Knowledge is Power

Hey there.

I truly didn’t mean for nearly 4 months to go by before my next post. I feel like I’m in the confessional booth: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.  It’s been 4 months since my last blog post.” It’s been quite the ride recently. I completely changed careers, for the better, after realizing some things (or people, rather) just weren’t at all what they were cracked up to be. An opportunity presented itself, and I took a leap of faith.  After tons of studying for weeks around the clock, I passed the state licensing Health & Life Insurance exam and was certified to sell insurance in the state I reside. I work for an incredible company that sells insurance to school teachers and their families  – both retired and working, and also to retired public employees. I LOVE WHAT I DO. I am making a huge difference in people’s lives because of the policies I sell. I do everything from Medicare Supplements to Cancer Insurance (NOT a gimmick, as I have witnessed with my own eyes), Long Term Care Insurance (EXTREMELY important), Whole Life Insurance, Annuities, etc.  More importantly, the rates are extremely affordable as they are endorsed by a state association, and they are group negotiated rates. Anyway, long story short, I’ve been sorta wrapped up in my new career. And, that meant one huge issue: I was no longer working from home, as I did the last two years. So, we had to figure out what to do with the Honey Badger.

Well, I heard somewhere that knowledge is power.

So, we sent It to school.

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I am all for The Uniform. I think kids look much better and ready to learn when they are all tucked in, and nicely, uniformly dressed. However, you cannot cloak the Honey Badger entirely. She wore her vibrantly mismatched shoes, and flashed her lovely, little painted nails (each a different color). She displayed her beautiful feathers in a subtle, yet ingenious, way. Despite her flair, she was all business when she walked through the door. It’s been 5 weeks since she started, and she now owns the place.

Aside from the Honey Badger, we’ve had some other animal issues at hand. Flash, the PTSD hamster, kicked the bucket. He called it quits after a year in our home. When the Honey Badger turned 4, she received her very own hamster to torture play with. Her hamster is male, and she named him: Emily. We firmly believe that hamster fighting is not a sport, and we do not support it. But, sometimes things went on behind the couch that we weren’t necessarily paying close attention to, and hamster races/ homemade mazes / homemade hamster ramps might have been a couple of those things. We are saddened to deliver the news that Flash is sleeping with the fishes, but we want you to know that he is DEFINITELY in a much better place now.

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(He’s in this box, wrapped up in a Foot Locker bag [because “he liked sports”, said Dylan] taking a permanent dirt nap in our back yard. Yes, he’s in a better place, for sure. RIP, Flash. Hang in there, Emily.)

Ok, moving on. What else have we been up to? Oh, yeah! YOGA. Not just your Momma’s yoga, but DDP YOGA. We are doing the hell out of it, or trying to, anyway. We decided to take some pics of ourselves pre-workout. Don’t be jealous. It’s just that, we were really feeling it with our bandanas. We were channeling our inner Flash Dance. We ALWAYS wear bandanas when we do yoga. And, then we high five after the “Diamond Cutter” exhalation and a “BAM!” to the ground with our palms. The couple that does yoga together stays together!

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So we’ve had a major job change (oh, for my husband as well. He got a promotion, which meant completely new job responsibilities and learning curve), death of a beloved hamster, fitness regiment ignited, and two significant words that nine tenths of the population would understand : 

Breaking Bad.

We signed up for the free Netflix temp membership and dedicated ourselves to watching Seasons 1-5 of “BB” in a mere 30 days, so that we could get caught up with the rest of society for the Series Finale next Sunday. We came to the end of the free Season 5 episodes last night, but there are 8 more that we must watch to catch up, which aren’t easily accessible. We frantically Googled to see where we could stream them for free. If you were to bottle Breaking Bad and inject it directly into our veins, we would have breathed a sigh of relief last night. Instead, we connected my laptop to the flat screen TV and watched a choppy, crappy version of the next episode in the last series.

That’s all I will say about that, because I respect the silence and abhor the spoilers. But, it’s been a lot of sacrificing to get caught up, and a lot of serious dedication. A LOT. We feel we’ve come very far.

Lastly, I had a bit of a running list of some of the best Honey Badger quotes. I will leave you with some, not all, of those, as well as a promise to pick this thing back up and keep it running.

HONEY BADGER QUOTES

“Hey! I don’t hear that smell anymore!”

Erin, someday you’ll grow up and marry a nice man like your Daddy. “Then I’ll get my baby?!”

(Loudly, as in disbelief) “DO YOU KNOW WHAT FREEZING HOT MEANS?” No, I don’t. Please tell me. “IT MEANS IT’S FREEZING IN SPANISH!!!!!”

