Monthly Archives: August 2013


Chapter 93475: How to Give Your Daughter Body Issues Without Even Trying!

Hollyn will be 13 in a couple of weeks. In the last year she has shot up to 5’6″ and is taller than me when she wears heels. When we went on vacation in July, Hollyn borrowed three dresses from me. They fit her well, and she looked great in them. The Sunday after we got back, she borrowed another dress of mine to wear to church.

So what’s the problem?

For the last six years, Jason’s ex has had only nasty things to say about my appearance in general, and my weight in particular. According to the girls, she referred to me as “the big fat girl.”

I’m not sure Hollyn has quite put it together yet, but pretty soon the lightbulb will go off. “I’m borrowing clothes from Windy, and they fit. My mom has always said Windy is fat. Therefore, I’m fat.”

It is unlikely that Jason’s ex thought this far ahead when she was feverishly judging me for my weight, but perhaps she should have. This is a perfect example of why divorced people need to watch what they say in front of their children, especially when they’re doing nothing more than being snarky about someone’s appearance. Think of it this way: Let’s say you discuss your ex-wife’s appearance in front of your child, pointing out the ex’s huge nose and weak chin and beady little eyes. Then you go to the grocery store, where you run into an old acquaintance. “Oh, you look just like your mother!” she says to the child. AWKWARD.

I have an aunt, my father’s older sister, who thinks that Hollyn and I look similar enough to be related. Every time I talk to her on the phone, she mentions it. And every time she mentions it, a tiny voice in my head whispers, “I hope Hollyn never hears that, because she’d be crushed.

As a general rule, I try to keep my snark limited to things which are choices. Leggings are NOT PANTS, for example, but they are a choice.  Selfies featuring duck face are NOT PRETTY, but they are also a choice.

The size of your nose? Not a choice. The quantity of your acne? Not a choice.

Of course, we should probably all adhere to the rule, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” but I have way too little self-control for that. I’m working on it.





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My Coolest Years

Last weekend I visited Panama City, Florida. It had been eight years since my last visit, and a full ten years since I called the place home.

I first moved to Panama City in the summer of 2001, right before my senior year of college. I’d won a journalism internship through Freedom Communications, owner of the local paper, the News Herald. I was paid in bragging rights and tarnished nickels, but it was enough to rent a furnished efficiency apartment. At the end of the summer, I returned to Amherst with a tentative job offer in my back pocket, which I cashed in upon graduation. I spent the next year as a general assignments reporter, covering local politics and general interest items (a.k.a. “weird stories involving animals or weather, sometimes both”).

In my limited experience, there are two types of newspaperpeople – those who excel at finding the story, and those who excel at telling the story. I firmly fell into the latter category. I couldn’t uncover a tale of corruption to save my life, but I could make the plight of a potbellied pig owner seem compelling, or use my amateur investigative skills to return a Purple Heart to its rightful owner’s family.

For someone fresh out of college, it was the best job on earth. The year I spent in Panama City was, in a very real way, the last time my whole life was spread out before me in an endless array of opportunities. From there I could go anywhere, do anything. Those were supposed to be my coolest years, my best years.

Instead, I mucked it up in spectacular fashion.

I had spent my whole life up to that point in school. And school, unlike real life, is filled with frequent indicators of one’s progress, through grades and evaluations and report cards. In a newsroom, it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. No one ever affixed a gold star to a particularly well-written piece. The power company didn’t give me an A for paying my bill on time. It was during this year that I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, because I felt I was failing to thrive as an adult.

As I drove through the familiar streets of Panama City on Sunday, I wondered how my life would have been different if I’d pushed myself to get out of my apartment, to make non-work friends, to integrate myself into the community. In short, I wondered what would happen if 2002 Windy had behaved like 2013 Windy.

This, of course, is wishful thinking. There wouldn’t be a 2013 Windy without a 2002 Windy. I still struggle with anxiety – just ask Jason! – but it no longer cripples me. I have learned to engage, to be a participant – but I still breathe a sigh of relief when the garage door goes down at night.

