Dolly Parton’s Diet Can’t be Beet

One of my daughters is an extremely-selective eater. This isn’t news to anyone who has tried to feed her. She is maxed out on the “high maintenance” food plan. With that said, I have her try all foods, while attempting not to fill her head with preconceived notions.

Just because I gag with some foods, does not mean that my daughters may not enjoy it. For instance, the last time we were eating at a good ‘ole cowboy steak house, the waiter welcomed us and said, “I’ll be back with your bees.”

Bees..? Oh, no, he didn’t say BEETS?!

(cue flashback music)

It was the summer of 1988, when I took a break from college to sing Italian opera at Busch Gardens Theme Park outside Williamsburg, VA. Five times-a-day/six days-a-week, we belted our trilled “r’s” out, on a quaint outdoor stage covered with flowers, encased in rustic Italian scenery.

If you have ever experienced a Virginia summer, you are familiar with humidity. I’m not talking about the kind that makes your undergarments travel to strange new lands; but the thick fog of humidity, which you can literally see rain down from the sky. Each day I tempted heat stroke, while performing in a Shakespearean dress made of quality upholstery material.

Even though I was singing and dancing in temperatures unfit for most zoo animals, I was unaware I was burning off calories at a brisk pace. The entertainment world is unforgiving in the body image department, so I decided I needed to go on a diet – the newest fad program.

Dolly Parton’s diet was it. I stupidly envisioned that 17-inch waist of hers. If it was good enough for Dolly, then I could handle this abuse for the sake of show business!

Fortunately, my roommates were going to join me. It was going to be a party, but the kind where the host forces you to drink gallons of water and doesn’t offer you food. I was sold!

Each day was mapped out for food consumption. No substitutes were allowed or your metabolism wouldn’t work as well as Ms. Parton’s. Every food was magically paired with others so you could burn calories faster than y’all could shake a stick at.

Grapefruit, dry toast and peanut butter for breakfast. Plain tuna fish and dry toast for lunch. Meat, green beans, beets and vanilla ice cream. Plus, a never-ending supply of Dolly’s famous vegetable soup. I loved vegetable soup!

It wasn’t until I got to the dinner where I was instructed to eat the cabbage-and-water-with-no-seasoning soup, a portion of beets, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream that I panicked.

I could get used to ice cream in a diet. However, the vegetable that never made it to my childhood family table was beets. My mother said they made her physically sick. Since I didn’t want to risk that effect, I claimed I hated them too.

My final diet meal consisted of a fine soggy cabbage bisque, with a beet milkshake for dessert. And to finish it off, I returned it promptly into the toilet. My mother was right and I was done with this diet.

Flash-forward to the steak house:

The waiter returned with a humongous bowl of beet orbs – I had prayed they were going to be bees – it took everything in my power not to voice my putrid disgust.

Munchkin #2 said, “Mom, what are those?”

They are beets. Would you like one?

“Oh, the smell is going to make me barf,” she announced to the full room.
Still need to work on manners a bit, but in my mind I agreed.

Munchkin #2 asked, “Mom, do you like beets?” My husband choked on his drink, but kept quiet, not knowing how I was going to handle it.

Then an epiphany sauntered up to my table. I had never eaten beets by themselves. And who in their right mind eats beet milkshakes?!

Drawing up courage I said, “I haven’t tried them like this before. Let’s taste one together!”

Over forty years, I was under the assumption I hated beets, since my mother detested them. I never thought I could be genetically a different person than my mom; but I choked down the ice cream/beet concoction in desperation to lose weight.

And what do y’all know? I reckon I kinda liked ‘em.

But that soup is completely out of the question!

What is the weirdest diet you’ve tried? Did it work? Please share in the comments. It makes me VERY happy.


The Many Stages of Parent Volunteers

“Excuse me. (tap, tap) Welcome, to the 2015 InsertAnyClubHere meeting. Before we start, I’m going to need a few parent volunteers.”

Crickets chirp.

“Where did everybody go?”

Does this scenario sound familiar? Whether it’s your child’s school, a society, your church/temple/synagogue, you have surely witnessed this battle of the wills.

As I see things, there are two types of people: “those who help” and “those who think they help, but are sorely incorrect.”

What is it with people not wanting to volunteer? I don’t know if you got the memo, but “not volunteering” is the new “thank you notes.” Gratitude is so last season.

I realize not everyone acts this way, so I don’t want to come across as bitter or cantankerous. But for those of you who are gracious and generous of your time, this rant is not aimed at you. However, those who rarely volunteer probably don’t give a rip and have moved on searching for something regarding their awesomeness.

