Monday, January 26, 2015

AM~Erica is Boycotting Chocolate

So anyway...

Not a good way to start a Monday morning. The news that came out today was beyond fathomable. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. I've already had my coffee, so I'm trying to figure out if this is just a nightmare.

Hershey's Chocolate has put a block on the import of Cadbury into the U.S.

Go that a couple more times & let it sink in. I'll wait...

For some reason, the Hershey company is all up-in-arms & offended that their very successful chocolate might be subpar in it's taste & quality compared to something that another country, from across the pond, has to offer.

I love me an amazing Cadbury Creme Egg at Eastertime, except after the noticeable recipe change. However, in perspective, it's still better than a Hershey bar.

Just know that I never mind being handed a Hershey bar. However, there's other chocolate out there I like better. I love Dove chocolate, first. It's followed by Godiva & Cadbury, too. Hershey's falls down the list a bit. And now it looks like it will fall OFF the list.

Now, I'm known to be a purist when it comes to certain things, much like using Hershey bars for s'mores. That's how it goes. However, I'm going to have to step in & force them to break a chocolate bar.

That's right. I'm totally down with the #BoycottHersheys movement. I am actually boycotting chocolate.

Believe me, I'm all about the "Made in America" label, but if you are a subpar quality while being a juggernaut of a brand, why are you so concerned about the competition of a better chocolate that's imported? Oh wait...I think I just answered my own question in there.

Understand that I love me a Cadbury Creme Egg. I thought they had a different taste, as of late, and thought it was just my own tastebuds. Come to find out, the recipe had, indeed, changed...but it's no controversy match for what Hershey's has just thrown down.

It's been said that even bad press is good press, since it's free press. But...I don't think this bad press for Hershey's is going to help. Some may stand up for Hershey's. That's how it goes. But there has been years of competition in these companies. So why now? It makes no sense...unless there's something going on at Hershey's that they don't want the public to know about. Maybe they overcompensated & pulled the import block...and now it looks even more suspicious.

Is it possible that Overly-Paranoid Rob Lowe has some hand in this?

I call shenanigans!! (hehe...cuz Cadbury is imported from Ireland...*ahem*)

Now I'm going to have to go console myself with chocolate: Dove Chocolate, from Mars. (Which is my favorite, anyway.)

Wait a you think that Hershey's is so paranoid about competition that they believe Dove, M&M's, Snickers, Twix, 3 Musketeers...and Milky Way are all from the planet of Mars? I wonder if they will try to get the government to try to put an interstellar import block on Mars Candy!

Oh...and shame on the government for going along with it. Doesn't help foreign affairs, yo!

Don't get me wrong...I am now concerned for all those employees by the Hershey's company. Because the company has hurt themselves in this Mean-Girls-type act.

And now, Cadbury is rejoicing in the sweeping sales from the U.S. in this odd chocolate war that has taken place.

Calm yourself, Hershey! You're not all that. And right are NOT about "Happiness."
You're just being a spoiled-milk (chocolate) brat.

Even when I tagged them in a Facebook post about this, the tag mysteriously, and nearly instantly, disappeared. So I've tagged them in nearly every comment after that.

Now...give me a Promise! The delicious kind from Dove...while I try to find an off-recipe Cadbury Egg to grieve over.

No Kisses for Hershey. (See what I did there?)

World're about to get very busy...

So...are you in on the #BoycottHersheys movement? I'll sure miss Reece's...but I know there's better out there, though. Maybe even from across the pond...

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

AM~Erica's Word of the Year...Maybe

So anyway...

I've seen a "thing" going around. I'm not talking the flu bug THIS time, but something else semi-viral nonetheless.

A word.

Seriously! Do you have one? Did you pick one? Do you even know about it?

I saw a couple of friends pick their "word" for 2015. It seems to be a motivational focus to carry them thru the year. Instead of an absolute resolution (check out my lack-of-resolution HERE), they have picked a focus. It has me intrigued.

