Friend Movement

Sugar Bean and me being interviewed for the Friend Movement.

Sugar Bean and me being interviewed for Friend Movement.

Listen, y’all.

I am so ecstatic I can hardly contain myself. That’s what happens when I am passionate about something. Giggly, gushing, passion….that’s what is brewing up in here. Downright magical, I tell ya!!

Why, you ask? Well, it’s been a little while since I’ve been involved in something bigger than me and my little tribe, that really had potential to make a difference. There was this, but again, it was 2 years ago. And as much as I would have loved to repeat that massive relief effort again for the people of Oklahoma recently, it just wasn’t possible. All my ducks were scattered, and it takes a pond full. No excuse, I know, but at least I’m honest about my abilities, right?

Anyway, I am happy to say, I am once again putting whatever muscle I have  (or can beg, borrow, or steal) behind a very worthy cause. What I’m talking about is FRIEND MOVEMENTan anti-bullying campaign created to help show positive anti-bully images through art and media. Images of people of all ages, race, gender, sexuality, and spirituality that invoke inspiration & conversation. Friend Movement  inspires people to prevent bullying by enabling them to be a better friend.

What could be better than that?!! 

Especially with all the heart-breaking stories of children, tweens, teens…even adults, pushed to their limits under the pressure of bullies of all shapes and sizes, often driving them to commit the unthinkable act of suicide. It has to stop, people. It just has to stop! So I’m trying to help make that happen by raising awareness and letting people know that bullying is NOT okay. It affects people deeply, and the damage words and actions cause once they’ve been unleashed, can rarely–if ever– be completely reversed.

Just ask my Sugar Bean. She was bullied starting in Kindergarten, and continuing until she was in the 3rd grade. So this is an issue that hits not close to home, but at home. And if I can spare any mama out there the heartache I experienced watching my baby come home from school day after day…sobbing…then I want to do just that. Starting with my continued support of this campaign.

The photo/video campaign “The New F Word”  is officially launching in June, and here’s what it’s all about:



The New F Word is a grass-roots photo campaign and documentary film that aims to encourage the use of the word FRIEND to project inner strength and confidence. The concept by Elliot Dal Pra London & Ronnie Kroell was taken to a whole new level when Bianca Kosoy, famed branding creative genius, helped shape the campaign by giving it the edginess for which she is known. Add celebrity photographer and co-creator Ryan Forbes to the mix, and you have quite the creative team; bullying beware.

 I urge you to visit their website, ‘Like’ their Facebook page, Follow them on Twitter, and give if you can. Your support could change the life of someone who desperately needs just a glimmer of positivity to help them down off the ledge and into a place of healing!  

Friend Movement pic


That’s all for now, but check back for more information about (and photos from) our shoot with the Friend Movement team! We had such an amazing time, and I can’t wait to share all the details. Oh, and I’ll be hosting a giveaway in association with this fantastic cause as well, so stay tuned 🙂


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Easter…not just about eggs.



Truth be told, I loathe decorating eggs. Just not a fan of boiled eggs, unless they are destined for devilry–complete with pickles and paprika. And I don’t like those stupid plastic ones either. Mostly because I find them all over my house for months to come, filled with rancid jelly beans and crusty chocolate footballs. You probably call them eggs, but face it…they look more like footballs, don’t they? I am rather fond of the mythical, cotton-tailed, candy bearing critter who leaves baskets full of sugar for The Beans to rip into before church services on Easter Sunday. Okay, really….I just enjoy wearing my crafty hat while embellishing the baskets to the point of embarrassment.  What can I say? I’m a creative soul who is really good with her hands.

Seriously though, Thank GOD…literally…Easter is not just about eggs or candy.

