Not hyperbole, and given some of the truly uncalled-for things that have happened to me over 39 years, that’s saying quite a lot.

(I originally had a list of the top 5 until-this-point occurrences, but damn, that made for some depressing reading. Let’s say that the look of pity in the funeral home employee’s eyes as he clarified, “This check pays off the balance of your father’s funeral, and this one is a deposit on your mother’s?” was only at number 5, and leave it at that.)


I read a lot of personal development books, or self help books, whatever you want to call them. And nearly all of them, while the author recounts their own experience, references a moment on which their whole outlook, their whole life, hinges. A moment that separates your life into before and after.

Rock bottom. Now I can say I’ve been there, done that.

For me that moment came in early September. First I noticed that my oldest son, Jake, was 15 minutes past curfew on a Friday night. Then I was livid at 30 minutes past curfew. I went to get my phone, sitting on the charger in my bedroom.

Several numbers had called earlier in the evening. None that I recognized. None that had left a message. It left me on edge, but I reasoned that if anything was amiss they’d have called back or left messages. If anything, it was probably Jake calling on a friend’s phone, preemptively offering up an excuse for his breaking curfew, reminding me that he needed a new phone as his battery didn’t last very long anymore.

At an hour past curfew I started to panic. I started texting his friends. They didn’t know where he was; they’d been trying to get hold of him themselves. They checked in with other friends, friends I didn’t know.

90 minutes past curfew and I had officially lost my mind with worry.

At 12:45, nearly a full two hours past curfew, I answered a phone call letting me know Jake had been taken to the ER and was put me on hold so that the hospital could officially take my permission for treatment.

Those minutes— it was probably only two or three, but it felt like a lifetime, as I ran to wake my husband up, the fear in my voice jolting him awake and scaring myself even more. Those minutes were the hinge my life swung upon.

Jake prom

Jake is OK. He was in a head on collision going 40mph; his organic chemistry textbook clocked him on the back of the head as the airbag opened. Aside from some bruising, some staples to the back of his head, a car that didn’t make it and a total blank where memories of the accident should be, he is fine.

As we arrived at the hospital, though, we didn’t know that. We didn’t know anything. They had wheeled him away for a CAT scan and again, we waited for what seemed like forever. Plenty of time for worst case scenarios. Lots of time to worry about the state of the other driver, to think about their spouse or child or mother waiting, willing their phone to ring. Too much time to think about our bank account, already shot to hell from months of unemployment and the cost of buying the car in the first place.

I’d already been fighting the slow slide into depression, and the week before this happened was particularly bad. I’d felt like I was waiting for something terrible to happen. I felt like I had somehow willed this into happening.

I cannot explain in words what it felt like to see my baby boy wheeled in, his head wrapped in gauze, a cone around his neck, his ridiculous ripped up sneakers he insists on wearing sticking out from underneath a sheet.

Jeff kept trying to talk to me, and all I could do was stare at him. I don’t deal well with the sounds of the ER anymore, and he was asking me to stop putting my head between my knees, where I could block out the sound; to stop rocking, to stop pacing. I didn’t know how to tell him if I stopped moving I’d start shaking. I didn’t know how to let him know that if I spoke, I’d start crying, and if I started crying, I might start screaming.

I knew how this works, when the panic fully takes hold. I’ve been there before.

But then we got to take my boy, my baby boy, home, at 5am. I wanted him to sleep on the couch on the living room, where I could keep an eye on him. I didn’t want him out of my sight ever again. I couldn’t sleep. I mentally checked out for days, broken by the idea that we could have lost him, and thanked the gods for my husband who took care of our other kids, of all the calls and questions I couldn’t deal with.

And all I can do now is be grateful. Grateful that there hadn’t been another car on the crossroads, that the airbag on a 98 Civic had been in good condition, that the other driver was unhurt, grateful that my son will be home again in a few hours, embarrassed by having to take the bus but oh well.

