Saturday, December 29, 2007


December 29, 2007

Dear Chester Cheeto,

First, thank you.

Thank you for your (NATURAL) White Cheddar Cheetos puffs. They are simply out of this world.

I enjoy these delicious puffs of white cheddary goodness for a number of reasons.

First, because they are WHITE cheddar, they do not leave an orange residue on my hands or mouth when I have eaten a few (dozen). They still leave a powdery residue but it doesn't show as badly when I wipe my hands on my pants.

Second, they are NATURAL - it says so right on the bag. Surely, that means they are a healthy snack. Right? So I can eat as many as I want. Right?

Third, they are just so darn delicious. But therein lies the problem.

See I can't stop eating them. I have been known to eat a standard size bag, which is 8.5 ounces, in two or three sittings. As I munch away on them, letting the powder build up on my fingers (invisibly of course) and wiping my hands on my pants, allowing my teeth to become coated in the (NATURAL) powder of white cheddar; I lose all track of time and reality. I allow myself to think I'm having a (NATURAL) snack.

I mean, at least I'm not eating the WHOLE bag in one sitting. That would be outrageous.


Imagine my surprise though, when I read the "Nutrition Facts" on the back of my bag of White Cheddar Cheetos Puffs and saw that there were "about 9" servings per container.


So that leads me to assume that there are people out there who actually stop eating these delicious powdery puffs after enjoying only "About 32 pieces."


That also leads me to assume that this 8.5 ounce bag is not meant to be a "Snack size bag! Great for lunch boxes and after school snacks!"


I guess a snack size bag would be more like...say....1.5 ounces? (Sigh...that seems so small)

Which leads me to my request.

Could you please, PLEASE, in the name of all that is good and holy (and low fat and healthy) start making SNACK SIZE bags of NATURAL White Cheddar Cheetos Puffs?

I had actually stopped buying the NATURAL White Cheddar Cheetos Puffs for a long while because I could not trust myself to behave like a rational human being while they were in the house. I only just bought them this week to share with our Christmas company.

I'm generous like that.

So, if you would PLEASE start making them in snack size bags, I will start buying them again.

And again, and again, and again.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours covered in White Cheddary Goodness,


Thursday, December 27, 2007


Blue jeans.

The quintessential comfort wear. The all purpose clothing. Pair them with a sweater for a day of shopping; a sleek blouse for a date with your husband; a school t-shirt and tennis shoes to sit on the bleachers at you kids' sporting events.

Ah, blue jeans. We all love them.

Except, well...I don't. At least not anymore.

In high school, back when Calvin Kleins were the most coveted article of clothing, I wore jeans everyday. Lee jeans. I never had Calvin Klein jeans. I think I had some Gloria Vanderbilt and some Vidal Sassoon (sp?), but no Calvins. Mostly Lee jeans. And I wore them with oxford blouses or polos, tucked in, a matching belt and white tennis shoes - the whiter the better. And we purposely bought our jeans too long so we could cuff them.

I guess I was semi-preppy. Not completely preppy because none of my tops had a little alligator on them.

Jeans were so easy back then. We bought our size, paired them with the appropriate top, made sure they were cuffed just right, shielded our eyes from the glare of our ultra white shoes, and went on our way.

Ah, the good old days.

Now jeans are just...well...stressful. Jeans have become a thorn in my side. My back side to be exact, and my waist and my thighs.

Let's start with the waist. Could waist bands get any lower? The first time I bought "below the waist" jeans, I knew I was entering territory that really should be off limits for 40 year old mothers of teenagers. Actually for any 40-year-old. It is not attractive to lift your arms and have your stomach show because your jeans are sitting too low on your body. Of course, not MUCH of your stomach shows if you happen to be wearing high waisted under pants, which evidently are not the foundation garment of choice when wearing the latest style of jeans. That is all I'll say about that.

When I wear the low waist jeans, as I am today because that's all that's out there to buy, I spend my day feeling as those I'm about to lose my britches, therefore constantly pulling up on my belt loops; or fearing that if I bend over I'm going to expose my backside to my children which would certainly send them running from the room, hands covering their innocent faces as they scream "MY EYES!! MY EYES!!" Or at least put them in therapy for a good while.

I do not need this added stress in my life right now.

Teenagers are used to these low waist bands because that is all they know.

But I am not a teenager. Nor do I want to dress like a teenager. I do not want to dress like my 13-year-old daughter. Not that I don't think she looks darn cute all the time, but she does not need a mother that dresses like her. She needs a mother that dresses like a mom. A mom who tries to look hip and stylish while still maintaining some sense of sophistication and appreciation for this phase of life. A mom that looks like a mom without wearing "mom" jeans. A difficult task.

Now we will talk about the "cut" of the jeans. There's boot cut, straight leg, flare, extra flare. Oh and the boyfriend jean. I don't know what in the world a boyfriend jean is. Since I don't have a boyfriend, I'm not going to worry myself over that.

I do know that the boot cut is made with a little flare at the bottom and is usually pretty long so you can wear them with those really nifty pointy, high heeled boots. Those boots that scare me.

