Bowl Game = Heart Break

IMG_1933Twice in the past four years, the University of Miami has played in a Bowl game in Orlando and twice we’ve bought tickets and attended the game. Both times the same result. Early joy followed by a long offensive drought.

In the 2009 game against Wisconsin, Miami put 7 points on the score board in the opening minute only to watch Wisconsin score the next 20 points before the Hurricanes finally scored another touchdown in the final minute of the game.

Last Saturday’s Russell Athletic Bowl started with Miami scoring 2 points after causing a fumble by Louisville’s quarterback in the end zone, but again watched their opponent score 36 unanswered points before the Hurricanes found the end zone.

Our presence at a football game seems to guarantee a loss for our team. The Hurricanes have only managed to pull off one win in the last five games we’ve attended, and even UCF struggles if we’re in the stadium cheering for the Knights, losing half of the games we’ve watched from the stands.

We enjoyed going to the game with Emily and Brian. The weather was perfect…72° at kickoff on a late December evening. The parachute team that brought in the team flags and game ball started the night with some excitement. Fireworks added fun to the halftime show. And, of course the safety in the 4th minute of the game was something to cheer about as was the next 6 minutes of the game when the Hurricanes were on top.

The night could have been much worse. We could have had tickets one section over where security and law enforcement removed unruly fans fighting in the stands. We could have been seated two rows lower so that when the man sitting in front of us “lost his cookies” we were dodging the fallout. We could have had a wallet stolen like the man in the row behind us. Overall, we were lucky!

I’m proud to say we stayed until the end of the game, unlike so many other “fans”. We’re all committed to staying to the end…no fair weather fans here, but next time I’m tempted to go to a football game in person please remind me that I enjoy football from the comfort of home for the following reasons:

  1. No weather worries…not too hot, not too cold, and no need to worry about rain.
  2. Availability of good food throughout the game…wings, pizza, burgers, snacks, drinks, sweets. Eating like that at the stadium would require a loan.
  3. Hot tub seating…better to watch the game sitting in a hot tub than on hard aluminum seats.
  4. Rewind, fast forward, or skip portions depending on the how the team’s playing.

Good news for other Hurricane and Knight fans. I won’t be in the stands jinxing your team!

Protect Your Personal Information

Thanks, Target…your lack of security measures to protect customer’s financial information has made more work for me and millions of other shoppers. I’m checking bank and credit card accounts daily and have contacted financial institutions…just what I wanted to do over the holidays.

However, this is a good reminder that we all need to protect our personal information on a daily basis. Here’s a few steps you can take to protect yourself.

Change passwords. I’ve read that passwords should be changed monthly so I’ve got some work to do on this front. Make sure your password is strong enough to protect your account. Use symbols, numbers, capital letters, and avoid simple phrases. Check out these password tips.

Monitor bank account & charge card accounts. You should do this at least monthly, checking your statement with a fine tooth comb, but if you suspect your account could be compromised (like those of us who shopped at Target) check more frequently. I’m currently on the daily plan!

Shred. Shred. Shred. Buy a shredder and shred bank statements and bills and all of those credit card applications that litter your mailbox.

Pay for online purchases with a credit card instead of a debit card since federal laws offer more consumer protection on purchases made with credit cards. In fact, using a PayPal account may be a better alternative since it limits the number of sites with access to your credit card information. (I know using a debit card feels better than paying on credit, but you can avoid racking up interest charges on those credit card purchases by making a payment on your credit card immediately.)

Don’t carry your Social Security card. What could be easier? Just make sure you know where you’ve placed your card for safe keeping.

Order your free credit reports. Since you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus annually, if you stagger the requests, you can check every four months at no cost. (DON’T GET SUCKERED INTO USING SERVICES THAT CHARGE!) Instead order from or from the services directly – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Consider using cash. If I’d made my purchases at Target with cash instead of a debit card, I’d have fewer worries today. Another bonus with cash, it’s a great way to go on a spending diet.

I know these things take time. I know they’re not fun. I also know I don’t have time to deal with an even bigger problem if my personal information is stolen so I’ll devote some time this week to changing passwords, shredding, and ordering a credit report. I hope you’ll do the same. This Identity Theft Prevention Checklist offers additional tips you may find useful.

Protect your personal information.



Four Letter Words

On Sunday’s I’m posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

Four Letter Words

I must stop using those four letter words.

It is a sign of a deficient vocabulary.

I’ll drop hate, love, hope, and pray.

And save the others for the hard times.


Christmastime is Family Time

Christmas..a time to celebrate that Christ has come into our world…a time of great joy…a time to recognize the goodness of our world.

The Christmas blessing I celebrate…time with family!

Hiking in Paynes Prairie at LaChua Sink and Silver River State Park.


Making photo props and then wearing them on Christmas Eve followed by Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.

Christmas Day…breakfast, presents, cousins, games.

So thankful for another Christmas of togetherness!


A Bistro in Inverness

IMG_1803Inverness and the term bistro aren’t compatible in my mind, but according to, a bistro is simply a small, informal restaurant serving wine, so the McLeod House Bistro in Inverness fits the bill.

