Wendi’s Word A column by Wendi Reardon

I have taken a lot of photographs not only for work but also in my personal life.
Sometimes the greatest photo is the photo not taken. The photo I thought I would get another chance to take.
For my son’s first Christmas, I didn’t take a photo with him with his Grandpa Reardon, Grandma Reardon or Grandpa Price. Honestly, I thought I had more time. I told myself I would get a photo next time.
I missed the opportunity and the reason is hard not only type the words but to speak them. My dad passed away on Feb. 6.
One of the hardest parts to the loss is I wasn’t there. He was alone when it happened. I never wanted him to be alone but knowing him he might have preferred it that way.
He had difficulty breathing because he had emphysema from decades of smoking.
On Christmas, he complained about not being able to breathe but said he just needed his inhaler. He still came to the apartment for Christmas because I was homebound due to healing from the cesarian section surgery.
He came out met his grandson and held his tiny hand.
Before he left I told him I loved him and to go to the doctor. He still acted like all he needed was his inhaler and he was fine. Maybe he knew. Maybe he didn’t.
Grief is a hard emotion. You are fine one moment and then it knocks you down a moment later.
It could be anything, remembering him laughing or resting in his recliner sleeping; or hearing his voice on a voicemail message I just kept resaving for the last few years; or family saying kind words and it just ends up tearing you apart for the rest of the day.
I had written obituaries before and had helped people write obituaries, but I was at a loss of words for my dad’s obit. All I could think of was when I was child, seeing him on the porch in the backyard watching storm clouds roll in. Or when I was about 8-years-old taking apart my Strawberry Shortcake radio to see how it worked. He wasn’t mad. As a Master Electrician he probably got a kick out of it.
We had our own relationship and our own understanding. I hope you are at peace, Dad. I know you had to go to watch over your grandson.
It’s been a rough start for 2016. I am ready for spring.

I awoke late Tuesday evening with a burning pain in my upper abdominal area. I tried to get into different positions to get at least some comfort so I could go back to sleep. I couldn’t. The pain intensified and it must have been reflected in my face because even as Jonathan was letting out his strong baby cries I was asked what I wanted to do? Did I want to go to the emergency room?
Did I? The burning intensified. Yes. I had to work the next day and to care for a baby.
We went to the emergency room and I was expecting it to be my liver. I expected to hear the carbohydrates I had eaten during pregnancy had reversed the healing of the liver. Or worse, nothing was wrong.
In less than 12 hours, after my blood was ran and an ultrasound was performed, it was not my liver. It was my gallbladder. I had gallstones and the gallbladder wall was thickening.
At one point I was informed I did have a choice – I could have the gallbladder removed or keep it and watch what I eat.
The first thought in my head was Jonathan. Did I want to have the pain again and be right back where I was? Or what if the pain came back while I was at work? I was already at the hospital – take out the gallbladder.
Then, I found out gallstones were common with pregnancy. After my surgery I eventually posted on Facebook about my gallbladder. A few friends and cousins had their gallbladder out after childbirth. I thought it was something I missed in all the pregnancy books (I really didn’t read.) But my cousin let me know “they don’t tell you that in the books.” So I didn’t miss too much.
So I was away from my baby boy for over 48 hours as he was with Grammi (it’s not spelled wrong, that’s how my mom wants to be known) during the day. Really Grammi didn’t seem to mind. I am slowly able to hold and walk around with him as a bit of the pain goes away each day.
I was back to work for officially three days and then off again. I am back. I didn’t need another break that quickly. I really didn’t. I was already caught up on episodes of Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, Fixer Upper, which I became addicted to during my maternity leave. Some people get hooked on soap operas and game shows. I did not.

Our neighboring city Flint has made national news over a decision made to change their water supply from Detroit to using the Flint River. The cause ? lead in the water from the pipes.
Though I have been away from the real world for the last six weeks getting used to life with a baby and life as a parent, I haven’t missed the headlines – National Guard moves into Flint, President Barack Obama signs emergency declaration, and communities coming together to collect and deliver bottled water to Flint.
At the end of the day, hopefully a lesson was learned. Everyone can use Flint to reflect and consider what not to do for residents and to do what is best for the residents. It sounds like a huge hope. I should have just said wished – it would be more probable to happen.
It is a reminder this is election year and we have a long way to go before we head to the polls and make a vote. Until Nov. 8, you will see a lot of information for and against officials and all I have to say is do your research and ask questions – who is the best candidate who will make choices for you, your family and your community, what issues are important to you.
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As for this side of reality in the apartment, Jonathan is 6 weeks old on Thursday and I plan to be back in the office on Friday.
We are still working on sleeping when the baby sleeps, which hasn’t been too hard. The last few nights he has had long spans of sleeping through the night (hooray – through the night) – waking up to eat, get a diaper change and goes right back to sleep. It will change, but it is nice for now.
He has changed even in the last few weeks. His Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play he once enjoyed the rocking and now he doesn’t. He wants to be held and walked around. He knows there is a lot to see and take in.
The last six weeks have flown by as we have adjusted to Jonathan’s schedule because, as parents know, kids dictate the schedule despite your best efforts to get them on yours.
It will be good to come back – I have missed those Wolves.

The most popular word of advice I received while being pregnant was ‘sleep when the baby sleeps.? This even held true while baby and I were in the hospital.
Yes, Jonathan arrived Dec. 10 via a Cesarean delivery at a whopping nine pounds and five ounces, and 21.5 inches. I am allowed to be biased and say he is an adorable boy.
We spent three days in the hospital while both of us got ready to start our new adventure.
Even the nurses said to sleep when the baby sleeps. Yes, I nodded, seems like an easy piece of advice to follow.
But as anyone who has brought home a newborn knows, it’s easier said than done.
Once the baby is asleep you look around the home at everything you could be doing before the baby wakes up again. A mental list was created every time he was awake of things to do, so sometimes I sleep when he sleeps and sometimes I don’t. As I type this, he is sleeping though I hear little stirs and murmurs from the bassinet.
As for sleep, Jonathan is a champion. Nothing can wake him up, especially noise and my cold fingers. He takes after me in this sense, which means as he gets older, I will deal with what my mom had to deal with me while trying to wake me up. Maybe Jonathan will fall into his dad’s habits with sleep.
Though, between the times of 1-6 a.m., he is fussy and it’s hard for him to get back to sleep (which is funny because in the hospital he slept the best during the time span), even if he does, it is for a short amount of time. Now knowing his pattern, it is easier to go back to the sleep-when-the-baby-sleeps advice because between those times, sleep is unlikely.
I’m also picking up on his other habits. He is just 3 weeks old and he knows what he likes and doesn’t like. I am also picking up on other things like why is he crying. At the beginning, I used the 64-page booklet the hospital provided, which included quick explanations of basics topics like caring for your child, feeding, and baby’s language.
A few pages are dedicated to babies crying – how to soothe their cries and why they cry. Eight explanations on why a baby is crying but the last explanation pretty much sums it up for anyone who has had a baby – the baby may cry for no apparent reason. Thanks booklet!

I opened my Facebook account on the Sunday following Thanksgiving and was saddened by what I saw on my newsfeed.
Pictures of charred pieces of wood from the Little Free Library along with a ribbon tied to the door and a sign saying “closed.”
Someone had set fire to the Little Free Library in Depot Park. The small structure burned as well as the books inside.
It’s the season of giving, not taking away. Yes, I was fired up when I saw the post. I love and enjoy books and the written word. So much adventure awaits in pages of a book.
The community outpoured with support for the library.
The responses when we shared the post on The Clarkston News’ Facebook page and the original post on the Depot Park LFL page were amazing. Many were shocked and a lot wanted to help out. Even my aunt in California volunteered to donate books.
Out of those who wanted to help, Michigan Made League reached out and on Saturday posted on Facebook their progress on making repairs to the wooden structure.
Hopefully as you come downtown this Saturday for the the Holiday Lights parade, you can stop by and visit – leave a book, take a book, but most of all enjoy the tiny library.
There are two Little Free Libraries in downtown Clarkston, in Depot Park and on Main Street, both were built and filled by Girl Scout Troop 13363 from Clarkston Junior High School.
I have started my own little library with help from friends and family. When we had the baby shower for our future son I sent out library cards (actual library cards. I know a librarian who gave me the website for library supplies. I think the drool is still on the screen of my laptop.)
While searching on Pinterest, I found a cute poem to put on library cards. “One small request which won’t be too hard, please bring a book instead of a card. Baby JD will be smart indeed. If we start early, he will learn how to read.”
I did feel odd requesting a book for the baby since people were already bringing gifts, but when my best friend had her shower, she didn’t get any books.
JD did get really lucky because he even received his own illustrated copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, with a matching onesie from his Aunt Jilly.

A question I have been asked a lot, especially during the last week is “how are you feeling?”
I like to describe it as picking an animal. I feel like a penguin. I waddle. I was never a fast walker but the speed I used to walk is no longer an option. I walk slow and find myself waddling place to place. But at least I don’t feel like an elephant.
I haven’t really spoken about it and most people haven’t really pointed out the size of my stomach but yes it is growing and hopefully in the time span of four weeks it will start getting smaller.
I have made it to the 36-week mark of my first pregnancy which leads to why I have been asked, especially a lot, “how are you feeling?”
Well, I get tired. Really nothing new there. I usually have some coffee to perk me up but since I try to limit myself the caffeine intake has been quite smaller.
I haven’t had morning sickness which I feel really lucky about or strange cravings. My cravings consist of food I always craved – pasta, bread, cereal – those fun carbohydrates. I also don’t wake up at two in the morning with any weird cravings for tacos. Actually I haven’t even woken up hungry.
I have had heartburn. Oh, the burning feeling. The pain. I had never had it before and began having it during the summertime. I thought it was a reaction to what I had eaten but it turns out sometimes the oddest thing would cause it.
If I felt the symptoms early and combated it in time I was good. If I didn’t it could be a rough 30-60 minutes. Though a few times I did have to leave work and just go home. It was really bad.
So really, it has been pretty tame. I don’t know if it’s because I have been going to Nuview Nutrition for close to five years or I have juat been lucky for the first eight months.
Sorry if I haven’t shared any crazy pregnancy adventures but I haven’t really had any. He has been pretty tame.
Plus, everyone offers advice. Though I will admit watching the debate between others about wipe warmers is pretty interesting and listening to their reasons for and against the product. Not to mention which diaper brand is better and why.
We now have five different kinds of diapers. I can tell you how it goes.

It’s not easy to watch a season end – every Clarkston athlete puts a lot of work, time and heart into what they do in their sport.
Every season there are the successes and the victories. Every season each team also battles their own setbacks in the form of injuries or losses.
It’s what you do with those setbacks and how you come back from losses which helps determine who you are and who you are going to be.
I know I am getting very philosophical over here. Call me Yoda W.
But talk to a coach and they will tell you athletes learn more from losses than wins. Even athletes will say they learn more from the losses.
It teaches you how to bounce back and how you can look at what happened and what you can do next time.
If the season ended, returning athletes can set new goals and what they need to do to achieve those goals.
I know it sounds like it leads a lot of questions – what can I do better? Where can I start? What can help lead me to point A, B, and C? I ask questions all day. It isn’t too hard to keep them going.
Especially now it’s the first week of November – National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – the mass firing of questions has really begun. Ah, yes. The sweet sound of fingers typing feverishly on the keyboard. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap, tap, tap.
I start out with a basic outline. It’s as much preparing I can do during October. I can ask all the questions I want but until the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1, I won’t get answers.
As interesting as it may sound, the characters lead me or drive me away from things they don’t want to do. Once they start doing something I can begin asking questions like why are they doing this or where we go from here.
Right now I am at the word count I need to be at…well, until the clock hits midnight and the website is on the next day.
I am excited for next week, a few of us are going to talk to middle school writers at Clarkston Independence District Library to talk about NaNoWriMo.
It’s never too late in November to get started. One chapter is better than nothing. Even 10 words is still better than none.

When the leaves start to turn from green to an array of red, orange and yellow colors I tend to slow down and take the dirt roads more often.
The traffic is less dense on a dirt road and the speed limit are lower, giving me more time to appreciate the great state of Michigan we live in. (Because let’s face it -when the temperatures fluctuate and when the snow hits a lot of us are cursing Michigan and wonder why we stayed yet another year.)
We stayed for the seasons. We stayed for fall and the cider, cinnamon sugar donuts, and apple picking not many other people can enjoy in their state.
Plus, it is always fun to guess in the fall season if Halloween will be cold and snowy, cold and rainy, warm and sunny, or a mixture of all of the above.
Fall for me also means November is right around the corner and with the first day of the month – National Novel Writing Month kicks off. With it a frenzy of writers will be typing away through 30 days as they aim to hit 50,000 words.
That’s it – that’s the goal of NaNoWriMo – write a 50,000-word novel in a month. Can it be done? Of course. Is the work publishable? Probably not.
I take November as time to write a rough draft, a very rough draft, of a novel. For some reason it works for me and I spend the rest of the year fine tuning, adding, rearranging, deleting from the piece. Well, when I have a moment or when the muse is working in my favor.
See during November the trick is to turn off your inner editor. Give he or she the month off and send them on a vacation to someplace sunny with a beach because if you don’t it will be a long month.
I will say a skill I have picked up from participating in NaNoWriMo is a faster typing speed. My fingers fly off of the keyboard faster.
I don’t do many late nights like some participants – I do enjoy my sleep. I always have.
As for coffee, when I work in media so coffee as always been there though lately I have cut down to barely any caffeine.
If you are participating in NaNoWriMo – join us. The Flint region will have a write-in in the Clarkston/Independence Township area since quite a few of us live or work in the area. Plus, I will have stickers from NaNoWriMo headquarters.

It started with a large pile of photos.
Though it officially began with making a list ? I am famous for making lists ? it’s just one of those things I do. The list included projects I wanted to finish before the start of 2016.
The deadline has been pushed up to the beginning of November due to National Novel Writing Month.
The big project includes four individual projects ? I need to catch up on scrapbooking.
If you talk to most scrapbookers they will admit they are behind. Some will joke they are working on an album from 5-10 years ago.
I am working on several albums ? my childhood album, my events and friends album, which is caught up to 2013, my California 2013 album and the album for my fiance and I.
I am almost finished with the California 2013 album, and I am typing it with a heavy sigh. I started out with a stack of 700-plus photos. I barely bought any souvenirs ? I had everything I needed on my camera.
It probably didn’t help during my visit I acted like a tourist in a state I have been to many times before.
Within the last month I have finished 34 pages for the album (it is 60 pages at the moment I am typing since this week I plan to finish it. Well, the hope is to finish it.)
It’s a big album and I attempted to use every photo I had which was possible with cropping some photos down and organizing each page with a theme behind it.
I only have three sections left and one of them is the Warner Brothers VIP Studio Tour (which I recommend if you enjoy behind the scenes to film and television like I do.) The stack of photos is just about 100 and I know not every single one will be used but they have been divided.
The next step is picking out paper which really becomes the longest process because questions arise ? what colors complement those in the photos and which pattern paper will add just enough texture but not too much.
Some photos will be cast aside which is alright because in scrapbooking you have to make tough decisions ? what to use and what to put in the extra pile. I captured a before photo of the stack of photos. It will be an interesting comparison.
I am almost there ? almost done with the first project.

I have always thought it was a privilege to drive. I looked forward to it since I was a child.
I counted down the years as I lingered over the excitement of driving a car five miles per hour at Disneyland because one day I would have a vehicle of my own and no rails to slow me down.
I still think of driving as a privilege so it irks me just a little bit when people take advantage of it.
I understand – there is this need to text someone back right away or you just have this feeling you need to check the social media to see what others are up to or to post a photo or selfie (picture of yourself.)
But don’t do it on the roads. Please, pay attention because other drivers might not be paying attention to you. Though you are still stopped at a green light texting a response, the person behind you might just be seeing the green light and go.
I will admit this column has been in the process since Don Rush, our esteemed assistant publisher, wrote his infamous “Facebook to the rescue” column on Aug. 5 about a teenage driver on Clarkston Road.
I was going to be nice and bite my lip while not saying a peep. But in a span of one day I was cut off in the flow of traffic six times last week in the Independence Township area.
It’s okay. I drive a silver/gray vehicle, one of the perks is not being seen. Another perk is bees love my vehicle.
But I had to say something because school is back in session next Tuesday and it got me thinking. Thinking and worrying. We all want the kids with the oversized backpacks and the teenage drivers to make it to school and back home unscathed.
I worry about the distracted drivers who would rather text back their friends or check social media. I worry about the drivers who are in such a hurry they just go without taking in their surroundings.
Kids are walking to school as well as walking to and from their bus stops. Watch for them. Pay attention to your surroundings, that’s all I ask.
Also, no passing on the right shoulder. Yes, I am thinking back to Rush’s column and I am just thinking, why? Why?
Be careful out there – especially those paying attention on the roads and the ones paying attention to pedestrians walking through downtown Clarkston.

Here we are already in the first week of August and it doesn’t mean you should be thinking about the end of summer rapidly approaching.
But you should start thinking about fall and not school supplies, which have been at retail stores since July or Halloween candy which I have also already seen on the shelves but sports – particularly football and the Clarkston Wolves.
Before the Clarkston’s gridiron heroes open the season at Macomb Dakota, Aug. 27 (which will be here before you know it) – they have special events coming up in which they give back to the community who rallies behind them throughout the season.
The first event is the seventh annual Football for a Cure, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. Each year the players get more excited for the pre-season scrimmage as they don pink and baby blue jerseys with a name on the back. The name represents a family member or someone close to them who is battling cancer, is a cancer survivor or passed away from cancer.
The money raised from the event goes back to the community to patient services at McLaren Breast Center and McLaren Cancer Institute – Clarkston.
The Wolves aren’t stopping there. The following week as the freshman, JV and varsity football teams are collecting non-perishable food for Lighthouse during the 18th Annual Rush for Food.
This year is different – it’s held on Saturday, Aug. 22 and the boys will be gathering in the neighborhoods and at Lighthouse, 12 – 1 p.m. If you aren’t home, bags can be set on the porch with “Rush for Food” labeled on it or can be dropped off at Lighthouse. It is great when residents are home – it gives the players a chance to personally thank you for donating.
The cheer and dance teams are also helping out this year and you can also drop off donations at The Clarkston News office, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. until Friday, Aug. 21.
With help from the community, each year the boys break the previous record for the amount of food collected. Last year Rush for Food collected 7,000 pounds of food. Will you help them beat the record again this year?

With today’s technology and the capability of cell phones, it’s not hard to take photos of everyday moments.
I carry around my cell phone which has a better resolution when taking photos than any past cell phones had. I also carry a small Canon point and shoot camera, which goes through batteries quick but is great for messy events. It still has colored powder and glitter from the Color Run in Ypsilanti, June 27. Actually I am still finding gold glitter in my hair.
Then, my pride and joy, is my Canon Rebel T4i. Yes, it might have been outdated when I walked out the store with it but it goes to work with me and goes well pretty much every place else.
With all the photo capabilities here are my Confessions of a Shutterbug.
Holiday confession: I spent a lot of time during the fireworks on Saturday bouncing between watching the fireworks and taking pictures of the night display in the sky.
Countdown confession: Exactly what it sounds like – I countdown to particular events, especially those I know I will have my camera out and about. Just this week the Oakland County Fair continues at Springfield Oaks and the Clarkston High School’s Team RUSH takes to the water for their annual RUSH Regatta at Deer Lake Beach on Saturday.
Challenge confession: I have joined Facebook groups for daily photo challenges to fulfill one of my goals to challenge myself and my eye every day. Though the weather has finally started to feel like summer, the heat does deter me a little bit. It is really the heat on the fair, Irish skin. If only there was an SPF 70 so I could wear a tank top to keep cool.
I also have mental bucket lists of moments, places and events I want to capture with my camera.
Going above and beyond confession: I have an eight gigabyte memory card in my camera, which can hold up to 1,000 photos depending on the setting. I tend to fill up the memory card which is extremely bad when you only need, possibly at the most six photos. Which leads to…
Crazy aunt confession: I am the aunt who captures the moments during parties. My nephews have different responses to the camera. One cringes and hides his face. Another smiles really big. No matter the response – I get them and my sister receives 500 photos to scrapbook.

Sometimes it can be hard to give things up – caffeine, chocolate, fast food, even possession of items.
It’s funny what sparked the thought of this column – it was a four page brochure I found during the weekend.
A friend from my childhood asked if I would help her clean her parents’ house. They were moving from a three bedroom home to something smaller and it was time to consolidate. She said, my reward would be scrapbook supplies. You had me at scrapbook.
But it was more – I hadn’t seen her in a while and it would give us a chance to hang out once again before she moved out of state at the end of the summer. (A lot of moving is going on for her family.)
I helped for a few hours on Saturday before both my friends from childhood left to go to summer activities. But I went back on Sunday – there was no question in my head about not going back to help. I had seen the collections of magazines, books, papers and items through the many years. Yes, over the years it was hard for her family to give up some things as well. She needed a little help from her friends.
It was Saturday when I found the brochure, just stashed in a pile of other pieces of paper by a small desk. I recognized the font on the bottom – even from a word and knew it was from Sherman Publications. It was four pages on the benefits of advertising a garage sale through the four community newspapers.
I knew the benefits before I started working for The Clarkston News. My mom was, and still does, go through the garage sale ads, scouring the days, times and locations. If organized enough, there was a plan of action. Or sometimes a “what is the address of the one circled in the orange,” if I was a navigator during a Thursday garage sale trip.
But back to Sunday, I got distracted by the thoughts of garage sales, another childhood friend and I made as much progress as we could in the few hours we had time to be there. She had someplace she had to be and I had an early deadline.
We took after photos, feeling accomplished with the progress we did make and the trashbags we took to the dumpster.
I will be in Oxford the next few Saturdays continuing to help – it’s the least I could do for an old friend.

On a sunny day last week I found myself at the Clarkston Community Schools Administration Building.
I had three slips of paper in one hand and my favorite ink pen in my other. I was about to select artwork for The Clarkston News to display for the fourth annual Community Art Connection, which is organized by the school district and Clarkston Area Optimist Club.
When the the first event occurred I was chosen simply from my art background. I was heavily into it during middle school and high school and even won a few awards in my senior year.
So for me it’s really fun to check out the different artwork created by students from throughout the community every year.
Also, to see what challenges they were given by their teachers and how the students envisioned carrying out the challenge.
Usually the artwork consists of paintings, drawings, sculptures and mixed media pieces but this year there were quite a few photograph pieces.
Photography is always fun too because you also get to see someone’s viewpoint through a camera like what catches their eye – is it nature, people, or buildings? As well what they chose as their focal point.
Actually I check out artwork when I am visiting schools for different events. I glimpse at them while I am walking the hallways and notice the subtle effort each student puts into their work.
As you might be able to tell when I am at an art museum or at the Oakland County Fair’s barn with the fair winners, I spend a lot of time just looking around.
Check out what Andrea Beaudoin and I chose for The Clarkston News office this year, also be a look out at other businesses around the community for artwork.
Update on 2015 Reading Challenge: I am on my seventh book. It took me a while to read the fifth book in the challenge – an author with the same initials. But the sixth book only took a few days to read. To be honest it was a short book, Austenland by Shannon Hale. Next up is Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern. I don’t know which challenge I will count it towards. Really I skimmed the bookshelves and chose one in the back of a pile. I should really be more organized with this challenge.

Congratulations to all the winter sports teams and your achievements! It was a great season and awesome to watch. It was also great to see the Jungle come alive during each game and the crowds get bigger for the different events.
A great showing of Clarkstonites were at the MHSAA Class A Boys Basketball Quarterfinals at Calihan Hall on March 24. It was great to see those stands filled with blue and gold from former and current students, family and members of the community.
And the excitement when senior Andrew Myers hit the 3-pointer with seconds to go in the game to tie the score was energetic.
The ending of the game was less energetic as the Wolves lost. Fans and family were there afterwards gathered in the hallway to greet the players as they descended down the stairs from the locker rooms.
Coaches comment a lot on how athletics, like anything else, teaches students with both wins and losses. It does – with a loss in a game you learn the lesson, stand back up and keep trying.
After the Wolves’ loss I will admit I wanted a piece of chocolate. Doesn’t watching a ending like that deserve a small delectable piece of dairy, cocoa beans and sugar blended together? The answer is no. For I am back on my plan with Nuview Nurtrition and I have been since January.
I didn’t talk about it before because I didn’t want to admit I had lost the battle. See, the last time I was on the plan my sugar cravings, my biggest downfall, were battled.
The first half of 2014 I was put on a supplement and my sugar cravings came back. I didn’t go back to my old habits and it wasn’t as bad as before – I was still off the pop and sugary coffee drinks. But if I had a craving it wouldn’t leave.
So I had a craving after the Wolves’ loss and like the players I bounced back. My bounce back probably took a shorter amount of time. Five minutes was all I needed and the craving passed.
As for the aisles of sugary holiday treats I can’t avoid. But I counter it – I buy chocolate for my boyfriend (a bit of role reversal on that one). I also buy candy for my best friend, who is craving sweets right now. Honestly I don’t know how I will pass my cravings onto her when she gives birth to her baby.

