What Kenny Rogers Taught Me About When To “Say Uncle”

By: Roshanda Pratt

RoshandaRemember when you were a little kid wrestling with your brother or sister? If you were like me, you were probably the one in agony on the bottom while your sister tried out the new moves she learned from G.L.O.W. (Glorious Ladies of Wrestling). It never failed; my sister would have me a “Nelson hold” while I worked tirelessly to maneuver out. Unfortunately, being the smaller sibling, I had to wave the white flag and scream out, “Uncle.”  I hated admitting defeat. My sister, on the other hand, relished in it.

There is something about the idiom “say uncle” that makes one feel like a wimp or a quitter.  Why is it that women seem to have difficulty with surrender?  I blame Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind” with her damsel in distress drama or maybe I should blame the bra burning movement with their mantra, “I am women hear me roar.”

Surrender, as defined in the 1828 Noah Webster dictionary, means “to yield to the power of another; to give or deliver up possession upon compulsion or demand.” Let us focus for a moment on the first definition, “to yield to the power of another.” I would interpret that to mean the one who surrenders is the one receiving the greatest benefit. Let’s consider my beginning example.  My sister had me in a half nelson choke hold. I fought for as long as I could and finally decided to “surrender” my will in order to give her some “brief” power.

In my life, I have realized that “saying uncle” does not have to be such a bad thing. I learned the art of surrender as a college student embarking on the adventure of forgiveness. I learned how to surrender when it came to marrying my college love. I learned the beauty of surrender when my face was in a toilet dealing with morning sickness with my first child.

And, as I type this, I am again screaming “uncle.” Last year, I took the plunge into business ownership, starting a media consulting business.  The first year had lots of success, but there was also failure. Recently, I was brought on as a media consultant for a new business endeavor with other professionals.  The workload has increased, but I am having a great time being able to control my own schedule.  However, at the same time my schedule was becoming hectic, forming me to work late into the night trying to meet deadlines and projects.

One night, as I struggled to write a blog post, I realized I was again on that imaginary mat, pinned to the ground but refusing to surrender.  I needed to “say uncle.” That decision came recently when I submitted my “resignation” to the Every Woman Blog. I have enjoyed what I like to call my online “diary” community for the past two years. But, as the famous song goes, “Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company…” I have enjoyed this experience, the friendships I have made with fellow bloggers, and the chance to connect with all of the readers. But, I must surrender.

As I typed my resignation letter, I disliked every bit of it, but knew it needed to be done. I had been taking a gamble for a long time and I had to look at my hand and stop “bluffing” with my life. The wonderful team at the Every Woman blog was supportive about my decision and left the door open for me to guest post. I was extremely grateful because this experience has been amazing!

Life is a series of wrestling bouts where someone has to “Say Uncle.” As women, I think we have to learn how to be okay with walking away, surrendering for something better or just to gain some priority in our lives. Doing so does not mean you are quitter, it just means you are smart enough to know when something is no longer working or you are no longer giving your best!

In the words of Kenny Rogers, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”

So my dear friends, what do you need to surrender or “say uncle” to? And why have you not done it yet?

I won’t say goodbye. Instead, I will say see you soon!

Summer Fun & Feelin’ Like A Kid Again…

By: Shannon Shull

When summertime rolls around, those of us with kids scramble to find things to keep our children happy, active, engaged and entertained. And, if we’re lucky, we also get the opportunity to have a little fun ourselves!

We use everything from Disney shows, Super Hero movies, video games (Minecraft, Mario Brothers, Wii, you name it), arts and crafts, play dates, board games, Barbies, Legos, dance parties, and (my favorite summer fun) play time in the pool and on the lake.

High Fives for The Great Wolf Lodge!

My latest summer fun experience involved a water park and some wet-and-wild craziness. I recently took my kids to The Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC and had such a fun time! I probably haven’t felt that heart stopping rush nor screamed that much and that loud since I was a teenager. Those water slides were such fun. It’s a ridiculous thing when you really think about it – you’re half naked, you wait in a long line for a stupid amount of time for something that takes less than a minute, you place yourself in a flimsy tube (No straps! No seatbelt!), and then you plummet down a seriously claustrophobic tube at an incredibly fast speed as you’re pelted with water and ultimately get soaking wet! And the crazy thing?IT’S TOTALLY AWESOME! What a thrill! And you do this over and over again because the thrill of the ride is just too much fun, so you absolutely have to go back for more.

