Super Bowl Hangover Week

– photo provided by Anthony Behar, TNS

So have you recovered from last Sunday’s football? What a game and what a party!

I’m sure many of you are still wearing your elastic band pants. That mammoth-sized ingestion of sodium gets the best of us. Once the swelling goes down and folks don’t have hobbit feet, the silent focus is on getting your proper digestion back in check.

How will all of that cheese dip pass without killing me?

Did you know the average Super Bowl viewer consumes 4,000 to 6,000 calories during one game? I believe that’s cutting it close to the caloric requirement of a Killer Whale. Thanksgiving is a only 3,000 calories, and we all get prepared for that day by kicking up the cardio a few weeks prior. OK, maybe not everyone does that, but they sure think about it… real hard.

The caloric gluttony, while enjoying a game with large men jumping in a pile of flailing limbs, is disgraceful and I cannot condone that behavior. Unless there’s 7-layer or spinach artichoke dip, then, “People, slowly back away from the table or someone might lose a finger!”

Why is it a prerequisite to gorge on carbs and sit on the couch watching others exercise? Not even marathon runners prepare before the big race with that much starch. Now I could see the football players pigging out after the big game; especially, if they covered some major yardage. They’d deserve it — Bucky, Jr. and your other brother Darrell, probably not so much.

So how about those Cowboys!?

I’ve never been a football fan or spectator. Any sport that takes four hours is not within my attention span range. I do love catching the commercials and basing my stock options on who can afford a 30-second spot.

Pistachios? You really make that much money?

But my true reason for this season is… you guessed it, the H-A-L-F-T-I-M-E Show!!!

Remember the days when amazing bands would show off their new dance moves? Before social media saturated the web, taking the fun out of seeing performers live? Then later when performers cursing had to be bleeped out and certain “swimming suit” areas became exposed, the quality went downhill. That is until The Lady Gaga.

She refers to herself as a performing artist, which gives her a fish-netted leg up on the creativity of her show. No performer in the 50 years of Super Bowling had requested the closed roof of the stadium be opened for her and her drone backup dancers of the sky.

She was like David Bowie except with no pants, singing and shaking her moneymaker for the world to see. She came down from the roof like a sparkling frog with un-brushed hair; and using a Hollywood sleight of hand, she air-swam to the stage with patriotic grace. I haven’t checked the facts, but I’m 100 percent certain she is the first musical act to incorporate the game of football with the performance. You’d think that would be an obvious theme for a half-time show, but what do I know?

The close of Ms. Gaga’s genius show came to an end, with her catching a bedazzled football, executing an epic mic drop, and jumping off a 12-foot platform into thin air, confusing the cameraman and spectators at home. Brilliant!

Who knows maybe performing artists will make a comeback and move out of coffee shops and libraries? This was a show, which left us craving more and she didn’t even need to wear her meat dress. A seven-layer dip costume would have done me in.

So I had an idea, back to the starch and fat fest…

What if you had your guests dance to the half-time show? The beer is cut off unless they get up and move it. Think of how many calories your friends could burn before round two.

Next year, I’m going to throw a Cardio Super Bowl party. Get out your yoga pants, Ladies because we’re gonna sweat.

Plus, yoga pants have elastic waistbands. Bonus.

(previously published in The Kansas City Star on February 10, 2017)

Gift of Time Makes the Perfect Present

“I’d like ‘Time for 400,’ Alec,” you say, leaning into your microphone and gripping the podium before you. In his low, broad tone, he asks, “What is time?” (long pause and no buzz) “Oh…I’m sorry, but you’ve run out of it!”

The concept of time is an age-old question that countless artists, songwriters, poets and game show hosts have tried to capture for centuries. If I could have time in a bottle, I’d have time on my side, yes I would.

The problem is that it’s impossible to stop and catch time. No net or laser can slow down time’s predictable pace. I guess you could catch a moment with a selfie, but that isn’t the point.

Throughout the human life cycles, time takes on various vantage points. After a spank on the tush, and outside air is first gulped into the lungs, your first reference is when the birthing staff yells out the time you entered the world. Some newborns next hear their mother mutter, “It’s about time you got out of my belly!”

As a baby, there’s no need to understand time. In fact, you have too much time on your hands as an infant; so much you spend most of your time napping. What a life to live where you don’t have to worry about having a tight schedule, can run around in your jammies all day, and can take a nap any time you feel like it. Sounds luxurious…or like retirement.

The next shift in time is in adolescence. Time is perceived as something always getting in the way. Alarm clocks rock the room, to say to the teen, “You better get a move on, or you won’t get to school on time.” Teens also morph into major forward, or future thinkers.

“I can’t wait until I get my first cellphone.”

“ I can’t wait until I can drive.”

“I can’t wait until I’m old enough to move out of my parents house!”

