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I drive a minivan. And it’s true: Minivans Get No Respect. Within weeks of purchasing Odessa the Odyssey (I just decided to name her) I was rear-ended. Twice. I’ve since thought that it’s because there is actually some sort of Star Wars “force” surrounding a minivan that makes us invisible to other drivers. Whatever the reason, I’m telling you, to drive a minivan, I had to get over myself, my right-of-way, my lane, my turn, and learn to drive defensively.

Speaking of getting over myself, I’ve been in my minivan for a year and ten months and I’m finally ready to admit publicly that I actually own one. I’m finally ready to sing the praises of this amazing vehicle, and it’s not for the reasons you might think. The double-sliding, remote-controlled doors are nice, yes. The remote-controlled start that cools or heats the van is also a perk, yes. But the main thing that this car has brought to my life is the freedom to be who I really am.

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That’s a Hogwarts t-shirt.

 

I am a Harry Potter fan, I love to wear dorky hats, I am not crafty, creative, or a DIY person. I believe in Jesus Christ and He is the only reason I have to boast about anything. I’d pick Disney as my #1 vacation spot and I love that my kid loves his Fart Gun. That’s me. Honda Odyssey and all.

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Literally having the time of my magical life.

I’ve taken a long break from writing any blog posts because I was too sensitive to others’ comments and criticisms. But a good friend encouraged me to write again, and even if it’s not perfect, or hilarious, or moving, one thing is for sure: I enjoy it. I make myself laugh and it really is a chronicle of my life.

As I re-read a lot of my posts from the past six years, I realized that I’ve learned a lot since 2008. In fact, GOD HAS CHANGED ME. In that time, I faced a two-year battle with infertility, worked in a job that I was NOT suited for, got a degree, had two children, lost my dog, and went on a Carnival Cruise. Although all of these things have obviously changed my life, my circumstances, and my measure of sympathy for others going through a round of toddler diarrhea, this blog has helped me to see that I am different.

This last year has been a hard one for me. I’ve made huge mistakes mainly because of my Pride and my Tongue. Mistakes that have humbled me and brought about a bit of “suffering”  that has been good for my soul. I know now, for certain, that God allows those of us in Christ to suffer in order to get our attention, to reveal to us our sin, and ultimately to bring us closer to him. This life is not about being happy, or going on a fun vacation, it’s about being reformed to be more like Christ. And that is what will bring us joy, and peace.

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Mommyhood has reformed me. I used to think that to be successful, I needed to be interviewed by Oprah and appear on the Today Show for whatever monumentous thing it was that I had done. But just lately, I’ve come to a place where I am learning that God’s measure of success has nothing to do with Oprah, entrepreneurship, or creativity. Instead, success has everything to do with being who God created you to be, doing what God created you to do, and giving him all the glory. I have a “Don’t DIY, Buy It Instead” board on Pinterest. I have never started, nor will I ever start, a business. And Oprah will never know my name. Who cares?! God made me this way on purpose!

My kid's Valentines. Who cares? He loved it.

My kid’s Valentines. He loved it.

So I’m praying about what God wants me to do with this uniqueness that is Leanne. I believe He has already planned out good works for me to complete and I need to get to it. “IT” doesn’t have to be big, flashy, or even noticed by a single person. Please pray for me that I would find the “it” that I’m supposed to be doing. I am humbly searching for more. And search I will, in my minivan.

photo-15Special thanks to Matt for your patience and unconditional love, Jean for your guidance, Stacy for your encouragement, Mom and Dad for your example and faith, Jennie Allen for your book, Restless, and cross body purses- for allowing me to forego the fanny pack.

 

 

 

Foot. In. Mouth.

It’s a syndrome, and oh boy, do I have a bad case of it.

Over the years, I have made a complete a$$ of myself on many-an-occasion. And it’s not because I’m a mean-spirited person; it’s because, sometimes, I just say stupid things.

I don’t think this necessarily makes me a terrible person. In fact, I think it just makes my life more interesting- and definitely more humbling. I guess it’s because I have a policy that my life is an open book. Maybe that’s why I feel free to ask others any question that comes to mind, make any comment that seems relevant, or naively state the obvious, when others choose to remain quiet. Here are a few examples of my greatness:

1. I once asked a person suffering from rosacea where she had gone on her vacation and if she usually sunburned so easily. (Let’s be honest, not just a person, a doctor to whom I was trying to sell something.)

