Saturday, April 30, 2011

Catching Up On ZZZ's

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

Zero excuses, get some rest
Zoo's open tomorrow, after your test.
Zingers won't distract me,
Zip your lips right now!
Zorro on a zebra,
Zealot on a sow?

Zack, you're on thin ice,
Zelda, you're right behind.
Zipper necks in Zoot suits,
Are only in your minds.

Zoom in on the zombies,
Zig zagging down the street.
Zeroing in on doubtful mommies,
Zesty enough to eat! 


A New Zenith

Zoom in on April 1st,
No fools showed up for the meeting.
Hosts were gathered all about,
Could not have staged a warmer greeting.

Zealous writers all in tow,
Nervous energy glistened.
Arlee Bird tossed out the first word
While everyone attentively listened.

Zipping through the alphabet,
The letters quickly flowed.
Followers danced around the Web,
While melodious notes started to unfold.

Zero days, the end is here,
Alliances formed everlasting.
Safely nestled in outstretched arms,
As this surge that puts the "Zip in my doodah,"
Is now passing. 

A to Z Challenge

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yodeling In My Yaktrax

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

I'll never forget our first family ski vacation. My husband wanted to start our boys out early by skipping the bunny hills, and heading out to the more challenging runs of  Park City, Utah when they were 3 and 6 years old. While they were learning the ropes in ski school, he took me on some beginner runs. That was when I first realized he was a liar. The green "beginner" runs out west were much more difficult than the green runs in the Midwest, and I was petrified! 

Rewind to my first ski trip with my best friend, and her brother when I was 17.  We had a special weekend package in Michigan that included lessons. My first lesson was an hour long and my instructor ditched me after 22 minutes. He said that I was too dangerous to ski with. I'm not really sure what bothered him most. Was it when I fell on him getting off of the chair lift, causing a domino affect  behind us; or was it when I couldn't control my speed forcing others to fall as I miraculously made it down the hill?  Later, I fell down so many times that I looked like the Abominable Snowman. People were terrified to ride on the lift with me. Thanks to my blow dryer, I was unrecognizable as I danced the night away.

Back in Park City, my kids weren't as excited about skiing as my husband was. My 3 year old even went sleep skiing in between my husband's legs. We have a video of my older son smoothly skiing off of the chair lift, while I did a graceful belly flop into the snow. My boys were quickly learning, as I was growing more fearful. Though my husband was teaching me how to control my speed by turning,; the minute I felt I was losing control, I would fall down. I don't know how many times my family skied passed me, while I was stranded with one ski in the middle of a snowdrift. I yelled for help so loudly that I was worried I'd start an avalanche. I also yelled out a few unkind words to my husband.

It probably was no accident that he led me to an abandoned run, but they eventually came back for me. When the boys heard my screams, they asked why I was so upset. I told them that I was just practicing yodeling; while I was making an obscene gesture with my ski pole at my husband.

A to Z  Challenge

X - Boys

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

When our boys were little, we created a growth chart on the basement wall. Each year we would measure them as they stood their straightest against the wall, and record it with an X. This was probably similar to the caveman's method, only less evolved.  As I was reviewing their progress, I was overwhelmed with memories.

It seems like only yesterday while we were having dinner, our firstborn was examining the polka dots on his placemat. He started counting the rows, and making calculations in his head. Then my husband asked him to explain what he was doing, and my boy waxed on about the rules of multiplication. He was only 3 years old.

When my younger son  was 4, he had his tonsils and adenoids removed.  A few days later, his pre-school class signed a get well card and the teacher was kind enough to bring it over. When I asked him if  he was happy that his class missed him and cared about him so much he replied, " They just did it cause the teacher made them."  This felt like it was straight out of a Leave It To Beaver episode.

Throughout the years they've done things that range from exasperating to exhilarating. Like the time my older son ran into a tree while playing football in junior high, and waited lying on the ground writhing in pain until his nose stopped bleeding. Then he came home and acted like everything was fine until I noticed the blood on his sweatshirt in the laundry bin. He was more afraid of worrying me, than the actual pain itself.

My younger son has had his share of injuries, but always jumps right back into the game. Now they are head to head on the growth chart at 19 and 22.  Soon they will be coming home for the summer; exactly where I want them to be.  