“I don’t like church. Why don’t you just take Daddy, and Grandma can babysit us.”

Erin, you feel warm. “I do? How come I?”

“Can I use scissors? I PROMISE I won’t cut my hair.”

From the backseat, while I’m driving: “Daddy’s awesome, right?” Yes, he sure is.  “He’s much more awesomer than you, right?!”

As always, thanks for reading.

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Treasure Hunting with the Honey Badger

I’m bored. I have nothing to look forward to in life any longer. Valentine’s Day is over, and so is the thrill of the hunt. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about Valentine’s Day at all. My husband and I opted to not do anything for each other this year. When I talk about the thrill of the hunt, I am referring to a competition that a local jewelry store puts on every other year called “Finders Keepers”. Here are the details, verbatim from their website:

“Cupid’s little helpers at Reis Nichols Jewelers are going out into Indianapolis to hide one elegantly wrapped silver box outside a public place each day until Valentine’s Day. Yep, we’re hiding our little silver wrapped boxes with bright red bows filled with beautiful jewelry, outside public places, throughout the entire city.

NO STRINGS ATTACHED.
FINDERS KEEPERS.

We only ask that if YOU find one give us a call and let us know where and when you found the package.
AND… once you call us, we’ll give another gift! We will donate $100 to the charity of YOUR choice.

THE JEWELRY IS REAL.
THE GIFT IS YOURS.
THE PLEASURE IS OURS.

Finder’s Keepers. One gift a day, every day, until Valentine’s Day. Just our little way of spreading the love!

THE DAILY CLUE WILL BE POSTED PROMPTLY AT 9:30AM.

I am a Competitor. I live for this kind of thing. Whether in work or play, you dangle a carrot in front of me, and I am THERE. Given any kind of incentive, like an all-expenses paid vacation or money, to meet or exceed a goal : I will smash it. I have been the recipient of those very things in my day. But, times have changed. I am no longer in the full-on workforce. I work from home at random hours, feast or famine, to be able to be the full-time, stay-at-home Mom that I am. So, when something like “Finders Keepers” comes along, I am ALL IN – whatever it takes.

This year, I missed the kick-off on Feb 1st. The clue was posted, the piece of jewelry was found, and I wasn’t fazed. I decided to jump into the action on Feb 2nd. My husband and I figured out the clue very quickly, and I dragged my 10 year old son along for the hunt. It had everything to do with Pat McAfee, kicker for the Colts, and the canal in Broad Ripple. We searched in the exact location it was found, we just missed spotting it. Perhaps it was because I was hungry, and we were freezing looking in the snow, so we ditched the locale and headed to Perkins for breakfast. In retrospect, that was probably why we missed it. 😉

I didn’t play Days 3 & 4 because I was swamped with work. Not to mention, the Honey Badger was at home with me. I was starting to lose interest in the game.

Day 5: I didn’t even look at the clue when it came out at 9:30am. Who am I? What happened to my competitive streak? Oh yeah, I was still working my ass off.

Until, the phone rang.

My sister, Susie: “Are you playing?”

Me: “No, I’m working. Why?”

Susie: “I know where it is.”

Me: “THEN GO!!!!!!!!! What are you doing?!?! Where is it?”

Susie: “I’m not going anywhere, I haven’t showered.”

She told me where she thought it was, and based on the clue, there was no doubt in my mind she was spot on.

I grabbed the Honey Badger, who was in shorts in 25 degree weather, threw some snow boots and a fur coat on her, and told her we were headed out to “LOOK FOR TREASURE!!” She grabbed her Jake & the Neverland Spyglass, map, and pirate bandanna. We were set.

We hauled ass to the south side of the city – a 35  minute drive. I was on the phone 3-way with my sister and my husband. Sean was looking at the park we were headed to on Google Earth. It was huge. Luckily, since he’s not a dumb guy (which we established in this blog posting), he instructed me to head straight to the basketball goal. Part of the clue was, “If you’re Jonesing for another clue…” and he connected the basketball reference. Susie and I would have totally missed that, as did everyone else that started to show up at the park and search! I was running out of time. I was driving around the park going, “I don’t see the basketball courts!!” when Erin piped up,  “There’s the basketball goal, Mommy!”….she got us there, pointing to exactly where the lone basketball goal stood. She led us to the treasure.

