We’ve come a long way, Barbie

I haven’t played with Barbies in roughly 40 years, but my friends, I sense that is about to change.

Mattel, who is not paying me for this epic endorsement, just released 17 new Barbie dolls honoring “historic and modern day role models from around the world.”

These dolls were introduced this week ahead of International Women’s Day,  which is today – YAY US!

I have to tell you, I was a huge Barbie and Company groupie. I had them all – Barbie, Ken, Skipper, a couple of babies Skipper was in charge of babysitting, and Skipper’s second cousin from her mother’s side – all of whom were blonde and quite tan.

Because Mattel didn’t make a slightly-spastic with reddish-brown hair Barbie, who also wouldn’t tan and preferred jeans, I didn’t identify with my dolls as most of you can imagine accurately.

Mattel is releasing as part of its SHERO program (hold on to your tiny plastic pumps) dolls including famed pilot Amelia Earhart; Frida Kahlo – an incredible artist and the one somebody better get me for Christmas; Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician; Olympic Athlete Chloe Kim and boxer Nicola Adams, among many more.

This is huge, y’all.

This beautiful news comes at a time when Photoshop, Kardashians and “Full Beat Makeup” (read: perfectly applied) are placing unreasonable and unreachable expectations on young women who are already beautiful in their own rights.

And it’s hard to feel beatufiul when you are looking to achieve a perfection that only exists inside a computer program, or in the life of people with their own makeup artist.

I knew precisely one girl growing up who truly looked like Barbie, and she was gorgeous. She still is. But most of us don’t look like Barbie, we look like us.

And Mattel can’t cover us all, but they are getting closer.

So thank you, Mattel. It’s about time and it is appreciated that all girls can have a doll that meets their standards rather than trying to meet the doll’s standards.

Did I mention I really want these Barbies for Christmas?

We’ve come a long way, Barbie.

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Successful New Year Resolutions – I have less than none

We are almost eight weeks weeks into the new year, and for those keeping count I am negative two on my resolutions for 2018.

Besides the ones to “work out every day yada, yada, yada …”, and read more books, I have also failed at things I didn’t even formally commit to, which takes a special talent in the art of failure.

But I’ve never claimed excellence in my mental organization. Like, not once.

Although I never wrote it down, I remembered that sometime last year as I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I told myself a good new year’s resolution would be less social media. And by less, I meant none.

Not done, and not done.

When you tell yourself you’re going to take it easy on social media for a while, the same thing happens as when you go on a diet –  the frontal cortex of your brain goes into starvation mode, and says “Mayday! Mayday! More! Gimme more!” Also, it says things like, “You should just bathe in it,” and “Take no prisoners.”

Unfortunately, being addicted to Facebook is probably close to being bulimic in that you gorge yourself, and the only outlet is to purge it back out. Neither kind is healthy, trust me on this.

The other resolution that got me into the negative was one I’ve had so long I just stopped writing it down, and it is this: This is the year I will use better discretion on when and where I dance in the car. Three policemen and about 50 strangers of all ages can vouch for the fact I have broken that one every single day this year.

And what I really meant by “I’m going to read two books a month this year, “ was “I’m going to read a book in the first eight weeks of 2018, and see where it takes me.”

Success, in my case, lies in the semantics.

To reiterate, it looks like I will not be in beach shape by June. Or, at the rate I’m not going – August even.

I will sit in my shame corner and acknowledge I gorged on the all-you-can-eat social media buffet with wild abandon.

I’m a slow reader.

I can’t deny my disco destiny, and I won’t. But it’s February 22 and I’m still standing, looking for a good book and a swim suit made by Spanx. I’m still making no hard-core commitments on social media, because … I’m probably a self-masochist at heart (note to self: get a therapist).

And dancing, always dancing. I’ll take it.

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Olympic dreamers

If you’re like me, you are suffering from an Olympic-sized hangover.

No booze is required for this hangover, only staying up late on a school night (or several in a row in my case) to watch the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang staged in South Korea.

Therefore, it’s all I’ve got for this week’s blog.