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Whistling Works

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

 A student from North Carolina Wesleyan College  just became The 2011 World Whistling Grand Champion. Damariscotta Helm is "the only whistler in the world who performs the 'double whistle' where she is able to whistle 2 different notes simultaneously," according to Wikipedia.

Luke Janssen is a controversial whistling champion who strives "to make whistling cool."  Erik Olsen of The New York Times, reported on Luke's unique style, "Palate whistling involves blowing air over the tongue and below the roof of the mouth to produce a note. In the more conventional style, called pucker whistling, the whistler blows air through his lips to produce sound."  Luke's powerful rendition of Stairway to Heaven  was the only performance that earned a standing ovation.

Another World Whistling Champion is Carole Anne Kaufman. An article from the Monrovia Patch, highlights some of  'The Whistling Diva's' accomplishments. She won first place at the 2008  International Whistling Championship in Japan, and the following year in North Carolina. She spoke about other girls whose relatives discouraged them, "Whistling women and crowing hens always come to some bad ends."  Fortunately, her parents didn't believe in old wives tales. She owns her own hair salon and often whistles while she works on clients.

As a frustrated whistler who could warble everything from The Andy Griffith theme, to a Phantom Of The Opera medley, I would love to go to the convention in Louisburg, NC; home of the International Whistlers Museum. Maybe there's a special senior section that I could aspire to participate in one day. At least, I wouldn't have to worry about remembering the words.       

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Monday, April 25, 2011

Va Va Voom

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick     

It can't be bottled or sold. It's not illegal, but feels like it should be. It affects everyone differently. The dim ones don't know what hit them, while the smart ones never want to let it go. It's a natural euphoria that sweeps through your body airlifting you into a Pepsi commercial. It's va va voom, and we want it back!  

You don't have to be in love to catch va va voom vapors. In fact, you don't have to really know the person at all. But once you feel it, you are drawn in by a magnetic force.  According to, "Va va voom originated in the 50's; representing the sound of a car engine being revved."

Fast forward to the Renault Clio Va Va Voom TV commercial featuring burlesque stripper Dita Von Teese. This controversial car ad is heating up in the UK, and has spawned webisodes featuring the King & Queen of Va Va Voom.  Host Chris Martin asked people on the street to name celebrities who rev up their engines, while Facebook fans voted for their favorites. Some of the most popular va va voom personalities include Halle Berry, Lady Gaga,  Johnny Depp, and Colin Firth.
For some va va voom strikes instantly.  For me it was ignited by a kiss. I felt it on our second date, when my husband took me to of all places, the Chicago Auto Show. Subsequently, I am reminded of it every night in bed, while I lie awake listening to his rambling exhaust pipe.   

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Uncontrollable Urges

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

There are many urges that we force ourselves to control throughout our lives. For example, babies cry out when they're hungry, children use words to describe their hunger pangs, and adults use their cars for drive- thrus. As we grow older, our urges sometimes seem more uncontrollable. With a little bit of discipline, maybe we can work together to battle some of the most common urges.

The Urge to Merge: Many of us do like to merge full throttle into oncoming traffic in the heat of  rush hour. It is important to make sure your engine is well lubricated, and to keep a steady grip on the wheel, gloves are advised. Stay focused, as alignment is key. Wait your turn, before thrusting into the fast lane.

The Urge to Purge:  Before you completely purge yourself of all of your sins, try to think about the quality first. Most people choose quantity over quality. They drink too much, swear too much, and gamble too much, without really thinking about the big picture. If you're really going to rid yourself of all your wrong doings, then why not go all out?  Comb your hair on the wrong side, order your rum with real Coke, not the diet kind, and buy two lottery tickets instead of one. Then you'll really be able to cleanse your soul, and get on with your life.

The Urge to Splurge: Why drive to work when you can ride your kid's bike? Let them walk to school. So what if the elastic is worn out on your underwear?  Suspenders will do the trick. Staycations are the new vacations. Throw everyone else out, and reap the rewards. When you really need to splurge, buy yourself an  expensive outfit, leave the tags on, and go out for a night on the town. Then purge on your plate, get the meal comped, and merge quietly into the club next door. Return your outfit the next day, and if your wife asks what you've been up to, purge again on her shoes.

 A to Z Blogging Challenge

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ode To "T"

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick   

Trample on my heart

Trespass on my soul

Twisting our love apart

Tragedy takes its toll.