Mina Overlooking the Funland of the Water Park

Water Fun with Mina

At 38 years old, I allowed myself to be swished, sloshed, spun and catapulted on the Great Wolf Lodge’s main “high thrill” ride, “The Howling Tornado.” My daughter Mina’s description describes it perfectly: “It’s like you’re a piece of poop being flushed down a big ole yellow toilet!” It’s the Great Wolf Lodge’s main “high thrill” ride. I was so proud of Mina for being willing to ride that one with me. Heck, I was proud of myself for actually doing it! Had my friend’s 13-year-old son not wanted to ride the thing so bad and talked me into it, I’m quite certain I would’ve never braved it. But I’m so glad I did because my girl, Mina, and I will certainly never forget that water slide experience.

The Howling Tornado

As you can see, this recent summer fun escape of mine was certainly a case of me getting the opportunity to feel like a kid again. So whether drawing aliens and puppies, creating Barbie worlds, building Lego masterpieces, dancing around the living room after watching a super cool movie, making silly sounds with the Talking Hairy Ball app, having Wii game challenges or daring the “high thrill” rides at a water park, I have discovered that whenever possible, the best thing a parent can do is just join in on the fun! Not only will you totally treasure the time spent playing with your kids, they will absolutely love every minute. And as an adult, you will reap the benefits of allowing yourself to feel like a kid again. ☺

Water Slides get a Thumbs Up!

Turn Cupcakes into Something Company-Worthy!

By: Brady Evans

It is getting to be the time of year where summer barbecues and cookouts are ever present!  Here’s a fun way to turn simple cupcakes into something company-worthy.  If you are headed out on Lake Murray this weekend for the boat parade, be safe and enjoy yourself!

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  • Supplies
  • Cupcakes
  • Chocolate Frosting
  • Orange Sprinkles
  • Dots
  • Mike ‘n Ike Candies
  • White writing icing
  • Toothpicks

For the hot dogs, use red Mike ‘n Ike candies and dot with chocolate frosting for the grill marks. For the kabobs, cut Dots candies into thirds and thread the slices onto toothpicks.  Use orange sprinkles to achieve the burning grill appearance and white writing icing for the grates of the grill.

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10 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Did you know that American families throw out approximately 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy? For a family of four, that adds up to a loss of between $1,365 to $2,275 each year. In addition to being bad for your pocketbook, there are many other negative implications to food waste: it pollutes our air, wastes valuable natural resources, creates public health concerns and costs a lot of money.

Food waste

If there is any good news about food waste, it is that as individuals, we can implement small changes that make a big difference in the amount of food we throw away each year. Here are ten easy ways you can reduce your food waste and perhaps even save some money in the process:

  1. Shop smart. Plan meals, use grocery lists and don’t shop when you are hungry. This way, you’re less likely to buy things you don’t need and that you’re unlikely to actually eat. Also, check your fridge/freezer/pantry for the things on your list to be sure you aren’t buying duplicates of items that you already have.
  2. Practice FIFO or First In, First Out. When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer/pantry and put new products in the back. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older stuff before it expires.
  3. Designate one meal each week as a “use it up” meal. Look around in the cupboards and fridge for leftovers and other food that might otherwise get overlooked. Challenge yourself to create a meal using those items; there are actually televisions shows created around such challenges.
  4. Store better. If you regularly throw away stale chips/cereal/crackers, store them in airtight containers so they’ll last longer.
  5. Compost! Start a compost pile in the backyard or even under the sink, and convert food waste into a useful resource.
  6. Split the dish. If eating out, split a dish with a friend so you don’t waste half of the giant portion sizes found at many restaurants.
  7. Take home leftovers. If splitting meals isn’t your thing or your dining companion is getting something you don’t like, those portion sizes don’t have to be wasted. Just ask to take leftovers home, and you’ve got yourself a free lunch the next day.
  8. Understand expiration dates. Expiration dates don’t always have to do with food safety; rather, they’re usually manufacturers’ suggestions for peak quality. If stored properly, most foods stay fresh several days past the “use-by” date.
  9. Serve small amounts. Serve small amounts of food with the understanding that everybody can come back for more once they’ve cleared their plate. This is especially helpful for children, whose “eyes are usually bigger than their stomachs.” Any leftovers can be cooled, stored in the fridge and used another day.
  10. Freeze! If you only eat a small amount of bread, freeze it when you get home and take out a few slices a couple of hours before you need them. Likewise, batch cook foods so that you have meals ready for those evenings when you are too tired to cook.