Now, to be fair, we as a family, have only been attending church on a very regular basis for about 3 months. The Man was raised in the Catholic church, but never really adhered to it, as far as I can tell, and I being Protestant, don’t quite understand a lot about Catholicism. So, when Sugar Bean was small, we decided to attend church as a family, and settled on an amazing Episcopalian church. Catholic enough for him, Protestant enough for me. We both got it. However, we moved far from that church in Beverly Hills, and enrolled our kids in Presbyterian school, because it was the best one around, and public was not an option at the time. Soon after, we began attending the church affiliated with the school, and really liked it for several years. Then, another move forced us to find another place to worship, where after just a short time we feel like part of  the church family. You know, like regulars at “Cheers”—where everybody knows our name…lol. It’s obviously meant to be our church home. And now, at 41, I am grasping the importance of deep faith along with an understanding of The Bible. Although I grew up in a Christian family, who attended church regularly when my brothers and sisters were small, by the time I came along….I assume my parents were just plain tired. Which meant we went on holidays mostly, and I don’t ever remember attending Sunday School as a child. And my knowledge of the Bible? Skeletal at best. But I am making an effort to educate myself so I’m prepared for the questions The Beans will inevitably have when they reach that point wanting to know “If God made us, who made God?”  Which, of course, I won’t know the answer to, but I want to at least try and communicate effectively.

My most vivid childhood memories of Easter involve the exquisite dress my mother would make for me to wear each year. Of course, I have carried on the tradition in my own girls, complete with gigantic satin bows in their hair to match. In fact, they have each worn some of THE very dresses I wore, as I cherish them dearly and have taken good care of them. But I am also doing my very best to make them understand that it’s not about big baskets of goodies, or eggs, or fancy dresses. And I was reminded of my efforts quite exquisitely, when I picked Butter Bean and Sweet Pea up after school on Good Friday.

Butter Bean said, “I’m sooo excited for Easter!” “Me too,” squealed Sweet Pea. Expecting the answer from both girls to be “Because the Easter Bunny comes,” I asked why, and beamed when Sweet Pea said she was excited for church, and then elaborated on why. “There are good friends there, and we learn about Jesus. I love Jesus.” In true Butter Bean style, she still hailed the Easter Bunny, but I know she understands. She just LOVES chocolate.

As a family, we are going through a bit of a difficult time. We need our Faith now more than ever, to lean on, and turn to, as guidance towards light overshadowed by darkness….albeit temporary. The Man is making huge strides at developing a Faith similar to mine, and we are discussing attending classes at LCPC in order for us to learn and solidify our knowledge together. Now, that’s not to say we will agree with everything we’re taught. I  mean, I am, after all….a liberal Christian. WHAT?!!! Yes, I said it. I firmly believe that Jesus LOVES EVERYONE, and to quote my favorite blogger/author, Glennon Melton, ” Jesus is forever tries.” He never gives up on us, and we shouldn’t give up on ourselves. I just pray he’s prepared for the Minklers…because I’m pretty sure I’ll be blowing up his shiny white, straight line to Heaven phone more than once over the next few years. Probably forever. He died for us. I really owe him A LOT of attention.


Anyway, here are The Beans, with some precious friends after church this morning.

Easter Angels in their Sunday Best

Easter Angels in their Sunday Best

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a year-end wrap up…in 47 minutes or less (because that’s all that is left of 2012)


I’ll try to make this short and sweet, by simply making a list of the good and bad moments of 2012 up in my Calibama State of Mind. Mostly because lists are easy to follow, and I wasted time creating the ecard image, and now only have 17  no minutes left. Procrastination at it’s finest. Classic me. Some things never change, and I work better under pressure, so no judging….got it?

Let’s start with THE BAD, shall we?

1. We moved. Not much more needs to be said other than the process of it sucked the life right out of me for a good 3 weeks. Unless I win the lottery, I am not leaving this house. EVER. 

2. The Man was between film projects for much of the year, and home a lot, which drove me bat-shit crazy. He needs hobbies that do not involve chasing me around trying to undress me while I have 8000+ things to do. Hoping that developing a few is on the top of HIS resolution list.

3. The Beans had to quit gymnastics. You can read about that here. I’m still heart-broken and don’t like to talk about it. Hopeful that training resumes in 2013.

