how did you know Rich? … As the passionate fan … the fiery competitor …

          the coach … the teacher … the selfless volunteer … the man of faith? The

          character threads he displayed in those roles, when woven together, tell the story of

          Rich the man.

          But that fiery competitor is no longer with us. … Our star player has been lifted

          from the game … We may not agree with the call… but there’s no point in arguing

          the call. No one is going to change it. So what would the coach do in this situation?

          He’d turn to the bench… give us all a collective nod… and say; “Get in there …

          you’re in the game. … It’s time for you to step up. … This is what you’ve been

          practicing for… nowshow us what you can do.” … We may

          not think we’re ready for that, but he’s prepared us well… he’s shown us the

          way… he’s led by example… what a great role model.

          To say that we’ll miss Rich is a gross understatement. We’ll grieve the loss. But if

          we’re to be as selfless as he was, we should also rejoice and be glad for him… On

          the foundation of his faith, his quest for perfection has come to an end. He will

          spend eternity in perfect love… and perfect peace… and he can rest in the

          company of our Lord.


          Congratulations, Rich … Great game, coach … and thanks.