I’ve been an Olympic nerd my entire life – both summer and winter – but for reasons that may be somewhat obvious, I’ve watched them through a different lens this year.

Of course, I take enormous satisfaction when the USA takes home a gold, or any, medal. I’m an unapologetic homer.

But a few things struck me as I’ve watched this year.

With all of the contentiousness in the world, the Olympics have been a reminder to me to look at mankind  as a product of the same creator, even if national pride is the dog we have in the hunt.

My favorite sport to watch so far has been the half pipe and the  gold medalists in both the women’s and men’s event were who I was rooting for – Americans Chloe Kim and Shaun White.

They are incredible athletes who happen to be American.

It was clear early on that every single person in the competitions trained hard and had big dreams, regardless of their country of origin, or who they were competing for.

Chloe Kim, only 17 years old, is the daughter of parents who immigrated to the United States from South Korea. After her gold medal win, her father called her “the American Dream.”

I’ve had my DNA tested since the last Olympics, which puts a whole new spin on how I view them, because I realize I might be hoping a distant cousin crashes out on her giant slalom run, which is not a way to bring the family closer.

Suddenly, as someone who now knows I’m more than 50% German, it hurts far less to see them leading in the medal count so far. Ireland, who claims a full quarter of my DNA,  hasn’t played much of a role in the winter games, with five athletes competing in four events and no medals so far, or probably at all. I get my sporting chops, it seems, from my Celtic blood.

I also found out I have no native American in my DNA at all, which puts me in the same boat as Chloe Kim, only a few generations later.

It does my heart good to see the athletes of the world putting aside their differences to achieve the same dreams. It is, I think, humanity at its best these days.

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May the pours be with you

I spent the last week doing what a lot of people around here have been enjoying lately – having an extended and unplanned out-of-body experience.

Nope, we aren’t new age freaks, we’re just in the epi-center of an epidemic of flu, strep throat, or a mutant form of viral cold, and any combination thereof.

I, thank the Dude, fell into the latter category so I could move around and stuff but I couldn’t feel myself doing it.

Except for the water boarding, which I’ll get to later.  I could feel that.

Ever-thankful I have so far escaped the flu (knock on all wood, forever), this thing I’ve had carries it’s own set of rituals.

First, sleep. So much sleep. For a few days, I was averaging about 14 hours of relative unconciousness.

Second, self-inflicted water boarding which is the antithesis of sleep, but necessary in exorcizing  the demons. Each day I would do this to myself by way of something you can legally purchase at a drug store called a Neti Pot.

I call it a snot genie, but whatever.

It flushes out anything within a 6-inch radius of your nose that may be harboring snot, but not before it takes you on an epic journey right up to the brink of death by self-drowning.

Seriously, you haven’t lived until you watched yourself do this in a bathroom mirror, my only survival technique was to pant like a dog. Again, this was the only time last week I was consciously in my body and it isn’t a pleasant memory.

Third, I poured. A lot.

I poured saline water into the snot genie, then into my face.

I poured cough medicine with codeine down my throat.

I poured a few cups of NyQuil and learned to love it.

I poured a shot of Crown. Maybe more, who was counting?

Each time I poured, I quickly toasted to the quick return of health to all the people with the flu and strep, and for those who have avoided it,  because I knew if I didn’t hurry I would soon be unconscious.

But if you do get this stuff, may the pours be with you.

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Get you a cup … of Padre Pods

The best ideas come from the most unlikely places.

I had almost – almost – given up on Facebook as having any redeeming social value.

Between the balsamic vinegar Brussels sprouts recipe debacle (a recipe I found on Facebook, by the way) and a constant World Wrestling Federation-style barrage of people trying to change other people’s political affiliations, I was close to requiring a flak jacket and gas mask when I logged on.

Then Padre posted Wednesday morning.

Padre is a Presbyterian minister in Waxahachie whose real name is Matt. I went to school with Matt, and I still follow him because he has never posted about Brussels sprouts and I’ve never heard nor seen him use a childish moniker to describe somebody he disagreed with. Also, I think he’s a great guy in general.

According to his Facebook post, he woke up to a broken coffee pot, something akin to a sign from God to go back to bed in my world. And I told him so.