Generally, in parenting the Volunteer Police start you off slowly. Volunteering is never expected of someone who has a newborn. Ever. We’ve all been there and feel your loss of free time and sleep.

The next stage is where it slowly starts. Careful when you announce your child is potty-trained. You will get that first call in 48 hours. Obviously, you have more free time since you aren’t always in the powder room. Plus, now you must have extra money since you gave up the diapers.

How about a big donation to the preschool carnival?

Most preschools require that you bring your child a snack. Sometimes it’s every day for just your child, or they take donations of bulk snacks and when the teacher runs out, she will ask for more contributions. This is the beginning of the end. You are now in the throes of the Volunteer Police until the day you die. Prepare for those parents who don’t “remember” to donate snacks to the classroom. They will be the same ones who remain on the “Too-Busy-for-You-List” through high school.

Seriously, life is so busy you don’t have time to pick up a jumbo-sized crate of Goldfish, while you are doing your weekly grocery shopping?

Now I realize not everyone can afford purchasing snacks for the entire class, so obviously you get a free pass. And I’m so sorry you are having a rough patch. But Ms. Lazy Britches needs to make a note, a list, or set a timer on her phone to pitch in a tad.

In grade school, the amount of things for which to volunteer increases tenfold. The children are not only in school all day – thus, requiring numerous parent volunteer requests – but many kids are in multiple extra-curricular events, which require each game: snacks, drinks, massages, throat cultures, pedicures…

If you boldly choose to get involved in PTO, you know that filling up your slots for volunteers is as much fun as a root canal. Or if you are the non-coveted position of Room Parent, you might as well plan on bringing backup treats for every party.

Even if you send out an email asking for the volunteers to acknowledge what they will be bringing, don’t expect to get more than a 10-percent return rate. Just pray the parent dropping the ball won’t be the one assigned to the sweet treats! I’ve personally seen that and the mayhem is NOT pretty.

So you might say, “But does it really matter if the kids don’t get all the snacks?” No, I don’t enjoy my kids running wild like they are on crack. But yes, it is a big deal that so many people expect to be catered to. If they don’t volunteer, some other sucker will cave in and do it.

It’s those flake’s own fault that they agree to everything.

Maybe you should go back to your Candy Crush marathon or balancing your business’s budget and let all the slacker stay-at-home moms take care of your kids?

It’s time for everyone to step up and join the volunteer game. What ever happened to the, “It takes a village” attitude? Afraid if you are weak and help out, forces will draw you in with their gratitude spell, make you sing Kumbaya, and add you to the PTO board?

Take a chance. Prove that you care.

You can always say “NO” when you have reached your limit. But you won’t know what your limit is if you don’t throw yourself into the game.

Any juicy PTO stories? Which group seems to be the worst at getting volunteers in your town?



Needles to Say You’re Stressing me Out

When I created my Goofy Bucket List, I envisioned days with friends and family taking on bizarre activities. Yodeling in the Alps. Waitressing at Hooters or just channeling my inner farmer.

Wandering outside my comfort level again was the plan. However, this month I would go it alone, making it scarier. However, I never predicted the outcome of this escapade.

I called the front desk and requested an appointment. Since I work from home and the munchkins are in school fulltime, I’d squeeze it in between ironing and polishing the silver. And since I never do either of those chores, my schedule was free.

Pretty much I could come any time because her schedule was wide open. Oh, 20/20 hindsight, did I miss my sign?

The next day, I entered the empty and stark office. A few pieces of art were tastefully highlighted by long fluorescent light fixtures, most commonly found in relic grade schools.

The woman at the front desk was lovely. She asked me to fill out some paperwork weighing roughly the same as a small hedgehog. An awful lot of personal questions for one visit, but I persevered.

When brought back to the treatment room, I was not asked to remove my clothing or give any specimens. Just a “she’ll be right with you.”

What if I take off my clothes and they say I didn’t need to!

But before I could imagine nosing around this beige room with no ambient lighting or music, a beautiful woman entered.

“Why are you here?” she bluntly asked while scribbling in a blank chart.

Dang, I hadn’t thought I needed a reason to come for my bucket list event. This is getting way too complicated. Abort. Abort!

Not moving, I mumbled something about losing weight and lessening my anxiety. It was the first thing to pop into my head. I felt as if I were having that dream where you don’t do your homework, and there’s a pop quiz, which was 80 percent of your grade.

“Do you want treatment today?” she edged.

“Yes, please?” I whispered in fear of having to return.

Whose idea was it to go to an Acupuncturist? I’m a nurse and firm believer in western medicine. Plus, what if I can’t handle the pain? Although, if she could make me drop twenty pounds, I could learn to handle her abruptness.