Those boots that look so cute and, alright, sexy, but that I can't bring myself to buy because I simply cannot see myself spending a day in boots that squish my toes together and bring on a bout of vertigo. The kind of boot that would surely make my chiropractor and my podiatrist frown. If I had a chiropractor or a podiatrist.

But if you buy boot cut jeans, you almost have to have some sort of boot to wear with them to achieve The Look. Another level of stress in the blue jean dilemma.

Straight leg jeans are making a comeback. And I like those ok. These are made shorter than the boot cut jean, because they are meant to be worn with those cute little ballet flats. You know the ones that have no arch or support of any kind, therefore the enemy of all podiatrists, I'm sure; and are supposed to be worn without socks regardless of the temperatures outside. I have my straight legs on now. With socks and a pair of "mom" slip on shoes. Seems no matter how hard I try, I can't achieve The Look with any of my jeans. There is always one element of The Look that I can't pull off.

The Look. That is the problem. Designers are making jeans for a certain look. A look that can only be achieved by a certain kind of woman.

I am not that kind of woman; though I certainly envy that kind of woman.

I am just not cut out for today's styles.

I blame it on my jean-eology.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Last week I heard the local news report the death of a Marine corporal in Iraq. He was from a tiny town near where I went to grade school. I remember thinking two things: "That's close to home" and "Corporal? That means he was very young."

This morning, the news reported that the body of this 21-year-old marine had arrived home and that his visitation and funeral would be held at the local high school. This made me think two things: "How tragic for parents to have to wait for their child's body to 'arrive home.'" and "High school? How heart wrenching."

There are, in my mind two reasons for the funeral to be at the high school.

First, in a tiny town like this there would be no other place big enough to hold the crowd of people coming to pay their respects. As one who has always lived in small towns, I think I am safe in saying that in this small town, most people knew this young man. They played sports with him. Or taught him in school or Sunday school. Maybe they gave him his first job. Maybe they disciplined him for adolescent mischief. Maybe they shared kisses with him after a high school dance. Maybe they drove around with him on Friday nights, cruising the small town square. Maybe they walked down the aisle with him for graduation. Or they worked with his parents. Or they baby sat for him. Somehow, they knew him. That is the nature of a small town. And in cases like this, I think it would be a comfort to his parents to have "everybody know everybody."

But to me the other reason for having his funeral at the high school is more heart wrenching.

High school was likely his most recent milestone in life.

Until he fought and died for his country.

A mere 3 years ago, he was probably sitting in class in a small school building in the heart of Amish country, surrounded by corn fields and family owned businesses; counting the days until Christmas break. Counting the days until graduation. A mere 3 years ago, he was planning his weekend. Basketball? Video games? Final exams? A mere 3 years ago, could he have envisioned life beyond this rural community? Could he envision the stark difference he would be facing when he arrived in Iraq? A mere 3 years ago, did he even know he would become a marine?

His funeral was not held at the church where he got married, because he had not yet had the chance to get married.

His funeral was not held at the church where his child was baptized because he had not yet had the chance to have a child.

He will not have co-workers at his funeral, because his co-workers are still in Iraq fighting this war. And he had not yet had the chance to decide on a civilian lifestyle, a civilian job where he would move on to another set of significant relationships.

He was still in the phase of life where his most significant relationships, besides his fellow marines, and his family, were most likely high school friends. Because that was his most recent milestone in life.

Until he fought and died for his country.

This is not about the rightness or wrongness of this war. Nor is it about the rightness or wrongness of the man who presides in The Oval Office.

It is about the wrongness of a life being cut short before milestones are reached. It is about the wrongness of a family having to wait for the body of their loved one to arrive home. It is about the wrongness of a mother having her heart wrenched out of her. It is about the wrongness of a father looking at the body of his son... marine... hero, and seeing a baby taking his first steps, a 5-year-old at a tee ball game, a teenager driving for the first time. It is about the wrongness of knowing there will never be grandchildren by him. There will never be another Christmas with him

It is about the wrongness of having to wonder, forever, about your child's last terrifying moments in life. Did he cry for his mother? Did he cry for a young sweetheart?

As one of our ministers said recently, death just feels wrong. No matter when, no matter who, there is a wrongness to death. To somebody, in some way, for some reason, there is a wrongness to any death.

And so today, as my son walked out the door, to get in the car with his best friend, and drive away to school, I wanted to follow him. Not to keep him at home, but to engrave in my mind his long lanky frame, backpack and wrestling bag both on the same shoulder, ball cap, high tops, football coat unbuttoned despite the freezing temperature....climbing into the car to head off to his day.

But I just stood at the door and watched. And saw a chubby toddler pushing a plastic lawnmower, a 6-year-old at a Chicago Bulls game, a 7th grader who broke his finger in kickball, a 16-year-old learning to drive....

And I thought of a heartbroken mother in a tiny town in the middle of Amish country who knows what it means to measure milestones, to measure life, by the blink of an eye.