When I left Panama City in 2003, I was a mess. When I came back on Sunday, I was filled with gratitude. The lessons I learned there certainly left scars, but they’re no longer painful to touch.

Photo: J. Levy

Photo: J. Levy



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Fifth Grade

Tyler started fifth grade today.

I don’t know what to say beyond, “WHAT?!”

Kindergarten - Ms. Krause

Kindergarten – Ms. Krause

My mind is kind of blown.

First Grade - Ms. Newland

First Grade – Ms. Newland

I watched him get ready this morning. Watched him as he got himself dressed, made his bed, fixed his breakfast, and helped with the animals.

Second Grade - Ms. Crowe

Second Grade – Ms. Crowe

There were times – many, many times – when I literally never thought I’d see the day he’d be capable of pouring himself a bowl of cereal.

Third Grade - Ms. Jones

Third Grade – Ms. Jones

And now? Now he’s like the champion of cereal. Among other things.

5 Fourth Grade 2

Fourth Grade – Ms. Bottini

I don’t miss herding him from one morning task to another. I do miss his tiny chubby cheeks, his sticky kisses, and his utter and complete faith in me.

Fifth Grade - Ms. Bryant

Fifth Grade – Ms. Bryant

Happy First Day of School, Tyler.


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Five for Friday: New Recipes

Happy Friday! We working stiffs made it through another week.

I love trying new recipes, and generally work in two or three new dishes every week. Today I’m sharing five that have been outstanding.

1. Orzo with Gruyere and Garden Vegetables, by BevCooks

This vegetarian dish is perfect for the end of summer – it’s reasonably quick, uses fresh summer vegetables, but the gruyere makes it taste slightly fall-ish. The mix of fresh cherry tomatoes and canned fire-roasted tomatoes is nice, too.

2. Grilled Maple Dijon Salmon, by How Sweet Eats

Jason is kind of a freak for salmon, so I’m always looking for slightly new ways to cook it. This was a winner – the dijon mustard glaze was simple and tasty, and adding bacon is always a victory in my book.

3. Chickpea Curry with Coconut Rice, by How Sweet Eats

(Yes, I love How Sweet Eats. Possibly too much.) This is another meat-free recipe featuring leeks, which I adore. I didn’t have the fortitude to make the coconut rice, so we had regular rice. I think it would have also been tasty with rice noodles. I doubled this recipe and the leftovers held up well.

4. Caramelized Onion, Gruyere & Pepper Bacon Pizza, by How Sweet Eats

And here is where the virtuous eating ends. This pizza is amazing, and I’ll be making it over and over this fall. I make my own crust, but use the Pioneer Woman’s recipe. (Special note for Tallahassee folks: If I don’t have time to make pizza dough, I’ll buy dough from Momo’s Pizza.)

5. Roasted Summer Vegetable Mac & Cheese, by (no surprise here) How Sweet Eats

You roast a pan of vegetables, then you make some mac & cheese. Why have I not thought of this before??? At first, I was a little leery of putting roasted corn into mac & cheese, but it works. If this seems similar to Recipe #1 above…. it kind of is. Oops. Good thing I can never get enough carbs + cheese.

School starts in Leon County on Monday, and already the dread is infecting the house. Well, the children’s dread, anyway. I’m too busy dusting off my pom-poms for football season.

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Vacation, Hallelujah.

Last week we went on a cruise to Mexico with my mother and all three kids. We chose an “entry-level” cruise, since we didn’t know how the children would enjoy life at sea (i.e. debilitating seasickness, terminal boredom, lack of thirst for adventure and/or pillaging).

The ship departed from New Orleans, which has a lovely new cruise terminal. We boarded about 20 minutes before the lifeboat drill, and afterwards assembled on deck to watch the ship leave the dock.