Do I dare say it? Is spring here?
Alright so the temperature only hit above 40 degrees on Sunday but it’s a heat wave in Michigan.
And what a beautiful heat wave indeed – the day started great with sunshine, the smell of spring was in the air, birds were chirping in the morning.
Winter was cold. Wind chills left the bones cold and students home from school because it was too cold and school was cancelled for the day. So as my relatives in California may laugh at 40 degrees or even 25 degrees being a heat wave – I rejoice.
The sun and warmth revitalizes the soul and the spirit. I feel ready to go outside walking again and I did. On Sunday afternoon I walked for about 30 minutes while taking in a dose of vitamin D, courtesy of Mr. Sun.
I want to walk more and outside. Let’s be honest I haven’t visited the gym. Up until a month ago I thought I had lost my tennis shoes only used for working out. I found them in a beach bag in one of the closets in the apartment. It seems while I was moving I slipped them in there. See, if I was more of a gym bug I would have found them sooner.
The first goal is months away but a group of us already signed up for Color Run in Ypsilanti. It will be our fourth year and we are ready. It is the same group which has signed up every year and this year we grabbed a few others. It’s fun – exercising while trying to get as much color on you as possible. Each year the event tries a different theme and this year they will have glitter.
The sunshine makes me optimistic even though I have lived in Michigan long enough to be ready for anything (ask my cousin – I carried a sweatshirt around with me in Las Vegas, Nevada – a sweatshirt in the desert.) So I am ready for an ice storm – I don’t want one especially with the spring sports season to begin. But in Michigan you have to be ready for one last laugh from Mother Nature.
Update on 2015 Reading Challenge: Well, I have read a total of four books. I have moved on from the last book I was reading. I made it 100 pages and will try again. I don’t know if it was time or just couldn’t get into it. I chose to move on to the challenge: author with same initials.

The pile of all of my scrapbooking materials sit in the same place they were in October – a month after the big move.
The pile has spread out a few times for organization purposes and trying to find one piece of scrapbook paper. But at the end of the day, the pile goes right back to where and how it was.
Sometimes I end up just staring at it – I don’t have time to start a scrapbook page or even to organize it the way I want in the space I have available.
I have a lot of (let’s just call it stuff – it’s easier) because I am a traditional scrapbooker. I haven’t gone digital because I already use my laptop a lot. Plus, there is just something stress relieving about ripping paper, cropping a photo down with a paper cutter, or drawing/writing on scrapbook paper.
Since I am a traditional scrapbooker my albums are thick – and are boxed and also in a pile. (Because I have yet to find a wide enough shelf for them.)
I began taking them out of the boxes last week to look at them. It really started out as preparing for an upcoming scrapbooking crop and seeing what I had already done. (Sadly it has been a year since I sat down and scrapbooked.)
As I thumbed though the pages of pictures I began questioning – why do I do this? Why do I scrapbook? A lot of people haven’t seen my scrapbooks especially as they sit in a box. In the last year, one friend looked through a few albums as she helped me move my heavy hobby up two flights of stairs. But the poor albums sit and wait.
Then, on Sunday I was surrounded by photo albums of a family. Each album was personalized with a person’s name and in it were the photos and memories they wanted to remember.
Looking through their albums it was just enough to remind me why I scrapbook and why it’s important to me – to remember and to share. It is a heavy hobby but a hobby worth having.
As for update on 2015 Reading Challenge: I have begun the fourth book. I am still at the beginning of it so I am unsure if I will finish it (because it’s only been 50 pages and it hasn’t grabbed me yet). I also don’t know what category I would put it under for the challenge.
I have found a book by an author with the same initials. They aren’t in the same order but it works for me. Just trying to find it.

What should a person experience at least once in his or her lifetime?
Once I start thinking about it there are a ton of options for people to experience – flying, painting, climbing a mountain, swimming in the ocean and the list could go on. (Because I am really great at making lists.)
For the month of February – experience going to the theater. Particularly going to the Clarkston Junior High School to see “Rosie the Riveter” on Feb. 6 and 7. Then, going to Clarkston High School to see their production of “Bye, Bye Birdie” on Feb. 26-28.
Both will take you back in time and give you a theater experience.
I am a fan of movies but there is something about watching a play on the stage. There is more life to it on stage and it is always fun when the actors break the fourth wall (the imaginary wall between the actors and the audience and the actors interact with the audience.)
The story about “Rosie the Riveter” is in this week’s edition and look for the story about “Bye, Bye Birdie” in an upcoming edition of The Clarkston News.
* * *
It’s been a week and the media is still buzzing about the National Football League. (Yes, I brought it up.) Not really much about the upcoming Super Bowl. Instead it’s about deflategate – in which the league is investigating the New England Patriots because 11 out of the 12 footballs they used in the American Football Conference were underinflated. As of Monday, there was a person of interest.
What do you think about deflategate? Are you over it? How much does it make you want to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday?
* * *
For the 2015 Reading Challenge update: I finished the first book for the year about a week ago. It was “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth. Ironically I am using it for the book never finished challenge since I began it before National Novel Writing Month and never got back to it.
I am almost 500 percent into the next book in the challenge, “Allegiant” by the same author. Though both are part of a trilogy and one of the challenges is reading a trilogy, I am using “Allegiant” for the challenge book with one word title
What kind of challenge would it be if I already started the trilogy last year?
Well, one down and 48 and a half to go.

Time for a new year and new goals.
Well…some new goals. Some goals have a way of to carrying over each year.
One goal is making a dent in my bookcases. I start the years with a goal to read at least one book in a month.
The goal has stepped up a notch – I joined the Reading Challenge 2015 during the weekend. Nothing like just jumping into a challenge especially without reading the list first.
With the reading challenge it will bump it up to at least one book per week. Challenge accepted. It was easier when I was younger – then I probably averaged two books per day, but I did visit bookstores a lot more often. (It made it easy when there were two of them at Summit Place Mall. Dangerous. Very dangerous.)
Glancing through the list I already have a few books on my book shelf. A few others may be a challenge – story which takes place in hometown, a graphic novel and an author with same initials. I have already browsed a few authors – I may have to rearrange initials to make it work.
It adds to the photography challenges I try to accomplish every month – though realize it once the month begins it is already “x” amount of days into the new month.
As for other goals for the new year – scrapbooking at least more than I did last year. I only did it once last year. So even twice would be good.
I embark on another plan with Nuview Nutrition beginning on Jan. 19 – basically it is a reboot for the body. It is a good way to start the year with a refresher boot camp.
Then, work a little on the bucket list. One of the items is to participate in at least one of the runDisney marathons. It might not be this year but working towards the run. First step is to run a 5K. I ran a portion of Warrior Dash last year which was a big step for me.
Color Run is always on the list of events to participate in and our group is anxiously awaiting when the registration begins.
Also, add more adventure. Last year, I ventured through Michigan and visited the Upper Peninsula. For 2015, venture a little more through Michigan and venture out of the state and visit new spaces and places.

It’s amazing how this time last year we were bombarded with snow and this year there hasn’t been as much or even half as much in December. But lots of fog.
It kind of messes me up when I hear Bing Crosby crooning, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the tree tops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow.”
I believe that’s why I can’t believe we are so close to the Christmas holiday. There is no snow – it is really wrecking with my psyche. “You don’t need to do holiday shopping – there isn’t any of that cold, white stuff on the ground. Stay home.”
But looking at the date on the calendar makes me feel a little more rushed. It is time to get a move on with the shopping because the next step after it is wrapping.
I find shopping for my nephews the easiest – most of the time. The two boys are sons of a woman I have known since she was two-years-old. I was probably six-years-old when her family moved next door to my family. We grew up together and we are as close as sisters without the whole ‘she took clothes out of my closest again.?
My nephews are under the age of six-years-old and still delighted with any toy. It’s this I have to remind myself as I gaze over the shelves – left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top. I start thinking will they want this for Christmas? I have to stop the thought.
One, I am an aunt – not Santa Claus and not mom or dad. Less is expected of me. Though, I really do want to be the cool aunt. Drumsets? Definitely out of the question…well, this year.
Two, it’s the season for family. The gift is family and being able to spend time with family. It was this I was thinking after 8 a.m. on Black Friday when I was getting ready for work.
Yes, to get ready for work. I did not wake up and hit the stores or the malls. Nor did I travel to the malls on Thanksgiving Day in the evening to partake in the good deals. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great deals but nothing needed. Want, maybe. Need, no.
I could make the shopping experience easy and buy Clarkston Football Back-to-Back State Championship gear for the nephews. It’s still blue and gold and they love University of Michigan colors.

Before the game finished on Saturday afternoon at Brighton High School, there were celebrations on the sidelines.
Clarkston Varsity Football players were giving each other’s high fives and hugs as the second counted down on the clock in the the MHSAA Division 1 Semifinal game against East Kentwood.
It was a well-deserved congrats.
If you haven’t heard – the Wolves are going to the state championships again after a 35-13 win.
Again! They broke through the barrier last year and made their first trip to Ford Field. Not only did they go but they beat Detroit Catholic Central.
Now, they broke through again to make their second consecutive trip to Ford Field.
A huge kudos and congrats to all of the Wolves! You did it! You spent the last 13 weeks battling tough competition. Each game finding a way to score against your opponents and putting another win in the books.
You had a bullseye on your back and you fought back.
You set a goal to make it back to Ford Field and here you are, days away from another trip after 26 consecutive wins.
We want to give another huge kudos to the entire Clarkston Football Coaching staff, you put in countless hours each week since summer to get the boys prepared for the games.
The Wolves really couldn’t do it without the community – from the sidelines to the stands to the businesses to the Clarkstonites who live throughout the nation – the community is there each step of the way even before the boys head into the season opener.
One more battle lies ahead for you Wolves on Saturday. As you prepare, remember when all else fails – do what coach says.
* * *
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I believe I have said this before but I am thankful every day – for little things, for big things.
But since we head into the last week of football, I thank Larry Wright and John Azzopardi for they are a huge help on the sidelines during each game. Thanks guys!
I know the year isn’t over yet but it truly has been an amazing year – what happens within this week and next month will just add to it.

November is always a challenge.
It stems from National Novel Writing Month, writing 50,000 words in 30 days. The goal is to write 1,667 words a day to get to the ultimate goal. But I try for at least 2,000 a day. Sometimes it’s more if I know I have to skip a day. You keep the pace so you don’t find yourself trying to write 10,000-20,000 words in the last week.
The challenge this year is when I sit down to write 2,000 words. And I sit. I check the usual sites on the internet – email, Pinterest, instagram, Facebook.
Then, go back to my document. I type a few words.
Then, for something to drink. A bottle of water is usually near by. So is coffee or tea. Tea is the top choice this NaNoWriMo for me. Maybe because at home it is easy to put the kettle on the stove. Plus, I don’t have a coffee maker at home.
While the water heats up for the tea I start rummaging through the cabinets and the refrigerator. Am I hungry? Or am I avoiding creating? Is there something sweet in the house? Is there any Halloween candy left? (Or something sweet to buy at the coffee shop I am writing at?)
Wait…do I need something to eat? Do I really need something with sugar? No, just procrastinating. Though it is harder to say no when writing at a public place with food because a few places post the calories. Seeing 450 calories starts the thinking about fat, sugar and contemplating if the bite is really worth it.
It takes 30-60 minutes to really get into the groove. The challenge of November is getting into the groove every day.
But once in the groove, I am there. I can type 1,000 words in an hour. I am sucked into the document. .
So far only one day I opened my laptop and immediately started writing. It was a local coffee shop. I drank my tea and didn’t get up for three hourse.
Every year I have learned something new about NaNoWriMo I share with participants. Don’t think of it as a novel. A novel is longer than 50,000 words.
It is a rough draft. If anything it is a detailed outline. Nothing is set in stone.
It’s never to late to sign try NaNoWriMo, the first step is to go to www.nanowrimo.org.

Mother Nature is still deciding what temperature Fall should be. But right now the weather is brisk but not too cold yet and playoffs is in full swing.
If you missed it during the weekend Clarkston Boys Cross Country qualified for the MHSAA State Finals for this upcoming Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
Then, an hour later not only did the Lady Wolves qualify for the cross country finals but won the region.
On Selection Sunday, Clarkston Varsity Football’s opponent for the first round of playoffs was chosen. They will host Oxford on Friday night and it should be a good game.
Oxford will probably have a little fire in them after the last time they played Clarkston. (You know that time when Wildcats were going to tie but Cole Chewins intercepted the ball and the Wolves went on to score a touchdown putting the score 21-7 before the first half ended. Then, the Wolves won 42-14. Yup – that game.)
It was also the first loss for the Wildcats, courtesy of the Wolves. There will be a spark in them.
But there will be a spark in the Wolves as well. No one wants their season to end. The Wolves have already been to Ford Field and they want to go again.
Both teams have great communities supporting them. I know it is Halloween but bring all goblins, witches, Olafs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and other characters to the game on Friday night and cheer on your favorite team.
Then, let your voicecs relax for next Wednesday as the Clarkston Varsity Volleyball team starts district play at Lake Orion. Good luck to all the Wolves in the post-season!
* * *
The end of October brings changes in weather and the beginning of November brings changes around the nation with next Tuesday being Election Day.
Get to the polls next Tuesday and make your vote. If you want to see a change, it begins with you. If you aren’t sure who to vote for do some research, talk to neighbors and friends. You can start with this week’s edition of The Clarkston News with profiles on your local candidates on pages 15, and 25-28.It will give you a feel of what the candidates believe in and if they share the same views as you.

It’s the beginning for brisk winds, sweatshirts, cider and donuts. Time to prepare for ghoulish of all holidays – Halloween.
For millions of writers around the world the month of October is the countdown to November and to National Novel Writing Month.
This year I did not procrastinate…well, yet…I began prepping at the end of August. I knew with work, moving and any shenanigans I needed to start planning my novel while I had a chance.
A refresher about National Novel Writing Month, also called NaNoWriMo or NaNo, the participant writes 50,000 words in a span of 30 days, Nov. 1-30. The bonus to this year’s NaNoWriMo – five Saturdays and Sundays. It truly is a wonderful bonus.
It averages 1,667 words per day. Or about 5,000 words per day if the participant slacks until the last ten days. Though some have gone longer and ended up leaning over the computer pouring 20,000 words into their novel with four days to go. (Possibly I speak from experience.) It is a crazy month but it is a fun month.
I have tried to latch a few people into it like for example Sherman Publications Columnist Don ‘Astro? Rush. Come on, Clarkston, don’t you think he has at least a 100,000-word novel in him.
This year’s NaNoWriMo I am going super. It will have action, a little science-fiction. Possibly a secret laboratory as one of the settings.
Now, I like to pull people into NaNoWriMo (cough, Rush, cough) because I feel everyone has a novel inside of them waiting to be written. Maybe it has been in the back of your mind for years. Here is the chance to sit down and just begin.
People usually ask “what do you win?” You receive a certificate and a youtube video pops up congratulating you. As for anything monetary? Nothing. It’s just knowing through the craziness in life, the procrastination, despite everything you wrote a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.
Want to see what is is all about and join the fun? Sure you do. Give it a try. Don’t have an idea, let me start you out with “Once upon a time in the land of Clarkston…” Nine words down. Visit www.nanowrimo.org to join.

I suggest you pretend you are moving if you want a good purge of items overtaking your home.
I say it because I am in the midst of packing, actually at the moment I can picture all the boxes piled on top of each other, overtaking corners.
While packing for the big move I am trying to be responsible and asking “do I need this? Seriously, do I need this?”
I have cleaned through the book and the DVD collection quite well. A few will make it to libraries for donations while others will make on shelves at a store in Auburn Hills, which I discovered gives store credit. (Can you say Christmas money?)
Now if only someone would take VHS cassette tapes because my VCR died years ago. Do you think they will make a comeback? And CDs, why can’t I get rid of these and just go 100 percent to MP3 files? These are the questions rolling through my head.
Scrapbook items? I do need to organize. I will admit it needs organization and a cleanse but it is on the list: to-do after the move.
Clothes? Well, I cleaned those out when I lost all my weight through Nuview Nutrition so emptying the closest wasn’t hard.
I won’t even get into all the small notebooks I found or keep finding. The notebooks I probably purchase because they are on sale and would be perfect for ideas. (I have a notebook for everything. I think I should stop. I should have a post-it note to remind myself to stop.) But mostly what I own is books, movies, music and scrapbooking items.
The move comes at a good time with a birthday right around the corner. It is a beginning of a new year at a new place. It is cleaning away the past and getting ready for the future. A lot of excitement in the air.
Yes, I sneaked in the word birthday. It is fall once again and time for those birthday candles.
Though luckily I haven’t really seen birthday candles for a while. But I am dreaming about being bad – chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce. Oh, I know exactly what I want. Will I be bad? I don’t think so. By the time the day comes it will be out of my thoughts.

Summing up the gridiron heroes’ season and home opener in one word would have to be energy.
There is an energy every football game when the Wolves take to the field. It comes from the players, the cheerleaders, the dance team and the marching band.
The energy also comes from you – the community as you fill the bleachers decked out in your Wolf gear. Cheering when the boys had a good play and motivating when the play didn’t go their way.
You help the boys – you give them energy. You also give so much more.
You, as a community, were there on Aug. 16 as the Wolves traded their blue and gold jerseys for powder blue and baby pink for their Sixth Annual Football for a Cure. You came out and supported them as they raised money for McLaren Breast Center and McLaren Cancer Institute – Clarkston. And all the money raised goes right back into Clarkston for cancer patients’ transportation and nutrition.
The following week you were there again for the Wolves as they went door-to-door collecting non-perishable food for their annual Rush for Food event.
Every year the Clarkston Football program breaks the previous year’s record with how much they collected for Lighthouse, off Sashabaw Road in Independence Township.
They broke the record again this year by 1,066 pounds of food. Over 1,000 pounds. Wow!
The Clarkston community donated a total of 7,463 pounds of food. What an amazing boost you have given to your Wolves before the season began. I am sure they will carry it into the season.
* * *
I competed the Warrior Dash at the end of July. I didn’t run the entire way. But I did run. It was great to see a few Clarkstonites there on the Saturday morning. Hope you did well.
Next feat, trying to boost up the running a little more. I am mentally signed up for 100 miles in September. It is a goal. I probably won’t run the entire 100 miles in 30 days. Walking would be fine, too. I just want to get the 100 miles in.
There is something about those monthly challenges after all National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner.
See you at the games!

It might be hard to believe but it is time – time for fall sports.
Despite the low temperatures and rainy days August has arrived and this week marks tryouts for athletes participating in fall sports and football players going back to the field with two practices a day.
Many gridiron heroes are returning from last year’s season pumped to repeat the success from 2013 – MHSAA Division 1 State Champions. Newbies on the team are hoping to help them out and get back to Ford Field.
You have a chance to see them before season opener game. The Wolves will play this Saturday in their pre-season intrasquad scrimmage. It is a special scrimmage because it is also the boys’ sixth annual Football for a Cure.
Many of you know the boys trade in their blue and gold jerseys for blue and pink as they play the game of football and fight against cancer at the same time.
Each player has a nameplate or two on the back of their jerseys with a name of someone who has cancer, survivors and those who have passed away.
Most of the people the players are playing for are family members or friends and chose that person for a particular reason.
Every jersey has a story. Over the last few weeks as well as this week The Clarkston News has featured one player. It happened Hampton Swayne, Joe Popp and Will Scarlett are playing for a grandparent.
Each of the three were excited heading into the event not only to play for a loved one but for the community. All proceeds raised during the event help patient services at McLaren Breast Cancer and McLaren Cancer Institute in Clarkston.
It is a great event. Plus, it is a peek into how the boys look as they start their road to playoffs.
Since the Wolves enjoy helping the community that supports them. They will be out in neighborhoods next Friday for their annual Rush for Food and will collect non-perishable food for Lighthouse in Independence Township.
We will have a list of neighborhoods listed in next week’s edition. Or you are more than welcome to drop off donations at our office, 5 S. Main Street. We have a big container to fill for the Wolves.

I found myself in limbo a few weeks ago. I was done with where I had been and had a few hours until my next appointment. Because I was already close to where I needed to be I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to venture to another town.
I was quite particular on this day I wanted to stay in Independence Township and I did not want to go to a coffee shop.
Going to a coffee shop is my go-to spot but I just wasn’t feeling it.
Really I was feeling like a nap – it had been a long week.
Instead I pulled into the parking lot of Clarkston Independence District Library – one of my other go-to locations. I grabbed my purse and my book and ventured inside. Before settling at one of the tables, I ventured the bookcases for a title I had tried to find at bookstores and other libraries.
I found it. I looked down at the book I brought in contemplating continuing on with my non-fiction reading material or go for the book I had just found.
I opted for the fiction piece I had finally found at Clarkston Independence District Library and sat down at a vacant table. I figured even if I read a few pages and put it back I would at least know if I wanted to continue reading the book later on.
I read a few pages and then glanced up. It was an interesting introduction of the book – it really was. But I happened to glance up and see the black paper with the white writing from people sharing what they geeked.
My focus went to the bookshelves and then the area around as some were working on their computers and a few were checking titles on the bookshelves.
I sighed, in a matter of months it could be gone. Kids discovering a new author in the children’s area. A quiet place for students to study. A place to borrow not only a book but a movie for free. A powerful resource in the community could be gone if voted ‘no? on Aug. 5.
I am not saying vote yes or vote no – you have your reasons for how you want to vote. But I, as an avid book reader, a person who enjoys words and the smell of new books, would vote yes.
A library is a staple every community should have. What is it worth to you not to have this resource in your neighborhood?

I am proud to be a Michiganian.
I am also avoiding the visualization of potholes and the cost I put into tires and wheel bearings because of the potholes. But I am proud to be from Michigan.
The Pure Michigan commercials make me all warm and fuzzy about my state. But sadly, I don’t venture around the state as much as I should.
I have explored Traverse City, climbed the Sleepy Bear Dunes, camped underneath the stars at one of the state parks,  walked between the tulips in Holland and  took a ferry out to Mackinac Island to explore.
But there is so much more. So before all the exciting events begin – the spring sport playoffs and the ending of school, I went out to explore my state.
I ventured Ludington where we walked to the shoreline and up to a lighthouse before we began our trip back to the vehicle as it began to rain. (It was only a half mile one direction and the rain wasn’t too heavy or cold.)
Then, it was on to a quiet town – it was really quiet as the tourist season hadn’t begun and a majority of businesses were still closed. We sat on the lake just taking in nature and the one day of sun. I am happy to report I did find one place with a latte. (I need a spot of caffeine even while I am away. Even if a latte is bad.)
I am proud to say we walked every day.  (I will also admit I took lots of pictures of trees and nature. I like playing with the filters available on instagram. The sun setting behind the trees adds some flair.)
Then, we packed up and headed south where the traffic became heavier before we landed in Frankenmuth. The town was slow – rained from the afternoon scared everyone away.  
Exploring Michigan doesn’t it make you all warm and fuzzy? (Remember,  disregard those canyons in the roads called potholes. By the way, no potholes up north.)
Now it is go-time. Warrior Dash is approaching fast. I have pushed up the amount of workouts but now is the time to push up intensity.
The focus is to complete every obstacle during the 5K event. Sure, I would like to beat a few people but really it is just for motivation focus. (It would be nice but right now just motivation to get outside and get to the gym.)

