Tag Archives: Christmas

It’s All About That Cake

The first time Dave and I went to Costco, we saw it. The holy grail of cakes. It was huge, even by Costco standards – a Devil’s Tower of dark chocolate shavings over creamy chocolate frosting, covering what we assumed and fervently hoped was rich chocolate cake layered with additional chocolate frosting. It was called the All American Chocolate Cake. And by golly, it was our patriotic duty to buy it.

Except…it was, as I referenced earlier, gigantic. We bent over it for a better look, mesmerized, our breath fogging the plastic dome. Wondering. Dreaming. Drooling. It was just so BIG. Glorious, yes, but who was going to eat all that cake?

Granted, we don’t normally ask that question in our house. We know who is going to eat all that cake. But just because a person CAN do something doesn’t mean they SHOULD do something. I would not normally apply this rule to cake, but in this case, even I had to make an exception.

After about 5 minutes, Dave lifted the cake. “Holy hell,” he muttered. He set it down and it was my turn. Holy hell is right. It felt like it weighed about 10 pounds. We needed a family event to justify that bad boy, patriotic duty or no.

Reluctantly, we walked away. We went and grabbed our 50 pack of toilet paper (because, as you know, we are full of shit), a 20 pack of paper towels, a 100 pound bag of potato chips, an electric fireplace, a sofa, a 10 pack of 5’ x 7’ rugs, a 20 gallon jug of olives, a 500 piece set of pots and pans, a couple of lawn chairs, and a kayak. Then we circled back to the cake.

“I don’t think we can do it,” said Dave.

“Really? I think we can.”



“Nobody in our house needs to eat this much cake.”


About once a month, we return to Costco and re-evaluate the All American Chocolate Cake. We lift it, gaze at it’s chocolatey beauty, and say things like: “Maybe we should just buy it.” “No, that thing is huge. It will take us a week to eat it.” “Yeah, maybe you’re right.” “Wow, it really is heavy. Here, feel how heavy this is.” “Wow – yes it weighs a ton.” “You’re drooling.” “Oops – sorry.” “So, are we walking away?” “Yes.” “For sure?” “Yes – for sure.”

Over the next year, we waited patiently for an All American Chocolate Cake worthy family event. Not Easter. Not Memorial Weekend. Not the 4th. Not Labor Day. Not Thanksgiving. Not Christmas. Not when Cousin Eddy had the plate removed from his head. Not when the raptors had babies in Grandpa Hammond’s sock drawer. Not the Festival of Shirtless Jackman.

Enter November 13th, 2015. My long-lost sister would be home from Arizona, and this was the night we were planning our main get together before sending her off again. We would have 12 people there, and one of those people was my brother, who has the cake capacity of 2 sumo wrestlers. It was the perfect storm.

I was pretty excited walking into Costco and grabbing that 10 pounds of chocolatey heaven and setting it in my cart. I floated to the check out and gleefully rubbed my hands together before setting it on the belt. Finally, it was mine.

The checkout guy acted like he had never seen the All American Chocolate Cake before. “Wow, this is a big cake! It looks delicious! Did you ever have it before? It’s so BIG! Who is going to eat all that cake? Do you need any help? I love cake! Wow, I wish I could taste it. It looks so good! Are you sure you don’t need any help getting your things to the car?” Suddenly I wanted to stab that cotton-headed ninny-muggins in the hand with a fork and hiss at him to get away from My Precious, dammit.

By some miracle, the cake made it all the way to my house and then all the way to my mom’s the next day, without the top “accidentally” popping off and “Gee, as long as it’s open maybe I should test it to be sure it’s not poisoned” happening.

But then, at my mom’s – disaster struck. My brother-in-law Pete was not coming. My brother-in-law Greg was not coming. And my brother had to work and so he was not coming. I was short 3 brothers and 2 sumo wrestlers in the cake eating department. No problem, I told myself. We’re professionals. We can handle this cake.

Then my mom put out snacks. And dinner was really really good. And everyone was getting just a tiny bit full. Still no problem. When the going gets tough, the Conard’s eat cake.

My entire family loves cake – it’s not just me. My mom and my sister Celeste are probably the only two who really have any sort of “cake limit” and will usually only eat a skinny slice (this would be considered a “normal slice” to the majority of the human race) and the rest of us belly up to the cake bar for a big corner piece, preferably with a giant frosting flower, or if it’s a round cake – a 2” slice with an ice cream chaser.