There seem to be words like "Encouragement" or "Positivity."

Now I wasn't really gonna jump on this particular bandwagon, but there's a word that kept jumping out at me in the last few weeks. I'm not sure why...but it makes me think I should adopt it for this year, at least:


I know, I tends to be used with a seriously negative connotation. But here's the deal: it's definition is not as bad as it seems. At least, not to me.

     1. (n) a strange or unusual person

     B. (n) a person who is extraordinarily strange or eccentric

     III. (adj) strange, weird

All of those definitions pretty much describe me. For those that know me, wouldn't you agree?

I like being a weirdo! It keeps things fun & interesting! Keeps people on their toes, as well as keeps me on my toes as it fuels creativity.

And? I believe using my weirdo superpowers for good allows me to keep motivating & encouraging others around me. It's quite all-encompassing.
It can be bright.
It can be loud.
It can be delicious. (HERE)
It can be in a tutu. (HERE)
It can be Seussical. (HERE)
It can be piratey. (HERE)
It can be completely celebratory!
It is totally creative!


I take it all to the hilt. From how I dress, to how I eat, to the events of the day...all the things. And I hope it gets others motivated to dip their toes into the celebratory waters. Maybe you'll even come swim with me!

I run in tutus. For the most part, tutus are for race day...and I will try to get a cosTUTUme together that matches the race theme. It's how I roll.

Even being over-the-top (I already know this about myself), I still look for authenticity. I just let it happen.

I know people think I'm so weird. You know what? I don't really care. I'm just gonna be me. And I want to focus on being the truest me possible...all while always searching within me to know what else I can possibly surprise myself about myself with.
Yeah...I just said that.

I'm always learning about what I take part in. We are always supposed to keep learning! And while you learn, you may find you will grow a passion for certain countries, celebrations, cultures, etc. Learn about each other & the world around you! It shows we care for each other, all while breaking down hate.

I'm perfectly comfortable in my weirdo skin! Seriously!

So...I guess what I'm saying is...
My word for (at least) this year is: WEIRDO.

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

AM~Erica Will Be One to Call Out the School

So anyway...

Today is cold in the midwest. This is super important to know.

There was a major windchill advisory in place. It was starting at low temps, with much lower windchill temps. The temperature and windchill was going to continue to just...keep...dropping...

After just over two-weeks off for "winter" (cough-cough-CHRISTMAS-cough-couh) break, today was supposed to be the first day back to classes for the kiddos in our public school district. I know I was READY for them to go back!! I love my kiddos, but they needed a change of scenery. And to see their friends. And to get them out of the house. They needed to go back! (said with all the love of a mother)

As we switched between all the local news stations, the numbers might have been different, but we knew that today was going to be miserable outside. To the point that we were discussing whether or not school would actually be called off.


Our school district has changed some stuff up this year in how things would work for a regular school day & for inclement weather cancellations.

1. No more half/shortened days. It's a full-on regular school day or nothing.

2. Instead of just calling off school for nasty weather, there would be the 2-hour delay option implemented, if the superintendent deemed it necessary.

See, Missouri is ridiculous when it comes to education right now. Between horrible standardized testing & attendance expectation extremes as a carrot to hang in front of districts & individual schools to stay accredited & tax payer funded, it's put the schools & districts in an ugly position of trying not to consider our children dollar signs. But they are calling our kiddos dollar signs.

Yes. We even have each school displaying what percentage of school body attendance is present, and they like to keep it in the forefront about how high the attendance needs to be to maintain tax dollars. Oh...and the teachers need to just put their actual teaching plans to the side & worry about how the kids are going to make the school & district look on impossible standardized tests that make no sense.

Don't get me started on the common core B.S. coming our district's way.
Brace yourselves, parents.

We also have a former superintendent who used to like getting a lot of face time on local media. About once a week, we were seeing his face on the screen for something! He left before he could implement year-round-school, and went to a neighboring school district, just on the other side of the state line. We still see his face on the local news media from time-to-time.
When a new superintendent was being searched for, it was absolutely no surprise to the local public they went in-house. Not much would change.

