Training for the Mom Olympics

I dashed through high winds and zigzagged between the parked station wagons, Pintos, and VW Bugs, in the pursuit of a runaway cart in the grocery store parking lot.

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The cart sped through the crowded parking lot toward an intersection attempting to mar the glossy finishes of luxury SUVs and sports cars.Picture 500760

And then I knew what I must do. The situation at hand had left me little choice.

I knelt down and tightened the laces on my Brooks Ariel running shoes, thankful I wasn’t wearing flip flops today.

Then, with the speed of a cheetah and the grace of a gazelle, I took off across the parking lot after the shopping cart.

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My heart pounded. Would I be fast enough?

Finally, I reached for the shopping cart handle just seconds before what would have been a disastrous situation. I wiped the sweat from my brow. Another rogue cart apprehended in the name of justice!

I returned to our SUV, climbed in, and glanced into the back seat. My kids appeared in shock with mouths wide open. “Mom!” Doodle gasped. “You were amazing. You should be in the Olympics – the Mom Olympics!”

So, as of today, I have begun training for the 2020 Mom Olympics. On the application, I listed my qualifications:

  • Carrying my children everywhere when they were younger (which built strong biceps and triceps);
  • Bending and stooping to pick up the toys and food my children continually threw on the floor from their high chairs when they were babies (which built strong quad muscles);
  • Hurdling over toys left strewn across the living room floor;

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  • Dexterity and balance in hopping on one foot (in agony) whenever I stepped on a Lego or fossilized Cheerio left on the floor;
  • The recent runaway cart episode showing my aptitude for speed and finesse;
  • Totally built biceps and shoulder muscles from constantly lifting and hauling the gym bag that my kids and I share to the Y; duffle bag
  • Running the kids everywhere for their activities for the past several years (built endurance as a long-distance runner);
  • Experience in juggling (juggling multiple tasks as a wife and mom).

Happily, I was approved by the Mom Olympics CEO to participate. See you in Tokyo in 2020!

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Tweetables:

Why I’m training for the Mom Olympics (click to tweet)

Moms can you identify? Training for the Mom Olympics (click to tweet)

Got humor? Training for the Mom Olympics (click to tweet)

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8 Ways to Know You are Sleep Deprived…

When my oldest was born, she awoke every 20 minutes during the night for a feeding.  I calculated the amount of sleep I was getting and it totaled two hours a night! This was a bit challenging as I was working full-time (with my daughter in tow) at a highly demanding job with a heavy caseload.

No wonder when I look back at photographs from those days my eyes are always closed – I was desperately attempting to squeeze in a nap whenever I could!

mom-and-baby

Fast forward many years later and there are still clues that I am sleep deprived.

So, how can you tell that sleep deprivation has made its entrance into your life? Here are 8 ways:

1.  You make your husband’s sandwiches for the next day’s lunch as you always do. However, when your husband arrives home from work the following day, he breaks the bad news to you – could you please remember to put the ham and cheese on the sandwiches? After all, a mayonnaise sandwich is hardly tasty, let alone healthy!

my-lunch-1287707-m

2. After you drop the kids off at soccer practice, you realize a startling fact – the sliding rear door of your minivan is left open and you’ve been driving it that way for the past 3 miles! (This happened to a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous).

car-949281-m

3. You begin unloading the dishes on a particularly tiring day. What you don’t realize until minutes later is that you have been unloading the dishwasher of dirty dishes and putting them in your cupboards. Two words for this: EWWWW! and GROSS!

convenient-1081209-m

4. Speaking of house cleaning duties, you hear a clunk-clunk as you are vacuuming and discover to your horror that you didn’t realize in your sleep-deprived-state that there was Polly Pocket clothing and accessories on the floor of the playroom. Alas, those same articles of clothing and accessories have now fallen victim to a Hoover upright vacuum – known as “Big Mr. Blue.”

5. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation messes with the memory. Case in point: You get your children’s names mixed up, or call them the names of the characters in your books. Or worse yet, you accidentally mix up the names of your children with the name of the family pet!

6. You drive home after grocery shopping and drive right past the turnoff to your house, but don’t realize it until you’re in the next town. This might have happened to someone who is writing this blog post who might have been sleep deprived. But we won’t mention names. 🙂

one-way

7. We’ve all been in those grocery stores where they ask for your telephone number at the checkout. You’re so tired that you stutter about, not remembering that you had a telephone, let alone a telephone number.