Have you ever thought about the implications of food waste? Which of these tips are you willing to commit to? Do you have other suggestions? 

Positive Influence

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

One thing I need to make a better effort at is planning and executing more “play dates” for my daughter.  My other mom-friends and I always say things like, “We should get together more often,” and “Let’s plan a day for the girls to play.”  Unfortunately, more often than not, we get busy with the daily components of our lives and all of those “we shoulds” tend to get lost in the shuffle. I’ve decided to become more proactive and I’m going to follow through this time!

This leads me to Monday afternoon. This week, my child is in ballet camp at the Dance Conservatory at USC with several girls from her ballet class. One odd thing about this school is that when they built this fairly new building, they only built one “lobby” area and it’s not very big.  So, during the year, I pretty much walked my daughter upstairs, dropped her off at class and then left.  As you can imagine, this makes it difficult, if not impossible, to meet other parents.

But, on Monday, as I waited in the hall for the camp to finish up for the day, a mom that I recognized came up to me.  We said hello and began to chat.  The next thing I know, she’s saying that since this camp only runs for half a day, she’s interested in finding some other parents who would be interested in taking turns this week for play dates after camp.  Yes!  She asked, “How about tomorrow?” I realized that my mind instantly began saying, “What? We have to plan. I have no plan for tomorrow yet.”  (This is how my brain convinces me that I can’t possibly work something in that quickly.)  Instead, my mouth said “Yes, I can take the girls tomorrow.  We would love that!”

The playdate was awesome. Our daughters are the same age and are a really great match-up.  First, the three of us went to lunch.  (The girls decided Groucho’s was in order.) Then, we came to our house and they played and played and played.  Barbies, grocery store, dancing, art, kiddie pool and sprinkler, movie, Zhu Zhu pet races, costume wearing and toasting marshmallows…just to name a few of their activities.  As the afternoon starting approaching dinner time, I decided to get a start on dinner that I would reheat later.  So, I got busy in the kitchen while they played their hearts out.

TacosI decided to put together a taco meat mixture, planning to use it for burritos along with some fresh tomato, sautéed bell peppers and onions, cheese, etc.  So, I browned my meat with onion and garlic and then added a little water and a can of Rotel.  I simmered it until I got it the consistency I wanted and cooked out most of the liquid. The next thing I knew, I had two little bathing suit clad ladies sniffing around my skillet.  Now, let me insert an aside here…

I love tacos.  They have always been my go-to busy night/feeling lazy/quick and easy dinner. So, imagine my surprise and dismay when I learned that my child does not share my love of all things taco. My burrito plan was definitely a gamble, hoping that maybe if it didn’t look like a taco, she’d eat it.

I looked at them both are said, “Would you like to try it?” and our guest quickly said yes.  She tried it, she liked it, and guess what happened next?  My daughter asked for a spoon so she could try it as well.  Lo and behold, she loved it.  Now, they each had a spoon and started snacking right out of the skillet.  When my new mom-friend arrived, we invited them to stay and eat with us.  The girls decided to dine on tacos by candlelight.  That’s right!  My child ate a proper taco and enjoyed it!  It was truly a success.  Despite all the times I tried to get her to try this dish with an open mind, it took the positive influence of another kid to finally get her to clear this hurdle.  And as all moms will surely agree, I’ll take all the positive influences that come our way.

Elizabeth Akre writes about food and cooking at Gastronomy (By a Wanna-be Chef).

Being Grateful

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

I’ve been absent the better part of the last fiive months from the Every Woman Blog, not really because I wanted to be absent, but because I have been fighting a pretty bad case of “writer’s block” and struggling with what to say that will matter to people. You see, when I first decided to enter the blog’s contest, I wanted my writings to be beneficial to someone. I wanted to “pay forward” the help that I received in words, thoughts, and prayers from some wonderfully special people who helped me make it when I thought I couldn’t and wouldn’t.