Motivation and inspiration. Two powerful words standing side by side together and keys for success in the next few months.
Right now, I am getting my body ready for upcoming events. It is easier now the snow has melted and paths and sidewalks are clear paths. Plus, the weather is a little warmer than it has been the last few weeks.
Motivation is the main upcoming event – Warrior Dash at 8 a.m. on July 26. A few friends signed up and asked me to do it as well. Well, ask is the nicest way to say tagging me in posts and continuing to ask, ask and ask if I had signed up yet. Despite not having my walking partner from my first Warrior Dash, I caved and signed up for this year.
Then, a few more friends signed up.
Inspiration is running in Warrior Dash 2014 as in moving my feet a little faster than walking speed. I just don’t run. Let me say it again – I do not run. If I am running, you should run too because something is chasing me.
The motivation is competition – doing a little better at the event than particular people in our small group. I will not name names but I have a visual in my mind.
Goal beating them. But I will take either doing better in time or completing all of the obstacles.
The first time I participated in Warrior Dash I did skip some obstacles. I was still in the process of losing weight and had only lost about 25 pounds at that points. Lifting about 225 pounds over hurdles or walls when you aren’t used to it was tough especially with little preparation. Sorry correction – with no preparation.
I will be prepared this time. It all comes back to motivation and inspiration. I have people in my life who not only motivate me but inspire me.
Right now it is getting my body used to moving and exercising. The goal is to fit in walking at least once a day and cardio a few times a week with some yoga.
It was a long winter of procrastination. Then, when the first week of May hits it will be time to kick it into a higher gear.
I also want to try a few more things now the weather is warmer and nicer and be more adventurous. But for now it just waits on the bucket list.
Ah…spring. The mind is alive with ideas, plans and goals. The heavy weight of a long winter has lifted from the mind and body.

The days are slowly getting longer…and so is winter in Michigan.
There were a few days of 40-degree weather which seemed to boost the “spring is coming, spring is coming” excited cries. But the next day back down to under 30-degrees and snow.
This is why I carry a sweatshirt wherever I go. My relatives on the west coast don’t understand why I carried a sweatshirt around Las Vegas in the desert, in the middle of July.
I have been trained. It is the Michigan native mentality – be ready for anything.
I didn’t carry around the sweatshirt during the entire trip. It was with the suitcase. Did I need it during that particular trip? No, not really. I did need an umbrella since one of the few times it rained in the desert, I was there. (They can blame me – the Michigan girl brought rain and humidity.)
Be ready for anything – I have a plastic storage bin in my vehicle right now with the warm sports gear – gloves, scarves, hand warmers, toe warmers, and leggings.
During the fall, it was umbrellas, sweatshirt, extra pair of sneakers and ponchos which actually worked out when I chose the coldest, rainiest day to visit Cedar Point last October. For spring, well for spring it is the winter and fall gear. Though this may be the first spring I am leaning towards buying snow pants. I haven’t worn snow pants since I was in elementary school.
Clothing wise I am ready for the spring season – it’s just the snow won’t let it happen. It is covering the softball and baseball fields and slowly melting off of the bleachers at Clarkston High School stadium.
Last year it was the rain plaguing the softball and baseball fields, this year it is the snow and the chilly weather. I keep checking my weather app on my cell phone to check when we will break out of the coldness and see the snow continue to melt away.
It will. It will melt and spring sports can play. People can be outside again. I, just like my last column, am still counting down until the string of warm days to walk outside for more than a few minutes.
I am ready to be active outside and go on adventures even if it is just at a park.
Come on, warmth, fight your way through!

We are only a few weeks away from the official beginning of spring – well according to the calendar.
From most people I have talked to, scratch that, from all the people I have talked to, they are ready for spring.
Even just the idea of spring.
I am ready for the sunshine and a tiny bit of warmth. I am ready to be outside. I don’t mind being outside in the snow. It has just been too cold to really enjoy it.
I know when the snow starts melting it probably won’t be as pleasant. All this snow has to go someplace. I can already picture flooding.
For Clarkston sports fans, spring begins next week for most of the teams as they start tryouts on Monday.
Maybe this season will be dryer for the athletes. There were a lot of postponed games and cancellations due to the wet weather from last year and it is already a short season for them.
A part of me feels like spring has already began – doesn’t the beginning of Girl Scout selling their infamous cookies mark the beginning of the season.
I will admit I am not perfect. I have temptations. I have even bought a few boxes from the Girl Scouts (have to support the kids, right? Help them out and send them to camp, right?)
I had a few cookies – a few Samoas and a few Thin Mints (as in two) then I found other people to finish the box because I can’t just put the box away. Keeping the box and hiding it only creeps into the mind. You know it’s there and something needs to be done about it. Thus, give it away. Pass it on to someone else who can enjoy a few cookies.
Plus, it is okay to be bad once in a while. This is how I see it – I can get to the edge of the cliff and look over it. I just can’t jump. Two cookies are alright. It’s eating a whole box or a case where things go dangerously bad.
But it was weeks ago I had a Samoa and right now, I am sitting at my desk thinking about buying a box. I am really contemplating it. I am thinking about the toasted coconut, the drizzled chocolate and the caramel. Then, again a Thin Mint seems a little less dangerous (even if they do come in a long plastic sleeve and once you open the plastic it is all over with.) I don’t want the whole box. Just a few more.
Who wants the rest of the box?

I soaked in the news calmly but inside I was bursting at the seams – last Thursday would be my last visit with Veslav Stecevic, M.D.
My liver looked good. Losing 90 pounds had reversed the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), also known as fatty liver. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s been fun but I am sure doctors like to give the news of “you are better.”
If you have missed previous columns here is how the journey began – as it usually does with being sick. (Because you aren’t going to go to the doctor if you are well.) It was a weird sick – like I ate something that didn’t agree with me. But it was a different food every time. My temperature would go from normal, well normal for me, and drop down to chilly.
I went to my physician who did some tests and then was sent to Stecevic at Encoscopic Solutions, P.C. After a few more tests the fatty liver was making me sick.
NASH is a silent liver disease – some people don’t even know they have it. My body just reacted differently. All I had to do was change my eating habits and exercise.
You have heard it before – that is the magic cure – change your eating habits and exercise.
I didn’t and I was in the urgent care with excruciating pains in my gallbladder because what was affecting the liver was now heading to other organs.
Fortunately through The Clarkston News I interviewed Cindy Crandall from Nuview Nutrition for Trends, our annual special spring section. I explained what was going on and she said Nuview could help. I went through a few different plans with Nuview Nutrition and I can admit I went off the wagon a few times. It was rough but they had a lot of patience and understanding with me as they put me on a new plan – the final plan. The new plan took off 90 pounds in 11 months.
Here I am – alive and kicking because of a liver and a lot of support. I lost 90 pounds and in the journey gained my life back and a lot of perspective. I am more – myself as odd as it sounds like I was hidden away. I am signed on to participate in my third Color Run this year. I also signed up to participate in Warrior Dash at the end of July and maybe, just maybe, I will train for it this year.

Certain events seem to sneak up when least expected.
Oh, they come around the same time every year – holidays, tax season, birthdays – but it just again seems to be sneaky.
I was reminded by a few people it is time for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Yes, this is the event which always surprises me it is time for it again. It comes right when adjusting back to normal life after the holidays and getting ready for the next rush.
Despite how much I do enjoy checking out new vehicles, new designs, new concepts – I have only been to NAIAS twice. I can remember.
Though, I don’t even know if I remember the last time I visited. I could tell you the walk around Cobo Center. I remember the bright lights. The shiny vehicles. The new vehicle smell.
I probably blocked the vehicles on display out of my head because I know when I visited I was stressed. This part – I can remember.
My last visit to NAIAS was when I was a senior in high school right after I handed in my art portfolio.
The art portfolio I had worked on for 20 weeks – a whole semester. I put in the time, the hard work, creativity for this moment.
It was going good. It was finally my turn to give the portfolio over in an empty store at Summit Place Mall. Again, everything was going good. The person checking each piece was doing a thorough job. We were almost done. Then…
Then, she put her hand in the middle of the abstract oil painting I had done. Right in the middle of the red oil paint. Did you know red oil paint takes the longest to dry? I didn’t. Wouldn’t you know the one part I didn’t test for dryness was the spot she put her hand.
Chaos as well as a lot of talk about disqualifying my portfolio on grounds it was incomplete since the painting was not dry.
I can look back and laugh. My art teacher talked to the director and took it home to quicken the drying process. The portfolio was submitted and a different painting went on to win two awards.
I can laugh now. But during that year’s auto show, I couldn’t laugh.
I should really try going to NAIAS again. If only it wasn’t so sneaky.

The past year has had it’s ups and downs but as we welcome 2014 I am excited for a new year.
I did enjoy 2013 – it had a lot of adventures. I spent my vacation in California and visited a lot of my relatives and did the complete tourist experience – Disneyland, Hollywood, Warner Brothers Studio Tour and San Diego.
I completed another National Novel Writing Month and with hiccups through the month of November I can’t tell you how I did it. I didn’t finish the story but I will continue working on it in the new year.
I met new friends and became closer to friends I already have in my life.
Probably my biggest adventure was the beginning of the year when I finished losing the last bulk of my 90 pounds. I spent the rest of the year trying to maintain the new weight while sadly letting go of the giant, comfortable clothes I used to hide in.
I watched a lot of great achievements made by not only Clarkston students and athletes but by those in the community. It was a great year!
Now like many I look ahead and how I can make each day in 2014 better. I don’t make resolutions – I have goals. Most of the goals aren’t new but having the motivation and continuing to have the motivation for 365 days in the year.
Well, like most people at the beginning of any new year I want to visit the gym more. Even if it is just a few miles to walk the weather is better to walk outside. I think the best way to achieve it is putting my gym bag in the front of the vehicle so I remember. Now just have to remember to take the gym bag out of the trunk.
Another goal is to read. I love to read. I have plenty of books to read. I just haven’t read. I started a book and it isn’t keeping my interest yet I continue to attempt to finish it. (It’s not going to happen. Time to move on after three months. I need to finish at least a book a month.)
Adding to the list, write every day at least 15 minutes of non-work related pieces. Or at least work on five pages of writing projects. Also, photograph every day.
There are enough hours in the day so it is possible. It is about turning off the distractions. The year 2013 was great, 2014 is going to be amazing.

Congratulations to the Clarkston Wolves!
I am sorry I should be more descriptive on those two words – Congratulations to the 2013 MHSAA Division 1 Football State Champions!
All of you deserve it!
To all the players, we know you put in a lot of hard work not only during the season but into off season training and conditioning.
Many dream of stepping onto Ford Field and you made it – not only for yourselves but your family, friends and community.
To all of the coaching staff, thank you for putting in the time and the extra hours. It’s not something you do from August through November. You guide the athletes all year long and help shape who they become.
I noticed the impact when I interviewed past players a few weeks ago. Each one learned something different from long-time Head Coach Kurt Richardson they could take with them as they headed off of the football field.
A huge congratulations to Coach Richardon “KR.” Not only for reaching the milestone of 200 wins during this season but making it to Ford Field for the state finals and being the coach to hoist the trophy into the air.
The boys started the season with one loss in their opener over Rochester Adams, which junior quarterback DJ Zezula, this week’s Athlete of the Week, admitted it helped the team out. Then, each week faced a new opponent, learning something new and coming out with a win for the next 13 weeks.
Celebrate this time, Wolves! These are the moments you will cherish for the rest of your life. Celebrate with friends, family and fans.
What a great fan base! Not only around Clarkston but Clarkston graduates were watching at Ford Field but all over – Texas, Kansas, and up north.
I know the coaches and players appreciate all you do for them. Please see KR’s appreciation on page 11.
Thank you for Larry Wright, John Azzopardi and Kay Pearson for lending their photographic eyes throughout the season. And a thank you Renee Weaver-Wright!
A high five to all of you. It’s not enough but neither is saying great job.

The beginning of November I noticed a splurge of people on Facebook participating in sharing what they are thankful for every day in the month.
I did not take part in it because I am thankful every day but since Thanksgiving is right around the corner I will share with you, our readers, what I am thankful for in my life.
I am thankful for, of course, my parents. They were supportive when I was a child to up to now.
When I had my heart set on becoming a writer when I was young they didn’t try to lead me away from it.
When I needed help in academic classes they offered it or found a way to help me. When I was stressing out about receiving a “B” in physical education they were relaxed about it knowing I was doing my best (especially when running was not in my genetics.)
I am thankful for my friends. They make me laugh. They make me smile. They are there when I am at my weakest moments and allow me to lean on them. They allow me to vent to my heart’s content. I am lucky not only to have a handful but quite a few handfuls of friends to talk to and to hang out.
Every day I am thankful I get to go into work at a job I enjoy. I have great coworkers and work in a great community. Clarkston supports their local businesses and all of their teachers and students. Not only with fundraisers but going to sporting events, performances and school functions.
I can’t remember everything from elementary but when we had holiday parties I don’t remember quite so many parents being there as there are in Clarkston. It’s great to see all the parents there for all the parties and events.
It is November and for me as well as millions of writers around the world it is National Novel Writing Month and typing away at 50,000 words in 30 days.
I am thankful for the writers in my group because they know what a crazy month this is for everyone involved. They are supportive to everyone if someone is worried about their word count they are cheering them on. They are supportive even outside of the writing. They have become friends and a NaNoWriMo family.
So yes, I am thankful every day for the big things and for the tiniest things.

I enjoy seeing photographs of other people’s journeys. It’s not just visiting the upper peninsula or foreign countries but also visiting abandoned places.
The paint peeling off the walls. Graffiti covering doors still attached. Furniture knocked over and torn apart. Items scattered around the building and floor.
It’s haunting and mysterious. It’s beautiful but eerie.
You might remember a few years back I mentioned I enjoyed learning about history. Seeing the abandoned places, I look up their history and try to find out what happened.
What happened to a once majestic theater filled with a captive audience watching musicals and plays and is now torn apart from time and lack of attention?
There are quite a few places in Michigan. I know you can probably think of a few places in Detroit and Flint. But with the exception of Sears – Summit Place Mall is abandoned. Once crawling with shoppers and teenagers as a place to hang out after school. (I know I was one of those teenagers spending my hard earned money from Boston Market.) Now the mall is empty. Waiting.
One of my searches led me to abandoned amusement parks. There is one in Michigan. It is in Irish Hills called Prehistoric Forest. If anyone remembers going, tell me about it. I am interested.
Another search led me to Six Flags in New Orleans – abandoned after Hurricane Katrina. Once filled with cheerful screams and kids running around with cotton candy and giant plush animals now empty.
It was those photos along with photos from amusement parks in Japan and Pripkat, Ukraine. The one in Ukraine never opened because of the Chernobyl disaster and the city was evacuated.
It is the what if questions looking at the photos of abandoned places which lead me to story ideas for fiction.
So after 18 months of a little procrastination and plot as well as characters changing this National Novel Writing Month will produce a 50,000 word rough draft of one of those ideas.
The story involves an abandoned amusement park and how it became abandoned. As for now, that’s as much as the story line you will receive.
But if you send coffee starting Nov. 1 – I might give you more details.

I am preparing for battle.
A battle against plot bunnies, argumentive characters, energy zombies, repetitive word ninjas, oh… and procrastination.
Yes, it is almost time for November – National Novel Writing Month – writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That’s right – for the entire month you write a novel averaging 1,677 words per day. You take your idea for a story and let it flourish while killing your inner editor because the inner editor will slow you down. Plus, after November is over you have plenty of time to edit… and sleep.
I have finished the last three consecutive NaNoWriMos I have participated in. The novels weren’t completed but I made the 50,000 word mark. It is a good beginning.
This year I am continuing to work on an idea I had a few years ago during Camp NaNoWriMo. This November I am going to finish it. It has become the black sheep of the story idea family with characters ever changing and plot lines twisting and turning.
I believe it is now ready to make it past 20,000 words. It will make it to the end.
As long as I have plenty of caffeine I believe I will be fine. Sadly, Caribou Coffee has closed since the last NaNoWriMo – it was one of the writing spots I used but I have others in mind.
I am excited to add the Clarkston Independence District Library is participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo with three write-ins. They will have space and refreshments on Saturday, Nov. 9 and Saturday, Nov. 30 from 12- 4p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 20, 6 – 8 p.m.
Keegan Sulecki, from the library, said she would have some power strips and people are allowed to bring their own items as well. My words of advice take a power strip, the more the merrier because nothing like losing battery on the laptop and all the outlets being used.
This NaNoWriMo I have taken on the role of co-Municipal Liaison for the Flint region along with two others. We host write-ins, help through tough spots, have prizes for Word Wars and stickers.
Want to give NaNoWriMo a try and join 500,000 writers from around the world as we sit down and create a 50,000 word novel?
Check out www.nanowrimo.org.

I was craving cider.
I was really craving cider. It sounded good since I missed my opportunity last year because of my nutrition plan.
What has being with Nuview Nutrition taught me over the years? Well, what has losing 90 pounds taught me? Check the labels. As a previous sugar addict I need to check the labels.
So I checked. One tiny eight ounces of a serving is 30 grams of sugar. I didn’t even check the ingredients. The numbers were enough. It is too much for a beverage.
I went over to the apples and picked up one of those to munch on instead. It would fulfill the need.
Yes, an apple has sugar, too. But I can stop at the one apple. The apple cider was in a big jug and I wasn’t around a cider mill for a tiny sample. If I bought the jug of the sugary beverage I would drink all of it. Then, where would I be? A step away from a pop.
I know a little extreme on the conclusion but it could be a gateway beverage especially since I do still crave pop. Usually I know how to tackle it. The craving is being dehydrated and I need water. I don’t need carbonated beverages.
As for other seasonal treats, I am doing pretty good. A Pumpkin Spice Latte from coffee places holds no appeal to me with all the additions and sugar to make it taste so good.
Plus, I was accidentally given a vanilla flavored coffee drink. My taste buds knew it instantly. It was a shock. Not a delighted shock. Then, it hit my stomach.
It is truly amazing how going without sugar for such a long period changes you. Just a bit of something with too much sugar and I feel sick.
Now if only I could make myself feel the same way with coffee. As the sugar intake has gone down the caffeine intake has gone up. You know what – everyone has their vices and as I head into another National Novel Writing Month season I am not about to quit the habit now.
What doesn’t make me sick is cheesecake. I did splurge a little. I shared a tiny slice and avoided the syrup on it. So now I rub my hands together and wait for a birthday so I can have just a little piece.
My liver functions have been deemed normal. I can have a few bites.

Working as a team can win a game.
But in Clarkston it can do more. So much more – it can also feed a community.
The gridiron heroes drove through neighborhoods and knocked on doors last Friday to collect donations for Lighthouse Emergency Services for their 16th Annual Rush for Food.
Well, the JV and varsity players drove through the neighborhoods. The freshman players stayed behind at Lighthouse. They receive a tour of the establishment, were educated on what Lighthouse does and why they need the food.
Then, the freshmen sorted all the food the upperclassmen brought in.
This year they sorted 6,397 pounds of food. That’s right – over 6,000 pounds of food was donated by you, the Clarkston community. The goal was 5,000 pounds.
Kudos to the players! Kudos to you in the community!
I begin my sixth year with The Clarkston News in October which means I have seen five Rush for Foods up to now and every year it gets more exciting. It is the same for Football for a Cure and when the players share their stories.
Why? Because even though prices keep rising on food and gas, and people need more help financially other people are willing to donate at least one bag of food or donate to McLaren Breast Center and McLaren Cancer Institute.
For Rush for Food, the players started with the donations. Each year before heading out to the neighborhoods they have dinner. The players brough at least one bag of food with donations from home. Over 80 players contributed over 1,600 pounds of food.
It is also great to talk to the players and hear they want to continue to help Lighthouse after they graduate. For them it isn’t just a yearly event – they want to keep going. You can, too.
Lighthouse feeds families throughout the year not just holidays. If you want to donate, stop by. It’s located at 6330 Sashabaw Road, south of Waldon Road.
The players continue to work as a team this week as each team opens the season against Rochester Adams.
As they head into the first games of the season, what are you excited for this season? Share it with us. If you are on Twitter just answer then put @CNewsWRSports.

I know many may not feel the same I do when I see the boxes of school supplies taking over stores.
Sorry to the students since it is a grim reminder school is only a few weeks away.
It’s thrilling to me. I get warm with excitement. The spiral notebooks, blue pens, pencils and Sharpie markers. I like school supplies. I even get a little thrill to stock up for my niece and nephews. (They would need more crayons, right? They need folders with superheroes on it, right?
But it is a thrill because a new school year is right around the corner.
In less than two weeks, the football teams will start their first practice to prepare for a new season on Aug. 12. A few days later practice will begin for the other fall sports, Aug. 14.
The teams will count down the days to their first competition. By the way, varsity football opens the season at Rochester Adams on Aug. 30 as the freshman and JV teams have their home opener.
It’s hard to really say what my favorite part of the fall season is or when is my favorite part.
I enjoy the pre-season events before the season when the football teams give back to the community.
This year marks the fifth year for Football for a Cure, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m.. The boys trade in their traditional blue and gold for baby blue and light pink in their pre-season scrimmage while raising money for McLaren Breast Cancer and McLaren Cancer Institute – Clarkston.
The following week the football program heads out to the neighborhoods to collect food for Lighthouse Emergency Services off of Sashabaw Road, Aug. 23.
It is truly amazing to watch every year as the JV and varsity players drive to the neighborhoods and fill up their vehicles with all the generous donations from the community.
Then, following the bags to Lighthouse where the freshman players unload all the vehicles, sort the food and put the donations away.
Over 6,400 pounds of food was donated last year – the most to date for the football program. What do you say we help them hit 6,400 and above this year? When you are out shopping just pick up an extra can or two or three or five. Let’s fill those shelves!

As you get older, or maybe it’s just me, time seems to fly by. The days and months go too quickly.
It seems it was only a few weeks ago school just let out for summer vacation and students from Clarkston High School’s Team RUSH were separated into eight teams and began pondering designs for the annual Rush Regatta.
If you have never experienced the regatta, the teams design and build a boat made out of cardboard and duct tape. If you have never seen it, head to Deer Lake Beach at noon on July 27. It is amazing to watch.
The students also work together to receive sponsorships from local businesses. The sponsorships help financially support them during their robotics season.
Now back to the race. As you can imagine when cardboard gets wet it comes apart. It isn’t as strong as it was before. Now put it in a lake, add some weight and add some speed to it. What will happen?
Well, I have been to enough Rush Regattas to witness some boats staying afloat for not just one round of races but two rounds. Some haven’t been so lucky and the students in the team walked back to the shore with pieces of their boat in their hands.
No matter what the outcome they have fun. They learn a few things along the way. Maybe it was how to make it better the next year, use more cardboard or not to put sealant on the boat the night before the race.
The themes are fun to see as well. Who could forget the tropical themes or mighty Vikings from last year?
This year looks like there is another mix of ideas for themes. A few of the teams discuss them on page 11.
You can join the fun by making a cardboard boat for Typhoon Division and put your engineering skills to the test.
While talking about awesome things students are up to while taking their vacations I can’t forget about August.
Football for a Cure is quickly coming up as well on August 17. Buy your T-shirts now and put on your calendar to be at the high school at 7 p.m. for the gridiron heroes’ intrasquad scrimmage.
Watch some football and help them as they help raise money for McLaren Breast Center and McLaren Cancer Institute. Fun weeks are coming up. Keep us updated on your summer as well.

Summer has arrived, bringing hot weather and later sunsets.
It also means more people are taking advantage of the sunshine while they can especially by walking and bicycling.
You know what it means – time for a reminder about driving. I know, I know there are places to go and you need to get there but please pay attention to the pedestrains crossing the street and cycling on the roads – especially the back roads.
Plus, more people are strolling through downtown Clarkston for Concerts in the Park, the restaurants and businesses – let’s not scare them away from the charming downtown by wanting to run them over as soon as the traffic light turns green.
I will say one more time – please, pay attention to the pedestrians. Not your cell phone.
I point my finger at the cell phone because it has become a distraction for many. There are too many things going on with it – texts, internet, games, phone calls, and all the other fun applications we all have. But let’s take a moment to put the phone away while driving. If it is really important to send a text message, please pull over.
In addition there is the road construction on Dixie Highway, please slow down and watch your speed. People are working on the road.
I know some of you don’t need a reminder and I appreciate you being a attentive and respectful driver. My reason I have seen too many near accidents in the last few weeks even though the road conditions are clear. It’s the little things that turn into big costs.
We will all get there. What is the rush? Let’s enjoy this weather while it lasts. Before you know it will be winter.
Since it is summer it means we are less than two months away from the fifth annual Football for a Cure – where the Wolves on the varsity football team don pink and baby blue jerseys for their pre-scrimmage to raise for McLaren Breast Center off Sashabaw Road.
Get your T-shirts early during the Concerts in the Park and contact clarkstonfootballforacure@gmail.com with questions or to volunteer.
As for the Wolves – their home opener is Aug. 31 at Ford Field. Yes, we are counting down as we do every year.