And my heart goes out to all the parents that don’t receive such an outcome in just a few hours. That have to spend days, weeks, months listening to the beeps of a hospital room, that await diagnoses, that live with uncertainty and anxiety, that struggle to keep their child’s (and their own) spirits optimistic.


This is the part where I ask you a favor

My CrossFit box has been my anchor the last few years whenever the overwhelming sadness and anxiety closes in. Not only as a place where I get those endorphins pumping, but as a place that I feel secure and welcome in, and that has introduced me to many new friends. They are good people.


CrossFit Riverfront is hosting a fundraiser this Saturday to benefit A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital, in the name of the Esmond family. If you’re local, you’ve heard this story: while on vacation in the Virgin Islands, the Esmonds were exposed to a neurotoxin via pesticide spray. Mr. Esmond was an official at Tatnall, the Esmond boys promising lacrosse players.  They were— are— members of our CrossFit family, but Mr. Esmond and the boys are no longer capable of even simple physical functions. Mrs. Esmond received the least exposure and has recovered most fully, and of course spends her days and nights with her boys at A.I.

I’ve spent my fair share of time at A.I. DuPont; again, with Jake, when he was younger. He’s had his time in intensive care, as an inpatient, as an outpatient. He’s had tests and appointments with specialists.

My father-in-law works there, helping to give voices to the deaf. (That’s a huge understatement.)

The staff there is wonderful. So much thought has gone into making the experience bearable, comfortable, less frightening. Every attempt is made to make sure the parents understand what is happening, what their options are. Children are spoken to, not around. We are hugely fortunate to have it nearby.


Oh. Right. That favor

I’d love for you to donate to our #EsmondStrong fundraiser and support A.I. DuPont Hospital, which does so much to support children and their families, and research like my FIL does. If you’ve ever experienced the heartache of seeing your child in a hospital bed, I’d really appreciate if you’d also share the link to the fundraiser with others.

In the name of the Esmonds, with me and Jake in mind.

For the kids, and for the parents sitting by their bedside, ready to hear some good news.

And please, love on your loved ones today and every day; hug them tight. You never know when your life will turn on a hinge.

me and jake


You can donate directly on the fundraiser page (every dollar counts! No donation too small), or you can come check out the event on Saturday from 10-2 at the box. WODs will begin in multiple heats soon after the 10:00 mark so that everyone can get a workout in. Raffle tickets will be sold for $5 a pop for awesome prize baskets sponsored by Hylete, Reebok, Caveman Coffee and lots more; Kettlebell Kitchen will be there cooking up food for everyone.

It’s a opportunity to see what CrossFit is all about: community, and accomplishing so much more than you ever expected.


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I don’t have cable, so I was “watching” the recent Video Music Awards through commentary on Twitter and Facebook and catching up on the important bits as clips were posted to various websites. It’s funny, I don’t feel I missed much, I was just operating on a ten minute delay or so.

Afterwards, of course, the overwhelming majority of sentiment goes like this:

1. OMG, all these performers are attention whores and everything they said/did/wore was for the attention, how pathetic

2. FFS, <insert name of media outlet here>, I remember when you used to report actual news, why does anyone care about <insert name of celebrity here>?

Example: I’m so sick of that Miley Cyrus. Stop giving her attention. She’s just trying to be the next Madonna.

Madonna? Madonna who? Oh, you mean the woman who was instrumental for pushing the artistic envelope when it came to music video; who is, if not the Queen at least a duchess of the Girl Power movement; who released over a dozen albums over three decades; who sold over 300 million records (making her the best selling female musical artist of all time); who went on to star in films, write books and found her own entertainment company? Who, by the by, was criticized every damn step of the way? That Madonna? Why the hell would anyone want to try to be her?

Remember Like a Virgin at the VMAs? The original wardrobe malfunction?

I think it’s strange that we lambast the famous for craving attention, as it is the motivation that drives the creative instinct and the hustle to get it seen, and the “media” (by which I mean anyone who seeks to reach an audience beyond their friends and family) for distributing content that generates that attention.

This is what we call entertainment. It’s not a new concept.