Trips we'd never take

Trails we'd never follow
Treaties cool, half-baked

Tender tones, are only borrowed.

Tales of days long past

Trigger tears of sorrow

Truth is, it would never last

Trapped inside, the treachery of tomorrow.                 

A to Z Blogging Challenge


Friday, April 22, 2011

Save The Soaps

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

Last week ABC announced that they were canceling two of their longest running soap operas All My Children and One Life To Live. Together, they ran for more than 80 years, and were created by Agnes Nixon. Both shows have won Daytime Emmys and Soap Opera Digest Awards, and are still being driven off the air due to high costs and low ratings. There has been an overwhelming outcry to save these characters who many fans, myself included, consider their extended families.   

I grew up watching Erica Kane (Susan Lucci)  from AMC marry all 10 of her husbands. She went from a young beautiful brat, to a smart sophisticated model, to a 30-something  jailbird with a heart of gold. Later she overcame alcoholism in time to risk her life for her children and grandchildren. She managed to do all of these things, while looking fabulous in high heels and a strapless gown. There are many memorable characters who have visited Pine Valley throughout the years, but Erica is the heart and soul of All My Children.  Don't we deserve to find out if she ever gets a visible wrinkle?    

One Life To Live is another soap that I started watching with my mother at an early age. The longest remaining character is Victoria Lord  (Erika Slezak)  a wealthy matriarch who has endured the loss of her grown daughter, several husbands, and suffers from a weak heart. The storylines continue to grow stronger and most recently involve the effects of bullying. The 14 year-old character Shane was almost driven to suicide. The performances were so well acted that my mother and I were actually brought to tears.

What makes OLTL stand out, is that the characters look realistic. The older actors look like real people instead of professional models. They are not stick thin, and overly botoxed. In fact, the Echo De Savoy character is a middle-aged homewrecker, who doesn't try to hide her curves, and is truly comfortable in her own skin. We don't have to like her, but we can't help but relate to her.

I'm still hoping that we can save these soaps. Maybe they can increase ad revenues Austin Powers style by having some of the characters walk around naked, with cereal boxes, magazines and household cleaning products covering their private parts. I'm sure they could come up with many product placement ideas, that would make up for viewers fast forwarding through their commercials.

One Life To Live has already thought of a solution to cut down on production costs. Both Viki and her daughter Jessica suffer from multiple personality disorder and play dual roles. I'm sure Erica on All My Children would love to play an alter ego. Viki has Niki and Jess has Tess, but nothing rhymes with Erica. Perhaps, the writers should start working on it while there's still time.    

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jerks with Quirks

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

 Before my mother met my father, she dated a man who took her to dinner at the finest restaurants, dancing at the chicest nightclubs, and treated her like a queen. He also helped her select exquisite outfits, and suggested she change her hairstyle, choosing just the perfect shade of blond. She was a redhead and preferred her style of dress, but went along with his suggestions, because he had impeccable taste, and she wanted to please him.

They continued to date for several months, and things were going very well, until her first meeting with his mother. They were mirrored images of each other. He wanted to marry his mother. Not that I would expect anything less from my boys, but he may have gone just a little too far. Thank goodness she met my dad, whose only quirk was to mow the lawn in his rust checked dress slacks while listening to the Cubs game on the radio.

Throughout the years, I dated my share of jerks with quirks. They include the coupon guy, the needy-handsy guy, and the lawyer who wouldn't speak in public. The number 1 jerk with a quirk award goes to my  sorority formal date. As dinner was being served, he got sick at the table, and passed out a few minutes later. He didn't wake up until after the dance had ended. Then he looked up at me and asked, "Did you have a good time?"

My single friends are still dating quirky guys in search of the perfect man. One of my friends complained that her date put his soup spoon back in the cup, instead of letting it rest on the saucer. I'm just happy to be married, and grateful that he doesn't throw the spoon in the garbage with the rest of the missing silverware.

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pride in Penmanship

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

With the advent of computers and text-messaging people spend less time writing long-hand. I think my kids went from printing to typing to texting, spending little time if any on cursive writing. I remember them briefly tracing cursive letters in writing workbooks, but then it was back to printing again.