It is a Clarkston High School tradition I never knew about until I arrived here – the senior walk.
If you haven’t participated in it or even heard of it the seniors take their final walk throughout the school.
The seniors gather in the gym in their caps and gowns and wait until 10 o’clock to make their last journey around their high school, and this year they had their final walk on May 21.
They pass their family gathered in the hallways with cameras in one hand and tissues in the other hand. They pass the lower classmen.
They pass by their old lockers, teachers and classrooms where they had the moment where everything clicked with one lesson. Or they decided a particular subject was not for them.
Then, they emerge from the side doors of the high school and ready for their next venture.
It is a pretty cool tradition to be able to say goodbye to your high school, teachers and coaches.
Some of the seniors may not see it as cool. But I say it is because my high school didn’t have close to the same tradition and I was ready to get out of high school.
Keep in mind I graduated…awhile ago. My last day of school as a senior was three days before school officially let out for summer vacation. I was freed only because I had less than five absences and had higher than a “B” average in all of my classes, thus getting out of the final exam.
As all of you 2013 high school graduates go your different ways and start your new adventures you will hear words of advice. I will join the fun and throw in my own:
? Continue your education – even if you don’t plan to go to college, take a few classes here and there. Learn something new or continue to learn more about something you enjoy.
? Be healthy – I know I can’t get you to completely avoid the ‘freshman 15? but I can try. Here it is ? avoid sugary drinks, sugary food, greasy food and late night snacks. Eat healthy and be active – walk around campus. It will be hard but as someone who has been there and just lost 90 pounds, I believe you can do it.
? Build credit – build credit, yet avoid credit cards.
? Don’t procrastinate – I can’t really say more. I write therefore I procrastinate.

I have made it.
I have lived the last 10 months and come out alive, carefree, energetic and 94 pounds lighter.
I finished my second phase of my nutrition plan with Nuview Nutrition on Monday.
I probably could have done the second phase a little bit longer but it was time. My body had hit the plateau and it was not budging. If anything it was calling and pushing me towards apples. One a day is fine. But when tempted by more than… let’s say three… it gets a bit too much.
Though I have found myself more aware of the mindless eating and the tiggers behind it.
I learned how combat it before. I learned to stop and ask the questions – are you hungry, are you tired, are you thirsty, are you bored. But usually I never gave myself any opportunity to answer the question as I reached into the refrigerator for a snack or grabbing a quick salty or sugary fix from a party store.
I usually now just grab some water and will continue as I head into maintenance.
I slowly add in different foods and different food groups. I am excited for mozzarella cheese. But I am also excited to try some interesting recipes I have seen on Pinterest.
One is grilled peaches with Greek yogurt. It does call for honey and I can’t add sugar for this round so alterations will be made.
Another one is parmesan baked tomatoes. It’s just sliced tomatoes with some parmesan cheese, some salt and pepper and olive oil. Can you tell I like the effortless cooking, if you can it cooking? (Can you see where the trouble began with just hitting fast food places for meals? I can.)
As for exercise, it is nice to see the weather cooperating with the spring season. It is more inspiring to go outside for a walk when it is warm than it is when the weather is cold. Though I survived Color Run with a chill in the air and a lot less body fat than the last one.
As I head into a lifetime as maintenance I do want to thank all of you for your support. Compliments helped on bad days and support was great for every day. Not to mention the understanding, especially to say no to pizza and desserts more than a few times. Thank you everyone!

After a weekend away, I came home on Sunday, threw open the closet doors and began pulling down clothes hangers.
I was declaring my freedom.
I wanted to start spring cleaning when I had more time. I also was waiting until I was done when I reached my goal weight on my nutrition plan with Nuview Nutrition.
I couldn’t wait anymore. I didn’t want to procrastinate anymore. I didn’t want clothes taking up anymore space in the tiny space I already had so much crammed into. Plus, something inside me said it was time. I could do this. I could let go.
I grabbed as much as I could, knowing the sizes and threw the swirl of pants and shirts to the side.
I looked at the stack of clothes. I had gone from not being about to fit them because they were too snug on me. I just put them aside for when a few pounds were gone. Then, I went to the other extreme within a year’s time – I still couldn’t wear them. They were too big now.
I tried on a few shirts just to see but it only took two to decide to just throw them in the donation pile. I was swimming in those two and would swim in the rest.
I ended up putting the entire pile into the bag and glanced at the dresser. Time for that, too. But I only went through two drawers.
The dreary gray sweatpants I wore in front of the television and snacked on pizza, chips, chocolate a year ago went into the trashbag. They did go in with some hesitation but they are in the bag.
What probably helped with the cleansing was I reached my 90 pounds during the weekend. Though I will say I did gain a few pounds back. I was scrapbooking and I had more apples than allowed on my plan. Plus, a larger portion of cottage cheese. But compared to what snack foods were at the scrapbook crop – I did pretty good. So I overdosed on apples, it wasn’t chips or brownies. Plus, I got right back on the wagon.
I did keep one pair of blue jeans. You should also have something to show your starting point, right?
I have more drawers to go through and I know there are more clothes in the back depths of the closet. They are lurking and waiting like ghosts of pounds past. But one bag at a time is good to donate.

Here is one thing I remember from my grade school days – if March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb. And vice versa. April showers bring May flowers.
Or, just forget about it. It’s Michigan. The weather will do anything it wants to do including prolonging the spring sports season.
The spring season for the Wolves officially began on March 11 with the usual tryouts. Then, figuring out teams and practice.
Usually they hit outside for practice, but because of the cold weather some of the teams had to do what they could in the gym.
The weather has also delayed the season opener for the boys and girls track teams and the girls soccer teams. But then again, last spring was a wet season for baseball and softball. Mother Nature is fickle for our spring sports.
Keep fighting on athletes – it is bound to be a teensy bit warmer. I am crossing my fingers for you.
As for me, I am ready. I always have my poncho, sweatshirt, winter coat, umbrella and snow boots in the car. (But not rain boots, I haven’t had rain boots since I was in grade school, when you could trust a groundhog with the weather.)
You can become prepared for the spring season, too. Our Spring Sports Preview comes out next week. It’s fun to hear what the coaches and athletes look forward to in the new season and their goals in the interesting spring.
Check it out – it includes rosters, schedules, team photos and of course preview to the season.
Keep in mind the schedules aren’t set in stone – you know, Michigan weather. Though, I will keep our Clarkston News – Facebook and Twitter – @CNewsWRSports updated with game changes. I can already tell you from the first few games – not cancelled by weather – the boys varsity lacrosse team had their first win.
The girls varsity lacrosse team began the season on a 3-0 streak. Not too bad. Three games in one week – watch out for them. The girls varsity soccer team scored on each of their attempts in their first game against Farmington. The girls varsity tennis team won their first tournament.
For baseball, softball, track and golf we will just have to wait…mostly for the weather.

I am one week away from my last bout of my nutrition program with Nuview Nutrition.
Well, the last bout before I head into a lifetime of maintenance.
A year ago seemed scary to think vegetables with no butter or covered in cheddar cheese would be alright.
A year ago I would shudder at the thought of no sugary coffee drinks, no pizza, or no chocolate treats. Basically anything unseemingly bad.
Now, it’s not as scary. It seems scarier to go back to it. It’s been a long journey, and I don’t want to go back on the path I was on.
Eight months later, the only candy I buy is for my desk for my coworkers. Yes, I have heard the question, why buy it if you can’t have it? I always bought candy to have on hand, but before I would keep it hidden in my desk – if it even made it to the office. I like buying candy.
Plus, if you are an avid reader of this column, and why wouldn’t you be? (Don’t answer…) You might recall when I discussed relying on smells to get me by.
I still rely on smells. A whiff of chocolate gets me through. I don’t need the taste of it. I relied on my other senses. Actually I have gotten to the point I don’t need the smell of it.
Sure, I find myself a little weak when I smell popcorn and found myself wanting it for my last, bad weekend. But now the longing is passing which is funny because for weeks I was looking forward to a huge bag (now thinking medium, possibly small) of popcorn while enjoying a show at the movie theater.
Maybe I spent eight months working in a movie theater when I was a teenager living off popcorn. Or possibly all the fatty goodness thoughts have worn off. I don’t want it anymore.
How can this be? I get one more weekend then no more. I get two more days. I had a countdown to a minty Shamrock Shake with whip cream. Or my favorite pasta dish from a local restaurant, which I know for sure is loaded with fat.
Well, I have five more days until I get to be bad one last time. I need to get back into the mood because once Camp NaNoWriMo (writing another 50,000 word novel in April and July) begins I will long for those bad days. Or just coffee with cream.

Time seems to go by quicker now-a-days, have you noticed?
Just a few months ago we were prepping and getting the Winter Sports Section ready to hit the printer and now we are in playoffs.
Wrestling has already gone a few rounds in playoffs, winning a district championship and sending three, Chris Calvano, Adam Myers, and Nick Vandermeer, to the MHSAA Individual Finals next week. Skiers take to the snow one more time on Monday in their state finals as the boys team competes for a 2-peat state championship title.
Girls basketball finishes their regular season this week with a home game against Pontiac on Thursday. Then, start district playoffs next week the same time hockey starts their post-season.
Plus, boys basketball finish their regular season next week. And in a few short weeks, bowling and swim will be over.
Sometimes I like to ask what are your predictions as teams head into the post-season. But I know some are superstitious. It’s alright. So, instead, I will ask what were some of the highlights for you so far this winter season – as a player, a parent, a fan, a member of the Jungle? Did you score your first goal in hockey? Hit a game-high in basketball? Take down a foe in wrestling?
Or maybe you’re anxiously waiting to become or see your favorite person as Athlete of the Week. (I will give you a hint – send a nomination and we will take care of the rest.)
Share your highlight or nomination with us with an email at clarkstonnews@gmail.com, on Facebook – Clarkston News or on Twitter @CNewsWRSports.
Well, as all of you athletes prepare for the next round of playoffs or get ready for your first round of playoffs – we wish you good luck, and we can’t wait to see what happens.
* * *
My personal highlight for the winter season was last week. A bag of cheesecake chocolate cupcakes landed on my desk on Valentine’s Day. I looked at them and gave them away. Cheesecake and chocolate, what a perfect mix. One day, but it wasn’t that day.

I blame winter.
I blame Mother Nature’s fickled moods the last few weeks. Though now I have said it and it is in print, she will bring down her wrath.
I am blaming winter for my occasional cravings as I continue being a good girl and keeping fats and sugars away as I am now down 70 pounds. Stay away you vampire food, sucking away my energy and making feel, well, best way to describe is blah… You know the feeling, like you just finished three courses of Thanksgiving dinner and you are full and can’t move.
But yes, I find myself wanting bad foods and I am blaming winter. During winter in Michigan it is natural to want fatty foods. You need to build fat in your body to keep yourself warm. So I am going against my body’s natural instinct to warm up.
It sounds like a good excuse, doesn’t it? This could be why many people in Michigan do not succeed with their resolution to lose weight. It’s cold in Michigan, we need fat. The new year is deep in the winter season.
But despite my body protesting for more fat I am fighting the bulge back. I am not giving in. I will not back down. You will not find a home here. Actually you can take some of it away with you.
The cravings aren’t too bad. More like a gentle whisper than a loud clanging sound. I just find myself fighting them off more. Especially last Friday when placed on the counter in front of my desk was a homemade chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The smell was delicious. It truly tickled the cells in the nose.
I found myself wanting the icing more than the rest of the cake, which, even if I could be bad, I rarely go for. I went through a frosting stage in middle school. A really, really bad stage. If I haven’t admitted it before, I will – I am a sugar addict. Completely, utterly, a sugar fiend. I even have a pin board completely dedicated to sweet treats on Pinterest.
Alas, when this stage is done for my nutrition plan with Nuview Nutrition and I am on maintenance, I will have to just keep it out or…. who am I kidding? I will have to cut it out completely.
Back to the frosting. It looked smooth and tasty as I bit into my apple as everyone ate a piece of chocolate cake. The apple was good.

By now you are either deep into your New Year’s resolution, you have given up and are asking yourself why you make one just to break it, or you are still trying just to write down the year correctly.
I didn’t really make any resolutions this year. I mean, how do you really top 2012 after giving up the sugar-enriched pop, Starbucks Frappucchinos and other weight-inducing treats?
Pretty much by continuing on. I have not had pop since June. I have … well I have had a frappuccino. I was allowed one bad weekend – so I indulged (my logic, whipped cream has fat in it. Yes, the amount of sugar is greater but … don’t worry, I am not going back).
But back to the question – how to top 2012? Basically, keep going. I am doing one more round of my nutrition plan with Nuview Nutrition.
Depending how I do my next phase, it will be a life plan. The me a year ago would be scared giving up favorite foods and dishes.
But I have been away from sugars and bad fats so long now, I don’t have any cravings. Oh, sure, the holidays were hit or miss, but everyone has something they can’t have.
Every day is a new day to say I don’t want it. I don’t need it. I lost 60 pounds. I do not want it back.
The next stage will also include exercise. I know I was so good at avoiding it or so good at not having the time. But I have a crazy goal this year to run.
I have already signed up for two 5Ks. I am doing the Color Run in May again (if you don’t have a team, let me know. You can join our colorful crew).
The second is not the Warrior Dash. I am trying something different with a few of my classmates from elementary – kind of like a reunion.
We are doing the Foam Fest at Stoney Creek Metropark. It is the first year it is coming to Michigan. It has foam, mud and obstacles.
I have been invited to do another event called Every Person Involved Cares 2013 Half-Marathon and 5K; I am still debating since there is another event the following week. (By the way all of these are on www.active.com if interested.)
But I would like to run, not walk like I did last year. I am ready for the next phase. Anyone have running shoe tips?

I remember when I was in elementary school and was asked who my hero was. I felt like it was an odd question mostly because it was singular.
I have never been one to come to a decision on one solely option. I picked heroes.
As I have gotten older, the list has grown and as we head into Christmas with a tragedy on our minds and a retching pain in our hearts from last Friday it’s time to celebrate heroes this holiday season.
As news reports came out from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, I began to shut out the repeated information about the gunman. All I could think about was the students, staff and the entire community.
Out of the stories came another sad one about Victoria Soto, a first grade teacher, who was shot and killed while shielding her students from the gunman. She gave her life for her students.
A teacher shouldn’t have to worry about having to shield his or her students from a threat. But I haven’t met a teacher who wouldn’t.
It’s not just Soto who is a hero, it is every teacher. It’s what they do in the classroom, what they do for their students when the classrooms are empty and when they are doing a little bit extra.
They have superpowers those heroes. They can whip out their board and show students a new way to solve a problem, introduce them to new books and new ideas and they can plant a problem in their students’ heads and watch what ideas they come up with to solve the problem.
They look over the students inside and outside of the classroom. Some make sure students have enough change for a bite to eat or donate/volunteer with organizations to further help students like Blessings in a Backpack.
Besides teachers there are other heroes out there hidden in the Clarkston community – members of the transportation department for gathering toys and food donations for the Lighthouse of Clarkston.
Not to mention everyone who donated during the holiday season for families could have a great holiday.
For anyone making today a better tomorrow for someone else, you are a hero and thank you.

I should probably put a warning on this so I guess this is it – if you are hungry don’t read the first part. Go ahead and skip to the end.
If you haven’t heard by now Hostess is no more. They are shutting their doors. The company that brought us the Twinkie, Wonder bread, Sno Balls, Ding Dongs and so many more sugar delights is done.
I know, I haven’t had sugary treats or chocolate since June. My weening of Hostess products is done. But I can still mourn.
Ding dongs were always a nice surprise in the lunchbox when I was a kid. They were my bad habit if a box was in the house. When I got older, and taller, I would sneak into the kitchen and take a quick look around for mom and dad. If the coast was clear, I grabbed it out of the box and tucked it into my shirt running into the bedroom.
Don’t worry I am sure they noticed a box just disappearing especially as I became a teenager if not at least by the time I was in college.
Though I believe Sno Balls got me through college. It was a Ding Dong with a more sugary edge.
I can remember picking up a package on the way to class when I stopped at the gas station. Or worse I got it out of the vending machine on campus where I probably would stock my backpack up with snacks for the whole day. (I can now admit my bad habits since I don’t do them anymore.)
With Sno Balls it was a process. First, peel off the marshmallow fluff on top. Next, slowly eat it taking in the taste and enjoying each coconut flake. Then, bite by bite taking in the chocolate ball underneath. Needless to say it was never a good snack when studying or taking notes in class.
For those who went shopping on Black Friday in the wee hours, I slept in. It was nice. Though when did Black Friday begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday? What happened to Thanksgiving?
Kudos to everyone who attempted National Novel Writing Month this November. For those who succeeded with getting to 50,000 words and for those who tried. I know there are quite a few from the Clarkston area who sat through hours of typing even if distracted by Facebook and Pinterest.

Whew! I made it through October.
I made it through fun-sized candy treats, cider and donuts.
The month started hard but I rolled right through it with ease. Yes, every day continues to be a challenge as I continue my program with Nuview Nutrition but part of it gets easier.
It is all about planning.
For example, one Saturday I had three events to attend – a baby shower, a child’s birthday party and a Halloween party.
I packed what I needed for the day and if I needed an extra vegetable or two I could stop by a grocery store.
For the baby shower I lucked out they had vegetables and apples – both I could eat. But I had to pass on the sloppy joe’s, caramel sauce for the apples and the chocolate cake.
The birthday party for a six-year-old didn’t go as smoothly. Cookies, hot dogs, breadsticks… I think you get the idea. My option was apples to snack on. I had a lot of apple slices that particular day. Luckily I had my hands wrapped around my camera to keep me from munching but sometimes it wasn’t enough.
As for the final event of the day, the Halloween party had tons of fatty, goodness. It was a group of friends I rarely see but I remembered as I stood there munching on the green peppers how much time I spent just eating at parties.
The kitchen was the place to gather to talk and just eat as you prepared food. I am sure you know what I am talking about. You don’t even realize you are eating until the chips are gone and the dip needs to be refilled.
The Halloween party was a little tougher but I knew I couldn’t have a moment of weakness. It would be my downfall and food would become out of control again.
Heck, it’s hard enough to control my nut portions right now let alone try to block myself from bad sugar.
But here we are again… October was just the beginning. This month is Thanksgiving and National Novel Writing Month, which I believe I gained five pounds during last year. Then, Christmas and all the festivities going along with it.
One day at a time to say no and “I don’t want to eat that.” And if you are in the same boat as me – I know you can do it. I am here if you need support.

A Wolves football game is always eventful – either it is a big play or the nail biting last few minutes, hoping another penalty does not push them back…again.
Even before kickoff there was a feeling it was going to be close – holding-on-to-the-edge-of-your-seat close. Not only because it was against rival Lake Orion but for the OAA Red title, which the Wolves held onto after last Friday’s 21-14 win.
Now some nay sayers on the Lake Orion side said the Dragons would win flat out. It wouldn’t be close. (I won’t give any names. It is not their fault they never saw Clarkston play to really know what happens at a Wolves game.)
I believe they changed their mind though. It could have been with D.J. Zezula’s 37-yard pass play to Alex Dicea near the end of the game fans knew something big just happened and it would continue.
Or maybe it was when Ian Eriksen crossed into the endzone with 14.3 seconds left to clinch the game for the Wolves.
It is also eventful because of the fans. Clarkston fans decked out in their blue and gold not only filled the visitors bleachers but took over the fence around Lake Orion’s football field and trinkled into the home side of the bleachers, too.
Clarkston students, mostly in the Jungle (the student section), are the most enthusiastic – they are cheering for not only their favorite player but their friends.
I might be a little biased since I do like to stay on the Wolves’ side of the field. It is easier to be on the Clarkston side for photos – you never know when the Jungle is going to go on the wild rollercoaster ride.
In case you missed it, there was a wizard, a knight and a tall Dragon in the Jungle during last Friday’s game. I couldn’t tell you what happened to the Dragon but by the end of the game the green creature was gone.
Wolfie did make an appearance so maybe him, the wizard and the knight know what happened.
The Wolves have one more game of the regular season which is this Friday in Oak Park. Then, it is onto playoffs which pairing are announced this Sunday on FOX Sports Detroit, 6 p.m. Do you think it will be Lake Orion for the first round?

The turn of colors and the chill in the air means it’s time – it is fall.
The leaves are slowly losing their green for more vibrant red, yellow and orange tints.
With fall comes the trips to local cider mills for apples, cider and donuts. Also, peeking at pumpkins for carving ideas as well as pumpkin pies or popular places releasing their Pumpkin Spice flavored food – ice cream, coffee, you name it.
Pumpkin Spice latt’s were my weakness last year. Though I can’t have them this year, I admit I won’t miss them. I won’t miss the calories or the empty wallet from another visit to Starbucks or Kroger for creamer. Maybe I will miss the taste, but my nose can always indulge.
I also won’t miss donuts from the cider mill. They do sound delightful – in theory donuts are. I haven’t had much of a taste for them since I was a teenager. Maybe the lack of Mickey donuts on Sundays killed the passion.
Though my food enjoyment in the fall is cheesecake. It is a savory treat both my grandma and I enjoyed. I can still remember going to Ram’s Horn off Woodward Road, for a family dinner, sitting in a booth and getting cheesecake with her.
It is a way to remember her especially as her birthday would have been this week, two days before mine. (You can guess the date, heck come to the Homecoming game this Friday and celebrate with me. But you will not get the age out of me.)
Since I am back to being good, I indulged earlier this month during my off time from my nutrition program. (Again I was allowed.) I had a slice of plain cheesecake for her and a slice for me.
I also admit I discovered Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake (the one with bits of graham crust). I picked it up from the grocery store after debating over the Strawberry Cheesecake or a chocolate ice cream. Since I could be really bad I was going to be BAAAAAAD. I nibbled on it during the weekend. It was quite hard to put away.
Whatever your fall indulgence, go ahead, have a taste. Just don’t go over board.
This fall indulge in the color, the smells, and the taste of fall in Michigan.

Changing eating habits can help you painfully realize things you already knew.
I know I lean towards caffeine to ease stress and it hit me once I got the bill on the latest maintenance repairs for my Vue (mind you this was a week after I sent the last payment in for my vehicle. She is now mine).
When I got the bill and closed my eyes as I made the painful payment, I wanted coffee. Not just coffee, the bad coffee. Sugar? Cream? No worse than those two. I wanted a Mocha Frappuccino, not a small size. The venti – the large, 20 ounces of caffeine, chocolate, sugar and ice mixed in perfect unison.
But I couldn’t. The plan I am on, there is no being bad. I know the consequence and all the hard work goes out the window.
What I did do was start the countdown. See, I’m on what I call round one of the plan I am following through Nuview Nutrition. Round one ends on Friday. Round two begins on Monday (yes, I am going for a second round).
Between the rounds, I can be bad. Not only am I allowed to be bad, I am encouraged to be bad.
During the last few months I have missed certain things and I have found ways around it. The biggest way is through smell (“Wendi’s Word: The nose knows” from our July 11 edition.)
It’s funny some smells are heavenly like buttery popcorn when I was on the sidelines at the Clarkston High School stadium during Friday’s football game. Yet, I don’t eat popcorn. I might crave it but I worked at movie theater when I was a teenager. I have had my fill of popcorn.
But ignoring the lack of chocolate, pizza, frappuchinos, bread, pasta, pop and other things – I can reflect on a good couple of months. My energy and motivation is higher as I am a little bit lighter in weight.
And as I sit here typing out the last few words I am not as anxious to be bad this weekend. Sure, an ice cream sounds great but the wish list for eating will probably remain a wish list.
I feel as if I am not going to get crazy as I thought. I mean, I might still go to the high school cafeteria for a slice of pizza after Friday’s football game – I do need to boost before round two.
But…who knows…

The notebooks are stacked high in boxes, crates are full of crayons and folders. It’s time to get back to school again.
Do you remember when you would go back to school after summer vacation and share how you spent your vacation?
Well, in the good spirit of going back to school and the fall athletic season officially starting this week I will be the first to share.
I will begin differently as I am not taking a vacation until November.
During this summer I spent my days off getting muddy and having paint thrown at me.
Most recently I participated in the Warrior Dash. I’m not the person to do a 5k mixed with obstacles. So when some people shook their heads and said “it’s not the Tough Mudder,” I wasn’t concerned. My main goal was to cross the finish line, and I did.
But I still won’t do the Tough Mudder, which is twice as long. I would do the Warrior Dash again and work on cutting down my time. Plus, the friend who sucked me into the world of Warrior Dash is already getting us to sign up for next July. What about it – want to join us?
I also participated in the Color Run in Ypsilanti. Notice a pattern with participated. It’s because like Warrior Dash, I did not run in this event either. It was another 5k but without obstacles yet more colorful.
You start out in white and hit four different color spots along the 3.1 miles. At each one volunteers douse you with dry paint. Then, at the end a huge color party.
I am definitely doing it next year.
By the way, if you participated in the Color Run and have some photos, send them our way. We have a color edition coming up.
I am feeling a little more athletic. A tiny bit. I think it is the most recent plan through Nuview Nutrition. It makes my gutsy, energetic, ready to take on the world.
If you read my last column about the nose having all the fun, I will give you an update. I have lost 34 pounds and a combination of 20 inches – so yes, I am feeling gutsy if not lighter.
But not gutsy enough for Tough Mudder.