2. I told my high school chemistry teacher (Ms. Katula) that I was surprised she only received a faculty award for being at P.A. (my high school) for five years. I thought she had been there much much longer than that.

3. I laughed and laughed at a joke I made about how old my friend’s husband was. And no one else laughed.  At all.

4. I asked a friend of mine when she planned on having children. (This one is not funny. She had just miscarried. I was young, had not gone through my own two-year process of infertility, and now know better.)

5. (You may have to read this one twice to understand it.) I once congratulated the mother-of-the bride’s DATE on his granddaughter’s upcoming nuptials. (Well this didn’t really happen, but it almost did. Thank the Lord, my husband gently squeezed my hand when I said, “Congratulations! Are you [the bride’s] -hand squeeze- um, part of [the bride’s] family?” He knew. And my face was red enough to confirm it.

6. Last year- yes, last year- I congratulated one of my friends on her lesbian-love child. Her response, “I’m not having a baby and I’m not a lesbian.” I can’t even begin to explain, and yes, this one really happened. She’s definitely the bigger person because she still speaks to me.

And those are just the ones I can share. There are a few family members who have been on the receiving end of my awkward signature move. Not to mention that I finally HAD to turn off group texts because I am just as prone to foot in mouth via technology.

But here is what I’ve got to say about all of this. I’m learning every day, and I really have learned to laugh at myself over the past few years. And although I’m trying so hard to be a “think before you speak” type of person, it may never be so. Please just know that I didn’t mean it.

My 2013 motto: accept your flaws, try to be better, and laugh a lot.

Now, who have I offended? LOL.

I just finished reading a fun and light book by Sophie Kinsella, Can You Keep a Secret? The heroine, Emma Corrigan, is reminiscent of one of my favorite characters of all times, Bridgett Jones, and spills all of her “secrets” to a complete stranger during a bumpy airplane ride. These “secrets” aren’t really serious, mainly things like- what kind of underwear she prefers to wear and that she really doesn’t love her boyfriend, etc. Like I said, it’s a fun and light read!

So it got me thinking- what might my secrets be? And while I wasn’t able to come up with any “secrets” per se, I do have a number of “wishes” that are always on my mind that I’d like to share.

1. I wish I could tell Oprah how sorry I am for everything I’ve said about her.

2. I wish I could really sing. Not so that I could go on tour- I love my life now and don’t need the headache of an international sell-out. But, I’d love to be able to really perform 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton at the office Christmas Party. I would act like it wasn’t going to be any big deal, I’d be a little shy, and then it would be AWESOME. People would talk about it for years to come.

3. I wish I always had a pair of scissors with me when I saw those “balls” hanging from a truck’s (or Mazda’s- you know who you are in Little Rock) trailer hitch. I’d just do a little snip-snip.

4. I wish I could be featured on the Today Show– but not because of a tragedy, or some sorry story. I’d like to be called as an expert of something I love like the movies. Maybe I could have my own segment, joke with Al Roker, and be awkward with Anne Curry.

5. I wish I had my own stylist. He or she, preferably someone like Cinna from the Hunger Games, wouldn’t have to work for me full-time, they could just pick out my wardrobe and dress me for special events like Supper Club and Bible Study.

6. I wish all of my friends lived next door to me. We could share a backyard like sister-wives, but not husbands. I’d have the adult hang-out in my backyard, one friend would have a pool, another a trampoline, and so on. And we’d never get tired of each other or get in a fight.

7. I wish I could time travel. This is so cliché but it truly is one of my wishes. I would just observe and try not to drink the water. My top three, time destinations: Cleopatra’s era, JFK assassination, and an early Elvis concert.

8. I wish that I could pay off Sarah McLachlan (and the Humane Society) to stop playing those Angel commercials. Every time I see one I wish that I was rich and could make it worth their while to pull all those spots, immediately.

9. I wish everyone had a dog like Greta and a lifetime supply of Diet Dr. Pepper.

10. I wish I had ten wishes to make it an even number, but nine really sums it up.

OMG-JCP!

I have not been this fired up about a rebranding since Showbiz changed to Chuck E. Cheese and they made that gorilla purple. But unlike the Showbiz massacre, when I was supremely disappointed, this time, I can hardly hold back my excitement– and my American Express.

Let’s be honest, JC Penney’s has been struggling these last few years. 100%, in the past I would have rather gone to the gynecologist than shop at Penney’s.  And if you were honest, you’d say the same thing.

But these last few days, I’ve been seeing these awesome commercials-

I can totally relate.

And then, I got this direct mail piece in the mail that made me pee my pants a little bit.