My great aunt had beautiful penmanship that she took great pride in. As a young girl, my grandmother encouraged me to call and thank her for sending me Birthday cards that were filled with exquisite calligraphy. Each year I was hoping she'd find a way to stuff a Barbie outfit into that envelope, but called her anyway. She continued to write beautifully with a steady hand throughout her 80's, and even addressed envelopes for my wedding shower. My grandmother also possessed perfect penmanship, but she preferred her older sister's. That talent was not passed on to me.

As a lefty, I always struggled with my handwriting. Whenever I had to write papers on warm days in school, the ink would smear on the paper, and my hands would turn blue. I don't know who was more excited when my parents bought me a portable electric typewriter. Actually, I think my teachers were.

Poor penmanship has plagued me my entire life. I remember my younger son was accused of forging my signature in grammar school when he brought a note asking to be dismissed early for a dental appointment. His fourth grade teacher thought that the note was written in his chicken scratch. Then my son was quick to point out that there were no spelling mistakes in the letter; another great rescue.  

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Organ Donation: The Greatest Gift

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

Recently the Chicago Tribune's cover story, Just a Liver Transplant Among Friendly Neighbors, by Michelle Manchir, told about how two residents in a suburban subdivision banned together to save their friend who needed a liver transplant. A 41 year old man who was suffering from the same rare liver disease that took Walter Payton's life, was fortunate enough to have one neighbor offer to "remove a portion of  the donor's liver and place it in the ill person's body. The liver is the only interior organ that regenerates--typically in about three months."

When the surgeon found scarring on the first woman's liver, another neighbor offered to take her place. Now all three neighbors "share surgery scars above their belly buttons." They are all doing well, and the recipient is thankful to both women for risking their lives to save his. "They really don't act like it's anything special. They're just crazy, wonderful, amazing people."

Both my husband and my brother received organ donations. My husband underwent two cornea transplants, and my brother received a healthy kidney almost 6 years ago.

Due to a complicated medical history, my brother was told that he could be on a waiting list for 5-10 years or longer. Fortunately, he received a call a year and a half later on his 47th Birthday, from the transplant team. He owes his life to a cadaver donor.

Today, my brother is a healthy, energetic 52 year old, who often wears his nephews out whether they're lifting weights or playing basketball. He strongly believes that "everyone should be a donor regardless of religious beliefs, because you can save several lives by donating your organs. It's morally wrong to be a recipient and not a donor." 

April is Organ Donor Awareness Month, and it's easy to become a donor by checking off the box when you renew your drivers license, or registering at Our family is extremely grateful for the gifts we've been given, and are proud to pay it forward.    


A to Z Blogging Challenge

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Never Say Never To Nudism

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick 

It's taken most of my life to realize the importance of never saying never, until I came across an ad for a  nudist club. The White Thorn Lodge in Darlington, PA is listed in the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), and it is clearly "not a clothing optional resort. What makes this stand out from many others is that this is a "family nudist club." 

Well it's been a while since we've taken a family vacation and our kids don't really enjoy shopping or museums. Another draw is that the lodge is " Home of the Original Nude Volleyball Superbowl," and they really do love sports.

The only swimwear requirement is that babies must wear some form of plastic pants in the pool. I never did like trying on bathing suits, and I do get over-heated in my three-piece, so hanging around the pool au naturel might not be so bad. I'm sure my 19 and 22 year old boys would want to be first in line with us for the family swim.

It would be wonderful not to have to deal with packing, as we'd each board the flight with a baggie filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste and sunscreen. I would probably want to include some body bronzer  for those hard to reach areas, and some waterproof duct tape for windy days. Sunglasses would be my only accessory.

After we arrived, we'd have to adhere to the lodge rule of always carrying a towel to sit on. And I was worried about hygiene.

 A to Z Blogging Challenge 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Am I Turning Into My Mother?

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

I'll never forget  many years ago when my grandmother went on a blind date. My mother had fixed her up with a wonderful man who had taken her out for a lovely dinner. They were both approaching 80, and this man had the energy to offer to take her dancing. The night was young, and it was a beautiful spring Saturday, but she declined. Then he asked if there was somewhere else she'd rather go. Well he was a gentleman, and an excellent driver, so why not go to Jewel Foods. Who cared that she was wearing her best dress and he was in a suit? She needed to stock up on some groceries, and now was as good a time as any. Needless to say, she never saw him again.

