Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Teaberry Gum Commercial 1960's Herb Alpert Teaberry Shuffle

It’s funny the things that motivate us.  When we were younger my sisters and I would do just about anything to wheedle a Sucret out of my dad.  No, not a secret...a Sucret... “the lozenge that has provided serious sore throat relief for more than 75 years”  (
        As I type this my throat is burning with such searing pain that I'd chop off my arm for a Sucret.  But back in the day their medicinal powers was not why we sought them out.  No, my sisters and I were sugar fiends.  Sucrets or Ludens were a sure fire glucose hit for us.

My dad kept them in the breast pocket of his sports coats (probably this very sports jacket.)

If we were lucky he’d have stashed a kudos bar or two in there as well.

My mom we’d hit up for binaca or Lifesavers or best of all gum.

She’d have them hidden in the depths of her “pocketbook.”  The term pocketbook is key because it is similar to a purse but large enough to house a small child and often woven out of various colors of jute.  Sometimes she’d have her LL Bean bag with her which meant an even longer search.

But when the result was Fruit Stripe gum it was worth the wait. Fruit Stripe, Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Extra... whatever the brand name of gum she produced, we’d refer to it as Teaberry so that she would be forced to perform the Teaberry shuffle regardless of time or place.  And SHE WOULD!

THAT is what is so great about my mom.  Seriously, picture my mom, rewatch the video and try not to smile.

Somehow to me, a sore throat, a houseful of sick kids and a flu ridden husband don't seem so bad when I think of Sucrets and the Teaberry Shuffle.  This is how
memories are made, in the silly little things that we'll never ever forget.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Visual Chronicles

I stumbled upon a copy of Visual Chronicles I bought at The Paper Source when I was newly married, full of ambitious creativity for my journals and in possession of $20 to spend.  These days none of those phrases would very accurately describe me and yet I found myself enjoying the book deeply despite the cynicism that tends to come with crow’s feet and varicose veins.  

Visual Chronicle
I still believe that every day is a journey and that every story is worth telling because everything happens for a reason.  I still want to learn how to tell those stories well, whether through writing, speaking, art, music. Communication will always be my absolutely favorite subject to teach.  Because to communicate well brings joy, laughter, tears, healing, strength and so much more.  People change the world by the way they communicate.

To express our experiences in this world we have to pay attention to them.
Right that is first and foremost.  Pay attention to your life, it’s happening right now, don’t miss it.  (I’m preaching to myself here)

Attention: Today I noticed my refrigerator door.  we do not have nearly enough magnets to hold up the pictures, drawings, notes and cards we have up there.  But It says so much about our lives right now.  every photograph is one I treasure, every word is one that brings me hope throughout the day.  

My favorite thing at the end of a long day is to sit down and journal because it lets me mull over all of the strange things I saw, heard, did and felt today.  By replaying it and finding words for it all I appreciate it in a new light.  So, if I’m making a list (my go to way of journaling) the second thing for me to remember is to appreciate the day.

Appreciation: Instead of kid friendly cursing everytime I slammed the “blasted, dogone door.”  I began to think about this phase of life, with small children who love to finger paint, and friends and family who send Christmas cards.  I am blessed by every piece of     our lives that hangs on that door.  

And because my obsessive compulsive tendencies demand that something just isn’t finished until it is a triad.  My third observation about journaling and living and creativity is that I find great satisfaction in embellishing things.  Not changing their veracity or constitution but simply clarifying the beauty that can be muddied by this imperfect world we live in. This is why I think arts (and crafts) are good for your soul. 

Adorn:  (1. to make more pleasing, attractive, impressive, etc.; enhance: Piety adorned Abigail's character. 2. to increase the beauty, distinction, etc, of)   SO I took a picture of this door.  And gussied it up with Instagram, and wrote about it with some of the fanciest words I could find.  And you know what.  I feel good.  I feel good about my day, I feel good about my house and I feel so much love for my kids and their smudgy finger prints, the people on those Christmas cards, even the lady who lived her before us and stole the previous refrigerator in the night so we had to buy this new one... but that’s a story for another time.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Amazing Race

If you have ever talked to me, I have probably brought up my dream of going on the Amazing Race.  Well at long last my application is actually in the queu.  I am giddy with joy just over having finished the audition video.

CBS owns the real thing I believe but here are some out takes:)

These clips remind me of one of my first parent teacher conferences when a mom sat down and said, "I just had to come to you first because my daughter tells me you have the CRAZIEST facial expressions."   Umm, thank you?...

