A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life


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I usually write funny stuff. Self-deprecating stuff. Making fun of ego-driven celebrities stuff. And then there are times when I want to share something much more important.

Yesterday, my family and I were cleaning out closets to make a donation to the Frederick Rescue Mission. Our home had plenty of clothes, shoes and linens that we have outgrown or no longer need. We have an embarrassment of riches.

Our riches include more than clothes and linens — there is furniture, food, warmth in the Winter and — when there isn’t a major malfunction — cooling in the Summer. We have family we can count on. We own our home. Our kids play sports that require registration fees and lots of expensive equipment. We have really good health care through my employer, which is a boon when you have two boys. We have two labrador retriever mixes that we adopted from a rescue. Our cars are in great shape. The community we live in is overwhelmingly supportive and full of lots of wonderful people.

So when a friend on Facebook posted a poem, asking folks to read it in the context of the rampant state of anger and nastiness exhibited in today’s political climate, I did.

I thought about what this poem shares from the perspective of people who do not have an embarrassment of riches. People who barely have the basic necessities. Heck, some people who have only the clothes on their backs.

It makes me forever grateful and humble that my “Home” is not the mouth of a shark.

Note: poem copied in its entirety and not redacted for offensive language.

“Home” by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying-
leave,
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here


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What If…

What if…six years ago I had really put my foot down and said no when my husband announced that Alex was going to play football?

I mean, was he crazy? I didn’t want my precious 8 year old baby getting knocked around and possibly hurt in such a rough sport. My husband reassured me that at the Mini-Pony level Alex would be playing on, coaches were on the field to help and instruct. It wouldn’t be until the next level that they played “real” football games. So I agreed to one year and we could assess it after that.

What if…after that first year — in spite of my reservations — I was totally hooked?

What if…I loved Saturdays at the football field (minus the concession stand work, of course!), couldn’t wait to sign up our youngest son Nick for next year, couldn’t wait for Alex to play again – the “real” kind of football?

What if…I blinged out spirit wear, took tons of photos, and bought Lion paw earrings in blue and gold?

What if…I captured unforgettable moments on video that Mini-Pony season? Like our team’s touchdown pass to win the SuperBowl in the final 6 seconds of the game:

What if…the emotional post-game coaches’ speeches after that Mini-Pony SuperBowl win were also part of the video memories I made? Including one speech that choked up the head coach, a man who usually doesn’t get too emotional:

What if…many of those boys went on in the next stage of their junior football careers to play another SuperBowl two years later in the Pony division?

What if…we were playing a team we had beaten in the regular season, so spirits were high for a win?

What if…I painted my face with Lion paws, had on my blinged out spirit gear, and made a ton of cupcakes for the boys, coaches and fans in attendance?

All this really shows is that I need to touch up my roots and that a chemical peel might be a good idea.

All this really shows is that I need to touch up my roots and that a chemical peel might be a good idea.

What if…with less than 2 minutes to go in the game, the other team scored a touchdown to pull ahead of us?

What if…we were unable to score in the last minute and a half and lost the game?

What if…the boys had to stand on the field and congratulate the other team as they received the SuperBowl trophy, even though that’s the last place they wanted to be; would they appreciate this life lesson in good sportsmanship?

What if…one of the coaches had to give the post-game talk, and tell the boys through his own tears that he really was sorry because he wanted them to experience the thrill of winning a “real” SuperBowl?

What if…there were lots of 10 years olds in tears that day?

What if…truthfully, there were a lot of parents and grandparents in tears that day, including me with the blue and gold lion paws I had painted on my face running from the tears that betrayed all of hurt I felt as a parent when you see your kid experience disappointment?

What if…two years later, our boys had a good season and had to gut out a few wins toward the end in order to make it to the playoffs at the JV level?

What if…the boys played hard and got through the two rounds of playoffs to make it to another SuperBowl?

What if…we went up against a team we had beaten during the regular season — just like two years earlier?

What if…the score was 0-0 with 24 seconds left in regulation, and we scored a touchdown to take the lead?

What if…on the ensuing kick off, the other team ran it back for a touchdown, tying the game and sending us into overtime?

What if…we were not able to score on our 4 downs, but the opponent kicked a field goal on its fourth down and won the game?