Go to your mailbox right now and look for it. It’s like they read my mind, put it in a catalogue, and I now magically want to shop at Jaques Penne’s again.

So, here is what all the “experts” say about the new branding efforts: Brand Channel article. Skip it if you want a synopsis: they are poo-pooing the rebranding efforts. But these “experts” must not be JC’s target market. I am.

And here’s what I had to say in response to all the nay sayers: (Literally, I got so fired up, I commented on the previously mentioned post. Here’s what I had to say.)

“How is everyone SO MISSING this AMAZING new transformation? It’s not about the actual logo or what people will call the store- it’s about what all of this means to the actual shopping experience. The branding is just supposed to reflect the actual changes that are taking place! All of the previous comment-makers just don’t get it!

I am 32 years old, married, a mother of one and plan to grow my family. My family has a household income that probably puts us right in the bullseye for JC Penney executives– let’s just say I can’t buy Prada, but we make enough that Penny’s wants me as a customer. I own a home, I have a college degree, and I’m a savvy shopper. I’m in a book club, I get my hair hight-lighted, and most of all, I want STYLE– style that I can afford.

Target has given me a shopper’s equivalent of a “style hit” every now and then, but it’s just not enough. Xhilaration, really!?, that’s all there is to choose from after all those cool commercials?

Kohl’s has made me dis-believe in “sale prices.” I knowing that those shirts never cost that much in the first place. I’m not that stupid.

And Toys R Us- You infuriate me! Don’t make me wait and wait on these stupid coupons that I can’t use until tomorrow!

Bravo JC Penney– you are bringing style, affordability, and straight-forward pricing that I really appreciate.

Thank you for the new imaging that makes me believe that you can bring me style again. Before I thought you were just Worthington, but after this awesome direct mail piece that almost made me cry in excitement, I have a renewed hope! Thank you for cutting out the stupid “sale” prices that are intended to trick me into believing I’m getting a deal. I’m not that stupid and I appreciate you recognizing that. Thank you for another place to shop.

I have just one request- PLEASE HURRY. Bring this in-store remodel to my store before I lose all this excitement.

Oh, and I’d work for your marketing team any day. They have done a great job.”

Tiger Lilies all around! Two dozen to new CEO Ron Johnson (formerly of Apple), and heck, another two dozen to new President Michael Francis (formerly of Target). I hope you guys can deliver the goods.

I love to be entertained. I’d say it’s one of my favorite hobbies. I love a good book, a well-written television show, and everything about going to the movies. Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Mad Men are my most recent loves. I couldn’t wait for the next book, that next episode, the next film. But each has come to an end and this last year I found myself a little depressed.

I’ve tried all sorts of replacements: Divergent- Hunger Games reworked; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- shock value;  and the worst yet- ABC’s Once Upon a Time- the Lost writers trying to fit the Lost blueprint into the popular fantasy genre, not to mention the horrendous special effects. I had almost given up.

Then a ray of light, hope in the midst of my despair! Downton Abbey.

I happened upon this little historical fiction on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre right before New Year’s Day. Because I was highly disappointed by the BBC’s The Hour last year, I didn’t expect much from Downton. I thought I’d try a few episodes while my husband watched the 10,000 bowl games that I care nothing about.

Well, right off the bat- The Titanic sinks and the Earl of Grantham is left with no heir to his title, his money, and Downton Abby, a fictional estate in Britain’s North Yorkshire. The story follows the Earl, his three daughters, his American millionairess wife, and his meddling mother played by Maggie Smith. As the aristocrats grapple with the antiquated world around them- dealing with issues of inheritance, different classes in a changing society, and love and marriage, a parallel but very separate society in the servants’ quarters tackles the same issues.

The things I loved about Season 1:

The writing is superb- Each storyline is well developed and relevant. Each character is intriguing and vital to the plot. Mary is selfish yet endearing. I feel sorry for Edith and hate her all at the same time. I am appalled by O’Brian and equally repelled by Thomas. I cheer as the love develops between Mr. Bates and Anna, and hope that Matthew can figure it all out before the War begins. There are many characters, many story lines, and no lack of action. This show never slows down.

The art direction is fantastic- Highclere Castle in Hampshire is used  as a setting and could not be a more perfect and beautiful backdrop as the drama unfolds. The costumes are equally as stunning, bringing to mind the 1998 film, The Titanic, (sans early/cheesy computer generated special effects) and giving Mad Men a little competition in the television period-drama category.