You are more than welcome to laugh. Some already have because the truth is funny, but my nose is having a blast.
I am on a new plan with Nuview Nutrition. Alright, so I go plan to plan. I have tried different things. Some were great and some failed.
On this plan, there is no room for failure. You get an itch and scratch it with a piece of pizza or piece of chocolate – it’s done.
I have found the key to get me through is right on my face – my nose.
It happened on the sixth day of the plan. My mom and I headed to Port Austin and on the way back she got McDonald’s and french fries. It was easier to smell than to taste.
A piece of dark chocolate landed on my desk last week. I opened the wrapper, closed my eyes and breathed in deeply. Ah, chocolate flavored oxygen.
Plus, the trick to dark chocolate for me is it smells better than it tastes.
Even though Rudy’s Market pizza is quite appetizing and hard to ignore with it being right next to our office – the nose has also picked up where the taste buds cannot.
It’s not too bad. It’s like starting fresh .
I mean, yes, I still get cravings. I had an irking for Cinnamon Toast Crunch on Saturday but I think it was more for the milk and the cinnamon sugar left behind when done with the cereal. But any craving I get doesn’t last long where before it would linger. Especially if it was pop (I am from Michigan – I say pop), a Mocha Frappuccino, or brownies – just to name a few.
On those hot and humid days we had last week, I wanted ice cream or some nice, cold sorbet. But it was easier to grab cold water or green tea (see can still visit Starbucks.)
The key to the lasting effects of this plan will be maintaining. As long as the body doesn’t mind the nose having all the fun it could work out.
It is also the mindset I have right now and have to keep. I have already put in the time and the effort. I have already come so far. If that doesn’t work, the number dropping on the scale could give a good push, too.
In the next couple of weeks, the plan will step up a few more levels. I feel ready and hungry for success. Not for food.

It is just a natural part of life every day you meet someone new – unless you are a hermit. Then maybe you don’t.
If you are lucky enough, the good people stay with you or at least leave an impression on you.
As a reporter, I feel lucky to meet new people every day and to hear their stories. If I am fortunate enough I also get the opportunity to tell their stories.
The Clarkston community lost a valued member a few weeks ago, 10-year-old Ryan Kennedy. He was a strong young man who battled a form of brain cancer called Ependymoma for five years.
I met him in November 2010 and he left a lasting impression on me. I don’t know if it was his sparkling eyes. Or his quiet smile with his lips curled up just slightly but seemed to have so much happiness behind it. Maybe it was his creativity as he sat at the dining room table writing and drawing when I met him. Us creative people can spot our own kind.
He had a spark. It was a spark igniting not only family, friends and classmates but an entire community through fundraisers, tweeting about Ryan and to the athletic fields. The boys lacrosse players wore wristbands for him. The girls lacrosse players wore gray ribbons in their hair and worked as a team to win their games for him.
Just meeting Ryan Kennedy I feel a little bit braver. To look fear in the eye and take it on.
We also said goodbye to the Class of 2012 – all of the high school graduates. You were just starting eighth grade when I started here – I feel like you are the class I know the most.
Congratulations to all of you! You have come a long way and will continue to go a long way.
My words of wisdom as you head to college: be wary getting a credit card. Do not procrastinate – just finish it right away though caffeine will be great on a late night, sleep is so much better.
Along those lines, be careful of vending machines and food places on campus – quick is great but the freshman 15 is nasty.
As for life – take a vacation.
And remember to keep us updated – we want to know all the awesome things you are doing.

Reasons I could never have a cell phone with apps.
The first reason is because I would definitely get Pandora – internet radio. Since someone said last week they didn’t know what it was here is the cliff note version. Type in the singer or band you want to hear, and it will play their songs plus bands and artists that sound like them. I keep mine on a rotation of quite a few stations and different artists.
Sometimes a song will play and I just think, “how did you know, Pandora? This song is just what I needed.” Not to mention it is great because it has limited commercials.
I am already leaning toward a new cell phone. My excuse is for the cardio stations programmed; it would really motivate me to go to the gym. Good excuse, isn’t it?
Another reason, and I may have to go into a 12-step program for this one, Pinterest.
See I was always the person with a bulletin board and would pin magazine clippings or photos on the bulletin board. Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board with no limitations.
I can make different boards and “pin” photos from other websites or other Pinterest users.
Here are a few categories you can find – food and exercising. I pick these two since they seem to be the most interesting combination. You find a lot of exercises to try, a lot of motivational sayings to get you going for exercise. Then, you click and find yourself on a recipe board with desserts. Quite dangerous.
So instead of doing the awesome exercise I found only taking up ten minutes of my time, I found desserts. Millions of colorful desserts of all shapes, sizes, and tastes sucking away two hours of my life and leaving my laptop with drool marks.
I will admit I am not as bad as I used to be. Probably because I avoid getting on my computer during the weekends. But I could only imagine if I had a cell phone with an app at my fingertips every minute of every day.
But I will stick to my cell phone. The slide keyboard for typing has grown on me.
Plus, it’s nice to get away from technology once in awhile.

I am a person who weighs every pro and con before making a decision.
Thinking things through may be a good quality, but it has taken awhile to sit down and address the upcoming $20 million bond proposal for Clarkston Community Schools.
Here is how it goes in my head:
Pro: Technology upgrades to give students a boost in the technological advanced world around us.
Con: The cost is high.
Pro: The bond is really three bonds, addressing the issues of ever changing technology.
Con: It is $20 million – which is set to be paid off in 2029. The bond will increase the current 7 mills on property to 8 mills – $1.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation.
Pro: It is only an extra $100 per year if the taxable value is $100,000 – just over $1.92 per week.
Con: There is absolutely no guarantee that the only increase will be one mill over the next 17 years. The board of education can vote to keep it at eight mills, but the people on the board change every 2-4 years. Depending on how much comes in for tax collection, it can change.
Plus, anything could happen in the next few years like increase of millages for county parks, library, safety path, etc. It all adds up.
Pro: The students already using some of the technology in schools have benefited. It is a different tool to use and they are learning.
Con: What is the extra cost? What if it breaks? What if the student loses it? Have you visited an elementary school – any elementary school? The lost and found is piled high with items forgotten. Not just mittens and hats but books and folders.
Pro: More organization. (The mention of folders sparked it.) No more blaming the “dog” for eating the homework.
Con: What virus protections will be on the technology? A virus can wipe out more than a fictional dog eating homework that was never finished.
The big con over and over again is the cost. It is still extra money and money some families may not have especially with rising costs of gas and groceries.
But with technology all around us, if the bond fails the possibility to take it out of the general fund is high. Then who really pays?

One of the great perks about being a creative person is having creative friends.
As another way to raise money for March for Babies, besides talking, asking, and begging for monetary donations, my friend has created an online auction.
If you missed one of my previous columns, I am walking in the March for Babies on April 28 on Team Thor’s Strength for my nephew. He was born one month early (he just couldn’t wait any longer). He spent his first week in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
As part of the team walking in the event, I knew I had to come up with something to help.
Sometimes it takes one idea to ignite a million tiny ideas to aid the main idea. Once I was able to sit down and think about the people I knew, I realized I know a lot of creative and helpful people.
Next came throwing a shot into the dark and hoping for the best. The best came through and because generous people, the auction is going to be great. I hope it will. It would be great to raise money for March for Babies.
Not only do we have a few creations from family but also a few donations from some from Clarkston as well. But not going to give all the details away.
Does it get you curious now? And a great part ? the auction is online. You don’t have to go anyplace and it is before you leave for spring break. Well, hopefully before you leave for spring break.
The auction is April 1-3 and and the items are listed on www.facebook.com/ThorsStrengthMarchForBabies. If you want to donate, leave a message there.
Again, you are more than welcome to walk to us or cheer everyone on April 28 in Lapeer. For more, www.marchforbabies/jetauntwr.
As for my other nephews and my niece, they are doing well.
Last thoughts, as I prepare for Hollywood to release Hunger Games to the public, I am excited but worried. Please, Hollywood, don’t mess this up. There is nothing like enjoying a book series and seeing it botched on the big screen.
Speaking of which, Michael Bay, do not turn Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into aliens. If you missed the news feeds he is going to have the beloved four be aliens. Sorry to the 1980s or 1990s child ? I ruined your day. I was trying one last plea to someone in Hollywood who would listen.

Good-bye February. It was fun but now it is time for March, marking the end and beginning of two sport seasons.
This week’s adventures include the Lady Wolves Varsity Basketball team going for their second consecutive district title in Holly. A Wolfpack of five from the Clarkston Varsity Wrestling heading to the MHSAA Wrestling Individual Finals.
Go in with a bang, Clarkston, and make a sizzle. Sorry. Getting excited for all the teams as they get one step closer to their goals.
In the middle of March is the beginning of spring season with try-outs and the start of practice.
If you haven’t seen, turn to page 11A to check it out, we are doing a full-color spring sports special edition. Get ready to add it to your keepsakes. (Graduation parties are only a few months away – do you have all the photos you need of your senior? I want you to be prepared.)
March is also a month of celebrating reading – which if you are just starting to read this column I am a big fan of reading. Others already know the smell of books and words formulated in a stream of creativity gets me everytime.
The month begins with sadness though. Jan Berenstain, co-creator of The Berenstain Bears, died last Friday. The adventures of Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear were always a favorite as a child. They were great stories with great illustrations and lessons.
I still have my collection and started my niece on them. I bought her The Berenstain Bears and the New Baby before her brother was born.
My favorite was probably The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Habit because like Sister Bear I had a bad nail-biting habit.
March is the perfect time to get into the habit of reading – either for yourself or to read to someone else. A perfect opportunity to visit the library, find a bookstore or try a new author.
I know a few schools are doing something special during the month – tell us what you are doing.
Or better yet, tell us your favorite book. I am always looking for new authors to try – best places to I have found them are used book sales and on Amazon. Though Amazon can be dangerous.

I admit, I jumped off the wagon last summer. Not only did I jump off the “eating healthy” wagon, I watched it drive away and waved to it.
My phrases “I don’t want…” slowly turned into “I can’t have…” and the frustration mounted. Not only frustration but my life changed and so did the food choices, too.
But here I am…again on the wagon, wheeling towards my goal. This time I am tackling a yeast free lifestyle ? no sugar, no starch, no yeast. It is a lot of no, no, no, but it really changes your perspective. As with anything else, there are good days and there are bad days ? oh, yes, I had chocolate and it was gooooood.
But I haven’t had any fast food for a month and my pop intake has died down. I am back on track. I just need to wake up earlier to get to the gym or go for a walk.
Among my many, many goals is to increase my walking. At first it was just to walk 30-40 minutes a day, now it is to walk at least five miles in one day once a week.
I am participating in the March for Babies for March for Dimes event in Lapeer on April 18 on Team Thor’s Strength. I am walking for my nephew, Jackson, or as I affectionately call him, “Jet,” because of his initials. One day he will be a great linebacker with an awesome nickname from his aunt.
Jackson turns 9-months-old next week. It is hard to believe the adorable, bright, brown-eyed wonder spent his first week in the NICU.
He was born one month too early and needed help from an oxygen machine to keep him breathing.
Luckily it was only one month early, He did try to come three months early but his doctors and mom were able to keep him from coming out.
What can I say, I am the proud aunt. I have one niece and four nephews ? all adorable and under the age of 6 ? I would happily help out as much as I can.
In a way, they are helping me. With the March for Babies, I am preparing for a long 5-mile walk and in life I want to have enough energy to keep up with them.
If you are interested in March for Babies, see www.marchforbabies.org. We invite you to join us if you want to join us or support us. The more the merrier.
Until next time enjoy “winter.”

If you haven’t heard by now, Clarkston Community Schools Board of Education voted for a special election on May 8 for a $20 million bond.
The special election comes with a price tag for $35,000 ? money the district could save by having the election in November.
Not only do I appreciate trustees Susan Boatman, Joan Patterson and Rosalie Lieblang, who voted ‘no,? but the parents who spoke up during the school board meeting on Jan. 9, when it was approved.
They had good insights but unfortunately four of the board members voted ‘yes? to continue with the May election.
The district has its reasons for the May election but here are some reasons to hold off. One, you are paying $35,000 (yes, going to keep repeating the cost) when you voted not so long ago to move May elections to November to save money. Two, more community members and taxpayers go out and vote in November.
Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock said the bond is good for the kids. I don’t disagree with doing what is right for the kids but when you need money, wouldn’t you try to save every penny you can?
Within the $20 million bond, $10.5 million will go into technology upgrades including iPads and netbooks. Right now the district has a few classrooms doing pilot programs with these technologies.
I visited a math class at Clarkston Junior High School using them. The students were doing well and excited with being able to use netbooks. It helped them be organized, still be able to work with the class while sick, keep up with the information, and show they know how to do the math problems.
During the meeting, Trustee Boatman brought up a good point ? let’s see how the students are doing in the pilot program.
Of course it leads to how are students doing on tests because it all comes down to test results, unfortunately.
But these are just tools. We still need teachers that not only teach but can reach students. The graphing calculator was great in Pre-Calculus in my high school but it was Mr. Martin who reached us.
Make your voice heard – vote May 8.

Another year gone – but what a year!
For this week’s edition and next week’s edition The Clarkston News is taking one last look at 2011 and giving you the highlights of the past year.
And what a year it was for Clarkston athletics. The Lady Wolves on the girls varsity tennis team ended the season as MHSAA Division 1 State Champions – a goal every team dreams of at the beginning of the season and only one can achieve and claim.
We haven’t forgotten about the boys and girls varsity basketball teams fight in the regionals after claiming their district titles or the Clarkston boys varsity ski team taking runner-up in their state finals.
All the highlights are on pages 12A and 14A.
It looks to be another great year – both the Cagers and Lady Cagers are undefeated. The ski season begins in January and as long as Mother Nature keeps the weather cold and helps Pine Knob with fresh powder it should be another great season.
As everyone makes their 2012 resolutions and goals for the new year – here is a goal you can help Clarkston athletes with. Besides packing the bleachers and showing your support, you can nominate them for Athlete of the Week. It is a weekly special nod we give to an athlete or team.
How can one become an Athlete of the Week? I am so happy you asked because I enjoy sharing. Athletes are not only nominated by coaches but by parents, guardians, relatives and friends.
If you know an athlete who has not received the honor and deserves it – contact us. You can email at clarkstonnews@gmail.com, call us at 248-625-3370, send a letter or stop by our office at 5 S. Main Street in downtown Clarkston. All we ask is for a reason why you are nominating them and how we can contact them – we will take care of the rest.
Good luck on all of your goals and resolutions for 2012 and keep us updated on how you are doing.
As for me I am off to make a game plan on how to achieve my goals for 2012 and decide what my first download for the Kindle will be. Any suggestions?

Only 70 minutes remained for the November month long challenge. Not taking any chances with the end result I copied and pasted over 100 pages of text into the small box.
The screen on the webpage changed and a sigh of relief escaped, I had finished National Novel Writing Month (affectionately called NaNoWriMo or NaNo for the shorter version.) I had finished 101 words over the 50,000 word minimum.
I made it! I met my goal and completed my second NaNoWriMo.
Though it was writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (averaging 1,667 per day), most of my writing was in the last eight days for a total of 30,000 words and 14,000 of them in the last two days.
Insert long sigh here. Both relief and exhaustion took over but even though the screen had changed to winner I opened the document one more time to finish the scene.
Reflecting on my second completed NaNo I learned I am a mad typer. I could easily average 550 words during Word Wars, an online 15-minutes word sprinting challenge with writers in the region. I might take my skills to the NaNoWriMo Midway Write-in next year.
As the same with last year, my characters still respond better under pressure. This year they completely changed the plot in the last 48 hours.
Contractions still did not exist during the month, see “did not” counts as two words rather than “didn’t” which is only one. It is an easy boost. Plus, editing is for going back and editing will happen.
Now, time to break from the story before I go back make it more concrete and go through the revisions. In the next year, I can use the time to hone the typing skills and work on an outline for the second idea I had for NaNoWriMo. There is nothing like going into NaNo with two ideas battling to be the 50,000 word novel.
Plus, now comes the time to ween off of Starbucks visits. Good-bye Pumpkin Spice Latte. As well as the Panera Bread visits – free WiFi and refills for the ideal spot for write-ins. Dangerous but very ideal.
I can also officially watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two DVD which came out on Nov. 11. When it comes to NaNo you have to make sacrifices.

It is around this time of year, before Thanksgiving and after Halloween, many are already flustered with the holiday season.
Christmas music has been playing since the first day of November and many stores have had their holiday merchandise slowly pushing Halloween off of the shelves.
But I feel already prepped for the holidays, mostly because I want to finish any shopping before the stores are crowded and lines are long.
Though this year I am more joyful about the holiday season (it’s the Michael Buble Christmas album. It has holiday spirit effect on me.)
So this year I am more attuned to a holiday tradition especially the covered dining room table at my mom’s house.
Wreaths and Christmas trees of different sizes find their ways to the table along with miscellaneous holiday decorations or small ornaments. The creative tools are ready along with holiday music going in the background or a version of A Christmas Carol playing on the television.
Then, my mom gets to creating. It might be a holiday present someone asked her to make giving her some of the items and letting her run with it. She is a crafty individual so within a few minutes to an hour a plain wreath or Christmas tree has been transformed into a masterpiece. Or into a unique gift for the holiday season.
Take for example the bird in The Clarkston News window. It landed on my desk to decorate for an auction this past summer. As usually procrastination and lack of time took over and I passed it on to my mom. She in turn got out her paint, a few of this and that and got to work.
It’s not just the holidays, though Christmas does seem to get more attention during the entire year. Anything is really a blank canvas – a room in a house, an abandoned dresser or desk. With a little imagination and the tools it transforms.
It is probably why I am leaning towards getting out all of my photos, paper and embellishments and create my own gifts this year. Or it could be lines mixed with having more people to shop for.
Until next time stay away from holiday music until you are ready and congrats to the Clarkston Girls Varsity Volleyball team – regional champs (again)!

For those unable to go to last Friday’s rivalry football game between Clarkston and Lake Orion – it was phenomenal.
Especially when senior quarterback Mitch Baenziger sealed the Wolves playoff spot with 51:3 to go in the game on a 30-yard run. A PAT from senior Alex Barta put the score, 38-31.
While the Clarkston fans screamed and cheered in the stands, the football players were also celebrating. Hugs were given on the sidelines by the players and the coaches as the defensive line continued to stop each Orion play.
It was a good end to a great rivalry game and an unusual regular season.
While many have kept asking if forfeiting the first two games because of an uneligible player effected the team – maybe it did for a moment. But the Wolves came right back the week the news broke out to beat Troy in Week 4, 28-13.
Seems like it was out of their system especially if they came back to beat the Dragons.
Well clean the lucky socks, get the Clarkston gear ready for this Friday. The Wolves host Pontiac in the MHSAA Pre-Regional game, a team they already beat 42-18 earlier in the season.
As the Wolves play the Phoenix, Lake Orion goes against Walled Lake Central. For fans ready for a Clarkston/Orion rematch – both teams could face each other again if they both win. Besides going to Ford Field for State Finals, isn’t beating the Dragons again enough motivation?
Plus, let’s not forget the Lady Wolves on the volleyball court. They also slayed Dragons last week to take the OAA Red league title outright in the 3-2 win. Excellent job! They can be seen on Monday against Holly in the first round of MHSAA District playoffs, 5:30 p.m.
I know it’s runs into the Trick or Treat times for the kids, but stay for a match. Maybe if enough people say they are coming I will chip in for a bag of candy. Snickers? Twizzlers? Plus, you get to dress up in blue and gold and be a Clarkston fan. Don’t let the kids have all the fun.
See you all this week! We will be looking for you in the stands! By the way check out page 15A for my favorite sign from last Friday’s game.

It was a good weekend to be from Michigan.
The Detroit Tigers tied their series with the New York Yankees, both with one win. Then added another win on Monday night. The Detroit Lions grabbed a four point lead with only minutes to go against the Dallas Cowboys. I only caught the last five minutes of the game, but it was the best five minutes.
Not to mention the Clarkston High School Boys Varsity Football team closed the gap to qualify for playoffs by one more game. They need six wins to qualify for playoffs. Four down, two wins to go with three games left of the regular season.
It is hard to believe it was only three weeks ago the Wolves forfeited their first two games of the season. But they were resilient the next game, giving Troy a 28-13 loss and a whooping on Pontiac, 42-18.
They didn’t falter mentally or physically during the games just like the community’s support didn’t falter for their Wolves.
The boys head to Royal Oak this week, who has only won one game this season and it was by one point to St. Clair Shores. It could be anyone’s game – but as long as the Wolves keep doing what they are doing and continuing to improve on the offensive and defensive lines, Clarkston has it. Next week’s opponent still hangs in the air for the OAA Crossover game.
The Clarkston News has also had our own victory – nine awards in the Michigan Press Association 2011 Better Newspapers Contest. For all the details, please see page 1A.
The results come out the same week as my birthday so for the last two years it has been a sweet treat. Also, as I like to see it a beginning of a new year to not only better myself but to challenge myself.
After achieving three awards last year I knew I could win National Novel Writing Month in November. It took a lot of focus, caffeine, write-ins and tangents to get those 50,000 words.
Now with four awards, one each in Sports News and Sports Column and two in Sports Features maybe I can hit 60,000 words this November and finish editing last year’s story by Oct. 31.
Thank you to the Clarkston Athletic community and you, our readers. You are wonderful with all you do plus you support a journalist and buy a newspaper.

You have to give a big kudos to Clarkston Athletics and the coaches – when they know a rule was broken they immediately call Michigan High School Athletic Association and the athletic offices of the teams involved.
The Clarkston High School Boys Varsity Football went from a 3-0 to a 1-2 record this week.
One of the players they thought was eligible to play was not and played in both games. After they found out he was ineligible they immediately took action even if it meant taking the losses.
I feel bad for the team – they worked hard during those games.
Also I feel like I have been listening to the coaches to much because I am going to say lessons have been learned, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all any other pep talk you can think of.
Wolves, it doesn’t change you – you rocked those first three games on talent and teamwork. Six more games in the regular season – let’s go. Especially the last game scheduled against Lake Orion – but I will keep the thoughts of fighting Dragons, which are imaginary at a later time.
But after two football games on the road, there is nothing like the Clarkston gridiron gang being on their turf for the home opener.
Clarkston has great fans – filling the stands not just at home games but at away games, in the visitor and home bleachers.
Being at away games just isn’t the same – maybe it is just the Wolf pride and everyone coming out. Come on, where else can you spend time with friends or family for such a great price. (A ticket at the movies would cost double the price of one ticket for the football game, plus food.) Not to mention the sounds from the Clarkston High School Marching Band and the cheerleaders opening the night with the fight song.
The boys are back home next week for their homecoming game against Pontiac. The week kicks off next Monday with the annual Powder Puff game where the senior girls take on the juniors for bragging right.
It was also a good weekend for University of Michigan, Michigan State and the Detroit Lions.