What if…those boys had to again stand on the field and behave as gracious losers, congratulating yet another team as they received the SuperBowl trophy? Would the life lesson from two years ago help ease the pain a bit?

What if…in the post-game huddle, the coaches told the boys how proud of them they were, and told them to look ahead to their final year of junior football before high school, saying we would have an awesome team that could compete with anyone?

What if…the coaches were absolutely right?

What if…as if to bookend where it all started with Mini-Pony (for the Rice family, anyway), the Varsity team had an undefeated season this year?

What if…we headed into the first round of the playoffs facing an opponent we had beaten on their home field during the regular season?

What if…once again, spirits were high for a successful run through the playoffs to the SuperBowl as a #1 seed?

What if…it was not to be?

What if…our boys were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round game, as a drive to tie the game in the last minute fell short?

What if…the most true thing one of the coaches told the boys in the post-game huddle was: “A good team won today, and a good team lost today.”?

What if…that wasn’t the end of the story?

What if...I told you, a group of boys — some of whom I had watched over six years (a number have been playing together even longer) — became fine young men before my eyes that day?

What if…it was not because they had only one season in six years where they didn’t make the playoffs…and not because they had their second undefeated season in all those years…and not because they outscored their opponents 276 to 26 in the regular season of their Varsity year?

What if…they became young men because at the end of the game our team asked if they could pray with the team that had just knocked them out of the playoffs and dashed their hopes for a SuperBowl win?

What if…they became young men because they asked to kneel with ‘the enemy” to show solidarity for one of the opponent’s teammates — 12 year old Colby Reid — who was just diagnosed with stage IV Anaplastic Large Cell (Non-Hodgkins) Lymphoma and is now going through six months of aggressive chemotherapy treatments?

What if…our coaches had both teams gather in the center of the field, and one of our coaches led the players and coaches from both teams in prayer for Colby and his family, and our boys shouted a hearty “Amen” once the prayer was done?

Post-game prayer for Colby Reid

Post-game prayer for Colby Reid, led by Walkersville Lions coach Brett Hess. Photo courtesy of Michelle Ahalt.

What if…I had missed this incredible, amazing, heart-wrenching moment in the lives of these young men and their coaches?

What if…six years ago, I had said no to something that would have brought me so many ups and downs, wonderful memories, and a host of friends I now call my sports family?

What if…I get to keep it all in my heart forever?

My son Alex:

Six amazing years

Six amazing years

The 2015 Varsity Walkersville junior Lions:


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On Guns, Flags, and Hatred

One of my favorite bloggers, Wendi Aarons, recently challenged all of us via Facebook to write about the horrific events in Charleston, SC.

WendiAarons

To raise awareness. To get conversations started. To make people think outside of their comfortable confines about what race, race relations, and hatred truly mean in ‘Merica today. And what we can do to start making some changes.

There are two things about this situation that disturb me. The first is guns. The second is the confederate flag. And I have (very) opinionated friends and family on both sides of the debate.

GUNS: As the hideous traffic I endure on my commute to work luck would have it that day, I was stuck in a no-go situation on my commute. I was behind this patriot, and his window sticker caught my attention.

Comeandtakeit

License plate obscured by me so you won’t be able to look him up. Privacy AND gun rights protected. Yeehaw.

In case you can’t read his window sticker, here’s a zoomed in look:

I love a challenge

For real, dude?

Frankly, you can keep your semi-automatic assault weapon. Or your rifle. Or your handgun. I don’t want to take it from you. I have no intention of modifying the Second Amendment in any way.

And for the record, here’s what the amendment says:.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then-Secretary of State:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

So good luck with your militia. Or hunting down wildlife. Or target shooting. Or protecting yourself. Or whatever it is you would like to do with your weapon.

But please stop blaming the victims. For the love of all that is holy, stop blaming the victims:

NRA Board Member's comments about Charleston. SMDH.

NRA Board Member’s comments about Charleston. SMDH.

All I’m asking — all any of us are asking — is rethink the current regulations surrounding gun ownership and sales practices.

CONFEDERATE FLAG: My feelings on the flag are this: its legacy of hate trumps any BS about heritage. I think John Stewart said it best. So, all I have to say is “ditto”:

In the end, I’d like to think that my opinionated family and friends can come together and agree on this:
When individuals are being repeatedly slaughtered in the name of hate or because it’s easy to bring violence to innocents, we need to act.