At the time, my mother couldn't believe that my lively grandmother chose a cold cucumber over a hot potato.  She would've loved if her boyfriend took her out dancing. I was single then, and would've gladly gone dancing down the aisles at the Jewel if someone had asked me.

Today, my mom loves spending the day at the grocery store. She loves the free coffee, and combing the aisles in search of a deal. She eats like a bird, but still spends hours surveying the produce, and ordering an eighth of a pound of deli meat. After she never fully recovered from a spinal fusion, she relies heavily on her walker, but at the grocery store she is able to glide through the aisles like a red-headed, green-eyed goddess, with her cart as her chariot.

My brother says that I will be just like her when I get older, because we saw our mother turn into our grandmother. Well our grandma lived to be 93, without ever getting a wrinkle, and my mother is a beautiful woman who turns heads wherever we go. Just the other day, I was thrilled when her pharmacist thought we were sisters. If my brother is right, I would be delighted to age as well as my mom and grandma. However, I solemnly swear, as long as there is pizza delivery, I will not ask my boys to take me grocery shopping.  

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

I've always tried to instill in my children the importance of loyalty. Whether it be your family, friends, school, place of worship, or workplace, showing loyalty is rewarding in itself. Recently, I've had the pleasure of experiencing loyalty from an unexpected source, the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

At the beginning, I had no idea what the challenge would be like. I thought it would be interesting and a great way to meet new people, but I never expected it to be such a warm and inviting experience. There is a certain loyalty among bloggers. It's a polite society of  writers who support each other in very endearing ways. While some are quick to gain new followers, others stay and chat awhile. It's like the perfect neighborhood on a warm summer day, where everyone is sipping lemonade and telling stories.

It doesn't matter how old you are, where you live, or what you write about, there is an unwritten code of honor among the writers in the A to Z  Blogging Challenge. I don't know if it's the same in other writing competitions, but I'm grateful that this is my first. I hope that I am as gracious as others have been to me. If I have offended anyone with my stories or comments, I am deeply sorry.  

This whole experience has brought back memories of my college sorority. What I liked most about it, was that we didn't fit one mold. Some were pretty and athletic, while others were funny and artistic, but we all banned together for the good of the house. I believe all the hosts of the challenge should be  commended for creating such a welcome and rewarding environment. Likewise, all the participants should be proud of their good conduct. It will be very bittersweet when the challenge comes to an end.  Hopefully, we will not have to go through Hell Week.

A to Z Blogging Challenge 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Keeping Up With My Kids

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

After the sleepless nights, terrible twos, and traumatic teenage years, I often think about some of the truly amazing things that my kids have done. They're amazing to me, because they're innate acts of goodness that cannot be taught.  

The first act occurred when  my boys were about 2 and 5 years old. They were playing in the sun room off of the kitchen, while I was cooking dinner. At the time, my toddler was always putting everything in his mouth. I prided myself on keeping everything sparkling clean, and safe for them to play with. My little guy was just about to put something shiny in his mouth, when his big brother snatched it out of his hand. After hearing the commotion, I quickly ran into the room. My heroic son had just saved his brother from chewing on a razor blade. Evidently, a handyman had left it underneath the TV stand. I quickly scooped up my firstborn babysitter and covered him with kisses. It took me a long time to forgive myself for not seeing that razor blade. Thank goodness my wonderful son did.

Another incident that I'll never forget took place when my younger son was about 9 years old. After my great aunt's funeral, we had gone back to my grandmother's house for dinner. She was very saddened to lose her only remaining sister, but as always kept it to herself. When my mom and I had finished setting the table, we noticed that my grandma was nowhere to be found. A few minutes later, I saw my golden boy curled up with his great grandmother, comforting her in her recliner. Then they walked hand in hand back to the dining room. I never found out what words, if any were spoken, but I do know that at only 9, he was able to give her all the strength she needed.

These stories are just a few examples of why I am so proud of my boys. Sure they've made mistakes along the way, but every mother's dream is to raise good kids. Though they love being with their friends, they still put family first. I guess some dreams really do come true. If only they would friend me on Facebook.     

.A to Z Blogging Contest

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jury Duty

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

My friend's husband's neighbor Jay, got summoned for jury duty and he desperately wanted to get out of it, so he called his lawyer for help. When his lawyer said that there was nothing he could do, he called his brother. After he told him that things were hectic at work, and he couldn't possibly take time off, they decided to come up with a plan.