After uncomfortable pressuring and prodding, she retrieved my answers and increased my blood pressure considerably. She hadn’t even brought the needles out!

Next, she tugged my clothes, flashing my parts to turn my body into her personal pincushion. Then she blurted, “You are fine. I’ll be back in 30 minutes.” She either said that or she was going for wine. Either way I wasn’t going to move.

The half hour was similar to getting an MRI. I was afraid to move for fear I would gore an artery with my muffin top. One lift of my head to observe my metallic topical map could be disastrous.

Was this supposed to be relaxing? Oh, no! What if I get the hiccups? I could puncture a lung!

Luckily, one of the needles in my forearm felt like she had poured lava into my vein. It was a fine distraction to keep my anxiety in check.

Concluding the appointment, she said in order for her treatment to work, I needed to stop eating. Not really in those exact words, but she said I was allowed “only one carbohydrate per day.” Which is basically the same thing.

She designed my new eating program, which consisted of nuts and burlap. As she educated, I saw her words floating into space, mimicking the feel when putting your ear up to a conch shell.

As I power walked to my car, I knew acupuncture wasn’t going to reduce my anxiety. This gal was stressing me out!

Plus, now she had me craving a muffin something fierce.

previously printed in The Kansas City Star newspaper on November 21, 2014


Overeating to Numb the Past

overeatingEveryone has a story from their childhood which stains their persona, causing permanent damage in the pattern of grief or pain. We are human. That’s a perk of having a highly functioning brain and opposable thumbs.

But how we handle those situations from our past is what forms our coping mechanisms. Let’s face it, some adults handle stress better than others. The remainder of us have stressors which trigger unhealthy behaviors.

Whether it be overeating, drinking heavily, smoking or extreme exercise; the cause is all the same. We are numbing the pain from our past. I don’t think people are consciously choosing these harmful devices, but inadvertintly use it as a crutch to wipe out traumatic memories.

When my brother was young, my parents hired a babysitter to keep us safe while they went to a baseball game in a city 30 miles away. My parents had used this babysitter before and were comfortable in their choice.

I was ten at the time, but already was proficient in my brother’s ailments. Asthma attacks were a common nighttime event, and numerous times I had watched my parents take my brother into the steamy bathroom when he had croup.

But this night was worse.

It started with a sporadic cough and complaints of a sore throat. The babysitter gave him some ice cream to help cool his throat. Unfortunately, no one knew until later that my brother had developed an allergy to milk. Combined with croup, his barking seal cough quickly worsened.

I said to the babysitter, “When he barks like this, my parents turn on the hot shower and have him sit in the bathroom breathing in steam.”

The older teen showed no concern for his cough, but after much nagging and begging, she reluctantly turned on the shower. Obviously, she had never heard of this medical condition and her anxiety level was hovering at a negative three.

I, however, had developed a strong case of the worries at a young age, watching my mother worrying about my brother. Learned behavior is such a bitch.

We knew it would be challenging to reach my parents at a professional ball game since it was the pre-cellphone era. So calling them for their advice was out of the question. Since the shower trick was not helping, and my brother five years junior was having labored breathing, I asked the babysitter to call the pediatrician.

She didn’t think that was necessary.

REALLY? He sounds like a seal choking on his huge rubber ball. When do you think he will be blue enough to get your attention?

Since I knew where the doctor’s number was, I called her. Back then you could call doctors at home and they would be happy to help a parent in distress. I’m sure this familiar pediatrician was surprised to hear my voice in the middle of the evening, but she agreed my brother was in danger.

After my brother barked into the receiver, he handed the phone back to me. The doctor asked to speak to my babysitter. Miss Nonplussed decided to take calls at that point.

“The boy is dangerously ill and needs to get to the hospital NOW!” insisted the doctor.

I’m fairly sure I remember the monotoned babysitter’s astute answer.

“OK,” she mumbled.

Since the doctor needed to be at the hospital – and we were in a direct path to the ER from her home – she instructed us to wrap my brother in a warm blanket and watch for her red Toyota sedan to pick us up.

We arrived at the hospital just in time.

Entering the doors of the ER was to be the last time I would see him for the next several days. Unable to reach my parents at the game, the pediatrician took a chance and without parental consent performed an emergency tracheostomy. Now he could breathe through a tube exiting his neck.

My parents eventually were called overhead interrupting the game, and instructed to come to the hospital immediately. Thankfully, my brother survived this traumatic case and we had an amazing physician who took matters into her own hands. I know there was a special place in heaven saved for her after that night.

Today, whenever I hear one of my daughters cough, my gut tightens, my palms sweat, and my pulse quickens.

Is it croup? Does it sound like her throat is closing?