Our first full day was spent at sea, plodding due south across the Gulf of Mexico. That night was the captain’s dinner (aka Fancy Night), which is actually a pretty good idea – it gets the dress-up night out of the way when you’ve only gained a pound or two.  The last night on the ship is “muumuus and caftans” night.



On the second morning, we docked in Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico, and left the ship to explore the Mayan ruins at Dzibilchaltun. Say that five times fast.

The ruins were unexpectedly awesome.


The city once held up to 40,000 residents, but was eventually abandoned (not conquered). Archaeologists discovered it in the 1950s. The main plaza is surrounded by large stair-step structures and originally featured a stucco floor:


Dzibilchaltun is also home to a sacred cenote, where Jensen demonstrated her Jesus impression:


On Day 3, we visited Cozumel. Cozumel is many things – the words “touristy” and “hot” come to mind.

It’s also beautiful.


Our excursion for the day consisted of snorkeling with, and then interacting with, stingrays at a preserve. The preserve is home to about 50 stingrays with clipped barbs. All baby stingrays born at the preserve, about 40 a year, are released into the wild.

It turns out that when you are holding fresh pieces of ballyhoo in knee-deep water, the stingrays turn into large, slimy cats. They would head-butt our calves and rub themselves over our ankles. Creepy, but kind of cute.


After learning about these creepy-but-cute critters, we relaxed by the shore before re-boarding the ship:


Day 4 was another day at sea, and on the morning of Day 5, we docked back in New Orleans. That was August 1 – Tyler’s 10th birthday.

For his birthday, Tyler requested dinner at the Acme Oyster House, and I was only too happy to oblige. We spent the night in the city and drove back to Tallahassee on Friday.

The kids had a GREAT time on the cruise. I think they will definitely be up for more at-sea adventures. They loved exploring the ship, and eating, and watching the after-dinner shows, and eating, and the big water slide, and did I mention eating?


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WIWW: Sizzle

By which I mean, “it’s finally stopped raining all the time and feels like summer.”

pleated poppy

I haven’t done a WIWW post in several weeks – I got lazy, and then we went on vacation. So I got ready for work this morning, uploaded my picture….. and discovered I’m wearing the same skirt as my previous WIWW.

Yep, it’s that maxi skirt. Again. I LOVE IT SO MUCH, THOUGH.


This time I paired it with a gray camisole and a chambray shirt, plus an orange belt I got on clearance at Target last week.

Have a lovely week!


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A Letter to the Tallahassee Animal Shelter Foundation

(Note: The Tallahassee ASF sponsors a program to help heartworm-positive dogs find homes. The foundation pays the cost of the Immiticide injection, which kills the adult heartworms but is very expensive.)

Dear Tallahassee ASF:

Let me tell you about my dog Lucius.

Lucius is a 4.5-year-old chocolate lab. He was picked up by Animal Control on May 11, 2013. He weighed 43 pounds, was un-neutered, covered in ticks, and was tapeworm and heartworm positive. A later x-ray revealed that he has shotgun pellets embedded in his side. He was a mess.

My husband, son, and I visited the animal shelter on May 18 and immediately fell in love with the dog. When we took him out to a “meet and greet” area, he walked over and put his head in my lap right away. After some discussion with the staff about heartworm treatment and costs, we decided to adopt him. Good thing we did – while we were standing at the counter, four other families called to inquire about Lucius!

Lucius went for an evaluation on May 21, 2013 at Northampton Animal Health, and we started him on their heartworm protocol. I’m happy to report that as of July 16, Lucius is heartworm free! He’s also tapeworm free, tick free, and weighs a healthy 68 lbs. He’s made himself right at home in our family – we have three children, a blind Boston Terrier, and a talkative orange cat (both of whom also came from the shelter).

Lucius is such a sweet dog, and we are grateful to have him. Thank you so much for your Heartworm Voucher program. It was a big incentive for us to proceed with adopting him.

Thanks again,
Windy Taylor


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