The Bachelor Hit a New Low Tonight

After watching The Bachelor tonight, I can honestly say that it has reached a new low.

the bachelor

I can’t honestly say that I’ll never watch it again, because we all know it’s about as addictive as crack. But, much like crack, I crave watching it, need to get me some, and then after it’s over I’m left feeling empty and soulless.  At least that’s how it was tonight.

I can handle Ashley L. telling America she’s a virgin followed by a display of very un-virgin-y behavior.

I can handle all the girls being AMAZED that she is a virgin, as though that is a completely foreign concept.

I can handle seeing the Bachelor kiss most of the girls on the same night (even though I kind of hope they all break out in hand, foot and mouth disease in the next episode.)

I can handle seeing women drink to excess and then embarrass themselves on national television. After all, most of these girls weigh about 80 pounds, are too nervous to eat, and then consume liquor for hours upon hours. Frankly, I don’t know how most of them are still standing at the rose ceremony.

I can even handle it when the Bachelor decides not to pick the plus size model, and she goes home in tears, saying that she should just get used to rejection. Because really, that’s the same thing that happens to all the girls that don’t get picked, and there will be plenty of guys waiting to date her after they see her on TV.

What really bothers me though, is when they air a young woman having a psychotic break, and then all of America laughs at her. Because I am about 99% sure that is what happened.

Anyone who has had a loved one suffer from a serious mental illness knows it is not funny. Anyone who has ever worked with patients who suffer from psychotic symptoms knows it should not be entertainment. Anyone who has ever experienced such symptoms knows that it is not a walk in the park. It is painful, and sad, and life-altering, and my heart goes out to Ashley S.

So please hold the snarky tweets and vine videos about how she is “crazy,” because it is likely that she is, in fact, displaying symptoms of a disease she cannot control which will make her life and her family’s lives very, very hard. And all those snarky tweets and vine videos are just our culture agreeing that those people should be the ones sent home, if you will. The ones who make us uncomfortable, and then a little scared, until we make them into a joke.

The thing is, I don’t understand how nobody involved in the production of the show realized that she probably needed to get out of that environment ASAP, and get somewhere where people cared about her health rather than laughing at her misfortune. I mean, when someone gets injured on The Bachelor (like when a staff member jumps off a balcony to avoid being caught with one of the bachelorettes, for example), they get taken to the hospital, right? I’ve seen some tweets suggesting she was drunk, but frankly, we all know what drunk looks like, and that is not what it looks like. So come on, ABC, at least let’s use this as a teachable moment. People who display psychotic behavior need help, not mockery.

I feel like at some point in the future, society is going to be disgusted with our ethical choices in the entertainment industry, particularly with reality television.

And I never thought I would say this, but I’m a little disgusted myself, and I almost don’t want to watch The Bachelor anymore.



2015: The Year of the New, Improved and Better-Smelling Me

You may or may not remember when I posted about my husband discovering my “weekly Life Schedule” excel spreadsheet. And how there were only two “shower” cells.

So one of my New Year’s resolutions is, of course, to do more planning and be more clean. I think you’ll be pleased to know that on my new weekly schedule, I include a cell labeled “hygiene” for every single day of the week. Impressive, right? I do have to fit in things like fingernail cutting and baths for the kids during those half hours as well, but I still think it will add up to a better-smelling me.

I even decided on some quarterly goals for 2015 that go beyond basic hygiene. Here they are:

Resolution #1: Finish organizing my life. In 2011, I purchased a book called How to Organize Your Life in 1 Year. So it’s about to be 2015, and I only have two of the 12 sections left to go through. Pretty great progress, right? (Ok, so it would have been great progress If the book was called How to Organize Your Life in 3.5 Years, but that’s just details.) My goal is to do this in the first quarter.

Resolution #2: Get my yard under control (in the second quarter, since I clearly can’t dig up my jungle garden when it’s 20 degrees outside.) Our yard is usually a cross between rain forest (judging by the number of snakes) and swamp (when it rains and our gutters are clogged, which they usually are). I don’t really mind this, but I feel like it’s not particularly considerate of the neighbors. So come spring time, I’m going to drink a pot of coffee and go wild, then put a nice maintenance plan on my calendar (which may or may not be implemented). And by the way, I’ve never used a lawnmower in my life, so I might ask my husband to teach me. Or I might just let him keep cutting the grass. It will all depend on how big the pot of coffee is.

