A dear friend is starting a new adventure with her family far away from the Midwest.  So, a group of us thought a proper send-off was in order.  Since she’s heading to Virginia (for LOVERS), taking in a show featuring The Chippendales seemed an appropriate selection.  

Being in our late 30s to early 40s, we thought there was a slight  good definite chance we may not garner as much attention from these male dancers as, say, a 20something in a much too short skirt.  With that being said, we needed to perhaps enhance our selection of comfortable capris, Origami Owl jewelry, and Thirty-One purses.  Thus, a bridal veil (a comb with a small piece of tulle attached) and Bride-to-Be sash was added to our guest of honor’s ensemble.

Walking into the River City Casino,  we giggled at people yelling “Congratulations!”  to our pretend bride-to-be.  What distracted us all, though, and became much more fascinating was seeing people of all shapes, sizes, and ages carrying clocks with handles (yes, handles) out of the casino, some two-fisting the clocks.  Inside, this chronometer phenomenon continued to the point where we were unable to look away, with some stacked on adjacent slot machine chairs while others were shoved under poker tables as if it were a normal everyday occurrence, before we became obsessed with seeking out their various locales.  

Having taught ethnography writing and a self-described addict of observed human behavior, this scene was too good to be true.  So, we feigned poses near the timepieces in order to capture the moment for eternity (or until I have a mishap with my latest cell phone). 

Finally, our curiosity took over, and our imposter bride-to-be asked a clock handler for the scoop.  Apparently, invites were sent in the mail enticing top spenders to return to the casino with the promise of this wall ornamentation.  Case solved. 

Oh yeah . . . the stage performance was entertaining too, but 10:30 p.m. makes a late night for us “mature beyond our years” gals.

Book Club Babes: Bink and Gollie

The first official Book Club Babes discussion was over Miss Ella’s pick of Bink and Gollie written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee.  The Book Club Babe who selects the book also selects the time/location to ensure her presence.

A pancake bar with all of the fixings:  peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla whipped cream, chocolate chips, caramel sauce, etc., as well as an unending supply of chocolate milk (yummers!) was provided to initiate the connection to the book, the main characters’ favorite eats.

A second-grade (and forty-two-year-old) foodie’s dream . . .


Discussion then ensued using questions book club members had written in their journals prior to the meeting . . .

Next discussion:  Disney Frozen Junior Novel

Book Club Babes II: Thank You Bear

The inaugural meeting of our kindergarten book club far exceeded my expectations.  Allotting two hours so that the kiddos would have time to eat, discuss, craft, and play, I was thrilled when our eating and discussion over Greg Foley’s Thank You Bear lasted fifty minutes.  A book lover’s dream . . .

Upon arrival, bookies were given a plain box to decorate to her liking.  The box represents the one given to Mouse from Bear.  Members may then take the box home and use it for whatever they would like. . . perhaps, a found mouse.

After decorations were complete, we had dinner as a group complete with Teddy Grahams for dessert.

While we were eating, we went over the two simple rules for book club.
1.  Listen to others.
If someone is talking, we need to listen to what she is saying.  We will all have a chance to talk.
2.  Respect others.
We discussed how we are going to read a lot of books.  I stressed that it was all right not to like all the books we read, but instead of saying, “I don’t like the book you picked,” to another member, a member is to brainstorm what she would change about the book if she could.  Only kind words will be said to one another.

Discussion of Thank You Bear ensued with the assistance of my second-grade facilitator.  

Members brought their books (one on a Kindle- cool!) and could read along if they wished.  

Then a lively back and forth occurred before distribution of the journals.  

Since it was our first meeting, we went over how to use the journals: 1) draw a picture of a favorite scene, character, etc. from the book, and 2) write what they liked about the book or any questions they may have.

After an hour of play, budding readers were sent home with the fixings to make a bear thank you card as well as a bag full of gummy bears.

Next book:  Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are

Learn More about Author Andrew Way

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
We Were Soldiers

Describe your first kiss.

I was very nervous. As I never kissed another before, I wasn’t sure what to do. Thankfully, she took control and I left everything to her.


Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” has to be my favorite. No matter how many books I have read to my boys, this is always the one we all can recite.
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
Recognition to our fallen soldiers and sailors. I am a veteran and I know how it feels to be pushed aside. Giving fellow veterans their due is important to me. Many have sacrificed much so others may live.
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
Sturm Brightblade in the Dragonlance novels by Margaret Weis and Tracey Hickman. Sturm exemplifies a man of honor and sacrifice. By the end of the series, he gives his life in defense of his country.
Explain the worst job that you’ve held. 