This age group tends to focus on what’s going to happen, instead of what is happening at that moment. They live in the “now move over so I can get what I want” phase.

The way people consider time changes again, when the person has achieved what they feel is enough. This is the I-want-this-moment-in-time-to-never-end stage.

It often occurs on your wedding day, when you get to hold your child for the first time, and when it’s nearing midnight on April 15th and you haven’t started your taxes. If only time could stand still, so you could absorb those dear memories. You definitely need a video camera to catch the precious moments.

Finally, time comes to an end. Why do people say slowly comes to an end? Doesn’t it seem as if the time has flown by for everyone over a certain age?

“Where did the time go?”

“If I just had more time…”

In order to make sure I’m not disappointed at the end of my time, I’m preparing for how I want my story to end. Will it have enough magical moments to be worth repeating or documenting? Or will it just be a rush to the finish? It’s like my grandmother said at the end of her life, “The only thing that matters before you die is the ones you love.”

So recently when I couldn’t think of what to get my father for his birthday, I knew the perfect gift would be spending one-on-one time over lunch. No kids to interrupt us. Not having to stop our conversation to listen to others talking. Quality time involving lots of laughter, discussing the things in common we enjoy, and learning more about each other.

We decided after our time together we were going to do lunch every year, in place of giving gifts to each other. After all, it was his mother who said being with your family is the only thing that matters at the end of your life. Not that you are nearing the end of your life, Dad.

Now I need to call a few other family members to set up lunch dates. (Mom, you’re up next) After all, you never know how much time you’ll get with the ones you love.

(previously published in The Kansas City Star on January 14, 2017)

My First Children’s Musical Done!

Written, directed, and performed, so…night-night zzzzz

Camel created by Stacey Hatton and Pamela McGuire (photo provided by Dawn Beck)

It usually doesn’t take long for me to pick up things, like how to crochet or put a clean filter in the furnace, but if it’s my family’s laundry on the floor or life lessons…forget about it!

You would think instructions are innate, or come naturally. However, in my case I need to be hit over the head with it. I must have dozed off during those prime learning years.

Last weekend, I experienced a big one, maybe one of the hardest things I’ve had to grasp. On Saturday night, I became a grownup. I thought when I got married that would be an indicator of my reaching adulthood. Nope. Then when I had children, immediate feelings of being the adult really never hit me. I was 35.

It wasn’t until I was seated in the front row of an audience at my wonderful, little Overland Park church that it hit me…I am no longer the child. There in front of me were 40 bright-eyed actors and singers, waiting to perform the first musical I had written.

“How did I get here?” was the first thing I thought. Then, “Oh, my goodness! I’m prepared just like my first church choir conductor.”

As I pushed back my reading glasses, I leaned into the script with my flickering tea light, to barely see the words my cast might forget during the performance. I was just short of yelling out, “A one-ie, and a two-ie and a thre-ee, four…” when it hit me. I was no longer the grasshopper, but the Sensei. Only took me half a century to figure it out. That’s not bad, right?

After the children did an amazing job; I finally came up for air. It was over.

People asked me if I was exhausted, especially those who knew I started researching for the play last May. I gave a nonchalant reply with a smile, “No, I’m fine!” After all, the show isn’t over until the set and lights are down and the costumes are cleaned and packed. Then you relax.

Then it happened.

The show was packed away. My life was no longer crazy and amped up, and the only things left were memories by photos, hopefully a clear video and hundreds of odd scraps of paper with my scribble on it. Directing is a 24/7 job.

So was I really acting like that quirky woman who first taught me the very same songs, which were in my musical? “Away in the Manger” and “Silent Night” took on a new feel as a grownup, perhaps because I didn’t have them sing it in that horrible screechy key she did! I knew I was coming full circle, but passing on the spotlight to the next star.

The new adult feeling was that I wasn’t sad or felt like I had that wonderful part of my life stripped away. It was finally time to pass the torch, even though I haven’t been on the stage in over 10 years. Until that moment, when I was counting off the beats of the songs, and mouthing the words forcefully looking like a dog eating peanut butter, I had been one of those kids on the stage, smiling and anxiously awaiting my cue from the lady with the big glasses and a white stick.

I’m not going to get a white stick or slam my music stand with sheets flying, while screaming, “Cheese and crackers!” But I might hear her count off in my head. It was funny though, when my choir of angels sang, I surprisingly put my finger to each side of my mouth to draw a happy face. And guess what?

It worked. They sang beautifully and were radiant.

I’m going to keep that one!

(previously published in The Kansas City Star on December 24, 2016) Continue reading

Halloween Candy Might be Poisonous, so Let Mom Try it First

Young girl outdoors in witch costume on Halloween holding candy

It’s that time again…surviving the week or two following Halloween.