I cut into the cake, and removed what I thought was a very generous piece, only to see the cake literally meld itself back together. Okay, it didn’t really do that, but wow – it barely made a difference. So I kept hacking away – everyone getting a slice of cake the size of Texas including my mom and sister, plus a scoop of ice cream. We still had 2/3’s of the cake left.

The cake was delicious, and we all ate to bursting. But here’s the kicker. When it came time to divvy up the leftovers, nobody wanted to take any cake home. Not even me. Every bite of that cake was going to add 10 immovable pounds to our hips and Lord only knew what it would do to our thighs. I mean, it was a Costco cake – it did everything big and our genetically thunderous thighs did not need any help in that department.

Dave and I brought it home, our poor, sad, unwanted All American Chocolate Cake. We did our best to give it an honorary burial-by-eating, but in the end, we weren’t up to the challenge. It lived the rest of it’s life on the counter, slowly drying to death until we finally buried it in the trash.

It was a good cake. A chocolatey cake. It was heavenly and delicious and I failed it. Apparently even I have a cake limit. It was a crushing blow to my cake confidence and a sad end to our All American Chocolate Cake dream. A sad end indeed.

It took me a week of grieving before I was able to step foot in Costco again. I walked thru the bakery section and couldn’t bear to see the new All American Chocolate Cakes just waiting for a family to love them. I turned away and my eyes fell upon…

A Costco Pumpkin Pie. And it was huge.

Pietistically yours,

PS – Can you name all of the movies I referenced in my post? It wasn’t intentional at first but I seem to love movie references as much as I love puns.

PPS.  The pie was just as delicious as the cake.

PPSS.  Mmmmmmmm….pie….cake…pie….cake…pie…cake….

Mary Did You Know?

Garden of LightsChristmas is coming up fast, it seems. I feel like I am so far behind and totally not ready. Maybe it’s because it’s so warm yet. My brain thinks it’s still October. Anyway, I thought I would share a little exercise that I am doing with my friends from church – it is helping me practice gratitude and reminding me of the joy that came with the birth of Christ.

The holidays are busy for everyone and some of us fly south for the winter (not me, in case you were wondering – although with El Nino upon us, I’m not sure you can tell the difference between Florida and Wisconsin right now) so we are participating, via email, in prayerful reflection (lectio divine) over a single scripture.

The scripture we are reflecting on is this:  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. Luke 2:1

Yeah, what a fun one…government and taxes.

But of course, we all know the “rest of the story..” (read in Paul Harvey’s voice for best results).  Because of this decree, Joseph and Mary have to schlep from Nazareth to Bethlehem of Judea – 80 odd miles via roadways made 2000 years ago (translation:  really crappy roads).  On foot.  For over a week.  During the rainy season.  Wearing layers of woolen cloaks.  Up and down and up and down hills.  Sleeping outside.  In the mud.  And the cold.  Carrying all of their own provisions.  With Mary 9 months pregnant (NINE MONTHS!).

Oh wait – they had a donkey.  That makes it so much better.

I just realized that Mary had the perfect labor and delivery story to use on Jesus.  “I had to walk 80 miles!  Pregnant!  In the rain!  Uphill!  And after we got there, we couldn’t find a hotel and ended up having you in a cave.  And then a bunch of smelly shepherds piled in and then those singing angels!  Oy!  The singing!  The noise!  The smell!  And the next day we had to go pay taxes.  TAXES!  You should be so lucky.  So don’t tell me you’re “too tired” to heal the sick.  I’ll give you “too tired….”

Meanwhile Jesus is rolling his eyes and picking at the food on his plate, wondering why all the OTHER kids get to go to the camel races.

I remember my ninth month with both of my pregnancies. I don’t recall it as being a “good time”. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a time for an 80 mile hike – with or without a donkey.  I couldn’t see my feet, which is surprising because they had grown a size and were swollen to the point that the only shoes that fit were Dave’s slippers. I had to pee every 5 minutes which meant I had to somehow negotiate the physics of sitting down and standing up without tipping over into the bathtub.

I couldn’t stand very long without my stomach muscles threatening to flee the country and when I sat down, my pelvis felt like it was burrowing it’s way to China. Laying down was marginally better, except the having to pee every 5 minutes thing and flopping around like a big ole fat fish trying to get out of the waterbed (a sight to see, mind you. And stop raising your eyebrows about the waterbed. This was the eighties. I’m old, remember?).