The Season Finale puts both the writing and the art direction together beautifully. The excessive and dated aristocratic society come face to face with its absurdity as World War I is announced- announced during the most beautiful and lavish garden party- complete with linen-clad guests, white roses and a mint julep.  It’s a story for the eyes as well as the heart.

The things I hope for Season 2:

Better character development- Season 1 left me disliking Thomas so much that I couldn’t believe in him. He was too evil, too mean, and too selfish. The writers even managed to weave in a thread of humanity for O’Brian but left Thomas as terrible as ever. What bothered me the most about Thomas’s characterization was that he is the only homosexual character. I was troubled that the only gay character was the only completely horrible character- and I long to see him made real. To my relief, the beginning of Season 2 provided Thomas some depth, and the beginning of a back story which might prove to help.

The unrequited love story lines- I’m so over the unrequited love story lines and so tired of all the whining. I just get so Twilighted out and wish people would just say how they really feel! The relationship between Mr. Bates and Anna begins to take a very intelligent and intriguing turn in the Season 2 premiere that I applaud. On the other hand, the Matthew and Mary love story that is based upon the “I love you but I just can’t say so” mentality wears on me. My hope is that the writers are developing Mary’s character- maturing her and allowing her to show some empathy for Matthew’s fiance- instead of just creating the inevitable drawn out love affair that we expected for Season 2.

All in all, I can’t wait for Sunday nights. Thank you PBS for a wonderful surprise. How did I miss this one for so long?

I dare say that all of The Tiger Lilies readers will enjoy Downton Abbey too- you will not be sorry- at least until the episodes end.

Also, if you dig what I dig, check out this blog, YABookBridges.com. There is a post about Vixen, a book series set in 1920’s Chicago. I know I’m going to check it out.

Dental Chair Confessions

This post won’t have any photos, it won’t be warm and fuzzy, and it sure won’t be PC, but it will be honest. And maybe a little graphic.

So my dental history is something that I’ve kept quiet because of the Shame. My teeth are like rotting bones in the grave of my mouth that opens up once or twice a year to scare dental professionals. I guess it’s appropriate that my most recent visit to the lucky Edmond dentist was in October.

A brief history:

-One of my front incisors (a baby tooth) was brown, so my parents had it removed.  During that visit to Dr. Joel, he put some citrus flavored toothpicks in my mouth and I barfed all over the dental chair.

-I’ve never gone to the dentist without them declaring loudly and proudly that I have a cavity. They caught another one. Yay!

-I hallucinated when I had my wisdom teeth pulled and cried for my mother.

-I went on a flossing kick my freshman year in college and when I returned to the dentist over Christmas break, I had EIGHT cavities.

-I then stopped getting my teeth cleaned until I got married in 2006. The hub’s incessant flossing and Sonic-caring almost drove me to drink. Finally, I broke down and went to the best dentist of all time- Dr. Richardson. He made me feel like a real person, not a leper.

-Unfortunately for my teeth, we moved to Oklahoma in 2010 and I had to find another dentist. Cue the crazy looks, gasps, and the donning of the surgical masks when I open my mouth. It’s not contagious people!

So here I am at 31, in a dead-sweat at the dentist and hoping that it will be over soon. After the first dentist mysteriously no longer took my insurance anymore, the second dentist agreed to fill two cavities for me after seeing my x-rays. I went in on Tuesday and the nightmare began.

First, I asked for the gas, because I thought this might help my anxiety. But alas, it’s just like watching the surgery totally drunk. About half way through, I went back to plain oxygen. The dentist kept saying, “Oh, more decay.” “Wow, more decay.” “Just a little more decay.” Then, (God knows why she did this) but she showed me her work with the smoking drill; she let me take a look with a hand mirror. After I almost had a cardiac arrest and I kept myself from throwing up, she explained that my shell-of-a-tooth, soon to be filled, would probably need a crown in a year or two. Then, eventually a root-canal.

A few things about this bothered me- 1. Why just leave a shell of a tooth? If it’s that bad, why not pull it? 2. And why, if I will need a crown in a year or two, why not just go ahead and crown it now? 3. The irony was just too thick to ignore. Such a Royal Name: a Crown. Why not call it what it really is: a permanent patch over that cesspool of bacteria in my mouth.

After an hour an a half of drilling and filling and bite-blocking and gassing and nausea and panic, It was all over. But, hooray! “The decay was so bad, I’m afraid you will need to have two other molars refilled next week.” Oh, and to add insult to injury: “No sodas, not even diet.”