So, you'd vote for us right?   Can we get some sort of grass roots thing going here? I mean getting this thing to go viral would really help our cause.

So give us a shout out...then when we win a million dollars you can be like, "I knew them when..."   and "Don't forget all the little people:)"  Believe me, we won't!

*Very Special Thanks to Simon Wha and his lovely fiancee for making this magic happen.  Seriously, we could not have done it without you!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Marathon Monday

Before I start my ramblings I just wanted to say that if you are not from Suffolk county MA you may not have known that yesterday was Patriot’s Day aka Marathon Monday.  I was SO amazed and moved by the Boston Marathon yesterday.  It was truly awesome.  It made me think that if any readers out there are running races/raising money for charities please let me know (here or via facebook)  and I’d love to give you a guest post to let everyone know about it!

Tomorrow, my youngest sister and I are making an audition video to be on The Amazing Race, my all time favorite show of life.  The upcoming season will be the 25th and I am dying to be on it.  I have to confess I’ve stayed up later than is wise watching youtube videos of other people who have applied and comparing them to myself and my sister.  At first I was sure we were a shoe in.  I mean please, if you know either one of us you know the season would be chalk full of my sister’s daring feats of courage interwoven with scenes of me fighting my OCD tendencies but likely succumbing and requesting total strangers rearrange themselves to suit my organizational preferences.

But then, I realized that 20,000 other people are applying.  20,000 other people who are quirky and fun and want desperately to run this race.  And I can’t find a way to make myself stand out from the crowd.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up, we are still shooting the video tomorrow and hoping to get on.  It’s just that, this in tandem with witnessing the runner’s willpower and endurance at the marathon made me consider anew the feelings of inadequacy that haunt me.  

Picture me, at the laundromat with 6 washers full of dirty clothes soiled with my kid’s spit up, “accidents”, and straight up dirt; hazardous construction material stains thanks to my husband and, worst of all, yellow armpit stains on ALL of my white shirts.  And these stains aren’t coming from intense physical training or rigorous daily activity.  Nope, these stains are all just part of regular everyday.  And I started to be what  Rachel Jankovic calls a “crankster” instead of a “thankster.”  

In other words as I stood there (wearing some stretched out yoga capris and a bleach stained blue tie dyed t-shirt because everything else has to be washed.)  I started to despair about everything :
-There is no way some random judges are going to find me “good enough” to be on National TV.
-There is no way I’ll ever have a story worth publishing.
-There is no way I’ll ever have the time or energy to train for distance running again now that I have kids.
-There is no way we will ever get out from under our college/ grad school debts and be able to do anything exciting.

And what is hard is that I’m right.  

There is very little statistical chance that I will ever publish a book, run the Boston Marathon, be on the Amazing Race or have the financial security I crave.  BUT, that is good for me.  Because if I was guaranteed those things I would, “boast against [God], ‘My own strength has saved me.’” (Judges 7:2)   

So, I’ve fallen a bit behind in my resolution to read through the Bible chronologically but today I came to the story of Gideon in Judges 7.  

Gideon is a lot like me.  He is a coward.  He asks God for like 200 signs to be sure that he is really supposed to fight against the Midianites who are murdering and oppressing his people.  You really should read the story (see reference above) but to sum it up God uses Gideon and 300 men to route thousands of violent enemies. 

Now, I am not in mortal danger, and I do not have thousands of enemies.  But there are thousands of people and obstacles out there who stand between me and my goals.  My tendency is to gather up all my resources and willpower to blast through to what I want.  This is not a very healthy way to live life.  

Here is the sort of life I want to live, the sort of person I want to be... 
I don’t want to envy others their victories or allow comparisons to sully my self-esteem, 
I don’t want to be an arrogant braggart because things go my way.
I don’t want strength, endurance, money or fame to be more important to me than my family and friends.  

I want to appreciate the moments I am given.
I want to enjoy the peaceful whir of the laundromat
I want to trust God in all things...even the Amazing Race

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Strong by Anonymous

This is a piece by one of my students.  I was so struck by it that I asked permission to share it on the blog.  
So here it is...