Although seemingly more approachable & connected, quite often we can see our district superintendent's face gracing the screen of our televisions with how great our district is. Some days, our current AND former superintendents will appear on back-to-back stories. A whole lot of face time...


I told you all of that to get to what happened today.

Come time to go to school, several major school districts were waiting for another one to close. So they tested the busses. The busses were running. So now it was about the attendance situation & that state carrot being dangled...
Guess they needed to get the dollar signs into the building.

No child should have been waiting out in this cold. Even though it was said that just wait for 5 minutes before the bus comes, would chill to the bone in less than 2 minutes, even being completely bundled and layered. Also, the busses were not exactly running on time waiting for kids to get to the bus. That 5 minutes turned into 10.

I'm glad we could drive our kids to the bus stop or to school...but not everyone has that luxury.

My youngest was so angry about having school today, I'm surprised he didn't stage a protest at his school. I also know that attendance was down in many area districts due to frustrated parents wanting to keep their kids safe at home. I don't blame them.

However, surprise-surprise, our district superintendent got screen time this afternoon defending the decision to have school. He used the story about how there are kids who need the warm meal, and they could come & get a coat, hat &/or gloves if needed from the schools' surplus.

Don't get me wrong!! There are a whole lot of students in our district who are on the free or reduced lunch program. Really too many. I'm certainly not saying they need to fend for themselves, but what I'm saying is that there are so many that truly are underprivileged. The school district does try their best to make sure it's not open knowledge so they are not looked down upon by other students. It does not change those numbers, however.'s my biggest issue with the superintendent hiding behind the fact they are in a position to have school to be able to give out these items & make sure they are fed is this: they still had to work getting to school in the bitter cold first. They didn't receive the items before they had to head out! This does not make one look like some hero. Especially when the rest of the parents in the district already know our kids are viewed as dollar signs & not individuals.

Our superintendent has done a fairly nice job of appearing approachable (I know, I know...I already said that) by being on Twitter & being fairly regular and open on tweeting with those who have questions for him. Even the students! This was working out fairly well...until today...

Now then, the anger levels were running high today - both from students AND parents. From what I understand, tweets towards him today were less than complimentary. Some questioning his actual reasoning for staying open, but there were inappropriate tweets telling what certain individuals ACTUALLY felt.
Well...this led to a couple of things:

1. From what I understand, instead of handling himself professionally, he actually went on a large blocking spree, whether they tweeted him on this situation or not.

2. According to the news (surprise-surprise), he had good humor about all the tweets & how he couldn't keep up by tweeting this:

That's right. This was a gif of "Bruce Almighty" being retweeted about how quickly he was BLOCKING people!! That, my friends, is not in good humor, as the news graciously said about him. This is obnoxious.

OK, here's the deal...
Our district has already mismanaged cold weather days. There has been twice that should have been the late start option, and one day fully called off.

There was a windchill day that should have been a late start; it was a regular day.
There was a snow day that should have been a late start; school was called off all day.
There was today's windchill & falling all day & should have been called off; it was a regular school day.

As of this moment, I'm not sure what will end up with these words & points. Anyone who has been raising concerns has been put on some kind of roadblock, even by the school board, as being more closed off to listen to parents & students, and instead just having more & more rules put in place to where it has become speak-by-appointment-only, or be completely blocked (see above tweet) or ignored.

Looks like many other districts may be in this type of situation. And parents are mad. And students are mad.

This goes to the the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, on down. The education of these kids, and the overall wellbeing of these kids, are not being considered fully when the almighty dollar has a grip on you.

Our kids are not tax dollars. Our kids are not bargaining chips.

Today was ugly in the Kansas City area. I'm proud of the districts who were smart enough to close on a day that children could have been really dangerous for them. I thank you.

As for the other districts...
It's disgusting what you have done. It's disgusting when you hide behind charity to make your case.