We hopped out of the van, searched everywhere, and came up with nothing. We searched high and low, kicking snow over in case it was buried, and still no treasure. We got back in the van and drove around. People were arriving now, but they were searching on the other side of the park, at the playground. I knew we had a leg up with the basketball reference, so I drove us back to the basketball goal. Not wanting to tip off (ha, pretty clever play on words) the other searchers, I drove PAST the basketball goal and parked in the lot next to it. As I put the van in park, something in the tree directly to my right caught my eye. I stepped out of the van. I was still on the phone with my sister, exasperated that I hadn’t located it yet when I knew I was in the right location. I stepped toward the tree and took a closer look.

There, inside a plastic bag, was a beautifully wrapped silver box, with a bright, red bow.

“I found it.”

Susie: “WHAT! Are you serious?!”

Me: “Oh my God. I found it.”  I very calmly tucked it into my jacket and slid back into the car. I unwrapped it. It was a beautiful red box, and inside was a silver and diamond Colts horseshoe pendant, valued at $280. Not too shabby!

Colts necklace

I turned around to show the Honey Badger what we found….only “we” didn’t find it. I did.

Tears. “**I** wanted to find the treasure and open it!!!!!!!!!!!”

Oh no. I felt awful. I got so caught up in the excitement of finding it, that I forgot the most important thing – letting her find it. I WRECKED IT!

She bounced back pretty quickly, after the tears subsided, and I let her hold the box and ribbon. Not the necklace, though, that was around my neck. If that sounds mean, well the Honey Badger was not going to break it! She already broke my Dylan & Erin necklace that I adored. I called in my find and asked that they donate to the American Heart Association, in honor of my Mom, who is battling heart disease. I kept reiterating to HB how I never would have found the treasure if she hadn’t pointed out the basketball goal. That seemed to placate her, and her spirits lifted as we drove back north. She called Grandmas, Grandpa, and Daddy along the way to tell them about our find. She was hooked. Just like her Mommy, she wanted more.

**INTERMISSION**

During Intermission, I would like to share an excerpt of something I wrote to my dear friend, Laura, two years ago. She lives in Arizona and plays the game from afar, helping me out. Based on how it ended two years ago, I’d say I’ve come a long way on this year’s Finder’s Keepers hunt. (The final day’s clue had everything to do with an Irish restaurant/pub.)

“I am finally getting my life back in order now that the damned contest is over! I drove RIGHT by O’Charley’s yesterday on my way to McNamara’s florist in Broad Ripple after leaving Murphy’s Steakhouse. I also wet my pants on Prospect St. in the hood, looking at the Golden Ace thinking it was there FOR SURE. There was not a single place to stop and go to the bathroom, and then I would have simply gone behind a brick wall, but I deemed it too unsafe for myself. So, I finally reached the point of no return from drinking too much coffee during my pre-game.

Also, it was Valentine’s Day, so I had chocolate for breakfast and lunch.

This concludes this season’s edition of ‘Finder’s Keepers’.”

ACT II

Now that my sister directed me to the treasure, she was all GAME ON, MOFO! for the next one.

Day 6 : Clue leads you to believe it is at the Carmel Ice Skadium, in well, Carmel, where my sister lives and my husband works. Susie and I are on the phone when the clue comes out, promptly at 9:30am. She is in her car in a split second, heading to find it. My other line rings. It’s my husband, breathless, running to his car from his office. Oh shit, it’s a showdown. They meet there at the same time. I’m still talking to Susie; Sean has to fend for himself. I’m telling her where to look – don’t forget to look under things, in trees, on the outskirts…she tells me she has to focus and needs to hang up. A “trail” is part of the clue, and the Monon Trail is right across the street, so she’s headed there. My phone rings again. It’s Sean.

“I’ve hit your sister with a brick! She’s lying on the Trail! Nothing is standing in my way!”

Good grief. Those two couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag. They walked by the jewelry multiple times before someone else found it. And, they were the first ones there. I was disappointed in both of them, shaking my head in disbelief.

Days 11-12 : Erin and I were dressed and ready to go well before the 9:30am clue. We were in our car by 9:20am, with the engine running. Some days, I had my laptop set up in the front seat, it’s internet capability being suctioned from my phone as a mobile hotspot, iPad at the ready, posted at the entrance of my neighborhood. We were ready to dart north, east, south, or west. Each time, Erin packed her Spyglass, map and bandanna. She was so excited to be out looking for treasure with Mommy! Our searches took us to every nook and cranny of the city…and beyond. We saw places and things in our city that we never knew existed. We browsed through bushes, trees, parking lots, beautiful parks. I googled incessantly. I spent many an hour on the phone with Laura in Arizona, my sister, and my 70 year old mother, playing from home. I racked my brain all day and night when prizes went undiscovered into the night, and into the next day. I met some wonderful people when we all converged on the same spot, and we congratulated each other sincerely when one of us found the jewelry.