The darkness gives way to the lights of Las Vegas, my most recent adventure outside of Michigan.
But past the busiest part of the Vegas strip by MGM Grand, Flamingo and Caesar’s Palace closer to where the history began is a boneyard for signs of the past. The Neon Museum where signs that used to light the strip lie in storage. (Actually Google earth the museum or Las Vegas and once you see the pirate skull that used to be at Treasure Island – you have found the museum.)
The museum is not open to the public yet but for a fee you can tour the yard. (I believe it is a worthy amount – $15 for a tour and for us a knowledgeable guide.)
I can’t remember how I found it probably just a random search on the internet. But of course the history girl that I am knew if I only visited one place during my vacation – The Neon Museum was the place.
A walk through the old signs and their brief notoriety was a peek into different eras and stories behind the signs.
Quite a few signs are in the boneyard and were donated. They were not in their bright glory like the past but some still exist on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas and can be seen in their lit glory every night.
A visit to any museum or antique shop gives a glimpse to the past and stories to go with them – for the neon museum lightbulbs in each socket now put aside for LED lights.
But a lot of eras have given way to technology – we have seen it in the last few weeks with the closing of Borders. Avid book readers are upgrading to e-readers, Kindles and Nooks or finding cheaper books online or at other stores.
Yes, Barnes & Noble still exists, for right now, but it really doesn’t seem the same. It probably goes back to going to Waldenbooks every weekend going through the books and comics, seeing what was new or interesting to read at the time.
For other avid readers – the end of Harry Potter series hit the movie theaters after ten years with the release of the conclusion – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
Three eras gone – but what do you miss? What do you hope never goes away?

I watched with interest and distaste as I eyed the water in the Aqua Chi Ionic foot bath change color.
As part of my 12-week program at Nuview Nutrition I signed up for the detox. Another painful but hopefully helpful 12 days of helping my liver to a happy life.
The detox included two foot baths from Holistic Harmony and it would pull toxins out of the body. Most of mine were from the liver, gallbladder and I did have yeast ? which creates sugar cravings.
It was interesting like someone reading tea leaves but reading toxins. It definitely explains sugar cravings (I really need to say no to sweets and stop feeding the yeast.)
I still have one more foot bath and as I write this two more days of detox and started back on grains, which I happily gave my body.
While restricting, it was only frustrating at restaurants, more frustrating than when I first started the program. Many restaurants have added the healthy friendly items in hopes not to lose customers. But it is still limited.
My first day of detox I ate at a restaurant basically cutting the salad down to the bare minimum including no chicken. Sadly still charged for the chicken. It was not a $9 salad.
Most restaurants, it was easier to find their gluten menu, if they had one, or just stick with a salad.
While at times I could be heard saying “I can’t eat that, I can’t drink that” I didn’t think about it as I couldn’t have it. I thought of it I don’t want to ? if I ate it I would have to start all over again. Honestly I wanted to be done with it ? take my knowledge and head into the real world.
I will find out on Friday if I continue on with medical food shakes. Plus, I still have to make an appointment with the doctor and see what happens next.
Other news ? my Saturn Vue hit 100,000 miles before her fifth birthday (it’s in August.) Meaning she needs to go in as well for her check-up. Not to mention the back windshield wiper hasn’t been able to move since the snow melted and the mysterious death of the battery in Clarkston Community Church’s parking lot on July 4th. Thanks volunteers and security guards for giving her life again!

If you hadn’t heard the news here is the awesome, fabulous bit of information ? the Clarkston High School Girls Varsity tennis team has made Clarkston history.
They took Midland by storm to claim the MHSAA Division 1 State Championship and three players won individual championships ? freshman Lexi Baylis, junior Katie Brozovich, and senior Kristina Lucas.
Every team begins the season with the same dream no matter what the sport, the payoff for all their hard work and training ? the state championship trophy.
The Lady Wolves had the same dream and put their drive towards it. They put their mind to it, knocking down competition in tournaments and league matches, taking it step by step to their main goal.
Another cause for celebration ? graduation was Monday night.
But before the Clarkston High School seniors walked across the stage at DTE they had another special ritual ? the senior walk.
I think it is special. I have tried to recall doing the same thing at my high school but all I can remember about my last day is picking up my cap and gown. Nothing like this.
The seniors made their last walk through the high school on June 1, their last day of school. They picked up their caps and gowns and, starting from the gym, walked throughout the hallways.
To make it an even more special day, lower classmen, parents, grandparents, family and friends line the hallways as they say goodbye to the last days in Clarkston Community Schools.
The first day of school in preschool or Kindergarten, they were probably clutching onto their moms, resisting being dropped off and beginning the next step in life. Fast forward to high school and they are ready to for the next step.
Congratulations to the Class of 2011. You made it!
Tips as you move on to college ? dream big! It starts as a dream, turns into a goal and before you know it, you did it. Look at the Lady Wolves tennis team.
Another tip, especially for those heading off to college, be wary of the vending machines and late night snacking. Both may sound good at the time, but they aren’t. Remember, Freshman 15 it is not an urban myth.

Chew. Chew. Chew. Chew.
Keep on chewing.
Funny how we have to remind ourselves of the little things.
I began taking a nutritional class at Nuview Nutrition in downtown Clarkston and on one of my sheets it does say “chew, chew, chew.”
Along with it ? eat every 2-3 hours. It sneaks up on you pretty quick sometimes too quick.
It is a straight forward plan ? eat vegetables, fruit, protein. You know, healthy food. Plus, it’s customized to my needs.
Health. I want to turn my Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis – a.k.a unhappy, fatty liver, into a happy liver.
I tried Weight Watchers again. It didn’t work. But when I sat down with Cindy Crandell at Nuview to interview her from the examples she gave about her patients I saw hope. I saw freedom. I saw feeling better.
I am in week seven of taking my supplements and medical food and I feel pretty good. My symptoms have died down but mostly because I am eating the right food, checking for ingredients I can not only pronounce but also recognize.
Now, it sounds easy and it can be. But sometimes the cravings don’t die down from smells of pizza whifting through Rudy’s Market or the imagination of how pop will taste on the tongue.
I have allowed myself a pop at least once a week. But last week was bad, really bad. It’s just something about about high fructose syrup and carbonation on a warm, sunny day. It is one hurdle I am going to have to work on. Not to mention ? chocolate.
Another is reminding myself to eat something small every few hours. Some days are better than others. Bad days include baby showers, everything was healthy but the cake, and volunteering for University of Michigan Alumni Service Day.
Though in those instances it was the matter of saying “no” to food. No one wants to say they are on restrictions. I like to think teeny, tiny portions have to count for a bonus. (Not as huge as completely saying no.)
But then again, with the way gas prices are going we will all be saying no to food. Right?

My Saturday evening began with two simple lists – do laundry and clean.
I started one task but quickly found myself immersed in a show on the A&E network called ‘Storage Wars.?
The show follows four buyers and their teams as they go to repossessed storage units. When storage units aren’t paid they go up for auction.
The buyers either go to find items to sell in their resale stores, looking for collector items, or for just for the thrill of the hunt for a hidden treasure.
Before the bidding begins, the storage unit’s lock is cut off and the contents are revealed. Sometimes not much is seen but piles of boxes (hmmm, reminds me of mine) or garbage bags and furniture thrown into the space.
Once, the bidding is done and the winner dives into the storage unit where the real fun begins.
It reminded me of my hunts, though buying a storage unit is a little more intense and a bigger gamble than just going to garage sales or scavenging shelves at a resale shop.
Also, unlike one team of buyers, Darrell and his son, Brandon, I have never found a body (which they did find in one of the storage units) or money (which they found taped to the back of a painting.)
I guess my hurricane souvenir glasses don’t stack up against finding estate filling a storage unit or the world’s most valuable comic book collection. But it is fun to watch along with wonder what could be in there and what is in there.
It also makes me wonder how many people are watching going, “oh, no! That is my storage unit!”
Turning the question to you, have you ever bid on a storage unit or an estate? What did you find? Or find anything unique just going through the basement or attic?
As for when I finally peeled myself away from the show after three hours, I did finish a task.
* * *
Welcome spring! Err…winter? Umm…sprinter?! Maybe Michigan is too anxious for the trees and flowers to start blossoming and a constant flow of warm air. How about throwing us a few 60 degree days, Mother Nature?

Mother Nature struck again.
Anyone remember the storm over a week ago bringing ice and snow? The last (crossing fingers) winter hurrah. I was ready for it to be over with.
Yes, living in Michigan for all my life, I know winter can hit anytime. Oh, Old Man Winter you are feisty and I held onto my tongue long enough. I held onto my opinion while clearing my Vue of three inches of wet snow. I held my opinion while driving in it.
But enough is enough. No more, the snow piles are almost gone. The spots of ice have almost melted away. No more.
Honestly, I was ready for spring sports to begin. The Clarkston High School Girls Soccer teams were on the schedule to open on March 23, the day after the storm.
Though I am sure our Lady Wolves would have been able to handle a little snow kicking ? the game was cancelled.
The next hit came Monday. The first two events for the high school’s boys baseball teams were delayed due to field conditions.
Darn you winter! Let it go! You had your reign. Instead the boys will host their home opener after spring break on April 12, right before they head to Oxford for their first Oakland Athletic Association game against our neighbors. I am sure the Wolves will give them a proper hello into the league.
With any luck, spring will pop through next week so everyone can have a enjoyable break being in the sunshine as opposed to a snow shower.
* * *
Students in Clarkston had a busy month ? mostly in books. It was March is Reading Month.
I know I went the whole month without talking about reading. It’s like my mom says around every holiday, especially Mother’s Day and her birthday, “if you can’t be nice to me every day of the year, don’t do it for one day” (quick, go call or hug your parents).
Reading should be every day, even for 10 minutes. Grab a book, grab a magazine, grab the reading bug.
Or give a book to a child. It’s guaranteed the child will put it back into your hand, flash those big eyes, and ask for you to read it. I forget about it everytime I get my niece a new book, especially after buying Ratatouille. Anyone know French pronounciations besides ‘bonjour??

By flipping the pages of this week’s Clarkston News, you might notice a trend in sports ? it was a spectacular week.
I will start at the Palace of Auburn Hills where five of Clarkston’s six qualifiers finished as All-Staters in the MHSAA Wrestling Individual Finals.
Senior Matt Vandermeer ended his high school career as state champ in the 171-pound weight class, defeating Detroit Catholic Central. Seniors Jeff Sloney finished as runner-up in 130-pounds and Mike Henige won fifth place in his first trip to the Palace. Check out the story for more. As for Scott Devos, Ethan Frick and Nick Vandermeer, next year will be huge for them. I see more great things coming from them.
Next, Girls Varsity Basketball, or as we now call them District Champs, hit snags during both district games against Fenton and Grand Blanc. They fought through deficits and tough defense blocks to pull through. The last time the Lady Wolves won districts was Nov. 2005, which was also in the same Brandon High School gym as the girls played in last week. It could be the gym, but…the Lady Wolves have proved since the beginning of the new year they work great together as a team. Keep it up, girls! The road to Breslin Center in Lansing is yours.
Up next, Boys Hockey, which also beat Grand Blanc but also a mercy win against the Flint Kearsley-Holly Hornets in Pre-Regionals. Then, another win over Bay City for the Regional crown, 5-4. Freshman Jack Viazanko was in the net for all three games, senior Troy Fasseel stepped in for a period against Grand Blanc.
The Boys Varsity Ski team raced to their best finish for the State Finals on March 7, runner up. Next year, championship looks good with all of the boys returning.
Now, Boys Varsity Basketball. Yes, basketball fans I left the esteemed Wolves last. I wanted to make sure you knew about the other Wolves.
The season started with a few hiccups and as the season progressed they kept getting tougher, climbing to the top in the OAA Red and leaving the two league losses in the past. On Friday they put their league record at 12-2, taking the OAA Red title.
Kudos to all our Clarkston athletes!

Clarkston High School’s LEAD Program held Random Acts of Kindness throughout last week.
It was a way to tackle the growing bully issue in schools across the nation.
During the week the students performed random acts of kindness, raised money for Leukemia Foundation and stepped out of their box to talk to students outside their social circle.
Did anything change? A few said they noticed a difference.
I guess the bigger question would be ? is there a bullying issue in Clarkston?
We posed the question on our Clarkston News’ Facebook site a few months ago where we received responses saying ‘yes.? Some did say ‘no.?
Sadly it does happen ? no matter what administration or the district says. It is part of the school dynamic. It could be hidden or it can be plainly in sight for everyone to see especially on all the social networks.
Plus, is it just me or have bullies gotten meaner?
Oh, I had my fair share of teasing and avoiding certain people in middle school and high school. But either it is being seen more in the media or the people are just getting meaner to each other.
I hope Random Acts of Kindness opened students? eyes and it transformed to an every day occurrence. Clarkston students are good kids. I am sure it did.
No one needs to deal with it – no one.
So I close with this, put it on a sticky note and carry it around.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Thanks for the great quote, Dr. Seuss.
* * *
Keeping on the school subject – I am very excited to announce I am taking my niece to Clarkston High School Drama Club’s Cinderella on Saturday.
She is 4-years-old now and I think she will enjoy it. She enjoys princesses and knows all the Disney Princesses by name. She will also like the dancing.
Plus, the cast’s excitement talking about the costumes, the sets and the scenes was contagious. I want to see what the students have been working on.
Performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and a matinee on Saturday. Call 248-623-4024 for tickets!

I was getting nostaglic for the past leading up to the Clarkston Strolling Retro Cocktail party held on Saturday.
As the mind wandered from hats to dresses to shoes leading to sounds of typewriters pounding out letters fiercely as rolled by, I became swept away, finding myself in one of the comic strips from when I was a kid ? Brenda Starr.
Or the black and white classic of “His Gal Friday” with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell ? the classic fashion.
Yes, both involve a strong female reporter. I have always been drawn to movies and television shows based on the media. What can I say ? I need to take a break.
But the nostalgia fades as I stare at my laptop computer. Ah, sweet technology and though I am not a fan of the erupt force of text messages as a conversation, I do like technology.
I gaze upon the newest items at Best Buy, letting my fingers smooth over the newest cell phones, cameras and eReaders.
Even listening to my mp3 as I type out stories on Monday deadline ? I remember. Do you remember? The big bulky cassette player, the hours it took to go through other tapes to find songs and make a mixed tape. Eight track players and record players ? I know we had both while I was growing up. But the cassette player was my life. I didn’t trust the portable CD player when it came along, in fear it would stratch my CDs.
Then, gasp, another technology miracle ? the iPod, well let’s speed ahead to the mp3 player because I am not an Apple girl.
The music device about the size of a credit card or smaller. So small, holding almost your complete music collection. The realization only 240 megabytes are left in room could easily be 50 more songs.
A simple highlight and drag on the computer instead of hours of transferring on a cassette.
Sorry, I have spent a lot of time with my mp3 player especially with new songs on it.
Yes, I get nostalgic for the simpler times but the mp3 player brings me back in.
But I can still think about how it was, (puts on black fedora hat and chooses Bobby Darin on the player).

Here it is ? another year. Complete with renewed hope for the future, a new outlook on goals, and continous growth of ideas.
With the beginning of something new, some predicitions. Some so crazy, they might actually happen.
Let’s hit sports first, since the Detroit Lions finished their season with four consecutive wins (good job guys), why not 17 consecutive wins for the 2011 season before losing in the division playoffs. Yes, turning around the nasty 0-16 from 2008 to 17-1three years later. And just to throw everyone off, they lose the pre-season games.
Next, as an effort to make more money ? Independence Township, Springfield Township and Clarkston become the prime area for movie and TV shows.
Even spinning a few shows, like ‘Downtown Blue,? a show about a small-town police station and the employees. The producers bring back our Clarkston Police to help them create an accurate picture of downtown police life.
Mixing in the sitcoms and dramas based on housewives, occupations or high school clubs, a new show, based on the going-ons of Depot Park or the retail shops.
Third prediction (or wish), coming off of Independence Township Board’s limit on citizens? public comment. The board makes rules to limit themselves ? no repeating what previous members just said.
Also, they include a few Robert’s Rules, a key one “no member can speak twice to the same issue until everyone else wishing to speak has spoken to it once. Board members are limited three minutes per agenda topic ? unless they are clarifying a point.? The motion passes 3-1, since only four are needed to hold a meeting.
Just call me Nostradoubleu.
Realistically, 2011 will be an interesting year to watch. Michigan has a new governor. Clarkston Community Schools continues to feel the waves of Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock, guided by learning with the Wolf spirit. So far, he’s walking the talk, going to games, events, and shopping downtown.

As I counted down the exits on Sunday night I found myself thinking “why am I out here?”
My answer came in two parts – I am out on the road because of necessity and I have driven in worse. Hasn’t every Michigander driven in worse?
I know I have during a blizzard in Winter 2000/2001 where I trekked all the way to Saginaw Valley State University and not only slid my Dodge Neon into a ditch but lost a shoe during my walk to the campus. Ah, crazy things you do as a college student.
Or how many times did I drive on the interstate because University of Michigan – Flint didn’t cancel classes or had to go to my internship an hour away. I did it out of necessity.
But along the drive Sunday night it made me joyful to be on the road with few cars. The drivers being appreciative of my slow and careful driving. As opposed to those I had seen earlier in the day – on my tail, snow covered and sliding all over the place. Either they learned their lesson quickly, got off of the roads or remembered how to drive in winter.
My cousin in California and friend in Georgia say when it rains people in their state forget themselves at the wheel. I believe we do, too. We find ourselves quickly after the first “big” snow and ice.
So what did we learn from the last few days – only go out if needed; wipe all the snow off your vehicle; slow and steady leads you home and not into a ditch; do not slam on the brakes and be mindful of other drivers.
I leave the most important one, I hope you all know it, do not, not, not, drive distracted. It’s not just texting, which is illegal, it’s everything else that keeps the focus away from the road for only a few seconds.
I know it’s hard but too many accidents occur when distracted. We really don’t want report about accidents because our Clarkstonites were distracted. We like you.
* * *
An update about National Novel Writing Month. I made it – wrote 50,085 words in 30 days. Thus a winner. Or a complete dork for spending the holiday weekend writing 20,000 words. But I did it. Whew! Time to edit and revise.
Merry Holidays!

Congratulations to the Clarkston High School Girls Varsity Volleyball team for bringing home the MHSAA Regional trophy.
I knew you, Lady Wolves were going to beat Davison and Flushing for it.
I wish I had a happier ending for the rest of the season but I don’t. In the finals, one team goes on and one ends their season. Clarkston lost in the Class A Quarterfinals to Farmington Hills Mercy on Nov. 16.
Now begins a new winter season. New faces bringing more talent to the Clarkston teams. Plus, with weeks to come a peek at your Clarkston Wolves leading up to the community’s most watched sport – boys basketball. Their first home game on Dec. 10. Can you believe it’s almost the end of November already? Wasn’t football just beginning?
This month has gone by too quickly especially when the last day hits Tuesday.
I put myself to the challenge this month and signed up for National Novel Writing Month for the third time.
I feel more motivated to do it now after hitting one of my goals of winning a Michigan Press Association award.
The terms are simple everyone has 30 days to write 50,000 words (or more). It averages to be 1,667 words a day. It can be done as long as plot bunnies don’t take over, a massive road block lands in the midst of the pages and if pounding out so many words works into a day.
I have worked past the blocks by moving out of my chronological tendencies. Basically I work on the end while the great idea comes to get my character through her latest mischief.
I am happy to say I have written 24 times more than I did last year. But I am behind with less than a week to go and have to average more than 3,680 words to make it. My weekend will be busy.
I would like to say I calculated it, but my personal calculations were higher taking into account what Microsoft counts as a word such as a puncuation mark by itself. Most have been fixed but haven’t gone through all of the 65 pages.
It’s a good challenge. With luck I will finish the novel in 50,000 words or just be done and leave the revising for January.
If interested, check it out www.NaNoWriMo.org.

The roar sounds from M-15 and dozens of motorcycles appear coming from the north. They keep coming.
They carry angels. Many say bikers, but on Oct. 30 as they approached Mesquite Creek to the awaiting special needs children, they were angels. Instead of wings, tires. Instead of halos, Halloween costumes.
They came for the annual Mamon Halloween Ride, bringing candy, books, games, crayons, toys for the kids.
What an amazing day! What amazing people!
The Clarkston area has so many events, some I have covered during my three years. Some I am still discovering. The Mamon Ride was an event I knew of but hadn’t covered until this year.
The children and their families have lunch at Mesquite Creek, then the bikers arrive.
The children are lined up and the bikers stop at each one, filling their bags and saying a quick hi until they can talk more later.
It leaves a feeling in you. It starts in the heart and moves it’s way through your body – warm and overflowing.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to be involved – it is a special day. The smiles on the children’s faces will change you as the bikers pull in on their motorcycles and then pass out the treats. What do they receive, the biggest smile ever seen on a child’s face and dozens of “thank you’s” from the parents.
For the bikers, it was easy to see they loved the event. Either Kaz Mamon, the creator, mentioned to come and try it or another biker said come on by. But after their first, they said were “hooked.”
Halloween has passed but Mamon helps all year long. For more information, www.mamonride.com.
* * *
Hope everyone had a safe Halloween and was able to attend Howl-O-Ween event with your pets. I saw some of the dressed dogs and owners walking downtown Clarkston on Saturday. Make sure to check out all the fun Halloween photos in this week’s edition.
Now the holiday is over, anyone ready for Christmas? Thanksgiving? Or are you still in a candy coma?

It’s the smell. It’s intoxicating.
When I first opened the birthday present, I was surprised and estactic – two brand new books, as a side note always love a friend who buys books or notebooks because from another I received a purse-sized notebook.
Later I picked up the books to read the synopsis on the back – then the smell hit. Ah, the new book smell. It past the nostrils and traveled up to the brain – where I haven’t been able to shake the craving to visit a bookstore.
Call me a bookworm but it now takes me awhile to get through a book because I do get so busy. Though some books it takes me a while because it is painful to continue. Not emotional, sad pain, but like I am forcing myself to get through it. For example, I started a popular book series because my cousin gave me the first book.
Any book that got my little cousin to read was worth a try and now I am on the last book. I have been for the last seven months. It sits on the bookshelf as I read other books – James Patterson’s Sundays at Tiffany’s, next on the list is Hunger Games and I Am the Messenger, the books I got for my birthday. By the time I am done I am optimistic Mini Shopaholic will be in paperback.
I look at the book on the shelf with the shiny black covering and think about it for a minute. It’s not the popularity of the book, it’s the cliche beginning. I knew it within the fifth page and when it was confirmed before the first part finished – I couldn’t read further.
I could be wrong about what comes next, but there are other books begging for my attention. Particularly at the bookstore.
I just want to look. It’s like when I walk into Best Buy – I am just looking. But I have stopped on those visits because I was getting the nickname ‘Electronic girl? and I don’t know electronics. Plus, the once a week visits had to stop. I haven’t looked at an ad for a month.
I have shelves covered with books but if you have any recommendations – let me know. I have a few – it just depends on genre. Some may seem very mid-1990s but it’s only because I have seen the authors I grew up with slowly sneak back onto shelves, like L.J. Smith and Christopher Pike.

I could easily pine about our Detroit Lions going 0-2 for their first games of the 2010 season.
But…since critics and fans around Michigan are addressing it I will leave it at a few words – Win a game! Take more chances! If the play
doesn’t work, well you are the Lions, you tried.
But if it works … heroes! Thus my pep talk for the week.
I would like to see a game this season, but like anything else I add it to my bucket list.
It didn’t start out as a Bucket List but as seasons pass and the opportunities to visit the Traverse City and Port Austin beaches, visit Ireland, finish projects, go by the list grows.
As another birthday approaches, next week to be exact I find myself adding to the list and making goals. It is like a New Year – time to make resolutions and watch them be broken.
Though as I get (coughs) younger, I find myself more relaxed than I used to be. The many thoughts I had have subdued. I am still a thinker but I don’t have the worry-some thoughts. Or as much as I used to. It mostly comes from a combination of great friends and great music?
as I find myself lost in a tune and a conversation many times.
It also comes from health issues – the issue of being a mortal. I admit I am mortal. I have to live within my means – which doesn’t necessarily describes monetary but right now – in the moment. If a chance comes, grab it.
My friend recently suffered a break-up, a reminder of how great it is to be single, because I could ease her back into the lifestyle. But through the mess, she said she found a package including airfare, hotel and passes for Universal Studios – a time for vacation.
Instead of saying not now, I said let me look at the sports schedule. I was tempted to stick to spring like planned to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (that’s right, I am a geek and I am okay with it.) But I jumped in and took a chance.
I like to think of it as a birthday present to myself ? with absolutely no impulse shopping. I have seen the souvenir prices. A T-shirt or keychain will be fine. For now.