And, from what I understand, many schools didn't have the attendance hoped for due to the parents using actual common sense. 

We are the tax payers. Our money should be going to the education AND welfare of our individuals. Not some blanket form of implementation that is blind to nearly all of this.

Something needs to change! And you are not hiding anything. No more excuses. We can see through your veils of charity. We know what this is about. Take some responsibility & own up to it. Tell the Governor he won't bully you into mainstreaming our children into a mold they don't fit into. It's despicable.

Now then, in the morning, it will be frigid. It will warm up later in the day. Will we attempt a late start? Or continue on as a regular day? I won't complain as much about tomorrow being a regular day...but you owe it to the kids to let them know you might actually care about them. I would hope.

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Just got the call that our district will enforce the 2-hour late start option since, unlike today, the weather will be cold in the morning, but will warm up.
Think he learned from the major lashing he received?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

AM~Erica is Journeying Into the New Year

So anyway...

The first blog post of a new year! TA-DA!

Like many, I took New Year's Eve to reflect on 2014. There were big things that happened, good & bad, that actually shaped a year I never would have expected.

Let's start with the craziest of all the things. Shall we?

A year ago, I was making fun of the typical resolution. If you remember, I even came up with the WORKOUT REGIMEN I thought I'd follow.
Go ahead. Read it! Why? Because, a year later, it's now hilarious! I mean, it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek to begin with, but I was still pretty serious about it at the same time. But check out one of the things I said doesn't fit with me...then giggle with me...

I mean, look at me now!! We can all get a good giggle together as I took up something I never, Never, NEVER imagined doing for fun. FOR FUN, people. Who they heck did I become?

Yep, I TOOK UP RUNNING. Even after I had pretty much made fun of those who are runners &/or work out in any form. It's amazing what can stir within you that changes you. All it took, for me, was seeing friends having fun with it! Not a scary trainer in your face or someone talking down to you because you aren't doing what they are doing. Those are major personality turnoffs!! Who would even want to socialize with anyone who is super fit & angry because of it? Ugh.

My year took a major turn the end of March 2014. Nothing I'd planned on or expected. I am! And, I do it for the fun I can have with it. Isn't that what it should be about? Love what you do? It's hard work, yes, and choices around keeping it up are important...but if you're happy because of it, you haven't sacrificed anything! Well...maybe an awful attitude. I would hope anyway...

Plus, I HAD A KIDDO GRADUATE! How the heck did that happen?? I am not old enough to have a kid headed to college!! *SOBS*

The family went back to Colorado for vacation. We love Colorado. Not for recent legislation, either. It's purely for the sights, I think. And the adventures we can have there. It's pretty awesome. Running around the Dillon Lake Dam at sunrise over the mountains was totally worth it!! And? We spent Independence Day catching the Breckenridge parade, too. It was glorious! The fireworks over Lake Dillon, from our viewpoint, wasn't as awesome as hoped...but it still didn't fully diminish the overall vacay...
We love Colorado...

Shortly after that is WHEN MY GRANDMOTHER PASSED AWAY. Gosh that was hard. Still is. But we all try to keep up her memory in someway as often as we can. We still grieve her. She was so loved. And there are STILL SIGNS OF HER checking up on us. I love that.

I GOT TO SPEAK to a wonderful group of peers at the Missouri United Methodist Annual Conference pastor's spouse luncheon. God called on me to do this...and I had to really rely on God's guidance to get me thru it. But what a fantastic & supportive group. And what a fulfilling experience it was. I was probably more touched by the connections I made.

I was also blessed to be a part of God's plan to bring our friend, Rob, on board at church. After he lost his wife, just short of a year ago, I'm so glad we could be there to help him thru, be there during his grieving, cheering him on with his running (after I actually made fun of him before I started running),  and so glad he is closely working with us! What great ministry is being done at our church between my hubby & Rob!

It was also because of our co-shenanigator, Rob, that I have made so many connections in the world of running. I have found other runners to be able to cheer each other on with & to be inspired by to keep motivated. Crazy what a seemingly tiny decision can actually turn into...