His other friends took the opportunity to put his coffee pot in their prayers; and one opined it would be good material for his Sunday sermon.

But the best came from another friend from school, Kent, who suggested the Padre dip coffee grounds like snuff until he could make it to the store to buy a new coffee maker.

That’s when a cottage industry was born – coffee pouches to put between your lip and gums in a dire emergency, and waking up to a broken coffee pot qualifies as a dire emergency in my world.

I even came up with a name – Padre Pods.

Looks like I’m going to need some financial backers for this venture; also some test subjects (no chihuahuas, please) and a whole lot of espresso roast beans.

I think we can do this, with the Padre’s blessing. Send all checks, test subjects and beans to the office.

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I wouldn’t cook this again for all the sprouts in Brussels

We are about to go on yet another culinary journey, so strap in and grab the air freshener.

This week for  the first time in my entire life, I cooked Brussels sprouts, and I did it on purpose.

I’ll spare you all the gory details on the history of my now-irreparable relationship with the nasty vegetable, but I will admit it is one of the two vegetables that made me involuntary gag as a tender babe. It was also a vegetable that even our dog wouldn’t eat for me.

I accidentally ate a good one a few years ago in Boston, then saw on Facebook recently where a friend from high school was “obsessed” with balsamic vinegar Brussels sprouts.

That got me to thinking that little Kari’s tastebuds may have changed. I never even thought about my smeller.

Last week, I bought fresh Brussel sprouts and in a grown-up move, used them for something besides heads of lettuce for my Barbie’s fancy dinner parties in her condo.

I oven-roasted them instead, which made the inside of my house smell like it was permanently downwind from the porta-johns at a chili cookoff.

The after party

Suffice it to say I was not the most popular person in our household of two people.

The smell was so bad, I formulated an emergency plan to remove them from the oven and quickly dump them in to the balsamic vinegar and honey blend to contain the damage.

But the genie was not going back into the bottle.

When the timer went off I rushed over and opened the oven door too fast, which fogged up my glasses with hot stench. I tripped running the cast iron skillet to the bowl and scared the dog who mistakenly thought she was at a chili-cookoff.

The entire time, my husband kept asking, “You didn’t know? You really didn’t know?” Like I had pulled the ultimate practical joke on him at the expense of my own physical well-being.

The Brussels sprouts were actually pretty good, and would have been better had I eaten them in a wind tunnel lined with Glade Plug-Ins.

I know you were wondering.

Pro tip for Brussels sprouts: There isn’t enough Lysol in the world. Or less dramatically, there is, but it takes 3 hours and 48 minutes of focused and well-timed work to make it happen.

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God Bless the Bloated Road

It’s not often a person can brag they went around the world in a month, but here we are.

It wasn’t just me, but my entire family that went on this journey and we never left our kitchens.

I left December a few pounds heavier after the culinary road trip that took us to Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and of course, the deep south.

Every year at Christmas my family picks a food theme that will cleanse our collective palates of turkey.

This year we chose Mexican food, and my Mom’s house was full of tacos, enchiladas, guacamole, queso, enchiritos and sweets – all homemade. We are amazing when we travel together, and even moreso when we cook together.

Nobody messed up, and there will be nobody to bring paper goods to the next event, so we’ll probably travel to the Sandwich Islands next year.

A week later, the culinary adventure continued in South Carolina when my daughter (who is not Italian, that I know of) greeted us the first night there with her homemade spaghetti. The next night they took us to Brazil with some great steaks, then off to Germany when my son-in-law made Schnitzel.

When it was my turn for the trip’s itinerary, I chose our roots.

This means I went all the way to the redneck branch of the family that likes to sit on the porch with our crazy and a mason jar full of … homemade (of course) beverages.

That’s right, my leg of the trip wasn’t to a glamorous place, unless you consider banjos elegant dinner music. I took us to the woods where Spam and potatoes are fried together openly and with no shame whatsoever.

And it was good, as long as you don’t consider my husband’s opinion about Spam and the people who eat it.

We ran out of year before he could take us to his country where the food is brown and vegetables that aren’t spelled p-o-t-a-t-o are not on the menu.