"Around this time last year, I was beyond upset. I wasn't quite depressed but I was very close to it. I felt nothing was right for me and I just wasn't who I wanted to be. I wanted to be happier, skinnier, smarter, and just have everything perfect. I was mentally ill and I couldn't do anything about it. I felt like it was just time to go for me. What was the point of me being here? I was like an emotional punching bag for my friends and family. Everything I did seemed wrong and I just couldn't stand it. I went from loving food to skipping meals. I went from happy movies on Friday nights with my friends to upset Friday nights alone. It seemed like I was fighting a battle and losing... Hard! Everyday seemed harder and harder to finish no matter how hard I tried to make the best out of a situation. The world that used to be filled with colors became darker and darker to the point where it became black. I've been lied to, everything and everyone just seemed fake to me. There was no reason for me be here because it was obvious from my eyes that i wasn't wanted or needed.

No one really knew how I was feeling. I wore a big smile to school that made it seem like I was happy but it was all just a fake. I didn't want to tell anyone because I thought I would be looked at differently and that was the last thing I needed. I would drop hints to my friends but no one really picked up on it. When you've been looked at as a strong person, no one really offers a hand. What was strong about me though? What looked like strong to others was my loudest cry for help. "Help me. Just make me want to stay another day."

I remember one day, I woke up in the morning and asked my best friend what she would do if I died. She told me that she would cry her eyes out, that I was her best friend and that she loved me more than words could ever explain, that I was the reason she is holding on. I cried that day for a good hour. I was done being sad. I just couldn't stand being the person I was yet I let myself become it. I woke up day after day knowing that I was just getting more and more depressed but didn't do anything about it.

I learned that I am a strong person and that even though I wanted to quit, I didn't. No matter how much I hated my life, there was always that one reason to love it. I always had my family and friends. I was loved beyond words could explain yet I was to blind to see. I learned that you are always someone's anchor and if you go, you are just giving another person a reason to go.

I was hit by the reality bus  and it opened my eyes to the wonderful life I live and I'm glad I stayed. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here typing this and I wouldn't be the happy person I am today. I love myself and I love everyone. Well sometimes... I get told I'm crazy a lot but I just like making people laugh. At the end of the day, I just want to make as many people smile and laugh as much as possible because I know I'm not the only person fighting a battle. Some people aren't as open as me to be able to talk about these things because it's a hard subject. Send a smile, it goes way further than you think!"

Monday, April 14, 2014

1000 Gifts

I was on partial bed rest when I was pregnant with my daughter.  During that time a friend gave me her kindle.  (Straight up she just gave it to me...too nice)  One of the books I read during that time was 1,000 gifts by Ann Voskamp.  To be honest, her style is a little poetic and ethereal for me.  I know that is strange coming from an English Teacher, but when I am reading non-fiction I want it straight up, no flowery wording.  In fact if the book could be boiled down into a checklist, even better. If I were to do so for 1,000 gifts it would be incredibly simple:

Item #1- Make a list of 1,000 things that you are grateful for.

That's it.  Try it, I dare you.

It took me TWO years but after lots of stops and starts I finished last week.  It was hard not to repeat anything.  When I reread the list before writing this post I realized that I did repeat a few things. (For example, "The show Amazing Race" and "sleep"....I really LOVE those two things. )
Here are a few more things that I am so grateful for:

The Amazing Race...oh wait, I already said that...

Neighbors who lean out the window to say hello

When James pretends that Macaroni is a tiny phone

Nutella and Animal Crackers (try it, if you are looking for a new addiction)

A strong heart beat when I didn't know if our little girl would make it last year.

A husband I respect

When people give me quarters for laundry!

When my kids talk/sing each other to sleep

 If you are reading this right now I am grateful for you too!  You have no idea how much joy this blog and each and every reader has given me.

Ann Voskamp's Blog is one of my very favorite blogs.  Here is the link to learn more about gratitude and a whole world of amazing joyful things.

A Holy Experience

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Photo Caption Contest #1

I've always been a fan of photo caption contests.  They are usually witty and funny but I am notoriously bad at them (some might call me a joke killer- you know the person who make something funny not funny anymore). 

So, today marks our first official photo caption contest!

The rules are:
*comment below with a witty caption for this photo 
*share your caption on Penned but Not Published's Facebook Page
*have your friends "like" your caption on our Facebook page
*the photo with the most "likes" wins 
*Contest ends at 5pm on Sunday, April 13th.