So the very idea of poor Mary and Joseph spending the last week of her pregnancy hiking thru the hills of Galilee and Judea gives me a new appreciation for my millennial comforts.  I think I shall go out in the garage and hug my car now, thank you very much.  And my accountant.  And my nice hospital where I gave birth to my children in my fancy birthing suite.  And that county road worker over there, laying down the new asphalt so I can drive my car on nice smooth roads.  Oh wait…he’s running away.  Why is he running?  Wow, he is fast!  Fine!  Don’t get your hug then!  Your loss, buddy!

So “it came to pass” that cars were invented and hospitals and accountants and yoga pants and cute maternity tunics and Skechers.  And women sometimes took these things for granted until they read about Mary and then became ever so grateful that God had allowed them to be born in a time that did not require 80 mile hikes and riding on donkeys and giving birth in caves in front of smelly shepherds because it was weird enough having half the nursing and intern staff staring at her nether regions.

May the peace and joy of our living Savior follow you throughout this holiday season, as we celebrate His humble birth.

Joyous-Grateful-Christmas-Tactically yours,



And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2:7-14


Life Is Messy: A Twinkly Oddball

This photo is my entry for both The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Twinkle and for Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge Week 41.

I love this photo – something about the barely controlled chaos.  It aptly describes not only a typical work day, but a lot of what Christmas has become.

Can someone help me find my desk?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Can someone help me find my desk? Anyone? Bueller?

Happy Almost Monday!


Final Photos of 2013

It’s that time again!  Time to see what’s been going on since my last photo entry.  It has been a busy 6 weeks with Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.  And snow.  Lots and lots of snow.  Which means lots and lots of shoveling.  I haven’t broken out the snow shoes yet, but that will be coming this weekend.

Enjoy the photos – next week I will be back with plans for 2014!

First off – The Avett Brothers with Dawn!

My last bike ride of the year.  I think this was the weekend before Thanksgiving, and after our first or second dusting of snow.  It was a beautiful fall day and not too windy.  Perfect for cruising down the Fox River Trail.

Fox River Trail


Then this happened….thankfully only a warning for this lead foot.



With the unseasonal below zero cold, fat cat is starting early with his laying in front of the fire-place.


Look at me! Look at my awesomeness! Do not turn away! Look! LOOK!!!

And the dogs still get walked – even in 2 degree weather!  And yes, it really was 2 degrees this day.

Lucky and Daisy


The tree went up.  We were looking for this guy to warm things up, but the Cold Miser is winning this year.

Heat Miser

Where are my minions???

On the 14th, me and a couple of friends (Dawn and Debbie) went thru the Botanical Gardens Garden Of Lights.  Beautiful as usual.

Me, Dawn, and Debbie.

Me, Dawn, and Debbie.

Garden of Lights

The Big Tree!

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

Dawn under her tiara!


Garden of Lights

Warming up by the fire

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then, contrary to popular belief – proof that I’m on the “Nice” list!!


A Christmas decorating contest at work brought out some holiday creativity.

The Winner!  And yes, this was my row!  Woot!

The Winner! And yes, this was my row! Woot!

Bumbles bounce!!

Bumbles bounce!!

Weirdos in the Christmas Village!

Weirdos in the Christmas Village!



And then we had the first annual Conard Cookie Baking Expedition.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

In the midst of 200 cut outs...

In the midst of 200 cut outs…

Niece Rachael, my mom, sisters Terri, Celeste and Maribeth.  Looking at my mom you are all realizing the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Niece Rachael, my mom, sisters Terri, Celeste and Maribeth. Looking at my mom you are all realizing the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Same people, minus Terri but plus me!  We had a great time!

Same people, minus Terri but plus me! We had a great time!

And finally – Christmas Eve mass with my dad, while my mom sang in the choir.

Yes, I know it's crooked.  Couldn't get a straight picture for some reason.  User error I am sure!

Yes, I know it’s crooked. Couldn’t get a straight picture for some reason. User error I am sure!

May you all enjoy the rest of your holiday season!  I will see you all again next week!



Dance Of The Cheddarwurst Fairies

These are Cheddarwurst Fairies.  In case you were wondering.

These are Cheddarwurst Fairies. In case you were wondering.