My poor kids! They can’t clear their throats without me straining to check them out.

So when my daughters are actually sick and I have to keep them home from school, I try my damndest to keep my cool. I don’t want my kids to feel my anxiety, and develop their own worries. So I stifle my fears. I care for them with a smile on my face and the “hell-no-Mama’s-not-worried” voice.

“Eh, you’re not that bad. It’s just a little cough.”

After the lights are turned off and the kids are tucked into bed, with the whir of the vaporizer as their white noise; my mind turns to that full box of Goldfish crackers in our pantry and an inviting bottle of Pinot Noir.

That would take the edge off.

And I as I center my breathing, I remind myself, “Don’t compare this sickness to the past. We’ll get through it again.”

I’d like to say, my meditation techniques help me avoid the panic attacks, but someday I’ll walk right past the pantry and the liquor cabinet, and be secure in what life gives me.

But that day isn’t quite here.

Does this happen to you or am I alone on this one?


Professional Teeth Whitening at Home Works

smilebrilliant(This is a sponsored post by the fabulous folks at Smile Brilliant! Even though I was given the products in return for this critique, I am shooting straight from the hip and offering you my true opinion as always.)

Many years ago, after I had kids and sleep became an optional sport; I decided to treat myself to something nice. One day when waiting for my dental hygienist to return to the room after x-rays, I bided my time by reading wall literature.

Next to the sign warning me not to swish with a certain brand of mouthwash because it might turn my teeth purple…or black – can’t remember the details due to the sleep deprivation – was my answer to pampering this disheveled new mom.

Teeth whitening!

I got the information, talked it over with my husband (I think) and signed up to get molds of my teeth made the next week so I could remove the caffeinated beverage stains off my pearly un-whites. The price was outrageously high, somewhere over $300; but after birthing two children 14 months apart, I felt I needed something nice for me.

After scheduling and re-scheduling because it’s hard to manage 2 babies and a calendar, I finally got a sitter so I could get my molds made. The trays were ginormous and the molding material filled up my mouth like the foam crack sealer you use to seal out pests in your basement. If I had any gag reflex problem, the hygienist would have needed more than a swish and spit basin.

I had to wait several weeks before my whitening trays arrived at the dentist office, where I had to return to pick up my supplies. I was tickled pink to be able to whiten my teeth from 50 shades of off-gray to a smile that would turn heads.

After using my whitening trays nightly for a few weeks, a tooth sensitivity which I had never before experienced occurred. My teeth were sensitive to everything but air. Unless there was a cold biting wind, then that was awful too.

Needless to say, I am not a pain-seeking kind of gal, so I gave up with my whitening project– although I hoped I would get back to it when the girls were a bit older.

Six years later, I got an email from Smile Brilliant! asking me if I would like to try their product and write about it. Free teeth whitening?! You betcha.


But then I remembered why I had stopped using the whitening kit I had purchased so many years before. It hurt like the Dickens!

Oh, Charles! Do layeth off my teeth of yesteryear.

When I mentioned this to the Smile Brilliant! folks, they said they had a desensitizing gel that would prevent the painful feelings. I was wary of their claim that I wouldn’t have a problem, but I’m a warrior. Or cheap and vain.

I obviously agreed to try it, and not only am I pleased with the results, but as a recluse who rarely leaves her computer, this was easy peasy! No trip to the dentist. No gag reflex. And I could do it naked. I didn’t…but I could have if I wanted.

First I made the molds of my teeth.

It took maybe 15 minutes total. They give you an extra tray just in case you rush through it and don’t read the instructions thoroughly. So glad I didn’t do anything THAT stupid! Mmmh…

Then you send the molds back in the envelope they provide for you. In less than a week, I had the casts of my teeth and a full whitening and desensitizing kit.

Smile Brilliant! claims:

Dramatic results usually come in 5 to 6 days. We recommend that the initial teeth whitening process be continued for 12 consecutive days.
I used both gels and noticed a substantial difference than the first time I had tried to whiten my teeth and my sensitivity was greatly reduced by the desensitizing gel if I used it each time prior to the whitening trays.


I’m not saying everyone will have the same results, but it was an overall success for me.

Mostly because…
– I was able to do it from the comfort of my home.
– It was almost half the price of the dental office procedure.
– Didn’t have to get a sitter.
– It works as effectively whitening as the dentist’s office.
-You can do it naked. If you so desire.

Here’s a video of theirs which will cover any details I may have left out.

Also, their website is quite informative and they have staff who you can e-chat with you regarding the products 24/7. They really make it user friendly and convenient for the customer.

I’d love to hear about any whitening experiences you have. What products have you used and did they do the trick?