Good luck:)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hottest Man with a Mustache

Well, Tom Selleck you held the title for over 30years.
You had a good run......
but there is a new mustache in town.  No, not a Boston Cop or a Hipster or even a Cholo.  This mustache belongs to my very own husband and if he's gonna rock it, I'm gonna love it.  #oksortofahipster #retiredcholo*

I used to get super embarrassed when the love of my life would do things like this (i.e.grow an epic mustache that hides his gorgeous smile.) In fact, to be honest it still makes my cheeks a little red when the kids at church burst into laughter the moment they see this industrial broom adorning his face.  But I realized that things like this (see above) show how wonderful he really is.  He doesn't think twice about doing something as time consuming and eccentric as manicure marvelous whiskers just to make others smile and maybe even laugh.  So, bring on the mustache jokes, quotes, look-alikes and puns.  I've realized I can hate the facial hair but love the face:)

*Cholo []

The U.S. context of the word Cholo/Chola originated in Los Angeles and can be [but definitely NOT in this case] a derogatory term meaning Chicanogangster or pandilleroor marero. They are born in the U.S. and favor Spanglish. They might refer to any Latino unlike them as pocho, or white-washed. 

A hardcore cholo will wear the baggy look, bigtime tatoos, and a shaved head. The chola might have long permed black hair, dark lipstick and a teardrop tatooed under her eye, (and their toddler might have a shaved head and wear the garb unless abuelita steps in.) 

This look is subject to change as gang-culture evolves. So what a cholo looked like in the times of Cheech and Chong is out-of-date, but still revered with some pride. There are even plastic figurines with this look sold in gumball machines all over the streets of L.A. 

The word has a totally different context in South America, where it means indigenous peasant. But in the States, it has been appropriated and the context has evolved.


1) "My homeboy got shot up by some cholos from Norte." OR "I'm cruisin' the eastside with a couple cholos."

2) "Hey ese, check out that vato over there looking all cholo."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Guest Blogger: My 20 year old self

I found this old journal stuffed in a cabinet full of my journals and planners and notebooks and stumbled upon the following entry.  It is a good next installment of “the love story” but it is totally in my 19 year old diary dialect.  I was tempted to edit it to make myself sound smarter and less superficial but then I thought, “No, let’s keep it real.” So here it is.  A real entry from September 30th, 2004 which was right after I had returned to California.

“Today is definitely a red letter day [written in red ink].  I want to remember everything about it... I was feeling so down today and so discouraged and just not good enough.  But it ended so well, so unexpected.  I want to remember every turn of events, every shock and thrill. [It’s killing me not to edit out my overkill of the word “so”]  
So, David came over tonight; drove all the way out here and I hardly had time for anything.  I had to run and talk to Colleen but then I ended up canceling which I should have done earlier but I did it last second which is such a bad habit of mine.  I was really really upset with myself and just the situation so when David and I sat down to talk I told him, ‘If you are a friend...just a friend...why do I act like it’s more...why am I shifting my whole schedule when you are only a friend?’  I was so sad, I could hardly talk. 
We got up ‘cause I was gonna let him down, I was gonna let it go and hang out with Colleen which I felt was better anyways.  I felt bad though because I was so sad and he didn’t want me to be, so I tried to be cheerful and I asked him about his mom ‘cause he is going home for the weekend.  He said he didn’t want to talk about his mom.  He said he wanted me to be his girlfriend.  My jaw dropped literally it was hanging open.  I was SOOO stunned.  I couldn’t believe it was for real.  He’d never looked so attractive to me.  I started thinking of things like crazy, I thought, ‘Can we dance together?  Pray together?  Hold hands?!’  [I’m cracking up as I type the holding hands comment.]  
I was too stunned to speak though.  I’ve liked him for SOOO long!  I think I love him..’Yes, or no?’  he asked.  ‘Of course!!!!!’ I screamed.  I hugged him so long I almost fell over.  Then he gave me a promise ring.  It’s the same ring my grandfather gave me when he died and that I lost 3 years ago but then saw at Melissa’s jewelry shop last week...I have to tell Lalo this!!
                He said he promised to, ‘be faithful to me, never lie to me, and not try and get in my pants.’ [Ok, now I am seriously laughing so hard I can’t take it].  Is this true love?  I never want to take him for granted.  How did he learn to be so sweet?  I have to call my mom and my am I gonna do school tomorrow?  Thank you God for tonight.”  

Our first selfie...on like a 3 pound Cannon camera

  So that’s it, that’s how he asked me out, in my own words the day it happened.  It’s funny to look back 11 years at myself and my husband.  Turns out it was true love though I admit there are days I take him for granted.  The good news is that he forgives me and I love him even more today than I did back then.