Twas the week before Christmas, when all thru Titletown, the Cheeseheads were praying the Pack would bring back the crown.

The gym socks were hung from the chimney with care, In the hopes that St. Vince soon would be there.

The fans were reclining all snug in their chairs, With visions of Rodgers, his collar-bone repaired.

And dad in his jersey and I in my top, Went out to buy gifts at the Packers Pro Shop.


We got in the truck, with pop cans asunder – “Will the pack have enough to beat the Steelers I wonder?”

Away down Lombardi I drove like a flash – Tore into the lot and pulled out my cash.

“Some pom-poms for Jessie, a Fat Head for Drew, a cooler for grandpa to keep cold his brew,”

I got to the counter and purchased my stuff –  got back outside and fell on my duff.


When suddenly before me, I saw this old fellow – his face was so stern, his belly was not jello,

He gave me his hand, I saw his eyes glint – I knew in a moment he must be St. Vince

“Now Crosby, now Jolly, now Nelson and Sheilds – on Aaron, on Matthews, now get on the field!

Thru the hole in their line, to the top of the wall – now Leap away, Leap away, Leap away all!”


The old man then smiled and gave me a grin – and pointed to heaven with the point of his chin.

“Your prayers have been answered – it’s easy to see – just close your eyes tight and hang on to me”

I reached out and grabbed the tails of his duster – and held on with all of the strength I could muster,

And next thing I knew beneath Lambeau I landed – where Green and Gold players were currently banded.


They milled in the tunnel, chomping and stamping – the light in their eyes like fires found camping.

Their muscles were tight and their breath came in clouds – while the fans up above were rambunctious and loud.

I stared round in wonder, my jaw to the floor – when I heard Vince’s voice say “Just win two games more,

And take down the Steelers, and then the Bears after – then onward to post season to bring down the rafters.”


He glared at the men thru his famous black glasses – and their voices they raised thru Movember mustaches,

“We will take them down, we’ll get back on track – the Lombardi Trophy, we’re bringing it back!”

Across championship concrete Vince led the men out – the fans all fell silent, no voice gave a shout.

Vince turned to the crowd and raised up his hands – the cheers then crescendoed and roared thru the stands!


With that I awoke and shook sleep from my head – I looked at the clock and sat up in bed

It all was a dream I realized with sadness – disappointment and sorrow replaced all my gladness,

Till I heard a gruff whisper, “Don’t you worry nor don’t doubt – the Pack will be back, there’s no need to pout.

Just hold onto faith, you gotta believe!  And shout ‘Go Pack Go!’ while you bleed gold and green!”


Spirit of Christmas Present

Oh, Christmas.  How I wanted you to be different this year.  To have more meaning, more thought, more purpose.  I wanted you to live up to the warmth of the Norman Rockwell painting.  To the wonder of Twas The Night Before Christmas.  To the peace of the Nativity.

nativity silhouette clip art

Oh Holy Night. Image courtesy of Vector Clip Art

I wanted to FEEL you, Christmas.  In my heart and in my brain and in every fiber of who I am.  And yet I woke up the other morning and realized you were about to pass me by if I didn’t do something about it.

Perhaps, dear Christmas, I have put you on a pedestal.

Most years, the day after Christmas finds me a little sad and disappointed.  Yes, I loved spending time with family and friends and walking the dogs at night past the house lights in the neighborhood while listening to Harry Belafonte.  I enjoyed watching all of the Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Grinch.  I went to Christmas parties and baked cookies and gave to charities.  But part of me spent the entire season looking past my loved one’s shoulders, hoping to see the perfect Christmas coming around the corner.

So this year, I decided to help put together a retreat called “Too Much Christmas” for one of our church groups, in an effort to find ways to add more meaning and less “doing” to this Christmas.  But, instead of taking Christmas off the pedestal, I unknowingly built the pedestal higher.  Like, a lot higher.  Baby Jesus probably has a nose bleed.  If there were any lemmings at the Nativity, they would be leaping to their deaths right now.

And I had such great plans!

I was going to pick something to purchase from the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog to give as a family, and my family was going to LIKE IT and think it was COOL and know we were the best family EVER.  (Really – check them out.  It is a pretty cool charity).

Samaritan's Purse 2013 Gift Catalog

I was going to start not just one, but TWO new family Christmas traditions – one for just Dave and I and one for us and the kids.  No idea what – but I was going to “go big or go home”.