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All You Need Is Love

One of my former co-workers has two blogs she updates regularly. I’m such a slacker, with only two blogs that I update when something crazy happens in my life, or if I bake a treat.

June 1st, she issued a 30-day writing challenge. Being the non-procrastinating type that I am, I jumped right on the challenge. On July 1.  But at that point, Rita was only on challenge number 26 herself — seems we both have a little procrastinator in us.

The theme for July 1 is LOVE. So here’s what the theme inspired me to write about…

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

I only thought about the past week using the words ‘baseball’, ‘vacation’, and ‘work’. But I was decidedly wrong about that. My week was about love.

First it was the love of baseball. My oldest son Alex’s baseball team has been fundraising and preparing for the ultimate experience with a week-long tournament in Myrtle Beach at The Ripken Experience. The majority of this team has been together for 2 years — most have been playing together for more than 4 years. To hear the boys tell it, they were “getting to go on vacation with all of their best friends”.

The boys did well in the tournament, with a record of 3-2 in pool play. They made it to the championship bracket, but lost in an early game to a taller, stronger, and year-round playing team from Georgia.  Disappointed at being out of the championship round early didn’t deter them from life’s joy. They spent the rest of the day at a water park, enjoying a different kind of pool play with one another.  And three of the nights we were there, the team and their families gathered for group meals. We even had a surprise birthday celebration for of one of the team moms.

How could you not help but love these kids and families who are a great bunch of people?

Thank goodness it's not my kid with the sad face.

The 2014 12U GVAA Walkersville Lions.

I ended up leaving Myrtle Beach before the championship round because I had a work conference I needed to attend in San Francisco. The Friday we were in San Francisco, our colleagues back home were participating in a community volunteer day.  A co-worker and I decided that we would participate on the west coast by volunteering to feed the homeless and hungry. The organization is Glide — a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. They feed 700 people for the afternoon meal. Volunteers help serve meals, take tickets, and clean tables.

Because Glide must have heard about my lack of prowess in the cooking department, I was in charge of handing out napkins and silverware:

I think I'll use this as my entry in Playboy's next "hottest moms" contest.

Hairnet, apron, and gloves. I think I’ll use this as my entry in Playboy’s next “hottest moms” contest.

What I found humbling was that the individuals were so diverse. Some “looked” homeless. Some didn’t look homeless at all. Some talked to an imaginary friend as they went through the line. Some came through the  line multiple times, hanging their head in shame. Some brought their dogs and shared the meatloaf and rice with their best friend. One lady started a fight because she wanted to eat at a table by herself. The staff had to calm her down, and then they tried to make the volunteers feel better by saying it was no big deal. “You’re right,” I commented. “The Rice boys behave far worse than any of these folks.”

But almost every one of the people who walked through the door said “Thank you.”  Or “God bless.”  One guy even said “Hello, gorgeous.”  Hmmm…maybe I should send him my picture and enter his “hottest mom” contest.

What I felt after an exhausting and fast-paced two hours was a great deal of appreciation from both those served and the staff at Glide. It took no more than a smile, a hello, and handing someone a napkin with a fork or spoon to make them feel good.  How could I not love the feeling of warmth that my small kindness gave these people who have so little?

That weekend we were in San Francisco was also when the Gay Pride parade was going to take place. As I walked back from Macy’s on Sunday (having just had my own little love fest with the Michael Kors purse department), I walked past a guy with a t-shirt that very simply said Love is Love. And I saw these flags hanging outside the Hotel Nikko:

#PRIDE

#PRIDE

How awesome that a corporation uses the pride flag to let a group of individuals who have struggled for acceptance know that they are indeed loved?

So in the end, my week was not nearly as much about a vacation, a baseball tournament, or a work trip. It was about the love in my life, and why I should be more aware of it around me every day.


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I’m on the Highway to Hell

I count about 10 reasons why Hell awaits me...

I count about 12 reasons why it awaits me, so that qualifies me for the HOV lane on the Highway to Hell, bitches.