As I write this post, I’m sitting in one of my “happy places,” my in-law’s condo on Hilton Head Island. The boys are sleeping soundly and their angelic faces and even breaths make me smile, and I am grateful. I’m grateful for a pretty good night’s sleep and grateful for what looks like will be a beautiful day ahead for my little family. As I do many mornings, I have risen and have been reading the news online. There seems to be tragedy and heartbreak on every site; from WIS to CNN to MSNBC: death and killings and war and bombings and terrible tornadoes. My problems and my ability to cope or not cope seem so small and minor and trivial in comparison.

I read an article about a teen in Oklahoma who lost her mother in the recent tornadoes that struck the town of Moore. She laid her mother to rest one day and accepted her high school diploma just one day later. I cannot fathom; to me it is unimaginable.

Graduation

This past Friday night, I attended my high school alma mater’s commencement services, where the commencement speaker was a young man in his early 20’s, a young man who, himself, had graduated from the same school about five years before. As Pierce and I entered the school, there he sat in the office talking to the school athletic director, sharply dressed in Marine Corps dress blues. Kyle Carpenter always seems to wear a smile and a personable, approachable nature. Outwardly, it is clear to see that this young man has faced something horrific and many already know his story. Carpenter was stationed in Afghanistan in November of 2010 when a grenade landed on top of a building where he and a buddy were taking part in a fire fight. In an effort to protect his best friend and the rest of his unit, Kyle threw himself on the grenade and sustained some pretty serious injuries that included losing an eye, many of his teeth, and extensive damage to his right arm.  After all that Kyle has been through over the last few years, I was anxious to hear what words of wisdom he might impart on the Senior class.

Kyle Carpenter

As the time came for Kyle’s speech, I listened closely. Part of Kyle’s message seemed so simple, yet so profound: be grateful. Be grateful that you can attend school and learn. Be grateful for clean drinking water. Be grateful for having the use of four good limbs. We sat quietly in our independent school setting where God is openly worshiped and praised, and listened to someone who has fought against the Taliban, has been severely wounded, and has not just survived, thrived and has used his injuries to better not only himself, but the world around him. Although he would certainly be entitled to be angry and/or depressed, Kyle, quite literally, “soldiers on.” Part of his message is to just be grateful for the little things in life we overlook every single day. How can something so simple be so difficult? I know that I struggle with it, and some days are easier than others.

Kyle and Pierce

In the days following the recent tragedies that have come with Hurricane Sandy, the shootings in Connecticut, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the most recent Oklahoma tornadoes, it is easy to be thankful and grateful for my life, my children, my job, my home, my extended family, my wonderful friends, and my faith. Thank you, Kyle Carpenter, for reminding us to be grateful not just when tragedy surrounds us, but every single day and for every single thing.

Dr. Webber Talks Summer Safety for Kids

From Sunburn to bug bites – Dr. Caroline Webber of Lexington Pediatric Practice, a physician practice at Lexington Medical Center, talks to Tony Tally on WACH FOX about summer safety for children. Click the link to watch the full video: WACH_06-13-2013_22.31.41

Click the link to watch the full video: WACH_06-13-2013_22.31.41

COLUMBIA (WACH) – Pools, playgrounds, sporting events, and a lot of outdoor activity will be on the to-do list for some as the summer begins. However, staying hydrated and beating the heat will also be at the top of the list as summer temperatures rise. Dr. Caroline Webber, a pediatrician with Lexington Pediatric Practice, says hydration is one of the most important things if children are going to be out in the heat and humidity. Additionally, bug bites and sun burns are two concerns during the summer season. Protective lotions such as sunscreen lotion are recommended. “The damaging rays are the ones that are the UV rays,” says Webber. “Those are the invisible ones. UVA and UVB.” Children are most exposed to sun during their childhood, which is why protecting children throughout the summer is really important. In addition to light clothing and sunscreen, staying out of the sun during peak times of 10 am to 4pm can also be extremely helpful in preventing sunburns. Dr. Webber’s office is located at 811 West Main Street in Lexington.