It just occured to me what I really got for Christmas. Pounds – delicious ones and a lot of them. And I have just enough time to get into shape before our next trip.

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Not loving the new car smell just yet

The password for 2018 is “Irony,” apparently. I was going for “patient,” but I got both.

After all I wrote last week about the new year being a metaphorical new car, my 2018 began (not ended) with a busted-up hoopty, one that I shall refer to as American Airlines.

Now I’m thinking things can only get better, right?

After spending the last week 2017 with our kids in South Carolina, my husband and I flew back on New Year’s Day, sort of.

I try to begin each new year with a word and this year’s word was “patience,” which comes after “irony” in the dictionary. I just didn’t know it would be tested immediately.

Enroute to the Greenville-Spartansburg airport Monday, I got the first text alerting me at 1:40 that our 4:00 p.m. flight had been delayed until 4:19 p.m. Thus began my emotional affair with America Airlines, and it didn’t end well.

In all, American Airlines and I had a very short romance that felt like it lasted forever.

Ten hours and 19 text alerts of flight delays later,  we finally took off for Dallas after midnight. On a school night.

The day was a intimate study of human nature under stress, with responses that ranged from quiet indignation to rage, and that was just my husband. At the end, I was just angry they had taken several precious hours with my family from me; as well as sleep.

Shared rage usually brings people together, and this held true in Greenville that day.

As the crowd at our gate dwindled with people taking alternative flights in order to catch their connecting flights, I got to know the 50 or so people who chose, like us, to wait it out.

We laughed, we cried, we rage-Tweeted American Airlines.

A couple tiny samples:

“So, @AmericanAir, hi. After 13 flight delays in six hours, we’re still stuck in South Carolina … because we chose you. It’s not me, it’s you. #breakingup “


“Hi, @AmericanAir! It’s me again. Up to 17 flight delays now. Can you have someone work for me tomorrow? Also, is your slogan “If we aren’t on time, just wait longer?”

Spoiler alert: Nobody from AA showed up to work for me Tuesday. Also, it appears I accurately guessed their slogan.

Luckily, there was a bar at our gate showing two huge college football playoff games, that everyone at the gate shuffled in and out to see as they took turns standing in line at the customer services deck to find out that

A) there was a massive crew shortage;

B) after that was resolved, the parking brake of the plane coming to take us away “came out in the pilot’s hand” at DFW and had to be replaced;

and C) they were very sorry about the … ‘extended travel time,’ which is like calling the flu “an extended cold.”

Since most everyone on my flight was receiving text alerts (cheating cheaters) from American Airlines, every time all of us heard our text tones, the entire gate had a collective anxiety attack, with smatterings of creative curse phrases, open weeping and wishes of ill tidings to AA’s home office.

Being a firm believer that the customer service clerks had nothing to do with the fact that the parent company completely screwed the holiday pooch, I went out of my way to be nice to them. Besides, there was a line a mile long of people taking their turn to express their rage, while the people who were responsible sat at home watching the Rose Bowl.

We walked into our house at 5 a.m., and I was at my desk in the office at 6 a.m.,  reminiscing about the last all-nighter I pulled when Prince Charles and Princess Diana married … in 1981. Turns out the royal wedding was a much happier event.

Ultimately they offered us the equivalent of less than an airline ticket in AA miles so that we might get to enjoy “extended travel time” with them again in the future.

I don’t know what they offered the lady who was almost out of insulin or the women who had infants and toddlers to keep happy during this imprompu extended vacation, but I suspect it wasn’t enough for them either.

Next time, I’m driving my own car since I know both the crew and parking brake are pretty reliable.

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Cruising into a new year

It seems it is time to cruise into a new year.

I welcome it. Like many of you, I’m kind of tired of 2017 and think I’ll see it more clearly in the rearview mirror.

One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, put it in terms I can wrap my head around. Highly paraphrased, she said that new years are great because you get a shiny new one every single year no matter how badly you jacked up the last one.

This gives people like me hope.

It’s like trading in a car at the end of the year, all dinged up with cigarette burns in the seat and an engine that’s knocking. And then we get a brand new one! No miles, so clean, so incredibly undeserved.