By Day 13, I had to throw in the towel. My son had a Dr’s appointment when the clue came out at 9:30am. I wasn’t playing. But, Laura was. I drove Dylan back to school, and was headed home with Erin. Laura got the clue right away and was sending me fragmented text messages. Fragmented to me, anyway, because I hadn’t even seen the clue and didn’t know what she was talking about. I pulled over to the side of the road.

The Clue: “Feb. 13th: Climb, Hop and Navigate your way through a tunnel and slide as you play all day.”

As we had come to expect, if certain words are capitalized, you can’t ignore that. Laura insisted it was at the Community Health Network sponsored playground in Hamilton Town Center. I couldn’t ignore her pleas. I promptly headed towards the interstate, and drove straight there. I told Erin, “As soon as we park, we are RUNNING to the playground, ok? Then, search for treasure everywhere!!”. Well, she ran straight to the slide and started playing. She left all thoughts of treasure behind, because in her mind she struck gold with the playground.

A man stepped out of Noodles & Co.

“You lookin’ for jewelry?”

I answered, “SURE AM!”

He said, “Well, it’s not here. People have already been here looking.”

I happily nodded, and kept on searching. I knew it was there.

I searched the entire vicinity and playground. I finally stopped in my tracks and focused on the slides. I checked under one: nope. I had to duck to get under the other one. There, wedged in a small crevice, was the silver package with the bright, red bow. This time, I wasn’t going to get it wrong.

“Erin, come over here, honey. Do you see the treasure anywhere under here?”

We were standing under the playground slide. I was turned away from the jewelry, feigning to look all around.

“MOM-MMEEEEEE, I SEE THE TREASURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Her eyes so wide, the excitement dancing all over her face. She reached for it, but it was wedged so tightly, I helped her get it out. We sneaked it into her jacket, and took off in a sprint to the car. The same man from Noodles & Co was yelling to me, asking if we’d found it. I smiled, and waved, and we kept running. We got inside the van and locked the doors. I let her peel off the bow, and tear open the wrapping paper. I was dying to see what was inside. We pulled out a pair of beautiful ‘Stephen Webster Superstud earrings, retail value $350’. She was beside herself for finding the treasure all on her own. It was a moment she, nor I, will ever forget. I finally got it right the second time around.

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The Honey Badger is sooooo happy upon our return home. I am sporting the earrings and necklace that we found!

Funny thing is, I’m not even a jewelry person.  However, I do still have the Colts horseshoe around my neck. It’s simple, beautiful, and I’ve fallen in love with it. More importantly, I just had an absolute blast for two weeks looking for treasure with my daughter, no matter what we found….or didn’t find.

On a recent trip to pick up her brother from school, she was “reading” aloud from a magazine in the backseat. Here is just a bit of what I caught, in a very careful, whispered tone:

“When you are looking for treasure, be sure to look everywhere outside. It could be up in the treeeeeees, it could be down on the grounnnnd, it could be by a rock, you just have to keep on looking and don’t ever, ever give up……” 

Know Yourself

When I was in college, I was a leader for my high school’s very amazing Senior Retreat. I had to give a one hour talk, and my topic was chosen ahead of time: “Know Yourself”. I was terrified. Not one to enjoy standing up and talking in front of people, let alone high school seniors, I had to figure out how best to break the ice and connect with them on their level. I opened with a bit of a wisecrack. At a mere 19 years of age, I held up my driver’s license. I said, “This is me.” I described my hair, eye color, and other obvious factors that you can see. I set it down on the podium, and pulled out a different driver’s license, that of a 21 year old woman. Next, I said, “And, this is who I pretend to be.”  I figured if I didn’t bullshit my audience, who was soon to strike out on their own after graduation, I had a much better chance of reaching them. Based on the reaction to my talk, I believe I did.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This is the Honey Badger:

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“HELLO! I’m the Honey Badger! I like to cut my own hair!”

And,

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“THIS IS WHO I PRETEND TO BE! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!”

She really can’t help but be herself. She is the happiest creature on the planet. I am constantly shaking my head at her saying, “Erin, what in the world am I going to do with you?” and she happily replies,

“Put me in the potty and flush me down the toilettttttt!!!!!”

or –

If she is having a bad day, which is rare, her big bro will try and cheer her up, “Erin, you are SO AWESOME!”

Her disgruntled, angry response : “I DON’T LIKE BEING AWESOME!!”