Resolution #3: In the third quarter, I will Get in shape. I will magically squeeze 30 minutes of exercise into my day. Probably in place of the “hygiene” cell. Just kidding. I’ll probably just keep using the stairs instead of the elevator at work and call it a workout. But if I also do sit-ups during the commercials when I’m watching The Bachelor, I’m sure that soon the “stubborn belly fat” that the internet keeps advertising to me about will melt away. And then the stretch marks and the weird post-baby shape of my belly button will dissolve and look like they did pre-babies. And then I’ll sprout wings and a magic wand to transport me to the beach. It’s gonna be great!!

Resolution #4: Pick a goal for the fourth quarter. A lot can happen in a year, so we’ll see how we feel about this one mid-year. But whatever the goal ends up being, I’ll be sure to include it in my blog, because I know how much you all care about the mundane details of my life.

rafi shocked


Raising My Voice at Christmas

I am at work, on the phone with my husband, and I am trying not to raise my voice.

“Can you at least try? You’re not even trying.”

I am in my office, with papers piled around my desk, none of which I will touch until I put down my cell phone, let my adrenaline settle, turn my mind to more mundane tasks, less threatening things.

I’m talking to the person I love best in the world, and our words are like sharp stones grating on each other.

It is almost Christmas. He tries not to raise his voice.


“I’ll do what you want. Just please let’s not fight now.”

We retreat to our quiet hearts.

A call on my office phone brings me back. I take a deep breath. I put on my professional face. I answer. The man on the other end wants to “discuss work over lunch.”

I have fallen for this before. He discussed nothing but how rich he is, nothing but his thoughts on the inherent sexuality in male-female relationships, subtly tiptoeing around what he really wanted, feeling out whether I might have some inappropriate interest.

“I am a very interesting man,” he had said.

And you don’t always drink beer. But when you do…

dos equis

I will be smarter this time. I am careful not to raise my voice.

“What specifically would you like to discuss?”

The man on the phone drones on, buzzing like my anger.

Seething, simmering, slowly watering itself down until it melts into a sloppy puddle of calm.

It is exhausting trying not to raise your voice. But it is Christmas.

I go home early and put the kids down for their naps. Rafi keeps getting out of bed, interrupting my quiet. I feel as though he is pushing my buttons on purpose. I try not to raise my voice.

“You will stay in bed now.” He feels the rough edge of my words and sulks back to his room.

I start scrolling through my Facebook feed and see yet another ignorant post.

There seem to be more and more. Something stereotyping people of color as violent criminals. Something stereotyping police officers as over-aggressive bigots. The ones that oversimplify complex issues so that it’s easy to cast blame. The ones that suggest that black people or gay people or Muslim people or undocumented people are not really people made in God’s image with individual hearts, but categories to be looked down upon. The ones that say that liberals are ruining America or that conservatives hate progress.

They make me feel defensive, and I want to respond, I want to RAISE MY VOICE, but it’s Christmas.

We are celebrating the birth of the only person who had the right to throw the first stone, but chose not to.

When I think I am righteous, it is exhausting trying not to throw stones. But knowing I have been shown such grace, they all but fall from my hands.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This is why he came. To help us drop the stones. To preserve justice and mercy.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,”

To teach us to love people, all kinds of people. The God of the universe, humble, arriving as a helpless baby to serve and to ask us to do the same. Gently telling us to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and visit the prisoner. Redeeming people – tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, little children.

“and you will find rest for your souls.”

There is no rest in throwing stones.

There is rest in receiving grace.

So this coming year, let’s try to respond to one another gracefully instead of raising our voices in anger. Instead, let’s raise our voices in praise for the hope that we have. Let’s resolve to speak the truth, but with kindness and humility.

I Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

And let’s bear Christmas in mind all year as we interact with our families, our Facebook frenemies and even the dos equis men in our lives.

Stay thirsty my friends.

(For the word of God.)



A Few Words for Grandpop

One year ago today, my Grandpop went home to God.


My mom asked me if I would like to say something at his funeral, but I couldn’t think of what I would say. Now that I’ve had some time, I have just a few words – a couple of things I wish I’d said.

Grandpop was always focused on others and put them ahead of himself. When we spent time together, which was often, he was always focused on me, on telling me how proud of me he was and on asking me questions about my life. I don’t think I ever put enough effort into learning about him.

That’s not to say I didn’t know anything about his earlier life – he had lots of stories and I remember many of them well. Stories about surviving the depression. Stories about being in the Navy during the Second World War – being on a ship during storms, about rescuing and caring for a little Japanese girl they found in the water. Stories about meeting and marrying my grandmother and raising my mom and my uncle. Stories about reading to the kids at the library, and taking kids in the neighborhood to church. You see, he was a living example of what it really means to be an American Christian.