It also got me reconnected with my lil-sister-from-another-mister, Beqi! It's been great being running buddies, either with or encouraging from afar, with her!!

Oh...and I've been able to incorporate tutus, into what I call "COSTUTUMES", for races. I have discovered that tutus contain superpowers, even!! Just another motivation to keep going!

I've gotten medals for running, too!! Sometimes a girl just really loves her bling!

It's also been discovered how many people I already knew were actually runners already. It gave another level of conversation...or a better connection. Awesome.

I was even given the title of "Runner" on TV! BOOM! Must be official!

Also...running has actually helped me meet & talk to some of the neighbors in the 'hood. Go figure!

We even got to see my brother-in-law get married to a wonderful gal!! So glad she's in our family & that they are happy. They both needed that!

Then I got to take part in something so special. I was blessed to be able to walk in the Kansas City Out of the Darkness memory walk. Whoa...that was actually life-changing. You can read about MY WALK EXPERIENCE, and I hope it helps to open eyes. MY OWN STRUGGLES made it difficult and beautiful to be a part of such an event. I also made some awesome connections & met amazing people thanks to my high school friend, Jenn. And because of that American Foundation for Suicide Prevention walk, I have made a move to become a field advocate for AFSP. This goes beyond my own advocacy, but also into the realm of guiding legislation to include suicide prevention that will hopefully lead to a world without suicide at all. It is something I have been quite passionate about once I stepped forward.

Oh...and who can forget the amazing story of our hometown KC Royals doing their thing & even getting to the World Series?? So good to witness that excitement & go thru so many emotions thru the whole thing. The Royals truly gave baseball a great season.

When HALLOWEEN ROLLED AROUND, we had a record number of trick-or-treaters! Believe it or not, in the year of "Frozen," we didn't have a single Elsa, Anna or Olaf show up to our door. Whether it happened or not, it was a glorious night!

We hosted all of Thanksgiving! Brunch with one side, and dinner with the other. We didn't have to go ANYWHERE! It was glorious...

Also, we changed a few things up at Christmastime. We had a forest of Christmas trees! One of the trees was MY GRANDMA'S MEMORY TREE. I also channeled my grandma making some cookies & candies for the season, too.

And, to top off the whole year, my hubby & I celebrated 20 years of knowing each other. We met 20 years ago...and it is even more apparent today that we were meant for each other! Even taking in A TOTALLY DUMB DATE NIGHT! Perfect time for a sequel to come out for the movie we saw on our first date.

It was quite a year!


As I reflected on this at the close of the year, realizing what a different person I'd become, I was wondering about the new year. It's now 2015! A time we feel the need to push a restart button. Turn the calendar, turn a page on your whole new life. Right? Resolutions on how everything is gonna change at the snap of a finger, the stroke of midnight, and a numeral exchange on the year.

But...I wasn't looking for any big goal in the upcoming year. It was weird...

With a wedding, a killer vacation, a graduation-to-college-start, there was a lot set for last year. But we don't have any of the really big stuff coming in 2015...

Well...the family is finally-Finally-FINALLY GOING TO PLANET COMIC-CON (last year's plea), and I have a kiddo who will be starting their senior year, come fall. Other than that, I am just looking forward to continuing the run journey, continuing my advocacy, carrying on my grandmother's memory, loving my family, and just looking for some adventures & things to celebrate...LIKE I DO. I'm even a team captain for a racing team for The Color Run: Shine Tour in KC this March.

We started A NEW TRADITION last year, and was glad to be able to do it again this year. It even had me find SOME NEW RECIPES to try, too.

There were so many unexpected happenings in 2014... Yet no big event, per se, planned for the coming year. No graduations. No weddings. No moves. It makes me wonder what the continued journey into 2015. No big resolutions...just taking things as they come.

That's not so bad...

May you have a wonderful 2015. May it be what YOU make of it!

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica