Open Letter to Oklahoma Voters and Lawmakers

What are our priorities? As a nation, a parent, a member of any community, WHAT, in the name of all that is good and holy, ARE OUR PRIORITIES?

Steven E. Wedel

I am a teacher. I teach English at the high school of an independent district within Oklahoma City. I love my job. I love your kids. I call them my kids. I keep blankets in my room for when they’re cold. I feed them peanut butter crackers, beef jerky, or Pop Tarts when Michelle Obama’s school breakfast or lunch isn’t enough to fill their bellies. I comfort them when they cry and I praise them when they do well and always I try to make them believe that they are somebody with unlimited potential no matter what they go home to when they leave me.

What do they go home to? Sometimes when they get sick at school they can’t go home because you and the person you’re currently shacking up with are too stoned to figure out it’s your phone ringing. Sometimes they go home to parents who don’t…

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Branching Out is Back… with a PSA: Get Yourself a Shingles Vaccine

There are too many new things out there that I want to try, from recipes and restaurants to tourist spots and theatrical shows. Guess I’m going to have to continue my adventures of the new and novel into 2016!

Let’s begin this year with a GREAT tip on a new experience that I recommend you DON’T try: Shingles. This is not fun. Luckily, it’s a super mild case that is only annoyingly itchy and stings a bit… and on my leg- NOT my face (dangerous!), NOT horridly painful (thanks be to GOD). Did I mention how lucky I know that I am? And thankful??

What’s Important to Know

  • If you suspect your bug bite is not, in fact, a bug bite (like I did), see your doctor right away- shingles symptoms and duration can be lessened with anti-viral medications (I waited five days… dummy).
  • Wondering if any topical sprays or ointments help with the pain? I did too, here’s what I found than helped… only one thing- Solarcaine Aloe Extra Burn Relief Spray, or it’s Generic Store Brand Version. I think it is the pain reliever “Lidocaine” that is what makes it help.
  • Shingles aren’t exactly contagious, but if someone who has never had chicken pox comes into contact with the blisters on an active shingles outbreak, it can cause them to contract chicken pox. Talk to your doc to know for sure!
  • Friends are saying that they know kids as young as two-year-olds who have had shingles, as well as others in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Just because the commercials show retirees talking about the shingles vaccine doesn’t mean that they have cornered the market on this painful condition.
  • I still don’t understand if I can get another outbreak of shingles… some websites say yes, others say no… I’m going to ask my doc if she will let me get the vaccine early (I’m not quite 49 and the recommended minimum age is 60).
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The ONLY spray or ointment that helped with the pain is this one with Lidocaine.
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None of these topical treatments helped with the itch and pain EXCEPT the spray on the left- CVS’s generic version of Solarcaine Aloe Extra Burn Relief

So, here’s your Public Service Announcement: ask your doctor about whether or not a shingles vaccine is right for you. Really really REALLY.

 

 

 

 

 

Kir Royale- New Cocktail for the New Year

Dry White Wine + Crème de Cassis = Kir
Dry Champagne + Crème de Cassis = Kir Royale

This was the perfect choice for a celebratory New Year’s Eve cocktail, we all liked it! Perfect for a party yet fuss free.

I’m all for the crossroads where easy meets sophisticated. And if you don’t care for sweets in general, this is your drink. Stick to a 1:4 ratio of cassis to champagne to keep the liqueur’s sweetness in the background, and use the more dry champagne (Brut) or wine (Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc).

Read up at TheKitchn.com for more info, that’s where I found the directions and ratios- Kir and Kir Royale: Two Iconic French Wine Cocktail.

Wishing you all the best in 2016!

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Good Old Friends and Complete Silliness

What happens when you put a family of five into an SUV for thirty hours of nearly straight-through driving to visit their old friends and attend the Rose Bowl? They have fun. We helped our old friends get their wiggles out by putting them through our Tourist Treatment, specially constructed for Hoosiers.

You get some terribly centered selfies…

Some Christmas Card worthy photos…

 

A whole LOT of drinking…

 

And pics that were as much fun to see and share as the whole day.

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Seven years ago we were all canoeing on Sugar Creek in central Indiana:

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And this is the ridiculousness into which we have degraded:

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“Look, Mrs. J! I bet she’s not wearing any undies!”

 

 

 

 

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men -or- Exceeding Expectations

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
adapted from “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns

-Date Nights
-Book of the Month
-Monthly Project

What happened to my goal of trying a new hiking route once a month? When did an Official Date Night get dropped from my monthly calendar of new stuff? The Monthly Project fell by the wayside, too, disappeared around the same time as the Book of the Month I hoped to read. I could do one, but not both.

By the time this school year picked up steam (which, in my defense included not only moving an international student into our home, but also my own teen moving north about 1,200 miles), the well planned months of new things to do seemed to go from a fun challenge to fit in everything… to darn near impossible.

Daily new things happened though, just in a slightly different way  for the second half of 2015. Even though “Date Night” never seemed to materialize, The Husband joined me in close to half of the new adventures this year. We spent the better part of the year finding new restaurants, breweries, and touristy outings, most without any teens to accompany us. What a strange occurrence this was, as for about the last 18 years nearly every activity has been a family activity. We all went to sporting events, concerts, work parties and vacations together. Now our life is different, with two freshman- one in high school and one in college.

And so, with my family growing up and away in the best ways possible, I am very glad that I started this adventure to find new things to do in 2015. Just for me. Myself. I had forgotten how much fun comes with novelty and curiosity and exploring. I really needed this project!!

What will 2016 bring?

 

Worthwhile Things I’ve learned- Personally or Vicariously

1.  Own a cast iron skillet. Or several. And learn how to properly use and care for them.

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2a.  Life is too short for mediocre coffee and poor wine. Buy the best you can afford.

2b. Even if it is just for you.

2c. Especially if it is just for you!

2d. Sometimes a $2.99 bottle of wine can surprise you ( in a good way). Don’t be a snot- more $$ does not necessarily equal better.

3.  If you aren’t just collecting friends like a teenager seeking validation, Facebook is really awesome.

4.  Temperature is relative- move from California to a colder clime and you’ll make fun of family for wearing sweaters when the mercury drops to 60 there. Return, and you’ll go right back to doing the same thing.

5.  A hybrid car is sooooo worth it.

6.  If you can make spaghetti sauce, baked chicken, and muffins from scratch you will never hunger and save big bucks.

7.  Real friends stay with you until the tow truck arrives (inebriated or not), or until your parents/spouse/friend can get there with spare car keys.

8.  Everyone should own at least one Hawaiian shirt. You never know when a party might break out.IMG_5604_2

9.  Electric kettles are the best!

10. So is plain, black tea. And freshly brewed iced tea.

11. Screen time is overrated. People are underrated.

12. Mom Advice that is everywhere, but we don’t appreciate until later: “The days are long but the years are short.”

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Be This Person!

13. You need a community- humans are social creatures. Join and meet regularly with at least one spiritually/socially edifying group be it a church, synagog, club, society, etc.

14. Stop being so offended by everything, people . It offends me.

15. Spend time with people who lift you up and make you want to be a better person- spiritually, mentally, emotionally. And in turn, BE that person with everyone who spends time with YOU.

16. Pop your own popcorn in a heavy pot. It’s an entirely different species than microwaved stuff.

17. Everyone thinks they are the most interesting person in the world on Pinterest. They are all wrong. I am. I can prove it:  https://www.pinterest.com/DDWJ/

18. A trick I learned from a dear and darn near holy woman: carry candy in your purse to always have on hand to share with your friends’ little ones. Guaranteed favorite adult status!

19. If you want to try something new every day (need to get yourself out of a rut? Overcome anxiety? Or just looking for some good, clean fun?) but don’t know where to start, start small. Pick one small project- a new book, decorate an area you have neglected, try a new cuisine. Don’t start with large or grandiose projects (Re-landscape front yard! Read the complete works of Shakespeare!). I guarantee you will be surprised how uplifting it can be to simply repaint your front door.

 

New Things to NOT Do Again…

#1 Take The Boy to an R Rated movie.
#2 Gain five pounds from all the new foods tried.
#3 Try to cram too much stuff into each month (a book, a project, a play, a tourist attraction, four new restaurants, four new menus, a date night, a couple of random acts of kindness, including moving one kid out of state and moving a new kid into our home… August was a bit… much).