I never really had one. Each had their own unique characteristic and I left each with great experiences. Now, I did work for McDonald’s for one day. So, I suppose it could be said that was my worst job.
A quote that motivates you . . .  
“Leave everything you do better than it was when you arrived. Even if it means sharpening a pencil.”

An old supervisor told me that.
Three Wishes . . .
To be debt free.

To be able to control time.

The Cincinnati Reds to win a World Series again.


The title of that one song you would take with you on that deserted island. . .

Moving On by Asking Alexandria


Favorite game you played as a child . . .

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
An understanding that not everything in life will go as planned. Those bumps, pitfalls, and challenges experienced are not just there to make for a bad day, but to prepare for what is to come next.

The World as I Changed It

p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; direction: ltr; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); line-height: 120%; widows: 2; orphans: 2; }p.western { font-family: “Calibri“,sans-serif; font-size: 11pt; }p.cjk { font-family: “Calibri“,sans-serif; font-size: 11pt; }p.ctl { font-family: “Times New Roman”,serif; font-size: 11pt; }

In 1999, I enlisted in the Air Force to be an Avionics Technician. Upon completion of basic training and technical school, I was assigned to Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. I married into what can be called an “instant family” with a pregnant woman and her first son in 2000. I did not foresee this as a problem until later. During this time, I was having training issues as well. In order to continue a career in the military, it is required to become proficient in that particular field of expertise. This includes testing into higher levels, but no matter how hard I studied, I could not pass the tests to be considered proficient. I also had a bad attitude at the time. I became what people called a “dirt-bag Airman”- someone that cannot or will not hold his/her own weight in daily duties. I blamed my shortfalls on the training I received or on other people. I would report to work in a unkempt uniform and no haircut. I would refuse to do my assigned duties and was extremely disrespectful to my peers and supervision.
My world was falling apart. I was not able to progress in my career; my wife had become adulterous and was destroying our financial standings. I was on the verge of losing it all. Then, I reached the breaking point. I was assigned to the tool and supply shop. Our duties included supplying tools and equipment to the other sections. We also conducted inspections of these tools, packed them for deployments, and moved heavier equipment during exercises by way of forklift. I had just failed my second test for progression. Usually, this means dismissal from the Air Force and the squadron commander was looking forward to sending me on my way. With the fact that I could not progress my training, show financial responsibility, and displayed conduct that would make any supervisor cringe, he had all the justification he needed to sign the forms without hesitation. This was on a Monday. On Tuesday, while at home, I received a phone call from command. I was instructed to report to the base commander Wednesday morning, and I had better look sharp. The next morning, I arrived at the Commander’s office with a fresh haircut and clean pressed uniform. I looked like I had just left basic training; my hair was short and within standards, I was clean shaven, my uniform was starched and pressed and my boots were shined to a mirrored gloss. For twenty minutes, I waited nervously for him to call me into his office. I was so nervous, I could not stop shaking. I knew I did not want out of the Air Force, but I had made such a mess of my career, I did not think there was any way for it to be saved . . . I was wrong.
The commander, a gaunt, middle-aged man with graying hair, beckoned me to his office. As I approached I was greeted with a smile and an apology for taking so long to call on me. His office was well lit with decorations and awards from his time as a pilot and commander of various commands and old aircraft parts mounted to plaques, displaying people’s thanks for his leadership. Flags from various countries he visited or served in were displayed proudly along with the plaques and various other displays. His desk was u-shaped and made of solid oak. Strewn along one side of it were records. These records were mine. Apparently, he had been reviewing them before he called me into his office. The meeting was short as only a few questions were asked. One portion of the conversation I distinctly remember is, “I have reviewed your records. With how your test scores are, how in the world did you fail that test twice?!” I could not answer his question. The commander then made a comment that will change my life forever. “I’m going to hold onto your separation package until Monday. You have the rest of this week and the weekend to come to a decision. Take this decision seriously as I am laying a lot on the line. Do you or do you not want to continue to serve in the Air Force? Let me know of your decision Monday morning, and we will go from there.” I was shocked!
The rest of the week was a blur. All I remember was discussing the decision with my father and my wife. It was not a hard decision to make since I did not want to leave the Air Force like this. Come Monday morning, I promptly called the commander and gave him my answer to stay. “Okay,” he stated, “For the next six months, you are hereby placed on probation. At the end of the six months, your conduct will be evaluated. Should you be found as a promising airman, you will be reassigned to a new profession. Good luck and if you will excuse me I have some other phone calls to make.” With that, I bid him a good day and hung up the phone. My crumbling world had just been thrown a lifeline.
My supervision decided to keep me at the tool shop. As I could not lay hands on aircraft, it seemed the most logical place to go. Glen, the assistant flight chief for the tool shop become my mentor. He knew what it was like to reach rock bottom and be able to recover from his mistakes so he helped guide me in not only my duties, but my personal mistakes as well. I made the decision to file for divorce and say goodbye to our failed relationship. Glen offered his home to me, giving me the opportunity to recover, both mentally and financially. Over the time span of the six months, I had become an exemplary Airman. With Glen’s help and a few others, I had rebuilt my world. A year later, I was awarded the right to a new profession, and I became a Knowledge Operator. I met my current wife and, ten years later, I am still happily married with three boys, an accomplished career, and the memory of that day when someone saw potential in me and gave me the push I needed to release it.
By Andrew Way
A parent of three boys who enjoys games and carpentry.