I sat through the Board of Education interviews last week with their six candidates, listening to the answers, watching how the candidates interacted with the board and the public.
I left the building with two that, in my mind, would be good for the district and the community. But I thought my selections were a long shot. Well, until Wednesday night, when the board shared their thoughts and concerns about each candidate.
Richard Dunham, from Michigan Association of School Boards leading the board through the process, reminded trustees at the beginning of the meeting the six candidates stood out because they matched what the board AND the community wanted in a superintendent.
Would they keep it in mind?
It was when Trustee Elizabeth Egan commented during the night, ‘the community has benn communicating we need something different and we need to listen,? I knew there was a change coming for the district.
So they chose Dr. Rod Rock, director of instructional services for Saginaw Intermediate School District, and Dr. Gary Richards, superintendent of Imlay City Community Schools ? the two I had in my mind as the top two choices.
I was on the same page with the board ? both have their strengths and their weaknesses. Mostly experience.
But they are both in it for the students, which Richards said near the end of his interview ? he would continue to do the same thing, no matter if it is for Clarkston, Imlay City, or another district.
I know someone who completed her student teaching at Imlay City. Though she didn’t know him personally, she said his reputation was stern and thoughtful, and teachers and building principals were always in a good mood. ‘A reflection of the superintendent,? she added.
As for Rock, where his experience lacks ? his ideas soar. He worked on the Project reImagine grant and probably has fresh ideas to help the students and the district for the unknown future.
Clarkston’s future is so bright ? the students will have to wear shades in class.

I fell off the wagon a long time ago.
The food wagon that is.
At first it was just a break from Weight Watchers, testing my limitations. Then, it turned into being rebellious and declaring my freedom from tracking points.
It has spiraled out of control and I have officially hit the wall. I am now paying the price for enjoying food.
I have been diagnosed with NASH – nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Basically I have fatty tissue around my liver but I drink very little alcohol, thus the name.
Really it’s not too much of a surprise ? with the crime comes the punishment. It’s just not what I expected when I first ventured to Clarkston Medical Group.
I have been sick since September ? random food or beverages would have an effect.
‘Sounds like it’s your gallbladder,? ‘sounds like an allergy,? ‘sounds like this or that.?
After eight months, I went to Renny Abraham, M.D. and the tests were ordered up.
It wasn’t the gallbladder, but it was most definitely on my right side, as the doctor poked at it. Tests showed a slightly enlarged liver. More tests ? up to 15 blood tests and a CT scan showed fatty tissue confirmed what the specialist,Veslav Stecevic, M.D., thought it was the entire time ? NASH.
Right now it’s not as severe as it could be. Yet. If I keep going down this rebellious road it definitely could be dangerous.
The doctor prescribed Vitamin E and healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise. It always seems easier said then done. Then, I go back into his office in three months for a check-up on the good ole? liver.
I have many steps – no pop or coffee. I cut it for a whole week. It didn’t go too bad – cravings were minimum. An extreme level on rich, tasty food is next and heading into Weight Watchers again. Then, finding another gym, yet again because I have moved since June.
Now that I have voiced it out for the community I will be more mindful and honestly, I don’t want to drink barium sulfate anytime soon.
So, Zumba anybody?

The halls were crowded last Thursday morning as the Class of 2010 made their final walk through Clarkston High School.
Then, a flurry of activity to mark their last days of their high school career – a picnic, prom, district games and graduation.
One week celebrating one chapter of lives done and going out into the world.
The graduates have definitely left their prints in the cement for generations to come. From the first football game against Rochester Adams to the Boys Varsity Baseball team scoring seven runs during the sixth inning on Saturday to capture the District title from Fenton’s orange paws.
Clarkston High School Marching Band, chosen to perform in England for their New Year’s Day celebration.
Naturally with the good comes the bad, the gray clouds covering the soccer field on Saturday and rain poured onto the field – reflecting Clarkston’s emotions as the Lady Kickers lost the district title to Rochester Adams.
From the pains come the lessons and a test of who you are, what lies within you, dear seniors.
I could also simply say, the future is yours. But how many times will you hear the four words in the next week.
This is what I say to you as you embark in the next chapter in your life – explore, live every moment and ask questions.
Explore the world when you get the chance – visit different countries, learn different culture.
Undecided going into college or unsure about your next step – do what you love because why would you want to go to a job every day you don’t love.
Wherever your journey takes you, keep us updated at The Clarkston News. We want to hear what you are up to and what you are doing.
A special thanks to Jeff Turner – during his busy senior year he helped us with sports when I couldn’t be two places at once.
Good luck to the Class of 2010!
You did it!
‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.? ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.

As a University of Michigan graduate, I give my apology to Michigan State. Not for the NCAA Championship so close to being in their hands, but for the T-shirt I saw last Wednesday.
A young man walked into where I was with a T-shirt saying ‘Michigan sucks? on the front and ‘Ann Arbor sucks? on the back. As a Blue and Maize girl I dismissed it as he walked away.
But then he came back and I was able to take a closer look at it – it spelled out ‘Michigan suck’s? and ‘Ann Arbor suck’s.?
It was an apostrophe ‘s.?
I mentally went through where and when apostrophes are used – to show nouns ownership, to form plurals of letters, numbers and words – but as a verb or an adjective, describing the noun?
The message was still clear – he was not a fan of Michigan. But why was he representing State with a grammar error.
While I wanted to point it out, my invisible red pen itching to cross out the apostrophe, my friend said don’t.
I had to take a deep sigh and remember myself we all make errors – mine are often run-on sentences. Mostly because a English teacher, write how you talk. I often talk quickly with few stops.
But then I like to think he did it as a test. I can be optimistic, right?
As for optimistic a lot of perople – non-smokers and smokers I have talked to about the public smoking ban have been positive.
Only one smoker has expressed anger while a few friends have embraced it and have said they would go outside to smoke or go through the tough task of smoking.
While I do not smoke – I am embracing it – no more eating in restaurants surrounded by smoke or going out for the night just to come home reeking from the smell. Not having to walk through the smoking section to go to the non-smoking section. It will be nice.
But I am on the fence because the government has taken a freedom away from those who do smoke. Everyone has their vices now those who want to light up will only find sanctuary at cigar bars and casinos.
Enjoy smoke-free on May 1.

After a week and a half I find myself still thinking about a concert I went to at The Palace of Auburn Hills – Michael Bubl?.
It was the first time – and I didn’t know what to except. Some performers greet the audience with a settle ‘Hi, (fill in the name of city here)!? From the moment, he asked why he had to say Detroit when The Palace was in Auburn Hills, nearly 30 miles away I knew he was going to be different.
‘I have been to Detroit – no one is there,? he joked.
Bubl? had personality and a stage presence. Oh and of course fabulous, smooth singing. He even paid tribute to Michael Jackson with a few
Not to mention he wished a very special man in the audience a happy birthday. Thousands clapped as Gordie Howe stood from his seat and listened to us sing ‘Happy Birthday.?
It was a surreal and an exciting night.
I came back into the office the next day, dazed and still humming ‘Haven’t Met You Yet? (I can’t help it, it’s my new anthem.) I began thinking as I sat at my desk I am lucky – I don’t have to go
very far to listen to great bands or singers.
I have stopped by a few band performs at the high school and let my
camera catch a few images and let my ears catch the sound.
If you are in band, keep it up! If you sing, practice those chords! I have looked at the upcoming April calendar – seems to be a lot of spring concerts and talent shows planned. I can’t wait to see what you have to showcase.
Until then enjoy your vacation Clarkston students – spring break is
almost over.
* * *
Ah, spring. It is renewing. Almost like the beginning of a new year.
New possibilities, new chances.
And fresh air. It is definitely a motivator to walk outside when you don’t have to inhale the cold, crisp air of winter.
I just have one obstacle before I hit the sidewalk with my headphones – sneakers. Maybe this week so I can enjoy the weather while I can.

I have noticed a trend and after talking to quite a few people througout the community during the last week – it’s not just me.
Since Clarkston Board of Education Trustee Rosalie Lieblang filed a Freedom of Information Act request in February the board members now go through President Steve Hyer to get information or to ask or speak to Superintendent Dr. Albert Roberts.
Concidence? It doesn’t seem like it. It seems as more of a lock down of information. A lock down from board members who asked for the information to make a well-informed decision.
Now take the thought as a seed – plant it and it grows into something like ‘Board of Ed ‘Official? Response from The Clarkston News? March 3 edition, in which Hyer represented the board in answering questions.
Yes, it is good to see a board of seven people to agree on one thing. But to have the same opinion? Seven individuals with the same manufactured opinion doesn’t seem right or fair to the community who voted for them.
So when two board members, Lieblang and Trustee Joan Patterson share their opinion, and they do note it is their personal opinion and not the board as one body – it’s nice to see.
It is also good to see them commended for it from people throughout the community. Because you did vote for them and voted for them as the individual they were and the traits and differences they could bring to the table.
I also want to say it is nice to hear a few people, Patterson and Clarkston Education Association President Brooke Davis, not entirely blame the state of Michigan for the district’s financial woes.
Yes, the state has some blame on how they distribute the money and when they do it. Deciding when schools are mid-year isn’t a responsible way to do business.
As for outsourcing transportation and custodial services – I don’t think it’s right. Even if it is the trend going on around Michigan it doesn’t mean it should happen.
On Monday night Dr. Roberts and union representatives said they are discussing right now and by next Monday at the board meeting they will have an answer.

I admit I am one of those people – I like to learn. I like history.
Everyone has a favorite era and I will admit I am partial to the 1940s – the movies with Ginger Rogers and Don Ameche, the music of Big Bands and the swing dancing.
I even chose Margaret Bourke White in my photography class to study because I enjoyed her photos from the era.
I never really knew why or questioned why I was fond of the era – I just was.
But as I sat listening to the World War II veterans and witnesses at the Clarkston Junior High School I began thinking. It was part of my family story.
My grandparents met in World War II. My grandfather was a dashing ambulance driver from Kansas and my grandmother a nurse with curly hair from Michigan.
They fell in love – or so that is what I have come to know in my imagination. The details are very sparse because they died before I was old enough to ask questions or know more about the war.
I just know the details left behind in a book my grandma started filling out – ‘When Grandma was a Girl.?
As I continued to listen my imagination grew as Harold DeForest described what the medics had to do in the field. They had to get the guys out if they were pinned and do what they could at an aid’s station.
I could picture grandpa driving the ambulance and grandma tending to wounds both doing what they could.
As for my other family legacy -my other grandpa was in the Navy – but that’s another story.
* * *
Hope you are enjoying the Olympics and from what I have read and seen in little pieces, a great hockey game between neighbors United States and Canada.
We are still without television at home – so no I didn’t see it. It’s okay the internet has a new story every few minutes.
Though it was weeks ago I am still thinking about New Orleans winning the Super Bowl – now that was a great game.
For those missing your television shows – I hear less than a week to go until the Olympics ends on Feb. 28.

Did you see what happened on (fill in the blank)? No, not unless I remembered to Google-it when I had WiFi connection on my laptop.
I have come to depend on the internet more than I used to. It’s not just for information but keeping up with what is going on.
If you didn’t know, I moved. Since the move I have been without cable, satellite, or even regular television. Yes, I know I really need to get a converter box. I never had to worry about it before.
Since October, I have been without the luxury and missed out on watching late night shows sharing their opinions on the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien situation, I missed Sunday’s Grammy show. (Actually it is alright, I never watched it anyway.)
But I miss the comfort of going home after a long day and turning on the television. Then, flipping through the channels finding something mindless until I have finally unwired for the day.
Instead I scan my DVD collection looking for something to watch for a little while, but not to get engrossed in the whole movie. Sometimes I find something, then sometimes I have to dig under the bed for VHS tapes, finding movies from the 1990s, but nothing to satisfy my television needs.
It should be comforting not worrying about missing a show or worrying about setting a timer to record one, two, or six shows for the week. But I miss CSI: New York. I miss the Disney channel, it provided the perfect background noise. I miss channel surfing.
I don’t need 100 channels. I had 100 channels and nothing was ever on. I only need the converter box so I can watch the local news or skim through the shows on the basic channels. I only need to remember to look for a box next time I walk into a store.
I have even escaped to my mom’s house just to sneak a peek at the world. I wait anxiously for any of the late night shows to come on only to fall asleep before the monologue has even begun.
If you are without cable or satellite you know where to find me. We can form our own ‘No, I didn’t see it? group.
What do you say?

The holidays are over, now it’s time for the tradition of making resolutions.
I do admit I spent the first day of the new year avoiding one of my 2010 goals. I thought if I was going to break the resolution, why wait a few days.
I waited a few hours before the dark-colored sugary beverage beckoned me to the refrigerator.
The rest of the day was used as an anti-detox pop day.
I know what a bad way to begin the year, already going back on the goal of no pop. But it worked in a way. I shivered as I looked at the 2-liter sitting in the fridge the next day. My stomach had enough and the temptation was gone.
It has to stop. For the last two years I drank pop everyday – more than my college years, even more than when I was working in places I could drink it – for free.
Since the lapse I have been good and looking at each day as a new day.
Now coffee is a different story and I need it on the late Mondays and long Tuesdays. It is rarely one of my goals to give it up. Though I will limit my visits to a certain coffee chain and since their special holiday drinks are disappearing from the menu it won’t be as hard.
Kudos to everyone who has still kept their resolutions since January 1. As for resolution breakers like me, it’s not too late you can still do it!
I also look forward to a better 2010. The future looks bright from the beginning of a new year. I have yet to break the news to my Vue, Saturn is closing in hopes someone will buy it from GM.
Many events are yet to be determined as how close each sport will get to the state finals or how much Michigan plans to cut in November (months after each district has already planned for the fiscal year).
But the anticipation grows for the planned events throughout the community and all of the schools and a little concert in March I anxiously waited 48 hours until the moment 10 a.m. to hit the buy button for tickets.
I am looking past the grayness of the economy and looking towards the promising future. May those without jobs find them and those with jobs keep them.
See you in the bleachers!

It’s a tough economy, so tough even Santa Claus took a hit. Who is going to help the man in red out for the season?
You don’t have to go to far to find them – you may have even passed them while shopping throughout downtown or the community.
Actually there are so many helpers out there this season it is hard to narrow it down to just one person, one business, or one school.
Everyone throughout the community seems to be filled with the holiday spirit – especially at Sashabaw Middle School. For the last few weeks they have collected personal needs items for Lighthouse North Stocking Project – and they have been busy.
I saw quite a few boxes but I am excited to see everything they collected on Friday.
The generosity is overwhelming from the kids, the SMS staff, the parents, and the community – it’s great to see. They have their hearts in the right place.
Have you ever toured Lighthouse Emergency Services on Sashabaw Road? If you haven’t, take a few minutes to stop by and visit Manager Connie Stapleton and her smiling crew. It will truly leave an impression on you. But take some non-perishable food items with you.
Another group collecting for Lighthouse is Clarkston Community School bus drivers. Their annual Stuff-A-Bus event is this Saturday and Sunday.
The hardest part for me during the holiday season is I want to do so much, but I know a little to me is something bigger to someone else.
I have done a little bit for a little girl and a boy, but I would like to do just a little more. It just depends on how the checkbook balances out on Friday.
* * *
The smells of the holiday – cinnamon, pine trees, hot cocoa and marshmallows, sugar cookies and books. Ah, yes, the smell of a bookstore and the creativity of over 5,000 writers – intoxicating. I was only able to buy Christmas presents besides I am painfully aware my three bookcases are at full capacity.
Reminding me – a big thank you to Independence Township Public Library for accepting my donations, five boxes during the summer and my most recent big box – it didn’t fit after the move.

I was writing down all the information about Quarterback Tyler Scarlett’s touchdown near the end of the third quarter when I was caught up in the excitement last Friday.
I was quickly surrounded by all of Clarkston’s gridiron gang celebrating as they were running to the other side of the field. I was a gray coat in a sea of a blue and gold.
It wasn’t a planned play ? great moments usually aren’t.
Scarlett held on to the ball and ran to the east side of the field. He paused in the run, realizing no Macomb Dakota players were behind him to push him out of bounds.
Scarlett pushed himself off the ground and picked up his speed continuing on his run. Chris Canada cleared Scarlett’s path, keeping the lone Cougar player from tackling him before Scarlett reached the endzone.
As the last minute played out the players on the sidelines were already celebrating as their teammates played out the last plays on Clarkston’s possession. They were giving each other high fives, hugs and proudly exclaiming their excitement about going to the semi-finals.
Clarkston finished the game, 38-14, and MHSAA Regional Champs.
Great job Wolves!
The last few weeks have been great – the Wolves spent most of the regular season on the road but were able to host the playoff games at home. Though home or away – no denying the loudest cheering comes from the Clarkston fans.
Fans save those voices – the Wolves play at Troy-Athens on Saturday night in the semi-finals against Sterling Heights Stevenson – one more pit stop before Ford Field.
See you there!
* * *
I love my vehicle. I am not fond of the color as much as I was when I bought it.
Apparantly silver is not a color easily seen – in the last few months I have been nearly hit several times. Motorists going through red lights, vans driving in the middle of two lanes and only deciding on a lane to drive in as they try to nick my front end.
It’s not only my car – I have almost been a witness a few times. Be careful out there!

The tides of change started to turn no sooner than the ink was dried on my last column.
As coaches already know – my beat has changed – I am covering schools and will cover as much as sports as I can until a new reporter is hired.
I have been lucky covering sports – great coaches, great teams, great community.
I watched some great games from the sidelines and bleachers – soccer went all the way to the state playoffs in my first fall season in 2007 and boys basketball graced the court at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
The boys varsity football team has clinched a spot in playoffs – not like last year when down to two games when anything could happen.
Looking back on the seasons, the games, the Clarkston spirit – I will say you will still see me at the games. I can’t help it – it is Clarkston sports. It may not be every home game but I will sneak a few in.
Plus by the end of the fall season, beginning of the winter – I hope to have a new camera in my hands and will need to try it out.
* * *
Another adventure begins – I am moving. I will be a little bit closer, by 16 minutes, give or take traffic.
Though I may have to find out the train schedule. I was helping my roommate to move and ended up at the railroad crossing stop for a good ten minutes.
I did have a gut feeling to go the other direction, where the train travels along a bridge going over the road. I should have followed the feeling.
I am excited. It will be different – I have never been big on change, yet I make leaps I know will result in huge changes.
I am excited to be in a neighborhood where it looks like kids will trick-or-treat and I am close to a lot of places – including my favorite store – Target. No more traveling 20 minutes.
New adventure – here I come!
* * *
Congratulations to Boys Varsity Basketball Coach Dan Fife for being inducted into Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame.
You deserve it!

Is 30 the new 20?
The question has crossed many minds – mostly those on the cusp of turning the tender age. The phrase has also been used on many approaching the age, too – like me. Friends and a few family members have said it as I step closer, day-by-day, to the last Monday of September and officially hit the big 3-0.
Thinking back to the beginning of my twenties – I hope not. I have come a long way.
Though at times I look at what I am eating and think to myself I am eating as if I am a college student all over again. A bad habit of grabbing something quick especially on Mondays – oh, those deadline days.
Am I where I pictured myself when I was a child at 30? Almost. I am doing what I set out to do.
As for the rest – well as a child my mind was tainted with the blissful views of Disney movies, especially those where the heroine breaks into song. Don’t get me wrong – I do break into song, but usually a radio or mp3 is involved and I am driving, not walking in a forest with furry critters.
The last major birthday I celebrated was my golden birthday a few years ago when I turned 28 on the 28th. The birthday was good as was the year. It was a lucky year – it started a new life, right here in the Clarkston area.
With that – I look forward to what may happen in the year to come.
* * *
Following my return to The Clarkston News, I see residents were busy in the good and bad sense. Burning crosses in their neighbors lawns and spray painting buildings and signs in downtown Clarkston. Really? Really?!
It’s a shame – a family was hurt and an artist was hurt.
While on the subject of crimes – if you never take a peek at the Public Safety on page A9 Laura Colvin compiles every week – do it.
While covering public safety at our sister newspaper, (in case you missed me the last few months – I wasn’t far), a pattern formed while looking through the police logs. The economy is down and criminals are more than happy to take electronics and anything worth value off of your hands – especially if you leave them in an unlocked vehicle – in plain view.

I have the bug.
Not a bug as in a sick bug.
The ‘shutter? bug.
As the days increasing get warmer and sunnier, soon it will be every day, an overpowering urge to get out the camera and ‘click, click, click? takes over.
The urge has been dormant over the winter and started coming out during a visit to the Detroit Zoo a few weekends ago. Remember the one Saturday it started off a little windy but then got warmer – that beautiful day.
It was my friend’s toddler’s first visit of the season to the zoo and I accounted almost every moment. I was the toddler paparazzi.
I was the only one with a camera and while mom and dad were able to share the little one’s joy and discoveries – I documented it.
It started with the excitement over the frogs at the amphibian exhibits onto the reptiles where she found the snakes and scaly creatures so interesting.
The momentum weened down at the kangaroos. They were resting and after five shots of the same sleepy pose – I was done and clicked a few here and there of each animal after that.
I did document her first taste of cotton candy – she did not like the sugary treat.
So be prepared.
Click. Click. Click.
I will be roaming around more as the weather gradually gets warmer and hopefully a lot more sports photos coming your way via the Blue Button.
Click. Click. Click.
* * *
An icon celebrates her 50th birthday this year. If you haven’t heard or walked into an array of pink at Toys R Us, then I will tell you.
It’s Barbie’s birthday.
She has had over 80 careers and I don’t remember her carrying a notebook, recorder and press pass with the name ‘Reporter Barbie? on the box – very disheartening.
When I was a little girl, I did play with Barbies. It was were my creativity came alive, armed with clothes, cars, a dreamhouse, and a Barbie and The Rockers tour bus (I had to sell a lot of my unwanted toys at a garage sale to buy that.)
Happy Birthday!

By now you have heard about the joy and the heartbreak for the boys basketball team and the Clarkston community.
The boys defeated Flint Northwestern to win the quarterfinals and then went on to lose a painful semi-finals game against Kalamazoo Central at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
It was sad to see the boys dreams dashed in the last eight minutes of that game and watching players walk away from the arena with their heads hung down as they looked at the pavement.
Dear Cagers, while the loss may still sting – You did it! The second team in Clarkston history to make the semifinals.
You made not only an entire community proud of you, but all of the Clarkston supporters around the country.
A lot of credit goes to the team and Coach Dan Fife and his coaching staff on how the Wolves do on the court, but we can’t forget about the community – the fans.
From the beginning of the season to the last game last Friday, you were there.
You poured into compact spaces at Troy-Athens and Grand Blanc High Schools and loudly cheered.
The presence of Clarkston was known in the Breslin Center from camoflage Wolfpack T-shirts and the blue and gold (probably the most amount the Spartan arena will ever see).
From the fans who drove an hour or so, to those who flew in from other states so could you be there for your favorite player and the team.
The players noticed, junior starter Matt Kamieniecki commented about it after Friday’s game.
‘It’s overwhelming how many people have showed their support. It’s unbelievable.?
You also enjoyed a historic season, Fife reached his 500th win, the Wolves played Pontiac Northern three times to win each game as the Huskies played their last season, and the boys made it past their quarterfinal hump and make it to the semifinals..
Thank you, Clarkston! You are the best fans and supporters!
Congrats Wolves for a great season!