Performers stand before us on whatever stage they choose, and we choose to pay attention to it. And far more often than not, we criticize not only their talent and their creations, but their faces, their bodies, their casual remarks, their vacation choices, their wardrobes, their partners and their children.

It’s amazing that anyone chooses to create and perform at all, let alone in a way that is mass distributed, that makes them “famous.” But for those with the music, the words, the magic within them, the idea of not sharing is to deny your spirit.

Let’s be real: to amass any sort of fame for what you’ve produced, there needs to be a healthy amount of ego. There is no such thing as a truly humble celebrity. Thankful, grateful, yes. But to keep creating things of note, you can’t act like your talent was a happy coincidence, a tangential gift. You have to own your talent. You have to think: yes, I made this, and it is good, and I can do it again.

You have to believe that what you’re putting out there is something the world absolutely wants and needs to see. You have to take energy from the other parts of your life and dedicate it to the center of your universe, your craft. And then you have to take care of the thousand and one mundane details that don’t actually directly pertain to your craft, the first and most important being promote, promote, promote.

1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

If your ego isn’t quite up to snuff, then the act of creation is terrifying and the act of promotion is paralyzing. What was so clever, concise, innovative, important while being constructed in your mind becomes insipid and trivial once you imagine how the world will belittle and criticize.

And they will. No matter how brilliant and talented you are. No matter if they are strangers, your friends or your bedmates. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen anyway, whether you’re just doing normal day to day things or giving birth to things of joy and consequence. It’s just a matter of degree.

Your job isn’t to cater to the masses. Your job is to put the thing into the world that only you can. Not everybody is going to like it and that’s fine.

So you may as well bask in how brilliant and talented you are while you build big, important things, and let them chatter as they must. 

There’s nothing wrong with a little ego, and a little fear. It’s far better than the alternative: to do nothing ever worth talking about.

Feel the fear— and then go ahead. Dance like everyone is watching.

facing fear

Faced with fear, we all recoil. The question is:

what do we do next?

-Ralph Keyes, The Courage to Write (affiliate link)


FWIW, I don’t care much for Miley Cyrus either. I’m old, I guess.

Refreshingly, I honestly don’t think she cares what I care.


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chicken wingsphoto: Depositphoto


I somehow managed to make it until I was about 30 years old without ever eating a buffalo wing.

Yeah, I KNOW.

Fried chicken, yes. We lived around the corner from a KFC/Taco Bell combo restaurant for years (we never ate there, once you’ve been subjected to the smell on a humid August morning on trash day you never want Taco Bell again). And around the corner from there stood a Walt’s Flavor Crisp, which is without doubt the best fried chicken you can get locally. Walt’s is the only thing I miss about living in the city.

Anyway. We ate fast food pretty much never when I was a kid, wings were not in my mom’s wheelhouse I guess, and I just never ordered wings while eating out.

I was introduced to Buffalo Wild Wings and my culinary world got rocked. Then I tried the wings at the diner at our beach (Chicken or the Egg; their Ludacris wings were a Man Vs Food challenge:

Wings are now one of my go-to comfort foods, surpassed only by my love of a cheesesteak.


This is literally all I can think of when I’m driving home with a bag full of wings.


Anyway. We were out at the grocery store and I happened to see this:



Sweet Baby Ray’s is one of our favorite BBQ sauces, and once I saw that jar I was craving some wings.

Tommy Boy was doing his chant in my head, wings were on sale, I knew we had a ton of vegetable oil in the pantry from a fairly recent Costco run, and lo it was decided we were going to try our hand at making our own.

This is one of those recipes that seems ridiculous to post if you already know how to do it, but I’d only really seen buffalo wings made start-to-finish once and I wasn’t paying close attention. I can’t be the only one who had to look it up, so that’s why I’m sharing.

We have a Presto ProFry deep fryer that my brother lent us, but you can also fry in a deep pot or wok on the stovetop (which is how my mom made eggrolls). It’ll take longer since you’ll be working in smaller batches.