Learn More about Author Tayler Resuriz

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
Man on Fire

Describe your first kiss.

I was in fifth grade, and I had a boyfriend at the time. We were at the sock hop, and he called me outside. So I went outside, and whenever I went outside, he bent over to tell me a secret and then he kissed me and ran away into the darkness of the night.


Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom because I always thought it was very interesting. 
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
Violence against children because I do not think it is right to abuse a child. 
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
Winnie the Pooh because he always has no problems and no worries, and he seems to have a pretty easy life even though he has an addiction to honey.
Explain the worst job that you’ve held. 

I have never had a job.
A quote that motivates you . . .  
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. It is the quote tattooed on my back.
Three Wishes . . .
1) that my mom gets better, and stops being an alcoholic
2) that my half brother and I could trade places because I do not want him growing up the way he is
3) that my half brother is completely healthy and normal


The title of that one song you would take with you on that deserted island. . .

Three Little Birds 


Favorite game you played as a child . . .

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
anything they would like

You Will Never Forget, but You Can Always Forgive

p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; direction: ltr; line-height: 120%; text-align: left; widows: 2; orphans: 2; }a:link { color: rgbAlcohol is one of the biggest problems society faces. It is a problem among all age groups from college students to high school students and adults. From experience I know drinking can be hard to stop. It is considered a depressant, which is why many people become addicted to it because they think it makes them forget about their problems. My mom has alcoholism; I will never forget what she has done to me. But I always have and always will forgive her when she makes mistakes because no one is perfect.
There are many dangerous effects on the body caused from drinking too much alcohol such as anemia because it makes blood cell count low. Cancer can be caused from drinking too much and is known to affect the liver. One other dangerous long term effect is cirrhosis. When this happens the liver cannot function; it can also cause epilepsy which can trigger seizures. There is also a disease called fatty liver disease, and that is currently what my mom has right now.
It is more harmful to the body if drinking is started earlier in life. A young person’s body cannot cope with alcohol the same way an adult’s body can. Drinking is more harmful to teens than adults because their brains are still developing throughout adolescence and well into young adulthood. As long as I can remember, my mom has drunk alcohol. She told me she started drinking whenever she was in middle school. She has not stopped since then.
Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol usein the United States. Whenever I used to see my mother drink, she would start when she woke up and drink all day long. Sometimes she would not be able to pick me up from school because she was so wasted she would forget. So I had teachers or the principal take me home every once in a while.
My mother’s drinking has always caused issues in my life; some things I remember well was the time the police had to come for me because she was having sexual intercourse with other men that were not my dad so I called the cops on her. After this happened the child protective services were involved because my mom was drunk and on drugs whenever the cops came. Another incident caused her to hit my dad in a hotel because she was drunk and wanted to have sex, and I was lying in bed with them. He ended up pulling the phone socket out of the wall and throwing it across the room because he was angry. He did not want to hurt her; he was bleeding from his nose where my mother’s wedding ring took a chunk off of his nose. This all happened when I was about five.
Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, and continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems. After everything that happened when I was a child and after multiple attempts to send her to the best rehabilitation centers all over the country and having an intervention, she still left me and my dad. She left us because she was not allowed to drink anymore, or child protective services were going to take me away.
Most alcoholics are afraid to admit or see that they are addicted to drinking so they never think they have a problem. My mother, still to this day, says she never was an alcoholic, and it does not hurt her to drink even though she is killing herself. People cannot change for other people; they have to change for themselves, or they will never become any better. I learned that my mom did not want to change for herself. She wanted to change for my dad and me, and she tried over and over but she kept failing over and over. I could not imagine having a disease like alcoholism and not being able to fix it and letting people down over and over.