4. Lester, our beloved 13 year old, Chihuaua had to be put down 🙁 That story is here.

5.  The Beans got head-lice. Twice. Pissed doesn’t even begin to describe my mood on those occasions. Yes, I blogged about it…here. 

This is the shit I’m running from, once I get my new sneakers. Tomorrow.

But onto…

THE GOOD. Which I will be expanding on, in MAGNANIMOUS PROPORTIONS.

1. ON JANUARY 9, 2012…MY 40TH BIRTHDAY…THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE WON THE BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. Best. Present. Ever. ROLL TIDE ROLL….and onto the National Championship game we go once again this year!!! 

2. I started this blog, along with a FB fan page and a Twitter feed dedicated to it. It speaks for itself, I believe. And I plan on paying A LOT more attention to it.

3. I got a real writing gig, that actually pays a little. I need to maintain a bit of anonymity where this is concerned, but trust me….IT’S AWESOME. And literally fell in my lap at a much needed time. As the saying goes, “When life shuts a door, God opens a window somewhere” 🙂 

4. We moved.  Even with the colossal headache the execution of it was, it’s a good thing too. We down-sized, into a cozy place that is more affordable and closer to The Beans’ schools. Less to clean for me, smaller monthly nut….win-win, right?

5. One of my besties had a baby boy, and I am his Godmother. So now I have a son in addition to The Beans 🙂 Oh, what fun we are going to have!!!

6. I made some really great new friends, in the blogging world, and in real-life. Also reconnected with some old friends. You know who you are 🙂

7. My whole family filmed a book trailer for a zombie novel titled “100 Days of Death”. The novel will be out this year, and you can watch the trailer here. We had a BLAST!!

8. I was invited to be a contributor for MomsLA, a phenomenal group of bloggers. I’m still shaking my head at this one. Honored does not even scratch the surface of how this made me feel.

9. My niece, Meaghan, got married, and I got to attend the wedding in Alabama and serve as a bridesmaid. Hadn’t been home to Bama in over 2 years, so this was PRICELESS.

10. I was gifted a ‘We Can Do Hard Things Sign’ by Momastery and Barn Owl Primitives, on the eve of the 17th anniversary of my mama’s passing. The women responsible for this will NEVER know how much it meant.

So, clearly, the good outweighed the bad, at least on this list. There are, of course, several catastrophic things that happened that must remain unwritten. But those have either been kicked to the curb already, or are well on their way to being eradicated.

2013 is going to be divinely kick-ass. HUGE things are on the horizon for me, The Man and The Beans. There simply is no other option.

Who’s with me?

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Well, I couldn’t just sit here and watch, now could I?

It took a village, but we did it! Twice :-)

It took a village, but we did it! Twice 🙂

One year ago today, after returning from a Spring Break outing with The Girls, we decided to cool off in the pool. As I watched them splash and frolic, I logged onto FB and saw disturbing status updates from my friends and family back home in Alabama. Things like “angry skies here” and “debris falling in my yard y’all”. Immediately, I jerked up the phone and called my sister in North Alabama. Luckily, I got through, but what I heard on the other end was soul-shaking. My big sister, whom I’ve always known to be a pillar of strength, was crying hysterically. My own voice cracked, as I asked “What’s happening? Is everybody in our family okay? What do you need?” 

That phone call changed my life. Forever.

Some of the most devastating tornadoes on record ravaged my home state of Alabama that day. This EF-5 skipped over my sister’s home, but made contact with the ground just down the road from her, tearing up an entire community, quite close to my brother’s home. But that wasn’t the worst of it. My niece, Meaghan, who taught middle school in Tuscaloosa, was literally in the center of the devastation, and my sister couldn’t get down there to her. A mother’s panic. I know that feeling. Fortunately, I am happy to report that her life was spared by a sheer miracle from God, while everything around her crumbled. However, when the dust settled, she would discover that many of her students had been effected, and life would never be the same. Never.