She lays it all out there. Kind of like her Mommy. What you see is what you get. I like that she is free to be herself, and doesn’t try to be like anyone else. I give her props for being edgy with her new haircut, for trying to get past us that she is wearing her PJ’s under her clothes out in public, and for looking for treasure everywhere we go (my fault, and that’s an entirely different story).

All I ever really want for my kids is for them to have self worth – to know their strengths, their faults, their own opinions, their motivations, their goals, and most of all: to be happy with exactly who they are. I believe if they truly know who they are, then they will succeed.

Lastly, I hope they never have fake ID’s and then write about it in a blog, or give a speech to seniors in high school and reveal it to them, but that’s just me.

Regarding the Honey Badger…

Hi there. This is officially my first post. Many friends and family encouraged this endeavor, mostly as a result of my posts about the Honey Badger. (The Honey Badger would be our 3 year old daughter.) I can’t do a blog just about Erin, although she IS hilarious. My son is also the epitome of humor, but he’s more reluctant to let me “share” online. Since so much encouragement has come from the stories of the Honey Badger, it is only fitting that I share with all of you a story about her that is very near and dear to our hearts. Sean and I have only told this story to a few very close people to us. So far, that’s been family. I usually tell funny stories about her, but I would like to open this blog with a very staid story about her. Perhaps what I am about to say will let my readers know just how much of a treasure she is, and why she is here.

My pregnancies for both my children were painful, problematic, and utterly agonizing. As a result of going into preterm labor with Dylan at 5 months, and prohibiting his early exit up until he was 5 weeks premature, I enjoyed a weekly shot of progesterone in the hip to ensure Erin didn’t try to do the same. We also opted to have all the prenatal testing done, not to entertain any thoughts of abortion should the markers indicate a problem, but to ensure we went into any situation with our eyes wide open. Having said that, approximately 3 months into my pregnancy a huge flag alerted us to the fact that our baby was likely to have Downs Syndrome. This could have been a false positive, so we opted for an amniocentesis to know what we were up against. It took 4 scheduled visits, 3 of those utter disappointments, to get the perfect window where the placenta could “safely” (although there is no guarantee of safety) be plunged with a giant needle, shipped off to the lab, and results back to us. Those results would tell us if we needed to arm ourselves with every weapon at our disposal to make the best life possible for our Downs baby, or breathe a sigh of relief that the test was false. It made no difference to us if he/she was or wasn’t Downs, except for how we would prepare mentally and financially. Speaking of mental, by the 4th visit to have the test done, we were wound pretty tightly and pretty emotionally. So, when the tech asked us if we would like to know the sex of the baby, which up until then we had opted not to find out, we busted out a “YES, PLEASE!”.  It was a girl.  My son begged for a little sister. This was swell, except I only knew I could raise a boy. A tomboy myself when I was little, this was quite a shock to me. My husband was THRILLED.

Now, before I go any further, I want to expand on the wonderful facility that was taking such good care of us during this process: Maternal Fetal Medicine in Indy. Being huge Indianapolis Colts‘ fans, we were pleased to find out that my M.D. there was Lauren Dungy-Poythress. She is (ex) Coach Dungy’s sister. If you ever had respect for that man, wow, you should meet his sister. She is an amazing doctor. I have never met a doctor like her, and my husband feels the same way. To say she is a warm person is an understatement. I can’t even describe the calmness and serenity she brought into every room she walked into. She would put her healing hands on my belly, talking very softly, slowly, intelligently, and made my husband and I feel as though we just left church after we spent time in her presence. I have been in countless numbers of Dr.’s offices in my 37 years. I have never had a near-religious experience with a Dr. like that EVER.

So, when the amnio was done, and we were walking out of the room and wiping tears of joy that it’s a GIRL!, we headed to the check-out to schedule our follow-up meeting for the results. We were stopped right at the back desk by one of the other doctors. This was an older woman, African-American, with a very similar demeanor to Dr. Dungy-Poythress. She was very inquisitive, asking if we knew what the sex of our baby was. We hadn’t even told our family, but we felt comfortable sharing with her. We said, “Yes, we just found out she’s a girl!”. More tears. She very calmly asked me if she could place her hands on my belly. Of course, she was a very calming presence. I invited it. I felt her warm, healing hands upon me, only this was different. She was reflecting on something that meant a great deal to her.  She paused for a moment and looked up at us. She was very intent on what she had to say and looked us straight in the eyes, this old, wise woman. After a pause she said, “She is going to be a very, very strong woman. She will ease the suffering of many.”

This story of Erin’s beginnings still gives us chills.