Counseling and therapy will not always work when people are alcoholics. It is one of the worst addictions someone can have, and one of the hardest to overcome. They might fail at it many times until it finally hits them, and they change for themselves because they know it is what is best for them. Sometimes it is easier for alcoholics to change if they have something to motivate them, but even then it might not help. Like my dad always told me, alcoholics have to hit rock bottom, and once they hit that point they will want to change. Rock bottom to me is where the person has nothing left; that person lost their loved ones and are going nowhere in life anymore and that person finally decides she wants to change for the better.
I do not understand how people can put their loved ones through so much pain and how they can handle watching their families go through heartbreak. Sometimes people can really fuck up and ruin everything they have going on. And after they mess up, it is really hard to forgive them. And sometimes when you do not want to forgive them you have to; someone has to be the bigger person. Especially if that someone brought someone else into the world. I did not talk to my mom for a few years until she brought my brother into this world, and once she did, I slowly started to talk to her so I could see my brother.
I have a beautiful five-year-old brother that I would do anything for in this world. He means more to me than anyone; I think about him all the time because I know he does not have a dad like I have. So it must be really hard for him because he is at the same age I was when I started realizing everything that was going on.
My mom left me when I was in second grade; we did not talk for about a year after I went to counseling and therapy because I was so upset. And in therapy children draw pictures about how they feel, about memories they remember, about what happened, and about what makes them upset. They also say to forgive and try and move on from the past, but that is the hardest thing in the world, especially when that person and yourself were so close. Drinking can lead to many things. While my mom was drunk, she overdosed once on some pills and ended up in the hospital. It can make your mind do bad things especially when blacking out and having no remembrance of what happened. But I do not agree that blacking out is an excuse to mess up because knowing how drunk you are could stop that, and you know your tolerance level; you should never acquire to that point. And she did almost every day before it was even twelve o’ clock.
Alcohol overall is not good in any way shape or form. Never can one win with it; no good comes out of it. People use it as an escape from their feelings or to have a good time, but people can have a good time without drinking and can escape their feelings other ways like through seeing a counselor and talking about your feelings. Instead people drink to feel numb and to run away from their feelings, but when drunk it makes people even more upset at first. It takes many times of drinking to be able to block things out, and even when you do, they can sometime slip through.
Because of everything my mother put me through and still does now, I learned a key quality to have that most people do not have, and that quality is forgiveness. I would forgive almost anyone for anything. Because holding something against someone will not do anything for you but hold you back from happiness. When life becomes rough and people mess up, there is a choice to forgive them and be happy, but still know that they did wrong and not hold it against them. Or one may not forgive them, but that will not help anything because undoing what that person has done is not an option. You cannot unsing a song that is sung. They cannot forgive themselves, and you will never forget, but can always forgive.
By Tayler Resuriz
Tay, Wrestler, Texas > Illinois
Forgive, but never forget.

Learn More about Author Bryce Caulton

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . . 

Describe your first kiss.

great but quick!


Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .

David the Bad Kid
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
innocent people dying to violence
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
I would be Soda Pop because he was cool kid who liked to have fun.
Explain the worst job that you’ve held. 

I haven’t had a bad job because I’ve only had one job.
A quote that motivates you . . .  
“Hard Work Pays Off”
Three Wishes . . .
start next year in football
become rich
and for everyone in my life to stay healthy


The title of that one song you would take with you on that deserted island. . .

We Made It


Favorite game you played as a child . . .

