Thursday, June 20, 2013

Last First

We just ordered Pizza King.  Tiny little rectangles of pizza heaven will be delivered in 30 minutes or less to the Brown Bungalow.  The kids can’t wait.  Heck, I can’t wait.  (See last week’s blog for definition of deliciosicalitaciousness.)  But, there’s one person that loves Pizza King more than any of us...that’s my brother-in-law Mike.  Several years ago Mike retired from the U.S. Army.  (Thanks, again, for your service to our country!)  To celebrate, we had a huge Kansas.  Guess what-  they don’t have Pizza King in his neck of the woods. 

So, my brother and I decided to take some of Mike’s favorite things from his hometown as a surprise for him in Kansas.  We bought a gallon of cherry flavoring to make his own cherry Mountain Dew, a t-shirt from his favorite local band, and a dozen Pizza King pizzas.  The proprietor was kind enough to par-bake the pizzas, which allowed us to store them in a cooler all the way to Manhattan.  Yes, it was crazy, but we knew he’d love it.  He served our country for 20 years, it was the least we could do!

When we got to the hotel, the chef there agreed to bake the pizzas for us and bring them out to serve to the guests that night.  We were so excited.  There was no way that he’d ever, in a million years, think that we’d bring Pizza King pizza 686.71miles across the country.  Who does that?  Apparently, we do.

It was time.  We knew at any moment the pizzas would be coming out of the oven, pipin’ hot...and that they did.  He was surprised alright, but not more surprised than all of his Hoosier friends.  The hotel chef had cut the pizza into ‘pizza-shaped triangles’.  I know it was the same pizza that we all know and love, but somehow it tasted different.  Pizza King pizza in triangles...that was definitely a first. 

I guess it’s acceptable, maybe even expected, for our kids to have firsts.  First steps, first words, first dates!  But, as adults, we don’t have a lot of firsts any more.   Honestly, think about your last first.  Was it recent?  Did you plan it?

On our last vacation, we made plans for our kids to experience many firsts.  They saw their first Disney Mouse Ears...what my youngest thought were “Disney Yakimas’.  J   They drank their first butter beers at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  They were even introduced to moving sidewalks at the airport.  Their lives will never be the same.

Firsts are fun.  It was wonderful to see my children have some firsts.  But, it’s even more fun to experience new firsts as an adult.  Last year Synergy launched The Passport that Project Leadership continues to spearhead.  The concept is “1000 Things You Should Do Before You Graduate”.  It’s filled with many ‘first’ opportunities.  The idea was to expand the array of experiences that our local students have before they finish school.  Eat sushi.  Donate to a local charity.  Go to a musical.  Be on the radio.  Ride a motorcycle.  Use a sewing machine.  Find out your blood type.  Plus, 993 more!  And, adults can participate too...either with or without kids.  It’s really a bucket list of sorts.  Check out the Passport Facebook page to learn about local events where you can complete passport activities.  Or, just dive in at your own pace by visiting

Let’s face it...we might not live as long as Betty White.  But, even if we don’t, let’s make every moment count.  So, here’s your mission should you choose to accept it: (1) Intentionally plan to participate in a first, (2) Tell someone about it, and (3) Ask someone...’What was your last first?’  Carpe Diem!

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Unexpected Generosity

I have never liked coleslaw.  Ever.  I don’t like raw cabbage.  I don’t like mayonnaise.  And, nothing about putting the two of those things together sounds even remotely tasty.  At my house when we eat our favorite foods we say they are full of delishiosicalitaciousness.  You will never hear me say coleslaw and delishiosicalitaciousness in the same sentence.  I feel the same way about Peeps.  I know some of you love this springtime treat, but I don’t.  Never have.  Just because you put a marshmallow in the shape of a cute bunny or chick, does not give it delishiosicalitacioiusness.  So, why did I just buy 12 packages of pink and yellow Peeps at K-Mart right after Easter then?