For those of you unfamiliar with what a tornado looks like, you can see the one that ripped through Tuscaloosa here. And the devastation and confusion left in Limestone County, where I grew up, can be seen here. So many small rural communities were affected though. Some completely wiped out...Hackleburg, and Phil Campbell, just to name a couple.

I knew I only had one choice: start gathering donations to send back home. So that’s what I did. Without a clue in the world how I would get them there, I began collecting clothing and supplies. I blasted on FB that ‘my people’ needed help, and arranged a drop-off point at the school my girls attended. My friend Jen Levinson, who is the genius behind Jen’s List, helped get the word out too. Donations began to pour in. In 72 hours, I had more than I knew what to do with.

My own family had just downsized into a new house three weeks earlier, after losing ours to foreclosure (which I will get to later, in a different post). So I had plenty of boxes. But they were full of our stuff. What to do? Unload our stuff onto the floor and put the much-needed supplies for the tornado victims in the boxes. Bingo! By the time the sorting and boxing at my house was over with, it looked like I belonged on an episode of Hoarders. I shit you not. 

Anyway, despite the rapid response of friends, and the kindness of complete strangers, I still had a very big problem: WTF was I going to do about getting the donations 2000+ miles across the country to their destination? After calling multiple shipping companies, AND the USPS to see if they would ship the boxes for free, like they did when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I pretty much hit a dead-end. I even contacted Charlie Sheen to see if he would be willing to bankroll it, since he was in need of some good PR at the time. At first the response was promising, but then he decided to donate a million dollars himself. Which let him off the hook. Soon, it became clear that I might have to rent a truck and drive them myself. Or rather, have The Man drive them 🙂

Then something wonderful happened. A friend from college, Spence Maughon, who saw my desperate pleas on FB, and who also happens to live in LA, sent me a message about another relief effort being organized here in town, in conjunction with Toomers for Tuscaloosa and RollBamaRoll. If you know anything about the history of Alabama Football, you know what a miracle it was for Auburn fans to be helping Alabama fans, because although both are state universities, they are bitter rivals on the field. Just Google “Iron Bowl. But I digress. A few emails later, I was in contact with the ring leader. A truly remarkable woman named Ashli Wolf. A kindred spirit who loves Alabama as much as I do, and knows exactly what a “church key” is. Over the course of the next few weeks, she would become my new best friend. She was already well into the organization of the T4T effort, so her house became Ground Zero. This is what it looked like in the days leading up to, and finally the night before the first truck left:

Tangible proof of the generosity of strangers.

Tangible proof of the generosity of strangers.

Even the kids did their part, learning a valuable lesson about helping and giving.

Even the kids did their part, learning a valuable lesson about helping and giving.


Friendships were formed during the wake of disaster. This is me and Mandi, sharing a laugh. She'll be a sister-friend for life.

Friendships were formed during the wake of disaster. This is me and Mandi, sharing a laugh. She’ll be a sister-friend for life.


We worked way into the night. And the next morning this stuff left on The Sunshine Express, bound for T-Town.

We worked way into the night. And the next morning this stuff left on The Sunshine Express, bound for T-Town. 


Hauling pet food. Tornados effect everyone, you know.

Hauling pet food. Tornados effect everyone, you know.

Just after I snapped this photo, and while all the volunteers were busy sorting, boxing and getting this stuff ready for travel, The Man, decided to make a phone call. To Fox 11 News-LA. Just to give them the heads up about what we were doing out there in Woodland Hills. They sent Hal Eisner to cover us live, for the 10 o’ clock broadcast that night, and then sent Phil Shuman back out the next morning before the truck left. Needless to say, it opened up a few more possibilities to get help for the folks in Alabama. You can watch the clip here.

That is how California for Alabama was born. After the word got out about the FB page, we were flooded with tons of donations and volunteers from all over Southern California. Everything you can imagine, from hand sanitizer, toothbrushes and diapers to work gloves, shovels and cleaning supplies. Offers from a company in Moreno Valley poured in for free boxes to sort things into. Corey and Ruthie Braun, both UA Alumni, and owners of Chick-fil-A in Rancho Cucamonga, fed our volunteers. People donated entire apartments full of furniture. There was even an air hockey table!