He spoke in a sentimental yet strong way about the value of a loving family, of children and of education. I can remember the sound of his voice singing hymns. He adored watching me play volleyball or hearing me play piano, no matter how badly, and used to record my brother and me singing on cassette tapes. I listened to these tapes after my brother passed away.

Now I have a DVD of Grandpop and the rest of the family set to the tune of “It Is Well with My Soul,” his favorite hymn.  Around the time of his death, I played that hymn over and over on his old piano which is at my house, until I know my family was sick of it, but they didn’t complain. And my son loves to watch the DVD. It is so sweet to be able to see and hear our loved ones after they pass on, even if we know we have to let them go.el lago

It is such a strange thing to let go. I couldn’t think of what to say when I saw him for the last time either. How do you say goodbye?

My grandpop was quite sick for a while, and it was hard to watch him suffer. The day he died there was a snow storm and I was there at his house with my one month old baby, and my boy and my husband. My parents and Uncle and the hospice nurse were there too. She told me I should say goodbye and they left me alone with Grandpop.

And do you know, I couldn’t think of a thing to say. You see I’m much better at writing than actually speaking, especially when I’m emotional, and especially when the other person can’t speak back.

So I just held his hand and told him that it was snowing and started singing Silent Night, because that was one of the songs I can remember singing with him. He was quiet and still, but they said he could hear us. I started crying when I got to the “sleep in heavenly peace” part. I didn’t want him to go, but I wanted him to be in heavenly peace. And I knew he already knew all the important things – that I loved him, that I would miss him, that he was the best Grandpop a person could have.

But I still wish I could have managed to put those things into words. I would have said, Grandpop, I know you don’t feel good and I’m so sorry you’re in pain. I know not too long from now you’ll be in a place where there’s no more pain, and you will fellowship with the One who will somehow make it all worthwhile, and it will be beyond beautiful. You taught me that and it is well with my soul. I love you.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelations 21:4

An Apology to my Husband’s Beard

This is my husband’s beard:

beard rafa

I had a hard time learning to appreciate this beard, and there are a number of reasons for that.

First of all, my husband is a handsome guy. He has perfect little white teeth and dimples and he’s really quite stunning with a five o’clock shadow, or a chin strap. But yowombat-wallpaper_w520u can’t see any of that when he has what appears to be a wombat on his face.

Secondly, he gets little pieces of food, sauce, lint, etc. stuck in it and then if we’re kissing later I sometimes get a flashback of that.

It sort of reminds me of a caveman, or a Biblical character such as Noah, or perhaps a Viking that pillages the occasional village. This isn’t really so bad since those guys are all dead and that look could be considered vintage.



But then sometimes, he looks a lot more like a Amish man from Lancaster than a Presbyterian from Mexico, and that is just confusing. Like what is that Amish man doing wearing a tee-shirt instead of suspenders? And using an iPod?? And those boots look awfully fancy! Oh wait, that’s a sombrero, not a straw hat. Silly me.

straw hat sombrero

Also, sometimes when it’s really cold, he wears thermal underwear to bed, and you can imagine my consternation when I wake up next to Pa Ingalls.  Or when he wears his red plaid flannel jacket to work, and I come out of the bathroom and WHOA there’s a lumber jack in my house.

So, you see, this beard has caused me some issues. But recently, I’ve been making a serious effort to love the beard.

It all started one night when we were lying in bed and one of us found a little teddy bear that one of the kids had left under the covers. He patted it gently, then laid it sweetly against his neck and wrapped the beard hair around it like he was swaddling a baby, all while humming a lullaby. And that’s when I knew that while this beard may look dirty, itchy, and a little bit like it should belong to a terrorist, it is, at its core, a bringer of comfort and love.

My man is happy under that beard.

Sure, he might be compensating for his hair, which is getting just a little bit thinner.  So while his head gets shinier and colder, his face is getting furrier and cozier.  But who doesn’t want a nice, cozy face in the winter time?

I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to see his handsome features every now and then, or that I’m never jolted by nightmare images of bugs crawling out of the fur, but if he’s happy, I should be happy too, right? I mean, there are plenty of issues for us to work through without worrying about each other’s facial hair. Well, I mean, hopefully he doesn’t worry about mine.  But he does put up with me only showering a few times a week, so how can I complain?

Sometimes people ask me if I like the beard and if I say no, they give me the “you need to get that guy under control” look. But I’ve come to realize that really, I don’t.  Maybe if I were his mommy or his supervisor I would have to approve of his choices of wardrobe and grooming, but dang it, he’s a beard boobsgrown man (as clearly demonstrated by his ability to grow a GIANT beard.)