Good question.  I actually spent my hard-earned money on Peeps and you can readily find them in my pantry right now…as I type.  But, they’re not for me…they’re for my nieces.  These two girls love to come over and hang out in Joe Village, which is also known as our backyard.  Doesn’t everyone name their backyard?  We do.  Even though we don’t have anyone named Joe in our entire family. 

Their favorite thing to do in Joe Village is to find the ingredients to make s’mores.  I say ingredients because I can’t really cook.  So, I’ve convinced them that since s’mores require “ingredients”, that making them over a campfire qualifies as cooking! J  And, what’s more fun than roasting a little pink Peep over the open fire.  Nothing, I tell you…absolutely nothing!

So, yes, some combinations are disgusting…cabbage and mayonnaise.  Yuck!  And some combinations are awesome…Peeps and a campfire.  Yum!  But, no combo is as good as the one Kid President taught me about a few weeks ago.  Have you heard about kid president yet?  He’s super-fantastic.  You just have to check him out on YouTube.  But, most recently he was talking about the combo of Unexpected Generosity.  You have to watch it.  I don’t know that there’s anything cooler, or more fun to do, than to surprise someone with Unexpected Generosity.  It comes in all shapes and sizes, but this is definitely a combo you want to supersize.  Watch it now…Unexpected Generosity:  Man on the Street!

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Stretch Armstrong

Prepare to be jealous.  Really jealous.  My husband is the proud owner of the entire collection of Sweathog barbies action figures.  You might remember that the Sweathogs were a group of remedial students taught by one Mr. Kotter (often pronounced Kot-tare), in the hit ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter” that aired when I was little.  The cast, and my husband’s collection, includes Vinnie Barbarino, Freddy ‘Boom Boom’ Washington, Juan Epstein, and Arnold Horshack. And, we can’t forget Mr. Kotter…their teacher and one-time Sweathog, who may have been the only person who really believed these kids had a chance to become something in life.

Throughout our twenty years of marriage we’ve moved these Sweathogs from place to place and state to state.  We also moved an old beer can collection, thousands of baseball cards and matchbox cars, a really creepy Emmett Kelly clown puppet, and even a Growing-up Skipper doll (I’ll let you Google that one!).  All these traveling toys and not one measly Stretch Armstrong.  How could he not have kept a Stretch Armstrong? 

But, then again, I didn’t keep mine either.  We had one…before we cut it open to see what was inside that made him so stretchy.  It was this gooey green substance that would stretch and then almost instantly go back to its original shape.  I now know that it was basically just a muscleman-shaped latex body filled with corn syrup.  Maybe it we would have had the Internet in 1976 I wouldn’t have had to cut my Stretch Armstrong open just to find out what was inside.  But, hey, I was just a kid…I didn’t know any better.

That’s a lot like life, isn’t it?  We don’t always know what people are made of.  Or we think we do by making assumptions.  Sometimes we overestimate.  Sometimes we underestimate.  Either way, an assumption is just that…a guess, a notion, a theory.

We may assume that the wealthy man is generous and the poor man is not.  Or that leaders don’t need encouragement, change is bad, and everyone is your competition.  We might assume those things.  But, maybe we could dig a little deeper.   Not “Stretch Armstrong deeper,” in that we have to destroy something to discover what they’re made of.  But, “Mr. Kotter-deeper,” where we trust that our genuine belief in others may be just what they need to believe in themselves.  A belief that a rising tide lifts all ships.  A belief where the investment of our time, money, or inspiration is worthy because, instead of tearing down, it builds up. 

We may live in a world of Barbarino’s, Washington’s, Epsteins, and Horshacks, but we get to choose to be a Mr. Kotter.   What do you want your legacy to be?   Stretch Armstrong or Mr. Kotter?   As Horshack would have said when he got excited because he knew the right answer to one of Mr. Kotter’s questions… "Ooh-ooh-ooooh!”  I know.  I choose Kotter.

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