I was going to suggest a new activity for the Conard family Christmas, where we all brought a small notebook with our names on them, cutely decorated according to our personalities, and everyone would write wonderful, smarmy things in them about each other

I was going to sit with Dave and my two adult children on Christmas Eve and read the nativity story from Luke (2: 1-20) and then from Matthew (2:1-12), somewhere between leaving Grandma and Grandpa DeGroots but before I went to midnight mass with my parents.

I was going to have a baking day with my friends, and we would all gather round in my kitchen and laugh and make cut outs and eat chocolate and talk about how this was the best Christmas EVER.

Christmas Cookies


In reality, we decided to sell our house about two weeks after that retreat, and I have prepared for none of the items on my list, as instead I have been preparing my home (and my heart) for its new family.  I have been feeling sad and confused and certainly not in the Christmas spirit.

So I trudged off to work that morning, crabby and grumpy.  It didn’t help that it was Garfield-I-hate-Mondaysa Monday.  Are there any good Mondays? I thought, as I walked thru the biting wind.  I frumped my way thru the morning, and by 2pm, when I went to work out with my friends, I was pretty happy the day was almost over.  We worked out hard (I’m still sore, three days later), and as usual, I was able to forget about everything for a while, except just making it thru the next set.

I don’t know what happened, but when I got back to my desk, I realized I had Christmas right in my possession, all this time. Maybe it was the endorphins or maybe that I only had another hour to work, or maybe clearing my mind opened it up for me to hear God’s voice.  Probably it was all of those things.  But suddenly, I felt okay about not being in the Christmas spirit.

norman-rockwell-christmasSo what if we are not the perfect family having the perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas?  So what if the only decorations I have out this year are my tree and my Nativity?  So what if I feel crabby on Mondays and it’s too cold to walk the dogs and see the lights?  So what if I am sad about leaving my home of 15 years on one hand and excited to move on to the next chapter of our lives on the other?  So what if Christmas day comes and goes and I don’t feel any different than I would on any other given day?

In truth, it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter because I realized Christmas is in the everyday, just as Christ is in the everyday.

When Christ was born, he came without ribbons.  He came without tags.  He came without packages, boxes, or bags.  He came like all children come – with pain and blood and fear and wonder.  He came with a chorus of angels heard only by the smallest of audiences, a few shepherds out in the hills.  His parents worried about all the things new parents worried about.  Was he warm enough?  Was he hungry?  Did he have all ten fingers and toes?  Surely they were wondering if he really was the son of God or if they had just imagined the whole thing.  He must have seemed so….normal.


And that’s what I learned.  I am going to live in the spirit of Christmas “present”.  To live, feel, breathe, love, weep –with all of who God made me to be – every single normal moment of every single normal day of every single normal year – no matter what comes.  No strings attached.  No “it has to be this way” or “we have to go here” or “I am supposed to feel this way”.  No more over the top expectations out of people or events.

So this is my promise to myself:  Just for today, I choose to live in the moment, even the crappy moments, because it is the moments that make up who I am.  Just for today, I choose to be present, to look all situations in the eye, because the present is where my loved ones are.  Just for today, I will embrace and accept my life, whether I’m in the valley of darkness or the mountain top of joy.

Each day is a gift.  Each day is Christmas.  Christmas doesn’t ‘come’.  Christmas just ‘is’.

grinchtextI love hearing from you!  What will you do, Just for Today?
Contentedly yours,

I Wanna Talk About Me

I know what all of you want for Christmas, and I am about to offer it to you. Free of charge.  Remember how Oprah used to have those big give away shows and people would walk out of the studio with new cars and stuff?  This will be exactly nothing like that. It’s even BETTER.  Better than the Best Cup Of Coffee on Elf.  Better than Smiling.  Better than even SANTA!  (I KNOW HIM!!!)



The last few weekends have marked a milestone in my commitment to this writing thing.    You know, so I can become rich and famous and never have to spend another minute working for The Man.  I took a couple of online classes sponsored by WANA International (learn more about them by clicking here).  The first one was on niche writing with Amy Shojai and the second one was on leveraging Facebook to build your artist platform, with Lisa Hall Wilson.  While many of the courses offered by WANA center on the writing profession, many of them also offer practical advice and information that would be of value to any type of artist (like Lisa’s Facebook course).  I highly recommend them!