The media image of the bumbling husband who can’t be trusted to tie his own shoes without the help of his superhero wife is played out. Wives, we should expect more from our men, and going along with that, we should let go of all of that responsibility and control.

Yup, another nugget of classic marital advice from yours truly.

I may not understand the allure of carrying around several extra pounds of hair on your face, but I can appreciate the manliness. Similarly, I may not like the way my husband picks up our kids by the backs of their shirts and carries them around like puppies, but when I get home from work, the kids are happy and healthy and the house is not in shambles, and then, he goes to work for 8 hours. So really, I should be thanking my lucky stars that this man (and his beard) is mine.

Hands off, ladies. This lumberjack is taken.

So I’ve started to feel like I should say a few words to the beard.

Beard, you may not be well groomed, but you always smell like soap, and I thank you for that. I thank you for keeping my husband’s face warm in the winter time, especially as his head gets colder. I’m sorry that I wanted to destroy you for so long. May you grow and prosper. May you always be full. May you continue to teach me life lessons about letting go of the things that don’t matter and trusting my husband’s judgement. And may you never be chopped to pieces in the dark of the night by a maniacal wife.

But if you are, may you rest in peace.



I Married an Undocumented Immigrant: Executive Action

Last night, the president announced that he was taking executive action to shield some 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation for the next 3 years. He did not offer a path to citizenship for any segment of the population, but predictably, cries of amnesty rang out across the internet. But a midst the cries of “Unconstitutional!” and “Sue!” and “This will further divide the political parties!” and even, “He didn’t do enough!” we must remember the cries of the young man able to see his parents for the first time in decades; the cries of the mother who can take a breath of relief that for a while, at least, she can move freely without the fear of separation from her baby; and yes, the cries of the father who still does not qualify because while his children grew up here, they were not born here. And if you are brave enough, imagine your own cries if you were desperate to give your children a better life, but it could happen only at the risk that you might be taken away from them. The cries are real, because this action affects real, living breathing people living real lives. I’m posting this again to remind us of that reality.


I Married an Undocumented Immigrant

By ecoggs  |  Posted July 9, 2014  |  United States

CNN PRODUCER NOTE     ecoggs was inspired to share her story with CNN after reading another iReporter’s personal essay about being undocumented.

When she was nine months pregnant, her husband was arrested and jailed in August 2011 for not paying a ticket for driving without a license, she said. As she panicked and drove to bail him out, she realized this is probably something a lot of mixed-status immigrant families go through.

“What happened to us has given me a small taste of the fear that undocumented families live with every day.”

Read My Story

15 Tips for the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But that can come with holiday stress, so make sure you check out the following gifs, I mean tips, to make your holidays happy:


1.) Spend lots of quality time with your loved ones. It’s supposed to look like this:



2.) But it won’t. Despite what Hallmark tells you, nobody’s holidays are perfect, so make sure you set healthy boundaries regarding spending time with loved ones.

hurt feelings


3.) Start thinking about your holiday shopping early, by making a list of all the people you plan to buy gifts for, and how much you’d like to spend.

make it rain


4.) Then, make yourself a gift budget based on money you can actually afford to spend.

pick it up


5.) If you think you can’t stick to your budget because of gift expectations, consider giving thoughtful, hand-made gifts. Your loved ones will so appreciate the meaning and time you spent coming up with them.

cooper coupons


6.) Since you don’t actually have much money or time, consider buying things online that merely look expensive.

nobody talks about it


7.) Maintain an attitude of thankfulness and optimism.

i just like to smile


8.) But still expect a few bumps in the road.



9.) Savor the excitement that your kids have about Christmas morning.

santa's coming


10.) But to avoid trust issues down the road, consider letting your kids know that Santa isn’t real.



11.) To combat the holiday blues, be sure to take care of yourself through diet and exercise.

diet and exercise


12.) Don’t skip out on your self-help/support groups just because of holiday business. Maintaining your support system during stressful or emotional times is one of the keys to good mental health.

calming circle


13.) ‘Tis the season to get a DUI. So make sure you drink responsibly. Keep hydrated, and decide how many you will have in advance. Most importantly, make sure you eat first. Fruitcake before eggnog, people, FRUITCAKE BEFORE EGGNOG.

penny eggnog


14.) And if you’re someone like me, try to remember that wine dissolves your filter, and you may want to avoid drinking altogether due to the risk of oversharing.



15.) Finally, be sure to follow food safety procedures during all festivities, and while eating leftovers. You don’t want to experience fever-induced delirium brought on by salmonella.

kramer turkey