one of those weird things

I got a fun surprise when I checked my email this morning. A woman commented on a post I wrote over 4 years ago:

I was doing a Google image search for Vanilla Fields (long story)and suddenly I see this image of a Caboodle! I was like, "Oh my God I remember those!" I was so excited to see this blast from the past that I quickly clicked the link to "Visit Page". I had been severely irritated by my husband, so I was chomping away at a giant bag of Skittles as I read your awesome post. Before I knew it, I had been reading your blog for over an hour and my Skittles were gone. I am loving your blog, you rock and thanks to you (and Skittles) I can now go to bed peaceful. :) on only the best for my vanilla fields perfume...

I wanted to see more about her, so I clicked on her name and it took me to her Google profile. Apparently Google let's you put your former names. And one of her former last names is my current one. WHAT?!?  It isn't like there are a zillion Behnkes running around. 

Aside from that, she reads blogs and eats candy to suppress her feelings. If she also believes in retail therapy then I'm pretty sure we are meant to be friends. 

Crazy, right? 


first state in the union

Last month, I went to a nationwide conference in Arizona with other educators.  It was wonderful because I actually got to ATTEND instead of work the whole dang thing. 

One evening, we went to eat Mexican food for dinner.  Margaritas ensued.  We had a "vendor social" to attend at 7, so we arrived fashionably late and gladly partook in the free snacks and open bar. 

I tend to work a room after I've had a cocktail or two, so I was chatting with everyone.  Funny story here, tidbits there, we are all having a great time.  As I was in line for a new beverage, I see a couple people sitting who look kind of lonely.  OF COURSE I want them to feel included, so I decide to grace them with my presence and start a conversation.  Here is a rough transcript:

Me:  "Hi y'all!  Where are you guys from?"
Him:  (gives me a superior look and responds in a condescending tone) "The first state in the union."
Me:  "What?"
Him:  "We are from the first state in the union."
Me:  "Philadelphia?"
Him: "no."
Me:  "Virginia?"
Him: "no."
Me:  "I'm sorry, I've had a few drinks.  But honestly, I probably need to go back to History class for seconds.  Even if I hadn't had a few drinks I don't think I would know the answer. 
Him:  (gives me a superior look)
Me:  (turning to other people in the room - "Does anyone know the first state of the union?")
Me:  "Just tell me where you're from!"
Him:  "Delaware."
Me:  "Huh.  I forgot Delaware is even a state."
Him:  (gives me a smug, superior look that is now tinged with disgust)
Me:  "Y'all have fun!"

I move forward and get a new drink from the nice bartender.  (she recently lost her son, so I visited with her for awhile.)  I get busy talking with other people.  I must say, I really do know how to work a room.  At one point I do notice that "Delaware" left.  The rest of us had a lovely evening and then called it a night.

The next morning, we were all breaking up into different tour groups.  As I walk towards my group with my colleague, I see that somehow Mr. Smug and I were in the same group.  There were only about 15 of us and I could tell he was trying to avoid me, so I said in a sugary voice, "Good Morning Delaware!"  I think he gave me a head nod.

During the tour, I think our Southern charm began to wear off.  At one point I think he decided we were actually the "cool kids" and shifted his tune.

On the charter bus home, he was a couple rows ahead of us.  We began chatting.  We were talking about how we had to head straight to the airport, we hoped we made our flight, etc.  He mentioned they were going to a baseball game that night.  I was all, "we should have stayed one more night so we could have gone.  That would have been fun."  He wished us luck in catching our flight and said that now that the conference was over, he and his colleagues were going to spend some time at the pool and have a few drinks. 

Me:  "I did that yesterday."
Him:  "Obviously."
All of us:  (crack up laughing)



There comes a time when we are faced with the fact that we are not as awesome as we may have been led to believe.

Let me back up.

I've been very blessed and things seem to come fairly naturally to me. Granted - I work hard too. But as the Eagles once said, "life's been good to me so far." With the exception of pretty much any athletic endeavor, I tend to learn quickly and do things well. I've always thought I was a. Pretty quick study.

Until now.