So, how did we get it all there?

At first, the plan Ashli and I had was straight out of “I Love Lucy”. We were going to split the cost 50-50. She’d tell her hubs that I paid for it, while I told mine she did, just like something Lucy and Ethel would pull. One way or another, that stuff was getting there. Fortunately, Conway Trucking Company stepped in, and supplied us with a rig, a driver, and not one…but TWO 28 foot trailers to help with that, plus they covered the fuel costs! And again, Hal Eisner came out to cover the second round. 

People helping people, and belonging to each other. It just doesn’t get any better, does it? Powerful stuff to restore faith in humanity going on up in there, folks. And again, it didn’t stop once the truck rolled out of the driveway. In August 2011, with the help of Jennifer Blake, another sweet Bama Belle living in LA, we were able to hold a benefit and raise some money. With these funds, trees were purchased from Habitat for Humanity and planted where so many had been ripped from the soil. This made us, and Mother Nature happy 🙂

Poster from the Benefit

Poster from the Benefit

Me, Jen and Ashli explaining our mission.

Me, Jen and Ashli explaining our mission.

And cracking up like old friends do. Mind you, we'd all just met a few months earlier.

And cracking up like old friends do. Mind you, we’d all just met a few months earlier.

In closing, I would like to add that during all of this havoc, my oldest daughter was doing her required, 5th grade, state report on…you guessed it: ALABAMA. Not only was she able to report all the usual things needed to educate someone on the Great State of Alabama, she also included a section on how the tornadoes impacted the area and its victims. In addition, she told about how she, herself was able to directly help. The whole experience effected her deeply, and it was reflected in her report. Here was her display:

The best state report EVER.

The best state report EVER.

On this one year anniversary of the worst devastation Alabama has ever known, let me say I am beaming with pride to claim both Alabama and California as my home. I proudly display my Southern roots like a badge of honor as I journey through my Hollywood life. Today I salute you both!


The Calibamamom

*A very special thanks to my husband, Chris, who jumped onboard this effort with both feet, never once calling me crazy or saying it couldn’t be done. He stretched his time to its limits, juggling a busy work schedule with running the wheels off his truck picking up and dropping off people, as well as donations all over Los Angeles. HE MADE THE CALL THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING. His love for me, and my home state was never more apparent than during this crisis, and his unwavering support will never be forgotten.

**There are so many people who contributed to this effort, both here, and on the receiving end in Alabama. Here is a list of those I didn’t directly mention in the post: my sister, Shane Jackson and her ‘boots on the ground’ crew from Churches Involved in Athens, Alabama; David Wolf and the precious Wolf children (Joseph and Ava); Kirsten and Jeff Mason, and their family; Sarah Rathburn Hancock; Michael Brock; Paige Ryan; Cliff, the driver of the first truck; Sara Dean and her man, Kevin; Aubrey and Matt Vick; Deborah Guilfoyle and her family; Kim Poirier; Kecia Newton and her hubby; Ryan Stephens and the United States Navy men stationed at Port Hueneme; Kelly Flores; the guys at Tosh.0; Margie; Kathy Krodel Chester; all the parents and staff at First Presbyterian Weekday School; Leslie Aqua Viva; Lori Nelson; Heidi Myers; Eric and Elise Gilbert; Victoria Vaccaro; the band, OK GO!; Alfred Hopton; Kit Wallace and Blued Eyed Entertainment; Karen Sinclair Drake and her amazing company, Sophyto; Ann Mangini & Rafinity; Tracy Flores and her man, Alec; the driver of the second truck whose name I never knew; and ALL THE OTHERS WHO CONTRIBUTED GENEROUSLY, WITH NOT ONLY DONATIONS OF TANGIBLE GOODS AND SERVICES, BUT ALSO THEIR TIME AS WELL.

God Bless You All.

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