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8. Speaking of telephones and telephone numbers, here is one of the best measures of how to know you are just wiped out from lack of sleep: have you ever been having a challenging day and needed to call a friend for encouragement and prayer support? My friend called me one day in tears. “I really needed to talk to you, but when I called, your phone was continually busy.”

I was perplexed. After all, my landline phone can never be busy since I have call forwarding. If I’m on another line, it will automatically ring to my cell phone. “Really?” I asked.

“Well, at least that’s what I thought,” began my friend, “Until I realized that I had called my own phone number and that’s why I was getting the busy signal!”

What humorous side effects have you experienced from sleep deprivation?

adventures with cell phones

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
According to Pew Internet.org, “As of May 2013, 91% of American adults have a cell phone.”

Wow! Whatever did we do before cell phones?

When Lon and I were first married, cell phones were anything but commonplace. For one thing, they were too expensive for the average person. So why then did a newly-married couple with no money to their name own a cell phone?

I should explain.

The Little Brown Caw

The Little Brown Caw

We didn’t actually own a cell phone. Well not a real one anyway. Instead, we purchased an imitation cell phone – a toy – that looked just like the real thing from Shopko for $3.99.

Then we took to the roads and cruised around town in our classy 1980 Dodge Challenger, which we nicknamed “The Little Brown Caw” (using the word “caw” instead the word “car” for a fake New Yorker accent, even though we weren’t from New York, but that’s a story for another time).

Lon would drive and I would “chat” on the phone, hamming it up for the onlookers who pulled up next to us at the stoplight. I could see the confused look on their faces. Why would a couple spend more on their phone than on their $150 mode of transportation?

Years later, we owned a real cell phone. Yep, one of those Motorola phones in a bag with a curly cord.

Today we still have adventures with cell phones. Case in point:

When I first owned a cell phone with texting capabilities, I quickly realized the hazards of texting when I decided to try it for the first time. cell phone 2

Feeling rather suave with my new phone, I texted Lon the words: “Hey Babe, wanna do lunch?”

I waited for his reply, but soon realized I had inadvertently texted the last person I had spoken to on my phone rather than Lon.

Yes, you guessed it. I had just asked the a local repairman if he’d like to do lunch.

Or the case with my mom. On her way to visiting us this summer, she called Lon from the road. “Hey Lon, this is Mom.”

Sadly, Mom had misdialed and was actually speaking to some unknown man. He told her he had no idea who she was.

But she thought it really was Lon and that he was teasing.

“Oh, come on Lon. I know you, you’re just joking around with me. You can’t fool me. I’ve known you way too long.”

The man continued to insist he had no idea who she was.

After many minutes of lengthy back-and-forth chitchat, Mom eventually realized it really wasn’t Lon.

And finally, the case of my grandma, Nanie, and her recent adventure with her cell phone.

rear-view-of-passengers-in-an-airplane-1342969-mNanie is still attempting to figure out her new cell phone. As she was flying to see some grands and great-grands, she was happily chatting on the phone. What Nanie didn’t realize was that she wasn’t the only one in on the conversation.

She hadn’t figured out the speaker phone button and everyone on the plane was privy to her conversation with her friend!

Some time later, a fellow passenger tapped her on the shoulder and asked if Nanie knew her phone conversation was being broadcast all over the cabin of the plane.

Nanie wondered why her friend on the phone seemed to be speaking louder than usual. 🙂

What are some of your hilarious moments with cell phones?

8 Ways to Know You are Sleep Deprived…

When my oldest was born, she awoke every 20 minutes during the night for a feeding.  I calculated the amount of sleep I was getting and it totaled two hours a night! This was a bit challenging as I was working full-time (with my daughter in tow) at a highly demanding job with a heavy caseload.

No wonder when I look back at photographs from those days my eyes are always closed – I was desperately attempting to squeeze in a nap whenever I could!

mom-and-baby

Fast forward many years later and there are still clues that I am sleep deprived.

So, how can you tell that sleep deprivation has made its entrance into your life? Here are 8 ways:

1.  You make your husband’s sandwiches for the next day’s lunch as you always do. However, when your husband arrives home from work the following day, he breaks the bad news to you – could you please remember to put the ham and cheese on the sandwiches? After all, a mayonnaise sandwich is hardly tasty, let alone healthy!

my-lunch-1287707-m

2. After you drop the kids off at soccer practice, you realize a startling fact – the sliding rear door of your minivan is left open and you’ve been driving it that way for the past 3 miles! (This happened to a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous).

car-949281-m

3. You begin unloading the dishes on a particularly tiring day. What you don’t realize until minutes later is that you have been unloading the dishwasher of dirty dishes and putting them in your cupboards. Two words for this: EWWWW! and GROSS!

convenient-1081209-m

4. Speaking of house cleaning duties, you hear a clunk-clunk as you are vacuuming and discover to your horror that you didn’t realize in your sleep-deprived-state that there was Polly Pocket clothing and accessories on the floor of the playroom. Alas, those same articles of clothing and accessories have now fallen victim to a Hoover upright vacuum – known as “Big Mr. Blue.”

5. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation messes with the memory. Case in point: You get your children’s names mixed up, or call them the names of the characters in your books. Or worse yet, you accidentally mix up the names of your children with the name of the family pet!

6. You drive home after grocery shopping and drive right past the turnoff to your house, but don’t realize it until you’re in the next town. This might have happened to someone who is writing this blog post who might have been sleep deprived. But we won’t mention names. 🙂

one-way

7. We’ve all been in those grocery stores where they ask for your telephone number at the checkout. You’re so tired that you stutter about, not remembering that you had a telephone, let alone a telephone number.

pink-telephone-1353144-m

8. Speaking of telephones and telephone numbers, here is one of the best measures of how to know you are just wiped out from lack of sleep: have you ever been having a challenging day and needed to call a friend for encouragement and prayer support? My friend called me one day in tears. “I really needed to talk to you, but when I called, your phone was continually busy.”

I was perplexed. After all, my landline phone can never be busy since I have call forwarding. If I’m on another line, it will automatically ring to my cell phone. “Really?” I asked.

“Well, at least that’s what I thought,” began my friend, “Until I realized that I had called my own phone number and that’s why I was getting the busy signal!”

 

What humorous side effects have you experienced from sleep deprivation?

The best county fair entry ever!

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Our family loves to enter things in the county fair. Each year, my daughters gather homemade goodies, artwork, sewing projects, and drawings and see what ribbons they can earn for their time, effort, and creativity.

I decided to do something zany this year…

While going through the photos on our digital camera, I noticed that Lon had taken a picture of a shoe. Yes, a shoe. Not any shoe, mind you, but HIS size 13 tennis shoe.  His shoe that was posing on his foot, laces tied on the tile floor.

And then I had an “aha” moment!

I rushed to the store and had the photo enlarged to 5×7, enhanced the color, and printed it. Finding a matching frame, I displayed this lovely piece of “art.”

Buffing the glass of the frame to a sheen, the shoe picture was ready to enter in our county fair.

In today’s world, just look around and you’ll see so many varieties of “art” that I thought for sure this would be a hit at the fair with the judges. With framed shoe in hand, my daughters and I entered the door of the exhibit hall with our entries. It was difficult not to laugh while unloading the entries. All the rest of them were tasteful entries – lovely artwork the kids had drawn or photographs of animals or scenery they had taken while on vacation.

And then there was the silly shoe photo.

And wouldn’t Lon be SOOOOOO surprised!

I watched the entry coordinator’s face as she filled out the entry card for the shoe picture. I began to snort and struggled to keep my laughter under control. After all, who really enters a photo of a beat up tennis shoe in the local fair?

The woman looked up at me, then back down at the shoe picture, then back up at me, and finally one last time at the shoe picture. She picked up the frame and with a look of concern mixed with disgust, added it to the pile of entered fair projects.

I somehow hoped she’d be a little more appreciative of this fine piece of art.

The following day when our family went to see what ribbons we had been awarded, that’s when it happened…Lon saw the shoe picture. “Pen is that? No, it can’t be…Pen!”

I thought I would die of laughter. Then Lon began to laugh and together we gazed at the unlikely winner of a high-placing ribbon. blue-ribbon-1294754-m

The moral of the story? In a world so full of busyness, it’s good to take some time out to truly laugh at the sillier side of life. God gave us the ability to laugh and the ability to take joy in even the most mundane things – even a framed picture of a tennis shoe.

How to Train a Deer

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

The other day as my daughters and I were driving home, we came across a herd of deer in a field by the side of the road.  “I wish I had a pet deer,” said my youngest daughter, Doodle.

“Deer can’t be pets,” muttered my oldest, Sunshine, who is perhaps one of the most realistic and literal children I know.

Doodle brushed Sunshine’s comment aside, and I watched in the rearview mirror as her face lit up with excitement. “If I had a pet deer, I would do two things.”

“And what would those be?” I asked, knowing Doodle possessed the same overactive imagination as someone else we know.

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“Well, first, I would train the pet deer not to poop in our yard.”