After a two month bicycling hiatus due to the wedding, lots of rain, and a trip to New York, we rode another portion of the Withlacoochee Trail to start off our two week Christmas vacation. And, I must admit, the location of the McLeod House Bistro influenced our decision as to where we would ride.

On our first ride on the Withlacoochee Trail in June, we found the McLeod House Bistro closed for the summer and promised we’d make a return trip when the restaurant reopened in the fall. Fall turned to winter, but we kept our promise.

A ten mile bike ride followed by lunch sitting on the porch enjoying a perfect Florida winter day at the McLeod House Bistro…a worthwhile wait.IMG_1801

We won’t wait six months for the our next visit. There’s a dessert menu we need to try!

Don’t make a mistake and drive to Inverness on a Sunday or Monday and miss an opportunity to eat at a first class restaurant in Citrus County. The McLeod House Bistro is only open Tuesday-Saturday 11:00-9:00.

NYC’s Free Ferry!

IMG_1543I satisfied my ferry obsession while in New York over Thanksgiving. The Staten Island Ferry departs Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan every 30 minutes and transports passengers to Staten Island in only 25 minutes.

The ferry provides a good view of not only the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but also the Manhattan skyline.

IMG_1546Can you believe this is free? In NYC? And besides the great sightseeing opportunity, we were entertained by a group of musicians while waiting for the ferry.IMG_1523

So what do you do when you get to Staten Island? Hurry to catch the next ferry waiting to depart for the return trip!

Three ferry trips in 2013…not bad!

Weigh-In Wednesday: Wrap Up

When I proposed writing about my weight loss successes or failures weekly all three of my daughters thought this was not a good idea. Some of their comments:

  • What if you quit?
  • What if you don’t lose weight?
  • If I did that, I’d lie.

I considered the advice, and then ignored it! If I quit, I’ll say, I quit…just like millions of others who try to lose weight every year. If I don’t lose, I’ll just say, this is really tough. I’m not having any success, and maybe use the I quit line. I knew lying was not an option. I don’t live in isolation. If I claim to lose weight and don’t, others will call me out. And besides, my original goal: lose 15 pounds. I could do that!

As a result of sharing my weight loss journey, John and I are 70 pounds lighter heading into 2014. I hope that also means we’re healthier as well.

For me, Weigh-In Wednesday served as a measure of accountability. I had to write about not only successes but the bumps in the road.

While I know everyone is different, the keys to my success:

  • setting realistic goals (first 15, then 20, then 25, and finally 31 pounds)
  • thinking about (and recording) what I eat every day instead of unconsciously putting food in my mouth
  • making a serious effort to move more daily – just move, walk, ride a bike for pleasure, even do a little work in the yard
  • weighing in, not just on Wednesday, but everyday
  • sharing with others who hold me accountable

I looked for the magic weight loss bullet throughout the year but didn’t find one. What I did find was the willpower to continue working on better health for 365 days. I also know I’m not done. I still want to lose two more pounds and continue making positive changes toward a healthier lifestyle.

Just move!
Just move!

I’ll continue weighing-in, although I won’t be writing about it every week…unless the scale starts moving in the wrong direction.

Merry Christmas! I think I’ll go for a walk…and then eat dessert!

Christmas Crafting

It may seem crazy to undertake crafting projects on December 23rd, but that’s exactly what Meghan, Sarah, and I did when they arrived last night.

Sarah sent me a text message last week with the following picture


and the message, we need to do this.

No arm twisting required. I bought dowels and foam sheets, printed patterns, and gathered the glue gun, glue sticks, scissors, and other craft supplies.

Let the crafting begin.

Trying to get anyone in our family to sit down for a picture is torture, but bring out hats and a mustache and we have willing participants.

Props are made. Time for some photos!


Give the Gift of Time

The best gifts I’ve received have been those of spending time with friends or family. Two years ago for Christmas, I received a card from your Dad inviting me to spend every Wednesday evening with him for 2012 and Date Night officially began.

I changed my availability to students from 8:00-8:00 to reflect that my day ends at 5:00 and he cleared his calendar on Wednesdays so he’s home by 5:00 ready to spend the rest of the evening together.

It only took 32 years to start date night, but worth the wait!

Date Night doesn’t require an event, only time together. There’s always food, we’ve tried many different restaurants, and most weeks we go somewhere or do something: watch a movie, see a play, go for a bike ride, sit on the porch and watch the sunset, and every December…Christmas shop; but most of all it’s time for just the two of us.

Our yearly family weekend is special for the same reason. I receive the gift of your time which always guarantees the weekend will be perfect.

Unfortunately we spend too much time thinking about gifts we can purchase for others. Instead of shopping, we need to think about giving the gift of time. Make a phone call. Invite friends for dinner. Go for a walk. There’s nothing like sharing your time with those you care about.

Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time,” is like saying, “I don’t want to.”

~Lao Tzu

Give the gift of time.




The Loneliest Lonely

On Sunday’s I’m posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

The Loneliest Lonely

The loneliest lonely

Is to be lonely

With the one you love.