My original intent at getting a hobby was going to be embroidery and cross-stitch. I still plan to work on that, but in the meantime, I decided I would just learn to knit real quick.  The first person that was going to teach me , my friend Jamye, makes it look sooooo easy. I thought I could pick it up while she was in town for a conference. But I got sick and didn't feel up to learning, so I was stuck with some needles and yarn. I decided to ask a colleague and I've met with her a couple times during lunch. About 3 weeks ago, I started making a dishcloth. (Perfect thing to learn with, because, well, it is a dishcloth.)

I AM HORRIBLE! I mess up pretty much every other stitch. When I do it right, I pull so tight that it makes the next row almost impossible. This is how far I've gotten:

(Basically less than 1/4 done.) I'm going to get it down eventually, but apparently I'm not the natural I thought I was going to be.


race with me

I wanted to title this one "shades of gray." But heaven knows what sort of traffic I'd get, so I didn't.

I never heard the "n" word growing up, at least not from the mouths of actual human beings that I knew. I think that I figured out what it meant when I was watching the "North and South" miniseries starring Patrick Swayze. If it wasn't there, than I really don't know how I ever heard it. I knew that the word existed, but didn't think people really used it when referring to black people.

Then, in 7th grade, I moved to a small town. Where there was one black person in my entire school. The first time I heard classmates using this word in an obviously derogatory tone, I had that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. (Like I was being caught red-handed doing something bad.) I felt sick and uncomfortable, but being 13 years old and having no experience in these matters, I didn't say anything and felt bad about it for years. (Although in all honesty, I was way more worried about myself.... I had just gotten both braces on my teeth and a back brace for scoliosis, so I think I felt like I had enough on my plate.)

It didn't come up very often until I got to high school. There was a senior girl who was dating a guy from a rival small town. She was a cheerleader, an athlete, beautiful, fun, all of those things that "matter" in a small town. And the guy she was dating was black. Again, I was too self-involved to really care one way or another. Until the time that I realized some people are just ignorant, mean idiots. Our school was playing their school. And all of the "popular" guys decided to make a statement. The exact details are fuzzy to me now, but I know that they painted their chests black and each wrote one letter of his name. They would pull up their shirts like you see at a college football game... But this wasn't to show school spirit, it was to show hatred and send him a message. ie - we are better than you. Basically, they wanted to make him feel like the word they used to describe him.

Thinking about it (and my lack of action) still disgusts me. It was so cruel and unnecessary. I think that girl - Courtney - still lives in that small town. She goes to games in that same gym. I wonder if she ever thinks about that day.

I remember being so bothered by it that I actually asked my mom what she would do if I ever dated a black guy. Granted, I didn't really know any at the time, but I was tempted to go find somebody just to spite those hateful boys. The topic of inter-racial dating had never really come up for us, probably because there was never really ANY conversation that had anything to do with race in our house. There are good people and there are bad people. You want to surround yourself with good people.  Based on every message I'd ever heard from my parents and their total acceptance of basically anyone and everyone we'd ever come across, I think I was probably sure that she was going to say that race didn't matter.

But when I asked my mom what her thoughts were, when I said, "Mom, what would you think if I dated a black guy?" she said, "Well, I think it would be pretty hard on you." I don't remember what else she said, probably something about how she and dad cared more about me being treated well and being happy, etc. but I clearly remember her saying it would be hard. Maybe she had seen the same sorts of things or heard the same sorts of conversations happening around town, I don't know. But that stuck with me. Not because I thought that SHE really cared whether or not I dated a black guy, but because it made me realize that the are a lot of people that would. I guess it was one of those moments when I realized that I wore rose-colored glasses. It was the first time I realized that just because *I* didn't care what color other people were, it didn't mean everyone else feels the same way.

I just finished the book "Calling me Home" by Julie Kibler, which is what made me think about all of this. It made me wonder if the reason Courtney's kids are blonde haired and blue eyed is because she got tired of fighting, got tired of being ridiculed, got tired of it being too hard.

Deep thoughts for my blog, I know. A good book will do that to you.



Larry loves the stock market.  (well, it is a love/hate, but it is his job so he spends a lot of time with it.)