“That would sure be nice,” I agreed.

“You can’t potty-train a deer,” Sunshine muttered, acting far older than her years.

Ignoring her literal sister’s comment once again, Doodle continued. “And you know what else I would do, Mom?” she asked.

“What’s that?”

“I would train the deer so I could ride it when I go places!”

“That would be a fine idea,” I agreed. “With gas prices as they are, that would really help out the family budget.” I could see in the rear-view mirror that Doodle had it all planned out.

“I just need a saddle,” Doodle quipped.

I love the imaginations of little children and how their minds are filled with creativity, dreams, and possibilities.

Such a thought brought to mind the words of Jesus in Luke 18:27 “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Our family was discussing this morning during devotions the blessings God has bestowed on us throughout our lives. That we have each other; that we have shelter, food, and clothing,  just to name a few.

That we can see the sunrise, hear the birds sing, and feel the soft fur of a fluffy puppy; and that He has healed us so many times from illness and protected us from disease.

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And of course, the most humbling of all, that He gave us the precious gift of His Son so we might have eternal life.

Yes, so many impossibilities through our human weakness, but so many possibilities with God!

5 resolutions to make even though it’s not New Year’s

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

All right, so it’s not New Year’s, not even close and we certainly don’t want to rush time away. However, here are a few suggestions for resolutions to make any day of the year…

1. Laugh more. In our world of stress, it’s nice to be able to find humor in the small things. “Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a new study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.”

The Bible talks about laughter – and let’s not forget who created laughter. He also created our mouths to turn upward, our tummies to shake, and our eyes to tear when provoked with humor. Kids provide the best humor and pets can bring about some laughter as well!

2. Stay in touch.  In our day of modern technology, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with those we love. One night Lon called me from his cell phone while he was in the driveway arriving home from work. I answered the house phone and we had a great conversation, continuing as he entered the door of our house and as we stood face to face with phones pressed up against our ears.

Hey, it’s good for a marriage to communicate, right?

Communication is important...even if you're as different as an ostrich and a kangaroo.

Communication is important…even if you’re as different as an ostrich and a kangaroo.

 

3. Make healthy lifestyle changes. It’s probably safe to say that most of us at one time or another have made a resolution to lose weight and/or get more exercise.

One evening Lon said as he rested on the living room floor, “I’m getting ready to do a situp.”

I wondered why anyone would want to do a situp at 8:00 p.m., so I asked him why not wait until he works out in the morning. “Because I’d like to have another cookie,” he told me. He was of the one situp equals one cookie philosophy.

Another time, he decided to do an experiment. Before Christmas dinner, Lon weighed himself. After the meal, he weighed himself again. The prognosis? He’d gained five pounds in that short time after eating my mom’s famous Christmas dinner. However, men have it good. For us women, we need only to look at a delicious Christmas dinner with all the trimmings to gain five pounds!

Not only can we make healthy lifestyle changes and care for the body God gave us, we can also make spiritual changes and vow to dig into God’s Word more frequently. Make a vow to turn everything over to Him as well and make the resolution to rid yourself of worry. Now that’s a good lifestyle change I need to adopt!

4. Vow to serve others.  Make a vow to serve others and truly love your neighbor as yourself as stated in Matthew 19:19.  Making homemade cookies for Lon is one way to make him feel special.  Speaking of cookies, check out this hilarious post about the time Lon overdosed on no-bake cookies! For more ideas on ways to serve others see my post Blessing Others.

 5. Use your gifts.

Use the gifts and talents God gave you...

God gave us all gifts to use to further His Kingdom.

Just be sure not to do things that aren’t your gifts. Case in point:  a few years ago, I received a new MP3 player. Wow, what a pleasure to listen to my contemporary Christian rock music while working out at the gym! I learned the hard way, however, about adjusting to modern technology.

During my workout, I was rocking out to Brandon Heath’s Give Me Your Eyes and forgetting that I alone had the earphones to listen to this song. What I didn’t realize was that I was singing out loud. (Wasn’t everyone in the gym listening to Brandon Heath?!)

As I belted out the words to the song and did my leg curls, I soon heard a familiar voice. One that was off-pitch and kind of nasal-y. Yep. It was my voice (talk about embarrassment).

But it is important to use the gifts we have been given. Are you gifted with kids? Why not volunteer to teach Sunday School? Are you gifted with a beautiful voice (I’ll try not to covet!) then use it to lead the worship team at church. Can you sew? Why not offer to mend some clothes for those who cannot afford new ones?

What resolutions would you make even though it’s not New Year’s?