The brothers wrote a fictitious letter to the Jury Commissioner detailing every reason they could think of that would make it physically impossible for Jay to serve as a juror. This letter described symptoms that would make the entire courtroom gasp, including everything from chronic diarrhea, to uncontrollable nose bleeds. Their internist was a close family friend, and after several shots of Jack Daniels, he agreed to sign the letter.

A few days before jury selection, Jay was told that he had to report to the judge for a personal interview. He was a nervous wreck thinking that he was about to be arrested for perjury. He couldn't stop shaking as he was getting dressed, and quickly drove off to the courthouse. While he was driving, his stomach started gurgling, as he heard a police siren. He began slowing down, as the squad car went after someone else.

When he arrived in the judge's chambers, he was sweating profusely and out of breath. Then the judge took one look at him, and told him he was free to go.

Suddenly, the cloud was lifted, and he happily drove home to tell his wife. She was shaving her legs in the bathtub when he told her the good news. When she looked up at him, she screamed. He ran over to see what was wrong, and saw that his shirt collar was covered in blood. He didn't even realize that he had nicked his nose while shaving. Smiling, Jay took off his shirt and explained what happened. Then his wife advised him to also remove his pants. Apparently his stomach wasn't just gurgling.

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Itching For Ice Chips

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

When I began having labor pains with our oldest son, my doctor suggested going right to the ER. At the time we were living in downtown Chicago, about a half mile away from the hospital. It was during one of the warmest summers that I could remember, and my husband suggested walking over as exercise was thought to induce labor. The only problem was that it was 4:00 in the morning, the sky was pitch black, and we never knew what was lurking in the shadows of the sleeping city. In retrospect, the fear of imminent death kept my mind off of my excruciating contractions.

After the doctor examined me, he said that I was only dilated a few centimeters, and  recommended that I go home. I didn't have the energy to fight off would-be assailants while walking, and I cringed at the thought of  a bumpy bus ride back home, so I pleaded with the doctor to let me stay. By this time my husband was debating having a late nap or an early breakfast.

Once I was finally admitted to a private room, my husband set off for his first of many visits to the cafeteria. When he returned, I was dining on some refreshing ice chips while waiting for the labor- inducing medication to take affect. Unfortunately, my husband just couldn't seem to get comfortable in the lounge chair and was behind schedule in his nap

Three rounds of snoring, two sub-sandwiches, and an extra large fries later, I requested some more ice chips to cleanse my palette. When my husband didn't see a nurse nearby, he suggested that we wait for one. By this time, I was in no mood to listen to anymore of his ridiculous suggestions, and told him to find the ice dispenser by himself. Afterward, he felt so bad that he started feeding me the ice chips and rubbing my back. I quickly sent him out of the room.

Our firstborn came into the world at 6:00 that evening. One of the nurses in the delivery room told me that I had very strong abdominal muscles, and said that she had never seen anyone push with such force. Little did she know that it was because the Bears first pre-season game of the year was about to begin, and my husband couldn't miss a minute of it on TV, especially during the dinner hour.  

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Heads Up

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

Remember the days when people were simply known as having high foreheads? Now foreheads have morphed into fiveheads. Simply stated by Urban Dictionary, "It's too big to be a four head, so we call it a five head."

Some celebrities on this list include: Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Clint Eastwood, and Ted Danson. Surprisingly, Jay Leno did not make the cut, although most of his distorted head size rests mainly on his chin.

An interesting example is Albert Einstein, who was born with an unusually large head which troubled his mother; however, he eventually grew into it. According to Molly Edmonds from Discovery Health, "Einstein had a perfectly normal-size brain, but certain parts of it were larger than normal, including the inferior parietal region, which affects mathematical thought."

Unfortunately, there is also no link between high foreheads and intelligence. As a fellow fivehead, I was hoping to find a hidden power that I kept covered under my bangs.

Last week Saturday Night Live featured a take-off on the Lawrence Welk show with the fictional singing group The Merrill Sisters. In the sketch Kristen Wiig plays the deranged member of the group who is at least a six head, and has deformed baby hands. At the end of the number when her character has run wild, Fred Armisen says in his best Welk voice, "Is it me or could you show a movie on that girl's forehead?" 