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
bad grammar

The King Knows Best

p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; direction: ltr; line-height: 120%; text-align: left; widows: 2; orphans: 2; }a:link { color: rIn Italo Calvino’s Italian short story “The Happy Man’s Shirt,” the king is an effective father to his son by showing that he cares and pays attention to the changes in his son, “A king had an only son that he thought the world of, but his son was unhappy. He would spend days on end at his window staring into space” (1). Being that the king only has one son, he wanted what was best for him like any father. Most fathers struggle with connecting to their children.  According to an essay “Becoming A More Effective Father” written by Isarel Helfand  “fatherhood brings with it both conflict and satisfaction. Many men enjoy the time they spend with their children and feel effective as a parent. But fatherhood often comes with much struggle.” Compared to the king in the story, he struggled with finding out what made his son so unhappy, so he called in help for advice about his son. Also, it shows conflict because the king thought the prince was in love, “if there’s a particular girl you fancy, tell me, and I’ll arrange for you to marry her, no matter whether she’s the daughter of the most powerful king on earth of the poorest peasant girl alive”(1). The king realized the boy is just unhappy. Men active with their children live, protect, and go through hell to make them happy, and that is exactly what the king did. He found the issue to the prince’s problem which was his unhappiness, and then he found a solution. It was not the best solution because he was taking from someone else, but it was caring and thoughtful. The king had to receive the shirt of someone who was happy, someone who lived a good life. As well as caring, being protective and going to the end of the world, men want what is best for their children. 
The king searched high and low to find an awesome and happy person to exchange shirts, so his son would be happy. The first happy person the king met was a priest. The priest was happy and willing to work for the king, but that did nothing to make the king want his shirt, “I’m seeking a man who was happy just as he is, not one who’s trying to better his lot” (3). He wanted someone who was completely happy. Secondly, the king sent his ambassadors out to find someone else for his son who did not fit either. It was a neighboring king that the ambassadors found; his only problem was what he thought would happen after he died. “But at the same time I worry because I’ll have to die one day and leave it all. I cannot sleep at night for worrying about that!” (4).  Finally, the king found himself a happy man. It was a young man singing in the vineyard. The king asked the young man would he like to be taken to the capital to be friends with the king. The young man respectfully told the king no because he could not consider changing places and leaving the pope. The king was excited when he heard the young man’s answers to his questions; he was someone who was happy where they were and did not want to leave. The king found his happy shirt and that shows how a father will go to the end of the world and wants the best for their child. The king could have taken anybody’s shirt if he were happy, but he wanted the right one, the perfect one. He is showing that he is an effective father and wants nothing but his son to be happy.
By Bryce Caulton
A cool, relaxed guy who loves sports and animals. 


p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; direction: ltr; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); line-height: 120%; }p.western { font-family: “Liberation Serif”,”Times New Roman”,serif; font-size: 12pt; }p.cjk { font-family: “Droid Sans”; font-size: 12pt; }p.ctl { font-family: “Lohit Hindi”; font-size: 12pt; }

Yet another unfortunate consequence of my parents divorcing was the introduction of Margaret into my young life. Margaret, the mother of the man considered my stepfather, became my mother’s mother-in-law shortly after she divorced my father. 

A woman in her eighties and me a single digit, I remember the first meeting as if it was yesterday. My mother, her husband, Margaret, and I all crammed around a metal table awkwardly placed between the refrigerator and back door of this stuffy worn house. Margaret had thinning grey hair which she repeatedly patted with gnarled fingers, thick glasses which magnified her shifty eyes, and teeth which periodically sought escape from her mouth before she somehow lassoed them back in with her tongue. My mother told me not to stare, but I found it difficult not to glance her way during a breakfast of fried eggs, salty bacon, and toast with unevenly spread butter. Not having much of anything to say to anyone, I ate silently while listening to my mother agree with everything the man said and to the clicking of Margaret’s teeth on their perpetual journey from inside her mouth to outside her mouth and back again. Finished with my plate, my mother asked if I cared for more bacon. Before I had a chance to nod my head in agreement, Margaret shoved the paper towel lined porcelain plate of bacon in my direction with the remark, “Go ahead, Piggy! Eat it all!” Surprised by the sudden clanking of plates, I sat perfectly still frightened by this old woman’s outburst. 

In the months and years to follow, more Margaret tantrums ensued when least expected. One time while on leave from her nursing home, the man bathed Margaret in the only tub in the house. She somehow escaped the bathroom half dressed yelling someone or so and so was after her. Too engrossed in my television program in the next bedroom, this was usually the time I increased the volume.

My mother and this man liked to what I refer to as “dump” Margaret on me for extended periods of time. With the one television in the house being in the guest bedroom upstairs, one could sit on the hard bed or in the wooden rocking chair. With Margaret with me, I had no choice but to sit on the side of the bed with the maroon bedspread. While watching Hee Haw or whatever happened to be on these Saturday evenings, Margaret would rock and mumble horrible sentiments about me and my mother under her breath. Since I knew it would be hours before my mother would take a break from her smoking and listening to country music with the man in order to climb the creaky stairs to check on me, I decided one night to simply gaze at Margaret. I could sense Margaret knew I was doing it, but I did not care because I knew no one would believe her if she told. To me, this man and his mother were nutty, and I despised every minute I had to spend with them in this twenty-four-hour-shades-drawn house. 

When the man was at work, my mother’s solution to her mother-in-law situation was to jump on Margaret’s furniture. This was the same furniture in the same arrangement as when Margaret lived in the house and raised her two sons, one being the man. Finally, though, my mother’s sofa assaults came to a conclusion with Margaret’s passing as well as my being called by names eponymous with farm animals.