It’s nice to know that some ranting  raving  out-of-control  holier-than-thou  Republican  relative  fellow sinner has created this checklist. I mean, how else would we know that we are destined for an afterlife of righteous humidity and — according to Elaine from Seinfield — ragged clothing.

I would just like to add a few categories to this guy’s list. They could be on the front of his sign, but since we can’t see that (or his face), I’ll just assume he needs a little help with his checklist.

So here are some of the sinning brethren that may (or may not) be noted on the front of his sign:

  1. Boys/young men who wear the waistband of their pants around their knees
  2. Any color Wiggle (for signs worn by parents of pre-schoolers only)
  3. Mississippi politicians who blame education’s demise on moms who work outside the home
  4. “News” people who don’t know their head from their ass, but apparently do know about the deep danger posed to society by women bringing home the bacon
  5. That PTA mom who shows up to the meetings in her white yoga pants and cropped topped so you can totally tell she’s wearing a black thong
  6. Any Kardashian
  7. Girls/young women who wear any sort of message across the ass of their shorts/sweatpants
  8. The passenger on the airline who handed my flight attendant sister a used poopy diaper (after changing her kid on the seat) and asked “it’s your job to get rid of this, right?”
  9. Any member of the Westboro Baptist “Church”
  10. Self-righteous, pill-popping drug addicts who cheat on their spouses
  11. Team Teresa from RHONJ
  12. Rush Limbaugh (oh wait…we already covered that in #10)
  13. Grandmothers who bring their grandsons to football practice,  and think being dressed in Daisy Dukes (Marlboros in one back pocket; bedazzled cell phone in the other), a tank top with no bra, and tats on display is the only way to roll (I’m looking at you, Dakota’s Nana)
  14. The inventor of the little league concession stand
  15. The jackass who narced on me in college about my fake ID. (I enjoyed the visit and subsequent “confiscation” by the campus police. Really.)
  16. The mom of the t-ball player in our local league who was shouting verbal threats to the 5 and 6 year old kids on the team during games (I mean, WTF, lady??)
  17. People who are so full of themselves because they actually like to cook dinner for their family
  18. The dog owners who don’t “scoop the poop” when Caninus Maxiums dumps on the community soccer field
  19. Anyone who can’t live by the bumpersticker logic “Humankind: Be Both”.  Especially that little skank who I always seem to get behind on the way home from work who chainsmokes the entire time and flicks the butts out her car window
  20. People who make lists about the type of people they don’t like

See ya on the Highway, people.


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Real Super Heroes: Honorary Bat Girls

As many of my readers know, my family is BIG into sports.  We are now into the baseball season – with 5 months of practices, recreational team games, travel team games and tournaments, and All Star tournaments for our boys.

My oldest son’s team wears a pink ribbon patch on their travel/All Star uniforms. We have a team mom who is a breast cancer survivor — going into her 6th year cancer free! We have another mom who was diagnosed about 18 months ago and has gone through chemo, radiation and the host of indignities that every cancer patient suffers through. HOPE is a very important word to her.

The boys proudly wear the pink ribbon patch in support of their teammate’s mom who is currently fighting the battle.  It reminds them that win or lose, there are things in life bigger than a baseball game.

Our boys support the fight against breast cancer

Our boys support the fight against breast cancer

I had recently been on a work trip to Louisville, KY.  I visited the Louisville Slugger museum while there. During the tour of the factory, they told the story of the pink bats used on Mother’s Day throughout the Major League Baseball.

The pink bat in the Louisville Slugger store

The pink bat in the Louisville Slugger store

I was impressed with the Louisville Slugger company. When my Facebook newsfeed had a story from the Baltimore Orioles about the Honorary Bat Girl Contest on Mother’s Day co-sponsored by Major League Baseball and Louisville Slugger, I immediately thought of my baseball family.  Without reading the details, I suggested the contest to the daughter of the mom currently in the fight.

Sarah Grace was very excited and wrote an essay about why she would like to be considered. Turns out you have to be 18 years old to be nominated to win.  Sarah Grace is not yet in high school. Disappointed — but not discouraged — she immediately wrote a nomination for her mom.

I hope you will consider voting for any of the amazing women who have been nominated.  You can search by baseball team to select someone local to you.  But I also HOPE you’ll read the story of my fellow baseball mom Krista. You can vote for Krista here:  http://bit.ly/VoteKristaMc

Sarah Grace is an amazing young lady. Her efforts to honor her mother and other breast cancer victims gives us the HOPE we all need.