And at the end of this new year, what our car looks like will be totally up to us.

I’m kind of fond of this car, but it’s time for a new one.

This year has been interesting, which is an elusive way of saying it has been full of friends, family, worries, surprises, understanding and unimaginable gratitude. And still, my car is a little dinged up. This scenario is probably like most everyone’s, I think.

Some months I’ve slid into sideways on two wheels; and others the most ambitious thing I did was get my tires rotated.

But come Monday, I’m going to wake up and there it will be – my brand new car. I think this is called Grace.

At any rate, this year my new car is a mythical Toyota Land Cruiser I’ve ordered in my mind due to the aura of adventure it has around it, as well as a large seating and towing capacity. I have big plans for the new year.

The best parts of 2017, after I thought about it, were the times I wandered furthest from my comfort zone. That was when I made my greatest strides, wrote the best parts of my story and learned the most about myself and others.

I met the most beautiful people, had the best talks, and took some of my greatest personal risks. And while I took some dings in the process, I still wouldn’t change it.

I haven’t made resolutions since about 1976 when I vowed I would meet Shawn Cassidy while I placed my left hand on the Tiger Beat poster on my bedroom wall. It didn’t work, and I lost trust in the process. But I’m thinking about trying it again.

So if I have any resolutions in the new year, it would be to continue to see what my new car is capable of.

I’m ready for my Land Cruiser, and for 2018.

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Christmas is on the radar (Also, this *is* your card)

It was my favorite Christmas growing up.

It was in 1971, and I was six years old. Our parents let us stay up late to watch the weather on KFDX because they had the Santa Claus tracker on radar. The radar in those days looked like a record album with a straight-line laser circling it and it blinked red when it detected Rudolph, who we all knew was leading the team of Christmas joy.

This particular Christmas at around 10:15 p.m., the local authority on such things was the meteorologist, known to me at the time as the weatherman.  He told us that Rudolph was taking off from Chicago, which meant he was in the country and on his way to the greater Wichita Falls area.

I knew enough to know that Santa wouldn’t stop at my house if I was awake, so I willed myself to be tired. Like super tired, only I wasn’t.

I shared a room with my three older sisters, and I had the top bunk so  I crawled up the ladder and got in bed with my stuffed gingerbread man, Clyde. Normal six-year-olds slept with teddy bears. I slept with a large gingerbread man … named Clyde.

The fabulous television program about the lovable and caring doctor, Marcus Welby, M.D., was on the TV and the last thing I remember was him talking to a patient with a concerned, yet caring look on his face.

The next thing I remember was I woke up and it was daylight. My only hope was that Santa didn’t show up before the unfortunate diagnosis the night before.

A glorious blue quilted-side baby carriage under the Christmas tree told me I had maintained a six-year streak of falling asleep before Santa made it to Texas.  I also received a blue and green plaid poncho that year, the perfect accessory for the new six-year-old mother of a plastic baby.

A lot of Chistmases have passed since then, but the local TV stations are still the go-to place to locate the exact whereabouts of the jolly one, only with more advanced radars.

It’s a tradition that I’m happy to see has stuck around, and also I hear that ponchos are making a comeback.

I no longer have a poncho or a baby carriage, but I still check on Santa’s whereabouts every year.

I love traditions, and even with people I love in different locations, I try to observe as many as I can.

Every year, I bake Christmas cookies, which I consider to be my spiritual Xanax. I bake them, I ice them and I take pictures of them to text to my daughter. Twenty years ago, I would have had to send her a letter after the film was processed.

We used to bake together every year, now we bake in different states. Same tradition, modified execution.

And there are some traditions I’m just bad at, like sending Christmas cards (or if I’m being honest, cards in general). Exhibit A:  this is your Christmas card and it has been for close to 20 years. I suppose this in itself is a tradition, which means I don’t totally suck at it.

But while we are on the subject, Merry Christmas. I truly wish for you a beautiful Christmas filled with traditions, old and new.

So turn off the TV and get some sleep. I hear Santa Claus is coming to town

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