After the boys varsity basketball finished last winter’s season a tiny bird landed in our email that 2008-2009 season will be a milestone – Head Coach Dan Fife would be hitting his 500th win.
So I waited. Through spring, summer and fall I waited. When winter season began practicing I received Fife’s official record, 484-139.
After the boys win last Friday against West Bloomfield, it brings the wins to ten, leaving six more to go.
Now with the talent of the entire team guided by Fife, the boys could continue on this streak.
Six more consecutive wins will place Fife and the team at Southfield High School for the win on February 20.
I will keep you updated on the progress because I want to see big, giant, HUGE, colorful posters at the game. The gym of the Bluejays filled with fans wearing blue and gold roaring with cheers.
In Michigan only 17 coaches have passed the milestone of 500 wins and of those varsity coaches only six still coach.
Besides planning what you will put on the giant posters and getting your Clarkston gear out another heart-pumping, gym-shaking game, I want your thoughts.
Many of you have been effected by Fife in one way or another. What impact did Fife make on you?
Did you play basketball or baseball with him? Were you one of the many players to be part of the huddle during a time-out and listened as Fife drew out a plan of action?
Or maybe your children played basketball for Fife and not only learned lessons of the game, but lessons in life.
Or maybe just a fan watching the game and remembering one particular moment.
Whatever the case, I want to hear it.
You can call, 248-625-3370, email, ClarkstonNews@gmail.com, or stop by the office, located at 5 S Main St.
Then, we can get revved up and ready to go as the boys prepare to take Saginaw out of the running for the state finals in March.
In closing, nominations for Athlete of the Week are always being accepted. Just let me know who, why you want to nominate them and how to reach them.
See you in the bleachers!

A big thank you to Sherrie VanderVeen from Clarkston United Methodist Church. She was so helpful with providing us with a family to adopt for Christmas.
We became Christmas Angels to a family of five and pooled what we could and went to the stores and bought what we could.
Somewhere out there in the Clarkston area, a family woke up with presents under the tree and a smile on their faces. Well, that is the mental image I have and it warms my heart to know we helped.
When I talked to the Varsity Cheerleaders a few weeks ago about their own family they adopted, I knew the excitement and joy they were talking about for I felt the same about ours.
What did you do for the holidays? Did you also adopt a family like The Clarkston News and cheerleaders. Or did you make your own wish for the holidays and did it come true?
Well, we can’t ignore the big news in sports before the Lions went into the Sunday game at Green Bay Packers. But the news started a before this final game. Was your Christmas wish, they didn’t go into the history books as the team to go 0-16?
To you which is better, to go completely defeated or get the last win in against a once big team.
As I am writing this I am listening to the last 12 minutes of the game. Only three points down, can they beat a team 5-10.
Then a touchdown by John Kuhn, putting the Lions ten points behind. It is probably time to turn off the podcast. Wait…no. Kevin Smith with a touchdown. Yes!
Ahhh…Packers just made their own touchdown in one play. Now it’s too late to turn off the feed, the game only has seven minutes left and I just can’t bring myself to do it. Even though I knew it would happen.
It has been the same story all season, close but the ending still the same.
It’s done. They lost. The history books have been rewritten. Always next year, learn from this year’s mistakes and work on them.
On a final note, send us your game photos. We would love to see them and we might be able to use them!
Happy New Year!

We asked for your help earlier to help us collect food for Lighthouse Emergency Services and Neighbor for Neighbor and you came out and showed your Clarkston spirit.
We are asking for your help again.
This year Clarkston News is doing something different for the Christmas holiday.
Instead of doing Secret Santa and giving each other gifts, we are giving ourselves to the community and we are going to Adopt-A-Family.
Do you know of a family we could adopt? Tell us about them. They might be our family.
Since Christmas is just three weeks away, time is of the essence. Get those nominations in as soon as you can by Dec. 10. Please.
You can email us at ClarkstonNews@gmail.com, drop nominations off or put them in the mail to us at 5 S. Main in downtown Clarkston
I have done it a few times in the past. It was for Adopt-A-Child and there was the big Toys for Tots competition my senior year in high school.
Santa Claus can’t always do it by himself, he needs help.
Since you know what our staff is doing for the holidays, what are you doing this year? Do you know of anybody doing something special in the community?
Let us know about it.
As for the holiday that just passed, I may have been sick all day but I did eat at least two of my favorite dishes.
Ambrosia and cheesy potatoes.
Ambrosia is just the right mixture of sweetness from marshmallows and a variety of fruit with sour cream thrown in to keep it together.
It is a dish I have no problem getting other people addicted to. Cheesy potatoes can also be an addiction. But as it is with Thanksgiving leftovers, after a few days one can get turkey-ed out.
Then there is the day after Thanksgiving. I hope all of you had a good Black Friday. I stayed away from shopping malls and stores.
I have never been one to shop on that day. Mostly because I always work.
If I don’t see you, Happy Holidays!

A new sports season is right around the corner, officially beginning in a few weeks with try-outs and practices. Then, the games will be underway.
Since a new season is almost here ? a reminder.
Any photos you see in our print edition are online (in full color) at ClarkstonNews.com. Click on our name and then click on the Blue Button. Ta-da! The photos you saw (and more) are there for you.
I try to just put all the sports together by the date of the edition they were printed in. Let me know if it’s helpful this way. I can always try it another way if it’s easier for you.
I only bring it up because it is there – for you. It’s that customer service characteristic engraved into me from years in the retail and the food industries to turn your direction in something you might be missing.
I try to take lots of photos because I know the importance of getting the moment. As I take them, I can picture laying them out on colorful paper and embellishments. Oh, no! I am thinking about it right now. Either I am scrapbooking too much or not enough or visiting scrapbook stores a little too much for ideas.
The jury is still out.
Winter is approaching, though it has been nice the last couple of days. It’s Michigan ? if you don’t like the weather wait a minute, it will change. As snow and ice approach, please be careful driving.
I have seen too many drivers go through red lights on the sunny days. It scares me what might happen when the roads get slippery.
The first time I noticed it ? I thought it was a fluke. I was sitting at the traffic light at Clarkston Road and Sashabaw Road, waiting to continue my journey east on Clarkston.
The left hand turn light went to green and traffic proceeded to go, as it should. Then, a car ? well, mini-van to be precise ? in my lane going straight drove through the red light.
Good news ? no drivers were turning at the time.
Then, I noticed it continuously occurring at different lights in Clarkston and in surrounding areas. It’s not because the light is yellow and they are trying to get through before it turns red. It had been red for awhile.
Be careful out there.

On the morning of Nov. 4, wake up, get dressed, have some breakfast (because it is the most important meal of the day) and get to the polls.
Cast your vote for 2008.
Did you make the voter registration deadline on Monday? If you did ? congratulations, you get to vote.
If you didn’t make the deadline? sorry, but you don’t.
Did you get receive the 2008 General Election Ballot Proposals from State Sen. Michael D. Bishop? Or was it tossed in along with the mass of mail from last week?
I was a good voter and held onto it because there have been too many times I have read the ballot, shook my head, and thought ‘English please.?
Then again, in the past I haven’t done my homework and prepared.
The two proposals in this election ? Proposal 08-1 ‘Permit the use and cultivation of marijuana for specific medical conditions approved by the Department of Community Health.?
Now before all of the people for it get excited ? there will be rules. The DCH will give out identification cards to those who can use it and a whole lot of provisions and guidelines to go along with it.
Proposal 08-2 will ‘amend the state constitution to address human embryo and human embryonic stem cell research in Michigan.? In a nut shell, expand use of human embryos for any research permitted under federal law.
The lucky residents of Independence Township get to vote on a Millage Proposal for Open Space.
If you don’t know anything read the series Trevor has written on it. Even read what your neighbors have said about it in the past Letters to the Editor.
Here’s what you have been waiting for ? presidential race. Oh, yes!
In one corner you have John McCain and Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the other corner.
I will be honest I am not a fan of politicians. It’s mostly who does the most convincing wins. I would like to hope they will do everything they promised to do once they get into the White House, but how often does it happen.
Do we need a change? Yes. Will it happen? Who knows, but it starts with one, so get out there and vote.

Fall is slowly creeping upon us. The gray clouds are settling in.
Good-bye sunshine. Good-bye garage sales.
I know seems a bit drastic considering it’s only raining right now.
The weather forecast for this week is partly cloudy and in the mid-70s, but because of the rain my thoughts are on fall. I am really trying to dispose of them since it will be warm the next week, but it keeps coming back to September and the season approaching.
A good thing about the change in weather is it will be colder so no more iced coffees. My caffeine habit really has to come down.
Also, while it has been really nice to watch football games in warm weather, it’s just not the same.
The countdown for the end of September began on Labor Day and it will continue until the last weekend hits.
It’s a birthday approaching. Mine in particular. It’s not a milestone year, more like an in between year.
Last year was the Golden Birthday, turned 28 on the 28th. Even though it’s not technically over with, it has been a good year.
How will this year go?
Well, I already have the weekend planned.
It begins with Clarkston playing Southfield-Lathrup in their homecoming game on Friday night and ends with a visit to the Renaissance Festival on Sunday.
As for the day in between, I don’t know yet. Maybe indulge in a few luxuries I have missed and have been craving, scrapbook a few pages, catch up on movies in the theater ? well the movies coming out soon ? I was able to see a few lately.
I have accomplished a lot more than I did the previous year, I paid off one bill and another one will be paid off within the next.
Even though I haven’t seen my friends a lot, I do feel like it is easier to plan a time to see them. I know my schedule a month in advance.
Any wishes for the upcoming year? No, not really. Yes, I still close my eyes and make a wish when I blow out the candles.
What did I wish for last year? I couldn’t tell you. It’s not in fear it won’t come true. It’s because I really don’t remember.
Well, that’s my space.
In closing, ‘a very merry unbirthday to you!?

The fall season is fast approaching. But then, you probably already know if you have been out getting groceries or shopping for clothes.
School supplies are out and have been since the Fourth of July. Does anyone else see something wrong with that? Don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of new pens, highlighters, and notebooks, but summer isn’t over.
Tryouts for some of the sports begin next week, while some begin to practice.
(By the way, if you haven’t had your physical done for this school year, you need to do it. You can’t tryout without one. That is my public service announcement for this month.)
After visiting sports camps in the last few weeks, I have heard the same from the coaches ? the class of 2012 has a lot of potential. It will be fun to see if they can keep it up and how they prove themselves on the freshmen and JV teams.
Now, I came in last year at the end of the season. I did see boys soccer at the beginning of September, but didn’t see them again until the end of their season. So for me it will be a complete fall season and I will see the Wolves through to the very end, all the way to state playoffs. (Of course that’s my prediction for the season.)
It will be a new year for old rivalries and paybacks for the sting of past losses. Who will win. Well, I know who you would like to prevail and I know who I would want to see prevail (I am a blue and gold girl, all the way. Go Michigan! Now that will be an interesting season to watch.) It will be another great Wolves season.
Speaking of blue and gold, the Blue and Gold football game is Aug. 16 at 11 a.m. Soccer, literally, kicks off their season Monday, Aug. 18. They host Waterford Kettering with JV at 5:30 p.m. Only a few weeks away.
Also, this will be the first season with Lil? Toshiba (my laptop). Technology, wireless internet, updates more quickly on your favorite teams ? can you feel the excitement. Not yet? Alright, then some visuals before I leave ? a wave of blue and gold filling the stands, you are watching your favorite sport on the edge of your seat anticipating Clarkston’s next point.
Now can you feel it?

Get out the balloons! Get out the streamers! Get out your red, white, and blue!
It’s time to celebrate the official birthday of the USA!
I hope many of you have plans to celebrate the day with your loved ones. I used to work a lot of holidays in a mall, and wonder why come to the mall on the sunny, warm days.
But then again, maybe it was because I was on the inside and really didn’t pay attention to what was going on outside of those walls. I had to work, no use in teasing myself.
Being in Clarkston has allowed me to not only take notice to what is going on in your community, but in my own.
I hope you know that Clintonwood Park has tons of things to do for 4th of July and you have the opportunity to get over there and be a part of it.
(I would like to get over there and get a dog from the pet adoptions, but alas’I have to pay off the laptop, but the stimulus check paid for half, so I am glad for that.)
The best part of the holiday is watching the fireworks.
It begins with the anticipation. The sky grows darker and darker, and everyone watches for the first one to burst into the sky.
Then, boom. The sky lights up full with color. The flashes of light continue. ‘Ooooohs? and ‘aaaaahs? are the only sounds heard besides the pops and fizzles from the fireworks.
I watched the fireworks last year from our yard. We have a small opening through the trees where we can see the fireworks from the county park across the street.
It’s not the same as watching them on TV like watching the fireworks on TV broadcasted from Disney or Vegas. I have seen them live as both places and it’s just gives it a little something more.
It’s like the difference between watching a movie in the theater and watching it at home.
It’s just not the same.
Also, it’s a time to give thanks to the soldiers serving our country.
Thank you and come home safe.
Happy 232nd Birthday, USA! You don’t look a day over 100!

Winter is over and spring is finally here. I am filled with excitement. I can’t help it. I think my hot summers in California ruined me. Our 70 degree days have felt a little chilly to me.
The nice weather means that the spring sports can continue on as planned. No more cancellations. (Unless it’s rainy or there is a really bad storm like a few Fridays ago.)
Every time I go to a Wolves soccer game, I would remember more and more. It’s amazing what you forget after some 14 years.
I remember practicing to get ready for our game against Lake Orion, and the determination we had for Oxford to prevail. Also, I remember real grass. Real dirt. Real mud. Ahh, the bruises of falling on the ground.
Practices were sunny. Game days were rainy, windy, and snowy. Sometimes we had hail. Sometimes we had to cancel a game because the thunderstorm had gone on to long and the lightning would not pass.
But that was spring in Michigan and it gave us variety.
Each game I got a chance to play. I wasn’t good, but I wasn’t bad. But to me it was a treat. But I worked hard during practice and always tried. Because of that , Coach Green would let me know how hard I worked and tried in practice. He let me prove myself during games.
All the hard work led to me starting in the Holly game. (That I did not remember off the top of my head, I found it in an English paper I wrote.)
So Coach Green had an impact on my life.
I had just finished my first boys lacrosse game of the season and the Notre Dame Prep’s girls soccer team was invading the field to practice for their game.
I was close to leaving the game and there he was. A ghost of spring past. My coach. I felt overwhelmed. But first I grabbed Notre Dame’s roster in case I was mistaken.
There it was on the bottom. Coach Doug Green. It was him. He was still coaching. I was thrilled.
And he was the varsity coach. He was a good coach he deserved a varsity position.
I made a choice. I would go over and say hi.
So I made my way and waited for his conversation with the other coach to end before I re-introduced myself.
Coach Green remembered me.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Happy first day of Spring!
Happy Easter!
It’s a busy week!
I know it’s past, but I hope you had a good and safe St. Paddy’s Day!
This Irish girl worked and was sick.
But I did visualize Ireland. The rocky cliffs, old castles, and small towns with shops, cottages and pubs. (It’s on the list of places to visit).
Also, this week marks the first official day of spring.
There was a hint of it last week when the snow began melting last week, and birds chirped their way back home from their vacation spots in the south.
As the snow melts and turns the earth into a rich mud, it reminds me a new sports season is almost upon us.
The games begin with Girls soccer kicking off on March 31 against Utica Eisenhower.
The snow melting also reminds me of how much my car hates potholes and dirt roads that get washed after it rains.
It was nice to have a few days that were 50 degrees, filled with sunshine and blue skies.
I know it wasn’t here for too long. But I miss it. I am ready for spring.
Snow was fun while it lasted. As a Michigander, I know the importance of winter, snow, and ice.
But I am ready for the nice weather to stay.
Hopefully the weather will be fair on Easter Sunday.
As a child, Easter was a great holiday. A day to have both parents home from work and watching you as you looked for the eggs the Easter Bunny hid the night before.
I am sure I liked to dress up in an Easter outfit, but for some reason scuffed dress shoes come to mind, so I am sure I disliked wearing it because I couldn’t play like I wanted to.
A better part of Easter Sunday was spent at Deer Lake Banquet Center for brunch while visiting with relatives and listening to adult conversations.
As for a basket full of Peeps, I am not really a Peeps kind of girl.

Calling all Wolves? fans! Calling all Wolves? fans!
I am looking for you!
The winter season is drawing close to its end. Your teams are either close to ending their season (Cagers have two more home games this week, and Icers have one more home game.)
Meaning, districts, regionals, and (hopefully) states are among us.
I see you every week, sitting in the stands, intensely watching your favorite sport and your favorite player. Now is the time for you and all the pictures you have been taking throughout the season.
Alright, I have a plan, and it will only work if you help me out.
I want to honor your team and you.
I want to see your favorite pictures from the games.
I want to see pictures of all the Wolves fans.
Did you wear a wolf hat to remind the opposition whose territory they were in?
Did you get decked out top to bottom for Spirit Week?
I want to see your blue! I want to see your gold!
Alright, this is what I am asking you to do.
First, email your photos to ClarkstonNews@gmail.com (Please have them 1,000 kilobytes or less.)
Then, in the body of the email, let me know what game the picture is from, who is in the photo (especially for fans in the picture), who was the photographer, and your name (for who submitted it). (I know a lot of information, I can’t help it. I am a very detailed person.)
Now when I say your team, I do mean your team.
Any winter sport.
Any level.
This is to honor your players, your team, and you – the fans.
Alright, now this is what I will do and what will happen with your photos.
I am setting up a photo gallery on our website for you.
Now keep in mind, I wasn’t able to cover every game of every team. So there are some moments I missed. This is your chance to share your favorite moments.
If you have sent us photos during the season, I remember, and they will be added.
For spring sports fans, don’t worry your time will come, too.
Alright, you have your mission. Any questions?
On your mark. Get set! Search!
Wow, and I still have space left. Was I not detailed enough. Hmm…
Alright, then I will use the space.
Thank you for submitting your Athletes of the Week.I have gotten a lot recently, but keep them coming.
Remember, if you don’t see me at a game and want to take a photo or two click away. Then, email them.

After getting home from a long day, or even a short day, Holly would be at the front door waiting. Her tail would wag, her eyes would shine, a smile would be on her furry face.
Holly was our black Labrador retriever.
She was born in winter 1996 and died last winter.
Holly had tumors throughout her body. She fought it as much as she could.
She had her good days and her bad days. One day, she couldn’t keep anything down and my mom made the decision it was time. We could let her go naturally or put her down. We couldn’t let her go through any more pain and watch her wither away while losing her personality.
We put her down.
She lived a good life, full of McDonald’s hamburgers and Dairy Queen Puppy Sundaes.
Her days consisted of sitting on my bed and staring out of the window. What she did or thought of while staring out the window, I will never know. But if I left my blinds closed, she was not happy and would ignore me when I got home.
Holly would do two things when I walked in the door – check my hands for food and go outside.
If I happened to have food, her need to go outside seemed to disappear. She wanted the food. Even if I hadn’t brought her home anything, she would wait – just in case something was dropped to the floor.
But if I had gone to McDonald’s, I did bring her a hamburger. She would wag her tail anxiously as I unwrapped it. She would see the moment arriving and bring up her head and wait for me to put it in her mouth.
I never put it in her dog dish. It was no use. The hamburger would just end up on the living room floor, ketchup side down. The same spot everytime.
Yes, she ate in the living room, and her bed consisted of the floor, couch, and beds.
I know there are two types of people. There are people who just believe pets are pets – just animals. Then, they are people, like my mom and me. Pets are people. They have distinct personalities.
Holly had a distinct personality.
Here’s a McDonald’s hamburger for you, Holly-Pup.
We miss you.

This is it, a new year is just around the corner. I feel ready. More ready than I was for 2007 to come.
I am not the type of girl to make resolutions. Resolutions to me mean it’s just going to get broken. I tried them. Ones I have tried in the past include no chocolate – ha! That did not last long! No caffeine – please. Some days I can go without, but not everyday. Oddly enough, caffeine balances me out. It takes the edge off. Most importantly, it wakes me up – gives me the kick that I need.
So going into 2008, I feel hopeful. I have goals in my head ready to go.
First goal sounds simple enough – hit the gym. Hitthe gym hard!
I have been being bad and well, not going. Oh, I have a membership and have a gym bag in my car ready to go. My problem is waking up with enough time to go in before going into work. I must be good. I will be good. Plus, everytime I go to one of the games at Clarkston High School, I long to walk around on the track. I miss walking around on the track, bopping along to my MP3 player.
And if all else fails, I have to remind myself I have a wedding in May to attend. I want a cute outfit. I can only get the outfit if I go to the gym.
See, if I want something, I have to make myself work towards it.
Second goal – I want to participate in Relay for Life and the MS Walk. I walked in the MS Walk last year after a friend asked me to walk with her. It was fun. A group of us were able to get a chance to help others, exercise on a beautiful day, and talk for six miles.
Third goal – Pay off one credit card and half of another. During the holiday season, I helped my poor little piece of plastic and used cash. It was exhilarating! And…I only bought two things for myself.
An easy way to take the pressure off of my poor little credit cards is to quit going to Target once a week. For some reason walking through that bright, beautiful store is therapeutic, but highly dangerous. I can not, seriously can not, leave there without spending 50 to 60 dollars. I have cut down the temptation. When I go through the Sunday paper, the only ads I look at are Best Buy (for a laptop) and Target (just to look)
These are pretty reasonable, and quite realistic goals. Unlike getting rid of the clutter in my room or getting rid of half of my stuff in storage. Just thinking about is too overwhelming.
Happy New Year! Have fun! Be safe!

It’s me again.
First, my mom was a little surprised I did not mention this in my first column. I didn’t include it because it wasn’t in my writing history. But I guess you could say it’s part of my history. In my senior year, I won two art awards from Scholastic. I was featured in our sister paper, The Lake Orion Review. I went to Washington, D.C. My painting was hung in the Corcoran Art Gallery. I sold it to Scholastic. Then, I went on to college and studied studied my first passion, writing.
Next, I just wanted say how great the fans of Clarkston are. I have met some of the nicest parents of great athletes. Very welcoming and talking about their favorite athlete. One will be a future athlete of the week (it will be coming in December).
This week, I trended a little away from my usual sports writing and talked to an author of a children’s book, Bryan Chick. (See 1B)
After going over the press release my friend got at a school she is student teaching at (thanks Katie!) I was ready to go. Also, I was really excited to meet an author who not only wrote a children’s book based on his imagination, but decided to publish it himsellf.
I am a worldly kind of girl. I like everything. I like learning about everything. I like reading about everything. Yes, everything, history, suspense, adventure, romance. And yes, I read children’s books (I just finished Harry Potter book seven last week. It took me four months to read the whole series, but I made it!).
I especially enjoy anything that gets kids to read. Imagination is one of the greatest attributes a child can have. It can be used anywhere at anytime.
I would like to say I read ‘The Secret Zoo,? well that was the general plan for this column, but I haven’t. But, I started it. I am on chapter five. It’s good. It doesn’t lag, so kids will keep interest in it. It has short chapters, if you want to read a chapter at a time at bedtime for little ones that can’t read.
It’s a great holiday present. It’s portable. Doesn’t need to be put together. No batteries required. No lead paint.
If you want a child’s opinion, this is what I have heard. My friend is a student teacher, she says the kids in her class love it!

Maybe you have seen me in the middle of the bleachers with a notebook in one hand, a pen in the other hand with a camera strapped ready for action.
Let me officially introduce myself. I am Wendi, your new Sports Writer. It’s nice to meet you.
Here is a little bit about me.
I graduated from Oxford High School in 1998. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Communications degree from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2005. Going part-time to college did take a little bit longer for a four-year degree, but it’s alright. I still made it here.
While I was in college, I freelanced for The Michigan Times. Also, I worked a few months as a Newsroom Intern for WEYI-25.
I continued onward by freelancing for The Grand Blanc View.
I like reporting. I get to talk to new people each day, learn and see new things, and then share them with you.
Ahh…Clarkston and I… When interviewing for this job, I told myself there is just something about Clarkston. Usually, I find myself boomeranging back here.
I may not have grown up here. I grew up in Oxford. But I have known this area since I was little.
My aunt and uncle used to live in the area. I still remember the smell of walking to Deer Lake for Easter Brunch and visiting the Easter Bunny.
During high school, I worked at Boston Market. Yes, I drove Oxford to Clarkston for a minimum wage job. It’s alright. (You will come to find, I drive long distances and usually don’t care as long as the radio and cd player are working.)
My first three cars came from Clarkston. Two of them from Saturn North. Go ahead ask me about my car. I love my car. I love my dealership.
So here I am, Clarkston. I am back. I am ready.
Plus, I like it. It’s a good feeling when I come to work and get a happy feeling because this is where I want to be. How many times can you go into work and say that?
Until next time, I will see you in the bleachers.