Last week, the guys on one of the shows started talking about Zulily.  (ticker:  ZU)  They were all pretty excited about it and I guess it had a good week.  At one point or another, it got compared to Amazon.  (ticker:  AMZN.)

I told Larry, "Um, no.  Not even close.  They are both online stores but that is pretty much where the similarities end."

I explained that on Amazon, I could order anything I want at any moment in time... jelly beans, underwear, make-up, shampoo, music, electronics, basically anything I could want.  I order it, get free shipping and 2 days later it arrives to my doorstep.  (thanks to Prime.) People use Amazon as a resource to try and find the best prices and a bigger selection. 

Zulily is where you go to window shop when you're bored.  Occasionally you'll see a good deal and make an impulse buy.  It caters to moms with kids.  You never know what you're going to find.  You can't go there and be like "I need a new plastic plug for my patio table so that the umbrella doesn't wiggle around."  (the last item I used Amazon for.)  Zulily shipping is expensive - and frankly ridiculous, because it takes so long.  For example, I placed an order for these 3 items on Feb. 10:


 (I bought the candles as gifts.  We'll see if I ever send them because I'm really irritated.  Keep reading.)

Order was placed on February 10, 2014.  It finally shipped on February 25.  I just got the items yesterday, March 6, 2014:

Now I know it is not exactly fair to bash them on their shipping times, as they do clearly state their process:

However, I could not find anywhere on their website where they indicated that it would take a full month to ship, that they don't package things very nicely, and that if you order candles - well, keep reading.

AMZN boxes have a smile on them.  They include more than enough packing materials and are not skimpy with those giant plastic air bubbles.  ZU shipped a breakable candle like this:


Not very impressive.  You realize this is made out of glass, right?  But thanks for the Tom's toothpaste sample.

Imagine my surprise when I take the candle out of the box and see that a sloppy piece of packing tape is holding the lid to the base:

Y'all.  This is regularly a $35 candle.  That is supposed to be a gift and now looks super tacky.  But wait - it gets better.  I slice open the packing tape and find this beauty:

There is wax all around the top edge and the outside is all greasy.  These candles are soy, so I imagine that it probably melted a little bit. WHICH IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT TAKES A MONTH TO SHIP SOMETHING.

To cap things off, the second candle came in a separate box. (???)  It was in even worse shape (but at least didn't have any packing tape on the candle packaging):

This one was even slimier on the outside.  The only upside is that the fragrance is nice, so at least when I wiped the residue off my hands they smelled good.

I'm not trying to be a hater.  But SERIOUSLY?

(And yes - I see the irony in the fact that I ordered a candle that says "be blessed" and am griping about first world problems such as these.  I never said I was perfect.)

So... take note.  If you play the stock market, I say it is time to sell ZU and buy AMZN.  I'm pretty much a professional online shopper (just ask my mailman) and I know a rat when I see one.

(And blogger.com, while I'm at it, you're on notice.   Does it REALLY need to be this difficult to format a blog post?)


more honey for my honey

I've always been critical.  Not sure why.  When I was younger, it made me kind of mean. I was bossy and quick to point out anything that somebody else was doing wrong.  Now that I'm older, I'm able to foster it into a more healthy behavior... it serves me well in my educational career.  I need to be able to point out areas in which my new teachers can improve and grow.  But in my personal life - well, hold that thought.

On the same hand, I've also always been quick to give others the benefit of the doubt.  I try to assume the best - if someone cuts me off in traffic, it must be because they are late for work.  The waiter who rang my ticket up wrong is new.  The person who sent a nasty email is having a really hard time at home.  I truly believe you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Unfortunately, I've noticed that one of the people I love most in this world, the magical white guy, gets more than a healthy dose of vinegar from me. 

I've noticed that lately I've been really quick to defend everyone ELSE first.... I give everyone else the benefit of the doubt and all that is left for him is the nagging, griping, unpleasant, grumpy you-know-what. I don't like that version of myself, so I imagine that he doesn't either. 

He is patient with me - and gives me the grace that I'm so quick to give everyone but him - but I can do better.  That is why I'm airing my dirty laundry on this public forum. 