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Geriatric Goldfish

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

When my youngest son was in kindergarten, we attended a school carnival where he was awarded a tiny goldfish for winning at ring toss. We proudly carried him out in his baggie, and set out to purchase his starter home. Sensing his loneliness, my boy suggested that we find him a roommate. When there were two, they were known as Red Spot and Gold Dot respectively.

By the time they moved into their third residence, Red Spot had passed on and Gold Dot continued to grow bigger and stronger. Once we arrived home from a 10-day vacation, and found the automatic fish food feeder had broken, but Gold Dot was still going strong. This miraculous orange fish grew larger than any goldfish we had ever seen.

When my son was a freshman in high school, Gold Dot miscalculated his leap from the tank to the bowl during bath time, and ended up on the kitchen floor. I was wearing my slippery dishwashing gloves, and called my husband for help. He saw the fish wiggling on the floor and simply stated, "It's his time," and walked away.

My son came running into the room in tears, so I yanked off my gloves and swooshed him back into the water. Then he saw something red in the water and yelled, "He's bleeding! He's bleeding!" So I put him into the smaller bowl, applying pressure to his wound by using a napkin as a tourniquet.

Meanwhile, my husband added, "There's nothing you can do. He had a long life." My significant other's comments were especially comforting considering  he's in the healthcare business. It really made me reconsider having a living will, "Indigestion, nonsense! It's her time."

Fortunately, Gold Dot survived physically: mentally we're not so sure. As my son tells the story, his dad was the hero who saved his favorite goldfish after his mother carelessly let him jump out of the tank.

A to Z Blogging Challenge 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fly Dumping Fiasco

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

According to the Urban Dictionary, "The act of throwing your garbage in someone else's trash to hide where the garbage came from" is fly dumping. I recently heard of such  an event at a dinner party.

A friend of mine was doing some major spring cleaning, when she ran out of room in her garbage containers. She would've gladly donated some of the items, but everything was in poor condition. Shoes were missing their mates, combs were missing their teeth, crayons were missing their colors, you get the point. In the meantime, my friend decided to store the garbage overnight in her garage until she came up with a plan.

The next day, she loaded up three large trash bags in her car, and headed off to work. She managed a  boutique near an Italian restaurant. My petite friend proceeded to place these enormous bags in the waste receptacle in the back of the restaurant, before she walked a few doors down to her store. She was an early riser, and opened up the boutique several hours before the Italian restaurant started business.

At nightfall she closed up shop and drove home, but never made it in the garage. Her driveway was covered in garbage. It took her hours to clean up the layers and layers of disgusting garbage in the pouring rain. After the last bag was tied up, she found a piece of paper that must have slipped out. It was a napkin with the name of the Italian restaurant written on it.    

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The 3 E's In Etiquette

                                                                           Julie Kemp Pick                     

As a 4 year old graduate of Wendy Ward Charm School, I think it only fitting that I pass along some of my expertise. Everyone from baseball players to reality TV stars are seen picking, tugging, spitting, and adjusting themselves on a daily basis, so it's time for an intervention.

Ear Wax Etiquette: Do not clean your ears with a key, pencil, or coat hanger. Beware of ear candling, an ancient method used to remove wax as well as other impurities in your body. Many studies found that the only wax extracted was from the candle itself. Consult with your doctor for the safest removal method, as even cotton swabs may cause havoc on your ear canal.

Eating Etiquette: Elbows off of the table, closed mouth chewing, and soup is meant to be sipped not slurped. Before going up to the buffet for your second helping, make sure that the tablecloth is not tucked into your underwear. Cutlery is recommended.  

Elevator Etiquette: Always wait for others to enter, especially if they're in your group. If you are sharing the ride with a stranger, do not stand close enough to detect what that person had for lunch. More importantly, do not change your clothes in an elevator, even in emergencies. That's what phone booths are for.

A to Z Blogging Challenge.              

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dropping Dead

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick

One of my biggest fears is dropping dead in a public restroom. I could just imagine hearing over the loud speaker at Target, " Clean up in aisle 5. Dead woman in stall #2." What if  I hadn't shaved my legs or had a recent pedicure? And how many paramedics would have to carry me out?

Another horrible place to die would be in a department store fitting room in the middle of trying on a bathing suit. Who would be the first to discover me half dressed? What if  the salesperson saw my granny panties? I could just imagine them calling my family to pick me up in the middle of a play-off game, and they'd all have the same response, "What's the rush?"