The real problem is there are numerous times in the day when my kids are not actively watching their Halloween candy. I should suggest they lock it in a fire safe box, or tell them to hide it somewhere far off our property. But then how would I find that delicious morsel of a Milk Dud if they actually followed through?

My dilemma is children often go to school outside the home, leaving unwatched tidbits of treats. Also, some children sleep through the night, albeit mine didn’t until they were in second grade, but I digress. The thought of no longer getting some of our children’s candy is more haunting than the headless man in a coffin down the street. That bloke has been scarring my children every October for the last half decade.

So how can my husband and I “borrow” a fun-sized Snickers, without them noticing? We’ve tried it all. Disposing of the wrappers in another room and hiding them under Kleenex. Never eating more than one of the same type of candy from the same kid’s stash. I’ll tell you, multiples of one kind will lead to being found out, and it’s not pretty.

For years, I sampled my children’s goodies by pleading the Snow White law. Someone has to be brave to test the candy to make sure it’s not poisonous. The tainted apple just about took out that princess. My cute girls used to think I was so worried for their health, and always appreciated my selfless concern. Sweet, sweet girls…

“It’s out of love, Sweetie!” I would sing in a high voice with forest animals running to my feet.

But my grade school girls have caught on to our long-lived lie. The gig is up!

They carefully scan the house for new locations to hide their gooey goodies. When asked if they would like to donate their candy to the wonderful men and women in the armed forces who don’t get any candy, they scoff or roll their eyes. Since they are inching closer to the teenage years, I’m afraid to stick my hand in the proverbial honey pot. I might lose a finger or worse yet, jewelry.

So this year I bought a small assortment bag of candy for my husband and I to share. If we can have just a nibble while the kiddos are eating theirs, it couldn’t be too harmful, right? Could it keep the peace in the house? Probably, not, but hopefully, the parent stash could keep all body parts safe and our chocolate-filled children from haunting our dreams.

Author’s Note: While writing this I got a hankering for a bite of chocolate; however, when I returned to my chair, I seriously heard and felt the seat of my pants rip, not once, but twice! The good thing to come out of this is my four-inch rip completely fixed my chocolate problem. Hallelujah! My children are safe because nothing fixes candy stealing faster than a clothing fail!

(Previously published in The Kansas City Star on October 11, 2016.)

Hypochondria almost killed me

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Have you ever thought you were dying of colon cancer, and while planning how to make your children’s life bearable after you pass, you bought them a puppy?

If you haven’t, my suggestion is to wait for your official diagnosis before picking up the dog. Perhaps researching the breed beforehand would have also been a good choice. But instead I thought, “Boy that puppy is so cute and fluffy; plus, my neighbor’s mom’s, dog groomer’s proctologist said this breed isn’t supposed to shed and is hypoallergenic, so it’s got to be perfect for us!”

Unfortunately, this was me two weeks ago, and I can’t find enough Calgon to take me away. It’s not that I don’t like dogs, but I’ve been warned never to get a puppy and I’m old enough to know better. This dying thing caught me off guard, plus you should have seen her widdle picture!

Despite the fact my family had begged for a dog for years, the pressure to give in to their request before my imminent demise felt real and strong.

Like flossing before going to the dentist, I usually make sound, well thought out decisions; however when I do lose logical perspective, my analytical husband – my yin to my yang – will point me in the right direction. He’s my “spell-checker” of logical ideas.

But this one time, our system failed!

I should have noticed the hubby wanted a dog again, when he started drawing plans to build a fence instead of checking my DNR or Advanced Directive at the medical plaza, but I really thought I was a goner.

People, hypochondria can slowly take over your brain without a warning. Every ache and pain of mine couldn’t be normal for someone the mere age of 29 (plus a few decades), but since I’d never experienced the age before, I didn’t recognize the signs.

Looking back over the last few years, age had been doing a number on my health realities. In fact, a health data-checker would be the perfect app for me. It would ask:

1. Are you breathing?
2. Do you have a pulse?
3. Are you having severe intestinal issues?
4. Are you considering getting a puppy? DON’T!!

Not only would this mobile app have protected me, but I can only assume the population would save a bunch on health care expenses. [Note to reader: if you design this mobile app, I expect 20-percent of all gross sales.]

So, the puppy is a keeper. I must be positive and keep the whining for the puppy and my pre-teens. I will invest in a nice crate and tall playpen. I’ll take stock in quality earplugs and doggie pee pads. Then I’ll plan on getting rid of everything in our house within the next year. This way if any shoe or windowsill survives death by mastication, it will be a pleasant surprise and a bonus!

Despite my mere diagnosis of gastric reflux, I’m healthy! My girls are thrilled to have a new fuzzy friend, and my husband finally has someone to chase sticks in the newly fenced in backyard.

Excuse me. I need to let out the dog. It’s been over 15 minutes.

I’m sure all of these changes and stressors won’t affect my reflux one bit.

(previously published in The Kansas City Star)