I figure Lent is a good time to examine my inadequacies.  Fortunately for me, this flaw (among others) doesn't take a whole lot of reflection to figure out.  Is it pathetic that I am going to make a conscious effort for 40 days to dole out more honey in my own home?  Probably.  But I've decided my scripture to help guide me towards this particular atonement will be Proverbs 16:24:

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. 

So - if you catch me nagging, I give you permission to set me straight!


lay flat to dry

Let me preface this post by saying that the MWG does an amazing job of keeping up with household chores.  I cannot complain in any way, shape or form.  He does dishes, unloads the dishwasher, takes out the trash, sweeps the floor, does most of the laundry, all of the yardwork, etc. He makes it possible for me to walk in from work and not worry about a sink full of dishes or nagging untidiness in general.  I am very grateful and know that I am in a privileged minority when it comes to scenarios such as this.

But tonight he got irritated with me when I got fussy with him for stepping in and providing "unauthorized' help with my delicate laundry. 

Every couple weeks, I do a load of "hand wash only" and "lay flat to dry" garments.  I wanted to wear one of the cardigans again soon, so I got it done tonight.  I politely asked him to NOT TOUCH ANYTHING.

When the washing  machine timer went off, I was in the middle of something. (commenting on somebody's facebook post, if you must know.)  He got up to attend to it and I said, "Thanks babe!  I'll be right there!  You don't need to do anything, I'll get it.  Please don't touch anything!"

He tried to get a rise out of me by saying, "I got it" and starting the dryer.  I knew he knew better, so I wasn't concerned.  I finished commenting and went to gather hangers. 

As I entered the laundry room, HE WAS HANGING MY CARDIGAN UP ON A PLASTIC HANGER.  As any loving partner would do, I shrieked, "What are you doing?  That will ruin it!  It requires that you lay it flat to dry!"  He said, "It doesn't matter!" I grabbed it from him, said "YES IT DOES" and proceeded to read the tag out loud...."Reshape Garment and Lay Flat to Dry."  He shook his head at me and walked out.

I'm pretty sure he thought I was crazy, hence this blog post.  Let the record state that I took multiple college courses in fashion and textiles:

(Please disregard the poor grades.  It was my last semester and I was sooooo over college.)
Does he have a course called "Textiles" on his transcript?  Didn't think so. (I got a B+ in the Clothing Construction class because I skipped the zipper unit.  Don't ever ask me to sew a zipper in for you because I don't know how.  Obviously.)

Besides, if I have anything to my credit when I say something needs to lay flat to dry, shouldn't the fact that I am a certified Home Ec teacher speak for itself?

I mean, seriously.  Are you really going to try and tell me that you know how to care for a cardigan better than I do? 

That's what I thought.

(Love you! xoxo)



“You’re going to have to stop talking to me like that.”  I could feel my cheeks getting flushed and splotchy the minute the words left my lips but I ignored it and gave him my best glare.  I’m no good in confrontational situations, especially when I know I’m the one at fault.  I silently reminded myself to breathe as he gave me an incredulous look and said, “Excuse me?”

“Listen, Mike.  I get it.  I am fully aware of the implications.  But please stop talking to me like I’m an idiot.”  He shook his head as if he was trying to wake himself up from a nap and took a few giant steps towards me. If I didn’t know him better I would have been afraid.  He was eerily calm as he stopped and picked up a picture frame with her smiling face trapped behind the glass.  (It was taken last summer – we had gone to lunch to celebrate her new job and the restaurant carried a beer bearing her name.  The picture shows her tipping her head back, laughing, holding a bottle of Allison’s Apple Cider above her mouth as she lets the last drop fall onto her tongue.)  He wouldn’t look up as he stared at it.  He placed it face down on the dining room table and said, “She deserves better you know.” With that, he finally looked up and met my stare.  