Right, asking me to give up Diet Dr. Pepper is like asking an Oreo to give up the creme filling. It’s like telling Romeo: “No Juliet.” It was just more than I could take.

I left there defeated and feeling disgusting. Never mind that I brush twice a day, floss at least weekly, and get my teeth cleaned (almost) every six months. I’m destined for dentures at 45.

I head back to the dentist on Tuesday for two more fillings; I’m sure they won’t be my last. I guess I’d rather my teeth be terrible than my eyes, my back, or my brain. But it sure would make me feel better if someone else out there felt as awful as I do when leaving the dentist. A shared confession might provide a little relief- the kind of relief I felt when Christina Aguilera finally put on a few pounds too.

Oh gosh, anxiety attack- what if I pass this on to my child? Tiger Lilies to those of you who have “never had a cavity.” (Said in a snotty, I’m so great, high-pitched voice.) Don’t feel so proud, you jerks- I’m convinced it’s all genetic.

It Begins. Couch to 5K.

For various reasons, I haven’t worked out in over 18 months. I’ve tried to get back on the treadmill a few times, but with no success. Now that my little guy is big enough to survive the flesh-eating bacteria that is probably crawling all over the gym nursery’s floor, I’m going to try the Couch to 5K training program. This is a training schedule that is designed for those of us that have literally been “on the couch” and now want to run a 5K. (30 little minutes, a 3 mile run)

So here is my motivation:

#1 My cousin, who has two children, is currently running her brains out and I’m competitive.

#2 I get winded picking my child up from the crib.

#3 Vanity strikes again; I’m all flab.

So here’s how it all went down; Couch to 5K, Day 1:

Last night at a baby shower I was finishing my second cookie and a Pioneer Woman stuffed mushroom when my two new friends, Courtney and Rebecca, invited me to come “jog” with them at Gold’s Gym. “Gold’s Gym?”, I asked as I licked my fingers, savoring the last bite of cream cheese. Oh right, I’m a member of Gold’s Gym- although the last time I darkened that door, it was Aspen Gym. (I believe the changeover happened months ago.) “I’d love to actually get a little bit out of my 15 year, $100,000 membership!” I joked.

But now I was in- so the baby and I headed out this morning to Gold’s. (That’s what the “regulars” call it.)

Upon arrival, I dropped my baby off in the sea of infection (the nursery) with reluctance but determination. A few of the 40 kids in there were screaming, but the two teenage girls behind the desk seemed un-phased so wished the baby luck and didn’t look back.

I climbed up on the treadmill and informed my two new friends that it wasn’t personal, but I wouldn’t be talking with them anymore. I would have to concentrate to breathe and that talking would complicate that endeavor. The Couch to 5K training guide explains that on week one, you should alternate 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. So I skipped week one, naturally.

Week two alternates 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking. I could do this. After all, I’ve run one marathon and two half marathons in my life, this would be easy. Right. Cue the following: head spinning, side cramps, blurred vision and gasping for air.

Half way through, I decided that if my son had a problem and the sea of infection called, I would need access to my cell phone which was on the floor. As I left the treadmill to retrieve the cell phone, Courtney thought I had fallen off. (Evidence of how taxed I probably looked at this point.) I assured her that I was fine and continued my 90 seconds/ 2 glorious minutes alternation.

I began playing little mind games with myself to keep motivated. (This is something I’ve always done as a runner, keeping myself going when the going-gets-tough.)

First, I found the prettiest 20 something in the place, who was wearing an OSU hat, and pretended that we were in a contest to see who could work out the hardest. This motivation lasted only so long.

Next, I turned on some tunes to get me pumped up. Unfortunately, I had to borrow my husband’s iPod shuffle because mine was not charged. I endured a few Journey songs sprinkled with maybe a Led Zeppelin number until a Black Eyed Peas song finally came on. Even Boom Boom Pow began to drag and I had to find something else.

By this time, I saw the creepy, and mustached 50-something giving me the eye from the elliptical machine across the way. (Or maybe he was just concerned about me, but either way, he took a quick look.) This one helped because now I was running from him. 

All in all, it finally ended when Courtney’s daughter brilliantly needed something from the nursery. Courtney’s name was called over the loud speaker, and I was off the treadmill.

Thankfully, I finished the Couch to 5K “Day 1″ and made it to my car without passing out. Tiger Lilies to all of you that have worked out post-baby. It’s damn hard. Here’s to hoping “Day 2″ is a little easier.

 

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