To make life easier and safer I also recommend a spider and a good set of tongs, plus large (gallon size) Ziploc bags will minimize cleanup.

Anywho, the steps are simple.


Easy Homemade Deep Fried Buffalo Wings

Makes enough for our family of 5 wing lovers


  • 36 chicken wings (Costco is an amazing deal on these, this recipe uses half the package)
  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • you can add 1/4 tsp of salt and some pepper if you want. I never add salt to recipes
  • 3/4 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Wing Sauce, another brand’s wing sauce OR 3/4 cup of a hot sauce like Frank’s + 3/4 cup of melted butter
  • vegetable oil for the fryer— again, Costco is a great deal. Save your container to keep your oil in for next time!

deep fryer safety


Hot oil splatters and it hurts. Here, Jeff is illustrating ideal deep fryer safety.

  • deep fryer all alone on the counter with nothing touching it
  • shoes
  • apron (if you get grease on your clothes it will stain, and become a hazard in the dryer)
  • oven mitt
  • Mexican wrestling mask optional.

If wings are frozen, they’ll need to be thawed and patted dry before starting.

1. Combine your flour, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder and optional salt & pepper in a large dish or Ziploc bag. Add wings in batches and roll or shake until covered.


floured wings


2. Throw container/Ziploc bag full of floured wings into freezer for 15 minutes or so, it helps the breading stick while frying.

3. A deep fryer will have a minimum and maximum line on the inside; add enough vegetable oil to hit the minimum and heat to 375°. If using a pot you’ll want it a few inches deep for this quantity and ideally you should confirm the temperature with a cooking thermometer (make sure yours is safe to use at this temperature).

4. Put some wings into deep fryer basket (or spider if using stovetop pot) and lower gently into oil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until wing extremities are turning dark.

5. Pour your wing sauce or hot sauce/butter combo into a clean container with a lid OR your Ziploc bag.

6. Drain cooked wings on some paper towels for a minute— don’t let them cool too much— then transfer with tongs to the container/Ziploc bag. Seal, then shake until wings are covered in sauce.



Cass doesn’t do hot/spicy, at all, so we mixed some melted butter with garlic parmesan pasta sauce for her wing sauce.


Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing (Marie’s is my favorite, lots of cheesy chunks) and some cut up celery, carrots, or really any raw veggies. I also recommend beer 🙂


filtering oil for reuse deep fryer


You can save the oil for another day by first skimming off any solid yuck with your spider, then fine filtering through a colander, strainer or funnel lined with paper towels. It will take a while, so budget your time accordingly. If filtering stalls, completely change to new paper towels. Stop when you get to the layer of flour at the bottom. Refrigerate oil until next deep fry day. (This article gives a solid breakdown of how many times you can reuse your deep fryer oil and why.)

Wings go for 75 cents per or more at this quantity at restaurants; our cost was about 40 cents per wing when including the cost of oil. When we reuse the oil that drops to 26 cents per wing; so let’s call it feeding five for about $12 if we load up on veggies too. Not terrible for a family fave.


Are you a wing fan? Who makes your favorite?




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**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.**

Heads up, MMA fans! Reebok recently unveiled their new Fight Shop. It’s a destination where fighters, and those who train like fighters, can find all the apparel they need.

In Reebok’s Fight Shop, you’ll be able to gear up for the main event and shop the official UFC Fight Kit worn by all UFC fighters on Fight Night. The line of apparel in the Fight Kit was developed by Reebok in collaboration with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, for fighters.

The kit will debut for the first time in the Octagon at UFC® 189: MENDES vs. MCGREGOR on July 11.

In the Fight Shop, you’ll also find UFC Fan Gear, so you can show your support for your favorite fighter, and Reebok Combat, gear that is light and breathable, enabling you to train like a fighter.

P.S. Save up to $30 off with Reebok’s July 4th Spend and Sale! Get up to $30 off through July 4th (excluding Nano 5.0 and select ZPumps) with code AMERICA.

  • $10 off $75
  • $20 off $100
  • $30 off $125+


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