One of the exercises Amy talked about in her niche writing course came from the founder of WANA, Kristen Lamb, and it helps you to kind of figure out who you are as an artist.  The exercise is to list 100 words that describe you, and then focus on the ones that resonate with you the most.  Amy said when she did this exercise, she was down to “I’m wearing green eye shadow” by the end, and my experience was similar.  100 words doesn’t seem like a lot until you hit number 20 and realize you’ve exhausted your entire vocabulary.  I started writing things like “cake with lots of frosting” and “sock lover” but I got a second wind towards the end and finished strong with “polly anna” and “naive”.

So as I’m staring at this list, I am seeing 100 blog posts.  100 blog posts about ME.  Where I am the star!  Me!  Me!  Me!

On a side note, did I ever tell you I have always wanted to be on Oprah?  To talk about me?  And how much I love cake with lots of frosting?  And socks?  And how cool I am?  My brother Joe and I used to have competitions over who was cooler.  We would both write “Joe is Cool” or “Sue is Cool” on any available writing surface in the house.  One time I wrote it on a piece of loose leaf and used my brand new dresser as the hard surface beneath the paper.  When I was done, I lifted the paper and saw “Sue is Cool” imprinted on the wood beneath.  Oh. My. God.  I was so dead.  My mother was going to KILL ME.  Don’t-You-Know-This-Is-A-Brand-New-Dresser-What-Were-You-Thinking type of kill me


Lucky for you people, my mother did not, in fact, kill me.  I guess it was illegal, even way back then.  In fact, I don’t even remember her reaction that much – only the mass, gut clenching, skin crawling anxiety when I first saw “Sue is Cool” etched in that wood.  (This would be a great segue into another word on my list – “dumb-ass” but we will save that for another day).  What I learned from this was a) that my dresser was pine, and pine is a very soft wood, and b) later as an adult, when you see your own child’s name written on something other than paper (say, perhaps, a brand new wooden windowsill in a brand new house with ball point pen – not naming any names but his initials just might be Matthew David DeGroot), you know they have inherited your ego.

So anyway, I thought it would be a fun way for all of you to get to know me – I’ll just randomly pick a word off my list once a month or so, and do a post about it.  Isn’t that cool?  Isn’t that way cooler than getting a new car or being on Oprah?  I thought the same thing!!  So cool!  Sue is cool!  Sue is cooler than Joe!  And that, my friends,  is my gift to you!  100 Really Cool Blog Posts About Me!  With lots of exclamation points!  And I get to talk about me!  Me!  Me!  Me!

Now for the “about YOU” portion of this post.  Take a few minutes and come up with  just FIVE words that best describe YOU, and post them in my comments either here or on my Facebook page (be sure to “Follow” or “Friend” me on Facebook if you don’t already).  I will then put all responders names into a hat on December 11th, and pick a winner for a $10 gift card!  It’s not a new car, but it’s better than being a cotton headed ninny muggins!


PS – Do not doubt my ability to do an entire post on cake with frosting or comfy socks.

PPS – Just noticed one of my words I put down is “humble”.  Hahahhahahahaaaaaa…

PPSS – I promise that next week I will have a post that actually contributes to society.  Well, maybe that is stretching it.  But it won’t be about me.  Maybe.  Maybe it will be a little about me, but in a humble sort of way.  A humble sort of way that is kind of cool.  Like me.

PPPSS.  Sue is Cool.

I’m Back!

It’s been a while since I posted.  The last couple of months have been fraught with distractions, like eating Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies, Marge’s homemade angel food, Dave’s birthday lasagna, cheese cake, Christmas ham, Lucy’s yummy chocolate truffle cookies, and assorted dips, cheeses and crackers.  Not to mention half of the tin of homemade cookies my mom gives us every year that I assured her I would leave entirely to Dave (I cannot be trusted to promises made when it comes to baked goods).

Christmas Cookies


I have also been distracted by a game on my iPad, introduced to me by my nephew.  My adult nephew, who is 30 years old and expecting his first baby and whose care-free video game playing days will soon be coming to a crashing sleep-deprived halt.  Excuse my cruel chuckle as I experience the empty nest days of doing whatever the heck I want whenever the heck I want to, as long as it doesn’t break any laws, interfere with my job, breach national security, or send us spinning into bankruptcy.

The game in question is The Simpsons Tapped Out.  First, let me say that I don’t even watch The Simpsons.  I think, in the entire 500 years it’s been on the air, I may have watched 3 episodes.  I have paid enough attention to pop culture to know who Homer, Marge, Maggie, Bart and Lisa are, but that’s really about it.  I would never have looked for this game on my own, because I wouldn’t have cared enough to even think it might exist.The Simpsons Tapped Out

So, when David showed me the game on his iPhone, I thought it was in complete innocence, one gamer to another.  No.  He was seductively trying to suck me into the vortex so he could add another friend to his game and fulfill a quest.  I watched in fascination as he clicked on people and buildings, collecting cash and making Bart go to church and Ned Flanders take power walks.  My eyes dilated and my finger reached tentatively out towards his phone.  Then he said the magic words…”It’s free, Aunt Sue”.

This is not a game for those afflicted with OCD.  I became obsessed with rebuilding Springfield and fulfilling quests.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner were soon filled with the sounds of my finger spastically tapping on glass.  I started bringing my Ipad to work to sneak extra game play during the day, where I hunched over my iPad, tapping furiously while casting furtive glances over my shoulder.  I needed to buy more land and build more buildings!  I needed more cash!  More Halloween Treats!  More Christmas coins!  More friends!  I visited Tapped Out forums to find strangers to add to my ‘friend’ list and forced my friend’s 12 year old son to “add me”.  I almost went as far as buying fake donuts with real cash, just to be able to build the mad scientist volcanic lair.  Oh yeah.  I was hard core.

The Simpsons Tapped Out Volcano Lair

This baby cost 200 donuts.

Somewhere between Christmas and New Years, we ran out of the Christmas cookies that I was using to feed my gaming frenzy, and I realized I needed to get my life back.  The dogs were picking thru garbage and hanging out on the street corner, harassing the neighborhood collie (Hey you.  Yeah, you!  Look at you behind your fence, pansy boy!  Oh yeah?  I dare ya!  I triple-human dare ya!). The cat was cooking ‘nip in the basement and selling it to unsuspecting kittens.  The boys were mixing lights with darks in the laundry room while surviving on Hot Pockets and Tina’s frozen burritos.  I had 10,679 unread emails just from Kohl’s alone (Save 30%!  Free shipping!  Get Kohl’s Cash!), and was so far behind on Facebook that I didn’t recognize any of my friends.


“Pssst. Little kitten! I have some candy for you!”

So I quit.  Cold turkey.  I don’t recommend this to the faint of heart.  First came the shakes.  Then then the delirium.  I cried.  I giggled maniacally.  I sobbed in hysterics.  I beat on my Ipad, shouting “WHY?  WHY?” And then I crashed.  It was the worst ten minutes of my life.

And now I’m back to my barmy old self, ready to motivate the hell out of you  to work out, eat right and pray your socks off in 2013.  Are you ready?  Let’s ride!!lets-ride_o_134792

Mixed Messages

Christmas Tree

My sister’s tree – so beautiful! This is why she is in design!

Is anyone else having a hard time getting organized this Christmas?  I feel like I can’t get the fuzz out of my brain.  I guess that makes me a cotton headed ninny muggins this year.  Son of a nutcracker!


“You smell like beef and cheese!”

And is it me, or is it just a little depressing this year too?  Maybe it’s all of the talk about the “fiscal cliff”.  I mean, honestly.  How is one supposed to celebrate when they feel like the Marshall family, about to plunge over the waterfall into the Land of the Lost, where they will have to fight for survival with poorly animated dinosaurs, reptilian Sleestaks and Cha-Ka?  I have no where else to go with this analogy, other than to say I hope we have better luck at getting out of trouble than the Marshall’s did.


The Sleestak is probably the least scary of any villain. Even I wasn’t afraid of them.

If we don’t we’ll be like the castaways from the SS Minnow, making cars out of bamboo and vines while living on banana cream pie.  Hmmm.  That actually doesn’t sound that bad.  Oh wait, add giant spiders, head hunters and the occasional radioactive meteor in the mix.  And icing on the cake – a professor that can make a Death Star out of a coconut, but can’t fix the radio.  Of course, we may have a few visits from the 1% portion that is in the entertainment industry.  They’ll invite us up on stage, we’ll sing some songs, they’ll promise to help rescue us, but in the end, leave us stranded in our Honey Bee costumes.

Gilligan's Island

Giant spider from Gilligan’s Island. Still scarier than a Sleestak.

When it’s not the fiscal cliff, we are entertained by war and rumors of war.  Shootings in spas, malls and movie theaters.  There certainly doesn’t seem to be any peace on earth or good will towards men.

So, I have been dealing with this the best way I know how.  Walking the dogs past the neighbors, listening to Christmas music and checking out the local light displays, fueled by Christmas cookies and chocolate.  And prayer.  Lots of prayer.

Dudley Birder Chorale

Dudley Birder Chorale Holiday Pops Concert. It was awesome! My brother in law is in the last row, third guy from the right…

The hope I cling to is the reason we celebrate in the first place – the birth of a Savior.  My Savior.  Your Savior.  Our Savior.  Like the Whos in Whoville, when faced with the loss of their Jing Tinglers, Flu Floopers and Tar Tinkers (not to mention the Roast Beast!) , my Joy must come from within, regardless of the Grinches in this world, and I will sing on Christmas day for my love of the Son, who came to rescue me.  For where my treasure is, there my heart will be also.

Have a good weekend everyone!



Brain Flopping

Christmas Tree

Oh Christmas Tree…

Just a short note to let you all know I am still around.  Apparently being overwhelmed with work and Christmas preparation and a class at church and working out and walking the dogs and and watching football and keeping up with social media (translation – sucked in by Pinterest) and my daily bible readings and sitting in front of my SAD light and doing push ups and keeping up with the house and playing the Simpsons Tapped Out (seriously addicted – thank you David Mauel) and did I mention work? is frying my brain and by 8 pm I have little to no creative juices left for writing.  Or at least, writing anything of significance, although that would imply “significant” writing earlier, which I am not sure I qualified for anyway.

Therefore, I have decided to treat the month of December as “Random Post Month”, where I will just post whatever is flopping around in my brain and not try so hard to be profound or give you anything useful.  This then, will be my first brain flopping post.  You will also notice pictures of the neighbors light displays scattered about.  This is the time of year the dogs and I traipse far and wide in search of glorious light displays, while Harry Belafonte and Josh Groban fight for the attention of my eardrums.


Christmas Tree Before I start,  I have to confess.  My push ups have gone south for the winter.  Seriously, I don’t have time to do 150 push ups each morning and sit in front of my SAD light, plus get ready for work, etc.  And if I am completing 150 push ups in the first 15 minutes of the day, even if they aren’t consecutive, doesn’t that count as having achieved my goal?  I think the longest I have rested between sets has been 2 minutes or so.  I really think that should count, at least for now.  I do plan on picking it back up again in January.  Maybe.  Okay, yes, fine.  I will.  January is depressing anyway.  Might as well make it worse.

I may actually make cut-out cookies this year.  This is very thin ice for me, Christmas Treebecause I LOVE cut-outs – eating them mostly.  One year, I hid about a dozen of them from the rest of the family, because I wanted the last of them all to myself.  Well, it must have been one of those hormonal brain fog days, because I promptly forgot about them.  The next year, while digging out my cookie cutters, I discovered them hidden in the corner cupboard, behind the mixer.  Such a waste.  For the record, year old Christmas cut-outs taste like cardboard.

Mind you, I only like making the dough, rolling them out, baking them, and eating them.  I hate decorating them.  If it weren’t for the fact that they taste oh so much better with frosting, sprinkles, chocolate chips, red hots, and tiny silver candy balls that break your teeth when you bite them, I wouldn’t bother.  But they are so much better decorated and just biting into one brings me back to being a kid and sitting in front of our living room window, looking out at the snow and lights, or laying under our tree with my sister, looking at our reflections in the Christmas balls.

Christmas lights

Well, that’s about all the brain flopping I can handle tonight.  I started a little too late and even though I have more stray thoughts, they will just have to wait for another post, or turn into a weird dream where I am running around looking for my locker that I can’t find, to get my books for a class that I can’t remember, to take a test I didn’t study for, the entire time knowing full well that I am the mother of adult children, making the scenario all the more ridiculous.  Or maybe it will be the one where I am late for work and forget to call in.  Or the one where I am trying to get the kids to school on time and fail miserably.  There.  Discuss amongst yourselves.  Let me know when you have a diagnosis.

Until next time!


I felt a little weird taking this picture because it was right up by the house and if they were home, it would have looked a little weird. I managed to take the picture though, and just got to the sidewalk when the neighbors came home.