“Look. If this is where you’re going to tell me what a horrible person I am and how you can’t believe things have gotten this bad, you can just stop.  I don’t need a lecture from a guy whose own life is in shambles.  I mean, weren’t you supposed to be in South Padre this week with your kids?  Oh, wait.  They don’t talk to you anymore and want their stepdad to adopt them.  Who are you to come in and act like you’re going to save the day and figure things out for me?”  I knew it was a low blow but I had that defensive feeling running through my blood… you know, the one that makes you say things you know you’re going to regret later.  

“Nice – glad to see you still have some class.  Glad you could find a way to work my kids into the conversation.  But you’re right.  I do want to save the day.  Did it occur to you that I want to play the hero because at least there is still a chance for a happy ending for you?  You’ve messed things up but Allison doesn’t even know yet.  You can still fix it.”  He picked her picture back up and propped it up where it belonged. “But you can do it alone because I’m out of here.”

I expected him to be mad or at least give me a look that told me he thought I was pitiful.  Instead, he just looked tired as he walked over to open the fridge and grab a bottle of water.  He opened it, took a sip and turned towards me.  I was still reminding myself to breathe and exhaled loudly as he said “Tess.  Fix this.  Please.”  He left the bottle on the counter, walked to the front door and fumbled with the deadbolt as he tried to leave.  It always seems to stick when it is humid outside.


these boots are made for walkin'

At first glance, they are just square-toed boots. 

 Every time I clean out my closet, I open their box, look at them, and think that I should really get rid of them.  I can't even wear them anymore... I actually tried today and they kill my feet.  Ever since I had foot surgery, a 2 inch heel is about as tall as I can really handle for 8+ hours.  (Not to mention they're 10+ years old and not really even in style anymore.)

But the thing is - they aren't just boots.

They're the boots that I bought after I broke-up with a loser of a guy.  I couldn't afford them.  I probably went without food for a week and was late paying credit card bills, but I had to have them.  There is something about tall, black leather boots that make you feel like you can conquer anything.

If you look closely, you'll probably see spots on the leather from tears I shed.  I wanted so badly to "save" that loser of a guy.  I was going to be the one good thing in his life.  I was going to show him what love could be.  Pssssh.  That dude lied and cheated in every way, shape and form possible.  But I still cried over him.  Plenty.

Do you see the scuffs on the toes?  That's because I wore them out.  Because I still went OUT.  6th street, dive bars, parties.... I remember right after I got them, I went to a house party with Amy.  I don't remember too many details, just that the Outkast song "Hey Ya" had just come out and we were dancing around, shaking it like a polaroid picture.

The high heel was important because I needed SOMETHING to back up my sass.  I could give a man a look at the bar that would scare him and make him wither in his seat.  And I may or may not have gotten feisty if another girl stole my seat or shoved me as she was walking by, etc.  I wouldn't have known what to do if I ever actually got in a fight, but at least I had my boots on.  I had no fear.

Maybe it is wrong for shoes to be a defining factor of a period of your life.  But that's what these are to me.  They told me I was beautiful, I was strong, I was fun, I was capable, I was worth it.  I might be crazy to say that shoes told me what I was.  But it is true.

I guess it kind of feels like these boots represent a time of whimsy... freedom.... youth.  (Isn't 36 too young to be sentimental about things like this?)

When I clean out my closet, I know it is time for these to be retired. 

Maybe next round.



10 things I've learned recently:

- Emergen-C really seems to work. I'm hooked.
- Nice champagne tastes much better than cheap/regular priced stuff. And it is true that it does not give you a headache.*
- Buying a new car is stressful, but it really does feel good to drive it around.
- My family is far more functional than I ever realized as a child.
- I really do love to cook, I've just gotten lazy. We got a Pioneer Woman holiday cookbook (thanks Stacy!) for Christmas and I've already made 2 recipes. I'm going to use it every holiday.
- It is okay to be a cardigan girl.
- I really like sleeping in.
- I really like reading.
- I really like gummy products but really dislike what we've dubbed "gummy tummy." (This is the horrible, lethargic feeling that comes with eating a tub of spice drops. Hypothetically, of course.)
- I truly loved my Blackberry.

*disclaimer - it is possible that the champagne tasting good and not causing a hangover is because I didn't drink it excessively and was in bed at a decent hour.