Krista and Sarah Grace

Krista and Sarah Grace

===========================================================

Update on my No Runs. No Hits. No Mother. post:

My husband did get that Opening Day photo.  He took it with our nice camera.  He  texted me that he got a picture of the boys and then e-mailed the picture to me while I was in Louisville.

It was a great picture:

What a handsome pair

What a handsome pair

When I got home from my trip, I took pictures at a game on Sunday. When I went to download the pictures, there was the original Opening Day picture. And a few more my husband hadn’t mentioned:

Another view. Nice.

Another view. Nice.

Brotherly love - awww (or maybe that should be 'awe')

Brotherly love – awww (or maybe that should be ‘awe’)

Uh....what's going on here?

Uh….what’s going on here?

Oh yeah. They're my kids.

Oh yeah. They’re my kids.

Most Valuable Husband. For sure.


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Unleashing My Inner Artist

My paternal grandmother Merrie Pender Childrey Himmelheber was a woman well ahead of her time.  She was an amazing artist who went to college to perfect her craft, graduating from George Washington University in 1930 (!) with a degree in Fine Arts.

She got married and raised 5 children. But she continued to sketch, draw and paint for nearly 70 years.  She was a devout Baptist – a charter member of not one, but two churches.  She never got her driver’s license; my grandfather drove her where she needed to go. When he passed away in 1983, she wasn’t a recluse – she started walking everywhere she needed to go if she wasn’t able to catch a ride.

She exercised every day well into her 80s, on a little trampoline she purchased. Also in her 80s, she took a trip to Europe with her church group.  She painted many landscapes from the pictures she took while on that trip. Water colors ended up being her specialty. I have them everywhere in my house.

She had a terrific sense of humor and told amazing stories, mostly about my father’s shenanigans as a young boy. My father’s shenanigans and silliness continue to this day.

My grandmother passed away March 28, 2009. It was about 5 months after she had celebrated her 100th birthday with a big community party, surrounded by family, friends and a few (not-yet-disgraced) local political dignitaries.

I would like to think that I got an iota of her amazing artistic talent, manifesting itself through my cake, cupcake and cookie decorating.

Or maybe it’s through the decorative art I create for our house. Like the artwork in our family room:

Or fun projects for Halloween decorations:

Or artwork I make for the Christmas holidays:

This past Wednesday, my sister posted this photo to Facebook. It was a few of the sketches my grandmother had done while in college.  My sister had just gotten them back from the framer.

Two nudes - well, the female model is nude. The male model wore a cod piece. Coward.

Two nudes. Well, the female model is nude. The male model wore a cod piece. Coward.

It was interesting that she posted the photos that day because my new professional colleagues and I were attending a team building activity at a place called Brush N Blush.  As a group, you select a painting, and then an artist walks your group through painting the picture. You drink a little wine, paint and have a good time exploring everyone’s talent. Or proclaimed lack thereof.

Many of us were very worried about this activity. I know my artistic talents are limited to baked goods and copying art projects I see on HGTV. Others felt they had no talent at all and were totally out of their comfort zone.

This is the painting our group did:

After Five

After Five

We all had a good time relaxing, painting and checking out each other’s progress.  Up close, you see all that’s wrong with your painting. You can’t see the full vision, even though the instructor keeps encouraging you. Here’s my work halfway done:

My wine glass definitely should be bigger

My wine glass definitely should be bigger

The instructor heard all of us complaining about how we lacked talent, it looked nothing like the sample and was there a prize for worst interpretation.  So for each of us (and there were 20+ in our group), she either picked the canvas up and walked a distance away, or forced us to get up and move away from the canvas. And an amazing thing happened….

Um. Wow.

My finished work. Um. Wow.

Taking a step back and assessing the work from a distance gave us a greater appreciation for its beauty. We didn’t see all the imperfections and flaws; just how wonderfully everything came together for our own unique rendering.

At the end of the day, that’s pretty good advice  for all of us. Take a step back — make sure you are seeing the whole picture — that you aren’t focusing just on the faults. And you will begin to appreciate the beauty of any situation.