I'm currently having my black suit cleaned, just in case. Although I do look better in brighter colors. Maybe I'll go shopping. Then there's always the worry that no one would  want to attend my final farewell. Erma Bombeck said it best, "If it looks like a lot of people aren't going to show up for my funeral, hold it in a phone booth, so it'll look crowded."

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Colonoscopy Crackdown

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick   

Actually it's crack up. I'll never forget my first colonoscopy. I scheduled a double whammy; an endoscopy which is a tube going down your throat, and a colonoscope enters through another orifice. I was looking forward to a nice restful sleep during both procedures, but it didn't go exactly as planned.

After the nurses started my IV, I thought I would instantly pass out. Instead, I was advised to view the monitor on my left, while the gastroenterologist went to work.  Suddenly, I was watching a movie and my colon was the star. I usually enjoy eating popcorn at the movies, but thought it best not to ask. The doctor decided to give me the colonoscopy first, and I was hardly in a position to argue.

The doctor discovered a very large polyp, but I was extremely lucky that it was detected early before it would become cancerous. Afterward, the doctor handed me a picture ; a souvenir of a journey through my colon. This experience sounds like a great idea for a ride at Epcot Center, only this ride may have saved my life.

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Friday, April 1, 2011

Battling Bulges

                                                                                               Julie Kemp Pick

Years ago most designer clothing was cut more generously than it is today. A size medium could be stretched a lot farther back then. I've noticed that many people are very size conscious and are determined to squeeze into whatever size they wore five or ten years ago regardless of the fit. This often results in many unflattering bulges that could easily be avoided.

My husband's obscene bike shorts are a shining example of a good thing gone wrong. When he first showed up pedaling to my mom's house in them, she had to politely excuse herself and go inside. Though she loved her future son in law, she couldn't quite look at him the same after seeing him in his spandex splendor. More than 25 years and 20 pounds later, he still squeezes into those shorts, displaying more than his original bulge.

Bulge blindness affects celebrities that have their own personal stylists too. Often times I want to throw something at the TV when I see Oprah encased in her clothing. With all of her wardrobe people, wouldn't you think that someone would notice that if she turns the wrong way, her dress will likely split open? What really bothers me, is that she's hosted shows with experts advising  how to buy the proper fitting bra for millions of viewers, but doesn't invest the time and energy to find a suitable seamstress for herself.

Is it really sexy to wear something tight enough to cut off circulation when you're overweight? Am I really one to judge when I prefer to wear turtlenecks year round? I do miss Dickeys.

With muffin tops, back fat, side spillage and raging thighs, it's getting more difficult to battle bulges as we grow older. A well-balanced diet and exercise will definitely help, but it's easier to go up a size.

A to Z Blogging Challenge 

Aging Awkwardly

                                                                                                    Julie Kemp Pick

As I officially exit my forty-something years, I think about some of the things I have to look forward to.

Forgetfulness: Where did I leave my keys, my phone and my floss? Waking up in the middle of the night wondering if I remembered to close the garage door. Repeating the same stories over and over again. Repeating the same stories over and over again.

Ingrown hairs popping up in the middle of my face, without any warning. Some long enough to twirl around my finger to use as a memory knot. Of course those 3D monsters will attract every one's attention, before I'm finally able to notice them. I'll never really know if my husband saw them as he'd be much too nervous to be the messenger. I'll never be able to leave the house without a tweezers in my holster. I'm already developing a love-hate relationship with my rear view mirror, because it tells no lies in the light of day.

Flatulence attacks even triggered by excessive gum chewing. Alternating between loud bursts and silent sewage air filtration. Suddenly feeling less conspicuous at a hot and steamy day at the zoo, or a tempers flared bingo game at the senior center.

Tired all the time. Always looking forward to the next nap. Standing longer than necessary for fear of passing out in a chair in the middle of the day. Experiencing jet lag when you haven't even gone out of the house.

Yelling when I think I'm using my inside voice. Losing the ability to whisper. Once I thought I was having a private conversation with my son on the main floor of a movie theater, when I noticed people were staring down at me from the top of the escalator. This was extremely embarrassing, but it would've been worse if I were chewing gum.

A is for Aging Awkwardly is my first entry in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.